Saturday, March 26, 2011
Ex-Scorpions boss warns Hawks........a blast from the past ! A surprising judgement
Ex-Scorpions boss warns Hawks
Related LinksNew Hawks police unit takes off
New crime unit head named
Johannesburg - Members of the "Hawks", the police's newly launched crime-fighting unit, must brace themselves for turbulence as they take over from their predecessors, the ousted Scorpions, a former Scorpions boss warned on Monday.
"My advice to you is you have to be thick-skinned as you weather the storms - there will be turbulence out there," said advocate Thanda Mngwenge, who used to be the deputy head of the Scorpions, now replaced by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations.
As he made the symbolic handover of 288 case files to Anwa Dramat, head of the DPCI, Mngwenge, sounding emotional, said: "...You have a huge responsibility ahead of you, so I wish you good luck."
The demise of the Scorpions, and the rise of the Hawks is the product of a resolution taken by the ruling ANC at its conference in Polokwane, Limpopo, in 2007.
'Hollywood style tactics'
With its newly elected president Jacob Zuma among those in the Scorpions' sights during a former corruption investigation, the ANC expressed dissatisfaction over the way the Scorpions operated, accusing them of "Hollywood style tactics".
At one point ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the Scorpions, launched in September 1999, hated the ANC and were filled with apartheid era security branch members who were targeting their former enemies.
Deputy police minister Fikile Mbalula, who once led the aim to have Zuma's charges dropped when he headed the ANC Youth League, told guests at the launch that he believed the new unit would function more effectively, and would work well with other agencies.
In line with the Polokwane resolution, and amid petitions, several court challenges and public hearings, the enabling legislation in the form of the South African Police Service Amendment Act and the National Prosecuting Authority Amendment Act was signed into effect in February.
First day at work
A former Robben Island prisoner and Umkhonto we Sizwe operative, Dramat was appointed in May, and Monday was the official first day of work for his new unit.
A deputy provincial police commissioner in the Western Cape, Dramat has been described by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa as having special expertise in crime intelligence.
His unit intends preventing, combating and investigating national priority offences and will focus on serious organised crime, serious commercial crime and serious corruption - targeting what police call the "criminal high flyers".
He pledged greater co-operation between the police and other departments like justice, the Treasury, state security and the revenue services, and encouraged ordinary South Africans to become involved in the fight against crime, saying the Hawks would only succeed if the community helped them find criminals.
The acts provide for the transfer of the investigative capacity of the DSO to the police, and so far 218 of the 244 special investigators from the former DSO have agreed to move.
Top security clearance for at least 3 000 staffers is expected to be completed within the year, with 1 700 having already been screened.
Staff will initially be drawn from the ranks of the former DSO special investigators, the police's organised crime and commercial crime detectives and they also hope to attract young recruits into investigating high-technology crimes.
They will be subjected to ongoing security checks, which will include random polygraph tests.
The transfer of the investigators is being overseen by Commissioner Manoko Nchwe of the police, and advocate Willie Hofmeyr of the NPA, to ensure no breaks in investigations.
The investigators will work with a team of prosecutors appointed by the NPA, and a network of provincial offices will be set up.
The DSO prosecutors will stay in the NPA, or move on, depending on what they choose.
Destroying 'evil networks'
Mthethwa said the new unit marked a turning point in the fight against crime.
He said the name was chosen for the birds' ability to have an eye for detail and see from afar.
"We expect the unit to zoom in on the activities of criminals and destroy their evil networks here at home and across the world," he said.
Staff will report to the office of the National Commissioner of Police, currently Jackie Selebi, who is the subject of a corruption investigation initiated by the Scorpions.
He is on leave and news on whether his contract will be renewed or whether he will be replaced pending the finalisation of his case, set down for trial on October 5, is expected within the month.
Read more on: hawks | scorpions | directorate of priority crime investigations | jackie selebi | nathi mthethwa | thanda mngwenge | anwa dramat
Hawks: A surprising judgment
Pierre De Vos
It does not happen often that those of us who study the judgments of South Africa’s Constitutional Court are surprised by a judgment of that court.
