Last week the SA Police Service’s media centre issued a press statement announcing an extraordinary event: the arrest of no less than 20 of the 28 members of the SAP’s former Cato Manor violent crimes unit — with the promise of more arrests to follow. Particularly noteworthy was the introductory paragraph:
In December 2011, the Sunday Times published several articles alleging that personnel attached to Cato Manor were involved in ‘hit squad’ activities. In response, Hawks head Anwa Dramat put together a team to investigate these allegations …
What makes this statement strange is that the Sunday Times got the story from the SAPS’s own Crime Intelligence Division in Pretoria some weeks, if not months, before the newspaper got around to publishing it. Sundry criminals in Durban well connected in political circles were also peddling a police-generated disk containing the same information and pictures around town at much the same time. So why did it – allegedly — take the Sunday Times to trigger this dramatic police action, when the police themselves had most of the apparently devastating information a good while before the Sunday Times did?
As with the Arms Deal more than ten years ago: all the signs are there that all is not what it seems – and that something bad is going down. With regard to the arms deal it was soon enough apparent that it was not about re-equipping the defence force; there was too much that was absurd about it, ranging from the nature and cost of the equipment to the then already internationally notorious so-called offset investment programme.
It was about generating bribes and profits with which to finance the Party and its family and friends. Noseweek reported all that more than ten years ago.
Which is not to say the South African defence force did not need to be re-equipped – but with appropriate equipment and on a significantly more modest scale. Similarly, when it comes to the Cato Manor police unit, it may well be that there are some serious matters that required investigation and explanation – but on a significantly more modest scale. We did not need to burn down the house to get rid of the rats.
And why attribute it all to the Sunday Times? The answer is so obvious as to make the continued attempt at a coverup ridiculous: the powers-that-be do not wish it to be known that the mass arrests were prompted by Mdluli’s Crime Intelligence Unit, who, for Mdluli’s own devious reasons gave the story to the Sunday Times.
The situation is so outrageous that, on the day of the arrests I was prompted to tweet the following remark: Ask yourself: why no Hollywood-style mass arrests at Zuma/Mtetwa friend Mdluli’s crime intelligence unit? Lots of criminals in uniform there!
Already in July last year a case of corruption and fraud was registered by the Hawks at Silverton Police Station as Silverton CAS 155/07/2011. The accused was Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli, head of police Crime Intelligence.
In most countries the crime intelligence division of the police performs a highly sophisticated function collecting and analysing often sensitive information about high-level crime and criminals. But in April the South African public got to hear – via City Press and Noseweek – that a devastating secret report had been left buried in the files of the National Intelligence Service since November, which showed that the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division had for some considerable time been too busy itself defrauding and stealing from the public to be much bothered with other people’s criminal activities.
The criminal network operating within the division was headed by no less than the Divisional Commissioner of Crime Intelligence, Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli himself – and a mysterious, unnamed person who is apparently so powerful that the author of the report dared refer to him only as “the Prominent Individual in KwaZulu-Natal”.
Contrary to convention, Mdluli was hand-picked to head the unit by Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and a committee of ANC ministers. Normally the heads of police divisions are selected and appointed by the Commissioner of Police, on the advice of senior professional policemen. So controversial was the appointment that former Police Commissioner Tim Williams publicly described Mdluli’s appointment as “not regular” and claimed that the politicians had “hijacked” the process.
The damning report alleging widespread fraud and corruption in the Crime Intelligence Unit, dated 4 November 2011 and marked Secret on every one of its 13 pages, was written by the Head: Intelligence Analysis, Co-ordination and Surveillance, Major General Mark Hankel, and was countersigned by the Acting Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence, Major General C P Kock.
It was addressed to the Inspector General of Intelligence, and copied to the Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, and the National Commissioner of the SA Police Service.
Informed sources have confirmed that, within three months of that Silverton case file being opened against Mdluli, extensive evidence of corruption involving Mdluli, senior police officers and even journalists had been uncovered. (Inter alia it was alleged that no less than 23 members of Mdluli’s extended family had been placed on the unit’s payroll — while not actually being employed by it.) However it was only when the investigators – several of them members of the Cato Manor unit – began to look at renovations carried out at Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s home and a Mercedes Benz ML350 bought by Mthethwa with secret police funds, that the Inspector General of Intelligence suddenly took an interest.
It was she who ordered Hankel to compile that secret report, detailing exactly what it was that the probe had uncovered so far about Mdluli and co’s criminal activities.
In the concluding paragraphs of his report, Hankel finds it necessary to state the following: “It is submitted that the Intelligence Services Oversight Act does not negate the statutory duty to report corruption to the police for purposes of criminal investigation.” Clearly somebody thought it did – or why would he have mentioned it?
Shortly afterwards police minister Mthethwa ordered that all the investigation dockets be sent to the Office for the Inspector General of Intelligence. Since then nobody has seen anything of the investigation dockets – and all charges were withdrawn against Mdluli — until recent weeks, when civil society and the courts stepped in to force the minister’s hand.
Observed DA MP Diane Kohler-Barnard: “I suspect the Inspector General is a whole new way for those in power to defeat the ends of justice.”
When the Crime Intelligence Division leaked the story and a CD containing crime scene photographs to Sunday Times reporter Mzilikazi Wa Afrika some time in the latter half of last year – as that reporter claimed happened, when interviewed by Noseweek – it is fair to assume they wanting the Sunday Times to use the material to discredit or derail the investigations that had led to Mdluli being charged with various serious crimes, including murder and kidnapping.
Rackets being operated by Mdluli’s Crime Intelligence Division that were exposed by the investigators revolve largely around the so-called Secret Service Account, a secret police slush fund that was supposed to be used to fight crime, but, it emerges from Hankel’s secret report, the slush fund was more often being used to finance crime.
So we are entitled to conclude that, already in November last year, the police and government, at the highest level, had all the information they needed to justify calling in the helicopters, the Sunday Times and a task force armed with machine guns to surround the offices of the Crime Intelligence Unit and arrest a whole bunch of them before the TV cameras – if that’s the style of policing currently in fashion in Hollywood and other third world countries. Why didn’t they? Why have they still not done so?
That’s just the dirty nitty-gritty. On a government policy level, surely a smart, caring government would by now have a deep appreciation of just how demoralised our police force is –and of the public’s anxiety and profound lack of confidence in the police and their ability to fight rampant crime. Three rotten national police commissioners in a row, and their successor barely in office for a day; the entire Crime Intelligence Unit an effective write-of to corruption, scandals everywhere. And you then order the sort of public circus we’ve had in Durban this past week?
They can’t be serious about fighting crime. But then, of course, you wouldn’t be if crime is your business.