Crime Intelligence in crisis after five more senior cops are suspended

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Peter Jacobs. (Jan Gerber, News24)
Peter Jacobs. (Jan Gerber, News24)
  • Just two days after national and provincial SAPS Crime Intelligence commanders were assured there was no crisis, five senior commanders of the division were suspended.
  • A senior Crime Intelligence source raised concerns over the power vacuum and lack of expertise to ensure operations continue to run as normal.
  • The suspensions are apparently linked to the reasons given for the ousting of Peter Jacobs, but have effectively removed failsafe controls over access to secret slush funds.

The police's national Crime Intelligence (CI) division has been plunged deeper into a leadership crisis with the suspensions of five high-ranking officers on Wednesday and Thursday. 

The purge of those close to the levers of power comes less than a week after police commissioner General Khehla Sitole moved to suspend CI boss Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs and just two days after deputy national commissioner Major General Sindile Mfazi assured CI commanders around the country that there was "no crisis".

READ | 'No crisis' - top SAPS official tells intelligence chiefs amid Peter Jacobs suspension row

Three crime intelligence sources with direct knowledge of the suspensions confirmed that Chief Financial Officer Major General Josias Lekalakala, as well as Intelligence Plan and Monitoring head Brigadier Deon Lombard, had been served with letters of suspension on Thursday.  

Three other colonels in the administrative arm of the unit were placed on suspension alongside them. 

Sources told News24 that the leadership bloodbath related to the use of the Secret Services Account - a shadowy slush fund which is used to bankroll covert operations and pay informers - that had been used to purchase Covid-19 personal protective equipment.

All are understood to be facing misconduct charges relating to this R1 million purchase, while Lombard and Lekalakala are understood to be facing additional charges over the approval of a planning document that, Sitole alleged in his suspension notice to Jacobs, Lombard did not have the authority of expertise to approve.

Jacobs, in representations he made in opposition to his suspension, said the charges were a side-show to a long-running feud with Deputy National Commissioner Sindile Mfazi - who has since stepped into the vacuum and taken charge of the division.

Another source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, called the suspensions a power grab aimed at taking control of intelligence gathering operations and the slush fund.

Approached for comment, Mfazi directed questions to police spokesperson, Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.

Naidoo said: "Matters of suspension of members of the SAPS, should they happen, are internal and therefore cannot be discussed in the public domain."

"I am not at liberty to either confirm or deny the matters raised in your questions," he added. 

The rash of suspensions has rendered offices which are pivotal to the functioning of the Crime Intelligence Unit vacant, sources said, adding that it threatened to bring operations "to a standstill".

"Everyone involved in the administration of the SSA [Secret Services Account] are now too scared to sign or approve anything for fear of being nailed for other's egos," a source claimed.

READ | 'Sick leave' delays suspension of police Crime Intelligence boss

News24 previously reported that Jacobs had been served with a notice of intention to place him on suspension on 30 November, and had responded with representations on 3 December, in which he denied the allegations against him.

His representations paint a picture of fractured relations between him and Mfazi. As deputy national commissioner for crime detection, Jacobs reports to Mfazi.

Jacobs described how he had repeatedly reported Mfazi's alleged "bullying and harassment", and what Jacobs construed to be a death threat by Mfazi, to SAPS bosses, with nothing being done to address his concerns.

The intelligence boss countered claims of malfeasance, insisting that the purchase of PPE using the Secret Services Account was rooted in policy.

"The case for suspension has not been made by the employer. In my response I have made the case for why I should not be suspended, and I argued that there is possibly ulterior motives," Jacobs' representations read.

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