But yesterday the majority of judges of the Constitutional Court surprised many of us when it declared invalid the legislation that created the Hawks. The Hawks, you will remember, replaced the Scorpions who seemingly got into trouble for pursuing corruption charges against President Jacob Zuma.
In a majority decision, the court argued that corruption was a serious issue which undermined respect for our human rights. Corruption, said the judges, “threatens to fell at the knees virtually everything we hold dear and precious in our hard-won constitutional order”.
The State therefore had a constitutional duty to take steps to combat corruption. If a State like ours fails to take such steps and if it does not create a sufficiently independent anti-corruption body, the State is infringing on the rights to equality, human dignity, freedom, security of the person, administrative justice and socio-economic rights.
What was therefore required was to create an anti-corruption unit with the necessary independence to be protected from potential political pressure. Although there are many ways in which the state can fulfil this constitutional duty, if the state fails to create a truly independent corruption fighting body it would be in breach of its constitutional duties.
This is strong stuff. But it gets even better.
The court, explaining what this independence would entail, made it clear that unlike the Scorpions, the Hawks did not measure up.
First, the court argued that perceptions matter and that a body to fight corruption would only be independent if reasonable people would believe that it was indeed independent. This means that the state would not be allowed to create a body that it claimed was independent but that did not appear independent to the reasonable members of the public:
The court also argued that an anti-corruption body would only be independent if it was legally protected and if it had the necessary institutional protection to ensure that its members acted without fear, favour or prejudice. The Hawks was not such an independent body because members of the Hawks were “ordinary” police officials who enjoyed little if any special job security.
Although the majority does not say this, the lack of independence of the Hawks due to this provision is highlighted by the fact that our present Police Commissioner has recently been found to have acted in an unlawful manner relating to a highly problematic lease entered into to rent new Police Headquarters.
If the Hawks were to investigate any possible corruption relating to this deal, the Commissioner would, in effect, be able to fire those responsible for the investigation for any of a number of reasons not officially related to the investigation.
The Hawks also failed the independence test because its activities are co-ordinated by Cabinet. At present a Ministerial Committee may determine policy guidelines in respect of the functioning of the Hawks as well as for the selection of national priority offences which the Hawks must investigate. The Hawks is therefore not explicitly a corruption-fighting unit.
It is a unit that fights “priority crimes” and the politicians can decide what these “priority crimes” should be. This creates a risk of political and executive influence over the Hawks. In other words, at present politicians can in effect decide what crimes the Hawks must investigate and, by implication, what crimes it should stay away from.
Parliament was therefore given 18 months to fix the problem. But Parliament itself is now in a fix.
Time will tell
It is going to be difficult for the executive and Parliament to comply with the judgment by merely tweaking the existing legislation. A completely new institution with far more safeguards to secure its independence will have to be created. Some politicians might not like this, but that is what the Constitutional Court required.
Of course, even such a body will only be as good as the people appointed to it.
Only time will tell whether a new body that is truly independent will emerge from this saga or whether Parliament or the executive will try and create a more pliant institution. What is certain is that we need such a body to protect us all - rich and poor, black and white - from the corruption that is sweeping our country.
- Read Pierre's blog: Constitutionally Speaking. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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Read more on: hawks | scorpions | jacob zuma
Spy tapes saved Zuma - claim
SIU deputy head facing the axe
Zuma cleaning house
Simelane sidelines SCCU head
Johannesburg - Special Investigating Unit (SIU) boss Willie Hofmeyr allegedly told his deputy the secret tapes that ended President Jacob Zuma’s corruption case were “unlawful recordings” made by crime intelligence to “monitor” the investigation of former police chief Jackie Selebi.
The explosive claim is made in court papers filed by Faiek Davids, Hofmeyr’s former deputy at the SIU who is challenging his sacking from the unit at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Davids claims that the main reason for his axing by Hofmeyr was because he (Davids) was mentioned in a voicemail message left on his phone by former Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy, that formed part of the spy tapes.
This is the first time a senior law-enforcement official has stated on record that interceptions made for Selebi’s benefit led to Zuma’s corruption charges being dropped.
