South Africa


On Friday, 12 March, I celebrated my birthday; on Saturday, 13 March, someone wearing gloves broke into my house

On Friday, 12 March, I celebrated my birthday; on Saturday, 13 March, someone wearing gloves broke into my house
National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Felix Dlangamandla) / Police Minister Bheki Cele. (Photo: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius)

We write about matters like Crime Intelligence corruption because they are critical at this point in the country’s history and as we attempt a slow and plodding clean-up of industrial-scale corruption seemingly everywhere, in the private and public sectors alike.

A while back there was an SAPS officer from Durban who called to tell me that a charge had been opened against me by a senior SAPS official for publishing an email that proved that he indeed occupied a position of seniority in spite of being implicated in serious fraud and corruption.

The top cop’s email was sent to a range of people and could hardly even be “classified”. Even a one-eyed goat on stilts knows that.

The only information the email contained was a time and a date for a meeting and confirmation that he had slipped in quietly to head the division as he had clearly signed off the email.

The SAPS officer who had been assigned to investigate me soon went away, realising I had done nothing illegal or criminal.

When it came to covering the most volatile battle in the SAPS — within the Crime Intelligence division  — journalists working on the story knew we might be targeted. In fact, many of us were alerted in February that we were under surveillance.

Journalists covering the police/gangs beat in the city have all been threatened one way or another. 

Our coverage of the dangerous contestation for power in the key Crime Intelligence division of the SAPS is in the public interest, considering the massive impact it has had on the lives of the citizens of South Africa. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear was killed because he was investigating colleagues who enabled a criminal underworld to thrive and survive not only on the mean and nasty streets of the Cape Flats, but increasingly across South Africa.

Crime Intelligence head Lieutenant-General Peter Jacobs has been suspended, unsuspended and sent back to work in some outer tundra in the division. 

Jacobs has been accused of PPE fraud and it is a letter from Treasury attached to his court documents in various legal ping-pongs that seems to have agitated some at the SAPS. 

Jacobs vs Sitole: Treasury note allowed for emergency PPE procurement from slush fund, confirming suspended CI boss’ claim

Jacobs, Crime Intelligence head of Covert Intelligence Collection Major-General Josias Lekalakala, as well as Intelligence Planning and Monitoring head Brigadier Deon Lombard were all served with an “intention to suspend” notice by National Commissioner Khehla Sitole between November and December 2020.

Jacobs claimed that the ill-defined charges were part of a campaign to sideline him. He maintained in all his communications to the courts and to his superiors that he was being targeted for removal and had a particularly acrimonious relationship with Deputy National Commissioner Crime Detection, Lieutenant-General Sindile Mfazi.

Jacobs also wrote to Sitole saying that there was evidence that the Secret Service Account “was looted by a number of” chief financial officers, divisional commissioners and senior Crime Intelligence officers.

Sitole tasked Lieutenant-General Francinah Vuma, Divisional Commissioner: Financial Management and Administration, to investigate Jacobs for his alleged irregular PPE procurement.

However, Vuma herself is also the subject of an investigation by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation into at least R200-million spent procuring emergency PPE equipment from four SA companies, which appear to be brokers rather than suppliers or manufacturers and which do not appear on the SAPS supplier’s database.

The allegedly inflated tenders are being investigated by the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU), both part of the intergovernmental anti-corruption “Fusion Centre” set up in August 2020 by President Cyril Ramaphosa. The multidisciplinary unit comprises SARS, the SIU, the Hawks and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC).

On 3 December Jacobs wrote to Sitole, “I am aware that investigations are underway about the SAPS procurement of PPEs amounting to R1-billion and possibly more. This office has submitted information about the beneficiaries to the relevant investigating authorities.”

Our publication of this matter appears to have prompted the recommendation of an investigation into Daily Maverick and me.

Meanwhile, National Commissioner Sitole, Vuma and Divisional Commissioner: Financial Management and Administration Lieutenant-General Lebeona Tsumane were found by the Pretoria High Court to have been in breach of their duties.

Sitole and fellow top police brass in breach of statutory obligations, court finds in R45m ‘Nasrec grabber’ scandal

How much longer Sitole will warm the hot seat is anyone’s guess. Meanwhile, Minister of Police Bheki Cele too has been drawn into the fray, calling for an inquiry.

We write about these matters because they are critical at this point in the country’s history and as we attempt a slow and plodding clean-up of industrial-scale corruption seemingly everywhere, in the private and public sectors alike.

So far, about 40 senior SAPS members, including former National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and Deputy Police Commissioner Bonang Mgwenya, face criminal charges

Under Richard Mdluli, Crime Intelligence was essentially fashioned into a criminal syndicate.

Mdluli is now finally behind bars. 

Criminal Intelligence: Indictment exposes Richard Mdluli’s charmed life

But he left behind a poisoned and stubborn legacy. Crime Intelligence is alive with bottom feeders who are determined to stick around.

All these traumas to and within SAPS have been exposed in and by the media. 

It is our job to hold the country’s law enforcement to account if leaders are acting outside the law. 

We also cover the state of the South African police because ordinary SAPS members suffer terribly as a result of the brutal battle at the top. 

They lose focus, they fear ridicule and of being associated with corrupt leaders, they are paid badly, they are treated with disrespect, they are underequipped and their lives are in danger every day.

The collateral damage plays out in the unlawful use of lethal force on young protesters.

We are a country in crisis.

Crime Intelligence has access to apparently limitless funds, agents and foot soldiers who are willing and prepared to do the dirty world, depending on who is in control. It is a hugely powerful division.

