News / South Africa / State Capture

Makhosandile Zulu
5 minute read
1 Oct 2019
12:20 pm

Zondo hears of Mdluli family nepotism within crime intelligence

Makhosandile Zulu

The commission chair has told the witness to stick to facts and stay away from making statements that could unfairly tarnish people’s names.

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

The commission of inquiry into state capture on Tuesday heard testimony of how an estimated R5 million was allegedly spent on the remuneration of seven of former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli’s family members between 2010 and 2011.

Whistleblower Colonel Dhanajaya Naidoo – who is currently in the witness protection programme – continued to give evidence on Tuesday related to the 250 posts at crime intelligence which were filled with friends and family of senior officials, including Mdluli.

These family members were appointed in the first quarter of 2010 into the agent programme within crime intelligence, Naidoo told the chairperson of the commission, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.

The family members included those of former lieutenant general Ray Lalla, former police major general Solomon Lazarus and Colonel Hein Barnard and other senior officials within crime intelligence, the commission heard.

A number of these individuals had criminal convictions, Naidoo added.

Naidoo told Zondo of a commander within crime intelligence who could not be mentioned by name but was referred to as FM41 who, though allegedly found guilty of vehicle-related fraud, was placed in the agent programme.

“I’m not sure exactly of the details of it,” Naidoo said, adding that FM41 was never disciplined for his conviction but was instead placed in the agent programme until his retirement.

“I believe this one was done purely to hide him, so to speak,” Naidoo said, giving further evidence of FM41’s relationship with Lalla, Lazarus, and former crime intelligence head Mulangi Mphego.

Naidoo told Zondo of one instance in 2006 when FM41 requested him to draw an advance of R40,000 from the secret service account (SSA) for recruiting an agent.

FM41 further instructed Naidoo to split the R40,000 in half and hand R20,000 to Lalla and return the other half to him, the commission heard.

Naidoo said the splitting of the amount was queried by the advance holder at the crime intelligence office when she saw him hand over the R20,000 to an individual who worked in Lalla’s office.

Naidoo told Zondo of another instance where FM41 told him that Mphego needed R125,000, which was a shortfall in a vehicle he had traded in, and that Mphego had asked FM41 to make the arrangements for the money.

“FM41 was a commander of one of the operational teams,” Naidoo said, explaining that FM41’s office would put in false informant rewards to generate cash.

In another incident, FM41 was “quite upset” with either Lalla or Mphego because they had asked for more cash despite getting high salaries, Naidoo said.

Naidoo said he had worked under FM41 from 2004 to 2006, so these incidents happened in that time period.

“I remember having a discussion with general Lazarus and he said he wants to help the old man,” Naidoo said, referring to FM41.

He said after Lazarus held discussions with Mphego, the commander was placed in the agent programme.

However, Naidoo conceded to Zondo that he did not know for a fact that FM41 was convicted of vehicle-related fraud.

“I can’t say for sure whether it was work-related or not,” Naidoo added.

Zondo raised concern about this, saying the commission’s legal team and investigators should have probed some of these allegations.

The commission’s chair further urged those with knowledge of wrongdoing to come forward.

Zondo further pointed out that at such a forum as the commission, the public listened in on the proceedings where people’s names were mentioned, which made it important that before names were mentioned, allegations should be checked properly because “we should never do anything to anybody that we wouldn’t like done to us”.

Zondo urged the commission’s legal team and investigators to ensure that before a witness took the stand, allegations should be double-checked and the witness should be properly advised.

“I think we need to be careful about that.

“Where we are not sure, let’s stay away from making statements that could unfairly tarnish people’s names when we don’t have the facts or are not sure,” Zondo told Naidoo.

Naidoo undertook to stick to what he had knowledge of and avoid where his testimony was based on hearsay.

Naidoo then told the commission about seven of Mdluli’s family members who, despite not possessing the required experience and expertise, were appointed as agents in crime intelligence.

Some of these family members stayed “away from work for extended periods” of time on “multiple occasions” and travelled out of the province without obtaining the necessary approval, the commission heard.

“Their knowledge of computer skills was very basic. I say this because they went for a training course… which was very basic,” Naidoo said of four of the seven Mdluli family members who were appointed at the cybercrime unit.

Naidoo estimated that salaries, medical bills, vehicles, and the hiring and setting up of safe houses to be used by Mdluli’s family exceeded R5 million from 2010, when they were appointed, to 2011 when he entered the witness protection programme.

The deputy national commissioner and current Hawks boss, advocate Godfrey Lebeya, was appointed to investigate the 250 appointments and promotions within crime intelligence.

Naidoo told the commission that after Lebeya’s tasking to investigate the 250 posts, he had discussions with Lazarus who told him of a plan that he, Lazarus, and Mdluli were considering as a way of “strong-arming” or blackmailing Lebeya.

Naidoo said the plan they considered was to add the name of Lebeya’s wife’s name to a list that Mdluli had given Lazarus in early 2010 and which apparently contained people who should be appointed in the 250 posts.

Zondo noted that the plan the two were considering seemed like a “weak kind of excuse” to try and blackmail Lebeya.

Naidoo’s testimony continues. Watch live courtesy of the SABC:

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