Johannesburg - The arrest of Western Cape provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer could spell further problems for the already embattled national police commissioner, General Riah Phiyega.
Phiyega is fighting allegations of trying to defeat the ends of justice after she allegedly alerted Lamoer to a Hawks investigation into his involvement with criminal underworld syndicates.
At the centre of the State’s case against Lamoer is his alleged corrupt relationship with Cape Town drug dealer and businessman Salim Dawjee.
Lamoer and several senior ranking police officials in the Western Cape allegedly abused their official powers and “contravened their duties in favour of Dawjee”.
The state alleges that Lamoer and other senior police officers received bribes (from Dawjee) amounting to more than R1 635 822 from as far back as 2011 in return for their influence.
Lamoer, Dawjee and Brigadier Joe van der Ross, together with a married police couple, brigadiers Sharon and Kolindren Govender, face more than 109 charges.
Dawjee’s wife and son are among those accused of a litany of charges including corruption, racketeering and money laundering.
A source close to the investigation said Lamoer’s arrest was going to have huge implications for Phiyega. Her future as police commissioner appears to be on a knife edge following adverse findings against her by the Marikana Commission.
According to several sources, the commission has found that Phiyega was not fit to hold office and should face remedial action. The Farlam Commission investigated the massacre of 42 miners who died in August 2012 in Marikana.
Phiyega was drawn into the Lamoer scandal after it emerged that she had tipped him off about a Hawks investigation against him.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said the case against her would not be winnable in court but has however recommended an internal investigation to deal with the allegations.
It is unclear why Phiyega saw fit to alert Lamoer.
Dawjee, who has also been arrested, is accused of showering Lamoer and his co-accused with expensive gifts, paying for rented cars for their families in return for protection from police.
It is alleged that he received specialised police service dedicated to his needs.
He paid for Lamoer’s holiday in a guest house as well as his “clothing store accounts”. In total, the state alleges that Lamoer received R75 524, Kolindren Govender received R192 260 and his wife got R1 360 713. Van der Ross received a paltry R7 324.
Dawjee also allegedly paid monthly accounts towards the maintenance of the Govenders’ swimming pool and stood as “surety in finance agreements”.
Dawjee is also alleged to have been paying monthly instalments for Govender’s car and buying airline tickets for her and her husband.
Lamoer and Dawjee are facing charges for defeating the ends of justice “or obstructing justice.”
According to the indictment, Dawjee relied on his close association with Lamoer and the other three senior officials as well as various other members of the police.
He “sought to persuade police to act as he required them to. Relying on his police connectivity, he threatened SAPS members to act as he required and threatened to report them to Lamoer, Govender, Van der Ross and Sharon Govender if they did not act in accordance with his wishes.”
According to the indictment, Lamoer and the other senior police officers “acceded” to Dawjee’s demands. It is alleged that in 2012, when Dawjee became aware that there was an investigation concerning the bribes he had been giving to Lamoer, he instructed employees from his son’s company to sign affidavits saying he had known Lamoer for more than 20 years.
He also instructed them to write that they were not “aware of any funds paid to Lamoer. He was well aware that the affidavits did not reflect the truth. They were designed to mislead the (Hawks)”.
On three occasions, Phiyega was recorded telling Lamoer that she was aware of investigations against him and at one stage expressing regret at not telling him earlier.
The conversations were legally recorded by crime intelligence operatives monitoring Lamoer’s calls.
Phiyega also told Lamoer she received information about him from suspended Hawks boss Anwar Dramat. She complained to Lamoer that she didn’t commission the investigation and neither did then police minister Nathi Mthethwa.
She also intimated that she might have attempted to protect Lamoer as she told him she had told Dramat and then acting crime intelligence head Chris Ngcobo to arrest the drug lord and “leave my management alone”.
Lamoer has been under investigation for the past two years and the police allege that he had been speaking to the suspected drug lord on an almost a daily basis.
Police Minister Nathi Nhleko last year established a special committee to probe issues relating to Phiyega. This included a recommendation by the NPA that an internal disciplinary action deal with the matter relating to Phiyega and Lamoer.
From teacher to fraud suspect
Arno Lamoer’s career in the SA Police Service started when he became a police trainer at Bishop Lavis Training College from 1980 to 1986.
In 1990, he was promoted to station commander of Atlantis police station. He was then transferred to Manenberg police station as station commander, where he served until 1994.
In 1996, Lamoer was appointed to address corruption in the Western Cape. Later that year he was promoted to deputy area commissioner East Metropole, Western Cape. In 1998 he became head of the Organised Crime and Public Safety directorates and then served as commander for special operations in the province. In 2006 he was made a divisional commander and in 2010 appointed Western Cape provincial police commissioner.
In 2012 police started investigating Lamoer for having a corrupt relationship with Salim Dawjee, who splurged on expensive gifts for him and senior police officials.
Among other allegations it was reported that Lamoer’s daughter received R20 000 deposited into her bank account as a wedding gift from Dawjee. Before he commenced his career as a police officer, Lamoer was a teacher for two years.
The Sunday Independent