Captain Morris 'KGB' Tshabalala appears in the Sasolburg Magistrate's Court yesterday in connection with the February 16 attack on a cash-in-transit van. Tshabalala has slipped through police nets for more than a decade and become a top spy. Picture: ALON SKUY
Captain Morris 'KGB' Tshabalala appears in the Sasolburg Magistrate's Court yesterday in connection with the February 16 attack on a cash-in-transit van. Tshabalala has slipped through police nets for more than a decade and become a top spy. Picture: ALON SKUY

A covert crime intelligence officer was on the police payroll while he was in prison for armed robbery‚ according to documents obtained by TimesLIVE.

Capt Morris "KGB" Tshabalala appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court on Thursday on fraud‚ corruption and theft charges. He was due to appear in court on Friday for a formal bail application.

While police have denied that Tshabalala was employed by them while in prison‚ documents in TimesLIVE’s possession show that was not the case.

Police spokesman Brig Vish Naidoo said Tshabalala was not on the South African Police Service (SAPS) payroll since his sentencing in 2013.

Tshabalala was imprisoned in the Groenpunt maximum security prison from 2013 to 2015 for his role in a cash-in-transit heist carried out in Pretoria’s Mamelodi township in 1994.

He had been put behind bars in 2013 after being arrested for a cash-in-transit heist in Sasolburg.

During the investigation into the Sasolburg heist‚ officers discovered that he had never served his sentence for the 1994 Mamelodi heist.

Tshabalala had lost a bid to appeal the Mamelodi conviction in 1996‚ but failed to surrender himself to prison officials and instead joined the police crime intelligence unit.

He is currently under investigation for the multimillion-rand heist at OR Tambo International Airport in 2017.

Tshabalala‚ who TimesLIVE has been told began working again as a SAPS covert crime intelligence officer in 2017‚ was acquitted in the Sasolburg heist trial.

Naidoo declined to comment on how Tshabalala had joined the police despite being convicted for the Mamelodi heist. Nor would Naidoo comment on his roles within the SAPS or who authorised his current re-employment into the covert crime intelligence unit.

A person with a criminal record can only be re-enrolled with the authorisation of the national police commissioner.

Naidoo said: "Given the nature of the environment Tshabalala was once part of‚ and that there is a court process currently under way in which there may be a need to provide certain information‚ we will not be responding to your query in detail."

Tshabalala appeared in court on Thursday after he was arrested on Tuesday by Independent Police Investigative Directorate [Ipid] officers as he checked in with his parole officer in Pretoria. His arrest is believed to have come after complaints from fellow officers after he returned to duty in 2017.

He was arrested for allegedly fleecing the SAPS Secret Services Account of R563‚000. The account is meant to be used for operational purposes. Tshabalala allegedly inflated invoices for the installation of blinds in two police safe houses in Pretoria.

Asked on Thursday by the magistrate whether Tshabalala was employed by the police‚ his attorney said that in a "nutshell" he was in the intelligence services.

At time of his arrest Tshabalala told Ipid investigators‚ who were battling to verify his home address‚ that he was unemployed.

The number plate of the vehicle he was driving when he was arrested shows it is registered to the police covert intelligence agency. Ipid officers also discovered top security access cards used by intelligence agents for the ANC’s January 8 statement event in the Eastern Cape in his car.

While police insist Tshabalala has not been on their payroll since his sentencing‚ TimesLIVE can reveal‚ from police human resource documents‚ that Tshabalala was indeed employed by the SAPS while in prison.

The documents show that Tshabalala‚ whose police employment status is currently listed as "inactive"‚ resigned from the SAPS only on September 30 2016.

A correctional services note from Groenpunt prison head JL Nkoli‚ which was written in July 2017‚ states Tshabalala was parolled in November 2015.

He was parolled because he was considered a "low risk" offender and was ordered to be placed under house arrest.

Police HR documents‚ which do not list Tshabalala’s conviction‚ show that he joined the police as reservist in 1996 and that he became a police spy in July 2001.

The documents show that‚ while he became an intelligence officer in 2001‚ he only his crime intelligence training began in 2003‚ and received his security clearance only in 2014.

Despite this‚ he was deployed to President Jacob Zuma’s 2009 inauguration and was involved in gathering intelligence to secure officials at the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung elective conference.

The documents also show that Tshabalala received a commendation from then national police commissioner Jackie Selebi in 2006.

He is recognised as having helped take down some of SA’s most notorious organised crime bosses‚ even before he officially joined the police.

Police sources said that while Tshabalala’s employment history listed him as "inactive", he was very much an "active" member of the unit.

"Although his records say he resigned in 2016‚ he never did. He has continued to be a policeman. He was deployed to the ANC’s January 8 statement‚" a source said.

"He has been on active duty since he was imprisoned. He never stopped being an intelligence agent."

Another crime intelligence agent said that instead of being shunned for his questionable past‚ it rather played a significant part in Tshabalala being employed.

"He knows how to infiltrate‚ he moves in circles with questionable people whose trust he could gain. He’s been doing that since the 1990s and has helped take down big heist kingpins‚" the agent said.

"The information he gave was so good that they brought him straight into the crime intelligence unit the day he joined the police."

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