KZN businessman and former policeman Panganathan "Timmy" Marimuthu.
KZN businessman and former policeman Panganathan "Timmy" Marimuthu.

LISTEN: Bheki Cele’s ‘adviser’ caught on tape

By Thabo Makwakwa, Gcwalisile Khanyile Time of article published Jul 1, 2021

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Durban - Durban-based convicted drug dealer, businessman and former policeman Timmy Marimuthu has been caught on tape advising Police Minister Bheki Cele on issues concerning politics and drug operations that must be bust around the city and in KwaZulu-Natal.

These latest developments surfaced from recorded conversations between the duo, where they also discussed who was a suitable candidate to become the president of the country.

An investigation by the Daily News unearthed the recorded evidence, suggesting that Cele and Marimuthu may also have spied on politicians during the fierce presidential campaign, which saw Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and President Cyril Ramaphosa go toe to toe.

In the recording, both Cele and Marimuthu appeared to be very close and cosy, with Cele referring to his relationship with Marimuthu as “friendship”.

“The wife asks me if we may have offended you. We don’t hear from you. You don’t say hello to us anymore,” said Marimuthu in the recording.

Cele responded: “South Africa surely knows that I am trying to stabilise things. I know what I’m doing.”

Cele also shared his schedule with Marimuthu, to make time for them to meet in Durban.


In one of the recordings, Marimuthu accused crime intelligence top bosses of working with certain politicians who were briefed about police operations and what they needed to do to avoid getting caught during police drug raids.

One senior police officer, who did not want to be named for fear of persecution, complained that Marimuthu had close proximity to KZN’s criminal and underworld network.

Another officer, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, claimed the surfacing of these recordings was fuelled by political factions playing out in the SAPS, to destroy certain politicians.

“The timing of the leak for these recordings is worrying. I can tell you now that these calls were illegally intercepted by intelligence officials. These are merely political factions within the police, aimed at destroying certain politicians,” he said.

In response to the recordings, Cele’s spokesperson Lirandzu Themba said: “The police minister will not be commenting on matters that form part of police operations.”

Marimuthu, when approached for comment, neither confirmed nor denied the allegations, but requested the recordings – which the Daily News made available. He responded by saying that he would engage his lawyers.

“Giving (information to) Bheki Cele, who is a law-abiding citizen in South Africa, (me) being an ex-policeman, a very active one in South Africa, is to better this country so that it can be brought under control when it comes to lawlessness,” said Marimuthu.

Although Marimuthu was previously sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for dealing in mandrax, it is alleged that he never spent a day in prison, and evidence during the Jali Commission in 2002 found that Marimuthu had bribed officials to avoid serving his sentence.

In spite of all these alleged shenanigans, reports suggested Marimuthu made a comeback to the police Crime Intelligence Unit after his conviction.

He managed to become a close confidant to Cele and his connections, after being appointed as a crime intelligence agent by Solomon Lazarus, the former chief financial officer of Crime Intelligence who – in turn – allegedly received expensive gifts, including overseas trips and jewellery from Marimuthu.

According to legal records, Marimuthu was convicted of drug dealing in 1992 and sentenced to an effective three years in jail.

Other media reports on the Jali Commission said his appeal against his conviction and sentence failed, and he was expected to start serving his sentence in December 1998, but he was granted further bail by a Durban magistrate and, a month later, having not spent a day in jail, was granted correctional supervision by another magistrate.

A day before his sentence was converted, prison officials alleged he was admitted as a prisoner, but he allegedly never left his BMW, where a prison clerk took his fingerprints and other details.

Daily News

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