“Nobody is above the law,” declared South Africa’s national police commissioner General Khehla Sitole on the day one of his deputies appeared in court, charged with fraud and corruption.

Lieutenant-General Bonang Mgwenya, the deputy national commissioner for human resources has joined nine other top police officers in dock where they are charged with criminality in relation to an irregular R191-million ”blue lights tender”.

Mgwenya is now the 13th suspect and the 9th police officer who have been arrested and appeared in court in connection with a 2017 multi-million rand tender fraud to purchase blue lights and radios for police vehicles

General Sitole reaffirmed the support of the SAPS leadership into any and all criminal investigations against any member of the SAPS. “My position regarding criminality by members within the ranks of the SAPS has been made clear by the arrest of a multitude of SAPS members by a task team reporting to me on investigations into vehicle-marking-tender fraud as well as our support to the Investigating Directorate in respect of the blue-light-tender fraud investigation”,  Sitole said.

According to the charge sheet, Mgwenya, who is out of bail of R20 000, received gifts, including a R400 000 kickback, from a company that won the R191-million tender. The R400 000 was payment towards a new BMW X5 and was made Instrumentation Traffic Law Enforcement, owned by Vimpie Manthatha.

Mathatha’s company had already received R65-million of the R191-million when the irregular contract was flagged.

On November 16, Mgwenya will join other senior police officer in the dock including, former national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, former Gauteng police commissioner Deliwe de Lange, Gauteng deputy police commissioner Nombhuruza Lettie Napo, retired divisional commissioner Lieutenant General Ramahlapi Johannes Mokwena, Brigadier James Ramajalum, Major General  Ravichandran Pillay, Colonel Thomas Dumas Marima and Sergeant Maetapese Joseph Mulaiwa.

The senior police officers have been charged together with Manthatha, Judy Rose and Samantha Andrews.

Police Minister Bheki Cele said he was saddened by the arrests of the country’s senior police officers. “It’s a situation that leaves you sad but again, it will leave you perplexed if nothing was done. We just wish that it goes to court and the court tells us what really happened. And we are not about the stop,” Cele said.  

Mgwenya has been celebrated in the police force as a pioneer paving way for other women.

Starting off as a personal assistant and public relations officer, she soon went on to become the Chief of Staff and thereafter, the Head of Employee Relations and Life Cycle Management within Human Resource Management and served as the acting Divisional Commissioner in Personnel Services. 

She co-founded the SAPS Women’s Network whose purpose was to promote the work of women in the SAPS as well as to empower them. 

She was currently serving as chairperson of the following SAPS committees, the Human Resource committee, Monetary and Non-Monetary Awards, Death Grants, Medical Incapacity Adjudication committee, South African Police Education Trust Executive committee and  the deputy chairperson for the Transformation Task Team. 

She was also the national chairperson of the COVID-19 steering committee.