South Africa’s High Commissioner to Singapore, Hazel Ngubeni has been fired from her diplomatic post.
The termination of the former diplomat’s contract with the Department of International Relations came to light on Friday.
She had been under investigation following claims that she concealed her criminal history before and after she was nominated for the commissioner position back in 2013.
Shortly after her criminal record was publicized in 2016, the State Security Agency had her security clearance revoked and announced she was being investigated.
The termination of her contract was announced by the Department of International Relations spokesman, Nelson Kgwete, last week.
He said: “Following the withdrawal of her security clearance by the State Security Agency, the department has revoked Ngubeni’s contract for her posting as a high commissioner . . . the employment contract has been terminated.”
It is completely safe to say that it seems as if South Africa’s high commissioners often involve themselves in nefarious activities.
Recall that in October 2016, South Africa’s High Commissioner to Australia, Sibusiso Ndebele, resigned after he was accused of taking a R10 million ($750 000) bribe during his previous position as transport minister.
He allegedly accepted the bribe in exchange for extending Tasima’s contract to run the electronic national administration traffic information system (eNatis)
In January, the Sunday Times also revealed that Obed Mlaba, SA’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK) has been running the South African embassy in London “like a spaza shop”.
He is said to have been writing letters to directors of various companies operating in the UK and South Africa, on government letterheads, to secure business deals for his personal projects.
The projects include the building of a technical school and a private hospital in KwaZulu-Natal under the auspices of the Obed Mlaba Foundation Trust.
The High Commissioner was a former eThekwini mayor and was linked to a multimillion-rand waste management tender irregularity in 2009.
He reportedly tried to award a R3 billion waste management contract to a company where he and his two daughters were partners.
Going by these reports, it would seem as if criminality is not only commonplace but a requirement for climbing up the diplomatic ranks to become a high commissioner for South Africa.
Here Are Facts You Should Know About Hazel Ngubeni
1. Hazel has served two years in a New York jail for drug smuggling: This startling revelation was first reported by the Sunday Times in October 2016. Ngubeni (who went by the name Francis MacDonald when she worked at SAA) was caught smuggling a bag of cocaine while working as a cabin attendant for South African Airways (SAA). After her arrest, she spent two years in a US prison from 1999 to 2001.
2. She is not a first-timer in drug smuggling: In September 1995, she was arrested at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. She was subsequently charged with smuggling 9kg of heroin into South Africa from Thailand. However, in 1997, she was dramatically acquitted when a key witness refused to testify against her. She also owned up to the crime but alleged that her bag was switched.
3. In 2013, she was able to out-smart diplomatic clearance authorities by hiding her conviction history when she was deployed to Singapore as South Africa’s high commissioner. Ngubeni left South Africa for Singapore on April 17, 2013 and her security clearance was issued on July 21, 2013.
4. Hazel Francis Ngubeni was appointed to her position by a senior political leadership, according to records from the South African Department of International Relations.