This analyis is part of the series unpacking the contents of this remarkable document. (Read Part 1 here)
In 1985, a year after matriculating in Pretoria, Jacob Barend Venter, known to his friends as Banie, joined the South African Police force, for that is what it was back then in apartheid South Africa, a force rather than a service.
He started off with the rank of constable and was a fingerprint specialist before being promoted as an “Assistant Computer Operator” and then “Computer Operator” in 1988. That same year Venter was promoted to the rank of sergeant. By the time he joined the State Information and Technology Agency (SITA) in 1999, he had achieved the rank of colonel.
Banie Venter and his wife Rachel are two key suspects implicated in a massive forensic investigation by Bowmans into suspicious tenders and contracts worth around R6.1-billion and awarded to former cop Keith Keating’s Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) over a period of at least 10 years.
It was Banie and Rachel Venter who, while they were employees of SITA, communicated with Andre Tibert du Toit, also a former policeman and IT specialist and brother of Boeremag leader Mike du Toit. The Boeremag was/is a white supremacist, extremist group which included members of the police and the SANDF.
In October 2002, the Boeremag placed eight bombs in Soweto, one of which was detonated by the bomb squad, killing Soweto mother, Claudia Mokome, when debris landed on her shack. The other seven bombs caused around R2-million worth of damage to commuter railway lines in the township.
Andre Tibert du Toit was sentenced to 20 years in 2013 on charges of High Treason. In 2001 Du Toit was head of Boeremag communications while he and his brother were on the run.
Du Toit had joined the South African Police in 1991 where he worked in the national information division. He also received further training in IT and was the project manager tasked with implementing the CAS (Crime Administration System) in the southern Cape. He also initiated the first full-time IT help desk for the police.
In 1996 Du Toit was promoted to the rank of captain before being transferred to SITA, established in 1999 in an amalgamation of various state IT agencies. Du Toit was asked to re-apply for his job as a senior IT network engineer but resigned in 2001 when the position was filled by, as he put it, “someone who was not qualified” and who had “expected” Du Toit to train him.
Apart from blowing up commuter railway lines, the Boeremag also planned to murder Nelson Mandela by planting a bomb on a road the former first president of democratic South Africa was due to use en route to visiting a rural school. Instead Mandela had opted to use a helicopter, and in so doing inadvertently cheated certain death.
While the deep rot at SITA is nothing new – a more than 600-page 2009 report by Henderson Solutions found “large scale irregularities” – it is the current investigation by Bowmans, instructed by Treasury, that has turned up how Keating, aided by his friends in SITA, was able to secure massively lucrative contracts.
Along the way Keating intersected with Khomotso Phahlane, who was the head of the SAPS Forensic Services Division and was later appointed acting National Police Commissioner.
Phahlane and his wife, Brigadier Beauty Ntombizodwa Phahlane, who worked for SAPS Technology Management Services, are currently accused, along with Pretoria car dealer Durant Snyman, in a case of alleged fraud and corruption relating to payments to them by Keating.
It is thanks to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), chaired by Themba Godi, that the capture of SITA has been made public and that there have been tangible consequences in the suspension of the contracts with FDA. The DA’s Tim Brauteseth, a Scopa committee member, has been acknowledged by other committee members as having led the charge.
The current investigation into SITA has seen five resignations, five suspensions and three dismissals.
Investigators have also managed to extract detailed evidence around the setting up of the hugely lucrative “Rofin” contract to FDA in 2014 with documents dating back to 2013 showing a direct relationship between SITA and FDA employees, some of them ex-SAPS and SITA members.
The evidence does not, at times, run exactly according to the calendar months but have been offered as documents were uncovered from SITA officials’ computers.
It all begins on 9 April 2013 when the Sourcing Review Council referred back the establishment of contract to procure and maintain “SAPS Forensic” equipment with an instruction to SCM (Supply Chain Management) to “test the market for alternative competing products through the process provided for by National Treasury Regulations and/or Practice/Instructions Notes”.
