Morris Tshabalala in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court, Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The Specialised Commercial Crime Court in Pretoria on Friday recounted the chequered past of South African Police Services (SAPS) crime intelligence officer Morris Tshabalala, popularly known as Captain KGB, before denying him bail.

Magistrate Nicca Setshogoe underlined how Tshabalala did not surrender to the department of correctional services prison in 1996 to serve a 10-year jail sentence for an armed robbery committed in 1994 in the Mamelodi township, east of Pretoria. At the time, he was also convicted of the illegal possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. 

Tshabalala lodged repeated appeals against that 1996 sentence, but was turned down by the courts. Tshabalala claimed that despite an arrest warrant being issued in 1998, he continued with his life because the lawyers who represented him at the time told him his appeal against his conviction and sentence had been successful. 

While on the run, Tshabalala joined the elite SAPS crime intelligence unit, based in Erasmuskloof, east of Pretoria. 

In 2013, Tshabalala was arrested in a pre-dawn raid in connection with  a R3 million cash-in-transit heist in Sasolburg, Mpumalanga province. He was later acquitted of the crime.

State prosecutor Chris Smith on Friday told the court when police processed Tshabalala’s fingerprints after his 2013 arrest, they discovered he was a wanted man since 1998.

Tshabalala was then jailed at the Groenpunt maximum security prison and began serving his 10-year sentence for the 1994 armed robbery. 

Two years down the line, in 2015, Tshabalala was released on parole. Despite being fired from the SAPS after his incarceration, Tshabalala reportedly remained on the police system and its payroll, receiving a monthly salary. While out on parole following his release, Tshabalala reenlisted in the covert crime intelligence unit of the SAPS where he earns around R22 000 in the rank of police captain.

He was arrested earlier this month while checking in with his parole officer in Pretoria central. 

On Friday, Magistrate Setshogoe said given the lengthy escapades detailing Tshabalala’s brushes with the law, she had found that Tshabalala had a high likelihood of evading justice if released on bail. 

“For a period of 15 years, the applicant [Tshabalala] managed to evade justice. It must also be noted that if convicted [for current five counts including fraud, theft and corruption], the applicant is likely to face a lengthy sentence. He is currently serving another sentence, on parole,” said Setshogoe. 

“In a nutshell, the applicant has failed to show that the interest of justice permits his release. His conduct has also been factored … he spent 15 years without surrendering himself to justice.”

Tshabalala faces charges including theft and defrauding after allegedly looting the secret slush fund of the SAPS crime intelligence unit of more than R500,000.

According to the charge sheet, Tshabalala in one instance defrauded the SAPS by falsely claiming R470,000 was “needed to pay for blinds and curtains for a safe house”. He pocketed more than R200,000 from the deal. 

He also faces a charge of corruption relating to R50,000 he received. 

In his application for bail, Tshabalala told the court that he risks losing his job due to the prolonged incarceration. He also said that he had “special projects” at SAPS crime intelligence which he was working on but could not disclose this due to the sensitivity of the matters.

African News Agency/ANA