The police’s Crime Intelligence unit has launched a “full-scale investigation” into leaks associated with media coverage of the disciplinary case of Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs. Details of the investigation have come to light in what is purportedly a Crime Intelligence (CI) document bearing a hand-written note and dated 12 March.
If authentic, the “information note”, which Daily Maverick has seen, sets out a preliminary case for an investigation of Jacobs as the person possibly responsible for the leaks.
Significantly, the document, marked “Secret”, also names Daily Maverick and Marianne Thamm, one of its senior journalists, as Jacobs’s alleged partners in crime, claiming Jacobs used the publication to “fight his battles” following his suspension in November 2020.
Jacobs and Crime Intelligence colleagues Maperemisa Joseph Lekalakala, Leon Albo Lombard, Manogaran Gopal and Isaac Walljee were suspended over personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement in November and December 2020.
The group won temporary relief on 17 March, when the labour court in Johannesburg granted their application to interdict their disciplinary hearing pending the outcome of a related dispute before the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council.
The three-page information note seen by Daily Maverick is directed to Major-General Firoz Khan (who recently acted as CI head) and “Brigadier T. Moyana”, who is listed as section head of Counter Intelligence.
The document did not have the name of the author requesting authorisation for an investigation into the “alleged misconduct”.
The writer details concerns that Jacobs allegedly caused classified and confidential documents from the Secret Service Account, National Treasury and the office of the Inspector General of Intelligence to land up in the public domain.
This was allegedly done by Jacobs attaching certain documents to an application he lodged to challenge his suspension at the high court in Pretoria.
(Note: Court documents are usually public information and the media is permitted to report on them.)
SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo, asked to comment on a detailed set of questions relating to the document, said: “It is incumbent upon the SAPS to protect the sovereignty of the State. It has come to light in the recent past that there is continuous leaking of information to the media, which brings into question the integrity of people from within the SAPS. With that being said, this leaking of information has prompted an investigation in an effort to protect the sovereignty of the State.”
Daily Maverick asked Naidoo when Khan and Moyane had received the note, but he provided no specific response to this:
“The fact that this latest document was leaked to yourself reinforces the need to investigate these leaks but this time with even greater urgency.”
Naidoo, who may not have had sight of the information note, also would not comment on questions about whether the CI investigation indeed included Daily Maverick or one of its journalists or on what possible basis they may have been drawn into such an investigation.
The information note surfaced days after Daily Maverick published this recent editorial article highlighting concerns about the surveillance of journalists following incidents involving employees of News24.
It also came just a day before Thamm, who has written extensively about the suspension of Jacobs and his colleagues, suffered a burglary at her home last weekend, during which two laptops were stolen.
The incident occurred sometime between 7pm and 11pm on Saturday 13 March. Daily Maverick has not established a direct link between the alleged CI information note and the break-in, but has confirmed that a case of housebreaking and theft was reported to police in Cape Town.
Jacobs was among a group of CI top brass suspended over the course of several days in November and December 2020 over suspected fraud relating to the procurement of PPE.
National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole reinstated Jacobs in late January 2021, but stipulated that he could return to work only in March – and then not as the head of CI, but as a divisional head of the unit’s inspectorate, which looked like a demotion.
The information note refers to information from an anonymous whistle-blower, referred to as a “human source”.
“The human source alleged that Lieutenant-General Jacobs leaked classified documents to the High Court of SA (Gauteng Division, Pretoria).”
This human source, during a debriefing, allegedly also reported to the unidentified author of the note that Jacobs had allegedly attached documents marked secret and confidential to a high court “Notice of Motion” to challenge his suspension from his job.
“Some of those documents had then found its way to the media.”
Says the author:
“On 2020-12-16, the first new article containing secret document from the Department of Treasury was published on the Daily Maverick on-line newspaper.” (sic)
This article published by Daily Maverick on 16 December 2020 appeared to confirm Jacobs’s version that there had in fact been authorisation to procure emergency PPE supplies via the Secret Service Account.
Furthermore, the information note states that Jacobs is allegedly a close confidante of Thamm, who has written a series of articles on the case. Thamm says she has never met or spoken to Jacobs.
The author of the info note referred to the need for an investigation into “misconduct”, presumably on the part of Jacobs, while adding that the Daily Maverick journalist was not “permitted” to have been in possession of a classified document.
“The truth is that the unauthorised disclosure of classified information in the Republic of South Africa is a criminal office in terms of Section 70 of the South African Police Service Act 1995.
“Kindly advise this office whether to pursue this matter further for the purpose of proving or refuting the allegations,” the note concludes.
The document carries what appears to the personal stamp and signature of “Brigadier T. Moyana: Section Head: Counter Intelligence Investigations Crime Intelligence: Head Office”.
A handwritten comment, attributed to Moyana, states: “Information noted. This file should be transferred to the office of Col Pitout as a unit investigating leakages.”
Daily Maverick was not immediately able to identify or locate Pitout.
Several attempts to reach Jacobs for comment were unsuccessful. DM