South Africa

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Multibillion-rand SAPS/SITA capture probe: Appeal court dismisses Keith Keating challenge to search and seizure warrant

Forensic Data Analysts director Keith Keating. (Photo: Marianne Thamm)

The Supreme Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by Forensic Data Analysts director Keith Keating for leave to appeal against the validity of a search and seizure warrant issued in December 2017.

A few days after a search and seizure warrant was issued on 1 December 2017, investigators raided the homes of Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) director Keith Keating and former acting National Commissioner of Police Khomotso Phahlane, both implicated in allegations of fraud, theft, corruption, racketeering and money laundering.

The raid took place about a week after dramatic revelations to a parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Accounts hearing of wide-scale alleged corruption and procurement irregularities in the South African Information and Technology Agency (SITA) and the SAPS, amounting to about R6.1-billion.

Former acting National Commissioner of Police Khomotso Phahlane. Photo: Gallo Images / Sowetan / Sandile Ndlovu

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), the Hawks and SAPS raided at least seven homes, including Keating’s, and those of Phahlane and other family members implicated in receiving alleged kickbacks from Keating.

A Pretoria car dealership, belonging to Durand Snyman, that had allegedly been used to launder money from Keating to Phahlane was also searched. An IPID investigation had traced payments by Keating to Snyman through his bank in Namibia.

At the time of the raid, IPID said it had found unused SAPS electronic tags worth R374-million hidden at a construction site and had also located documents which proved that a case SAPS had been investigating against then IPID head Robert McBride had been fabricated.

Senior magistrate IP Du Preez had authorised the warrant under the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.

In an affidavit, the Hawks’ Colonel Kobus Roelofse had justified the application for the warrant, saying it was required for searches related to an investigation into a R45-million police forensics contract that had been recommended and paid in one day, in favour of Keating’s FDA. A further R7-million, unaccounted for in the tender, was allegedly also paid to Keating’s company, rounding off the total to a cool R52-million.

Keating then turned to the South Gauteng High Court to challenge the authorisation on several technicalities. Keating was annoyed at the large number of files, bank statements and other material that had been seized.

The South Gauteng High Court dismissed the matter with costs, which was when Keating, FDA, Snyman and Christo de Bruin, a friend of Snyman’s, lodged the appeal in January 2019.

Respondents to Keating’s application included senior magistrate Du Preez (who authorised the warrant), the Minister of Police, the Hawks’ Colonel Roelofse, Colonel J du Plooy and the executive director of IPID.

Keating’s appeal was dismissed with costs by Judges Eric Leach and Rammaka Mathopo on Tuesday, on the grounds that “there is no reasonable prospect of success in an appeal and there is no other compelling reason why an appeal should be heard”.

Keating is at the centre of a massive investigation by IPID and the Hawks into the capture of SITA and SAPS over a number of years. At least 20 top SAPS brass have been implicated in the alleged corruption. DM

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