20 April 2024 | 09:04 AM

Mdluli report’s shocking revelations

Key Takeaways

Today the Mail & Guardian publishes details from a secret report to the inspector general of intelligence on the allegations against crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli.

The extracts below demonstrate the extent to which President Jacob Zuma and his allies were prepared to ignore evidence of the rot at crime intelligence to protect their man.

Publication also represents a defining example of the kind of public-interest disclosure that would be criminalised by the so-called secrecy Bill before Parliament.

The report was drafted by Major General Mark Hankel and signed off by then-acting crime intelligence boss Chris de Kock.

According to the document, it was drafted as a written follow-up to a detailed verbal briefing given to the inspector general of intelligence, Faith Radebe, on October 31 last year when the Hawks investigation into Mdluli was in full swing.

The document is headed: “Report to the inspector general of intelligence on the matter of alleged maladministration and crimes committed in respect of the Secret Services Account (SSA) of the crime intelligence division of the South African Police Service.”

Hankel begins by setting out the basis for his claims.

Corruption and fraud

“The report is based on the interaction and insight into the Hawks’ case of corruption and fraud as well as personal insight into various documents requested by the Hawks, of which some have been handed over to the Hawks pursuant to a search warrant, while others are being safeguarded as evidence in possible criminal or departmental investigations.

“The report is further based on information provided by, and discussions with, certain sensitively placed officers of crime intelligence, an investigation report compiled by the Hawks as well as information under oath. It serves as official written notification to the inspector general in relation to crime, maladministration and nepotism that has come to the attention of the acting divisional commissioner of crime intelligence —”

Hankel then details the evidence gathered by the Hawks.

“The Silverton CAS 155/07/2011 (fraud and corruption) was registered after investigation into the murder case against Lt Gen RN Mdluli exposed fraud and corruption involving the selling by a BMW dealer of a private BMW belonging to Lt Gen Mdluli.

“This is related to the shortfall in the settlement fee on the finance from the said vehicle being paid through a second dealer with whom crime intelligence does business and from whom Lt Gen Mdluli purchased a vehicle.

“It also relates to the purchase of two BMWs from the BMW dealer on which so-called ‘trade assist’ incentives from BMW South Africa allegedly further influenced the resale price on Lt Gen Mdluli’s private BMW.

R95 000 benefit

“This benefited Lt Gen Mdluli to the amount of about R95 000. Col [Hein] Barnard derived no benefit from these transactions but signed a contract purporting to be RN Mdluli.

“The prosecution, however, contends that the two BMWs would not otherwise have been purchased if it was not to be used to offset the shortfall on the settlement amount of Lt Gen Mdluli’s private BMW. In reality, both BMW’s purchased were then allocated with the one (5 Series) going to Lt Gen Mdluli for his personal use and the other (3 Series) going to his wife (Col T Lyons) in Cape Town.”

But the Hawks investigation went further, Hankel explains, pointing out that the Hawks had obtained a search warrant for two covert crime intelligence premises to seize documents. He sets out the additional criminal elements being investigated against Mdluli.

“The appointment/promotion of his current wife, her brother and other members of her family, his ex-wife, her daughter and his son, as well as two ‘girlfriends’ in the Eastern Cape. With the exception of the latter two, the investigation also targets their placement in the agent programme of crime intelligence, as well as their current deployment and daily work and productivity.

“Furthermore, the investigation team of the Hawks is looking at all salary claims, advances and operational claims submitted by the handlers of the members who were what is referred to as ‘principal agents’ in the programme. Of particular interest to the investigation team is their utilisation of covert vehicles.

“The alleged abuse of covert vehicles by Lt Gen Mdluli, who it is alleged was not entitled to the use of such vehicles in the way he did. In this regard, various vehicles were identified at his two properties. Specific focus is being given to BMWs, a Jeep Cherokee SRT8, two E-Class Mercedes-Benzes and a Lexus. The investigation includes such specifics as his use thereof while on vacation.

Overseas trip

“An overseas trip to Singapore at the end of 2009 for purposes of viewing and purchasing technical equipment for crime intelligence — Of note to the investigation team was the fact that the spouses of Lt Gen Mdluli (T Lyons) and Maj Gen [Solly] Lazarus and Col Barnard accompanied them on the trip.

