Picture: Tim Brauteseth
Durban - Two government accounting officers are expected to be grilled by Scopa on who authorised an all-expenses-paid trip to England for police and police suppliers that included a tour of Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium.

The allegations and photographic evidence showing director of Forensic Data Analysis (FDA) Keith Keating and Jerenique Bayard - at the time a project director of supplying company Unisys - with the two SAPS members at Old Trafford was presented at a Scopa meeting on Wednesday.

DA standing committee on public accounts member Tim Brauteseth produced the photograph of the two SAPS members posing in Manchester United-branded shirts with their names on the back during the meeting, with SAPS and State Information Technology Agency (Sita) accounting officers present.

Brauteseth said in the Scopa meeting that the trip was funded by the FDA. He claimed the trip was taken six months after Keating had sold forensic camera equipment worth an undisclosed amount to the SAPS through Unisys Africa.

He said the accounting officers for SAPS and Sita would have to appear before Scopa early next year and explain.

Keating has rubbished allegations that his 2011 UK trip with SAPS supply chain management members was a reward to the members by FDA for awarding his company a multimillion-rand contract.

On Thursday, he told Independent Media that neither he nor the FDA paid for any part of the trip, including the tour of Old Trafford.

“I categorically state that neither FDA nor I paid for the tickets. Each one of us paid for our shirts. It wasn’t a free-for-all where FDA or I paid for any of it,” he said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Keating has maintained that the trip was paid for in full by the SAPS, saying it was an official SAPS-sanctioned excursion to an RFID (radio-frequency identification) conference in Europe.

“It was paid off in totality by the SAPS and this was inclusive of flights, accommodation and spending money. The two SAPS members had official approval by the then-national commissioner of the SAPS and the then-minister of police. No supplier paid for that trip,” Keating said.

But Brauteseth said it was irrelevant whether Keating paid for the visit or not as he had accompanied the SAPS members and it was in breach of a declaration to Sita that he signed in August that FDA had not been involved in any corrupt or collusive activities with Sita, its employees, customers or their staff, suppliers or “any organ of the state”.

Keating has been a sole supplier to SAPS - through Sita - of a firearm permit system and software as well as forensic equipment worth billions. (Scopa was told the exact figure is R5.7 billion.)

Although he was present at the Scopa meeting this week, Keating said he was not allowed to respond to the allegations there and would therefore send a letter to Scopa, SAPS, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) and Sita.

“What you will hear in that letter on Monday is a dramatically different story from what we have heard so far. It is a real pity that the correct facts were not presented in Scopa."

“It is beyond comprehension that I have never been contacted by Ipid in all this time that they have been investigating this alleged corrupt relationship. Furthermore, nor has Sita approached me with the irregularities that they have allegedly found with my contracts. Until yesterday I’ve been unable to respond on the contracts with Sita as I was prevented from doing so by a clause in the contract regarding media statements,” he said.

Brauteseth raised questions around the procurement processes of the contracts, saying that “equitable transparency” was not followed and no competitive bidding took place.

“On the evidence before us, it would appear that the process was manipulated and rigged.

“According to an Ipid investigation, FDA has won SAPS contracts worth almost R6 billion since 2010,” Brauteseth told Independent Media on Thursday.

However, Keating said the contract for the procurement of the R52million Forensic Light Sources was an open tender process run on instruction of the portfolio committee on police.

“This was responded to by various companies and, after adjudication, FDA was awarded the contract for a two-year period in June 2015,” he said.

“FDA is the sole distributor of Rofin products in South Africa and the only accredited service and repair company in southern Africa for this equipment that the SAPS uses,” he added.

National police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said all allegations were subject to investigation and he confirmed that Ipid and Hawks were heading the case.

The Mercury