The head of the crucial SAPS crime intelligence division, Peter Jacobs, is embroiled in serious allegations of abuse of a slush fund to irregularly purchase substandard personal protective equipment (PPE) for spies.
Sunday World can reveal that the Office of the Inspector-General, Setlhomamaru Dintwe, is investigating the dodgy procurement of PPE by crime intelligence, which occurred a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the national state of disaster over COVID-19.
In two confidential letters to Jacobs, which Sunday World has seen, Dintwe said he had received reports on a Durban company that was irregularly paid close to R1-million within a short period of a week for PPE.
The company, whose name was not mentioned, was paid R430 000 on March 24, R450 000 the next day and R75 912 on March 31, bringing the total payments to R955 912.
“Kindly be informed that the Office of the Inspector-General has commenced an investigation on alleged procurement irregularities relating to the purchase of personal protective equipment allegedly procured from the Secret Services Account in the South African Police Crime Intelligence [SAPS-CI],” he said in a letter dated November 4.
“The procurement of the PPE ought not to have been funded from the Secret Service Account as this will contravene the provisions of section 2(3) of the Secret Service Account (Act 56 of 1978), which provides that the funds of the SSA shall be utilised only for services of a secret nature.
“An opinion held is that the PPE cannot be categorised as a secret product intended to be utilised for a secret operation,” he said.
The Public Finance Management Act also states that any contract above R500 000 has to be advertised to allow for a competitive bidding process. Dintwe also noted that National Treasury regulations prohibited the deliberate splitting of the procurement process.
Some of the offices at provincial and cluster level rejected the PPE, saying it was substandard. This included KwaZulu-Natal crime intelligence head Thuso Tshika.
It was not the first time that the SAPS crime intelligence unit was hit by allegations of abusing the slush fund.
Former Crime Intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and two others are expected to appear in the Pretoria High Court in connection with the looting of the slush fund.
They are accused of abusing the fund for private trips to China and Singapore, private use of witness protection houses, conversion of the property for personal use and the leasing out of a private residence to the state in order to pay Mdluli’s bond, among others.
This week, Mdluli did not pitch for the case, which was sitting at the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crimes Court. His lawyers said he was ill.
Dintwe said a “cursory assessment” of the information provided to him indicated that Treasury prescripts were flouted in the procurement of the PPE.
A source close to the process said spies were worried about their safety.
“This is supposed to be a sacred account. It is supposed to be used to guard the nation. This is the account that must sustain secret agents who are doing national security operations,” the source said.
Sources in the division said Jacobs, who is said to be an ally of Police Minister Bheki Cele, undermined national commissioner Khehla Sitole, who is the central authority for the procurement of PPE.
SAPS spokesperson Vish Naidoo said the procurement of PPE was centralised and included participation by deputy national commissioners, divisional commissioners and provincial commissioners.
“I can confirm that earlier this month, the Office of the Inspector-General of Intelligence informed the SAPS top management that they are conducting an investigation into the SAPS Crime Intelligence on the alleged procurement of PPEs allegedly using the Secret Service Account,” he said, adding Sitole awaits a report before deciding the fate of those involved