Selebi’s lawyer did not respond to questions sent by City Press, while Zuma’s lawyer, Michael Hulley, the initial recipient of the recordings, said it would be “unethical and improper” of him to comment on a pending inquiry to which he is not a party or legal representative.
The SIU is disputing Davids’s claims and is defending the matter. The unit declined to answer specific questions because it does not want to “undermine the CCMA proceedings”.
Former acting prosecutions boss Mokotedi Mpshe controversially dropped the case against Zuma in April 2009 - 16 days before the country’s national election was held.
The source of the tapes that implicated McCarthy and former National Prosecuting Authority boss Bulelani Ngcuka in plotting the timing of charges against Zuma has been shrouded in secrecy.
The former inspector general of intelligence, Zolile Ngcakani, conducted an investigation into how the tapes were leaked to Hulley, but his report has never been published.
Ngcakani’s successor, Faith Radebe, said last week that the report was sent to Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence and she considered the matter “finalised”.
In March last year, ANC MP Cecil Burgess, the chair of the standing committee, said he would release the report only if the committee found it to be in the public interest, and after consultation with Zuma.
Operation Destroy Lucifer
The Mail & Guardian reported in May last year that two independent sources claimed former crime intelligence boss Mulangi Mphego, a close confidant of Selebi, was the original source of the recordings.
The recordings were obtained by crime intelligence through Operation Destroy Lucifer - a covert operation that countered the Scorpions’ probe of Selebi. McCarthy was one of the people whose phone calls were allegedly tapped.
The newspaper detailed Mphego’s movements in Durban, where he allegedly played some of the recordings to Zuma.
Contained in the transcripts of recordings that were released by Mpshe when he announced the dropping of charges against Zuma was a voicemail message left by McCarthy on Davids’s phone six days after Zuma was elected as ANC president.
The message was transcribed as: “Davids, uh, McCarthy here, give me a ring please, you send me ’n gevaarlike SMS here just before Christmas.
I am Thabo man, I mean we are still wiping the blood from our faces, or egg, or egg and blood from our faces.
“Saw the man on Friday evening, we planning a comeback strategy.
And once we have achieved that, we will clean up all around us my friend. Bye.”
Access to tapes
In his complaint to the CCMA, Davids accuses Hofmeyr and the SIU of relying on “alleged evidence illegally sought” to fire him, and despite “repeated” requests by Davids for access to the tapes, Hofmeyr allegedly refused.
“In the course of these discussions, Hofmeyr said it would not be politically advisable for (Davids) to have access to these tapes.”
Davids also criticised Hofmeyr’s “attempts to interpret McCarthy’s message” as evidence of his support for former president Thabo Mbeki.
“On the contrary, the message points to (Davids) not being politically partisan,” the papers read.
- City Press
Read more on: corruption | ccma | siu | npa | faiek davids | leonard mccarthy | bulelani ngcuka | jacob zuma | willie hofmeyr | jackie selebi
SAPS 'full of criminals'
Justice minister broke the law - Pikoli
KZN premier: Robbers arrogant
Twist in 'rich cop' saga
Justice system 'needs overhaul'
Hijackings, robberies soar in CT
Most think SA crime is on rise
Quick thinking cop gets award
Six men arrested for theft
Pretoria - Only 192 police were suspended for "corruption" in the past year - a little over 0.1% of the 137 000-strong police service.
New figures released by police exclusively to Beeld show that overall, 552 policemen were suspended between April 2007 and March 2008 for committing serious crimes. This amounts to 0.4% of the police on our streets.
But independent researchers and criminologists have slammed the statistics saying they indicate the SAPS "doesn't have a clue and doesn't want to have a clue" about the extent of corruption and criminal activity in its ranks. And they have warned that the police force is fast becoming an "organisation of criminals".
'They are in denial'
"One gets tired of hearing about a few bad apples," says Liza Grobler, an independent criminologist whose PhD thesis examined police criminality. "That is absolute rubbish. That is why we have this problem. It is because they refuse to admit there is a problem and the more they are in denial, the less chance we have of anything being rectified. It is hard not to be negative."
Research she has conducted in the Western Cape and interviews with convicted policemen have led her to believe that at least 10% of police are corrupt or criminal but, she says, "that is probably too fair".
