Is there really an investigation into police officer Andile Mtshiceka?

| Mary-Jane Matsolo and Nathan Geffen
Photo by Nokubonga Yawa.

Months before Social Justice Coalition member Angy Peter was arrested for her alleged role in a vigilante murder, she had lodged a complaint of corruption against police officer Andile Mtshiceka.

We understand that Peter alleged in her complaint that Mtshiceka had bought stolen goods from and protected the man Peter is accused of murdering, Siphiwo “Rowan” Mbevu. We have been attempting to find out the progress of the investigation against Mtshiceka. But as we describe below, our efforts have been stonewalled by the police. The police have failed to provide even the most basic information, such as who the investigating officer is or whether Mtshiceka has been suspended. As far as we can determine, the police had not even interviewed Peter about her complaint before she was arrested for Mbevu’s murder.

Also unclear is why the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID, formerly the Independent Complaints Directorate) did not investigate the case. According to its website, the aim of the IPID is “to ensure independent oversight over the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Municipal Police Services (MPS), and to conduct independent and impartial investigations of identified criminal offences allegedly committed by members of the SAPS and the MPS, and make appropriate recommendations.” It is not clear why a case in which such serious allegations have been made is being handled internally by the police.

In GroundUp’s top news story on 23 October we wrote:

GroundUp attempted to contact Mtshiceka by phoning Blue Downs Police Station. At first the person who answered denied that Mtshiceka worked at the police station. But upon being pressed he admitted that Mtshiceka was on night duty and not at the police station presently. GroundUp also attempted to contact the commanding officer of the Blue Downs Police Station but we were told he was in a meeting.

When Peter and Mbadu went to open up a case against Mbevu and the police officer, a statement was taken from them but Peter claims they were refused a copy for their reference and also refused permission to speak to the station commander. In response, Lieutenant Colonel Traut confirmed to GroundUp that should a person request a copy of their statement, the police should give it to them. Traut assured GroundUp that this will be followed up.

Soon after that Peter and Mbadu received a threatening phone call from a known criminal in the area who said that the officer they had opened a case against was very dangerous and that their families were unsafe. The two fled to a safe house for a number of days but moved back to Mfuleni when it emerged the community was once again angered by what had occurred and wanted to kill Mbevu. Our sources claim that Peter and Mbadu again prevented the community members from taking matters into their own hands.

Peter with the SJC’s assistance sought assistance from the IPID. She was advised to lodge a complaint at a different police station to Blue Downs. She and Mbadu therefore lodged a complaint at Site B police station. GroundUp understands that there were two legs to the complaint. The first was against Mbevu for the theft of the television. The second was against Mtshiceka. Peter followed up her complaint about a week later. She was told that Mtshiceka worked for Crime Intelligence, that an internal investigation had been started and that the case was no longer in the hands of the Site B police station.

In response to these allegations Lieutenant Colonel Traut wrote to GroundUp that “the deceased [Mbevu] denied knowledge of the police officer and that he ever disclosed such information to them.” Traut further confirmed that an investigation into their complaints against the police officer was still ongoing. He wrote that the “investigation will determine if there is a criminal case or not to go with the departmental hearing.”

After a telephone discussion last week with Lieutenant Colonel Traut in which he revealed no further information, we sent him an email with these questions:

  • Have witnesses been interviewed, including residents of Mfuleni?

  • Have Angy Peter and her husband been interviewed as part of this investigation?

  • Is the police officer concerned suspended or is he reporting for duty?

  • When is the investigation likely to finish?

  • Who is the investigating officer in charge of this case?

  • How many people are there on the investigation team?

  • How much time is being invested in this case?

Several attempts to get hold of Traut later, we received this response:

In response to your enquiry, kindly be advised that this office can confirm that all aspects regarding this case are being investigated. The alleged corrupt relationship which a police officer had with the deceased is also being investigated, and only once the investigation has been finalized, can we offer you a comment in this regard.

I trust that the above will suffice.

Frankly, it doesn’t.

One of us, Matsolo, also went to both Mfuleni and Blue Downs Police Stations to speak to Mtshiceka’s station commander. He was reluctant to speak but referred Matsolo to the Crime Intelligence Unit, which is apparently where his case is being investigated. So far we have received no information from Crime Intelligence. We understand that Mtshiceka is a member of the Crime Intelligence Unit.

Gareth Newham is the head of Crime and Justice at the Institute for Security Studies. He told us, “It is not unusual for minor crimes to be investigated internally by the police. This is however not the ideal situation. The best practice would be one that has a specialised unit is separate from the police to investigate criminal cases against police officers implicated in cases such as rape, murder or corruption.” While Newham did not have enough information about this case he did however say that it could qualify to be investigated by the IPID.

Indeed it could and should. These are extremely serious allegations that have been made against Mtshiceka. In the light of the O’Regan/Pikoli Commission of Inquiry into policing in Khayelitsha and the litigation attempt by the Minister of Police to stop it because he rather wants the police to investigate themselves, this case highlights how ridiculous the notion of the police investigating themselves is.

TOPICS:  Crime

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