Racketeering charges added to R56m police vehicle branding fraud case
Three years after dozens of people were arrested on allegations of tender fraud involving R56m related to branding SAPS vehicles, racketeering has been added to the charges.
On Wednesday, the Investigating Directorate was granted a racketeering certificate from the acting National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) in the fraud case involving a R56-million contract to brand police vehicles. This emerged in the Pretoria Magistrates’ Court.
In terms of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, a certificate of racketeering has to be obtained from the NDPP to proceed with a charge of racketeering.
The case stems from allegations of tampering with procurement documents for police vehicle branding and providing false price quotations to the SA Police Service. These criminal activities were alleged to have occurred more than 200 times between April 2016 and April 2019.
The accused will now face racketeering charges in addition to the corruption, fraud, theft and money laundering charges related to the police vehicle branding cases.
There are currently 65 accused, including eight police members and a retired lieutenant general. There were originally 71, but some have died and the State has withdrawn charges against others.
On Wednesday, Investigative Directorate national spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said, “The case centres around allegations of manipulating procurement documents for the branding of police vehicles and providing false price quotations for the South African Police Service.
“The allegations involve contracts for various services such as palisade fencing installation, state motor vehicle repairs, gardening services, forklift servicing, and painting services, with a total value of R56-million.”
The suspects were arrested after former national police commissioner Khehla Sitole formed a special anti-corruption unit to investigate the allegations.
Read more in Daily Maverick: The Big Sweep: pre-dawn raid nets rotten cops in clampdown on corruption – cases “watertight”
In April 2020, former national police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said that a task team had “been conducting a widespread intensive investigation into tender fraud related to the marking of police vehicles”.
Kishene Chetty, a Pretoria businessman accused of operating a vast family racket while allegedly capturing the police’s supply chain management, is among the accused.
The arrests followed the freezing of the bank accounts of several companies. The contents of the bank accounts of Vatika Trading and Projects, Argan Auto Mechanical Innovation and Towing, Gautools, Kgotho Trading Enterprise 18, and Umbanathi Trading and Projects were forfeited to the State at the time.
According to court papers, Lorette Joubert, the sole director of Vatika and Gautools; Volan Prithviraj, the sole director of Argan; and Kumarasen Prithviraj, the only member of Kgotho and Umbanati Trading and Projects, were arrested after Sitole ordered an investigation in March 2018.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Anatomy of an inside job: Court seizes property and proceeds of crooked R56-million SAPS tender
According to the Investigating Directorate’s Seboka, the branding case was initially placed on the roll in June 2020 and reinstated on 4 August 2022.
The case has been transferred to the Gauteng Division of the High Court in Pretoria and is due back in court on 13 May.
See more Daily Maverick stories on recent corruption cases regarding the SAPS:
- Assets of 45 people seized in R102m police corruption case.
- Former SAPS deputy national commissioner Bonang Mgwenya has lost her bid to compel the State to provide additional details in the R191m ‘blue lights’ fraud and corruption case.
- R200m later — how SA’s top cops captured police supply chain management for personal financial gain.
- Former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and his co-accused face 15 charges of fraud, corruption and contravening the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act for allegedly looting Crime Intelligence’s secret service account between 2008 and 2012.
- Kishene Chetty, a Pretoria businessman accused of operating a vast family racket while capturing the police’s supply chain management, is again in hot water. Chetty, with two co-accused, is now battling for bail in a R13.9m fraud and tax evasion case. DM