EXCLUSIVE: Secret report reveals how Panday 'bought' the cops
Durban - A secret draft report compiled by a leading forensic auditor has cast new insight into how controversial businessman Thoshan Panday allegedly bought off KwaZulu-Natal's top police brass and netted millions for his string of companies.
The independent forensic investigation report compiled by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, a draft copy of which has been seen by News24, was based on a tranche of documents seized from the police and Panday.
Kept secret until now, the report details how Panday allegedly bribed his way to riches with largesse and swagger, showering Provincial Police Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni and other officers with gifts.
Panday refused to comment on the report, highlighting the possibility that it could be "fake". He said it had not been divulged to his legal team.
News24 can reveal that the report held the following findings:
• Panday paid for Ngobeni’s husband’s surprise birthday bash when she had been aware that he was under investigation.
• That Panday’s companies bid against one another to secure police contracts and tenders, to give the appearance of a competitive process.
• That Panday spent nearly R150 000 in gifts and favours for Supply Chain Management Unit cops Navin Madhoe and Aswin Narainpershad, who had played a direct role in channelling business to Panday’s companies.
• That five companies linked to Panday made a combined 200% profit on all items or services peddled to the police.
Panday and his alleged police cohorts are accused of working in concert to channel millions in cash for police accommodation for deployments leading up to and during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Panday, Ngobeni, Madhoe and Aswin Narainpershad have avoided corruption charges, with the National Prosecuting Authority opting not to proceed to trial in the “interests of justice”.
The forensic report is understood to have been a key piece of evidence in the case that was prepared against the quartet, and cost the taxpayer R1.93m to compile.
The audit report has been thrust to the fore, previously shrouded in mystery by unanswered questions as the police side-stepped Promotion of Access to Information Act applications.
In the lead-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, police officials discovered a startling rise in the cost of accommodation to deploy cops on operations around the province.
Delving deeper into the sharp rise in spending, they happened upon what they allege was a corrupt relationship between senior officers in the Supply Chain Management Unit and a controversial Durban businessman who was banking millions to secure accommodation as a broker or middle-man.
Gifts for friends
Investigating officers then uncovered what they believed to be links to the highest echelon in the provincial police, with Panday paying for the surprise birthday party of Ngobeni’s husband, Brigadier Lucas Ngobeni, at a plush Umhlanga eatery.
This forensic audit, an independent look at the relationship between Panday and key police figures, provides a detailed account of how Panday allegedly plied his officer friends with gifts.
The auditors found that five business entities linked to Panday had scored nearly R50m from the SAPS, with one often counter-bidding against the other and grossly inflating prices.
Moreover, it was established that Madhoe and Narainpershad had facilitated payments to these companies while having knowledge that competitive bidding was a mere notion, all while receiving gifts from Panday.
The businesses are listed as Goldcoast Trading, Bravosat 25 CC, Valotone 21 CC, Unite Mzantsi Trading and Kaseev Traders.
“I can conclude that Panday was the sole member of the Goldcoast Trading, Bravosat 25 CC, Valotone 21 CC and Unite Mzantsi Trading with effect from 9 November 2009 when these entities started to perform work for the SAPS," the report stated.
“It has been determined that these entities gave the false impression of competing against one another for the supply of the same goods and/or services to the SAPS and, therefore, created the impression that there was competitive bidding taking place and that the prices tendered were market related when in fact they were not.”
Between November 2009 and August 2010, SAPS in KwaZulu-Natal handed over R47 346 597.52 to Panday’s companies - R39 336 283 was paid to Goldcoast Trading, of which R26 320 250 was in respect of accommodation of police members during the Soccer World Cup.
“During the same time period that goods/accommodation was being supplied by Panday linked entities at inflated prices to the prejudice of the SAPS, and when Lieutenant-General Ngobeni tried to stop any further investigation, Panday was making payments on behalf of or purchasing various items from airfares, a car, accommodation and a birthday party dinner,” the report revealed.
In February this year, rumblings of Ngobeni facing criminal charges just weeks after her five-year contract was renewed for a second term of office had surfaced.
It emerged that Ngobeni was under investigation by the police watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
A senior police source and a well-placed source within IPID both confirmed that investigations into Ngobeni on suspicion of corruption and defeating the ends of justice were ongoing at the time.
The now suspended IPID head, Robert McBride, had purportedly written to now suspended police commissioner, Riah Phiyega, recommending that Ngobeni, Madhoe and Narainpershad be suspended.
Phiyega appeared to ignore the notice, and McBride was later suspended.
The Booysen factor
Embattled KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head, Johan Booysen, who led the probe into Panday and the three police officers, has always maintained that it was his pursuit of the politically connected businessman that prompted a sustained effort to run him out of office.
Booysen was suspended in September 2015 by newly appointed Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza.
Ntlemeza claimed that Booysen had engineered a financial reward for himself and officers in his command for the killing of two suspects.
Judge Anton Van Zyl set aside the suspension on November 18, finding Ntlemeza had ignored key evidence in the bid to suspend Booysen.
“In fact, there is no substantive indication that the respondent [Ntlemeza] had read and considered, or followed up on, any of the material details contained in the applicant’s response to the notice of intention to suspend him," he said.
In 2012, Booysen successfully scuppered two attempts to suspend him with two successful high court applications.
He was arrested and suspended again late in that year, with 28 members of the Cato Manor Serious and Violent Crimes Unit, who were accused of running a "death squad".
The case against the officers has stretched over four years and has seen Booysen taking the fight to court again.
He successfully had racketeering charges levelled against him set aside in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban last year.
He was then exonerated from departmental charges by an advocate who chaired his disciplinary hearing, and returned to work.
In response to allegations contained in the draft report, Panday said: “I find it strange that the media is in possession of a PWC report when this has not been divulged to my legal team. This may be a false report. I therefore cannot comment on a document that I have not had sight of.
"The media has recently become the voice of certain high ranking police officials who find themselves in hot water and facing imminent arrest. This also looks like a vendetta for the recent documentary on police brutality aired on an international news channel,” he said.
Ngobeni, speaking through police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker, said: “The allegations are not new. Various reputable structures of government had officially dealt with this matter. A pronouncement of declining to prosecute was made as the allegations were baseless and unfounded. The plot to tarnish the reputation of the Provincial Commissioner is highly unethical by those individuals and of course their friends in the media."
She claimed she was being made a scapegoat, and questioned who had leaked the “classified” document to News24.
Both Madhoe and Narainpershad were afforded the opportunity to comment, but had not responded to written questions after several days.
National police spokespeople had also not responded to questions after being afforded the same opportunity.
This article first appeared on News24 – see here.