Johannesburg - Claims of an attempt to siphon R45 million from the police’s secret slush fund, to buy ANC votes, have allegedly led to reprisals on the brigadier who blew the whistle.
An amount of R7m was allegedly illegally paid to a company, where procurement laws were supposedly flouted for the payment.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) confirmed that it was embroiled in a legal wrangle with the SAPS’s crime intelligence unit in the alleged attempted vote buying of delegates, at the ANC’s December 2017 national conference.
Ipid said SAPS authorities challenged subpoenas to declassify and cede documents the directorate said it would need in probing an alleged scheme to loot crime intelligence, under the guise of purchasing spying equipment for the ANC conference’s use.
Brigadier Tiyani Hlungwani, a crime intelligence officer who wrote a detailed affidavit to Ipid, detailing how R45m was to allegedly be funnelled out of the unit, faced an “expeditious hearing” on Thursday, in what the policeman’s representatives said was payback for foiling the alleged theft.
Hlungwani is the head of finance responsible for the secret services account, which is used to, among other functions, pay police informants.
In his affidavit, which The Star has seen, Hlungwani said senior police officials, including national commissioner General Khehla Sitole and then acting head of crime intelligence Major General King Ngcobo, had agitated for the procurement of a spying device for R45m, which Hlungwani said retailed for roughly R10m.
Hlungwani said he advised Ngcobo that the purchase of the device, known as a grabber and is used to intercept communication, would be illegal.
“I told him (Ngcobo) that he was handing himself over to the people that have been sabotaging his efforts to clean crime intelligence and that he (would) go to jail because purchasing a grabber of R45m from i-View was illegal and was not in compliance with the Public Finances Management Act,” Hlungwani stated.
i-View is the company which the device was to be procured from.
Highly-placed sources alleged that the difference, between i-View’s R45m price and the R10m which Hlungwani said was the accepted retail amount, was to be used to buy delegates - to sway votes at the ANC’s conference.
Hlungwani, in his Ipid statement, said he managed to block the R45m amount, but that the grabber was used at the conference and around R7m was paid to Inban Kistiah, owner of I-View, “which I believe was the true value of the equipment”.
Kistiah declined to comment, saying he was sworn to secrecy.
Hlungwani declined to comment and referred all queries to his representatives from the South African Police Union (Sapu).
Sapu president Mpho Kwinika confirmed that the union was representing Hlungwani at his hearing, asserting that the brigadier was being targeted for being a whistleblower.
Kwinika accused national commissioner Sitole of “classifying documents in order to hide corruption”.
Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: “The IPID conducted an investigation, which required the declassification of certain information, in the custody of crime intelligence and SAPS. Subpoenas were issued for certain officials to provide this information. They challenged the subpoenas in the North Gauteng High Court. This matter is pending a set down date.”
On Hlungwani, Dlamini said: “I can confirm that Brigadier Hlungwani is our witness in the i-View investigation. We are not aware that his charges in the disciplinary hearing are due to him having given us a statement in regards to this investigation.”
On Wednesday, The Star sent detailed questions to acting national police spokesperson Colonel Brenda Muridili, who said, over the phone on Thursday evening, that she didn’t know when the police would respond.
However, Muridili added that Hlungwani’s matter was internal and would not be made public.
Questions were also sent to ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe in a text message on Friday, but were unanswered, and he didn’t answer his phone afterwards.