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24 July 2011 at 09:31 - Posted by Anonymous

Now Cele's best man gets top job


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Brigadier Thulani Shabalala has been appointed to a R700000-a-year job in the police force

Police chief General Bheki Cele's former bodyguard and the best man at his wedding has landed a top job - jumping six ranks in the force.

On July 1 Brigadier Thulani Shabalala began his R700000-a-year job as head of the police's protection and security services in KwaZulu-Natal.

Angry senior officers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, have slated his appointment, saying it had caused ructions within the unit - with some officers even threatening to resign.

The Sunday Times has established that Shabalala:

Was Cele's personal bodyguard in 1995;

  • Left the SA Police Service's detective division in 2005 with the rank of warrant officer;
  • Was later employed as a compliance manager in the taxi violence sub-directorate in KwaZulu-Natal's Department of Transport, one of the departments headed by Cele before his appointment as police commissioner in July 2009; and
  • Was among 46 people who applied for the position, despite it being only advertised internally, in May.
  • In March the Sunday Times reported that Cele's father-in-law had been given a promotion three months after his daughter tied the knot with Cele.

Mjabuliswa Ngcobo was promoted to head of detectives in KwaZulu-Natal with the rank of major-general - receiving an annual salary package of R805188 - in January.

At the time, parliament was told of severe unhappiness in the ranks of the police over "a few elite" being promoted at the expense of "hard-working members who deserve to be promoted".

In his new job, Shabalala will oversee the protection of VIPs and the safeguarding of "strategic installations".

Yesterday Cele's office said he had not used his influence or interfered in Shabalala's appointment.

Senior police officers described Cele and Shabalala's friendship as an "open secret".

They said Shabalala often boasted about it and the influence he had with Cele.

Shabalala was Cele's best man when he married Thembeka Ngcobo on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast last October. Four of Shabalala's colleagues said the former bodyguard had, in fact, introduced the couple.

Cele's spokesman, Major-General Nonkululeko Mbatha, defended the appointment, saying it was based "solely on a consideration of his vast experience".

She said: "Shabalala, who had already applied for an interdepartmental transfer back into the SAPS at the time, was one of 46 applicants. The lateral transfer was approved."

She said at no stage of the process had the panel, which recommended his appointment, considered his "personal relationship with General Cele".

Mbatha said that, soon after Cele's appointment as national commissioner, a decision was taken to reverse the "brain drain" by persuading former policemen to rejoin the force.

"Only those ex-policemen who had not been out of the SAPS environment for more than five years qualify for this special recruitment drive," she said.

Shabalala, however, had been out of the police force for six years.

Mbatha said: "The criterion is only waived in the case of those ex-policemen who happen to be employed in the coalface of the security field. Brigadier Thulani Shabalala was one such ex-policeman."

Shabalala joined the police in 1994, having served in the ANC's armed wing, Umkhonto weSizwe. Prior to his recent appointment he was head of risk management in KwaZulu-Natal's Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The DA's shadow minister of police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said she would request the public protector's office to investigate Cele's promotions.

"Bheki Cele has to learn the SAPS isn't an employment agency for friends and family. It is causing extreme unhappiness for loyal SAPS members," she said.

The commissioner has been facing pressure to resign following the release last week of public protector Thuli Madonsela's scathing report on the dodgy, R1.78-billion lease deals he had initiated. It was reported that he had been offered a diplomatic post, which President Jacob Zuma's office denied.

Cele this week cancelled two scheduled press conferences to respond to Madonsela's report.

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