The acting spokesperson for Mpumalanga’s Organised Crime Unit was removed from his post this week for lying to the media about investigations into the assassination of Jimmy Mohlala, speaker of the Mbombela local municipality in Nelspruit.
Superintendent Malcolm Mokomene, who has been acting spokesperson for the unit since early this month, was removed on Tuesday by acting provincial police commissioner Rex Machabi.
“We have to categorically make it clear that Mokomene was not fired or suspended, but just removed as the acting spokesperson of the organised crime unit after you guys complained about him lying to you last week. He has been deployed back to communications in the office of the commissioner,” said Machabi’s spokesperson Superintendent Sibongile Nkosi on Thursday.
Nelspruit-based news agency African Eye News Services (AENS) sent a letter of complaint to Machabi on Friday complaining that Mokomene had lied about new developments in Mohlala’s assassination case.
When AENS received a high-level tip-off that police had arrested a suspect called Vincent Nkosi in connection with Mohlala’s murder, Mokomene repeatedly denied that any new suspect had been arrested, detained, or otherwise interviewed by police.
The following day, Mokomene released a statement confirming that Nkosi was detained, questioned and then released because police found that he was not linked to the crime.
When asked to explain his initial denials about the arrest, Mokomene confirmed that he lied to the journalist, but he failed to state reasons why.
Mokomene refused to comment on the matter on Thursday.
“I will not comment at the moment because I am busy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Nkosi said she had yet to officially meet with Machabi to discuss the matter and would only release a formal statement next week.
She said any enquiries about cases handled by the organised crime unit should now be directed to her personally until the return of the unit’s full-time spokesperson, Captain Leonard Hlathi, who is currently attending a course.
To date, no one has been charged with the January 4 assassination of Mohlala. His murder may be linked to his exposure of corruption and irregularities in the 2010 soccer stadium project in Nelspruit.