National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole and two of his deputies seem to have won the latest skirmish in an ongoing legal battle with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).
The battle surrounds documents relevant to Ipid’s investigation into tender fraud and corruption.
His office yesterday released a statement in which it says the commissioner welcomed a ruling by the High Court in Pretoria this week compelling a Pretoria magistrate to hand over “records” which she considered when issuing subpoenas against Sitole and two deputies to provide information relating to Ipid’s probe into three corruption cases.
Sitole also said he had “embraced the fairness of the justice processes”.
The subpoenas required Sitole and his deputies to subject themselves to Ipid to be interviewed with regards to their investigation into alleged multimillion-rand tender fraud and corruption involving Durban company I-View.
Sitole and his co-applicants have challenged the legality of the subpoenas, claiming the information and documents they were required to produce were “intelligence information that might compromise national security and identities of the operatives of the intelligence community”.
They applied for a court order compelling the magistrate to provide them with the documents on which her decision was based.
Ipid has, in turn, launched a counter-application for the court to set aside Sitole’s refusal to declassify the said documents.
The police watchdog also wants the court to declare that Sitole and his deputies have breached their duties by failing to furnish Ipid with information and documents it requested.
Sitole contended that the information Ipid demands could only be sought from and disclosed by the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.
Ipid director Robert McBride, however, in court papers denied that the information constitutes intelligence details and alleged that they were unlawfully classified “to cover up the commission of suspected crimes”.
McBride stressed that the national information security policy governing the classification of information in the national interest stipulated that security measures were not intended and should not be applied to cover up maladministration, corruption and criminal actions or to protect individuals or officials involved in such cases.
He revealed in court papers that Ipid was conducting three investigations of suspected fraud and corruption involving police management and the acquisition of software and equipment from I-View Integrated Systems, allegedly at highly inflated prices.
One of the investigations involves alleged aborted attempts by police crime intelligence “to illegally obtain money through the procurement from I-View of a cellphone grabber at a grossly inflated price of R45 million” (it’s available on the open market for R7 million).
By Ilse de Lange – firstname.lastname@example.org