National police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI
National police commissioner, Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI

The police watchdog's investigation of South Africa's top cop, acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, has been extended to include allegations that he has been complicit in racketeering and money-laundering.

On Thursday, Independent Police Investigative Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed that allegations against Phahlane other than those relating to corruption were now being investigated.

"The charges are being expanded. There is already the corruption charge, but now we are also investigating defeating the ends of justice, money-laundering and racketeering."

Phahlane and his lawyers are refusing to answer Ipid's questions, saying the directorate is on "a fishing expedition" and is being influenced by "external forces".

The Times has obtained copies of correspondence between Ipid and Phahlane.

This correspondence includes a list of 24 questions put to Phahlane by the directorate. They illustrate the expanded scope and scale of the watchdog's probe.

Phahlane, who had said he would co-operate with Ipid's investigation, is now flatly refusing to answer its questions.

The questions Ipid wants answered centre on his home, the land on which it is built, sudden "big payments" into his mortgage bond account, the origins of certain funds and his relationship with his builder.

Other questions include those querying the nature of his relationship with service providers, to whom he is said to have awarded multimillion-rand contracts while the head of the police's forensic services division. Ipid has also asked Phahlane whether service providers had paid bills on his behalf, and wants him to describe his personal off-duty relationships with service providers and disclose gratuities received from them.

He has been asked to comment on allegations against him of intimidation and of trying to scupper Ipid's investigations.

Dlamini said Ipid was surprised by the commissioner' s refusal to answer its questions.

"He went onto multiple news platforms to say he would co-operate with our investigation but now he has done a sudden about-turn, which we find strange."

The new allegations against Phahlane are that, as head of the police's forensic services division, he flouted Treasury policies in the awarding of multimillion-rand contracts to manufacturers and suppliers of chemicals and equipment used in forensic investigations.

The Ipid inquiry now includes questions about Phahlane's eight-bedroom, six-bathroom 803m² home and the land on which it is built. The property is valued at more than R7-million.

Ipid is also questioning donations of vehicles to the acting commissioner, sound systems and the decoration of his home.

Phahlane denies all allegations and says Ipid is being directed by "outside forces", including private forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan.

Phahlane's lawyer, Piet du Plessis, yesterday claimed that Ipid's investigation of Phahlane was unlawful.

He said Phahlane would answer only those questions posed by a "competent and responsible" organisation.

"We will talk to the National Prosecuting Authority, which is highly respected. We will not talk to people like Ipid, who are in the pocket of O'Sullivan."

He questioned the motive of the allegations and their source.

"Look at what has happened to the sound-system case. There was all this hullabaloo and then what? Nothing. Just a deafening silence with the case going nowhere," he said.

He said all he and his client wanted was that charges be properly constituted and based on credible evidence.

"Once we have that presented to us through the NPA we will more than comply with any questions that the prosecuting authority has, no one else."

He said Phahlane was "an incredibly busy" man with an important portfolio who did not have time to waste on answering "stupid fishing-expedition" questions.

On Ipid's questions about Phahlane's relationships with state service providers and his builder, Du Plessis said everyone had a "close relationship" with their builder.

"Ipid already has its answers. It just need to sit down and read our court papers. The answers are in black and white."

The Times

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