Two senior SAPS members, who worked under suspended National Commissioner Riah Phiyega, have been found guilty of misconduct.
An internal disciplinary report by inquiry chairperson MJ Ramaepadi said that both Lieutenant General Nobubele Mbekela and Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale were found guilty of misconduct, although they were found to have not deliberately misled Parliament’s portfolio committee on police.
The two were suspended after they publicly defended Phiyega, who has also been placed on suspension pending an inquiry into her fitness to hold office.
Makgale, an SAPS spokesperson, was suspended for releasing media statements defending Phiyega and allegedly misleading the portfolio committee.
Mbekela was suspended after she did a radio interview claiming that Phiyega was being targeted because she is a woman.
The disciplinary report charged Makgale, the head of corporate communication, with one charge of misconduct and Mbekela, the deputy national commissioner for corporate services management, with three charges of misconduct.
It was alleged that they both sought to mislead the portfolio committee on what happened at the BoC meeting, that they provided false information to the portfolio committee, were unco-operative and obstructive, and conducted themselves in an improper and disgraceful manner.
Mbekela was further charged for giving an interview on Radio 702 in which she declared support for Phiyega, and for making disrespectful allegations against Acting National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane in her affidavit before the Labour Court.
They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The disciplinary inquiry looked at the findings of the portfolio committee on police which found that the statement released after the August 12 meeting was aimed at influencing the public discourse and process of the president in response to the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, and that with the BoC, they chose to enter political terrain.
Both Mbekela and Makgale’s legal teams argued that the disciplinary steps against the two were not entirely in accordance with the recommendations of the portfolio committee and that recommendations were being implemented selectively.
This was because only Mbekela and Makgale were being charged when the committee recommended that steps be taken against all the provincial commissioners, two deputy national commissioners and a divisional commissioner for human resources.
The chairperson said in the report that during the inquiry “it became common cause that General Mbekela and Lieutenant General Makgale provided incomplete information to the Portfolio Committee”.
The chairperson found that Mbekela and Makgale did not however attempt to mislead the portfolio committee in the August 1 press statement.
The report did find that information on Phiyega’s participation in the meeting had not been disclosed, that the two had provided incomplete information to the committee and they did not provide clear answers.
Because of this they were both found guilty of the first charge of misconduct.
Mbekela was also found guilty on the second charge because she pledged allegiance to Phiyega in the radio interview.
Mbekela was also found guilty on the third charge as it was disrespectful to refer to the acting national commissioner as “malicious” and “a law unto himself”.
“This becomes even more damaging when regard is had to one of the Constitutional mandates of the SAPS, being to uphold the law,” the disciplinary report found.
Mitigation of sentencing is still to take place.