Felix Dlangamandla, Netwerk24
- Former national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and several high-ranking Crime Intelligence generals appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.
- They were arrested in a series of raids across the country over a R54 million procurement scandal.
- Phahlane is involved in another case where he and other senior police officers are implicated in a R191 million blue lights tender case.
Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) boss Robert McBride has accused some of the high-ranking officials arrested during a series of raids this week of conducting a reign of terror against IPID investigators when he was its head.
McBride was speaking at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday ahead of the appearance of the six people, including former national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, high-ranking Crime Intelligence officers and two businessmen.
The group was arrested in connection with a R54 million procurement scandal which spans years.
The accused are Phahlane, acting head of the Crime Intelligence secret fund Major-General Obed Nemutanzhela, Colonel Godfrey Mahwayi and Major-General Agnes Makhele, the head of Crime Intelligence in the Free State, as well as businessmen Avendra Naidoo and Inbanathan Kistiah.
They were arrested in Durban, Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Gqeberha between Monday night and the early hours of Tuesday morning.
When Phahlane arrived in court along with his co-accused, he was asked by a reporter how he was feeling.
“Can’t you see I look good,” he responded.
Former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.
Gallo Images Kabelo Mokoena, Gallo Images, Sowetan
Before proceedings started on Wednesday, McBride told reporters the indictment “looked water-tight as it [did] three years ago”.
“Some amongst the people who were arrested … conducted a reign of terror against IPID investigators.
“For us, this [the arrests] is a message not only for the criminal justice system but for the entire country that eventually the law will catch up with you, and you will have to face the consequences.
“Of course, I must add, there are due processes. They are not yet guilty, but for us, the purpose of the investigation is to bring the case to court, and we think a good job is being done with the investigation.”
McBride said Phahlane had previously accused him of conducting a witch-hunt against him.
However, he added, Phahlane himself had been arrested several times and was therefore “a serial arrestee, and it has nothing to do with me. It is just hard work and evidence that sticks”.
News24 earlier reported the investigation centred on a procurement scandal from the state capture era, in which the cop spook division manipulated procurement processes for a R54 million splurge on social media monitoring tools and telephone encryption software.
The R33 million purchase of a social media monitoring tool called RIPJAR began in December 2016, using emergency procurement prescripts, with the tool “urgently” needed to address “Fees Must Fall” university protests, News24 reported.
To procure the software, Crime Intelligence obtained two quotations – one from a company named I-View owned by businessman Kistiah, and the second from a firm called Perfect Source Solutions.
Perfect Source was a human resources and recruitment company whose sole director was Gevani Naidoo. Her husband, Avendra, allegedly provided the other quote Kistiah needed.
The procurement was apparently driven by Mahwayi, who had no authority for procurement in his role.
He sourced the quotations and within two days, R33 million was in Kistiah’s bank account, with no contract or agreement in place.
IPID investigators alleged they found no evidence the RIPJAR software was ever delivered.
Months later, Crime Intelligence looked to I-View and Kistiah to provide phone encryption software called Deadelus for R21 million. Similarly, Mahwayi obtained two quotes from the same two companies, and I-View secured its second windfall.
The suspects were released on bail ranging from R5 000 to R50 000.
The matter has been postponed to 7 December.
Meanwhile, during the accused’s appearance, the courtroom was packed to capacity, resulting in some media houses being barred from covering proceedings.
Only eNCA, the SABC and Newzroom Afrika were allowed to cover the case.
While the magistrate cited Covid-19 regulations as a need to limit access to the courtroom, no social distancing measures were implemented to ensure everyone’s safety.