State capture: Key witness testifies about looting at Crime Intelligence

27 September 2019 - 17:42 By Amil Umraw
The key whistleblower on the looting of the Crime Intelligence funds on Friday began his testimony before the state capture inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
The key whistleblower on the looting of the Crime Intelligence funds on Friday began his testimony before the state capture inquiry chaired by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.
Image: Alon Skuy

The highly-anticipated testimony of former Crime Intelligence officer Col Dhanajaya Naidoo began at the state capture inquiry on Friday with the key whistleblower on the looting of the division's secret service account describing how he came into contact with Hawks investigators in 2011.

Naidoo is in witness protection after he penned a 2011 affidavit exposing the corruption in crime intelligence, and the looting of the division's secret service account under its former boss, Richard Mdluli.

Naidoo's affidavit served as the foundation of investigations into Mdluli, other senior crime intelligence officers and cabinet ministers by seasoned Hawks investigator Col Kobus Roelofse. 

Naidoo was also a culprit, admitting to have submitted about R100,000 worth of false claims paid out by the secret service account before he turned state witness.

He told the commission that it was in September 2011 that he was first interviewed by Roelofse. Then, between October 18 and 21 that year, in a series of follow-up interviews, Naidoo laid bare how the secret service account was used as a cash cow by Mdluli, Solomon Lazarus, Hein Barnard and other senior Crime Intelligence officers to pay for flights, accommodation, cars and security upgrades to their homes.

"Myself and various other members were involved in the looting of the secret service account. This we did on the instruction of Barnard, Mdluli and Lazarus," he told the commission.

He said on the first day of his marathon interview with Roelofse on October 18 2011, he was "quite reluctant and hesitant".

"I had quite a lot of information that I needed to speak about and I didn’t know if I could trust them at that stage … I went back to my office and Lazarus wanted to know what the Hawks were questioning me about," Naidoo said.

The next day, he said, he began revealing the information.

"I decided to take them into my confidence and made numerous allegations to them regarding the looting of the secret service account … There were so many incidents of corruption, what I could remember I had given them that information," he said.

All those allegations are contained in Naidoo's affidavit penned on October 25 that year - he was already in the witness protection programme by then. But his first mistake came on October 20 when he confided in Barnard, telling him that he had told the Hawks about falsifying claims.

"I had the impression that they were genuinely concerned about my wellbeing. They said I should go home and have a rest. Between 6pm and 7pm, my wife and I decided to go for a walk with my younger son. My eldest son was home, he was asleep. As I was getting closer to my house I saw two of my colleagues. One of them, I saw them jumping over the driveway gate," he told the commission.

The car then began driving in his direction.

"I noticed Lazarus in the front seat. The car stopped and he told me I’m a very hard man to get hold of. He asked me to jump into the car … Lazarus enquired of me if I was okay. He subsequently asked if there was anything I wanted to tell him. I said no. He asked me the question again and I said no," he said. 

"He said he heard I had made admissions to the Hawks. I said he got it wrong. He said, 'Then why is Barnard saying you admitted to putting in R100,000 of false claims?'"

They all proceeded to Lazarus's home.  

He said a Crime Intelligence operative present there said that a Hawks member had informed him that Naidoo had made certain admissions to them and that he was "now on the side of the Hawks".

"I again denied what was being said, and at this stage I started to feel uncomfortable," Naidoo said.

It was at that point when Naidoo's testimony for the day drew to a close. He will continue with his testimony on Monday.

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