SITA admits there was irregularity in SAPS tender allegedly linked to Phahlane

Johannesburg – The State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has admitted that a tender for police forensic light sources was irregular and says it has suspended a number of employees after an investigation. 

The tender is one of many being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) as part of an investigation into alleged corruption against former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

In a letter sent to acting National Police Commissioner General Lesetja Mothiba, IPID said it had discovered that a police service provider, Keith Keating, the owner of Forensic Data Analysts, had paid a Pretoria car dealer for vehicles given to Phahlane, his wife and sister.  

READ: R5bn in contracts allegedly paid to company accused of buying Phahlane cars

Keating, IPID said, had a contract with the SAPS for the supply and maintenance of Rofin lights, alleged to be worth R1bn. The Rofin contract is for a specialised forensic light. 

Since 2010 Forensic Data Analysts has been paid more than R5bn by the SAPS, the letter said.

Speaking directly about the Rofin tender, IPID said it had looked at the supply of 169 forensic light sources.

'Corruption through fiscal dumping'

The order was generated on March 31, 2016, at 16:57 for an amount of R52.9m. The invoice was then submitted and payment was made, all on the same day. This was the last day of the financial year "which clearly demonstrates corruption through fiscal dumping", the letter said.

Many of the Forensic Data Analysts tenders went through the SITA on behalf of the SAPS.

The letter said this was but one example of many such "inefficiencies", which indicate possible corruption that took place.

Daily Maverick reported that R1bn was forked out for the supply and maintenance of the specialist forensic lights to the SAPS through the SAPS' information technology services, which is where Phahlane's wife, Brigadier Beauty Phahlane, works. The report said the contract was "evergreen" and had rolled over since 2010. 

READ: SAPS accused of 'plot' against IPID investigators

SITA spokesperson Lucky Mochalibane said the agency had taken note of the media reports related to criminal investigations being conducted into the alleged corrupt relationship between individuals from the SAPS, Forensic Data Analysts and Keating.

SITA said it was aware of the investigations and was cooperating fully with the relevant law enforcement agencies on the matter. 

The agency said it had initiated its own internal investigation on supply chain processes in general in February 2017 in an attempt to deal with corruption. 

This, it said, resulted in "a number of terminations, criminal action being pursued where appropriate and further investigations being initiated". 

Allegations 'unfounded and untrue'

The investigation did not focus on a single entity. However, during the broader investigation, there were indications "that the procurement of specialised forensic goods and services, inter alia, forensic light sources by the SAPS, facilitated and maintained by SITA, was irregular and has possibly resulted in large-scale irregular and/or fruitless and wasteful expenditure". 

Mochalibane said the agency had taken a zero-tolerance approach towards staff found to have been guilty of corruption. 

"In terms of the broader investigation, a number of employees were suspended, charged and where proven guilty, their services [were] terminated," he said. 

Keating and Phahlane have denied any wrongdoing.  

Keating said although he viewed the allegations in a serious light, they were unfounded and untrue.

"It is important to note that, all contracts that FDA had been engaged on with SAPS have been through an open tender process and subjected to procurement regulations."

Phahlane told News24 that the tenders allegedly being spoken about were awarded through the SITA and not the police.

"When exactly did I start working at the SITA? I work at the police and have nothing to do with the awarding of tenders," he said.

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