Cele’s phone ‘accidentally bugged’

2012-06-09 16:37

An elaborate plot to find out which of Bheki Cele’s generals was leaking information to the press backfired dramatically when the fired cop’s own phone was bugged “mistakenly”.

This emerged in previously unseen court papers filed in KwaZulu-Natal crime intelligence head Deena Moodley’s labour court challenge of his suspension.

Moodley’s court bid failed this week.

The documents expose the almost farcical extent of the rot in the police’s intelligence unit.

In Moodley’s affidavit, filed in a separate criminal case but submitted as part of the labour court matter, Moodley said he informed Cele – who was sacked by President Jacob Zuma this week – that two Sunday Times journalists were investigating him and were out to “get him”.

Moodley said Cele was “concerned” and allegedly “tasked him to continue with monitoring the journalists”.

At a “top secret” meeting, Moodley instructed two crime intelligence operatives, Dumisani Zulu and Brian Padayachee, to launch a “covert operation”.

He told them there were “two generals that were contacting the journalists that needed to be identified”.

Moodley said he then “wrote down the number of the national commissioner on the piece of paper with the other two numbers (of the journalists)” for an application for interception before a retired Pretoria judge.

Moodley instructed Zulu to compare the records of the journalists with Cele’s number to see which numbers were calling Cele and the journalists.

But in a spectacular (and illegal) case of broken telephone, Zulu then gave another crime intelligence operative Cele’s name, along with those of the two reporters.

Policeman Bongani Lawrence, in his affidavit, said he was instructed by Zulu to add the numbers to his application for interception in a completely separate case, but to change the names so it seemed as if they were part of the same investigation.

“I also changed the contents of the statement in order to make it look as though the added individuals do (sic) collaborate with the initial two individuals to commit a crime,” he said.

The application was approved in December 2010.

But when Zulu listened to the recordings of conversations, he “recognised one voice as (that) of the national commissioner”.

Zulu said he had to inform Moodley that “the national commissioner’s number was erroneously included in the application for interception and monitoring”.

Moodley said he instructed Zulu to go back to Pretoria to remove Cele’s number from the bugging list.

“We had no intention to obtain the information for the national commissioner’s communication fraudulently,” said Zulu.

In Moodley’s affidavit, he stressed that suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli “was not aware of the operation as the national commissioner requested that we keep our relationship secret”.

This appears to be at odds with police regulations, which would have required Mdluli, then head of crime intelligence, to sign off on the application.

Moodley yesterday said he couldn’t comment because the case was subject to a “criminal and departmental investigation”.

Cele’s spokesperson, Vuyo Mkhize, declined to comment.

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