Gauteng’s top cop is out: Was she pushed or did she jump?

22 June 2018 - 15:53 By Naledi Shange And Graeme Hosken
Gauteng provincial Commissioner Deliwe De Lange.
Gauteng provincial Commissioner Deliwe De Lange.
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

Gauteng's police commissioner is to be replaced but it is unclear whether she volunteered to quit the service or was given the push.

Lieutenant-General Deliwe de Lange told TimesLIVE earlier this week that she had been asked to vacate her post. But the South African Police Service (SAPS) has denied that‚ saying instead that she had opted for early retirement of her own accord.

"During engagements with Lt Gen De Lange‚ management provided her with three options for redeployment in line with her previous experience‚” said Colonel Athlenda Mathe. “However‚ she opted for early retirement in terms of section 35 of the South African Police Service Act 1995.

“The options that were discussed with her are still open despite the fact that‚ at the time‚ she volunteered for early retirement and those processes have been finalised."

It was not immediately clear what other positions De Lange had been offered.

Mathe added that discussions with De Lange had been amicable and that her last day as provincial commissioner will be June 29.

A career police officer‚ known as a corruption buster and someone who takes no nonsense‚ De Lange‚ who joined the police in 1983‚ said it would be a "sad day".

I had so much still left to do. There is a lot that one can do in two years‚ which is the time I still had left in my post
Deliwe De Lange

"I had so much still left to do. There is a lot that one can do in two years‚ which is the time I still had left in my post. I still wanted to do a lot but the national office approached me and asked me to leave."

De Lange declined to say why she had been asked to leave.

"I agreed with police management and they will now look for someone else to occupy the post‚" she said.

De Lange‚ who addressed her staff on Wednesday about her departure‚ took over from Lieutenant-General Lesetja Mothiba in 2016. Mothiba was appointed after Mzwandile Petros's contract expired.

Petros was initially replaced by Lieutenant-General Bethuel Zuma but he was removed hours after his appointment when it was discovered that he faced reckless and negligent driving charges. He was later found not guilty by the courts in Pietermaritzburg.

De Lange declined to comment on who would replace her. "You need to speak to the national police office about that. The police minister will have to make an announcement on that‚" she said laughing.

She will be joining her husband‚ a correctional services department employee‚ who was on pension. Asked about a golden handshake that she is reportedly receiving for leaving early and its value‚ De Lange laughed. "Yes‚ I am receiving one. I am taking early retirement."

She said she and her team had done well in rooting out bad apples from the SAPS‚ helping to boost public confidence in the police and reducing crime.

"The team I had were stars. Dedicated members who‚ like me‚ are married to the service."

De Lange said her wish was that she could stay on‚ finish what she had started "and extend my service to the community and the police.

I am very proud of the work I did to stamp out corruption. If I could I would be here for longer and finish my term. I would ensure that I root out all these corrupt officers in our province who are damaging the image of the SAPS
Deliwe De Lange

"I am very proud of the work I did to stamp out corruption. If I could I would be here for longer and finish my term. I would ensure that I root out all these corrupt officers in our province who are damaging the image of the SAPS. These are both officers in junior positions as well senior officers.

"It is sad to leave knowing that I didn’t get to finish the job. I believe that I had a lot still to contribute."

SA Police Union president Mpho Kwinika said De Lange had been phenomenal in restoring confidence in the police. "We are definitely not happy about what has happened and the rumours over who is going to be replacing De Lange."

He said the union wanted to know why she had been asked to take early retirement. "This is one of the most expensive ways of getting rid of people. She still had two years left in her career. Why give her a golden handshake if she has performed well with no disciplinary steps taken against her and the provincial government executive still have confidence in her.

"There are a lot of questions which need to be answered about this move. The country is losing millions of rands through golden handshakes."

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