Top cops are flouting vetting processes - SAPS manager

2017-09-05 05:05
State Security Minister David Mahlobo. (File, Netwerk24)

State Security Minister David Mahlobo. (File, Netwerk24)

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Cape Town - There is a serious lack of co-operation, especially among senior police managers, when it comes to the crucial process of vetting cops.

The admission, by a police manager, has emerged as South Africa’s controversial crime intelligence unit is again in focus.

Vetting is meant to be carried out by national intelligence structures to test a candidate's security competence and if they are suitable to handle classified information. There are varying levels of security clearance.

The vetting process involves looking into one's financial and possible criminal background. A polygraph test may be conducted.

An official who is meant to be vetted, but is not, could end up being privy to, or getting hold of, classified information which they should not have access to.

 Crime intel boss investigated for security clearance

Failure to co-operate, or failure to meet criteria in the vetting process should result in security clearance being denied.

On August 17 acting national crime intelligence head Major General Pat Mokushane was sacked - he lacked security clearance and is now the subject of two criminal cases.

Major General King Bhoyi Ngcobo, a former bodyguard of President Jacob Zuma who was accused of submitting a fake matric certificate to the South African Police Service (SAPS), has since been appointed crime intelligence acting head.

Intensifying mistrust

News24 understands, through sources with close ties to crime intelligence, deep rooted mistrust within the unit is intensifying.

Some members do not know which colleagues are trustworthy and which of them are working with, or even for, criminal bosses - the very targets they are tasked with gathering information on.

This, they say, leaves them with a sense of hopelessness as they feel the intelligence they are gathering could be masterfully planted or may intentionally never go on to result in arrests.

Crime intelligence is critical for, among other aspects, laying solid foundations for high-profile and in-depth investigations.

Members of the unit are involved in investigations including gang activities around South Africa and how illicit activities in various provinces fit together.

Details about problems riddling crime intelligence are contained in a summary of a meeting about, among other matters, senior police management vetting, held by the police portfolio committee on August 23.

News24 has a copy of the summary and report on the meeting.

Managers not co-operating 

It said Major General Leon Rabie, the police’s head of strategic management, noted the number of vetted police officers, as well as those not vetted.

The report said he had picked up “a serious lack of co-operation by applicants, especially within senior management.”

Rabie said the vetting department would be enhanced “and all SAPS management will be vetted”.

“Anyone who has not applied for vetting but needs to, will be notified in writing.”

There were deadlines for this.

Rabie said vetting investigations were co-ordinated by provincial police heads.

After investigations were finished at a provincial level, these were sent to the police’s head office.

Mokushane, misconduct and moonlighting

Rabie, according to the report, touched on the Mokushane matter saying he was being investigated for alleged misconduct.

He said Mokushane did not have security clearance.

“The last security clearance he obtained was issued in 2002 and expired in 2007.

“He did apply again, but the process was never concluded.”

Rabie, according to the meeting report, said that Mokushane’s secretary had “refused to comply with the investigating officers” in terms of Mokushane’s alleged abuse of State Security Agency funds.

Evidence, Rabie said, indicated Mokushane was the director of three companies and it was “highly probable that he carried out remunerative work linked to the directorships”.

Mokushane's 'dodgy past'

It could not be confirmed if he had applied to do this work.

Two criminal cases had been opened against Mokushane, who currently has a clear criminal record.

'SAPS not a hippy ashram'

DA MP Zak Mbhele was, according to the meeting report, shocked at two factors mentioned by Rabie.

That of Mokushane’s secretary's non-compliance with regard to the probe into his activities, as well as senior police management not complying with vetting processes.

“SAPS is not some hippy ashram where people do not do what they do not feel like doing,” Mbhele said.

“What about command and control and obligations?"

Plan to action

Head of counter intelligence, Major General Dumezweni Zimu, according to the meeting report, said the lack of co-operation from senior management service staff would not be a problem in future.

Due to obligations to deal with accountability, a programme would be developed to include when interiews would be scheduled.

Zimu also said “the vetting backlog” would not pose a problem.

He explained when a person was denied security clearance, they were told and had the choice to appeal this within 30 days.

“When top secret clearance is applied for, there are some cases where their clearance is downgraded,” he said.

In April 2016 State Security Minister David Mahlobo, during his budget vote speech in Parliament, warned civil servants in critical government positions not to "run away" from vetting processes.

He had said this formed part of actions to tackle corruption.

Read more on:    police  |  david mahlobo  |  cape town

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