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Exposed: How Zuma friends tried to steal R45m to buy ANC votes

President Jacob Zuma looks on during the 54th national conference of the ANC in Johannesburg on December 17, 2017. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

EDINBURGH — Jacob Zuma was efficiently ousted as president simply over a yr in the past, however his legacy of corruption has an extended tail. As Marianne Thamm studies for the Every day Maverick, people shut to Zuma seem to have been concerned in an elaborate plan to siphon R45m via the police service to buy votes. The plot centres round a police contract allegedly irregularly awarded – and at an inflated worth. The Unbiased Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) believes cash was to be laundered for the buying of votes on the ANC’s nationwide convention in December 2017. The scandal emerged in courtroom papers. – Jackie Cameron

By Marianne Thamm

Whereas the ruling get together, now led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, gears up for its week of annual January eight celebrations, culminating on Saturday 12 January on the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, the cosmic particles from its life-or-death 54th elective convention in 2017 retains pockmarking the political panorama.

Behind the scenes, the Unbiased Police Investigative Directorate, headed by Robert McBride, is locked in a authorized battle with SAPS and the Directorate for Precedence Crime Investigation (DPCI) in an try to entry information which IPID maintains have been “classified” for the aim of masking up alleged corruption and criminality within the lead-up to Nasrec. Truly, not solely in that occasion (the tried R45m Nasrec slush fund) but in addition others, the place, says IPID, public funds have been laundered via Crime Intelligence (CI) to buy votes at ANC elective conferences.

The bid to divert the R45m had been, says IPID in courtroom papers, on the insistence of then CI appearing head, Common King Bhoyi Ngcobo.

Ngcobo was beforehand Head of VIP Safety Providers and one among President Jacob Zuma’s “most trusted bodyguards”.

Ngcobo was appointed by Zuma to the highest job in August 2017, 4 months earlier than the Nasrec convention.

August 2017 was additionally the month when Zuma emerged triumphant when a no-confidence vote by secret poll within the Nationwide Meeting failed with 198 votes towards the no-confidence vote, 177 for, with 9 abstentions.

Those that may discover themselves criminally charged embrace Ngcobo in addition to former Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula’s adviser, Bongani “Bo” Mbindwane, who, in accordance to courtroom papers, was current at a secret assembly on the Courtyard Lodge in Arcadia, Pretoria, on 13 December 2017, three days earlier than the ANC’s 54th elective convention.

The assembly, captured on the lodge’s CCTV, had been organized to expedite the procurement of a R45m grabber – a strong eavesdropping gadget.

Others implicated within the assembly are Nationwide Commissioner Khehla Sitole, Deputy Nationwide Commissioner of Crime Detection and former Provincial Commissioner of the Free State, Lieutenant-Basic Lebeoana Tsumane, and Deputy Nationwide Commissioner of Administration Advisory Providers Main-Common Francinah Ntombenhle Vuma.

The courtroom papers include correspondence between IPID, IGI, Bheki Cele and authorized representatives of these implicated. The papers declare the SAPS prime brass and Mbindwane met Inbanathan Kistiah, proprietor of Brainwave tasks 1323CC, Buying and selling as I-View Built-in methods, from whom a R45m “grabber” was being sourced.

The gadget sells for about R7m on the open market.

Sitole instantly stopped cost to I-View when IPID contacted and alerted him shortly after the Pretoria assembly as to the illegality of the procurement. It was a heist, IPID informed Sitole in not so many phrases – an inside job that ought to by no means be accredited.

Writing to Police Minister Bheki Cele in April 2018, Inspector-Basic for Intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, stated about Mbindwane’s presence on the Pretoria assembly:

“This practice is highly irregular for the Minister’s adviser to attend a procurement meeting with SAPS management and this has raised suspicions.”

The result of the IPID investigation might have critical penalties for a lot of high-profile ANC members in addition to senior SAPS officers. To say nothing of the injury to the governing social gathering, which has been accused of syphoning off public funds to finance factional battles.

Whereas SAPS and the Hawks have stalled handing over the categorised paperwork to IPID for nearly a yr, Cele and Dintwe have been corresponding with each other. Dintwe informed Cele he was of the opinion that the paperwork couldn’t be categorised as they didn’t threaten “national security”. This has been the suggestion by these implicated.

Dintwe wrote to Cele:

“It is absurd for an institution to refuse declassification of documents for purposes of processing a criminal investigation or criminal trial, especially when the courts have always been willing to put measures in place to mitigate possible damage due to disclosure of sensitive information whilst at the same time ensuring the continuation of the criminal process.”

IPID can also be trying to get hold of details about CI operative Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala in addition to former CI head, Richard Mdluli. IPID had beforehand uncovered that Tshabalala had been the bagman for Operation Hibela, aimed toward swinging the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung elective convention in favour of Jacob Zuma. (His opponent on the time was Kgalema Motlanthe.) In 2012 Tshabalala is alleged to have been a part of a workforce dispatched to distribute round R52m in money at Mangaung.

