Top cop’s spy tape scandal

2014-09-29 00:00

BELEAGUERED police commissioner Riah Phiyega faces a fresh spy tape scandal — accused of seizing explosive cell interceptions of controversial Umhlanga businessman Thoshan Panday.

Panday’s phone was tapped during a corruption investigation into his involvement in the R60 million police accommodation tender scam, and the recordings had gathered dust after the charges were surprisingly withdrawn. (SEE SIDEBAR)

Panday had been probed by suspended KZN Hawks Head Johan Booysen, who maintained that the investigation into the politically connected businessman resulted in his suspension, and that of Cato Manor Serious and Violent Crimes unit, dubbed a “death squad”.

The Witness can reveal that just days before Booysen was exonerated by a sitting advocate in a police disciplinary hearing, Phiyega ordered the tapes be handed over and taken to Pretoria.

Three independent Crime Intelligence Unit sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the original intercepts contained on a compact disc as well as a back-up from the national listening post in Pretoria, had been handed to Phiyega’s men.

Her move — a break in the chain of evidence of the recordings — may scupper any chance of reinstating corruption charges against Panday.

The seizure of the tapes comes amidst a groundswell of criticism of Phiyega, who is now fighting battles on many fronts and will have to contend with a ministerial inquiry into her fitness to hold office.

It also follows another spy tapes scandal, in which she was recorded tipping off Western Cape police head Anton Lamoer about an investigation into his links with suspected criminals.

On September 5, 10 days before Booysen was cleared by Advocate Nazeer Cassim SC, the Crime Intelligence custodian of the intercepts was ordered to fly to Pretoria and hand over the tapes.

On September 15 officers visited the national listening post in Pretoria where records of intercepted phone calls are archived, and requested the Panday tapes.

The Witness also understands that four Crime Intelligence Unit officers who had been at the forefront of investigations into Panday have been served with notices that they themselves will now be under scrutiny.

The notices informed the officers that they are under investigation for the alleged illegal interception of Panday’s calls, an allegation that the businessman is understood to have made.

Among these officers is Major-General Deena Moodley, who headed the unit in KZN.

Shortly after Booysen was moved from his post, Moodley was also sidelined and transferred from the Crime Intelligence Unit. He took the police to the Labour Court and won, having his transfer set aside.

But in a similar case to that of Booysen, Moodley was hit with fresh disciplinary charges after allegations from Panday and placed on “special leave”.

Now Booysen and Moodley remain out of office as the police pursue separate court applications to keep them away from work.

Phiyega was appointed two years ago and much of her reign has been mired in controversy, including her handling of the Marikana massacre. Her spokesperson Solomon Makgale had not responded to questions in time for the press.

• Contact Jeff Wicks on 082 073 8565 if you have more information on the story.


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