T HE SAPS has landed itself in another financial crisis – this time over R35 million spent on a fleet of luxury cars.
The Star can reveal exclusively today that a secret report is to be handed to the joint standing committee on intelligence alleging that acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi authorised the taking of funds from the controversial Secret Services Account (SSA) for operational expenditure in direct contravention of the Secret Service Act 56 of 1978.
This was to ensure that budgeted funds were spent, even though not in the way they were intended.
According to the report, this was done after a decline in the operational spending patterns of crime intelligence due to infighting within the SAPS.
Crime intelligence had been allocated R98 million for expenditure and had spent about R60m over the first three quarters of the 2011/2012 financial year. Then, in the last quarter, about R35m was spent. “This is evident that they just wanted to spend the budget,” the report reads.
The money, the report indicates, was used to buy vehicles for other police units, including Mkhwanazi’s erstwhile command, the police’s notorious amaBarette or Tactical Response Team.
The fund, which was controlled by suspended crime intelligence chief Lieutenant-General Richard Mdluli, has been in the news recently after revelations that Mdluli allegedly plundered it to pay his wife, girlfriends and relatives salaries as police informants, give them cars and accommodate them in safe houses – to the tune of millions of rand.
Yesterday, Mdluli lost his bid to have his suspension lifted, as President Jacob Zuma was poised to fire Mkhwanazi’s predecessor, General Bheki Cele, for his role in the Roux Shabangu lease scandal that cost the police R1.6 billion over the leasing of buildings.
The Star understands that the acting divisional commissioner of crime intelligence, Fannie Masemola, went on a spending spree, acquiring 140 luxury vehicles, among them BMW X3s, Audi Q5s, the latest Jeep SRTs and the latest BMW 320 models.
The Star has seen documentary proof of the transfer of at least five luxury vehicles from crime intelligence to Operational Response Services between January and February. The vehicles were a Mercedes-Benz ML 350 CDI, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Mercedes-Benz C300 and a Lexus 350 RXI.
The top-secret document, which will be presented to the parliamentary committee, claims: “The allocations for capital expenditures and goods and services for the financial year were adjusted to ensure the Division: Crime Intelligence goes on a spending spree to show National Treasury, the Auditor-General and the joint standing committee on intelligence that they had proper budgetary measures in place. This is a farce, as it was actually (the) contrary.
“The operational budget for goods and services could not be utilised and the current acting management actually committed a serious financial misconduct by shifting vast sums of money to the capital expenditure.”
Last night, DA spokeswoman Dianne Kohler Barnard said the report presented a case of serious mismanagement. She said each division from the SAPS had its own budget, and the distribution of vehicles to other units out of the SSA budget was not just irregular, but wrong.
Kohler Barnard was taken aback when she learnt that 140 luxury vehicles had been bought out of the SSA’s budget.
“This massive multibillion-rand budget allocated to crime intelligence is mismanaged. We have stations without electricity and water, and people are wasting money on luxury vehicles.”
The report continues: “Out of this capital expenditure of R98 million, R81 million was blasted on vehicles. The sad part is that they spent R35 million in the last quarter. This is evident that they just wanted to spend the budget.”
When The Star sent enquiries to Mkhwanazi’s spokesman, Brigadier Lindela Mashigo, he acknowledged that he had received it but failed to respond, saying police management was in meetings.
Meanwhile, Parliament’s police oversight committee has called on Mkhwanazi to explain the Mdluli saga at a meeting next week.
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