State IT agency says it will ensure government systems cannot be tampered with
The State Information Technology Agency (Sita) has full control of all government IT systems and will ensure that they cannot be manipulated or shut down by outside organisations.
That was the message delivered by Sita CEO Setumo Mohapi‚ in Pretoria on Friday.
Sita has been embroiled in controversy over allegations of rampant corruption and its apparent lack of control around IT programs and systems designed for the police and other government departments.
In April‚ Forensic Data Analysis (FDA)‚ which is run by controversial businessman and former police officer Keith Keating‚ shut down several police systems over a pay dispute. The matter is currently before court.
FDA has reportedly made R5.4bn off the police in deals‚ which Mohapi labelled as "questionable" on Friday.
He said Keating has been completely locked out of the police systems and would not be able to turn them off again.
For months‚ Sita executives have been hauled over the coals by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts‚ which has demanded explanations over alleged corrupt business dealings between FDA and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
Mohapi told journalists on Friday that Sita was working closely with the Hawks to fully uncover the level of corruption which had occurred.
"Some of the monies that have been paid in these deals show‚ in our view‚ extensive levels of collusion. Programmes and systems have been bought for astronomical prices‚ when the very same systems were bought five or 10 years before. Inspections of the so-called new systems show that they are exactly the same as the old systems‚ just much more expensive‚" he said.
Mohapi said they had embarked on a clean-up operation of Sita to root out the corrupt and dishonest employees.
"People have been fired‚ resigned and are on suspension while under investigation. All of these people will also be criminally investigated."
He said through "buddy-buddy" relationships between Sita staff and outside business interests like FDA‚ Sita had lost control of certain critical mission systems — "which we were told would be used to collapse the criminal justice system".
"This reflects a massive drop in Sita standards. The government is completely relooking at how its IT systems are controlled and ensuring that it [government] retains complete control of all its IT business‚ operational and technical systems."
He said they had established specially checks and balances‚ with Sita staff having to have extensive knowledge of operating systems to ensure that such shutdowns do not happen again.
Mohapi said the prevention of future shutdowns was now key.
"We will be hiring the best IT minds in the country to design systems‚ programmes and databases that are completely controlled by government and not outsiders."
He said investigations launched in January to establish how agreements had been reached and how the money had flowed to certain businesses, would be completed by June.
"Investigators are looking at the creation of fraudulent documents that were critical to the approval of deals. These documents would have been used to con government into making payments.
"These are documents that were meant to have been signed by Sita executives‚ but which we have established never were. The documents would have been used by the Treasury to authorise the payments."
He said that every contract with FDA at this point looked questionable.
"While FDA says we are mad in our allegations‚ we have our facts‚" he said.