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The Judas Within

04/04/2012

On 21 March, whilst being driven along Modderdam Road in Cape Town, Cyril Beeka was shot and killed by two gunmen on a motorbike. Beeka was alleged to be involved in murder, narco-trafficking and extortion. But Beeka was also alleged to have strong intelligence connections. Depending on who you talk to Beeka is said to have served as a courier for the then banned African National Congress’ (ANC) armed wing, whilst simultaneously being an informer for the apartheid state. Since his murder, it is also alleged that he was connected to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Certainly Beeka knows Moe Shaikh, the Director-General of the South African Secret Service (SASS) well given the fact that he served as his bodyguard at the ANC’s Polokwane conference in 2007.

One of the suspects in Beeka’s murder is Czech fugitive Radovan Krecjir. It is the investigation into Krejcir which more than anything else sheds insight into the nature of South Africa’s own security services. Media reports now indicate that the country’s elite crime fighting unit – the Hawks’ – investigation into Krecjir was being monitored by senior members of the police’s crime intelligence division. These included the head of crime intelligence, General Richard Mdluli, and Gauteng crime intelligence head, Joey Mabasa. In at least one instance, intercepted phone conversations between Hawks’ investigators found their way into the hands of Krejcir. In another instance, valuable evidence in the form of a laptop computer belonging to Krejcir’s business manager disappeared from the office of Hawks’ investigating officer Ludi Schnelle.

In a sad, yet predictable way, these developments mirror the fall of former National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi, who passed sensitive information on to drug trafficker Glenn Agliotti. Indeed criminality has increasingly become endemic in the security apparatus of state. During 2008, 538 police officers were found guilty in internal hearings of crimes ranging from murder, rape, assault, theft and corruption to alcohol and drug abuse. In November 2010, a report pointed out that twenty percent of the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police were corrupt with officers soliciting bribes of R1000 whilst still others stole R1 million. Also in 2010 media reports indicated that policemen from the Sharpeville and Sebokeng police stations were involved in cash-in-transit heists. In 2009, the head of Organized Crime in the West Rand, Senior Superintendent Dumisani Jwara and two of his captains were arrested accused of intercepting drugs en route to forensic laboratories and channeling them to the criminal underworld.

More importantly there is every indication to suggest that this may well be the tip of the iceberg. According to a 2007 Institute for Security Studies (ISS) survey of the police, ‘92% agreed that police corruption is a serious challenge, and 54% believed that corruption had increased in the previous four years. Over 70% stated that most members were aware of other members’ involvement in criminal activity, while 68% believed that most officers would not report a member they knew to be corrupt’.

So what does all this mean for anti-terror efforts?  Given the growing nexus between organized crime and radical Islamists, can South Africa hope to defeat the scourge of terrorism in the country in the face of the growing criminalization of the security apparatus of state?  Note also that according to South Africa’s counter-terror legislation, it is the police, and more specifically the Crime Intelligence Division, which is the state’s primary counter-terror arm. What does it say about this important security apparatus, when a warrant for the arrest of its head, General Richard Mdluli, has been issued? What is the real value of having sophisticated plans and training in place to deal with criminality when the Judas within would undermine the best efforts?