Bribe allegations haunt acting police chief

2017-01-29 06:01
Khomotso Phahlane

Khomotso Phahlane

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Johannesburg - The owner of the company that allegedly paid for acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane’s expensive sound system boasted about his police connections and allegedly told his ex-wife that “black people are easier to bribe”.

This allegation forms part of an Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) investigation into Phahlane’s alleged underhand dealings with the chemical supplier Crimetech.

Crimetech is owned by businessman John Henry Deale, whose company was awarded a R50 million contract to supply the police’s forensic department with chemicals and other items used for investigations.

The company allegedly paid for Phahlane’s R80 000 sound system. However, the top cop denies the allegation and claims he paid for it himself after asking the company to source quotes for him.

Deale’s ex-wife, Suzette Hartmann, who was once in business with him, made a sworn statement at the Sandton police station in March last year.

In the statement, which City Press has seen, Hartmann alleges her ex-husband had connections within the SA Police Service (SAPS).

She alleges the connection included Phahlane and other senior police officers within the forensic division.

Risking lives

Phahlane was a divisional commissioner in the police’s forensic investigation department before being appointed acting police commissioner.

Hartmann makes serious allegations against the police, including that her ex-husband once said: “Things will turn around with a black person because they are easier to bribe. He often said they earn such small salaries in the SAPS that bribes can be counted on.”

Another allegation regarding Crimetech includes that it supplied expired chemicals, non-compliant brushes and spray canisters to the police’s forensic unit.

This is contained in a sworn statement by the SAPS’s own forensic senior officer, Colonel Sandragasen Moonsamy, who is based at the Local Criminal Records Centre (LCRC).

Moonsamy, a commander based at the East London records centre, compiled a report that made several findings against Crimetech.

In the statement, he implicates Phahlane in protecting Crimetech and risking the lives of police officers in the process.

Moonsamy also laid a criminal case against Phahlane, which in now being investigated by Ipid.

“On March 3 2014 I was busy with an evaluation at the Pietermaritzburg LCRC; I found a large quantity of chemicals delivered by Crimetech on the floor in the investigation booth. Upon closer inspection I saw that this large quantity of chemicals had expired 15 months prior, being January 2013,” Moonsamy’s statement read.

Fingerprint brushes

Moonsamy further states that when he enquired why the expired chemicals had not been stored in compliance with the occupational health and safety regulations, his concerns were not taken seriously.

Moonsamy adds that a month later, “I was at the offices of legal services in Pretoria with Major General [Vincent] Khunou where he mentioned ... that he had done tests on the chemicals and that the results showed they could still be used ... I note that Khunou was not qualified to test any chemicals and declare them okay.”

According to the statement, not only had the chemicals expired a few years before, but the fingerprint brushes supplied did not meet the record centre’s specifications.

Moonsamy included in his statement a letter written to Crimetech in November 2010, requesting that the brushes be replaced “with correct specified brushes urgently.

“Many of these brushes had been deployed in the field [crime scenes] and complaints were coming back that the brushes had destroyed otherwise perfect fingerprints, thereby reducing the effectiveness of forensics and, in turn, allowing criminal suspects to remain undetected,” the statement reads.

According to the affidavit, “In 2011 and 2013, there were explosions recorded in the country in which Crimetech Aeroprint spray canisters exploded”.

One incident in Lichtenburg led to a report being issued that “utilisation of the aerosol spray canisters be put on hold until its safety be guaranteed in order to safeguard our members”.

However, Moonsamy states that “sometime during 2012 or 2013, Phahlane visited the Eastern Cape at the SAPS’s Bisho Training Academy.

Auditing company

“I distinctly recall Phahlane stating that, despite the risks with the canisters exploding, we must use them or suffer [the] consequences. It was clear to me that his approach was unlawful”.

Moonsamy states that he escalated his complaint to the then police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, but received no joy.

“I believe that Phahlane must ultimately be held responsible for the purchasing of excessively outdated chemicals from Crimetech because he was the divisional commissioner of forensic services and the person ultimately accountable.

“In view of the fact that [this] massive abuse of public funds runs into excess of R50 million, I request thorough investigation into the supply of the chemicals, the procurement process, the disposal of the out-of-date chemicals and Phahlane’s role in protecting the suppliers.”

Phahlane’s spokesperson, Brigadier Sally de Beer, denied the allegations against Phahlane, saying the findings of an investigation conducted by an independent auditing company, CPN Forensic and Accounting Services, cleared Phahlane of similar allegations.

De Beer sent a statement issued by Phahlane months ago in which he said: “These allegations were contained in a letter dated June 25 2012, which was sent by the general secretary of Popcru [Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union] to General Riah Phiyega, who was then the serving national commissioner of the SAPS.

“This matter has, over the years, been rehashed by certain individuals for their own purposes. The allegation made by Colonel Sandragasen Moonsamy of East London, which has been publicised in the media, was part and parcel of those made by Popcru and formed part of CPN’s investigation. When approached by them, he could not substantiate his allegations.”

Deale did not respond to a list of questions sent to him, despite giving an earlier indication that he would.

Read more on:    police  |  khomotso phahlane  |  johannesburg  |  bribery  |  corruption

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