Experts hold conflicting views on Phahlane business dealings

Corruption Watch says the nature of the relationship between Phahlane and a service provider has raised serious questions. The ISS disagrees.

FILE: Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

PRETORIA – While Corruption Watch has raised concerns surrounding Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane’s business dealings with a police supplier, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) believes it is not necessarily irregular.

The lieutenant general has confirmed that he contracted the services of a South African Police Service (SAPS) service provider to provide interior decorating advice, which led to the purchase of an R80,000 surround sound system for his private residence.

Police watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) searched Phahlane’s house on Thursday, as part of a corruption investigation. It is alleged that the sound system was a kickback for tenders.

Phahlane has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he paid for the equipment out of his own pocket.

Corruption Watch’s David Lewis says the nature of the relationship between the acting commissioner and the service provider has raised serious questions.

“On the face of it, it’s a very inappropriate relationship to be in. Very often, conclusions are drawn from perception and somebody who is in the position of police commissioner has to be beyond reproach.”

However, the ISS’s Johan Burger disagrees.

“That in itself I don’t see as improper. I think that if you abuse the relationship to benefit from it in a way that otherwise would not have been possible, then certainly one could express your misgivings on the situation.”

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union's Richard Mamabolo says that the union has taken a decision not to comment on the ongoing investigation into Phahlane’s conduct.

(Edited by Masechaba Sefularo)