Khehla Sithole two other cops ordered to comply with Ipid fraud, corruption probe
Pretoria - National police commissioner General Khehla Sithole and two other SAPS senior officials have lost their application for leave to appeal against an earlier judgment regarding the declassification of documents.
Judge Norman Davis in January ordered the police to hand over several secret documents to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for the purpose of investigating suspected tender fraud and corruption within police ranks.
The investigation pertains to the R45 million “Nasrec grabber” issue.
But Sithole, as well as Francinah Vuma and Lebeona Tshumane, both lieutenant-generals, said the court erred in finding that they had breached their duties by failing to furnish Ipid with information and documents relating to their investigation into the alleged fraud and corruption.
Ipid, who have been waiting for more than three years for these documents, and the SAPS, have been facing off in court as senior police management refused to hand over the “highly secret” papers.
The three top SAPS brass have now turned to court for leave to appeal against Judge Davis’s judgment. The result is that Ipid still has not received the documents to enable them to start the investigation.
Sithole and the others maintain the documents were classified and should not be made available to Ipid.
While Judge Davis earlier overturned the subpoenas which initially compelled the three to hand over the documents, Davis still ordered that the documents be declassified for the purposes of Ipid’s investigations and any subsequent prosecutions.
Sithole and the other applicants now say as the judge had overturned the subpoenas, there was no duty on them to furnish the required documents.
They insist that the documents in question need to first be “declassified”, and that this should be done via a request to the chairperson of Parliament’s joint standing committee on intelligence. But the judge said this argument was legally unsound.
He said the Ipid Act imposes a duty on every organ of state - including the South African Police Services, of which the applicants are among its leadership structure - to assist Ipid in performing its functions “effectively”.
Judge Davis said the officers were ignoring the duties imposed by law on them.
“These duties of transparency and active assistance were in existence at all relevant times, long before the subpoenas… Their duties were not dependent on the subpoenas and, in fact, the subpoenas were resorted to in frustration by Ipid, and as a result of the fact that the applicants were already failing in their duties.”
The judge added that the Act imposed a specific duty on each SAPS member to provide their “full co-operation” to Ipid by providing “any information” required for investigation purposes.
In turning down their application for leave to appeal, he said they did not produce any copies of documents.
“They did not furnish Ipid with any information, clearly within their knowledge, of any aspect of the matters under investigation, nor did they assist Ipid in any manner or fashion.”
“In fact, when requested to make themselves available for interviews, rather than comply with their statutory duties as police officers willing to contribute to the investigation of crimes, they sought legal assistance, and on this basis thwarted Ipid’s investigation,” the judge said.