Police chief tells MPs of 'instructions'
The spectre of political interference in criminal prosecutions has emerged, with acting national police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi's claim that police had been instructed on which cases were "off limits".
Gen Mkhwanazi dropped the bombshell on the third day of harsh questioning by MPs on Parliament's police committee on Thursday. He was being probed on poor conviction rates when he made the claim.
He seemed to be referring to the criminal investigations against Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli but did not mention him by name. There has been considerable speculation that police were instructed not to pursue Lt-Gen Mdluli and that he was reinstated so that he could keep an eye on President Jacob Zuma's political opponents.
Approached for comment on Friday, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa's spokesman, Zweli Mnisi, said Gen Mkhwanazi's statement was vague and he should specify who gave the instructions and when.
Gen Mkhwanazi told the committee that police had been told many times "of late" that they did not have the right to investigate some cases and that they should be referred to the inspector-general of intelligence, Faith Radebe. These instructions came from "powers beyond us". Lt-Gen Mdluli was facing murder charges relating to the death of Oupa Ramogibe, the husband of his former girlfriend, and fraud and corruption charges relating to the illegal use of the police's secret service fund, which were all dropped.
Democratic Alliance police spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Friday that Gen Mkhwanazi had made some bizarre claims and "his youth and inexperience in administrative matters really showed". She said the claim of political interference in the South African Police Service seemed to confirm long-held suspicions.
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