Hawks bust SAPS general

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Independent Newspapers

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Johannesburg - Embattled police secret service fund boss, Major-General Solly Lazarus, has been dealt another blow . On Tuesday, he was arrested by the Hawks at his Johannesburg home.

The head of logistics at the crime intelligence unit, Colonel Hein Barnard, was also arrested.

They are facing charges of theft, fraud and corruption.

Lazarus, a former KwaZulu-Natal policeman, was the unit’s head of covert support and chief financial officer who had overseen the R250 million secret service account.

He was suspended earlier this year after he was accused of looting the account.

Crime Intelligence has been plagued with problems since May this year when more than 25 senior white and Indian officers were transfered to “dead end” positions at stations nationwide.

Disgruntled members blamed suspended intelligence head, Richard Mdluli, saying he had retaliated against those who did not support him.

National Hawks spokesman, Captain Paul Ramaloko, said the two were arrested by Hawks investigators had appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on charges of theft, fraud and corruption, related to the secret service account.

Both were released on R10 000 bail each, and the matter was adjourned to February 21

The court ordered that the two were not allowed to leave the country without the permission of the investigating officer, must not interfere with witnesses and must surrender their passports.

Ramaloko refused to divulge details of the charges, but did say the money was either stolen or was used to benefit themselves.

“That is all we can say for now. We do not want to compromise our investigations.”

He said both policemen were on suspension when arrested.

A police source said the arrests related to the alleged irregular purchasing of vehicles using secret service funds.

The alleged theft amounted to more than R1.2m, the source said.

In June this year, Lazarus was told of his indefinite suspension by acting head of crime interlligence, Lieutenant-General Fanie Masemola. This came less than two months after an earlier suspension was lifted, and departmental charges withdrawn against him.

Lazarus had been informed that new information had come to light on the earlier alleged instances of his mismanaging the crime intelligence fund. The two allegations amounted to serious misconduct and serious financial misconduct, Lazarus was told by police management.

He was told that he was being suspended to avoid his interfering with witnesses, many of whom work under him in crime intelligence.

Lazarus denied allegations that he had misused funds, and said he found it highly irregular that he was being investigated by junior members.

During his previous suspension, Lazarus was accused of fraudulently arranging a trip to China in 2008 for Mdluli and three others, using the secret service fund.

It was also alleged that he used secret service funds to pay for trips for his family; that he and his family had stayed in a “safe house” while his home in Edenvale was being renovated; and that he had authorised payment for furniture for a “safe house” Mdluli had been staying at.

At the time, Lazarus said all the expenditure from the account was in line with operational needs.

After his last suspension, Lazarus has declared a dispute, claiming unfair labour practice.

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