Why the hell have these cops been promoted?
Despite facing charges for many violent crimes, they are now in an ultra-elite unit
Two Hawks officers who face multiple charges for violent crimes have been rewarded with promotions to positions within an elite and secretive unit.
Criminologists say that the promotions go against police regulations, which state that those facing either criminal or internal disciplinary matters may not be promoted until they have been formally cleared of all charges.
Warrant officers Solomon Moloto and Frank Kgamanyane are to appear in the Welkom Regional Court later this month on charges of armed robbery and assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
The charges relate to their alleged attack on Free State gold dealer Moses Mkhize in late 2016.
Despite facing criminal charges and a number of internal disciplinary hearings, the two, who are out on R10,000 bail each, were promoted late last year out of the Hawks’ tactical operations management section and into the Crimes Against The State (CATS) unit.
CATS is responsible for highly secretive investigations such as those into terrorism and threats against government ministers or vital infrastructure.While Mkhize declined to comment on his attack, Times Select has learned that he was severely assaulted during an apparent raid on his St Helena, Welkom home after nearly R200,000 was allegedly stolen from him.
Police sources have alleged to Times Select how senior management within the Hawks have tried to have the investigation squashed, with several senior officers trying to stop the policemen’s arrests.
“It’s been crazy. The amount of pressure the investigating officer has been under is incredible. He’s had threats to his life.
“These officers’ commander forced the investigating officer to drive all the way from Welkom to Pretoria, when he (the commander) refused to arrest them.
“Senior management then tried to persuade the investigator to allow the officers to present themselves to court on their own, instead of being taken to court in handcuffs like all other suspects.
“Despite an instruction from prosecutors to the investigating officer to arrest the suspects, it took over a year for the investigating officer to finally arrest them. That’s how long he has been frustrated for in this case.”Another officer, who used to work with the accused, said: “ it was clear the officers were seen as demigods and protected from the top.”
He said the officers were promoted despite it being against internal regulations.
“The next rank above constable is sergeant, but they jumped two ranks to warrant officer and were moved into a highly elite unit, which requires one to have years of detective experience. They have none.
“Questions need to be asked as to who is protecting them and why,” said the officer.
The investigating officer referred all questions to the Hawks spokesperson.
He asked not to be named.
Hawks Free State spokesperson Captain S'fiso Nyakane confirmed the officers were due in court this month on charges of armed robbery and assault with the intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
He said the policemen were still working, but declined to name the unit they were stationed in.
“They are now warrant officers. At the time of their arrests they were constables.”
Asked about the internal disciplinary processes against them and their promotions, Nyakane said he could not comment.
“You must ask our national office.”
Attempts to get comment from Hawks management failed.
Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesperson Moses Dlamini said they were investigating the matter. He also confirmed they are investigating the two Hawks officers for attempted murder as well.
Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies said the promotions of the Hawks officers went against police regulations.
“If you are a police officer and face a criminal or internal discplinary hearing you cannot be promoted until you have been formally cleared.
“Not only must there be an investigation into these officers, but also the officers who authorised their promotions while they are under investigation.”
He said criminality within the SAPS was a significant problem.
“There are lots of temptations for police with systems holding officers to account either weak or non-existent.
“Internal investigation units, which should be well resourced and filled with highly skilled officers, are absent.”
Newham said until officers who broke the rules and law were held to account there would continue to be such incidents within the SAPS.He said police management should be made to annually show how many police officers were criminally and internally charged, the outcome of these cases as well as whether these members had been promoted.
“If there are promotions or the cases went nowhere then those responsible for investigating them should be investigated and made to account.
“That's the only way police management can be seen to be taking criminality within the SAPS seriously.”
Richard Mamabolo, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union spokesperson, said the only way to have a proper and fit police service was to ensure its ranks were rid of criminal elements.
"The housing of criminals within the SAPS will continue to destablise the organisation and lead to its degeneration. How can you expect civilians to respect the police, when there are criminals within its ranks?
"There needs to be a major clean-up, with government needing to be seen taking action against those who belong in prison."