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After not guilty SAPS disciplinary verdict, Major General Makhele now faces criminal charges over R54m in dodgy tenders

After not guilty SAPS disciplinary verdict, Major General Makhele now faces criminal charges over R54m in dodgy tenders
Mankosana Agnes Makhele, Kgomotso Phahlane, Avendra Naidoo, Maanda Obert Nemutanzhela, Inbanathan Kistiah and Godfrey Mahwayi during their appearance at the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, 23 September 2022. (Photo: Hloni Mokoena)

When Crime Intelligence was looking for software to monitor the #FeesMustFall protests, Major General Mankosana Agnes Makhele signed off on key documents. The tenders appear to be tainted by fraud and corruption, but the police found that Makhele didn’t necessarily agree to bypass procurement protocols. However, she and her co-accused still have a criminal case to answer.

In late August 2023, a SAPS disciplinary hearing found Major General Mankosana Agnes Makhele not guilty for her alleged role in approving two allegedly dodgy police tenders involving just under R54-million issued in 2016.

But Makhele is not totally off the hook yet. She has yet to respond to claims in a criminal case in which she and former national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and others are co-accused.

Makhele, Phahlane, Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Mahwayi, Major General Maanda Obert Nemutanzhela and businessmen Inbanathan Kistiah and Avendra Naidoo face charges of fraud, corruption, theft, and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) relating to the procurement of spy equipment during the #FeesMustFall student protests.

The police disciplinary hearing in August stems from their arrest in September 2022 in connection with the 2016 tenders.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ex-top cop Kgomotso Phahlane and Crime Intelligence officers granted bail in latest corruption crackdown case

Under scrutiny at the August disciplinary hearing was Crime Intelligence’s (CI) allegedly illegal and irregular purchase of two platforms, Ripjar, a social media monitoring platform, and Daedalus, a mobile communication encryption platform.

‘Not guilty’

I-View Integrated Solutions, which is owned by Kistiah, was awarded two contracts – one valued at R33.86-million and another for R20-million between August and December 2016.

The allegations against Makhele, Mahwayi and Nemutanzhela were that they flagrantly disregarded and ignored procurement standards and protocols.

The evidence before the hearing suggested that Makhele co-authored the application for a deviation from procurement prescripts with Nemutanzhela, which was authorised by Phahlane.

At the hearing, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) contended the only thing that dragged Makhele into the matter was her signature recommending the approval for deviation, which it argued did not have a significant influence in the approval or disapproval of the deviation.

The hearing found that although Makhele signed the application to deviate from normal procurement processes, it was not proved that she had either authored it or necessarily recommended the deviation, which was eventually signed by Phahlane.

“The conclusion that Makhele co-authored the applications to deviate from normal procurement procedures is solely based on her name that appeared on the enquiries of the applications, but it does not necessarily mean she directly wrote the application hence her signature is not appearing as an author but as recommending and/or non-recommending official.

“Having considered all the evidence at the disposal of the designated functionary, it is therefore my informed conclusion that there is no evidence to prove that on a balance of probabilities, Makhele committed misconduct. On the balance of probabilities is not guilty of fraud and corruption,” read the findings of Major General JB Khumalo.

‘Fictitious competition’

An affidavit by investigating officers AW Sehas and Brigadier Tiyani Hlungwani was presented in the hearing. Their statement presents a bleak picture of the alleged involvement of CI officers in the R54-million tenders in question.

Hlungwani, a chartered accountant, blew the whistle on a host of alleged irregularities in CI, most notably the R100-million purchase of cellphone surveillance equipment, or “grabbers”, during the 2017 ANC Nasrec conference.

According to Sehas, in December 2016 the CI embarked on a process to buy software for intelligence collection and social media monitoring. In August 2016, CI invited Thales South Africa and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to provide quotations and conduct presentations on software or IT solutions for intelligence collection.

The CSIR quoted R7-million for the development of an industry-specific IT solution which would have met the detailed specifications. In the affidavit obtained from the CSIR’s cyber team, Sehas explained that had CI taken their system, it would have cost the state around R500,000 to have it installed on CI premises and maintained by CSIR.

Mahwayi, Nemutanzhela and Makhele were allegedly aware of this procurement process, but they are alleged to have started a parallel procurement process where Mahwayi submitted a request for procurement.

