HomeCategoryPolice not 'prepared' to stop violence related to planned protests

Police not ‘prepared’ to stop violence related to planned protests

A suspected looter is attacked with rubber bullets by Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) officers patrolling inside a flooded shopping center in Vosloorus, on July 13, 2021. (Photo by MARCO LONGARI / AFP)

METERMore allegations of corruption have surfaced within the police criminal intelligence unit, amid claims that the division is “unprepared” to prevent possible acts of violence in protests and strikes due to begin on Friday, leading to a national suspension called by the EFF on Monday.

National spokeswoman Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said this week that police will not “discuss operational plans” publicly, but officers had been told to use “minimum force” to manage the action.

Several sources with knowledge of the police criminal intelligence unit said infighting related to the mismanagement of the division’s resources, including the R54 million spyware corruption case that is before the courts, had concerned the unit so much that it had not collected information on the possible instigators of the protests. .

Brigadier Tiyani Hlungwani, the finance chief responsible for the controversial secret services account, accused the head of criminal intelligence, Lt. Gen. Dumisani Khumalo, of being part of a “cover-up” in the criminal case involving an alleged associate of the Police Minister Bheki Cele, Inbanathan Kistiah. .

secret services account it is used for, among other things, paying and hosting police informants.

In his March 3 statement, Hlungwani claimed that Khumalo was “pursuing” him for providing evidence against Kistiah, who faces fraud and corruption charges related to a R54.2 million contract in December 2016 to provide spyware for monitor the protesting students.

former national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane; Lt. Col. Godfrey Mahwayi, suspended commander of the criminal intelligence IT section; Major General Maanda Nemutanzhela, who headed covert intelligence; and Major General Mankosana Makhele, Free State’s head of criminal intelligence, have been indicted along with Kistiah.

“The reason Lt. Gen. Khumalo is after me is because I have opened several criminal cases against (former criminal intelligence chief) Peter Jacobs, Inban Kistiah and other senior officers, and have made several protected disclosures. against Lieutenant General Jacobs which has an impact on Minister Hamilton Cele,” Hlubwani said, in a document seen by the Mail & Guardian.

At press time, the police ministry had not responded to questions about Cele’s alleged involvement with Khumalo in what Hlungwani claims is a corruption cover-up.

A well-placed source, who requested anonymity, told M&G this week that infighting within criminal intelligence has meant the division “doesn’t engage with its assets (informants) to obtain information on potential instigators of the violence.” ”.

This is all the more true, the source added, because the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had not publicly announced what form their protest on Monday, calling for the complete shutdown of economic and social services across the country, would take.

“Criminal intelligence doesn’t even know where the EFF people will gather. It is unusual because when there is a strike, we know where people are going to be picked up and what the final destination is,” the source said.

“The constant fight against corruption has definitely affected the operational work and we will react to any violence due to the lack of credible information.”

Mathe, speaking on behalf of National Commissioner Fannie Masemola, said the police operational structure in charge of large gatherings, known as Natjoints, was aware of a “planned protest” on Monday and not a “national lockdown.”

“We assure everyone in South Africa that we have measures in place to ensure everyone’s safety in the midst of the planned protest. We do not discuss operational plans and decisions in the public domain,” Mathe said.

“Law enforcement agencies shall carry out their functions within the limits of the law. All law enforcement agencies will apply the minimum force that is reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances on the ground.”

In February of last year, a report commissioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa in the July 2021 riots found that the country’s intelligence services were not prepared to preempt or prevent the riots, which led to more than 340 deaths.

“The fact that none of the organizers or actual instigators of the violence has been arrested is worrying. If there is such intelligence that has been shared by the intelligence services, the president should address any systemic weaknesses that may have caused such intelligence to escape his review,” the report read.

Meanwhile, Hlungwani confirmed in his statement that he was a “witness” in the R54 million spyware case, which was investigated by the Independent Police Investigation Directorate.

As evidence in court, Brainwave, a company of which Kistiah is a director, was awarded a monthly contract of more than R1.1 million in December 2016 to supply spyware to monitor student protesters under the #FeesMustFall flag. The students were to be spied on for seven months.

A document dated August 2021 shows that Brainwave ended up pocketing more than 54.2 million rand from just seven invoices, the lowest being more than 3.6 million rand and the highest being more than 8 million. .4 million rand.

The spying equipment would have been used “to monitor the activities on social networks” of the students.

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