- The police paid R175 000 for KZN police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi’s “interim accommodation”.
- His official residence needed “minor repairs” and security upgrades.
- There was also a dispute about the property with an alleged fraudster.
While KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi testified that former defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and her team stayed in a luxury hotel during the July unrests, it turns out he too was staying in a hotel during this time.
The cash-strapped police coughed up R175 000 for Mkhwanazi to stay in a hotel between April and August while “minor repairs” were done to his official residence, which was also the subject of an “alleged” property dispute with a fraudster.
DA MP Ockert Terblanche asked Police Minister Bheki Cele in a written parliamentary question why “certain persons” stayed in a hotel while an official residence is reserved for them, on what date they were accommodated there and what it cost.
“The provincial commissioner of the South African Police Service in KwaZulu-Natal was making use of interim accommodation because the official reserved accommodation was not available at the time when he arrived in the province,” read Cele’s answer.
He said the official residence needed “minor repairs” and security upgrades.
“These minor repairs were not regarded as an emergency and the normal procurement process had to be followed. Some suppliers had challenges in obtaining the material required to execute the task.”
However, according to Cele, the “major challenge” which prevented Mkhwanazi from taking residence of his state-sponsored abode was the “alleged dispute over ownership of the property and the change of ownership of the electricity account”.
“It was found that the residence was allegedly fraudulently sold to a third party and the victim of this fraud had tried to change the ownership of the property into his name. He was not successful; however, he had successfully changed the electricity account details into his name, at the municipal offices.
Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi continued his testimony before the South African Human Rights commission hearing into the deadly July unrest.
The municipality refused to reverse the account before all outstanding payments were settled. A fraud case was opened at the Durban North police station.
Cele’s answer read:The provincial commissioner made use of interim accommodation, from 1 April 2021 to 31 August 2021.
“The total cost for the interim accommodation amounted to R175 000.00.
“The provincial commissioner has moved and is now occupying the official residence.”
Mkhwanazi and deputy provincial commissioner for visible policing Major-General Phumelele Makhoba on Tuesday testified before the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) that Mapisa-Nqakula and SA National Defence Force generals were operating out of the luxury five-star Beverly Hills Hotel in Umhlanga, Durban, during the July unrest.
The SAHRC is investigating the July unrest, which left more than 340 people dead and led to economic losses of R50 billion.
News24 reported earlier Mkhwanazi had been criticised at the SAHRC’s hearings, with several witnesses testifying the police were largely absent during the unrest.
Mapisa-Nqakula, who has since been elected National Assembly Speaker, told the commission the provincial police commissioner’s “immaturity” and “ego” led to the army being deprived of information during the July unrest.
She said she found Mkhwanazi difficult to work with, but when Makhoba took over when he was on paternity leave, things began flowing more smoothly.
Mkhwanazi said Makhoba only started acting as provincial commissioner on 19 July when he went on leave, not 17 July.
When asked about Mapisa-Nqakula’s statements, he said: “This is a lie.”
The commission will allow Mapisa-Nqakula to respond to this.
While the police paid R175 000 for Mkhwanazi’s “interim accommodation”, its budget for the current financial year and the next three years has been cut.
The police’s overall budget for the 2021/22 financial year decreased by 3.2% from the previous year.
The budget for 2020/21 was R99.561 billion; for the current year, it is R96.355 billion. Most of the overall budget cut will be absorbed by the police’s biggest programme – visible policing.
The police have five programmes – administration, visible policing, detective services, crime intelligence, and protection and security services.
The budget for all these programmes, except for administration, has decreased.
Visible policing’s budget decreased by 7.2%, while administration’s budget increased by 4.8%.
In response to another question, by the EFF’s Henry Shembeni, Cele said: “The SAPS compensation budget has been significantly reduced over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework, which resulted in the SAPS Fixed Establishment [headcount] being hugely reduced over this period.”