Rogue cop a suspect in airport heist

2017-07-02 06:00

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A rogue crime intelligence agent who spent time in jail for committing a cash-in-transit heist has walked out of jail and straight back into his job.

Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala, who was released on parole last year after serving two years for armed robbery, is now a suspect in the R200m heist at OR Tambo International Airport that took place in early March.

These explosive details are contained in a confidential dossier compiled by a senior crime intelligence officer, which was sent on March 25 to Parliament’s police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman. The information has also been independently confirmed to City Press by highly placed operatives within crime intelligence.

The dossier also contains the allegation that Tshabalala was given his job back as soon as he walked out of the Groenpunt maximum security prison in Sasolburg last year. He was also, the document states, paid his salary in full while he was in jail.

“Captain Morris Tshabalala got released on parole after he had served one third of his sentence.

“What is being seen as corruption at the highest level in the police is that Tshabalala walked straight back into crime intelligence after serving just over two years in prison for armed robbery,” the dossier states.

Two senior crime intelligence officials confirmed that Tshabalala was indeed given his job back.

“It is true that KGB is back in crime intelligence.

“Many people in crime intelligence know about it, but no one will speak openly about it. He drives around in an Audi A3, paid for by crime intelligence,” one official said.

Another said: “Tshabalala is back in the police. In fact, he continued to draw his salary while he was in prison.”

Circumstantial evidence

While it was widely reported in 2013 that Tshabalala was fired from the police, documents obtained by City Press show he remained on the police’s payroll during the two years of his 10-year sentence he spent in jail.

Beukman said his committee had received the dossier.

“We discussed it in our management committee, but that matter falls under the intelligence committee purview, and not ours,” he said.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) spokesperson Moses Dlamini said the directorate had not received the dossier, but confirmed that it was aware of some of the allegations it contained.

“Once the matter is officially reported, we will assess it in line with our mandate.

“Where necessary, we will do a joint investigation with the inspector-general of intelligence,” Dlamini said.

“We would like to encourage whoever has information in respect of these allegations to make contact with Ipid so that such serious allegations can be investigated.”

Contacted for comment, Tshabalala said he was “fired” by the police “a long time ago” but when confronted with documents contradicting his story, he cut the call and did not accept further calls.

Regarding Tshabalala’s alleged involvement in the OR Tambo heist, the dossier says: “The current information is that the robbery that took place at OR Tambo International Airport recently where millions of rands were stolen, Tshabalala was among the robbers.

“There is circumstantial evidence that places him at the scene and this is known to the investigating team as well as crime intelligence management and the [then] acting national commissioner [Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane].”

Crime intelligence operatives who spoke to City Press said cellphone data had placed Tshabalala at the scene of the robbery.

City Press read a WhatsApp exchange between two senior operatives confirming Tshabalala was a suspect.

“His cellphone records show that he was in the area. In fact he spent the entire night in the home of one of the suspects,” one of the messages reads.

But the dossier claims that crime intelligence bosses are now, after the heist, trying to cover up for Tshabalala by issuing him with a section 252A notice – which operatives need to prove that their undercover operation has been sanctioned and which grants them immunity from arrest.

The claim was confirmed by one agent who said he was aware of his bosses’ decision to issue Tshabalala with a section 252A to divert attention away from him.

A senior Ipid employee said they had received information that police officers were involved in the airport heist in which an estimated R200m waiting to be loaded onto a cargo plane was stolen.

“I can’t tell you if Tshabalala was involved or not, but I can tell you that we have received information that the police were involved in the heist.”

In late March, seven suspects, including a police officer, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the heist and were granted bail of between R50 000 and R100 000 by the Kempton Park Magistrates Court. Tshabalala was not among them, but the investigation continues.

City Press sent a list of questions to SA Police Service (SAPS) police spokesperson Major-General Sally de Beer on Friday morning.

She said: “While the SAPS acknowledges receipt of the media questions and source document, we will not be in a position to respond at this stage due to the number and variety of allegations. We therefore reserve our right to comment until we have been afforded reasonable opportunity to make enquiries into the allegations.”

Read more on:    saps  |  johannesburg

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