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Cape Town - The businessman at the centre of a corruption investigation into provincial police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer admits to having “a close relationship of 20 years” with the top cop, but denies their relationship is a corrupt one.
It is believed that the Hawks have for the past four months been investigating a suspected corrupt relationship between Lamoer and the businessman, who has protested his innocence.
Speaking to the Cape Argus on Sunday from a secure, “untapped” line, the man said the allegations against him emanated from a personal vendetta that Crime Intelligence Unit (CIU) officers had against him and “his friend” Lamoer.
The man asked not to be named, expressing concern about how it could affect his family, his business dealings and the civil lawsuit that he intends to bring against the CIU officers - who he alleges tapped his phone, intercepted his letters and accessed his financial records.
“I have known Lamoer for more than 20 years. We have a close relationship, but never has this extended into any kind of corrupt favours on either of our parts,” he said.
“I donate money regularly to many police and Community Police Forum (CPF) projects. I do this because I want to use my business success to help my community.”
The Hawks and CIU allegations that he is a drug dealer and that he has been paying Lamoer off for protection were false, he said.
“They are the outcome of a fallout I had with a CIU officer’s girlfriend - a high ranking officer at a northern suburbs police station - in February last year,” he said.
The man also pointed to the fact that he has been a long time supporter of People Against Gangsterism and Drugs' (Pagad) campaign to rid the Cape Flats of drug dealing.
The anti-drug organisation came out in support of him this weekend, with leader Abdus Salaam-Ebrahim saying that no evidence suggesting that the man was involved in drug dealing has ever been received by the organisation.
“If he is innocent, we support him in his struggle against these attempts to tarnish his reputation. If it is proven that he is involved in illicit dealings, then the law must take its course. We have never received any indication that he may be linked to a criminal underworld,” said Salaam-Ebrahim, adding that the same attitude would apply to Lamoer.
Lamoer has refrained from commenting on the allegations.
A senior police source however told the Cape Argus that CIU have an axe to grind with Lamoer after the police launched an investigation into seemingly “corrupt” practices by some of the CIU officers.
Particularly at issue was a farm outside Paarl, apparently owned by two top CIU officers, which was rented out at exorbitant rates to police for use during undercover operations.
Community Safety MEC Dan Plato has called on Lamoer to break his silence. He would be summoned before the Standing Committee for Community Safety, if he failed to do so.
“The veracity of these allegations are yet to be tested, but they remain very serious,” Plato said.
“General Lamoer must respond immediately to these allegations, decisive action is needed to maintain the trust of the public, many of whom are victims of gang violence in this province. It is inconceivable that a senior police officer is involved in these kinds of allegations, especially in a province so acutely affected by gangs and drugs.”
Former provincial CPF chairman, Hanif Loonat, said that a year ago he raised the issue of the businessman’s donations to police with the police’s provincial management, asking whether the donations were truly philanthropic and above board.
“Now that these allegations have emerged, I call on the national minister to investigate,” he said.
On Friday last week the news broke that National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega was facing criminal charges for tipping off Lamoer about the CIU investigation into his dealings with the businessman.
There have been reports that the CIU have filed criminal charges against Phiyega for defeating the ends of justice for allegedly tipping off Lamoer about the investigation into him.
Although Phiyega has said that she is aware of the case against her, the Cape Argus could not locate or confirm the existence of the docket.
Phiyega, who has denied any wrong doing, has labelled the charges as an underhanded attempt by crime intelligence to discredit her. She said that the matter has also been handed to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
“We shall await for Ipid to contact us should they intend to continue with matter,” Phiyega said.