Drama over Free State cops’ interference in investigations into organised crime

Free State police commissioner Lieutenant-General David Sempe has been fingered for meddling in the investigation into the assassination of Louis Siemens
Free State police commissioner Lieutenant-General David Sempe has been fingered for meddling in the investigation into the assassination of Louis Siemens

Police top brass have been accused of stifling investigations into organised crime and high-profile murder cases across the province.

The police’s top brass in the Free State are fending off accusations that they are interfering with and stifling investigations into organised crime and high-profile murder cases across the province.

This is as the trial of eight men accused of murdering Dr Louis Siemens continues in the Bloemfontein High Court.

Details of the alleged interference and the extent thereof are contained in an explosive and classified letter of complaint by counterintelligence to national Crime Intelligence boss Peter Jacobs about police meddling in the investigations.

The letter, dated August 14 and classified as “top secret”, accuses Free State’s police management of “deliberately” failing to hand over the investigations of four organised crime cases to the same team of detectives probing other organised crimes in the province. The four cases include three unsolved murder cases and an attempted murder case.

“There are cases involving politicians and members of the service, which, in a normal situation, would be brought together to be investigated by one team. Senior management is deliberately ignoring these as such an investigation will prove the organised nature of the crimes,” said the letter.

Last week City Press reported that the ANC’s secretary-general Ace Magashule and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi had been named as persons of interest in the Siemens’ case. Siemens was murdered at the basement parking of the Preller Square Shopping Centre in the Bloemfontein city centre in May last year.

READ: Ace, Motsoaledi named in murder trial

Among the dockets police management are accused of refusing to hand over to the detectives is that of the attempted murder of Siemens’s business partner, Dries Britz, early this year. Britz survived the attempt on his life when unknown assassins attacked him in a house in Heuwelsig in Bloemfontein on February 1. Detectives believe his attackers used a firearm equipped with a silencer. The attackers have not been caught.

A Hawks detective based in Bloemfontein told City Press this week that provincial police management was resisting handing over the four cases to the same team of detectives investigating other organised crimes.

“The team I am talking about is the same team investigating the murder of Louis Siemens. All the cases have one thing in common. People were shot dead, there were tenders worth hundreds of millions and senior politicians in the province are allegedly involved. It is not rocket science to see that the modus operandi is the same and that it is organised crime.”

The letter fingers Free State police commissioner Lieutenant-General David Sempe and Major-General Solly Lesia for meddling in the investigation into the assassination of Siemens. Nine men were subsequently charged with his murder and Xolisile Mbebeto, who confessed to pulling the trigger, has since been sentenced to 22 years in prison. He has turned state witness.

In an affidavit signed two months ago the Free State health department’s former legal services director, Justice Finger, claimed he had been told by a friend that Magashule had been paid R5 million to facilitate the approval of a licence for the CityMed Day Hospital – of which Siemens was chief executive officer and shareholder. Bloemfontein businessman Stanley Bakili, whom the police accuse of masterminding Siemens’ murder, has also claimed in a sworn statement that he bribed Motsoaledi with R154 000. Motsoaledi, who was health minister at the time, allegedly took the bribe to facilitate the expeditious approval of Siemens’ application for the CityMed hospital. Both Magashule and Motsoaledi have denied the allegations.

In the letter, which City Press has seen, counterintelligence officials alleged that police management orchestrated delaying tactics in Siemens’ murder investigation with the purpose of defeating the ends of justice.

“Video materials which were supposed to have been sent for forensic analysis were delayed in the office of the provincial commissioner, by Major-General [Solly] Lesia, who was the acting provincial commissioner in the absence of Lieutenant-General Sempe. In the video conspirators are seen destroying the docket, an incident which Captain [Moeketsi] Lesia later denied knowledge of.

The messy situation led to the court to subpoenaing the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-General Sempe, as this was not just a delay, but a measure to defeat the ends of justice. Captain [Moeketsi] Lesia, who was in charge of Bayswater police station when Siemens was murdered, has also been charged for being involved in the assassination. Moeketsi and Solly are brothers.

Provincial National Prosecuting Authority’s spokesperson Phaladi Shuping declined to comment about the David Sempe and [Solly] Lesia subpoenas. “We cannot comment on the matter because it is sub judice,” Phaladi said. Free State police spokesperson Brigadier Motantsi Makhele also declined to comment about the subpoena and referred the rest of the questions to the police’s national spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo. Naidoo declined to comment, arguing that all the questions came from counterintelligence’s letter, which was a classified document. “You are not supposed to be in possession of that document. It is a classified document and you don’t have the necessary clearance to possess it.”

The Hawks officer asked why the attempt on Britz’s life was not being investigated by the team of organised crime detectives probing Siemens’ death.

“It should be pretty obvious to everyone that the attempted murder of Dries Britz is linked to Siemens’ death. He was Siemens’ business partner and it was probably an attempt by the killers to eliminate all evidence. Why is the case not being investigated by organised crime? Why give it to a different officer?”

City Press has learnt that police have charged some of the detectives involved in the Siemens’ investigation with misconduct. A charge sheet shows that last month a warrant officer working on the case was charged by her seniors for “giving a false statement”. The letter to Jacobs shows that last month Captain [Moeketsi] Lesia had pressed charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice against the same warrant officer, another investigator and advocate Johan de Nysschen, the prosecutor handling the case. [Moeketsi] Lesia, who is out on bail and is still employed by the police, alleges that the three gave false testimony against him during his bail hearing last year.

The police management have also charged another officer, also involved on the case, with misconduct for allegedly intimidating a prisoner. The charge sheet shows that the officer visited the prisoner in Grootvlei Prison in Bloemfontein, in August last year, and tried to coerce him to confess to Siemens’ murder. Another senior police officer told City Press that the charges against the investigators were aimed at distracting them from the case.

The other murder cases police refuse to give to detectives

MOSES TSHAKE

Tshake, a former auditor of the department of agriculture and rural development in the Free State was hijacked and killed on February 22 2013. At the time of his death Tshake had been investigating the Estina Dairy Project scandal in which more than R220 million – meant to benefit small-scale dairy farmers in Vrede – was transferred to Estina, a Gupta-linked company, which had been contracted by the Free State government to run the farming project.

VUSI MLABA

Mlaba was assassinated, hit by a hail of 15 bullets on the night of February 12 2016. Mlaba, an emerging farmer who lived in Warden, Free State, was a vocal community activist who spoke out against corruption in the Estina project. He was supposed to be a beneficiary in the project, but was allegedly left out because of his outspokenness. No one has been arrested for his murder.

FRANCOIS ROODT

On the morning of August 31 last year auditor Francois Roodt was gunned down outside Wesselsbron. At the time of his death Roodt was involved in multimillion-rand architectural redesigns of the Wesselsbron police station in Bultfontein and the Park Road police station in Bloemfontein. The police are still looking for his killers.



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