File picture: Skyler Reid/Independent Media
A high-ranking officer accused of fraudulently procuring a top security clearance certificate for the crime intelligence acting divisional commissioner, Major General Pat Mokushane, before the vetting panel could make a recommendation is facing an internal investigation.

Brigadier Leonora Bamuza-Phetlhe is facing an investigation for her role in ensuring that Mokushane received security clearance without following proper vetting procedures. 

Mokushane was appointed in June, replacing Major General Makhele, who was removed without any explanation.

According to a SAPS document penned by head of counter and security intelligence, Major General Dumezweni Zimu, on June 30 Brigadier Bamuza Phetlhe instructed the section commander for vetting, whose name is known to the newspaper, “to among others, print a security clearance certificate for Major General Mokushane. 

"Phetlhe acknowledged receipt thereof on the same day at 12.50.”

In a letter to Acting National Police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba and Mokushane, Zimu asked for Phetlhe to be investigated for her role and to be denied access to sensitive intelligence information.

SAPS spokesperson Major General Sally de Beer confirmed that there was an internal investigation, but was not willing to give any further comment.

Zimu said that on being informed of Phetlhe’s unlawful instructions he forwarded a report from the vetting section commander to the office of Mothiba and Phetlhe, which indicated that relevant information had still not been received from Mokushane.

“As a consequence, the security vetting panel had not convened to consider and make recommendation on the security competence of the applicant (Mokushane),” Zimu wrote.

A top security clearance certificate is necessary for the intelligence chief to perform their duties. A crime intelligence operator, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mokushane has to deal with highly sensitive classified documents and it was a criminal offence for anyone who not in possession of top secret security clearance to deal with such information.

Last month, when acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba appeared before parliament, he came under fire from police portfolio committee chairperson, Francois Beukman, for appointing Mokushane before he had clearance. 

Mokushane had already had a lie detector test and the vetting panel had not made a recommendation as relevant information from him, including his tertiary qualification and matric certificate, were still outstanding.

It has also emerged that there were counter-intelligence investigation results still pending pertaining the issues raised during the polygraph examination.

According to the document authored by component head of counter and security intelligence, Daphne Mokgaetji Aphane, then Mokushane’s secretary, admitted to receiving the sum of R500 from the Secret Service Account (SSA) for airtime which she would then use to communicate with his business partners outside the police. 

And that she had drawn a R10000 advance on a monthly basis from the SSA which she attributed to funds expended on handlers.

Zimu said that in a separate incident on July 4 2017, the section commander for vetting investigation counter and security intelligence presented a letter for him to sign, instructing Mothiba and Mokushane to sign a security clearance from Phethle and another officer.

He said he refused to sign because due procedure had not been followed.The procedure includes relevant information about the applicant and the recommendation of the security vetting panel.

He pointed out again the printing of the security clearance certificate was unlawful and was driven by the intention was to commit fraud. He recommended the certificates in question be rescinded.

He also added that an investigation be conducted by the inspector- general of intelligence against Phetlhe for her involvement in counter-intelligence work, her illegal instructions to the vetting commander and her receipt and custody of counter intelligence documents and certificates.

It has also emerged that an amount of R50000 was paid into Phetlhe’s account from the Crime Intelligence Secret Service Account to buy drinks that were to be served during a recent three-day executive management meeting convened by Mokushane. The money was supposed to be paid into the refreshment service provider’s account. It is not clear why it was paid into Phetlhe’s account.

“In my view, acting divisional commissioner, these are the matters of serious concern which relate to the noble obligation we have to do everything in our ability to execute our responsibilities in a manner that shows fundamental respect for the institutions of the state,” Zimu said.

DA’s shadow minister of police, Zakhele Mbhele, said it was “gravely concerning and completely unacceptable that such alleged fraud can be perpetrated within the police service, which itself is meant to combat and clamp down on fraud and other crimes.

“It is an abuse of senior management’s authority and the chain of command for an officer to be instructed to undertake such unethical and unprofessional conduct but, given the reported shady aspects of Major-General Mokushane’s history in the SAPS, it’s not surprising that he is linked to such an alleged scheme that undermines the rule of law.”

Mbhele said all implicated parties should be suspended, whether they be alleged perpetrators, instigators or beneficiaries, pending the finalisation of an investigation into the matter. He would raise the matter with Beukman to request “we call Mothiba and Mokushane before the committee at the earliest possible opportunity”.

Efforts to get comments from Mokushane and Phetlhe were unsuccesful.

Sunday Independent