SEE: Police officers visited Manchester United's Old Trafford with supplier

2017-11-29 22:16

Cape Town – While allegations of corruption in the police's procurement process were laid bare in the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on Wednesday, the man alleged to be central in the alleged scam – Keith Keating – sat behind the MPs, staring down the police's top brass and officials from the State Information Technology Agency (SITA).

It emerged in the meeting that SITA awarded a contract for forensic equipment for the police, mostly lights and Nikon cameras, worth more than R900m to Keating's company Forensic Data Analysts, and a contract to another Keating-linked company for the maintenance of this equipment, without following procurement processes and without there being a reason for Forensic Data Analysts being the sole provider.

National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole described the matter as "a very high security risk", while the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) said it expected a "climax" in the investigation before Christmas.

Having a ball in the UK

DA MP Tim Brauteseth led the questioning. He asked the police, with Sitole leading the delegation, about a trip police officers took to the UK in October 2011. Sitole and his team said they knew nothing about it.

Brauteseth then whipped out two enlarged photographs showing four men wearing personalised jerseys of English football team Manchester United at its storied stadium, Old Trafford.

DA MP Tim Brauteseth holding up a picture of two officers from the police's procurement department with a supplier to the police, Keith Keating, during Wednesday's meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Two of the men were identified as officers in the police's supply chain management department, a Colonel Arendt and a Brigadier Masuku.

Also in the photographs were Keating, and Jerenique Bayard, who was then a director at Unisys, which supplied forensic equipment to the police through Keating's Forensic Data Analysts.

Keith Keating, Jerenique Bayard and two officers of the police's supply chain management team in Manchester United's trophy room in October 2011. (Supplied)

Keith Keating, Jerenique Bayard and two officers of the police's supply chain management team outside Old Trafford in October 2011. (Supplied)

'Not normal practice'

Brauteseth then said he had an invoice from Forensic Data Analysts for equipment delivered six months before the trip and asked if the trip was a reward for the procurement contract awarded to Forensic Data Analysts.

Sitole said the police did not authorise the trip.

"This trip is documented, it was an official trip," said Brauteseth who then warned Sitole that he was under oath. 

"I did not say it was a private trip," Sitole said. "The trip is unknown to me. It is not normal practice."

National police commissioner general Khehla Sitole at the Standing Committee on Public Accounts' meeting on Wednesday. (Jan Gerber, News24)

Brauteseth then turned his attention to SITA and asked why Forensic Data Analysts managed to get the deal to be the sole supplier of 3 573 items, especially as the items procured were hardly unique and Forensic Data Analysts was not the only supplier.

He had to repeat the question a few times before SITA CEO Setumo Mohapi said the business case was made for Forensic Data Analysts to be the sole supplier, and this case was accepted.

Under further questioning, Mohapi admitted there was no competitive bidding and that SITA was still doing business with Forensic Data Analysts. 

Legal team looking for way out of contract

Brauteseth said there was an improper relationship between Forensic Data Analysts and the police's procurement department, and a contract between the two of R919m for the equipment and a contract for the equipment's maintenance amounting to approximately R500 000 until 2019, which was "completely irregular".

"Yes, sir," Mohapi answered softly.

Further gruelling questioning by Brauteseth and other MPs revealed that SITA launched an investigation into the deal and eight of its employees were dismissed. A number of companies have been blacklisted, but not Forensic Data Analysts. SITA's legal team is also looking for a way to end the contract.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi allowed IPID to present on its investigation into Forensic Data Analysts' dealings with the police.

IPID head Robert McBride said the Forensic Data Analysts deal came to the directorate's attention during an investigation of allegations that former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane had received kickbacks from Keating. Keating reportedly denied this.

McBride said the investigation would be expedited following the appointment of Sitole.

"We recommend that no further money must be paid to FDA [Forensic Data Analysts]," he said.

Claims of equipment oversupply

IPID head of investigations Matthews Sesoko said there was a "clear manipulation of the procurement system", that the system was "rigged" to favour Forensic Data Analysts and there was "a corrupt relationship" between the company and the police.

He said last Friday investigators got a tip-off that forensic equipment procured in 2014 was left in a warehouse on Phahlane's instruction.

He said according to statements from police officers there was clearly an oversupply of this equipment. 

McBride said the investigation into Phahlane and Forensic Data Analysts should "reach a climax" before Christmas when IPID will be able to hand the matter over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).

However, McBride said there were "criminal elements in the NPA harassing IPID".

Mohapi also said he and his management team had received death threats.

'Keating must know nobody fears him'

Through all of this Keating, a former police officer, sat behind the MPs, directly in the line of sight of the police officers and SITA staff.

When McBride said he hoped Keating would cooperate with IPID's investigation, which he hadn't thus far, Keating smirked.

MPs also made it clear what they thought of Keating, with some ANC MPs claiming that he was intimidating the police and SITA officials. However, Godi didn't deem it necessary to ask him to move.

Godi said he was speechless about the brazenness of his attendance.

"I've never seen Atul Gupta coming to Parliament to sit and listen as they discuss corruption," he said, referring to a member of the controversial Gupta family accused of state capture.

Keith Keating, accused of a corrupt relationship with the police, attending the Standing Committee on Public Accounts' meeting. (Jan Gerber, News24)

‘Captured by Keating’

ANC MP Nyami Booi said: "Keating must know nobody fears him. I'm not even interested in him. He must get arrested."

Keating smiled when ANC MP Nthabiseng Khunou said she hoped he would get a fitting sentence, as the wealthy always got away without jail sentences when they committed crimes.

To the police, Khunou said: "You should be an example, not colluding with criminals. Do you want to be captured by Keating? Why don't you do what you're supposed to do – put him in jail?"

Keating shook his head faintly.

As people poured out of Parliament's stuffy committee room V454 when the meeting ended after about 4 hours and 40 minutes, News24 approached Keating.

"No comment," he said, shaking his head.

Read more on:    parliament  |  ipid  |  sita  |  ndpp  |  scopa  |  robert mcbride  |  khehla sitole  |  police

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