One other probably fraudulent SAPS procurement matter IPID is investigating is an irregular R33m tender with Brainwave Tasks which befell between 20 December 2016 and 31 March 2017. On this occasion, CI procured from I-View (which was beneath enterprise rescue on the time) an encrypting system, Daedalus, for R21m. Daedalus blocked surveillance of consumer SMSes and calls.

IPID head Robert McBride, in courtroom papers, claimed that “IPID has reason to believe that Daedalus was obtained specifically to block IPID’s surveillance of the cellphone communications between former National Commissioner Lieutenant-General [Khomotso] Phahlane and a team of SAPS detectives from the North West Province (led by Major-General Jan Mabula) which General Phahlane appointed to counter and obstruct IPID’s investigation against him for alleged fraud and corruption.”

With regard to the pre-Nasrec (December 2017) assembly in Pretoria, Dintwe wrote to Cele:

“I opine that charges of defeating the ends of justice may be considered for any person who is an impediment to the investigation which is underway, and driven by the IPID.”

In courtroom paperwork, IPID set out the way it bust the inside circle on the lodge. Investigators had acquired info that the aim of the assembly “was to discuss the emergency procurement of a cellphone grabbing device at a bloated amount of R45m.”

In fact, stated IPID, “no need existed for the emergency procurement of the device and no needs analysis was conducted by the commander of the unit responsible for procuring such devices. He was never informed.”

It was clear then that “neither the normal tender processes nor emergency procurement processes were followed and no proper application was made. This practice is highly irregular within the SAPS procurement processes and is in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act,” stated IPID.

Since then makes an attempt by IPID to get hold of statements from these implicated, together with Mbindwane, have been resisted, with CI administration and SAPS “refusing to submit statements as requested” claiming the knowledge is assessed.

“It is not clear how requesting a statement explaining the attendees (sic) involvement in the meeting is deemed to be classified,” IPID wrote to Minister Cele.

Cele had, within the meantime, requested an opinion from the IGI, saying that his ideas can be depending on Dintwe’s view “regarding the possible impact on National Security by the intended declassification of documents in question”.

Dintwe informed Cele that “the departure point in this regard is Paragraph 3 of the National Policy of Security, commonly known as Minimum Information Security Standards (MISS), which sets out guidelines on the procedure for safe custody of documents, classification thereof and the process of declassification of documents”.

The MISS doc, stated Dintwe, offered an evidence on the classification of paperwork with the actual injunction that “security measures are not intended and should not be applied to cover up maladministration, corruption, criminal action etc or to protect individuals/officials involved in such cases…”

Dintwe advised Cele that “in instances of suspicion of criminality involving classified documents, the Divisional Commissioner and/or the National Commissioner are duty-bound to reconsider the earlier classification of documents and should be inclined in favour of declassification of documents in order to allow for proper and unhindered investigation and possible criminal prosecution”.

With regard to info on Tshabalala, Dintwe wrote: “There appears to be nothing that may adversely affect the national security of the country. Information that I am privy to is that Captain Lesiba Maurice Tshabalala was just earning a salary and was not involved in any intelligence operations.”

Nevertheless, with regard to Mdluli, Dintwe stated:

“I am of the opinion that the information being requested by the IPID does not have the potential to harmfully affect the national security. The requested Mdluli documents relate to procurement, administrative and travel matters, and not intelligence operations.”

Sitole, Tsumane, Vuma and Mbindwane have all stated that categorised paperwork can solely be “sought by and disclosed” by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence (a closed committee) and that disclosure to IPID, or anybody else, can be prohibited by the Intelligence Oversight Act.

Whereas Tsumane and Mbindwane had initially informed IPID they might co-operate, they later withdrew.

Tsumane and Mbindwane, by means of their authorized consultant, knowledgeable IPID that their assembly on the Pretoria lodge had associated to “issues that fall within the ambit of the National Strategic Intelligence Act 39 of 1994 and its regulations” and that they “cannot answer any questions from any body or institution other than the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence”.

IPID then utilized for a subpoena to compel the 2 males to interact.

McBride stated that the knowledge and paperwork had to do with a suspected crime, “specifically tender fraud”, and that “the alleged ‘classified documents’ have been unlawfully and improperly classified to cover up the commission of suspected crimes”.

IPID, McBride and Dintwe reminded all involved, have the top-secret safety clearance required to cope with such categorized issues.

The attainable syphoning off of public funds for the good thing about the ANC can also be beneath scrutiny with regard to one other last-minute, irregular signing off by appearing Sassa CEO Pearl Bhengu, of a R20m procurement, every week earlier than Nasrec in 2017.

Bhengu was the previous head of Sassa in KwaZulu-Natal. In the long run, R12m of the R20m sudden procurement was spent. The obvious irregularity solely got here to mild in a report again to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa). DM

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