South Africa

SAPS IN CRISIS 

Jacobs vs Sitole: Crime Intelligence head takes suspension battle to court, reveals historic deep rot in the key division 

Suspended SAPS Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs. (Tracey Adams / ANA)

Jacobs’ 42-page affidavit offers a glimpse into the shadow world of Crime Intelligence and how the Secret Service Account has allegedly been abused, for decades, by officials for political and personal use.

SAPS Crime Intelligence head, Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs and five fellow officers from the division are seeking an urgent intervention from the Pretoria High Court to declare their suspensions by National Commissioner Khehla Sitole unlawful.

Jacobs was the first to be served with a notice of suspension on 30 November, while fellow officers were notified on 10 December 2020.

“Credible evidence was available that the Account was looted by a number of CFOs and or Divisional Commissioners and other Senior Crime Intelligence Officers,” said Jacobs in his 42-page searing document, setting out what he found in the division when he took the helm in March 2018.

He set out how “parallel management systems” had been set up inside CI and that the Agent Programme “was being abused by the placement of a number of officials and or families and friends, at full pay for an extended period with little or no work to be done”.

Sitole instituted the suspensions, against the instruction of Minister of Police Bheki Cele, in response to a preliminary report by Inspector General of Intelligence, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, into alleged PPE procurement irregularities from the Secret Services Account.

The applicants in the matter are the South African Police Union, Jacobs as well as fellow officers Brigadier Albo Lombard, SAPS Section Head Intelligence Planning and Monitoring; Colonel Isaac Walljee, acting Section Head: Supply Chain Management; Colonel Manogaran Gopal, Section Commander Vehicle Fleet Management and Asset Management Secret Services Account – Supply Chain Management; Major General Maperemisa Lekalakala, Acting Component head and CFO Secret Services Account; Colonel Bale Matamela, Section Commander Procurement Secret Services Account 

Respondents in the civil matter are Cele, Sitole and Dintwe.

The suspensions effectively removed the entire senior chain of command from the Crime Intelligence division, now under the exclusive command of Deputy Commissioner Lieutenant General Sindile Mfazi.

It is no secret that Jacobs and Mfazi have been at loggerheads since Mfazi’s appointment in March 2020 as Deputy National Commissioner responsible for Crime Detection.

Jacobs has accused Mfazi of workplace bullying which was reported by Jacobs to Sitole.

In the affidavit, Jacobs said that the suspensions were in breach of the Intelligence Oversight Act and should be set aside enabling them all to return to their posts at Crime Intelligence.

The applicants have asked the court not to deliberate on the merits of the suspensions but their legality in relation to the IOA.

“The unlawfulness stems from the fact that our suspensions are rooted either in a report or some form of communication between the Office of the Inspector General of Intelligence (OIGI) and the National Commissioner.”

The report should have been given to Cele and a decision taken by the Minister “on the veracity of the allegations contained therein before the National Commissioner could take any action”.

Jacobs revealed that Dintwe might, in fact, have relied on a report that did not exist.

“Whatever communication or engagement that arose between the IGI and the National Commissioner is not sufficient to trigger a disciplinary response from the National Commissioner.”

This “informal engagement”, said Jacobs, was not sufficient to trigger disciplinary processes.

Jacobs set out in his affidavit checks and balances that have been put into place in Crime Intelligence to curb the plunder of the Secret Services Account.

How we got here

The CI head said that on 4 November the OIGI had furnished him with a letter about an investigation into the procurement of PPE in the SAPS Crime Intelligence Divisions with funds from the SSA.

Jacobs noted that he had responded to this letter setting out that the procurement was “not at odds with the purposes of the account” and that a circular had been received from the office of the Deputy Commissioner Human Resources Management granting “permission to implement protocols” relevant to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I also explained why the Crime Intelligence Open Account was unable to provide PPE for personnel in the covert environment. As a result, a ring-fences budget of R15 million was made available from the Secret Services Account for the procurement of PPE to be utilised in the Crime Intelligence environment.”

The suspension of top leadership was based “solely on the allegation that we used the Account to purchase PPE and that this is unlawful”.

The account is established in terms of the SSA and has a separate budget vote which is allocated to CI as part of the intelligence community under the IOS.

The admin and use of the Account is governed by section 2 of the SSA.

National Treasury’s Rendani Randela wrote to SAPS and the National Commissioner as the Accounting Officer on 24 June regarding the division’s budget allocation.

The division was asked to use its current budget for Covid-19 expenditure.

As a result, Lekalakala was left with the discretion to determine how much of the current budget should be used to ensure that CI was Covid-19 compliant.

The ring-fenced amount was determined by Account Manager Nathan Naidoo. When the R15 million was ringfenced, said Jacobs, “Lekalakala knew how many safe houses had to be catered for, how many agents needed PPE etc”.

