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‘Keep SA police and state security away from me,’ cop corruption whistle-blower in hiding urges Parliament

‘Keep SA police and state security away from me,’ cop corruption whistle-blower in hiding urges Parliament
Patricia Mashale, a former cop, says her life is at risk because she lifted the lid on high-level police corruption. (Photo: Facebook)

An ex-cop in hiding, who says she blew the whistle on corruption, has told Parliament she does not trust the police service and State Security Agency to ensure her safety. This emerged during a meeting about broader policing issues.

A cop previously carried out a threat assessment on Patricia Mashale, who says she has been in hiding since February after exposing “massive corruption” at management level in the South African Police Service (SAPS) where she used to work.

But in Parliament on Wednesday, National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola said that proper procedures relating to the threat assessment were subsequently not followed.

He therefore suggested that the State Security Agency (SSA) conduct the assessment instead, because it was not “a good idea” for SAPS officers to do so.

Masemola said this to Parliament’s police committee, which met online.

Whistle-blower’s fears

The committee’s chairperson, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, agreed that it made no sense to task the SAPS with conducting a threat assessment on Mashale when it was SAPS officers she was complaining about.

For her part, speaking in a rush from an undisclosed location as she is in hiding, Mashale said: “I cannot expose myself to the SSA, I don’t want them to do the assessment… No SSA near me. I don’t trust SSA, I don’t trust SAPS.”

She added that the “only person keeping me alive” was a police warrant officer who had been departmentally charged in the saga relating to her.

The security situation surrounding Mashale highlights the risks associated with whistle-blowing, especially against state entities, in South Africa.

Masemola’s suggestion that the SSA, not the SAPS, carry out the threat assessment also suggests certain cops cannot be trusted with properly conducting such a critical task.

During Wednesday’s meeting Joemat-Pettersson emphasised the importance of whistle-blowers.

“The protection of whistle-blowers in South Africa is an important matter for the committee and our government,” she said.

Joemat-Pettersson said the committee had received complaints and allegations against the SAPS. Mashale had been dismissed from her job as a police clerk in February “allegedly because she reported corruption in the SAPS”.

‘My life is threatened’

In a previously published online petition, Mashale said she had pointed out high-level wrongdoing in the police service – some of which related to happenings in the Free State.

“Since I blew the whistle on huge corruption in SAPS, implicating senior management, my life became threatened. I have also been dismissed from my job and I have no way of sustain[ing] myself financially anymore,” her online petition read.

“A threat assessment report confirmed that my life is at risk from the police, and the experienced member who compiled the report was instructed by his commander to change it – which he refused to do.”

Mashale alleged that in June shots were fired at her brother.

She said that if enough people signed her online petition, it could put pressure on the government to ensure her safety “and to assist me in my efforts to expose corruption in the SAPS”. 

‘Petition’ against the President

On Wednesday a petition was meant to have been presented to Parliament’s police committee on behalf of Mashale.

A formal petition was meant to have been submitted to Parliament’s Speaker and it would then have been forwarded to the police committee, enabling Mashale and Mary de Haas, a violence monitor and analyst who was also representing Mashale, to address the committee.

However, the correct set of steps to present the petition, and the format of the petition itself, were deemed incorrect, so this did not take place as planned.

Joemat-Pettersson then allowed a document, meant to have been Mashale’s petition, to be briefly shown.

It said: “I have started this petition in protest against the President of the Republic of South Africa…

“I am a whistle-blower who reported massive corruption in Free State SAPS and suffered massive retaliation and occupation detriment following my protected disclosures to the former National Commissioner, General [Khehla Sitole].” (Sitole was made to step down from the country’s top-cop position earlier this year.)

Read in Daily Maverick: “Organised crime — we won’t be able to prosecute ourselves out of the mess, says NPA

Mashale, in the document meant to have been her petition, said that despite threats to her she had not received assistance from certain state entities.

The petition-style document was also against the chairperson of the police committee, Joemat-Pettersson, who told Parliament that the committee could not deal with a petition against itself.

It was instead geared to deal with petitions to address the committee.

Joemat-Pettersson made it clear that Mashale’s online petition, which by Wednesday had about 31,442 signatures, was very different to a formal petition to Parliament.

In hiding

Despite issues about the petition meant to have been submitted, Mashale was given a chance to address the police committee on Wednesday.

She explained: “I’m still in hiding… I’m far from these internet facilities.”

After hearing Masemola say the SSA should conduct a threat assessment on her, she said there was “a burning issue”, which was that she had also implicated the SSA in matters relating to her.

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“They were part of the people who were involved… in the unlawful seizure of my phone… So I would really not want to compromise myself and expose myself to state security,” she said.

SAPS officers, Mashale said, still had her seized phone.

Deep distrust within the state

Joemat-Pettersson said it seemed Mashale had no confidence in the SAPS, the SSA and even the police committee, which made the matter difficult to navigate. But, she said, Mashale would be assisted in terms of submitting a petition and making protected disclosures.

During Wednesday’s police committee meeting, security issues relating to Nicolette Kinnear, the widower of assassinated policeman Charl Kinnear, were also briefly referred to.

A gunman shot Kinnear while he was seated in his car outside his Bishop Lavis home in Cape Town in September 2020. At the time he had been investigating organised crime suspects, including fellow police officers.

Daily Maverick previously reported that Kinnear’s assassination meant that criminal cases pointing to police corruption involving firearms could collapse.

It was public knowledge at the time of his murder that Kinnear did not trust certain police colleagues.

Back in December 2018 Kinnear sent a letter of complaint to his bosses, saying certain police officers in the Western Cape, some with links to Crime Intelligence, were working to frame him and some of his colleagues.

Despite threats to his life, Kinnear was not under state protection at the time of his assassination.

This was the focus of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate investigation that found, among other things, that a “rogue” unit of cops existed in the Western Cape, thereby backing what Kinnear complained about to bosses about two years before he was killed. DM

Caryn Dolley has spent years tracing the footprints of crime/drug kingpins from across the world. In her latest book, Clash of the Cartels, Dolley provides unprecedented insight into how specific drug cartels and syndicates have operated via South Africa, becoming embroiled in deadly violence in the country and bolstering local criminal networks. Available now from the Daily Maverick Shop.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    And, to date, absolutely no consequences for bent cops. None, zilch, nada.

  • Change is Good says:

    This is and ANC legacy. Corruption in SAPS all over the country.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    It appears that we should all be asking the police and security services to stay away from us! The majority ( usually untrained and underpaid) seem to exist on bribes and fear…especially in the townships where instead of protecting the residents, they hide from the “protection gangsters” who exhort protection payments from the already impoverished residents! From what I’ve heard, these actions,or lack thereof are one of the main griefs residents in townships and informal settlements have against the ANC and which is driving the voter towards the empty promises of the EFF. It’s a real worry.

  • Katharine Ambrose says:

    Joemat Petterson doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in this situation. After 2 brushes with the public protector in her previous portfolios one wonders why she was ever appointed to this sensitive position. I hope the whistle-blower is safe.

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