The man/men who wore gloves and broke into my home over the weekend and stole my work computer was/were acting illegally and criminally.

I cannot beyond any reasonable doubt claim that it was Crime Intelligence’s operation, but please forgive me for feeling it cannot be coincidental that the day after an alleged “information note” by an anonymous writer to the acting Divisional Commissioner of Crime Intelligence, Yolisa Mokgabudi, and head of Counter Intelligence Major-General Feroz Khan, suggesting that Daily Maverick and I were in possession of classified material, someone forcibly enters my home and steals my work computer.

Whatever material is in my possession is on public record, in the public interest and completely legal.

The information note, which Daily Maverick has had sight of, was signed off on 12 March 2021 with comments by Counter Intelligence Section Head Brigadier T Motyana. Head of Counter Intelligence Major-General Khan left his section unsigned.

The following night my house was burgled.

The note requests a team to be led by a Colonel Pitout investigate the leaks.

I have no evidence that these two remarkable events are linked. 

But if Colonel Pitout exists and would like to talk to me, that is if I am under investigation, he probably knows all my details and my movements, and is welcome to come and knock on my front door any day. 

I am also welcome to tell him to go away and that in a constitutional democracy it is the media’s job to hold the powerful to account.

We will continue to do so regardless of threats or intimidation. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Andrew Johnson says:

    Sterkte Marianne.

  • Miles Japhet says:

    We all owe you a huge debt of gratitude. South Africans deserve ethical institutions, without which we have no happy future.

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    Keep safe
    And have a back up

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    Well done, Marianne, cage rattler. The DM articles today are all good news, but be careful and for your own safety keep us informed/alongside. Nobody is anything but outraged that state instruments, resources and authoritarian, uniformed and uninformed, patriarchy are the monsters bedevilling us

  • William Kelly says:

    you guys have balls of steel. unbelievable. respect!!!

  • Gerhard Pretorius says:

    It is a sorry state of events you had to go through to keep S.A. citizens informed. Being hesitant about accusing the coppers of your house burglary is understandable. But people following the story can put two and two together. And it all link up to the pathetic leadership provided by the anc.

  • John Cartwright says:


  • Hermann Funk says:

    Mr President, here is YOUR opportunity to show b****. You got any?

  • Jamie WHITELAW says:

    Crime intelligence is some sort of bad joke ever since Richard Mdluli was for years in charge.
    The SAPS requires a new commissioner with a strong team to clear out so many of the “Top Brass”who appear to be getting their salaries under “False Pretences” like so many other people in government.

  • Sydney Smith says:

    I admire you immensely for you courage at this time. Hope your laptops were devoid of any pertinent information. Keep up the good work.

  • Janine Stephen says:

    All strength to your pen and voice, and to all those working to hold such individuals to account.

  • Kenneth Jeenes Jeenes says:

    You and your colleagues do essential, excellent work! Your courage is also seriously admirable. PS: I hope that at least your birthday was good! 🙂

  • Linda Helme says:

    Strength to you Marianne, and to your colleagues. Such reports take me back to the 1980’s when Black Sash and the End Conscription Campaign and similar organisations were threatened and harassed. To be in such a place again is so sad but we must keep up the fight.

  • Roger Sheppard says:

    A powerful courageous woman – and deservedly so described! Please do not give up Marianne Thamm.
    Perhaps it might be more acceptable to Marianne Thamm to simply be called a powerful person instead. Whichever, please do not give up! May you keep safe.
    Sterkte indeed!

  • Anthony Williams says:

    We are greatly indebted to you and all the other courageous investigative journalists at the DM, amaBhungane, groundWork and many other organisations that seek to find the truth and expose corruption and other forms of malfeasance. Keep safe and keep up the good work!

  • Jeremy Grest says:

    I salute your courage and commitment to defending our democracy. Stay safe, fight the good fight and watch your back! Best wishes.

  • Graham Bryant says:

    The bravery of these journalists is highly commendable. Keep up the good work as it is really appreciated.

  • Wendy Wilson says:

    Is it possible for Daily Maverick to start a political party??! The journalists are my last hope that SA is not completely a lost cause

  • Coen Gous says:

    What a brave woman you are! Incredible journalism, fearless! May the legacy of Karima Brown live on in people like yourself. You and others like you make us so incredibly proud!

  • lulamile jack says:

    Well one can only conclude that we DO NOT have leadership as a country, this is a gangster’s paradise- i’m praying for the safety of our journalists.

  • District Six says:

    This is why we support DM each month. Defend truth. Thank you.

  • Jacques Botha says:

    You all are doing sterling work to expose how the ANC and it’s cadres have stolen trillions of our tax payers money.

    Unfortunately you all are paying a high price to expose the looters.

    Keep up the good work! Let what was done in secret be shouted from the roof tops!

    We are rooting for you all.

  • Nick Grenfell says:

    Thank you Marianne. You do important work – keep digging!

  • Jon Quirk says:

    One of Branko’s finest … stay safe, Marianne – we will all be watching your articles with even keener interest. The shadow of the shady and deeply sinister, Zuma, and his tendrils reach everywhere.

  • Kanu Sukha says:

    A courageous individual and as another commentator said…reminiscent of the apartheid era! Just a question…did you not have any alarm system (even though you can’t afford the BOSASA style ones !) in place when burgled? Not that it cannot like most things be circumvented! Take care and sterkte!

  • J LOMBARD says:

    May the pen forever be mightier than the sword. Thank your Marianne, you represent the best of human kind. I came across a quote attributed to Bobby Godsell: “South Africa is blessed by its people and cursed by its leaders.”

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