Lekalakala had relied on assistance from Brigadier Lombard in determining this amount. An information note was drawn up signed by Lombard “with the full consent and knowledge of the CFO [Lekalakala] because the latter was in quarantine”.

The note was a submission to ring-fence an amount and did not seek authorisation for expenditure, said Jacobs.

“The information note was not in the least controversial. It was the basis on which the PPE expenditure was assessed.”

Matamela was instructed by Lekalakala to procure PPE from the account.

Matamela presented the request to Gopal to apply for R80,000 which was approved.

PPEs were sourced from Tanciol Group as well as Harbour Protection Services

This was done by Head Office and four provinces as separate, distinct transactions.

Sitole, in the notice of suspension also accused Jacobs of bringing SAPS into disrepute as he had signed a letter on 13 November 2020, stating that his office was aware of “factions within the division who are hell-bent on seeing the Secret Services Account associated with the dark days of malfeasance and corruption”.

Operation clean up 

Jacobs sets out how at the time of his appointment he had been aware of allegations and reports of abuse of the Secret Services account “for both political and other personal conflicts”.

He had reviewed documentation, including reports from the Auditor General’s Office as well as the OIGI. Also reviewed were CI’s Agent Programme and Intelligence Analysis and Coordination.

“The crucial IAC desk here for potential abuse was the Threat and Risk Assessment TRA desk on whose findings SAPS VIP Protection Services provide protective details, such as blue lights and bodyguards for identified individuals.”

Jacobs said that he had found that former CFO, Major-General Nemuthenzela, had been placed on suspension for over a year and had faced a number of charges in respect of fraud and misuse but that departmental investigations remained incomplete.

Also National Component Head of Intelligence Collection, Major General Deena Moodley, “had just returned from suspension on allegation of abuse of the Account and of abusing his position by either illegally and/or irregularly using an Account funded safe-house as a private residence”.

“Here too the departmental investigation has not been completed,” said Jacobs.

The National Component Head of Counter and Security Intelligence, whom Jacobs did not name in the court papers, was under investigation for “irregularly overseeing and facilitating the training of security guards in the People’s Republic of China and using them for operational activities beyond the scope of the job descriptions.”

From Death Squad to Dead Squad: Nhleko’s Chinese-trained ‘secret agents’ left stranded and fearful

Over and above this, Lekalakala had been transferred out of Crime Intelligence to Visible Policing “for allegations which could not be substantiated.”

“Credible evidence was available that the Account was looted by a number of CFOs and or Divisional Commissioners and other Senior Crime Intelligence Officers,” said Jacobs.

The account, he added “had little or outdated management control policies and or limited adherence to already limited control policies that were in place”.

Parallel management systems were operating such as the fact that the Legal Support Officer ran a parallel Human Resource Management system “to the extent that in one case this resulted in the dismissal of an official by said legal officer”.

This was important, Jacobs emphasised, as “the power to dismiss members is only delegated to a Divisional Commissioner in Crime Intelligence.”

He also cited a further example of a parallel structure operating in the Western Cape “reporting to the Provincial Commissioner and not me, through the National Division”.

The Agent Programme, said Jacobs, “was being abused by the placement of a number of officials and or families and friends, at full pay for an extended period with little or no work to be done”.

Former CI head, and now convicted criminal Richard Mduli, said Jacobs, had placed more than five of his family as undercover agents at a senior level “with a comprehensive resource package, which includes a safe house, vehicles and technology per individual”.

Other “bogus” agents were linked, charged Jacobs, “to very influential persons and some even refused to surface”.

Because of these findings Jacobs said a Corporate Renewal Strategy had been developed “to both redress the irregularities found and to redirect the division towards a crime fighting approach to insulate the organisation against various corruption onslaughts”.

He said that Sitole could not bypass the Intelligence Oversight Act and that the applicants “were entitled to have the Minister bring his discretion to bear on the merits of the allegations”.

This Cele could only do once he had been furnished with a final report from Dintwe.

The application was urgent, said Jacobs, as Sitole had indicated that the CI members were to be disciplined under an expedited process.

“In terms of this process we will simply be called upon to make submissions why we should not be dismissed and then, should these submissions prove unconvincing we will be dismissed.”

The applicants were seeking to be “subjected to a lawful suspension”. Jacobs said that the suspension of the CI officers “are related to the conflict I experienced in implementing measures for the proper administration of the Account”.

The suspended applicants were all “key personnel tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the effective functioning of the Central Intelligence offices and as such their suspensions threaten to bring Central Intelligence Operations to a standstill”, said Jacobs.

“It is not that we proclaim we are irreplaceable, but this team, as appears from their statements, have put in place processes and mechanisms that prevent abuse and exploitation of the accounts.” DM

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