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High-Ranking South African Police Official Investigated for Corruption Amidst Claims of Internal Conflict

Published December 25, 2023
7 months ago

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has found itself in troubled waters as National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola has instituted a high-stakes inquiry into allegations of misconduct and corruption against Mpumalanga's top police officer, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Manamela. The inquiry follows the senior officer's suspension tied to accusations of self-enrichment with R2.1 million worth of state-funded gifts.

This investigation comes in the wake of detailed reports provided by several highly placed—albeit anonymous—sources. These reports align with a list of 10 senior Mpumalanga officers who testified against Manamela, claiming to face subsequent victimization by their provincial head. National police spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe confirmed the ongoing probe without delving into the specifics of the escalating 'leadership crisis' in the province.

A Pretoria High Court judgement from March highlighted Masemola's flawed initial suspension procedure of Manamela, critiquing the lack of detail in his notice. However, Masemola has since relaunched a more comprehensive inquiry into Manamela's fitness to hold office, with a focus on alleged monetary exploitation and abuse of power within the SAPS.

The report implicates Manamela in a potential vendetta against officers like Brigadier Lindani Ndlovu, who has been significant in combating illegal mining activities. Additionally, a dossier from December 2023 paints a picture of a leader stifled in her ability to discipline subordinates, grappling with political factionalism among the police ranks.

Surprisingly, despite these serious allegations, Manamela enjoyed public support from community safety MEC Vusi Shongwe during December's police excellence awards. Shongwe praised her efforts in the fight against corruption, calling to spotlight her role in the high-profile arrest of officers involved in a cash-in-transit heist.

Nonetheless, the inquiry has shed light on underlying tensions within Mpumalanga's police force, with whistleblowers and insiders exposing complex webs of power struggles and money laundering. The testimonies of high-ranking officials have resulted in an unofficial stand-down from Manamela, aiming to ensure no additional disciplinary action compounds the tensions until the inquiry concludes.

In the interim, Commissioner Masemola is adamant about maintaining a smoothly operating police force devoid of internal conflict, focusing on the crucial festive period demands. Spokesperson Mathe echoed this sentiment, underscoring an "open-door policy" for provincial commissioners to raise service delivery concerns.

The serious nature of this investigation suggests deeply rooted issues that extend beyond Manamela and cast a shadow over the integrity of police operations in Mpumalanga. As the SAPS works tirelessly to serve the community, the need for transparent and just leadership is more palpable than ever. With the results of the inquiry pending, all eyes are on Commissioner Masemola's next move and how it will reshape the future of policing in the province.

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