Less than 24 hours after the removal of Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride, two senior police officers have been arrested and granted R20,000 bail each yesterday, after they appeared in the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court on fraud and corruption charges.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) spokesperson, Moses Dlamini, said former police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and SAPS head of supply chain management Ravichandran Pillay were arrested for fraud and corruption relating to a R86 million tender for the purchase of emergency blue lights for the police.
“The arrests relate to procurement irregularities relating to emergency blue lights, amounting to more than R86 million,“ said Dlamini.
According to the former head of the KwaZulu-Natal Hawks, Major-General Johan Booysen, Pillay was also involved in the controversial R26 million tender to supply temporary accommodation for police members in KwaZulu-Natal during the 2010 World Cup.
The tender was awarded to Durban businessperson Thoshan Panday without going to tender and it was allegedly signed off by Police Minister Bheki Cele when he was police commissioner at the time.
When asked by the Sunday Times in 2012 about his relationship with Panday and why he’d signed off on the Goldcoast deal without following proper tender procedures, Cele said: “I don’t know anything about Panday.” Cele said the deal was simply “brought up to me”.
Cele reportedly denied ever meeting Panday until a few months later, “when he bumped into him at the Gateway shopping centre in Umhlanga”, the Sunday Times reported.
In response to a phone call by The Citizen to Cele’s spokesperson, Reneilwe Serero, the latter stated Cele maintained his position on Panday as cited in the article that was published in the Sunday Times in March 2012.
Booysen said an investigation into this contract had been completed but nothing was done about it after that.
“I can confirm to you that Ravi Pillay was part of the Thoshan Panday investigation,” Booysen said.
According to the Sunday Times, it had paperwork showing Pillay allegedly had signed off the deal as being urgent, which allowed Cele to move ahead with the contract four days before the 2010 Fifa World Cup began.
Booysen said Panday is a former business partner of former president Jacob Zuma’s son Edward, who had invested money in one of Panday‘s companies.
Booysen said sometime in 2011 Edward Zuma came to see him and told him that he had invested R900 000 in one of Panday’s businesses, but wasn’t receiving dividends.
Zuma asked Booysen to release Panday’s R15 million which had been frozen by the Hawks so he could receive his money, but Booysen refused.
It was after this that the “Cato Manor Death Squad” narrative began, as well as then acting National Prosecuting Authority Nomgcobo Jiba’s pursuit of Booysen.
Phahlane and Pillay will be back in court on March 29 when the case resumes.