Pretoria – Former national police commissioner, Johannes Kgomotso Phahlane, Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Mahwayi, Major General Maanda Obert Nemutandzhela, Major General Mankosana Agnes Makhele, and two businessmen Inbanathan Kistiah and Avendra Naidoo appeared in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court on Wednesday.
The accused were arrested earlier this week on Monday and Tuesday.
All the accused face charges of fraud, corruption, theft, and contravention of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), pertaining to two police tenders issued in 2016, with a total value of over R54 million.
The tenders in question were awarded to Brainwave Projects CC t/a I-View Integrated Systems, who have also been indicted.
Access to the court was restricted, however, Investigating Directorate Spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka narrated events leading the arrests.
Seboka said on 21 December 2016 the SAPS Crime Intelligence Division embarked on what they called emergency procurement of software tools or systems. One of the software was named RIPJAR.
The software was intended to collect and monitor information from social media platforms on the instigators of the university students’ #FeesMustFall protests.
The #FeesMustFall protests started in October 2015.
However, investigations into the tender in December 2016 – a year after the student protests – found the software was acquired as an “emergency” response.
Allegations are that the accused purported to buy the RIPJAR software from a company, which investigations later found was not involved in software engineering.
The company was dealing in security alarms and surveillance cameras.
Allegations are that owners of the so-called competing companies were friends of the accused, suspected to be involved in “cover quoting”.
Investigations revealed the cover quote was supplied to Inbanathan Kistiah by the former husband of the sole director of a company called Perfect Source, which was a human resource recruitment company.
The other software procured was a mobile communication encryption platform named Daedalus.
The purpose of Daedalus was to encrypt voice calls made by the management of the SA Police Service (SAPS) at the time when Phahlane was under investigation by Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
He was being investigated for the “Blue Lights” police tender and other procurements the police made during his tenure.
Daedalus made it impossible for investigators to get call records from cellphone providers.
SAPS initiated the process to invite three potential suppliers.
Allegations are that one of the suppliers stated that its “quotation” was fraudulent in that the company didn’t submit a quotation.
Two proposals for procurement of software tools were received on 21 December 2016. One proposal was for obtaining the software tool called RIPJAR.
In respect of this tool, two written price quotations were submitted.
One was from I-View, the company currently charged, and the other was the written price quotation from Perfect-Source (HR company and not an engineering company).
The owner of this company was the ex-wife of Avendra Naidoo.
However, Perfect-Source was in the process of being deregistered.
Investigations revealed that Naidoo submitted the quote and not his wife.
It is further alleged that R33 million was paid to I-View and R21-million paid for Daedalus within a short space of time.
Daedalus was procured for the sole purpose of encrypting calls and wiping out cellular records and messages.
It is further alleged that deviation from normal procurement processes for the contracts (signed and processed on the same day) and payment was made on 22 December, one day after approval.
All the accused were released on varying bail amounts of R5 000, R10 000, R20 000 and R50 000.
Commenting on the matter, Investigating Director Advocate Andrea Johnson said: “the arrest of these very high ranking and seasoned police officials in this seminal case endorses the ID’s commitment to dealing with corruption and state capture regardless of where it manifests itself”.
Advocate Johnson said: “It is also dealing with the lack of accountability, which to date has undermined the legitimacy of the law and shows that the wheels of justice are turning, and impunity is no longer a given.
“On the contrary, the rule of law is the most important protection of the weak against the whims of the powerful and it is what stands between us and tyranny.”
The matter returns to court on 7 December 2022.