South Africa

South Africa

Scorpio: SAPS forensic torch contract – a R1bn gift that keeps on giving

Scorpio: SAPS forensic torch contract – a R1bn gift that keeps on giving

South African taxpayers have forked out around R1-billion for the supply and maintenance of specialist forensic lights to SAPS. Businessman Keith Keating, director of Forensic Data Analysts, implicated in an IPID investigation into the payment of kickbacks to former acting SAPS National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane via a Pretoria car dealership, is also under investigation for the lucrative contract to supply SAPS with the Rofin lights at the cost of around R300,000 per torch. By MARIANNE THAMM for SCORPIO.

Three minutes before the close of business, at precisely 16:57 on 31 March 2016 (which also marked the end of the 2015/16 financial year), SAPS Information Technology Services, a division of SAPS Technology Management Services, generated order number A000T4674 for the supply of 169 Forensic Light Sources at the cost of around R52-million.

On the same day, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), a Pretoria-based company, submitted INV16131 totalling R52,942,653.66 which was paid almost immediately under the “responsibility code” of 0075 TMS (Technology Management Services). TMS just happens to be where Brigadier Beauty Phahlane and one Colonel Johann Potgieter (more about him shortly) are both stationed.

Brigadier Beauty Phahlane is the wife of suspended former acting SAPS National Commissioner, General Khomotso Phahlane, who is currently the focus of an ongoing IPID investigation into charges of fraud and corruption for receiving kickbacks in exchange for SAPS forensic contracts.

The owner and director of FDA is wealthy businessman Keith Keating, who has been fingered by IPID as the money-man behind a vehicle “sponsorship” money laundering scam involving Phahlane, his wife, his sister Josephine and Colonel Potgieter and facilitated by Pretoria car dealer, Durant Snyman.

In a letter dated 25 October 2017 to current acting SAPS national commissioner, General Lesetja Mothiba, IPID head of investigations, Matthews Sesoko, wrote:

This transaction happened on the last day of the financial year 2015/2016, which clearly demonstrates corruption through fiscal dumping. The sequence of events may be construed to indicate that the time when the order was issued, FDA was at the door with the invoice and 169 Forensic Light Sources and different role players within SAPS (SCM and management) were lined up for recommendation and approvals.”

Seseko said that the level of efficiency of the transaction between FDA and SAPS could only mean one thing – corruption.

This is but one example; there are multitudes of similar transactions of ‘efficiency’ involving FDA,” wrote Sesoko.

Keating is a director of the company along with Vhonani Mufamadi, John William King and Adri Els. Last week reports emerged that an IPID investigation had found that Keating had transferred funds into the Namibian bank account of Snyman in order to pay for vehicles used by General Phahlane, his wife, his sister and previously mentioned Colonel Potgieter.

Keating has denied paying kickbacks to Phahlane and his family via Snyman.

It was in the course of investigating General Phahlane’s allegedly corrupt relationship with service provider Kriminalistik and Crimetech, which supplied vital chemicals to the police forensic division of which Phahlane was the former head, that IPID had uncovered what it claims is another corrupt relationship, this time with FDA.

IPID found that Keating has a contract with SAPS for the supply and maintenance of Rofin lights alleged to be worth R1-billion. He also has contracts with TMS and IPID claims that since 2010, FDA had been paid over R5-billion by SAPS.

Apart from the remarkably swift payment of the R52-million for the March 2016 invoice, IPID had found several “suspicious transactions” in favour of FDA where it took three days from the issuing of an order to achieve delivery and payment.

In his letter Sesoko recommended to the National Commissioner that no further payments be made to FDA until the investigation, Sinoville CAS 146/05/2017, had been completed.

The R300,000 a pop light kits came with an additional annual “maintenance and support” contract for a product experts in the industry say is… maintenance-free. Also, at the time, Rofin was not ISO compliant although it has subsequently been certified. According to the Rofin website the certificate will expire on 11 October, 2018.

FDA was a sole supplier of the lights and while there are many others who offer cheaper alternatives it does not appear as if SAPS was keen on pursuing these. Also, the contract with FDA was “evergreen” and has been rolled over since 2010.

