South Africa

SAPS IN CRISIS

Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs is told he can return to work after months of fighting ‘suspension’

National Commissioner General Khehla Sitole. (Photo: Flickr / GCIS) / SAPS Crime Intelligence head, Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs. (Photo: ANA / Tracey Adams)

With the State Security Agency and SAPS Crime Intelligence implicated at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, the puzzling suspension and now reinstatement of SAPS Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs after months of costly legal to-ing and fro-ing begs deeper reflection and alarm.

For almost three months SAPS Crime Intelligence (CI) head Peter Jacobs attempted to challenge a notice that he –  along with five senior colleagues – was being suspended for suspected personal protective equipment (PPE) fraud from the Secret Service Account. Jacobs was handed a suspension notice on 30 November 2020.

The CI head wrote lengthy communications to national police commissioner Khehla Sitole challenging the decision and setting out that he was being targeted as a result of his clean-up of the unholy mess at Crime Intelligence and because he was investigating senior officers.

“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 a 42-page searing document contextualising what he found in the division when he took the helm in March 2018.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele tried to intervene in December 2020, requesting Sitole to halt all suspensions until Cele had received a final report on the alleged corruption from Inspector-General Setlhomamaru Dintwe as prescribed by the Intelligence Oversight Act.

Sitole brushed Cele’s concerns aside and fought hard to have the suspensions effected. Jacobs even took his fight to the Pretoria High Court but lost. Sitole was given the mandate to proceed.

Then, unexpectedly, on 27 January, Sitole wrote to Jacobs informing him that his suspension “shall end on 3 March 2021”. Daily Maverick has seen a copy of the communication.

“As you know, the employer, in accordance with Clause 4 of the Code of Good Practice; Schedule 8 to the Labour Relations Act, 1995, required an investigation into the alleged misconduct and [to] have the investigation processes completed without any unreasonable delay.

“In view of this particular aspect, it is my duty to inform you that the investigation into the matter against yourself is not complete.

“Having checked the facts, the prevailing circumstances and the law on the matter, I have decided to allow your suspension from the Service to continue for a period of thirty (30) calendar days. Accordingly your suspension shall end on 3 March 2021.”

Responding to questions from Daily Maverick, Brigadier Vish Naidoo, spokesperson for the national commissioner, said: “We have never confirmed or denied the suspension of General Jacobs or any other member with regards to PPE matters. 

“Whenever SAPS was questioned about this, our response was always that we do not discuss internal matters in the public domain. That being said, hypothetically speaking, if a suspension of a member is lifted for whatever reason, it will usually be done with immediate effect and never in advance, especially not two months in advance.”

What are we to make of it?

First, if the investigation was not complete, why act so hastily against Jacobs and his colleagues and at such expense?

Second, why did Dintwe write to Jacobs on 22 January 2021, more than a month AFTER his suspension, requesting Jacobs to “consult” with the inspector-general as “the investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence (OIGI) into alleged irregularities in the South African Police Services Crime Intelligence (SAP-CI) is now in its final stage”.

Logic would suggest that the report that the inspector-general sent to Sitole and upon which he based his drastic suspensions was not complete and in fact was only a draft. Why else would Dintwe need to consult with Jacobs after the fact?

And why would Sitole act so hastily and double down when Jacobs challenged him on legal grounds?

Jacobs vs Sitole: Legal ping-pong as national police commissioner doubles down on suspensions

Third, does Sitole’s acknowledgement that the inspector-general’s investigation was incomplete open the door to a later attempt to charge Jacobs?

In a matter of days in November and December 2020 the entire top leadership of CI including Jacobs, 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; and Colonel Bale Matamela, section commander Procurement Secret Services Account, were all suspended. 

Their notices were served by Lieutenant-General Johannes Riet, divisional commissioner Supply Chain Management.

Almost immediately, on 11 December 2020, Jacobs’ nemesis, Lieutenant-General Sindile Mfazi, the deputy national commissioner of Crime Detection, slipped into the hot seat and called a meeting of all CI provincial and component heads informing all that everyone would, from now on, be reporting to him.

Mfazi delegated the administrative responsibilities of CI to Major-General Feroz Khan, who was exposed in City Press in 2017 as having worked since 1997 without top-level security clearance.

Khan was once photographed proudly shaking hands with Jacob Zuma. In 2017 Khan skipped two ranks and went from a colonel to a major-general.

Jacobs had singled out Mfazi in his letter to Sitole and in court documents accusing Mfazi of “targeting”, threatening and bullying him.

One of the events in the lead-up to Jacobs’ suspension was an investigation he had ordered on 14 August 2020 into alleged misconduct by former KZN CI boss Major-General Deena Moodley as head of the Covert Intelligence Collection Component.

What is particularly puzzling is that Jacobs in January 2019 had written to Sitole, Deputy Commissioner Crime Detection Lieutenant-General Lebeoana Jacob Tshumane and Deputy National Commissioner Human Resources Lieutenant-General Bonang Mgwenya alerting top brass to a rogue Crime Intelligence Unit that was operating in the Western Cape and should be disbanded and criminally charged.

Moodley was implicated in 2013, along with covert intelligence collection officials Colonel Dumisani Zulu and Captain Bongani Cele, in the illegal bugging of two Sunday Times journalists and Bheki Cele.

