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‘Spy cop’ lawyer lives in fear

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A former KwaZulu-Natal state prosecutor and advocate, named by newspapers as an SAPS crime intelligence unit operative, believes his life is in danger.

“I live in Wentworth, which is notorious for crime… I have not left my home in a week,” Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Thomas said in an interview.

Last week, several newspapers reported that Thomas was one of the top cops in the crime intelligence unit: a colonel appointed by suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, two months after joining as a lieutenant-colonel on January 28 last year.

In 2008, Thomas was convicted of fraud after he did not hand over R4 000 bail to a client after his acquittal, the reports stated.

But Thomas has denied the allegations, and said he had successfully appealed against his conviction and sentence.

“Firstly, I do not know Richard Mdluli personally. I have never met the man in my life,” he said.

“I was head-hunted as a legal adviser for the crime intelligence unit in January last year by senior members in the unit. I was not employed as a spy cop.

“Also, I was never promoted twice in two months. I still hold the position of lieutenant-colonel.”

Thomas said the newspaper articles made him out to be an “opportunist… a convicted criminal who spies on people.

“This is a fearful suggestion that could cost me my life.”

Thomas said the exposure in the newspapers had angered his wife and community, who were unaware that he was a crime intelligence employee.

“This has put a huge strain on my family. They did not know the environment I worked in. I kept it a secret to protect them and myself.

“I am afraid for my life. Some criminals in the community have not reacted positively to these claims. They don’t trust me any more.”

Thomas, who was one of 25 members transferred from crime intelligence in the last month, said he had not challenged his transfer.

“There is too much politics. I did not want to challenge the transfer,” he said.

“All I was concerned about was having a job. This angered a few of my colleagues. But I want to assure them I did not sell them out. I just decided I did not have the energy to fight back.”

Thomas said he believed the information about his “criminal” record was leaked to the media from his security vetting clearance.

“I disclosed details of the conviction in my security vetting application. But, the people who leaked the information failed to inform the media that I appealed my sentence and conviction in November 2009, and it was set aside by the Pietermaritzburg High Court.”

Thomas provided written proof of his criminal appeal.

“I did cash the R4 000 bail. But, it was nothing illegal,” he said.

“The bail receipt was in my name as security for legal fees. I disclosed this to the court.”

Thomas said he had been defamed by the articles and was considering his legal options. - Daily News


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