Cops in crisis

Sitole moves to suspend Jacobs amid allegations of threats and workplace bullying

By Marianne Thamm 4 December 2020
Caption
In 2019 the national head of Crime Intelligence, Peter Jacobs (pictured), recommended to National Commissioner Khehla Sitole that the unit be disbanded and members criminally charged. (Tracey Adams/ANA)

A bitter battle within the troubled SAPS has pitted National Crime Intelligence Head, Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs, against National Commissioner Khela Sitole, who has moved to suspend Jacobs.

It has also pitted Jacobs against Deputy National Commissioner Crime Detection, Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi, whom Jacobs has accused of seeking to “redesign the structure so that Crime Intelligence reports to Provincial Commissioners directly, thus reducing the authority and power of the Divisional Commissioner”.

Jacobs has responded that the ill-defined charges as set out in Sitole’s notice of intention to suspend and delivered to Jacobs on Monday, 30 November, are part of a campaign to sideline him.

The Crime Intelligence head was due to present the annual report of the Secret Service Account (SSA) to parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence on 2 December 2020, two days after notice of his suspension.

Jacobs asked Sitole for an extension to 3 December in order to respond to the summary suspension and so that he could attend parliament.

A leak of documents which were under the custodianship of Sitole to the Sunday Times on the same day he was served the notice, Jacobs said, was evidence that a campaign was being waged against him.

Sunday Times journalist Aron Hyman Tweeted on 30 November “BREAKING: Reports coming in that @SAPoliceService Crime Intel boss Maj Gen Peter Jacobs was served with notice of intent to suspend over alleged dodgy PPE procurement tender reported in @SundayWorldZA. Jacobs said he hasn’t been informed as his office is in quarantine. @TimesLIVE

Dave Chambers, Cape Town bureau chief of the Sunday Times, said Sitole’s letter was not leaked to the publication. “On Monday, when our reporter called Jacobs and he denied knowledge of the letter, we had four sources confirming its existence,” he said. “However, because we were unable to secure a copy of the letter we have not reported on it.”

Jacobs has asked for Sitole to recuse himself from the disciplinary process and that the allegations “be investigated by an external independent party.”

The Crime Intelligence head also pointed out the irregularity of suspending an employee pending an inquiry and that this was “equivalent to an arrest.”

This method should only be used, he said, “when there is reasonable apprehension that the employee will interfere with investigations or pose some other threat”.

Jacobs said he had cooperated with the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence, the DPCI and the SIU. 

He set out how he was involved in “coordinating counterintelligence investigations and that “my presence at work is critical to ensure continuity”.

“I have overseen the systematic implementation of anti-corruption measures and a introduced prevention management system to ensure criminality and corruption is eliminated.”

He said he had reported the matter to the SIU and the DPCI to investigate “in order to ensure transparency and to determine if any criminal malfeasance has in fact occurred.”

Jacobs accused the National Commissioner of standing by while Deputy Commissioner Sindile Mfazi, bullied and threatened him.

He set out how he had reported this as well as the existence of rogue officials in the Western Cape Crime Intelligence unit to Sitole as far back as 2018 but “nothing was done on both sets of complaints”.

“The allegations I made [about a rogue element in CI], if proved to be true are so serious and far reaching,” said Jacobs.

In the notice served on Jacobs, Sitole set out that he was being suspended on suspected charges of “serious misconduct”. 

Jacobs has been served along with CI’s head of Covert Intelligence Collection, Major-General Josias Lekalakala, and Intelligence Plan and Monitoring head, Brigadier Deon Lombard.

According to the notice sent Jacobs faces charges of presiding “over a procurement process which had resulted in the Secret Services Account being abused, in that you authorised or overseen or allowed the institution of the State Division: Crime Intelligence, over which, you, by law had command and control, to use the fund in question in purchasing Covid-19 Personal Protective Equipment, while you were aware or ought to have been aware you were reasonably expected to have been aware that the ‘Slush fund’ ought not to be used for such activities in terms of relevant principles.”

Sitole accused Jacobs of delegating the functions of the CFO [Lekalakala] to Lombard who Sitole claimed “was not legally competent to perform the functions of the CFO” and that Jacobs had “abused his authority by granting an approval to an application brought by Lombard.”

Jacobs had also, the suspension note reads, committed misconduct by signing a letter which he had distributed and which had caused division among the ranks of CI.

In this letter Jacobs had allegedly said “this office is aware of the factions within the division who are hell-bent on seeing the Secret Services Account associated with the dark days of malfeasance and corruption”.

Not so asserted Jacobs.

Jacobs set out how National Treasury Instruction No 8 of 2019/2020 was intended to “facilitate emergency procurement to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic which was declared a national state of disaster on 15 March 2020”.

Section 2.5 of the instruction, he said, stated that “the nature of the goods that are required are not goods ordinarily procured.”

He set out that the CFO was on special leave during the period and that Brigadier Lombard had submitted a planning document to Jacobs for approval. This document did, not he said, amount to misconduct.

Jacobs suggested that the real reason he had been targeted for suspension was that he had alerted SAPS to the pitfalls of purchasing, from a private company, owned by Keath Keating, Forensic Data Analysts, a Property Control and Exhibition Management (PCEM) and other systems for R560-million.

Keating has been embroiled in a long-running battle with SAPS after it was exposed that his company had allegedly irregularly obtained tenders from SITA and SAPS to install and manage various IT systems. Keating has regularly threatened to shut down the system if his invoices are not paid.

Jacobs said he had also instituted a number of investigations into senior intelligence officials for corruption, fraud and theft of the Secret Services Account (SSA).

This he said “is the real reason for my impending suspension and DR charges”.

“Furthermore, I am aware that investigations are under way about the SAPS procurement PPEs amounting to R1 billion and possibly more. This office has also submitted information about the beneficiaries to the relevant investigating authorities,” said Jacobs.

He set out also how in 2018 he had been asked by Deputy National Commissioner Mfazi to conduct a threat and risk assessment on former minister Fikile Mbalula.

Mfazi had indicated at the time that Mbalula needed “a bodyguard and blue lights”.

“I asked DNC Mfazi whether he has specific information that would warrant the activation of a threat risk assessment for Mr Mbalula” to which Mfazi had responded that Jacobs should “find” the information from colleagues in the Eastern Cape CI division.”

The report from the region had been generic and did not outline specific information and as a result the assessment had found no threat to Mbalula’s life.

“DNC Mfazi called me and was very upset,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs accuses Mfazi of calling him “a failed project” because “I failed to favourably execute the TRA for former Minister Mbalula.”

A meeting had been set up with Sitole to discuss Mfazi’s comment. This in turn led to “a number of incidents and altercations with the DNC”.

Jacobs, in his response to Sitole, said he held the National Commissioner  “personally responsible” for the leak of the notice of his suspension to The Sunday World newspaper.

He said the paper had leaked information contained in documents from the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe. This report by the OIGI should, by law, have only been sent to the Minister of Police and the President and not to Sitole, argued Jacobs.

This acrimonious battle could not come at a worse time for the SAPS as it hemorrhages senior members to the criminal justice system and faces an all-out battle with the forces of organised crime colluding with rotten SAPS members.

Daily Maverick has asked the office of the National Commissioner as well as Mfazi to respond to Jacob’s allegations. We had not yet received a reply at the time of publishing. DM

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  • An external enquiry is essential. Jacobs’s position is key to professionalising SAPS in line with the NDP, which is precisely what he is doing. That clearly does not suit some of his colleagues.

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