Says David Bruce, a senior researcher at the Centre for the Study of Violence, who has conducted extensive studies of policing and police oversight structures: "If the SAPS was a model of integrity, those figures would make sense. But I don't believe it for a moment."
"I think the police is riddled with corruption.
"Management controls are generally weak in the SAPS, there is no systematic approach to corruption and there is no investigative unit looking specifically at corruption."
Many lead double lives
Grobler says many police lead double lives.
"There's the concept of a parallel career. Many policemen have been criminals since their first week. One guy I interviewed got away with everything for 17 years. Except murder, he didn't do murder. He was eventually busted for issuing a fake gun licence but before that he had hijacked, he was running a prostitution ring, he burgled...It's unreal.
"The station where he would work night-shift, there was never a senior officer on duty. The entire night shift staff was rotten and if there was a policeman who wasn't, he'd be worked out.
"If they got a call and they were having a braai or drinks at the back of the station, they just wouldn't go. But if the local gang called on them they would go because that is who was paying them. They were in it together. It was a completely symbiotic relationship."
Eight years ago, the police's Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) arrested 1 048 police for corruption and obtained 193 convictions. A year later, on the instructions of Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi - who himself now faces charges of corruption and links to organised crime - its staff complement was halved. It was later unceremoniously closed down.
Corruption and Fraud Prevention Plan
But police maintain they are determined to weed out criminality and corruption. The key, they say, is a 30 page Corruption and Fraud Prevention Plan. Three years in the making, it has yet to be fully implemented.
In the document Selebi writes: "The key to combating corruption and fraud in the SAPS is effective supervision of SAPS employees at all levels, but particularly at station level...Corruption and fraud will not be tolerated in this police service and those found guilty...will be dealt with to the full extent of the law and the SAPS Disciplinary Regulations."
Assistant Commissioner George Moorcroft, the police's strategic management head, is at the helm. And his mantra is "prevention, detection, investigation and restoration". For him the fight is about "control-measures", "integrity documents" and "risk assessments".
"We are detecting a lot [of corruption cases], which is a good thing. We are not saying there is more corruption, we are saying more is being detected...We must show corrupt elements that we are taking no nonsense."
Definition of corruption
He says current corruption figures are so much lower than those recorded by the defunct Anti-Corruption Unit because the definition of corruption has narrowed.
"In the past we included all criminal cases under the heading 'corruption-related crimes'. We now have a strict definition of corruption.
"You can also argue that it is low because cases are not reported or it is low because we are doing something about it. We can only look at that when we do an internal survey to determine what is happening."
"It is semantics," says Liza Grobler. "If you want to look at the rottenness, you can include all their crimes into the category of corruption because of the nature of their job and the powers they have. They are not like ordinary criminals."
Moorcroft says that while the figures provided to Beeld provide a "rough" picture of cases over the last year: "I cannot vouch for them...It could be that the systems have more included."
Moorcroft is dismissive of the ACU which carried out 23 000 investigations between 1996 and 2001 and arrested more than 3 200 police before its closure in 2002.
"Nobody liked those guys, they only investigated. There was no prevention. What we did after them, we looked at broadening the strategy. We wanted to prevent corruption so we asked the question: How do we detect corruption?"
Motivating the ACU's closure, police Commissioner Jackie Selebi said its functions were duplicated by the Organised Crime Unit (OCU). Ironically, just before the ACU's demise in early 2002, the head of the OCU in KwaZulu-Natal was convicted on corruption charges stemming from a case built by the ACU.
Says police spokesperson Director Selby Bokaba: "We have been criticised for closing down the Anti-Corruption Unit...but they only investigated. This plan is a departure from the way we did business. We are now looking at all aspects."
Screening, e-docket system helping
Moorcroft says proper screening should begin with recruitment. He says it is working. "We are arresting people in the police college who have fake certificates."
He says a new computerised e-docket system, which is currently being tested, will help prevent docket thefts and disappearances.
"Once a case is registered, you can try and cover up as much as you want...I can guarantee you that once a case has been registered it will be investigated.
Police from different stations will investigate each other in a bid to thwart the police trying to cover for one another.
