Warrant for city hall raid was invalid

2016-04-14 10:24
The red-brick road around the City Hall.

The red-brick road around the City Hall. (Jonathan Burton)

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Pietermaritzburg - Search warrants used by police when they raided the offices of Msunduzi officials on March 18 contained no information about what offences they were allegedly investigating.

The warrants also did not say who had laid a complaint, according to documents in the high court.

This was revealed by (presently suspended) head of Msunduzi’s Internal Audit Unit Petrus Mahlaba when Msunduzi got a court order on Monday declaring the warrants illegal and invalid.

The court order — which police consented to — also ordered police to return all computers, documents, and any copies of seized information, to Msunduzi within 24 hours.

Giving reasons why Msunduzi challenged the legality of the warrants, Mahlaba said he and other officials from the Internal Audit Unit whose names appeared on search warrants (Zamani Khoza and Sithabile Msomi) were “completely in the dark” as to what offences, if any, were being investigated against them.

He said although it was stated on the search warrants that information was placed under oath before the magistrate who issued them (B.M. Khumalo), they were not made privy to it.

Their attorney had gone to the magistrate’s court to find out what information was put before the magistrate. However, a supervisor had said there was no court file opened with any documents in it.

She confirmed the magistrate’s court had dealt with the matter and said if there were any documents they would be in the docket held by the investigating officer. “To date neither our attorney nor ourselves have been able to establish who the investigating officer was at the time the search warrants were obtained,” said Mahlaba.

In his affidavit he said police who carried out the raid were “aggressive”, naming in particular Warrant Officer N. Adimulam.

He said there was no search warrant at all which entitled police to seize documents from the office of Dudu Gambu (head of Supply Chain Management) who was not present at the time.

According to Mahlaba, police officers asked secretary Mandisa Zulu for keys to Gambu’s office, stating “there is a lot of corruption in government”.

They allegedly intimated to Zulu that if the keys were not handed over to them that they would “kick down the door”.

When Zulu asked if they had a search warrant they “remained silent”.

Mahlaba said the search warrants that were produced by the police did not record what offences or suspected offences were being investigated, did not describe the articles that were to be seized other than to “broadly mention computers and documents”, did not specify what offences triggered the criminal investigation or name suspected offenders, and only named the people in control of certain premises such as himself, Khoza and Msomi.

The warrants also did not record which police station the police executing the warrants were from, the terms of the warrants were “vague and overbroad” and were “not intelligible”.

Most of the documents removed (from Gambu’s office) were not authorised by any search warrants at all.

In his affidavit, Mahlaba said he believed that there are individuals who had embarked on an “orchestrated plan to destabilise and frustrate” confidential and sensitive investigations by his unit into alleged irregularities and corruption involving Msunduzi officials and service providers. He believed these people had enlisted help from “certain police from Loop street” to help them achieve their objective.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court

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