In November 2015, the Competition Tribunal unconditionally approved a merger between EOH Abantu, Grid Control Technologies, Forensic Data Analysts and Investigative Software Solutions. Keating, Desmond van Rooyen, Vhonani Mufamadi, John William King and Adri Els were listed as directors of Grid Control Technologies (GCT) as well as Investigative Software Solutions. EOH Holdings’ Consolidated Results from January 2016 show that the company purchased GCT for around R869-million.

GCT manufactured and supplied water and electricity meters. FDA, in competition commission documents, is described as providing “forensic software and hardware solutions. Its products include evidence management, firearm management and forensic hardware equipment.”

Investigative Software Solutions, of which Keating, Mufamadi, King and Els were also listed as directors, is noted by the CC as providing “analytical software solutions on the IMB i2 product suite. These solutions are provided to customers for forensic investigative purposes.”

EOH purchased 100% of the shares of all of Keating’s companies but Keating told Daily Maverick on Monday that the sale of his businesses to EOH had become “unviable” over time and that FDA is now “privately owned”.

Daily Maverick sent 13 questions to Keating, offering him a right to reply to questions related to the IPID investigation. We reprint the questions as well as his replies in the interest of clarity:

  1. Is it true that you were employed at the Information Systems of the SAPS and worked with a number of SAPS personnel responsible for the procurement of ROFIN/Forensic Light Sources (FLS) from FDA for SAPS?
  2. Do you have/did you have any shareholding and/or any involvement in ROFIN Australia? Please state percentage of such shareholding that you do / did own and the extent of any involvement.
  3. When did FDA acquire the sole distribution rights for ROFIN Forensic Light Sources (FLS)?
  4. When did FDA start supplying the SAPS with ROFIN FLSs?
  5. Does the SAPS procure ROFIN FLSs directly from FDA and if not, through which contracts are they supplied?
  6. How much does each ROFIN FLS cost the SAPS, i.e. what is the single unit cost (including maintenance and support) of a ROFIN FLS?
  7. How has FDA been able to remain the sole supplier of FLS to SAPS for more than a decade, when there are numerous other suppliers of FLS both locally and internationally?
  8. How many ROFIN FLSs have the SAPS procured from FDA and what is the total value of ROFIN FLSs supplied to the SAPS to date?
  9. What type of maintenance and support do the ROFIN FLSs, supplied by FDA, require and at what intervals?
  10. What has the maintenance and support of these FLS cost SAPS/State in the last financial year?
  11. In total, how much has SAPS paid FDA for the supply, maintenance and support of ROFIN FLSs?
  12. Is it true that EOH Abantu, a wholly owned subsidiary of EOH Holdings, bought a controlling interest in FDA and two other businesses of which you are a Director? And if so, what percentage interest have they bought and for how much?
  13. What other goods and/or services does FDA supply to the SAPS/State? Please state the products/services and the values of related contracts?

To which Keating replied:

  • The allegations are viewed in a serious light. They are unfounded, untrue and I forthrightly refute them.
  • I left the police service 23 years ago.
  • Our relationship with Rofin is limited to FDA being a distributor of their
  • The sale of our business to EOH Abantu became over time commercially unviable for us, and we are now privately owned.
  • All contracts that FDA has worked on in relation to SAPS have been through an open tender process and subjected to all procurement regulations.
  • The details of these contracts are a matter of public record. Further details in relation to services and products can be directed to the client.

In another universe – perhaps one of those fictional CSI series – the potential for the SAPS to solve crimes using such amazingly sophisticated and expensive equipment would be cause for celebration.

Instead the release by SAPS of the annual crime statistics last month only served to confirm what South Africans already know. Crime in South Africa is rampant. Every day, 52 South Africans are murdered, there are 109 rapes and 45 hijackings. The depressing bit is we all know that these crimes are also under-reported.

Even worse is the SAPS’s “incomplete” investigation track record which is currently at a 10-year high no matter whether SAPS members are using specialised torches which cost you and me R300,000 a pop. DM

Photo: An image from a Rofin brochure.


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