"If a case of corruption happens at, for example, Hillbrow, then people from Vereeniging will go and investigate."
Moorcroft says the police Crime Intelligence has a desk dedicated to investigating corruption and sees no need for a specialist unit to tackle the problem.
Bokaba says such a unit would be a drain on resources.
"With such high levels of crime in the country and the limited capacity we have, do you want us to slash that capacity to concentrate on looking for corruption?"
According to Moorcroft, national, provincial and stations heads will have the Prevention Plan written into their performance agreements and will be assessed on how they conduct corruption and fraud risk assessments in their departments and ensure cases are effectively investigated and monitored. And it will become part of their overall operational plans.
Moorcroft said all 1 150 police station commissioners would be trained in the implementation of the plan by July this year. So far about 300 have been trained.
David Bruce says part of the problem with plans like this are that they are "often used as a way of pretending to the world that something is being done about the problem".
Implementation, he says, is another matter. And without a dedicated anti-corruption unit the plan will be toothless.
But Moorcroft is determined the plan will be a success. "It is all about service delivery. Why are we doing this" Because we know there are cases of corruption and we will not take nonsense."
Grobler says she has "never heard anything more ridiculous" than the SAPS plan for police to police each other.
"It is a crazy, crazy concept that is completely against any international norm and international best practice. New York and London all have separate, removed investigation units. It is the only way you can do it.
"We don't have any sort of strategy and they [ the police] are not interested in devising one properly or implementing one."
'They will kill you broer'
For the police the consequences of reporting corruption are cause for real fear.
In February the State's case against police officials accused of stealing more than R100m from the Benoni police station safe collapsed after four key witnesses, including a policeman, were systematically murdered.
In January, a woman who was due to testify against two allegedly corrupt Booysens policemen was shot dead.
"They will kill you broer, they will kill you," one senior police official confided. "People close ranks, that is the problem. It is something that has been going on for years, ever since the police existed."
Parties welcome Selebi ruling
Praise for Selebi sentence
Selebi gets 15 years behind bars
Johannesburg - Opposition parties have welcomed the 15 year jail sentence handed down to former national police commissioner Jackie Selebi on Tuesday.
Selebi was found guilty on charges of corruption for accepting money from convicted drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti while he was the chief of the SA Police Service (SAPS) and president of Interpol.
During investigations into Agliotti, Selebi called him his "friend, finish and klaar".
While all parties welcomed the sentence, with the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance saying the sentence was a "rare instance of justice", the African Christian Democratic Party said the case would never have ended in a successful prosecution had the SAPS investigated it.
"In light of attempts by the SAPS to intimidate the prosecutor, Advocate Gerrie Nel, it is unlikely that this case would have been successfully investigated had it been left to the SAPS," said ACDP president Kenneth Meshoe.
Nel was head of the investigating team of the now disbanded anti-corruption unit, the Scorpions. The highly successful unit was closed down in 2008.
"This sentence is thus justified even though he (Selebi) is in his sixties," said Meshoe.
Praise for disbanded Scorpions
In the same vein, AfriForum praised the disbanded Scorpions unit for their role in bringing the former police commissioner to justice.
They said, however, future corruption cases were at stake under a police-led investigation unit, the Hawks, which had taken over all the Scorpions' cases since its disbandment.
"It could be more difficult to prosecute senior police officials on corruption charges in future owing to the replacement of the (independent) Scorpions with the newly founded Hawks unit, which falls under the direct command and control of the SAPS," AfriForum community safety head Nantes Kelder said.
"The Hawks have done excellent work so far, but there is a need for an investigating unit that is not controlled directly by the SAPS," Kelder said.
The IFP said Selebi's sentence was too lenient and that he deserved a longer jail term.
"We believe that Mr Selebi's sentence is too lenient and he deserved a lengthier jail term," said Velaphi Ndlovu, IFP spokesperson on police issues.
"He was not only an embarrassment to the SAPS but to the country's image abroad because of his involvement with Interpol."
Ndlovu said that Selebi's actions had tarnished the police force's image and diminished the public's respect and confidence in the SAPS.
'Nobody above the law'
Most other parties agreed with this, with Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille saying the sentence sent out a strong message that South African courts would not hesitate to deliver justice in corruption cases.
