Newly minted acting head and chief financial officer of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Victor Senna will hit the ground running today with his stomach in and chest out as he presents his immediate plans and priorities to the parliamentary police portfolio committee for the next three months.
Little is known about Police Minister Bheki Cele’s choice to head up Ipid over its head of national investigations, Matthews Seseko, who appeared to have had a solid career in the finance world.
Political analyst Professor Ebrahim Fakir said yesterday Cele’s choice was bizarre.
“The Ipid executive director chairs a structure which gives strategic direction to the organisation and on investigations and the like, but maybe this accountant is competent to do that – I don’t know,” Fakir said.
“But I do think all of the decisions taken about Ipid are ‘political’ and mired in factional political battles inside the ANC, in addition to people politically connected and at risk of investigation or prosecution using their connections to either stymie these or use it to go after internal and external political, commercial or other competitors,” Fakir said.
“It’s part of the broader trajectory of the last 15 years where public institutions have been used to serve private – or corrupt – ends.”
Senna was appointed the CFO of Ipid in February 2018, following a two-year stint as the Gauteng department of health’s chief director of budget and revenue, as well as being the South African Social Security Agency’s general manager of finance for two years.
Though the two organisations have had their problems, Senna has managed to stay out of the spotlight while Seseko has had to fight for his job in court – much like his former boss, Robert McBride.
Former Ipid Free State director of investigations Israel Kgamanyane was appointed acting Ipid head while McBride was on suspension and, once that was lifted, Kgamanyane was transferred to the Hawks in Pretoria due to factors expected to be released when McBride testifies at the Zondo commission investigating state capture.
Senna has a strong financial background, but little is known of his qualifications for investigative work, as stipulated by the Ipid Act.
And it’s something the portfolio committee on police has picked up on, noting Senna had to present his CV and career history to the committee.
“Ipid needs to act in line with the Ipid Act and regulations in the execution of its core mandate, and all acts of criminal behaviour of members of the SAPS should be properly investigated and dealt with,” committee chair Francois Beukman said in a statement.
Meanwhile, former acting police commission Khomotso Phahlane and SAPS head of supply chain management Ravichandran Pillay are out on R20,000 bail each after they appeared at the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court on fraud and corruption charges on Friday.
According to Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini, the two were arrested for fraud and corruption relating to an R86 million tender for the purchase of emergency blue lights for the police.
“The arrests relate to procurement irregularities relating to emergency blue lights amounting to more than R86 million rand,’ said Dlamini.
SA Police Union general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng said national police commissioner General John Sitole should act with speed in the disciplinary process against Phahlane.
“It is more than a year that Phahlane is enjoying his salary doing nothing at home. We call upon General Sitole not to apply double standards here,” said Mogodiseng.
“If it was a junior officer allegedly arrested for a minor offence, the SAPS acts with speed in some instances, even dismissing such member. We will not allow another Richard Mdluli type of a senior SAPS general that is on suspension with full benefits. Already Phahlane has milked millions of rands enjoying his salary.”
Mogodiseng said there was a serious need for lifestyle audits to be done on senior commanders such as provincial, divisional, deputy national commissioners and the national commissioner in order to root out corruption in the SAPS.
He said the current state of corruption in the SAPS was a cause for concern that required intervention at the highest levels.
“We therefore call upon Police Minister Bheki Cele to recommend to President Cyril Ramaphosa to institute a commission of inquiry into the affairs of the SAPS.”