'How does one man cripple the criminal justice system?' - Scopa

'How does one man cripple the criminal justice system?' - Scopa

A parliamentary committee says it will urgently engage the police after a service provider threatened to halt its services to law enforcement agencies due to non-payment.


Parliamant's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) says it's concerned about the fact that one man can cripple the criminal justice system by simply halting his company's services.


Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), which belongs to the controversial, Keith Keating, on Wednesday night threatened to halt its services, due to apparent non-payment of services since December 2017.


The company claims in a statement: "SITA has on 31 October 2017 awarded a contract for three years to FDA, subject to the conclusion of a written agreement."


FDA then says while it signed the agreement and continued to render services, the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) has, to its knowledge, not yet signed the document.


But the SCOPA chairperson, Themba Godi, says lawmakers previously told SITA not to pay FDA after officials from the agency raised concerns over the legality of the contracts.


"The officials from SITA indicated that they were concerned and they were probing the legality of the contract," says Godi. "It was on that basis that we said: well, if you yourselves feel this contract might not have been procured legally, then what is the point of continuing to pay?"


Godi says it can't be that an individual can threaten the stability of the criminal justice system.


"It cannot be that a single individual can pose a security threat to the country by collapsing the criminal justice system," says Godi.


Parliament's police committee has meanwhile called for an investigation into the contracts, the service providers and the SAPS officials involved.


Committee chairperson Francois Beukman has also announced special hearings into SAPS technology procurement in June.


"Several irregularities were recently pointed out by the IPID in a briefing to the portfolio committee, and the portfolio committee expects from the national commissioner to launch the necessary investigations," says Beukman.


Keating, who has not been available for comment, has also been accused of paying kickbacks to the former acting National Commissioner, Khomotso Phahlane.


Should the services be withdrawn, FDA has listed a range of "devastating effects" from the withdrawal of its services:


                - SAPS officials may be unable to check in and out of duty.


                - SAPS officials may be unable to lawfully possess or use firearms.


                - Firearms and ammunition in possession of SAPS may not be accounted for during the suspension period.


                - SAPS officials may be unable to access and manage evidence in the Forensic Science Laboratory.


                - The chain of custody may be broken of millions of exhibits in the Forensic Science Laboratory.


                - The NPA may be unable to remove evidence to be used in court proceedings.


                - The Republic of South Africa may be in breach of certain international treaties involving Interpol and the United Nations.

Minister of Police Response 19 March 2018 by Pieter van der Merwe on Scribd

So far, neither SAPS nor SITA have been willing to comment.

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