Critical Crime Intelligence systems under threat of shutdown

2018-04-07 10:25
Keith Keating. (File, Jan Gerber, News24)

Keith Keating. (File, Jan Gerber, News24)

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Two separate suppliers have threatened to switch off critical IT systems at the police's Crime Intelligence Division, putting the country's security at risk.

News24 has confirmed that both i-View Integrated Systems which runs the Daedalus Encryption Service and Investigative Software Solutions (ISS) which runs the VA-Amis proprietary solution, have threatened to switch off their systems over alleged no payment. This could leave Crime Intelligence unable to perform critical functions. 

ISS is run by businessman Keith Keating, whose other company Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) on Wednesday evening threatened to remove access to proprietary licensed software of Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) and Firearms Permit System (FPS) unless an agreement could be reached with the police for the company to be paid before they shut it down.

These systems were indeed shut down on Thursday morning and police issued a statement saying they were implementing contingency plans.

"The minister, SAPS and other stakeholders have been duly warned about the risks involved, but have acquiesced regardless of the impacts," read a statement by FDA.

According to FDA, they have provided PCEM services to the police while the police did not pay any of the invoices issued to it from December 1 until March 31.

But Keating has several businesses which supply products to the police and which have been shut down, one of them being the VA-Amis i2 Analyst Notebook used by Crime Intelligence for intelligence visualisation and investigation. 

Keating and FDA have been at the centre of an investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and SITA for alleged corruption involving former police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane as well as alleged large scale tender irregularities. Keating has denied all the allegations against him.

All systems to remain suspended

It appears that after some of the details into these investigations emerged at The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) both the police and SITA stopped all payments to Keating's companies. 

Keating confirmed to News24 that the VA-Amis system was part of the service suspension to the police. He said VA-Amis was supplied to SITA for the SAPS. 

"SITA currently owe me in excess of R40m and until such time as I have been paid in full for services rendered to SITA, all software and services to SAPS and SITA will remain suspended," Keating said.  

"SITA have not paid us for four months. Surely you understand that no company can continue providing software and services when the client doesn't pay for four months."

He said that to date no evidence had been presented by SITA or Bowmans to substantiate the claims of "irregularities" they had made. 

"Surely our constitution clearly states that we are innocent until proven guilty. Apparently when it comes to SITA, Bowmans, IPID and Scopa, this does not apply," Keating said.

I-View Integrated Systems is another company which has faced the spotlight of IPID and SCOPA this year, also for alleged tender irregularities.

In March the company's director Inban Kistiah wrote to the Divisional Commissioner of crime intelligence Major General King Ngcobo to warn him that the Daedalus Encryption Service which they supply will automatically be switched off at the end of the month unless police pay R5.7m for the renewal of the user license. 

At risk

The Daedalus Encryption Service was implemented in 2016. It allows users to communicate via the Daedalus App, a secure communication platform much like Signal or Telegram but run on its own infrastructure. 

The system had 200 user licenses which various law enforcement officers were utilising. 

Kistiah said the system will automatically shut off at the end of March putting the users at risk of being compromised and confidential communications intercepted.

I-View Integrated Systems has been in the news recently for alleged tender irregularities. According to their website they have a number of projects including with Revenue Service offices, correctional facilities, sulphur acid plants, refineries, freight rail facilities, bank facilities, judicial offices, ports facilities and freeway monitoring. 

In December the Sunday Times reported that almost R6.7m had been spent for 200 hi-tech lightweight vests for ballistic testing and another order for R33m was in the pipeline, a price the paper said was the most expensive in the world for bullet proof vests. 

In February EWN named the company in a report that IPID was investigating an alleged failed plot to defraud Crime Intelligence of nearly R50m to secure funds to buy votes in the ANC elective conference. 

EWN also reported that they had surveillance footage showing that National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole, accompanied by several senior police officers and former Police ministerial advisor Bo Mbindwane met with Kistiah at the Courtyard Hotel in Pretoria just days before the ANC's elective conference at Nasrec. Kistiah told EWN that at no stage were they involved in any corrupt or fraudulent activities. 

Our country's security at risk

IPID told Scopa earlier this year that they were investigating alleged procurement irregularities by the company. 

"The procurement was initially for software aimed at monitoring social media sites during the #FeesMustFall protests. The SAPS did not derive value for money and spent R33m," said IPID's head of investigations Matthew Sesoko

Sesoko also mentioned the Daedalus Systems to Scopa, which he said blocked cellphone communication between Phahlane and a team established to counter IPID investigations into fraud and corruption against him. 

Scopa was told the contract between the police and Daedalus cost R21m. 

Kistiah told News24 in response to queries on the potential shutdown of the Daedalus system that neither he nor i-View could comment on any issue which could jeopardise the national security of the country. 

"It is apparent that forces seek to misconstrue genuine attempts to protect our beloved country and its intelligence services, as being sinister and underhand," he said. 

Kistiah said that the mere fact that classified top secret information has been leaked to the press puts our country's security at risk. He said that they invited any person who has evidence of unlawful conduct to submit the evidence to the authorities. 

"I intend to lay a criminal charge in order that the mole disclosing state secrets is apprehended and prosecuted," Kistiah said.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo said police were unable to respond to media queries on the shutdown of the systems as this was a classified matter and could not be discussed in the public domain. 

Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  sita

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