Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Phando Jikelo African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele became the latest high-profile politician to be implicated at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture in explosive allegations about the misuse of the Crime Intelligence slush fund.

A former senior crime intelligence officer made the damning allegations on Monday when he named senior Tiso Blackstar journalist Ranjeni Munusamy as a beneficiary of the fund.

Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo, who testified in-camera at the inquiry in Parktown, implicated the police minister.

At the time, Cele was commissioner of police.

Former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli had told General Solly Lazarus, former Crime Intelligence chief financial officer, that he would be removed from managing the secret service account. In 2008, Lazarus, who was key to the looting of the slush fund, began lobbying Cele to halt his removal.

Naidoo recalled that Lazarus had numerous meetings with Cele but detailed one particular meeting that took place at the home of controversial Durban businessman Panganathan “Timmy” Marimuthu.

He said that Lazarus needed money for the meeting and he offered to give him R40000. Naidoo said he believed the funds were meant for Cele and he had no reason not to think so.

“None of the money was returned to me. In my assumption, it was given to Cele,” he said.

But Naidoo found himself fielding tough questions posed by commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on why he assumed the money was for a bribe because he was not in the room for the discussions.

Responding, Naidoo confirmed that he indeed had presumed that the money was for a bribe.

Naidoo further revealed how crime intelligence officials were not the only ones who benefited from the looting of the unit’s secret service account but that money went as far as serving the interests of journalists who were paid to quash stories while others had their car repairs financed.

According to Naidoo, who has been in witness protection for the past 11 years after blowing the whistle on the looting in the state security fraternity by intelligence management, the slush account in question was intended to fund the operational intelligence work of the unit but was often abused to fund the lavish lifestyles of officers.

Naidoo, who admitted to benefiting from the corruption, said he knew of three instances where journalists were paid to kill stories.

The first instance, he said, involved R20 000 that was paid from the slush fund to a journalist who met Mdluli and allegedly had incriminating evidence that could damage the image of the unit. In another instance, Naidoo said he was present when Lazarus told another officer that money should be paid to a journalist.

While Naidoo did not name the journalists, he vividly recalled incidents involving Munusamy. She was placed on special leave last month after being implicated by Hawk’s investigator Kobus Roelofse in his testimony, also relating to the intelligence fund.

Naidoo said in 2008, he was requested by his former crime intelligence head Mulangi Mphego to assist a friend, “Jenni”, who had vehicle problems. He said he subsequently learnt that it was Munusamy. 

Mphego had requested that Naidoo assist her and Lazarus explained that the vehicle was to be taken to New World Motors, a company that supplied services to crime intelligence.

Naidoo explained that he first met Munusamy at an Engen garage not too far from her home and later again on three or four occasions to discuss her car issues “There was not much talk and she handed over the keys and I took the car to New World Motors,” he said.

Naidoo said Munusamy’s BMW convertible was brought in for run-flat tyres, the radio and seats. He said the cost amounted to R40 000. “An amount of R40 000 was paid for the repairs to this vehicle.

It was for the tyres, the run-flat tyres – all of it. The claim was put in by Colonel Barnard,” he said. Roelofse told the commission that during his investigation it was found that Munusamy’s vehicle debt had been settled through the use of a car dealership’s business account and transferred to a WesBank finance account held in Munusamy’s name.

“The amount R143 621.78 was paid from the Atlantis business account to a WesBank finance account,” Roelofse had testified. Naidoo will continue giving evidence on Tuesday morning.

IOL