"I agree with Judge (Meyer) Joffe that Selebi is an embarrassment to the court, South Africa, the South African Police Service and the government that appointed him," De Lille said.
DA spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said the sentence brought to an end one of the most controversial trials in South Africa.
"Controversial because of the numerous obstacles placed in the way of due process and the law in trying to bring this criminal to book and controversial because we as a country are almost completely unfamiliar with the idea of a corrupt official, connected to the ANC, actually going to prison."
She said the government should think about the integrity of a police structure that was for years led by an individual who on Tuesday "joined the ranks of the very criminals from which the police were supposed to protect society".
"The reason was cadre deployment and cadre deployment alone, and that ANC-driven policy needs to be scrapped," Kohler Barnard said.
The Inkatha Freedom Party said the sentence would show that corruption would not be tolerated, and that no one is above the law.
"The IFP sincerely hopes that Mr Selebi will serve his time in a prison cell and not in a private hospital room," said Ndlovu, referring to convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik, who was let out on medical parole in March 2009, two years and four months into his 15 year jail sentence for corruption.
Shaik was convicted for deals made relating to the country's controversial arms deal in 2004.
Read more on: jackie selebi trial | jackie selebi | meyer joffe | diane kohler barnard
ANC: Opportunistic to call for Cele axing
Johannesburg - It is "opportunistic" for opposition parties to call for the axing of national police commissioner General Bheki Cele after the findings of a probe into a multi-million rand lease agreement were announced, the ANC said on Wednesday.
"We note that the violation of public administration laws, in terms of the public protector's conclusion on the matter, does not necessarily amount to a criminal finding," ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement.
"It is, therefore, very opportunistic in the extreme for the Democratic Alliance and other opposition parties to call for the firing of national police commissioner Bheki Cele and Public Works Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde who should now be taking corrective measures to rectify any flaws in the lease agreement."
Mthembu was reacting to calls from the DA for Cele to step down - or for President Jacob Zuma to fire him - after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found him guilty of improper conduct and maladministration over the police's authorisation of a R500 million lease for the Sanlam Middestad Building in Pretoria.
Guilty of improper conduct
Madonsela initially referred only to "the accounting officer" of the SA Police Service (SAPS) as being guilty of improper conduct.
Asked who this was, Madonsela said Cele, as head of the police, was the accounting officer.
She found that the accounting officer of the public works department was also guilty of improper conduct and maladministration.
Mthembu said the ANC respected the Madonsela's findings and called on all parties to take the "necessary corrective action in a manner that restores public confidence in our administration".
On Wednesday, the Inkatha Freedom Party joined the call for Cele's resignation, or for him to be "asked" to leave.
"The president cannot say on one hand that he is serious about fighting corruption, if on the other hand, once one of his close cronies are caught, he simply turns a blind eye," said IFP police spokesperson Velaphi Ndlovu.
"The Saps suffered a great deal of damage to its reputation as a result of the corruption conviction of former South African police chief and Interpol head Jackie Selebi.
"Now it transpires that his successor is just as rotten. At the very minimum, to preserve the credibility of the Saps, and to restore its public and international image, Cele must go."
Cele is set to respond to the findings at a media briefing in Pretoria on Thursday.
On Tuesday, national police spokesperson Major-General Nonkululeko Mbatha said Cele felt "vindicated" by the report.
"The report... clears Cele of the defamatory allegations published in various media platforms since August 1 2010," Mbatha said in a statement.
"The allegations were that he signed a lease agreement for this building.
"The Public Protector not only stops at finding that General Cele did not sign the lease for Middestad Sanlam Centre.
"She goes further and vindicates General Cele's widely disregarded protestations that businessman Roux Shabangu... was a stranger to him up until their meeting in June 2010, when Middestad Centre Sanlam had already been selected by the department of public works as the building that the Saps were going to move into."
Last year, the Sunday Times reported that Cele had agreed to a R500m lease agreement for the building in Pretoria with property tycoon Shabangu, allegedly without following tender procedures.
The protector investigated the matter at the request of complainant Paul Hoffman, who is director of the SA Institute for Accountability.