“It is evident that Maj Gen Lazarus and Col Barnard financed their spouses’ trip costs, but that of Col Lyons (who was not a member of the SAPS at the time) — was funded from the secret service account.”

Hankel then goes on to identify “new revelations” that flowed from his own inquiries, notably interference and intimidation by some of those implicated.

‘During the investigation certain officers were interviewed by the Hawks to explain certain aspects of documents. One of these officers — decided out of his own accord on the third day to reveal the extent of crime that is occurring in the SSA environment.

“On the day of the revelations in question, he took a colleague of his into his confidence and admitted that he had provided incriminating information to the Hawks.

“That evening and the following morning, he was subjected to intimidating behaviour by some of his colleagues — This behaviour included trespassing on his property, being driven around in a vehicle, being taken to the home of a major general and being taken to the office of the same major general, all against his will. This officer is now in the witness protection programme.

“Every time certain officers are called by Major General Hankel to hand over documents or explain some or other detail, they are confronted by their major general and requested to reveal what was asked.

“The latter occurred despite the express instruction by Major General Hankel not to do so.

Tampering and influencing evidence

“The component head, in more than one instance, instructed the same subordinates not to co-operate with the investigation. It is also known that attempts have been made to tamper with or influence evidence.

“There exists a concerted effort from within crime intelligence and specifically the SSA environment to derail the investigation. The situation includes what is believed to be a threat to the lives and personal safety and integrity of persons involved in the investigation of this matter, including those supporting the investigation.”

Hankel also details abuse of the so-called agent programme.

“It is evident that besides the employment, inappropriate promotion and placing of family members of Lt Gen Mdluli in the agent programme of crime intelligence, [in addition] family members of a major general and colonel in the division, as well as that of a prominent person, were placed in the programme.”

Hankel says that the prominent person, a businessman from KwaZulu-Natal, was allegedly recruited to influence suspended police commissioner Bheki Cele in favour of crime intelligence.

“In total, approximately 23 persons that fall in the above category are deployed as ‘principal agents’ in the programme. As far as can be ascertained, none of these are actually involved in bone fide undercover operations in pursuance of the operational objectives of the SA Police Service Crime Intelligence Division.

No benefit to the SAPS

“Furthermore, no activity reports are generated in respect of these individuals. It is alleged that especially the family members of the prominent person in Kwazulu-Natal go about their ‘normal private lives’ with no benefit to the SA Police Service.

“They were allegedly employed as a favour or as part of a pay-off to the prominent person, in return for consultancy services rendered to crime intelligence in respect of the national commissioner.”

Mdluli and his cohorts were also flown around the country courtesy of the secret service account.

“A travel agent in Westville, Durban, was tasked with the duty of providing a travel-office service to the SSA environment, ostensibly a covert air travel service.

“This arrangement was discovered when Lt Gen Mdluli’s journeys were analysed. No agents of consequence utilised the service, rather it was abused by a small group of persons. Principal agents, many of them appointed and promoted in the same covert promotion process as Lt Gen Mdluli’s family.

“Lt Gen Mdluli and his family travelled on more than 50 occasions while the prominent person and his family, not limited to those in the agent programme, travelled on more than 50 occasions.”

Safe house abuse

Hankel reports that various safe houses have been rented for the exclusive use of Mdluli and his family.

“One was rented ostensibly for him to use for strategic meetings with component heads. No such meetings occurred there. Instead, he used it to house his Cape Town family (second wife and two children). They would fly up to Johannesburg and reside in the house.

“A property in Gordon’s Bay, belonging to Lt Gen Mdluli, was rented by crime intelligence, but used only by him. A possibility that still needs to be confirmed is that during the time that crime intelligence was hiring the property, other tenants were also hiring it from him.”

Hankel argues that, rather than the Hawks investigation placing sensitive systems in jeopardy, it is the abuse that has done so.

“They have placed the entire institution, including the agent programme, covert air travel, vehicles, service providers and even operations, at risk by abusing the system and exposing it to individuals of dubious character.”

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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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