Counting his blessings
A day after his appointment by Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba as chief corruption buster for the City of Joburg, former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya is counting his blessings.
Sitting with his arms outstretched on a designer couch at his home in Centurion in Gauteng, he says: “I had been ruled out as a disgraced law enforcement officer, but this new opportunity is giving me another lifeline to do what I do best.”
As he takes up his new position, charges of kidnapping, defeating the ends of justice and contravening the Immigration Act continue to dangle over his head – all of them relating to the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans in 2010.
Sibiya was fired following a disciplinary hearing in a case that also cost his boss, former national Hawks head Anwa Dramat, his job.
He declines to comment too much on the case, except to say he has “nothing to worry about”.
“Everybody knows who did those illegal renditions. I am innocent and confident that this is a dead matter,” he adds.
“My conscience is clear that I am a clean law enforcement officer. I know I will be vindicated.”
Sibiya and his lawyers have claimed he was targeted because of his involvement in the investigation and arrest of former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli.
If it is a corruption investigator they want, the City of Joburg may just have the right man. Although he would neither confirm nor deny it, City Press understands Sibiya was involved in the investigation into former Northern Cape ANC chairperson John Block, who was arrested on corruption and money laundering charges last year.
And while at the Scorpions in 2005, Sibiya was instrumental in the investigation and mass arrests of officials in Mangaung municipality – including the mayor and speaker – on corruption charges.
Although he believes he has been the target of a politically motivated prosecution, Sibiya insists he will not be used to fight political battles and be expected to dig dirt on Johannesburg’s former ANC-led council.
“I am a professional investigative law enforcement officer and cannot involve myself in any active politics,” he says.
“I have arrested many people in my career, some of whom were highly regarded in political circles. That did not mean anything to me, but the law does. I am not a politician – and not the kind of person to be used as a political sniper to settle political scores.
“The mayor said he wanted this unit to operate independently, and he is talking my language right there.” Sibiya says he has already received a number of files to work on. “I will create a whistle-blower platform and anyone with information about anybody is welcome to test me,” he says.
“I am going to prioritise cases not according to who is involved, whether a politician or not. Public money appears to be stolen on a daily basis, so I do not see how I will prioritise a 2010 case over a recent or ongoing crime.”
Sibiya adds that he was “deeply disappointed” after losing his job late last year, after more than 20 years in law enforcement. He began as an administration clerk and court interpreter, and became a policeman in 1987. He rose through the ranks and joined the Scorpions in 2001 as a senior investigator, before being appointed to lead the Gauteng Hawks.
“I grew up in the police service. I worked hard to fight crime and, while at it, I found myself in trouble because I did my work ... I lost money fighting these battles. For them [his accusers], it has been painless because they are using state money [to go to court].”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Mashaba said it was his “no fear or favour approach that has resulted in the victimisation that Mr Sibiya, like so many others, has experienced for doing his job”.
Mashaba has asked Sibiya to revisit old investigations conducted by the city “to ensure that findings were correct and carried out to the letter”. He has also been tasked with investigating “any tenders that have been awarded to relatives of people working for the city, or employees or public representatives themselves”.