R500 000 to hang up blinds, curtains

2013-12-15 10:50

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Cops paid designer exorbitant amount for kitting out windows.

The police’s crime intelligence (CI) division paid a fashion designer linked to Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) R500 000 to install blinds and curtains in a safe house.

According to documents in City Press’ possession, the division rented six safe houses earlier this year and then installed blinds and curtains at astronomical costs.

The documentation shows that:

»?CI rented six safe houses for about R90?000 a month because of the “number of members and the parking of SR [official] vehicles”.

»?Acting CI financial boss Obed Nemutanzhela approved the requests. CI section commander Captain Morris Tshabalala requested the houses.

»?CI then decided to install blinds in the safe houses.

»?In February 2013, an events company by the name of Umvuzowethu Promotions presented CI with an invoice of R478?500 for blinds and curtains in just one of the houses.

»?Umvuzowethu has no experience or expertise in blinds and curtains and doesn’t even have a website.

»?The firm is registered in the name of Obakeng Ramabodu, who launched the Julius Malema fashion range?–?referred to as the “Juju range”?–?last year. It was a flop.

An avid supporter of the EFF, Ramabodu’s Facebook page shows him posing with Malema.

»?A few days after invoicing CI, Nemutanzhela approved a payment of R478?500 to Umvuzowethu.

»?Other equally unqualified firms fitted curtains and blinds. Pretoria-based Siboniseng Construction, which specialises in low-cost housing, submitted an R85?000 invoice for curtains and blinds in another house.

In another development at the beleaguered division this week, three CI officers have been arrested and charged for truck hijacking in the North West.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale confirmed these arrests, but said one of the alleged hijackers was an ex-policeman. The rest are in CI. He said the matter pertaining to the blinds and curtains was under criminal and internal investigation. He wouldn’t elaborate.

One of the officers?–?a captain whose name is known to City Press?–?is the staff officer of the acting divisional commissioner for CI, Major General Bongiwe Zulu, and has access to top-secret intelligence.

In a further development in yet another disastrous week for the division, suspended chief financial officer Major General Solly Lazarus was found guilty of fraud in a disciplinary hearing.

He was found guilty of six charges of corruption in a police disciplinary hearing. He will hear his fate later this month, but faces dismissal.

Lazarus, who is also facing criminal charges for fraud and corruption, was responsible with suspended CI head Lieutenant General Richard Mdluli for looting the division’s secret fund.

One of the charges against Lazarus related to air tickets he bought in November 2009 for Mdluli and his wife to visit Mdluli’s daughter, who was studying in China.

This charge prompted the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing, Advocate Paul Pretorius, SC, to ask why Mdluli was not standing next to Lazarus.

Lazarus originally faced 12 charges, but it was later reduced to nine. Mdluli and Lazarus were suspended from crime intelligence in 2011 on suspicion of fraud and corruption. Their suspensions were briefly lifted before they were reinstated a year ago.

Lazarus is facing the full wrath of the law, but national police commissioner General Riah Phiyega has failed to institute disciplinary action against Mdluli and the National Prosecuting Authority has refused to prosecute.

Mdluli claimed last week that state prosecutors Glynnis Breytenbach and Gerrie Nel, and Hawks investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse were conspiring to kill him. He laid charges again them, which the police are investigating.

After Phiyega took control of the SAPS just more than a year ago, she vowed to clean up CI and to bring stability to the division?–?the division has arguably gone from bad to worse.

Nemutanzhela and Tshabalala are among the most controversial policemen at CI. Tshabalala, nicknamed KGB, was arrested in June for his alleged involvement in a R3?million Sasolburg cash heist.

Tshabalala, who has a top security clearance, was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 1996.

He appealed the sentence and was released on bail. He abandoned his appeal two years later but failed to report for his jail time. Instead, his criminal record was inexplicably expunged and he became one of CI’s top policemen.

Shortly after Tshabalala’s arrest, acting CI head Major General Chris Ngcobo suspended Nemutanzhela for allegedly warning the captain about his imminent arrest.

City Press reported in October that Phiyega instructed Ngcobo to reinstate Nemutanzhela. He apparently refused and was suspended a short while later.

But police explained that a vetting process allegedly found discrepancies in Ngcobo’s qualifications. In the meantime, Nemutanzhela has been placed back at the helm of CI’s financial affairs. He was appointed to introduce stricter financial controls over secret fund expenditure.

In an apparent act of retaliation, Ngcobo reportedly instructed CI officers to lay a criminal charge of defeating the ends of justice against Phiyega.

Phiyega allegedly tipped off Western Cape police commissioner Arno Lamoer of an inquiry against him after he had allegedly accepted a bribe from a criminal. She denies this. Phiyega then appointed Bongiwe Zulu as the acting divisional commissioner for CI, but he has now been arrested for hijacking.

Ramabodu and his company, Umvuzowethu, did not respond to requests for comment.

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