Mdluli relatives hired for IT unit

2012-05-04 00:00

A CYBERCRIME unit commander has admitted to employing five family members of beleagured national spy boss Richard Mdluli as Internet spies even though they had limited computer skills.

The commander of the unit conceded in an interview with Media24 Investigtions that their presence had sparked questions from other operatives, but he insisted that the Mdluli family members were legitimate intelligence agents and doing “valuable work”.

Media24 Investigations met the commander of the cybercrime unit, a colonel, in the presence of state attorney Kobus Meier, who handles crime intelligence legal matters.

Meier had invited Media24 to a meeting at the Department of Justice in Pretoria in an effort to persuade it not to identify the seven Mdluli family members that senior Hawks investigators say he ordered to be employed in crime intelligence.

Meier admitted that the seven family members — among them Mdluli’s wife (a colonel), his former wife (also a colonel), his daughter (a lieutenant-colonel), his son (a captain) and three in-laws — were employed by crime intelligence in 2010 and were still in service.

Mdluli’s current wife worked in police stations in and around Cape Town and was employed by the Department of Home Affairs before she became a colonel. Meier said he had no idea why the family members were appointed in the first place.

Hawks investigators said in a top secret report to acting police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkwananzi that it cost the crime intelligence unit R5 million to employ Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli’s family members and supply them with luxury cars.

Meier said naming the family members would expose state intelligence agents and jeopardise sensitive projects.

The commander of the cybercrime unit said he employed five family members in his unit (he controls 12 agents altogether) that are specifically looking at so-called “phishing” cybercrimes.

The colonel would not say who the five members were, but said Mdluli’s former wife was not among them.

The Hawks investigators said in their report to Mkwananzi that the family members who were employed had no experience in IT.

They were supposed to start an Internet cafe. Almost R100 000 was spent to train them and set up a front company, but the project never got off the ground.

The commander of the cybercrime unit admitted that the five possessed limited computer skills, but said his only requirement for deploying them was that they “should be able to mix with people”.

Meier admitted that the appointment of the seven family members might appear “suspect”, but that he doesn’t have the information or authority to comment.

Mdluli and his family members had the use of 15 cars — most of them luxury vehicles — which were purchased using money from crime intelligence’s secret fund.

Earlier reports have detailed Mdluli’s alleged role in the looting of the R250 million secret fund.

• investigations@media24.com

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