Axe dangles over KZN police trio

2014-10-19 15:00

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The police in KwaZulu-Natal are running out of cops to suspend.

Three of the province’s senior undercover operatives, who investigated politically connected Umhlanga businessman Thoshan Panday, are the latest to have an axe dangling above their necks.

The three – Colonel Brian Padayachee, Colonel Soobramoney Chetty and Warrant Officer Shamalan Moodley – all work undercover in crime intelligence.

They were part of a team that investigated Panday for allegedly ripping off the SA Police Service (SAPS) by inflating hotel bills for the 2010 World Cup by more than R10?million.

The allegations against Panday remain unproved.

An impeccable police source told City Press the trio was served with a suspension notice last week – this was based on an affidavit made to the SAPS by Panday.

City Press reported last week that Panday had offered, through a group called Concerned Lawyers and Educationists for Equality Before the Law, to help President Jacob Zuma repay some of the money spent by the state on upgrading his Nkandla home.

Panday has denied this.

The police source said Padayachee, Chetty and Moodley had been suspended for violating the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act and carrying out “unauthorised monitoring” on Panday’s cellphone.

General Deena Moodley, who was also involved in monitoring Panday, has also reportedly been placed on special leave.

The four are also accused of confronting Panday with the recording of him allegedly conspiring with his co-accused in the corruption case, police Colonel Navin Madhoe, to bribe KwaZulu-Natal Hawks boss General Johan Booysen.

Booysen is also on special leave although an internal police inquiry last month cleared him of claims that he had run a hit squad with the province’s Cato Manor serious and violent crime unit.

The police source said transferring the three would force them “into the public eye” and “place their lives in danger from criminals involved in the operations they are currently conducting”.

“It will also place the cases they are working on in jeopardy,” said the source.

The suspension notices were served last week.

The three were given 72 hours to make representations to crime intelligence acting divisional commissioner Major General BM Zulu on why they should not be suspended or transferred while disciplinary proceedings are under way.

The three have made their representations and, at the time of going to press, were still at work.

Their lawyer, Kogilan Chetty, told City Press he had been instructed by his clients not to comment nor provide details about what he was representing them for.

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega’s spokesperson General Solomon Makgale said there were “several” ongoing disciplinary matters involving police officers nationally and the police’s management would comment “when and if” it became appropriate to do so.

Last month, Phiyega refused to accept the report by a police inquiry that found Booysen was the victim of a complex conspiracy involving, among others, senior police management over his pursuit of Panday.

Phiyega has taken the report’s findings on review to the Johannesburg labour court, a process that can take up to 18 months. She has also placed Booysen on special leave because she says the trust relationship between him and the SAPS has “broken down”.

The inquiry was chaired by Advocate Nazeer Cassim.

Cassim had written in his report: “...[the] objective facts demonstrate an agenda to get rid of Booysen because he was perceived, rightly so I may add, as a determined, professional, competent and tenacious policeman who would arduously strive to bring the wrongdoers to book”.

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