Police Corruption

Investigative Directorate says it’s hard at work after high-profile SAPS arrests

By Marianne Thamm 5 June 2020
Caption
Top prosecutor Hermione Cronje lead a new investigating unit in the NPA. PICTURE ELIZABETH SEJAKE RAPPORT

The emphatic caps of the four-line header introducing the Investigative Directorate's latest media announcement of more high-profile SAPS charges - this time involving R250 million - sets out the new terms of engagement.

The co-operation between the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, the Investigative Directorate, headed by Hermione Cronje, and the SAPS anti-corruption task team brings to fruition years of work by the IPID with regard to endemic corruption within the SAPS.

“INVESTIGATING DIRECTORATE ACTS TO ENSURE THERE’S NO INTEREFERENCE WITH WITNESSES ON THE PART OF SENIOR SAPS OFFICIALS IN TENDER MANIPULATION CASES INVOLVING A QUARTER OF A BILLION RAND” was the heading of a statement issued on behalf of the Investigating Directorate on 5 June 2020.

In bail proceedings in the Pretoria Regional court for 16 accused arrested on 4 June, the ID told the magistrate that three “are already before court on charges of fraud and corruption relating to the procurement of emergency lights for police vehicles involving potential prejudice to SAPS of R191 million”.

These were former SAPS members Ramahlapi Johannes Mokwena, Brig James Ramanjalum and Thomas Dumasi Marima.

Mokwena was divisional commissioner for supply chain management from 2015 and was appointed shortly after Khomotsho Phahlane took occupancy of the SAPS hot seat, albeit only as acting police commissioner.

Ramanjalum’s job was to take care of the movable assets management division within the police supply chain management division while Marima worked in the supply chain management division of the SAPS in Pretoria holding the rank of lieutenant-colonel.

The “blue lights case”, involving the capture by Phahlane of the supply chain management division within SAPS for corrupt purposes, was investigated by IPID members seconded to the ID. The heist by Phahlane happened between 2016 and 2017.

Those who appeared in court on Friday were rounded up in a dramatic pre-dawn raid in and around Gauteng on Thursday. The operation dragnetted eight SAPS members.

Six civilians, one of them a white woman, Lorette Joubert, sole owner of Vatika Trading and who corrupt SAPS officers allowed to pass herself as a BEE-complaint business, is one of the accused.

In a 15 May 2020 North Gauteng High Court judgement freezing the bank accounts of several companies implicated in R56-million tender fraud for the branding of police vehicles, Judge A J Barnard said, “the director of Vatika is not black as stated on its bid documents, but in fact a white female.”

Barnard is referring here to Lorette Joubert.

The ID in its statement said those who had appeared in court “are linked to the corrupt award of a tender for reflective markings of police vehicles in which over R56 million was paid to service providers who paid kickbacks to the very Supply Chain Management officials responsible for awarding the tender in 2017. The three senior SAPS officials are involved in orchestrating both schemes.”

In July 2019 Cronje authorised investigations into high-level corruption involving senior police officials. Work between the Anti-corruption Task Team, appointed by National Commissioner Khehla Sitole, as well as the seconded IPID investigators, was “now yielding results as demonstrated by the two matters before court,” said Cronje in the statement.

The state opposed bail for Ramanjalum as he has been accused of two Schedule 5 offences “in which damning evidence against him has been collected,” and  also “because there is evidence that he poses a high risk of tampering with evidence and interfering with witnesses.”

Ramanjalum’s bail application will be heard on 11 June 2020. The fifteen other accused were released on R5,000 bail each and will return to court on 29 September 2020.

“The Investigating Directorate assures South Africans that it is hard at work to reclaim the state from capture. There will be consequences for crooked officials and those who collaborate with them and that it will pursue the kingpins of corruption,” said Cronje. DM

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