ROGUE COP SUS­PECT IN AIR­PORT HEIST

A dossier com­piled by crime in­tel­li­gence al­leges that there is ev­i­dence plac­ing one of the unit’s agents, who wasn’t ar­rested for th e ai rport heist, at the scene

CityPress - - Front Page - SIPHO MASONDO and ABRAM MASHEGO sipho.masondo@city­press.co.za

Arogue crime in­tel­li­gence agent who spent time in jail for com­mit­ting a cash-in-tran­sit heist has walked out of jail and straight back into his job. Captain Mor­ris “KGB” Tsha­bal­ala, who was re­leased on pa­role last year af­ter serv­ing two years for armed robbery, is now a sus­pect in the R200 mil­lion heist at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port that took place in early March.

These ex­plo­sive de­tails are con­tained in a con­fi­den­tial dossier com­piled by a se­nior crime in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, which was sent on March 25 to Par­lia­ment’s po­lice port­fo­lio com­mit­tee chair­per­son Fran­cois Beuk­man. The in­for­ma­tion has also been in­de­pen­dently con­firmed to City Press by highly placed oper­a­tives within crime in­tel­li­gence.

The dossier also con­tains the al­le­ga­tion that Tsha­bal­ala was given his job back as soon as he walked out of the Groen­punt max­i­mum se­cu­rity prison in Sa­sol­burg last year. He was also, the doc­u­ment states, paid his salary in full while he was in jail.

“Captain Mor­ris Tsha­bal­ala got re­leased on pa­role af­ter he had served one third of his sen­tence.

“What is be­ing seen as cor­rup­tion at the high­est level in the po­lice is that Tsha­bal­ala walked straight back into crime in­tel­li­gence af­ter serv­ing just over two years in prison for armed robbery,” the dossier states.

Two se­nior crime in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cials con­firmed that Tsha­bal­ala was in­deed given his job back.

“It is true that KGB is back in crime in­tel­li­gence.

“Many peo­ple in crime in­tel­li­gence know about it, but no one will speak openly about it. He drives around in an Audi A3, paid for by crime in­tel­li­gence,” one of­fi­cial said.

An­other said: “Tsha­bal­ala is back in the po­lice. In fact, he con­tin­ued to draw his salary while he was in prison.”

While it was widely re­ported in 2013 that Tsha­bal­ala was fired from the po­lice, doc­u­ments ob­tained by City Press show he re­mained on the po­lice’s pay­roll dur­ing the two years of his 10-year sen­tence he spent in jail.

Beuk­man said his com­mit­tee had re­ceived the dossier.

“We dis­cussed it in our man­age­ment com­mit­tee, but that mat­ter falls un­der the in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tee purview, and not ours,” he said.

In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate (Ipid) spokesper­son Moses Dlamini said the direc­torate had not re­ceived the dossier, but con­firmed that it was aware of some of the al­le­ga­tions it con­tained.

“Once the mat­ter is of­fi­cially re­ported, we will as­sess it in line with our man­date.

“Where nec­es­sary, we will do a joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion with the in­spec­tor-gen­eral of in­tel­li­gence,” Dlamini said.

“We would like to en­cour­age who­ever has in­for­ma­tion in re­spect of these al­le­ga­tions to make con­tact with Ipid so that such se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions can be in­ves­ti­gated.”

Con­tacted for com­ment, Tsha­bal­ala said he was “fired” by the po­lice “a long time ago” but when con­fronted with doc­u­ments con­tra­dict­ing his story, he cut the call and did not ac­cept fur­ther calls.

Re­gard­ing Tsha­bal­ala’s al­leged in­volve­ment in the OR Tambo heist, the dossier says: “The cur­rent in­for­ma­tion is that in the robbery that took place at OR Tambo In­ter­na­tional Air­port re­cently, where mil­lions of rands were stolen, Tsha­bal­ala was among the rob­bers.

“There is cir­cum­stan­tial ev­i­dence that places him at the scene and this is known to the in­ves­ti­gat­ing team as well as crime in­tel­li­gence man­age­ment and the [then] act­ing na­tional com­mis­sioner [Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Kho­motso Phahlane].”

Crime in­tel­li­gence oper­a­tives who spoke to City Press said cell­phone data had placed Tsha­bal­ala at the scene of the robbery.

City Press read a What­sApp ex­change be­tween two se­nior oper­a­tives con­firm­ing Tsha­bal­ala was a sus­pect.

“His cell­phone records show that he was in the area. In fact he spent the en­tire night in the home of one of the sus­pects,” one of the mes­sages reads.

But the dossier claims that crime in­tel­li­gence bosses are now, af­ter the heist, try­ing to cover up for Tsha­bal­ala by is­su­ing him with a sec­tion 252A no­tice – which oper­a­tives need to prove that their un­der­cover op­er­a­tion has been sanc­tioned and which grants them im­mu­nity from ar­rest.

The claim was con­firmed by one agent who said he was aware of his bosses’ de­ci­sion to is­sue Tsha­bal­ala with a sec­tion 252A to di­vert at­ten­tion away from him.

A se­nior Ipid em­ployee said they had re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that po­lice of­fi­cers were in­volved in the air­port heist in which an es­ti­mated R200 mil­lion wait­ing to be loaded onto a cargo plane was stolen.

“I can’t tell you if Tsha­bal­ala was in­volved or not, but I can tell you that we have re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that the po­lice were in­volved in the heist.”

In late March, seven sus­pects, in­clud­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer, were ar­rested for their al­leged in­volve­ment in the heist and were granted bail of be­tween R50 000 and R100 000 by the Kemp­ton Park Mag­is­trates Court. Tsha­bal­ala was not among them, but the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues.

City Press sent a list of ques­tions to SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) po­lice spokesper­son Ma­jorGen­eral Sally de Beer on Fri­day morn­ing.

She said: “While the SAPS ac­knowl­edges re­ceipt of the me­dia ques­tions and source doc­u­ment, we will not be in a po­si­tion to re­spond at this stage due to the num­ber and va­ri­ety of al­le­ga­tions. We there­fore re­serve our right to com­ment un­til we have been af­forded rea­son­able op­por­tu­nity to make en­quiries into the al­le­ga­tions.”

I can’t tell you if Tsha­bal­ala was in­volved or not, but I can tell you that we have re­ceived in­for­ma­tion that the po­lice were in­volved in the heist

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