AFU seizes homes, cars valued at R75-million in Blue Lights case swoop
The Asset Forfeiture Unit has seized assets worth R75-million belonging to former acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and his co-accused who are implicated in the R191-million Blue Light SAPS case. The matter relates to an irregular tender contract awarded for the supply of emergency equipment for SAPS vehicles.
On Friday, 26 August, a court-appointed curator together with Sheriffs of the Court, members of the Hawks and members of the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) swooped on residential addresses in Sandton, Pretoria, Boksburg, Springs and Sasolburg to execute a provisional restraint order following an application by the AFU.
The order, which was granted on 18 August 2022 by the high court of South Africa Gauteng division, identified assets with an equitable value of R75-million.
Investigating Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said: “The assets include at least 19 immovable properties linked to the accused as well as approximately 115 vehicles which includes three trucks. Investigations are ongoing to trace further assets.”
She said the assets — that had been restrained as a result of collaboration between National Prosecuting Authorities (NPA), AFU and Investigating Directorate (ID) in the fight against corruption — belonged to SAPS officials who were allegedly in cahoots with a service provider linked to the controversial ‘Blue Light’ case.
The matter stems from a contract to supply emergency warning equipment for the SA Police Service. The contract was worth R191-million and R65-million was paid to the service provider, Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement (Pty) Ltd.
The accused in the matter are Phahlane, former Deputy National Commissioner Bonang Mgwenya, former Gauteng Police Commissioner Deliwe de Lange, Gauteng Deputy Police Commissioner Nombhuruza Lettie Napo, Lieutenant-General Ramahlapi Mokwena, retired Divisional Commissioner Brigadier James Ramanjalum, Sergeant Maetapese Joseph Mulaiwa and Ravichandran Swamivel Pillay.
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The 168-page charge sheet shows that soon after being appointed as acting National Commissioner on 14 October 2015, Phahlane set to work.
Elaborating on the criminal matter Seboka said the case involves a corruptly awarded contract by the SAPS to Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement for the supply and fitment of blue lights and sirens to Gauteng SAPS vehicles.
“The sole director of this entity is Vimpie Phineas Tlalefang Manthata. Manthata and his entity are accused in the criminal case which returns to court on 2 November 2022. They are joined by several high-ranking officials who were in SAPS employment at the time,” Seboka said.
Seboka explained that the officials were accused of acting in concert to ensure that Manthata’s entity was awarded the contract and was paid approximately R65-million. This is equivalent to an estimated R121-million in present-day terms.
She added that there was evidence that the SAPS officials were mostly rewarded with cash payments, which in several instances appeared to have covered their monthly expenses, leaving their salaries largely intact.
The evidence also indicates that in certain instances the reward was in the form of the purchase of luxury cars and expensive clothing and accessories paid for by Manthata.
According to Seboka further investigations had indicated that Manthata and certain of the SAPS officials had been in repeated communication during the procurement and payment process. The communications were linked to the withdrawal of substantial amounts in cash by Manthata and the receipt of cash by the SAPS officials, she said.
Upon a successful conviction, the AFU would make an application “to institute a confiscation enquiry aimed ultimately at the recovery of the stolen funds in terms of the provisions of Chapter 5 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998,” Seboka said.
In a statement issued today, the head of the AFU, advocate Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, stated that criminals, especially those who are engaged in corruption, will not be allowed to hold to their ill-gotten gains and that property that is proceeds of crime, will be seized and forfeited.
The matter is back in court on 2 November. DM