22 June 2024 | 12:35 AM

Hawks’ swoop on police intelligence was ‘political’

Key Takeaways

The Hawks’ crackdown on the South African Police Service’s (SAPS’s) crime intelligence division may have as much to do with political power struggles as alleged fraud and corruption.

Well-placed intelligence sources told the Mail & Guardian that the secret services account, used for covert operations, source payments and safe houses, could be a “black” fund used not only for personal gain but also to fund politically motivated action.

Last month, the Hawks arrested murder accused and suspended crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, who now faces further charges related to fraud and corruption linked to alleged abuse of the secret services account.

The money is allocated by the treasury, which is then allocated separately by the director general to each intelligence division. The crime intelligence share is believed to run to between R200-million and R400-million a year.

A source with links to intelligence and senior politicians said: “Funds were utilised in gathering information on state politicians, including the president. The rest was used to fertilise their [intelligence agents] lifestyles.”

Because the source is part of the intelligence community, he was not authorised to comment in his official capacity and cannot be named.

He also claimed that senior intelligence officers would “get a credible informant and befriend that person” under the guise that the informant was selling information on crimes taking place.

Half the cash back

But crime intelligence officers would obtain the information they needed from other sources. They would then tell the “sheltered source” that they would pay out a reward from the fund and that the source must give “half the cash back”.

“They were approving huge informant fees.”

But another source emphasised the political dimension: “Lots of people want control of the account towards Mangaung [where the ANC’s elective conference will be held in 2012]. The account is powerful and those who control it are better placed to ‘protect’ national security.”

Meanwhile, Hawks boss Anwa Dramat denied that there was a “grand investigation” into crime intelligence “as a whole”. Rather, the Hawks were investigating specific individuals.

But a senior state advocate who has insight into the Dramat initiative said the purpose of the Hawks investigation was “to clean out crime intelligence”, starting with its most senior members.

  • Mdluli was the first senior crime intelligence official to be suspended after criminal charges were brought against him earlier this year.

Mdluli was arrested for murder and defeating the ends of justice for his alleged involvement in the 1999 murder of Oupa Ramogibe.

Ramogibe allegedly received threats after he married Mdluli’s former lover.



  • Former Gauteng boss Major General Joey Mabasa, who was in the public spotlight over his wife’s links with Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir, was paid out and discharged from the police.




  • Colonel Heine Barnard, the supply chain manager for crime intelligence’s secret services account, was arrested last month alongside Mdluli. Both were charged in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court with fraud and corruption linked to a R90 000 discount, which was allegedly solicited in 2010 to pay off a shortfall on Mdluli’s private car.


Although it is not clear what evidence the state has against Barnard, sources claim he is a close ally of Mdluli’s. Barnard’s name emerged in connection with the so-called “raid” on the public protector’s offices in the wake of the SAPS headquarters leasing scandal.

Barnard is accused of illegally abetting Mdluli, either directly or indirectly, in soliciting a discount on the purchase of two BMWs — which the police did not need. The discount, which was attained through a long-standing deal negotiated between car dealership Leo Haese BMW in Pretoria and the police, added up to the shortfall Mdluli needed to pay off his car.

Mdluli and Barnard are also accused of misusing or selling information or material acquired in the exercise of their official duties, abusing their positions of authority and conspiring, instructing, commanding or inducing another person to commit these offences.



  • Another person said to be of interest in the Hawks’ investigation is Major General Solly Lazarus, the man who as chief financial officer controls the secret slush fund and who has also been said to have had a close relationship with Mdluli.


Lazarus declined to comment and referred all queries to the SAPS media liaison office.

Allegations were levelled against Mdluli and Lazarus in an article in the Sunday Independent last year in which the two were accused of abusing the fund. Some unconfirmed newspaper reports claimed that Mdluli had been behind the registration of girlfriends and some of their relatives as paid intelligence sources or employees.

A source with links to prominent intelligence officers said Mdluli “was just like a recruiting agent” for his relatives, which in turn ensured he had a strong powerbase.



  • However, there is one Mdluli-linked man who appears unaffected by the investigation. The M&G understands that Major General Mark Hankel, the head of the division’s operational intelligence analysis section, is being left alone because his intelligence-gathering skills make him too valuable.


In spite of claims that national police commissioner General Bheki Cele tried to block the Hawks’ investigation into crime intelligence — which he has denied — two sources claim that Cele supports it.

A reason given is the “bad blood” between him and Mdluli.


Cele and Mdluli’s relationship soured after a declassified secret report surfaced from Mdluli in which it was alleged that the battle-lines had been drawn by those in the ANC who were against President Jacob Zuma serving a second term. Cele was placed in this camp.

Cele faces mounting scrutiny over his involvement in the signing-off of the controversial R1.5-billion SAPS headquarters lease.

Mdluli’s lawyer, Ike Motloung, has described the allegations of fraud and corruption against Mdluli as “a joke” and part of ongoing attempts to frame him.

Mdluli has claimed in court that “people were trying to get rid of him” because former president Thabo Mbeki’s camp was trying to take over police intelligence ahead of the ANC’s 2012 elective conference.

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The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism, a non-profit initiative to develop investigative journalism in the public interest, produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for all our stories, activities and sources of funding.

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Before joining the amaBhungane team in 2017, Micah was the national coordinator for media freedom and diversity at the Right2Know Campaign. He holds a Masters in African Studies from Oxford University and a BA Honours in History from Wits University.

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