The “untouchable” police officer who allegedly falsified security clearance certificates and has a payment of R50 000 from the State Security Agency (SSA) in her bank account has been suspended, the Portfolio Committee on Police heard on Wednesday.
Brigadier Leonora Bamuza-Phetlhe is accused of fabricating security clearance for the former acting head of crime intelligence, Major General Pat Mokushane, who was removed from the post in August last year. There are also questions about how what National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole earlier described as “secret service money” to the tune of R50 000 ended up in her bank account.
However, she is asking the courts to review her suspension, newly appointed head of crime intelligence Major General Peter Jacobs said at his first appearance in this capacity in front of the committee.
He said as the matter is before the courts, he didn’t want to say too much about it.
Members of the committee have at previous meetings complained that it seemed as if Bamuza-Phetlhe was “untouchable”. On Wednesday DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said she knew a lot more about the matter now and it didn’t seem as cut and dry as she had initially thought.
MPs welcomed Jacobs to his position, with many pointing out that a “daunting task” – as ANC MP Angelina Molebatsi put it – awaited him.
“You’ve got a lot of damage control to do,” Kohler Barnard said.
Committee chairperson Francois Beukman pointed out that Jacobs was the first permanent head of the crime intelligence unit in six years, amid chuckles from the committee members.
“We must get a leadership core in the crime intelligence environment that is corruption-free,” Beukman said.
EFF MP Phillip Mhlongo said every intelligence unit in South Africa was “just a quick scheme to get rich” due to the shroud of secrecy afforded to intelligence bodies.
“Now we have a former head of SSA who is going to cause mayhem at correctional services, after he looted billions!” the spirited Mhlongo said in reference to the controversial Arthur Fraser who was moved from his position as head of the SSA and appointed commissioner of correctional services on Tuesday.
Jacobs said he had heard the committee’s concerns and was aware of the “grave responsibility” of his position.
He said his appointment should provide stability. He said in the past seven years the unit had had six managers.
“It does cause instability,” he admitted. He said crime intelligence didn’t have to be inherently dysfunctional, as there were enough oversight mechanisms, including the Inspector General of Intelligence, the committee and the “robust” media.
“It might be a forest, but the sun does get in.”
Sitole said: “They (crime intelligence) are going to be held accountable for the quality of intelligence.”
Responding to Kohler Barnard’s comment that she is used to there not being any intelligence, Sitole said: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was about to end, he became a butterfly.”