On 11 June 2013 a submission is made to the procurement committee with the recommendation to procure maintenance and support of Rofin equipment from FDA worth R480,028,318.88 (VAT inclusive). This document, investigators found, was last amended by Ciyo Mkhuseli, General Manager of SITA’s supply chain management.
On 2 July 2013, a recommendation to the procurement committee to procure, maintain and support Rofin equipment from FDA worth R470,427,752.50 (excluding VAT) is amended by Christo de Bruin, an FDA executive.
On 21 August 2013, a quote for the Rofin Maintenance and Support is sent to Brigadier Ansie Knight with four options – one year, two years, three years and five years. The investigation shows the quote was created by Christo de Bruin and amended by Keith Keating.
On the same day a motivation by SAPS for the acquisition, maintenance and training of Rofin “forensic projects” from FDA – created by Banie Venter (of SITA) and last amended by Christo de Bruin (FSA executive) – is used for SAPS procurement purposes.
Forensic investigators noted that “the relationship between Rachel and Banie and Ansie Knight extends to beyond SAPS/SITA in that they share a helper and communicate in terms of a contract for the said shared service.”
On 18 November the Rofin R153-million (12 month) contract is emailed from Christo de Bruin of FDA to SITA SCM officials. The Termination clause 3.1 is consistent with previous versions and the SITA template. The document is emailed from Christo de Bruin who lists his position as FDA Africa – Executive Consultant.
On 12 August 2014, Banie Venter purchases a Land Cruiser 79. No finance documentation can be found but in interviews Rachel Venter confirms payment in cash from a residential bond of R500,000 used (but no documents for same found and/or provided after requests by investigators).
On 15 August 2014, SAPS Supply Chain Management send a letter to SITA SCM instructing SITA to “publish a new contract” and requiring the requirement/application to be placed before the SAPS BAC (Bid Adjudicating Committee) for consideration before 29 August 2014.
On 28 August 2014 a Bid Spec committee document titled “invitation for competent service provider (herewith referred to as ‘bidder’) to submit proposal for the maintenance and support of ROFIN crime scene processing solution for a period of three (3) years” is generated and last modified by Sarel Naude, a former SITA employee and current FDA employee at the time of the amendment. The document, say investigators, is clearly in response to the SAPS letter dated 15 August 2014.
From August to December 2014 (and earlier) the sixth contract renewal/extension discussions, negotiations and procurement processes to Rofin Maintenance Support to SAPS by SITA take place.
On 2 October 2014, Banie Venter forwards Dries van Rooyen sole supplier documentation/certificates, which appear to have been manufactured on Venter’s computer, given that the signatures of the Scene Works (Spheron 360 Cameras) and Rofin Australia letters are found in electronic format on Venter’s computer in a folder together with the “final” certificates, then deleted.
“Furthermore, the documents themselves show clear indications that the logos have also been inserted, rather than a company letterhead used,” said investigators.
In October 2014, Banie Venter uses an FDA-created asset base list, as well as performance data for reporting to SAPS, without any supporting information, and provides this to SAPS in terms of a new contract extension request. (No independent verification of data, performance stats, assets and related information is ever done by SITA, Venter or his subordinates, until January 2018, when questions started to be asked about how invoices were paid.)
On 3 October 2014 Venter compiles and signs the Business Case requesting the extension of the FDA contract for the supply of Rofin Maintenance and Support. In May 2013 the SRC (Sourcing Review council) resolved to exclude the Nikon products, citing the excessive costs relating to such maintenance versus replacing of the same; however, Venter includes these products for maintenance and support under the “new” extension and the said resolution is removed from the records.
On 6 October 2014, Venter and Hennie Kleynhans (a SITA employee and business partner of Venter) purchase R200,000 worth of cattle, for which Venter pays R100,000. On the same day Banie Venter confirms to an SAPS official (Bokkie Buys) that statistics and equipment lists used in SITA’s business case for the R583-million Rofin/FDA extension is FDA-based information.
Between various dates in October 2014, Venter begins negotiating for a farm, Arbeidsgenot, worth R2.6-million.
On 29 October 2014, Banie and Rachel Venter apply for Absa home loans, one for R1,003,700.84 and the second for R319.382.00 which is well below the purchase price of Arbeidsgenot (R2.6-million).
