Skulk­ing and plot­ting

Joins a hell of a lot of dots, writes Vivien Hor­ler

Sunday Tribune - - FRONT PAGE -

EX­CUSE the squeak­ing noise – my eyes have been out on stalks and I’m reel­ing them back in. A va­ri­ety of emo­tions go through your mind as you read The Pres­i­dent’s Keep­ers, from de­pres­sion to mirth, from want­ing a dou­ble brandy to want­ing to em­i­grate.

Much of what Jac­ques Pauw writes is not new. You have read and heard hints here and there, and he quotes ex­ten­sively from jour­nal­ists such as Mar­i­anne Thamm, Richard Po­plak and Justice Malala, as well as pub­li­ca­tions such as The Daily Mav­er­ick, The Mail & Guardian and City Press.

The rea­son this book is so com­pelling is that Pauw has taken Pravin Gord­han’s ad­vice and joined a hell of a lot of dots. And what emerges is a re­lent­less ac­count of ve­nal­ity, evil, cor­rup­tion, sleaze, treach­ery and greed.

A review can’t be­gin to do the book justice. There are so many sto­ries. All the usual sus­pects are here, start­ing with Shaun Abra­hams, Glenn Agliotti, Cyril Beeka, Jerome “Don­key” Booy­sen, Eu­gene de Kock, Arthur Fraser, Malusi Gi­gaba, all the Gup­tas, Fana Hlong­wane, Michael Hul­ley, Lolly Jack­son, Nomg­cobo Jiba, Yusuf Ka­jee, Brett Keb­ble, Radovan Kre­j­cir, Mark Lif­man, David Mahlobo, Bon­isiwe Makhene, Quin­ton Mar­i­nus, Adri­ano Maz­zotti, Richard Md­luli, Prince Mokotedi, Roy Mood­ley, Hlaudi Mot­soe­neng, Tom Moy­ane, Mokotedi Mp­she, Lawrence Mr­webi, Bern­ing Ntle­meza, Kho­motso Phahlane, Riah Phiyega, Vi­vian Reddy, Jackie Selebi, Moe and Sch­abir Shaik, Colin Stans­field, Belinda Wal­ter – and all the Zu­mas.

How can a pres­i­dent have con­nec­tions with the likes of that lot?

Then there are the oth­ers: Jeremy Vearey, Robert Mcbride, Anwa Dra­mat, Shadrack Sibiya, Jo­hann van Log­geren­berg, Jo­han Booy­sen – peo­ple whose names have been in the pa­pers, some­times painted as the good guys, some­times as the bad. As re­cently as Au­gust this year, City Press re­ported that it had a copy of a re­port on a top-se­cret crime in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tion called Project Won­der, which planned to plant ev­i­dence against Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula to get him fired. That came out at the same time it was re­ported that Mcbride had as­saulted his daugh­ter and a week af­ter re­ports that Cyril Ramaphosa had beaten his wife.

One feels out­raged to read about Ja­cob Zuma’s al­leged tax eva­sion, about sus­pended crime in­tel­li­gence boss Richard Md­luli col­lect­ing R8.3 mil­lion in salary while on sus­pen­sion since 2011, and a bonus of R413 957 – he is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated for mur­der. Then there was the case of for­mer act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane, ap­pointed in 2015, who in a three­year pe­riod owned lux­ury cars worth R4.3m.

This week, the NPA said it would not pros­e­cute Phahlane on charges of de­feat­ing the ends of justice, re­lat­ing to allegations that he had in­ter­fered with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Di­rec­torate into charges of fraud and cor­rup­tion against him.

But the story about Op­er­a­tion Impi and the guns on the Cape Flats is shock­ing. Around 2012 Jeremy Vearey, then deputy pro­vin­cial com­mis­sioner for de­tec­tive ser­vices in the Western Cape, and Peter Jacobs, head of crime in­tel­li­gence in the province, noted an in­flux of weapons used in Cape Flats crimes. One of the peo­ple shot was Leeyana van Wyk, 6, of Hanover Park.

The po­lice be­gan in­ves­ti­gat­ing why a num­ber of guns they had con­fis­cated had had their se­rial num­bers re­moved. Their work led them to Pre­to­ria po­lice­man Colonel Chris­ti­aan Lodewyk Prinsloo, cus­to­dian of an ar­moury where firearms were stored be­fore be­ing de­stroyed. This was a man who had not touched his po­lice salary for two years, but could af­ford over­seas hol­i­days. His house was raided in Jan­uary 2015 and po­lice found il­le­gal guns, am­mu­ni­tion and R120 000 in cash.

Prinsloo made a plea bar­gain with the state, and said he had sold arms and am­mu­ni­tion worth R9 mil­lion to gang­sters, many of them on the Cape Flats. Among the weapons were 2 000 sold to a mid­dle­man called Ir­shaad “Hunter” La­her of Cape Town, who in turn al­legedly sold them to gang­sters.

Prinsloo’s trial heard that 900 of his guns had been re­cov­ered and linked to 2 784 vi­o­lent crimes in the Western Cape, in­clud­ing 1 066 mur­ders. That meant about 1 100 guns were still in gang­ster hands. Prinsloo got 46 years in jail. La­her was charged with rack­e­teer­ing, cor­rup­tion, pos­ses­sion of pro­hib­ited firearms and money laun­der­ing. He is out on bail of R100 000. In Septem­ber 2015, Vearey and Jacobs pro­posed to then po­lice com­mis­sioner Riah Phiyega that Op­er­a­tion Impi be ex­tended for three years, but three weeks later, Phiyega was sus­pended and her re­place­ment, Phahlane, did not ap­prove the ex­ten­sion.

In June 2016,Vearey and Jacobs were ef­fec­tively de­moted. The po­lice­men ap­proached the Labour Court and the Hawks took over the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, said Vearey, but lacked the knowl­edge or ex­per­tise to make progress.

Vearey had been in­volved in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion of claims by Vytjie Men­tor, a se­nior ANC MP, that ef­forts had been made at the Sax­on­wold She­been to “cap­ture” her. Pauw be­lieves this may have been part of the rea­son for Vearey’s de­mo­tion. So, was Zuma in­volved in the de­ci­sion? Pauw writes: “It wasn’t nec­es­sary for Phahlane or (for­mer Hawks boss Bern­ing) Ntle­meza to con­sult Zuma about Vearey. If you em­ploy ra­bid dogs at the head of your pack, you don’t have to or­der them to at­tack. You sim­ply let them loose.”

Pauw looks ahead to the ANC’S elec­tive con­fer­ence next month and the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion. He writes: “Af­ter liv­ing ... on the edge of this spec­tral realm where Zuma’s keep­ers skulk and plot, I think South Africans should guard against the very real pos­si­bil­ity that they will at­tempt to rig, steal and in­flu­ence both the ANC’S na­tional con­fer­ence and the gen­eral elec­tion.”

Pauw says if Ramaphosa be­comes ANC pres­i­dent, there is a real chance of Zuma go­ing to jail.

Mean­while, the State Se­cu­rity Agency has laid charges against Pauw and Tafel­berg, al­leg­ing they have pub­lished clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. This book is be­ing launched in Cape Town on Wed­nes­day.

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