Picture: DAILY DISPATCH
Picture: DAILY DISPATCH

Crucial police services could grind to a halt after the police failed to pay a service provider.

The police and State Information Technology Agency (Sita) failed to pay Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), which supplies critical infrastructure systems and services to the South African Police Service.

Police spokesman Brig Vishnu Naidoo‚ in a joint statement with Sita on Thursday‚ confirmed some of their systems were shut down.

"While the shutting down of the said systems is likely to affect the efficiency of certain operations within the police‚ they, however, do not completely bring operations to a halt. To ensure that operations can continue unhindered and that service delivery is not compromised‚ contingency plans have been put in place."

He said police were seeking legal advice and would not give out more information due to "serious security implications".

FDA director Keith Keating‚ in a statement on Wednesday night‚ threatened to "collapse" the criminal justice system. He said his company was not paid between December 1 2017 and March 31, and cut the police and Sita off from using its licensed software on Wednesday.

The FDA provides the police and Sita with infrastructure that includes firearm-permit and property-control systems and crime-exhibit management. Keating said Sita gave FDA a three-year contract for its firearm-permit system on October 31 2017. FDA claims it signed the agreement‚ but that Sita has yet to sign it.

Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts said on Thursday it was "shocked" and "disappointed" that "one man can hold the whole country to ransom by having the power to switch off the criminal-justice system".

In a related development, the police raided the homes of Keating and former police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane in December after a probe by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

Ipid lifted the lid on an alleged forensic equipment supply pricing scam which saw the police pay up to 3‚000% more than the actual cost of items. A confidential document Ipid sent to police management showed how forensic supply companies were allowed to loot the state’s coffers for the last seven years.

It highlighted how Phahlane allegedly received hefty kickbacks‚ including luxury vehicles‚ for securing lucrative tenders for‚ among other things‚ the supply of latex gloves‚ disposable face masks and field radios.