On 31 October 2014, Banie and Rachel Venter secure the legal services of Christoff Loch, from Charle Rossouw Attorneys, in terms of the facilitation of the Arbeidsgenot farm sale/purchase.
Loch is, at the same time, a party to the R583-million Rofin contract extension, representing FDA.
On 7 November 2014 Loch emails the Arbeidsgenot Farm R2.6-million sale agreement, which he has amended, to Banie Venter. The purchaser is listed as Prospecto Consulting CC with Rachel Venter as the sole member of the CC. The domicile of the purchaser is listed as the address of Charle Rossouw Attorneys.
That same month, November 2014, Venter is in direct negotiations/ contract/ communication with FDA/ Keating/ Christo de Bruin, into the extension, approvals and contract documentation related to the Rofin maintenance support contract extension.
On 25 November 2014, the SITA Board approves the FDA contract to provide maintenance and support of SAPS Rofin, Spheron and Nikon equipment on a month-to-month basis for the period of five years from 1 December 2014 to November 2019.
On 30 November 2014, a Sunday, at 20.21 Venter forwards Christo de Bruin the R152-million (12 month) version of the FDA/SITA Rofin contract in Word format. The termination clause is consistent throughout the preceding contacts in which either party can terminate the contract with 30 days written notice.
On 1 December 2014 (a Monday), Keating sends Carl Masekoameng from SITA Supply Chain Management the five-year Rofin maintenance and support contract extension, highlighting changes to dates, amounts and period (in yellow) in the contract document. But Keating also makes changes to the Termination Clause without highlighting it at all.
The last amendment is made by Christoff Loch, FDA and Venter’s attorney. The termination clause now includes reference to “acceptance” of the termination by the other party.
On 3 December 2014 Rachel Venter emails Loch and Banie Venter the signed sale agreement for the purchase of Arbeidsgenot farm (R2.6-million). Rachel Venter signs the contract on 23 November 2014, with the seller signing on 2 December 2014. Later Prospecto Consulting CC financials list both Venters as having a 50% share of the assets of said company.
On 4 December 2014 Loch confirms receipt of the signed Arbeidsgentot farm sale agreement from Rachel Venter.
Five days later, on 9 December 2014, SITA’s CEO signs the contract with FDA to provide maintenance and support of SAPS Rofin, Spheron and Nikon equipment on a month-to-month basis for a period of five years from 1 December to 30 November 2019 but with the altered termination clause.
On the same day Venter signs the Service Level Agreement for the R583-million FDA Rofin Maintenance and Support contract extension, which Loch amended on behalf of FDA/Keating. FDA’s financial director, Carina Zeilinga, signs both the SLA and contract for the FDA/Rofin maintenance and support R583-million contract extension and Loch emails Banie Venter Charle Rossouw Attorneys trust account details.
Rachel Venter then sends Banie Venter an Absa proof of payment for R100,000 to C Rossouw Attorneys (Loch’s practice). The reference is given as “Banie Venter”. However, investigators note that Banie Venter’s “main banking accounts are held with FNB”.
On 10 December 2014 Loch confirms receipt of the R100,000 deposit for the farm and issues a statement from Charle Rossouw Attorneys.
On 22 December 2014 former SITA CEO Freeman Nomvalo signs the FDA R583-million contract.
On 28 February 2015, Venter’s FNB IT3B identifies that notwithstanding the previous significant “purchases” made, Venter has R670,533.53 in his cheque account, R1.956,601,98.98 in a seven-day notice account and R145,000 on his credit card.
On 11 November 2016 Rachel Venter sends Banie Venter Perspecto Consulting CC annual financial statements, in which the asset base of the company is listed as R2.6-million in the form of “land”. The loan accounts “owing to related parties” is listed as R1,344,788.00 each for both Rachel and Banie Venter.
It is this bundle of evidence that was handed over to the Hawks on 9 April 2018. DM
Part 3 – Emails from inside the Boeremag cell, coming soon.
Albert Einstein worked as an electrician at Oktoberfest 1896.