Hawks probe SAPS-SITA link

Johannesburg, 16 Oct 2009

The country's new elite crime-fighting unit has confirmed it is investigating allegations of irregularities within the senior ranks of the police, after a risk assessment report into the State IT Agency (SITA) pointed to the involvement of senior officers in alleged shady dealings.

Musa Zondi, head of communications for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations - the Hawks - says the directorate was handed information regarding the alleged irregularities, but has yet to see the full report.

Enterprise risk assessment firm Henderson Solutions compiled the SITA report earlier this year, concluding that a seemingly total breakdown of the internal control environment had occurred at the state entity. The report uncovers corruption, conflict of interest and duplicate payments and invalid identities of suppliers and employees, as reflected by data contained in various SITA databases.

Among the large-scale irregularities, pertaining to SITA's procurement processes, the report exposes a complex chain of IT-related companies allegedly set up and run by senior South African Police Service (SAPS) officers.

The report names a director within the SAPS as being “involved in less than arms' length transactions with companies in which he has vested financial interest”.

'Collusive practices'

According to the Companies and Intellectual Property Registration Office, the SAPS member is listed as the principal of at least two companies on the SITA supplier list. Several other companies found on the list are linked to these two entities.

The report describes these businesses as “...while having the appearance of being 'independent' companies, appear - upon closer scrutiny - to be sharing commonalities typical of companies involved in collusive practices”.

The report also names two civilian SAPS members - who, according to their applications for personal and vehicle finance and retail credit - list themselves as being not only employees and directors of some of the companies on the SITA supplier database, but employees of the SAPS.

According to Zondi, the Hawks - the unit that recently replaced the Scorpions to combat organised crime - cannot comment on the involvement of SAPS personnel at this stage.

“[These are] preliminary enquiries until such time as we land our hands on the actual report and understand what it says. At the moment, we only have the information that there is this report... Where does it come from, how did it come about and such are the initial inquiries,” he explains.

Zondi says SITA is aware the Hawks are waiting for the report. “They know we are interested and they will get it to us once they have finished their process around the report.”

However, he could not give a timeline for when the agency would make the report available.

No comment

This is despite the report concluding, in reference to one of the companies linked to the SAPS director: “With all due respect, this company and its 'directors', on the face of it, appear to be an SPV (special purpose vehicle). The purpose of any SPV is to obscure the nature of business transactions. The question is, whose SPV is it - if in fact it is, as suspected - one?

“It is also the duty of SITA, under the provisions of the relevant sections of the PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] to report this matter to the South African Police Service for further investigation. Failure to do so may lead to civil and or criminal sanction.”

The risk assessment report - commissioned by SITA chief of strategic services Moses Mtimunye - was handed to SITA executives and minister of public service and administration Richard Baloyi, in April. Neither the minister, nor SITA commented on the document until approached by ITWeb in July, when the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) confirmed its existence.

ITWeb exposed the contents of the report last month, during SITA's annual GovTech conference, but the agency and the DPSA have yet to comment on the contents.

Despite numerous attempts, the SAPS director did not respond to ITWeb's queries.