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Police are ‘unprepared’ to stem violence linked to planned protests

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    Nat Quinn
    More corruption allegations have emerged within the police’s crime intelligence unit, amid claims the division is “unprepared” to prevent possible violence at the protests and strikes set to begin on Friday, leading into a national stayaway called by the EFF on Monday.
    National spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe this week said police would not publicly “discuss operational plans” but that officers had been told to use “minimum force” to handle the action.
    Several sources with knowledge of the police’s crime intelligence unit said infighting related to the mismanagement of the division’s resources, including the R54 million spyware corruption case that is before court, had preoccupied the unit so much it had not gathered information about possible instigators of the protests.
    Brigadier Tiyani Hlungwani, the head of finance responsible for the contentious secret services account, accused crime intelligence head Lieutenant General Dumisani Khumalo of being part of a “cover-up” in the criminal case involving an alleged associate of Police Minister Bheki Cele, Inbanathan Kistiah.
    The secret services account is used to, among other functions, pay and house police informants.
    In his statement dated 3 March, Hlungwani claimed Khumalo was “persecuting him” for providing evidence against Kistiah, who faces fraud and corruption charges related to a R54.2 million December 2016 contract to provide spyware to monitor protesting students.
    Former national commissioner Khomotso Phahlane; Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Mahwayi, the suspended commander of crime intelligence’s IT section; Major General Maanda Nemutanzhela, who headed covert intelligence; and Major General Mankosana Makhele, Free State’s head of crime intelligence, have been charged alongside Kistiah.
    “The reason why Lieutenant General Khumalo is pursuing me is that I have opened a number of criminal cases against [former crime intelligence head] Peter Jacobs, Mr Inban Kistiah and a number of other senior officers, and I have made a number of protected disclosures against Lieutenant General Jacobs that has an impact on Minister Hamilton Cele,” Hlubwani stated, in a document that has been seen by the Mail & Guardian.
    At the time of going to print, the police ministry had not responded to questions about Cele’s alleged involvement with Khumalo in what Hlungwani claims to be a cover-up of corruption.
    A well-placed source, who asked to remain anonymous, told the M&G this week infighting within crime intelligence has seen the division “not interact with its assets (informants) to get information about possible instigators of violence”.
    This is more so, the source added, because the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had not publicly announced what form its protest on Monday, which calls for the total shutdown of economic and social services across the country, will take.
    “Crime intelligence does not even know where the EFF people will meet. It’s unusual because when there is a strike, we know where people will be picked up, and what the final destination is,” the source said.
    “The constant fighting about corruption has definitely affected operational work and we’ll be reactive to any violence because of a lack of credible information.”
    Mathe, speaking on behalf of national commissioner Fannie Masemola, said the police’s operational structure in charge of large gatherings, known as Natjoints, was aware of a “planned protest” on Monday and not a “national shutdown”.
    “We assure all people in South Africa that we have measures in place to ensure the safety and security of everyone amid the planned protest. We do not discuss operational plans and decisions in the public domain,” Mathe said.
    “Law enforcement agencies will execute their duties within the confines of the law. All law enforcement agencies will apply the minimum force that is reasonable and necessary, depending on the circumstances on the ground.”
    In February last year, a report commissioned by President Cyril Ramaphosa into the July 2021 unrest found the country’s intelligence services were unprepared to preempt or prevent the unrest, which led to more than 340 deaths.
    “The fact that none of the organisers or real instigators of the violence have been apprehended is a matter of concern. 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,” reads the report.
    Meanwhile, Hlungwani confirmed in his statement that he was a “witness” in the R54 million spyware case, which was investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
    In evidence before court, Brainwave, a company of which Kistiah is a director, received a more than R1.1 million monthly contract in December 2016 to supply spyware to monitor students protesting under the #FeesMustFall banner. The students were to be spied on for seven months.
    A document dated August 2021 shows Brainwave ended up pocketing more than R54.2 million from just seven invoices, the lowest of which was for more than R3.6 million and the highest for more than R8.4 million.
    The spy equipment would have been used “to monitor the social media activities” of students.


    SOURCE:Police are ‘unprepared’ to stem violence linked to planned protests – The Mail & Guardian (mg.co.za)

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