Johannesburg – Allegations of abuse of power, nepotism and cronyism are piling up against Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange, with many of her subordinates considering quitting due to low morale.
Police officers at the provincial headquarters in Parktown, Joburg, are apparently so disgruntled with De Lange’s leadership – who is no stranger to controversy – that they want her booted out a mere four months into her plum job as the province’s top cop.
The latest allegations against De Lange are that she had undue influence in the appointment of her daughter, Rose Damane, into a “level 5 admin clerk post” that was advertised with other vacant posts earlier this year. In her LinkedIn profile, Damane, who takes home about R132 000 a year, states that she graduated with a BA honours degree in general psychology from Wits University last year.
An impeccable source within the SAPS told The Star that all the advertised posts were subsequently frozen after interviews were conducted, except the one later filled by Damane, who lives with De Lange in the Boksburg suburb of Freeway Park, where houses sell for over R1 million.
“People who sat on the short-listing panel claim that Rose’s application was brought to them separately from the rest and she landed the job as a result. That child doesn’t even have an admin qualification. She holds a psychology degree and is not qualified for the position she holds. In fact, no one knows what her job description is,” the source said.
Another allegation is that Damane, who’s in her 20s, is chauffeur-driven to work in a sleek SAPS vehicle daily, at the state’s expense.
“The chauffeurs then go back to Boksburg to fetch her mother, the provincial commissioner, because they don’t want to arrive at work at the same time so as to raise eyebrows. This is abuse of state resources,” said the source.
SAPS staffers who spoke to The Star on condition of anonymity, for fear of reprisals, said most of their colleagues were unhappy about De Lange’s “underhanded methods” in employing her relatives.
But no one was prepared to challenge her. “How do you lay a complaint against the provincial commissioner? You are going to lose your job, or these guys will take you out! Morale is so low among colleagues that some consider quitting, but how are you going to do that if you don’t have alternatives?” one officer said.
These allegations come days after The Star published a story following a parliamentary revelation that another of De Lange’s children, Tshidiso Damane, was taken into the police training college last year despite criminal charges hanging over his head.
Charges against the 28-year-old were withdrawn three days after his admission to the college.
In a parliamentary response, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko defended Tshidiso’s appointment, saying he was currently on a two-year contract with the police service and would only be appointment as a full-SAPS member on “successful completion of the prescribed training”.
The Star understands that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) had included De Lange’s issue on its nationwide campaign against the alleged non-implementation of the promotion policy by the SAPS, among others.
On Sunday Popcru president Ziza-mele Cebekhulu said they were aware of the “crisis of nepotism and cronyism in Gauteng being created by this woman (De Lange). That’s not allowed and we want the matter to be investigated”.
Cebekhulu said they were worried about the slow service-delivery and unemployment in the country, adding: “Therefore we cannot have someone who thinks she is the only one having unemployed family members…”
DA MP and police spokesman for the party Zakhele Mbhele said: “Where there is favouritism in appointments and promotions, it erodes morale and undermines the fight against crime, because those officers most deserving of a position because they have the best skills and experience are sidelined.
“This deprives ordinary people an effective police service, which makes all of us less safe.”
Mbhele said he planned to write to the acting national police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, to investigate the allegations and “enforce accountability where there are findings of procedures not having been followed properly”.
This, he said, would be a test of Phahlane’s commitment to implement the much-trumpeted “back-to-basics approach”.
Speaking to The Star, De Lange laughed off the allegations and pleaded her innocence, saying this was a personal attack on her.
“On the issue of my son, the minister has already explained the matter, so there’s no way anybody can be enlisted into the police service if they have a criminal record,” she said.
Regarding her daughter, De Lange said the post required someone with a matric. “She went through the process just like anybody else. In fact, she is highly, highly qualified for that post because she has matric, a degree and an honours degree,” saidDe Lange, adding it was “a joke” that Rose was chauffeur-driven to work, as only lieutenant-generals enjoyed such a privilege.
Asked if she would resign if an investigation found that she’d had a hand in her children’s appointments into the police service, De Lange said: “I’d never resign because I’m innocent. I was never involved in any wrong-doing.”