Jacobs tasked Major-General KD Galawe to investigate Moodley’s conduct and Galawe completed this on 24 November 2020 – six days before Jacobs’ suspension. 

Galawe’s report, which Daily Maverick has seen, concluded that enough evidence existed to warrant “an expeditious process in terms of Regulation 9 of SAPS Disciplinary Regulations”.

In November 2020, Riet, in response to a 13 November 2020 letter, wrote to Jacobs informing him that he was of the opinion that the alleged misconduct by Moodley did not “justify an expeditious process” and that the matter should be dealt with by a supervisor.

“The reason for the above decision is based solely on the fact that there is no direct evidence to find the employee guilty for misconduct,” said Riet.

Riet added that, “the matter needs a formal hearing where evidence needs to be tested through cross-examination”.

Jacobs, on the other hand, was afforded no such opportunity as the trail of letters and court documents since his suspension notice in November clearly indicates.

Then on 21 January 2021, as if Jacobs did not have enough on his plate, Sitole informed him he was being investigated internally with regard to the assassination of Anti-Gang-Unit (AGU) section head, Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear on 18 September 2020.

Jacobs would be investigated, he was told, for what he allegedly did or failed to do after Kinnear had received threats to his life. 

Kinnear was spearheading a nationwide investigation into corrupt fellow officers involved in an illegal gun licensing racket assisting underworld figures to fraudulently obtain gun licences.

Kinnear’s close colleague and boss, the head of the AGU, Major-General Andre Lincoln, now also faces an internal investigation for his supposed role in the removal of protection from Kinnear.

What is particularly puzzling is that Jacobs in January 2019 had written to Sitole, Deputy Commissioner Crime Detection Lieutenant-General Lebeoana Jacob Tshumane and Deputy National Commissioner Human Resources Lieutenant-General Bonang Mgwenya alerting top brass to a rogue Crime Intelligence Unit that was operating in the Western Cape and should be disbanded and criminally charged.

Crime Intelligence head Peter Jacobs recommends WC rogue CI unit be disbanded and members criminally investigated

Jacobs made the findings and recommendation after a complaint was lodged by Kinnear, who sent a detailed 59-page report on 29 December to Jacobs setting out how the alleged rogue Crime Intelligence Unit, consisting of at least six members, had been targeting colleagues, interfering with investigations and acting criminally.

One of the brigadiers named in Jacobs’ report to the national commissioner later headed a disciplinary inquiry into a Crime Intelligence whistle-blower who leaked to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) details of an alleged R45-million money-laundering exercise a few days before the ANC’s Nasrec elective conference in 2017.

The alleged attempt to purchase a “grabber” spying gadget at an inflated price was aimed to secure and channel funds to a faction in the ANC’s conference. 

Last week the Zondo Commission heard of vast amounts of cash that left the State Security Agency prior to the Nasrec conference and was destined to grease the palms of ANC members.

With regard to the alleged CI R45-million pre-Nasrec sleight of hand, those present at a clandestine meeting at a Pretoria hotel included Sitole, former acting head of Crime Intelligence King Bhoyi Ngcobo, Deputy National Commissioner of Crime Detection Lieutenant-General Lebeoana Tsumane and Deputy National Commissioner of Management Advisory Services Major-General Francinah Ntombenhle Vuma as well as the then Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula’s adviser, Bo Mbindwane, have been implicated.

Major-General Vuma was tasked by Sitole to investigate Jacobs with regard to alleged PPE irregularities.

Sitole fought for years to have the documents related to the procurement kept classified, but on 13 January 2020 Judge Norman Davis ordered that the documents be declassified and handed to IPID investigators.

Kinnear, Jacobs, Lincoln, as well as Western Cape Deputy Provincial Commissioner Crime Detection Jeremy Vearey were loath to collaborate with the Western Cape CI division, headed by Major-General Mzwandile Tiyo, who was appointed by now-disgraced acting Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

It has since emerged that all four officers’ movements were tracked over a considerable period of time.

A January 2020 internal communication between Provincial Commissioner Yolisa Matakata and Lincoln detailed Kinnear’s nine months of hell prior to his murder.

Lincoln’s January 2020 feedback of discussions with Matakata – which took place before Kinnear’s murder – set out how, on 15 November 2019, attempts to set up a meeting with then acting provincial commissioner Sindile Mfazi about the threats to lives of AGU members, including Kinnear, had come to naught.

Two days earlier, on 13 November 2019, an AGU Tactical Response Team commander had reported that he had been contacted by a source who had informed him of the threat to the lives of four AGU officers involved in investigations in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

An email trail shows that the provincial commissioner’s office acknowledged receipt of the email requesting the meeting. The meeting was scheduled for 22 November 2019 but was cancelled.

Jacobs, it appears, is a marked man in an increasingly ugly endgame that swirls around Jacob Zuma, his future plans, the coalition of the wounded that appears to be coalescing around him and the challenge this is going to offer to the rule of law in South Africa. DM

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  • Are Jacobs, Lincoln, Vearey, and Kinnear from the same ethnic group? Keep plugging away at this saga, Marianne, the truth is yet too emerge. And to Coen Gous, I know whom I believe and trust in this tug of war.