Sehas said Nemutanzhela and Makhele co-authored an application to deviate from prescribed procedures and alleged that there was an emergency that necessitated the deviation from the prescribed procurement process. The application was signed by Makhele and approved by Phalane.

I-View Integrated System and a company called Perfect Source Professional Service submitted written price quotations to supply software for social media monitoring and/or intelligence collection to CI. The sole shareholder and director of Perfect Source Professional Service Ltd was Gevani Naidoo, who was previously married to Avendra Naidoo, one of the accused in the criminal case.

Avendra Naidoo was allegedly friends with Kistiah, who owned I-View. Naidoo had access to Perfect Source’s bank account and submitted quotations to CI on its behalf, even though he had no written authorisation to incur contractual liability on behalf of the company.

Perfect Source’s written price quotation was dated 20 December 2016. Mahwayi compiled the proposal a day before Perfect Source submitted its written price quotation, according to the hearing document.

The hearing heard: “Gevani Naidoo neither signed nor compiled the written price quotation submitted by Perfect Source. Avendra Naidoo who was a friend of Inbanathan Kistiah and by extension related to I-View Integrated System compiled and signed the written price quotation submitted on behalf of Perfect Source.

“Fictitious competition was created by submissions of two written price quotations from entities that were related to each other. Perfect Source through the instrumentality of Avendra Naidoo purported to quote  R45,715,191.20 to supply Ripjar to Crime Intelligence. I-View Integrated quoted R33,858,000 to supply the software and/or IT solution to Crime Intelligence.”

The contract was awarded to Inbanathan Kistiah and I-View Integrated System. The price accepted by CI was R33,858,000.

Regarding the Daedalus tender, Sehas informed the hearing that Nemutanzhela and Makhele co-authored an application for deviation from the procurement procedures prescribed by the law. Makhele recommended the application for deviation from the prescribed procurement procedures.

Evidence was heard that Mahwayi and Nemutanzhela allegedly misrepresented that I-View Integrated Systems, Perfect Source and a third party named ISDS had submitted written price quotations and were competing for the contract to supply Daedalus.

But ISDS did not submit a written quotation and the written price quotation that was said to be from ISDS was fraudulent as it was not submitted by ISDS.

According to the hearing, this was confirmed in an affidavit obtained from the representative of ISDS who was responsible for issuing quotations.

“Mahwayi and Nemuthanzhela misrepresented that ISDS had submitted a written price quotation and was competing with Kistiah and/or I-View Integrated Systems and Perfect Source for the contract.

“These misrepresentations created a fictitious competition and deprived the public and/or the State the opportunity to procure Daedalus in a manner prescribed by the prescripts of the law,” Sehas’s statement reads.

Sehas said that in both applications for deviation, Mahwayi misrepresented access to both Daedalus and Ripjar for demonstrations and testing. Mahwayi was not authorised to sign any written contract on behalf of the SAPS, but Phahlane was, as he was the accounting officer of the SAPS, Sehas informed the hearing.

On being asked if she was aware of other suppliers who had been invited by CI to conduct a presentation on the same product that was to be procured in August 2016, Makhele stated that she had never received any information about that, but that she would have been briefed by Nemuntanzhela about the procurement of an IT solution for intelligence collection because she had been attending the parliamentary portfolio committee on police in relation to #FeesMustFall protest.

In the dock

Although Makhele was found not guilty by a SAPS disciplinary committee for her alleged role in two police tenders involving R54-million issued in 2016, she is not yet off the hook. She is still required to answer questions in the criminal case.

Mahwayi and Nemutanzhela were reportedly found guilty in their disciplinary hearings and dismissed.

Meanwhile, Kholofelo Mogotlane, a spokesperson for the Investigating Directorate, said that the matter has been postponed until 7 December 2023 for an interlocutory application. Makhele, he said, had asked for the bail term prohibiting her from asking for a new passport to be altered. The State did not object. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick:

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    I’m as convinced by a SAPS disciplinary ‘not guilty’ verdict as I am of reports of unicorn sightings.

    • Anton van Niekerk says:

      Yip. You and the rest of SA. The ANC deliberately collapsed the public prosecution capability, so don’t hold your breath fir a criminal conviction. Dozens of cases of clearcut corruption and not a single conviction.

    • Julian Chandler says:

      Maybe, but Ramaposer is known to be a Pegasus breeder at Phala Phala.
      Each goes for around $500 000, with a free sofa-bed.

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