Union calls on top cop to act ‘swiftly’ against his deputy in R191m ‘blue-lights’ fraud case

The South African Police Union (Sapu) has called on national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole to act decisively after his deputy, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya, was arrested in connection with the R191-million “blue-lights tender”. 

Mgwenya allegedly received a number of gifts, including payments towards her luxury BMW X5, from Instrumentation Traffic Law Enforcement, owned by Vimpie Manthata, who won the lucrative Gauteng police vehicles tender. The contract was to fit 1 550 vehicles with equipment such as sirens, lights and radios.

Manthata’s company had already received R65-million payment from the SAPS, with the balance R22-million was stopped after the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) intervened. 

According to the charge sheet, “During the period 1 March 2016, and 31 March 2017, emergency warning equipment was procured by Gauteng SAPS [South African Police Service] and [national] supply chain management without following the open tender or bid processes.

“The award of the contract exposed the state to a potential loss of R191 145 267.” 

The charge sheet said Manthata had “a close relationship with a senior officer on the adjudicating panel”. 

On Monday, Mgwenya joined former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and 10 other top cops in the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court on charges of 329 counts of fraud, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, acquisition or possession or use of proceeds of unlawful activities and the contravention of the Public Finance Management Act. 

Mgwenya was released on R20 000 bail, and will join her co-accused when the trial begins next month. 

The police union said in a statement on Monday that Sitole should act “swiftly” against Mgwenya to restore the public’s confidence that all are equal before the law. 

“Sapu has previously witnessed with dismay junior officers swiftly suspended and dismissed for petty offences while senior officers suspected of serious offences were protected or suspended with full benefits for an unlimited period of time. 

“Sapu is not asking for any favours or preferential treatment for the deputy national commissioner, but for consistency and fairness and that the SAPS will follow its own disciplinary procedure,” said Peter Ntsime, Sapu’s acting deputy general secretary.

According to a joint statement by the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate and Ipid: “Among other benefits, Manthatha assisted Mgwenya with purchasing a BMW X5 from Zambesi Auto Motors by paying R440 000 towards the purchase and negotiated a discount of R284 580 on the vehicle with Zambezi Auto. “These benefits put Mgwenya in a position to apply for a loan of R255 990 to finance the purchase of the BMW X5 retailed at R1 040 570. Mgwenya failed to disclose these benefits to her employer.”

The co-accused include former Gauteng police head Deliwe de Lange; Major General Nombhuruza Napo, Gauteng’s deputy police commissioner; Lieutenant General Ramahlapi Mokwena, the national divisional commissioner for supply chain management; Brigadier

Ravi Pillay and Brigadier James Ramanjalum, the head of procurement.
Ipid executive director Jennifer Ntlatseng said: “Ipid remains committed in its constitutional mandate of investigating any alleged police misconduct. Once more our seasoned investigators have done a commendable job.”

Hermoine Cronje, head of the ID, said: “We are working hard to clean up law enforcement so that South Africans can be assured that those charged with the responsibility to protect and serve the nation are in fact doing so and not themselves breaking the law.”

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