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Convicted drug dealer Panganathan “Timmie” Marimuthu and his family are still on the police payroll, with the potential to earn more than R150 000 a month in salaries – almost two years since their dubious appointment as crime intelligence “agents” was uncovered.
The influential Durban family, who own a string of businesses, were appointed by embattled crime intelligence chief financial officer Solly Lazarus, who faces fraud and theft charges in connection with the looting of a R250 million secret fund.
A Sunday Tribune investigation has revealed that Marimuthu’s wife Neermala Moodley, daughter Shantal Redhi, and son-in-law Dennis Redhi, are still on the police payroll as high-ranking officers, drawing salaries every month.
Moodley holds the rank of colonel.
Her daughter is a captain and her son-in-law is a lieutenant-colonel. Marimuthu’s rank could not be verified at the time of going to press.
The salary for a captain is about R240 000 a year, while a colonel receives R480 000.
Two independent sources with access to the police administration system confirmed that the four appeared on the database, which contains the names, ranks and employment histories of all police officers in active service.
The Marimuthu family were first exposed as planted crime intelligence “agents” late in 2011, when a Hawks probe uncovered their dubious appointments and the pillaging of a secret slush fund.
The inquiry into the R250m fund, meant to finance covert operations, brought down now-suspended crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli and Lazarus over abuse of the fund to buy cars and property, and pay debts.
At one point, the fund was used to bankroll building a wall at Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s home.
Lazarus and crime intelligence’s Colonel Hein Barnard initially faced fraud charges involving R1.1m.
This has since been reduced by the National Prosecuting Authority to R370 000.
They are expected to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court this month.
In April last year, Media24 reported Marimuthu was paid more than R300 000 a month by the fund – a R50 000 salary and the balance in rent for six properties let as safe houses.
A police source, who could not be named, confirmed that undercover agents had been forced to “surface” when it was found that the secret fund had been raided.
“The Marimuthu family, who have no police training, are on the payroll. Their appointment to the ranks of colonel and captain without a day of experience or training is clear abuse,” the source said.
The controversial uMhlanga businessman was in the spotlight again for his role in ousting former taxi boss Oupa Magashula in the jobs-for-pals scandal.
A recording of Magashula offering a R700 000 job to a friend of Marimuthu surfaced in the media and prompted Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to launch a commission of inquiry into his conduct as head of the SA Revenue Service.
When the probe established that Magashula had lied to a fact-finding commission, he resigned.
His relationship with Marimuthu, and the extent to which he disclosed its scope to the commission, is understood to have sealed his fate.
Marimuthu’s link as an ally of disgraced police commisioner Bheki Cele has also been brought to the fore, with the two spinning different stories about the extent of their “friendship”.
Another police source, who would not be named, said Marimuthu was no longer in the employ of the police, but that his family members had stayed on in the crime intelligence unit as agents.
National police spokespersons could not be reached for comment.
KZN Police Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni rebuffed the Sunday Tribune when she was quizzed on her knowledge of the Marimuthu family’s controversial postings.
“I have no jurisdiction over the Crime Intelligence Unit and the Hawks,” she said.
Marimuthu refused to comment on allegations that his family still benefited from police salaries. - Sunday Tribune