Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
20 Sep 2019
12:26 pm

Zondo worries SAPS may be trying to cover up Crime Intelligence slush fund abuses

Makhosandile Zulu

The state capture inquiry chair says approaching the minister of police should be considered in order to have key documents declassified.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency

Chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Friday expressed his concern over frustrations encountered by a Hawks investigator to declassify police documents during a Crime Intelligence investigation.

Hawks investigator Colonel Kobus Roelofse on Friday concluded his law enforcement-related testimony at the commission.

Part of Roelofse’s testimony dealt with the activities of senior and highly placed officers in crime intelligence and the alleged looting of the Secret Services Account (SSA).

Roelofse told Zondo that since 2012 it had been “a battle” to have these documents declassified despite having extensively explained to the police and crime intelligence the legitimacy of needing the documents to carry out his investigation.

The “battle” to declassify these documents continued despite requests for such made by the then national director of public prosecutions Mxolisi Nxasana and the then executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Robert McBride, the commission heard.

Furthermore, no reasons were given as to why the documents would not be declassified.

“It is a question of being ignored,” Roelofse told Zondo.

Zondo noted that, during his testimony, Roelofse had pointed out that the classification of police documents should not be used to cover up maladministration or corruption.

The commission heard that the request to declassify these documents was also brought to the attention of the national police commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, soon after his appointment in November 2017.

The issue of declassifying these documents was also raised in parliament, the commission heard.

Roelofse said that, either in late 2017 or early 2018, Ipid appeared before parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) where the matter was raised and where Sitole made an undertaking to apply his mind to the issue.

However, Roelofse said, “that also didn’t assist in getting the documents declassified”.

Zondo said that although the commission was expected to hear testimony from other police officials who could give a different perspective on the issue, he found it “astonishing” that Roelofse had encountered such frustrations in his investigation.

The commission’s chair commented that the expectation would be that police would be sensitive to such an investigation and would want to be transparent.

“It’s very, very concerning to me because over such a long period anything could happen,” Zondo said, citing the example of witnesses dying or disappearing, which would hinder the investigation and result in the non-prosecution of cases.

Zondo further said it must be demoralising to those within law enforcement agencies who wanted to do the right thing when they encountered such frustrations.

Zondo asked Roelofse if he had considered approaching the minister of police to have the documents declassified.

“Chair, I haven’t thought of that. I thought I would be able to deal with it within the structures of the South African Police Service, Ipid or parliament,” he responded.

The witness added that he was not the only investigator who had experienced such frustrations, especially when it came to the probe into corruption within the police.

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