First on EWN: Jiba held ‘improper’ meetings with top cop Moonoo

EWN has learnt the acting NDPP met with Vineshkumar Moonoo while she was being investigated.

FILE. Deputy National Director Of Public Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

PRETORIA - Eyewitness News can reveal that National Head of Detectives Vinesh Moonoo met prosecutions boss Nomgcobo Jiba, while she was being investigated by the police, allegedly, without disclosing this to the investigating officer.

It's further alleged that the meetings took place in the weeks leading up to Moonoo's decision to take the docket away from Colonel Martinus "Boats" Botha and assign it to Major General Norman Taioe.

This decision prompted Botha to note his unhappiness in the docket's investigation diary and going as far as suggesting such conduct amounted to defeating the ends of justice.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) described the meetings as "highly irregular".

The police fired Botha last week for alleged misconduct for his role in the summons issued for Jiba to appear in court last month.

Jiba is facing charges of fraud and perjury for the failed prosecution of KwaZulu-Natal Hawks Boss Major General Johan Booysen.

The High Court in Durban ruled last year that Jiba's decision to prosecute Booysen with racketeering was unconstitutional and invalid, and didn't meet "even the barest minimum requirements".

The police accuse Botha of unauthorised and irregular involvement in the securing of the summons, in that he worked closely with prosecutors without disclosing to them that he was no longer the investigating officer.

Botha has been accused by his bosses of holding "secret" meetings with prosecutors and of not being open about the investigation with his commanders.

However, Botha and prosecutors involved in the case insist that he was in fact the lead detective on the case.

In an affidavit submitted to police bosses, including Taioe, challenging his dismissal, Botha sets out a timeline of events surrounding his efforts to obtain a warning statement from Jiba, who was the subject of the fraud and perjury investigation stemming from the Booysen matter.

BOTHA'S TIMELINE:

  • 5 January Botha sets up a meeting with Jiba for 15 January.

  • 15 January Botha meets with Jiba where she asks until 6 February to prepare her statement.

  • 15 January (Same day) Jiba meets that morning with Moonoo. Botha discovers this by chance from Moonoo's personal assistant.

  • 6 February Jiba is unavailable for her meeting with Botha.

  • 19 February Botha sends Jiba an email indicating that he still requires a statement from her.

  • 20 February Moonoo withdraws Botha from the case and instructs him to hand over docket to Taioe.

  • 25 February Taioe sends email to NPA prosecutors stating that he is overseeing the investigation and Botha is still part of the team.

Botha says in his statement that he first discovered that Moonoo was meeting with Jiba on the morning he was scheduled to meet with her to obtain a warning statement.

He described how she cancelled at the last minute and visited Moonoo instead.

He discovered this by chance when Moonoo's personal assistant told him that she had been at his office earlier in the day.

"I learned that Jiba was with Moonoo earlier in the day. I was not told the reason for the visit," he said.

It's alleged that Moonoo never disclosed these meetings to Botha, nor was there any note in the docket that Jiba was meeting with him while she was the subject of the investigation.

What was discussed in these meetings remains unknown.

Botha says on 19 February he sent an email to Jiba reminding her of the failed attempt to obtain a statement from her on 6 February.

He says he was summoned to Moonoo's office the next day where he was told that he was being withdrawn from the Jiba case and it was being handed over to Taioe.

"This happened a day after I sent the email to Jiba," he writes in the affidavit.

"I wasn't at all happy about this decision and no reason was given for withdrawing me from the investigation.

"I handed over the docket to Taioe and expressed my unhappiness. I registered an inquiry and transferred [copies of] all documents and statements [to the new docket]," he said.

Police spokesperson Solomon Makgale declined to respond to specific questions about the nature of the meetings between Moonoo and Jiba, or why this fact was never disclosed to the investigating officer.

He further declined to comment on Botha's claim that he opened and inquiry and made copies of the docket.

Makgale said the reasons for Botha's dismissal have already been set out in a statement issued last week. "Moonoo and Botha worked closely together on this investigation.

"They attended most meetings together. At this stage, there is nothing new to add to the statement and it is not worthwhile responding to hearsay," he said (See full response below).

It's understood police bosses dispute Botha's version of events, and suggest that he is manipulating the timeline to make it appear that Moonoo interfered in the investigation following interaction with Jiba.

Last week, Makgale said Botha was asked to provide a statement to explain his involvement in the summons issued on Jiba.

"It was clear from the statement he provided that he had secretly met with NPA officials to discuss the case and took instructions from them about the summons without informing the investigating officer, and his commander, Major General Norman Taioe.

ISS senior researcher Johan Burger, who is also a former police officer, said Moonoo meeting with Jiba without informing Botha was highly irregular. "It's inappropriate for the head of the investigating unit to meet with the suspect without at least telling the investigating officer,' he said.

He added that such conduct is completely unacceptable.

"When a docket is given to an investigating officer, that investigating officer is then the only person who talks to the witnesses and the suspect and takes down their statements.

"To have a senior officer come a long and talk to any of those individuals involved in the investigation is completely irregular, unless that superior does so with the full knowledge and co-operation, and where possible the participation, of the investigating officer," he said.

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Eyewitness News asked the police to provide details as to the subject of the meetings between Jiba and Moono; the number of meetings the pair held; whether these meetings were ever disclosed to Botha; and for a response to the allegation that Moonoo interfered in the investigation.

The Police's Solomon Makgale responded on 10 May…

The South African Police Service has issued a statement outlining the reasons behind the termination of Colonel Botha's employment contract.

General Moonoo and Colonel Botha worked closely together on this investigation. They attended most meetings together.

At this stage, there is nothing new to add to the statement and it is not worthwhile responding to hearsay. Right now, our focus is to thoroughly investigate this case which was brought to us by the National Prosecuting Authority and ensure that justice prevails.

We would like assure the nation that the termination of Colonel Botha's contract will have no bearing whatsoever on the police's ability to discharge its constitutional responsibilities in collaboration with the National Prosecuting Authority.

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On 6 May, Makgale issued a statement on the decision to terminate Botha's contract...

Pretoria - The South African Police Service (Saps) can today, 6 May 2015, confirm that it has terminated the employment contract of Colonel Marthinus Botha.

The termination of the contract, which was due to end on 30 June 2015, follows possible misconduct by Colonel Botha in relation to the handling of a case opened by the National Prosecuting Authority.

After obtaining information about the unauthorised and irregular involvement of Colonel Botha with regards to the issuing of a summons against Advocate Nomgcobo Jiba, the Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, we requested him to provide a statement about his role.

It was clear from the statement he provided that he had secretly met with NPA officials to discuss the case and took instructions from them about the summons without informing the investigating officer, and his commander, Major General Norman Taioe.

Saps management is very disappointed that, during the investigation of the case against Advocate Jiba, Colonel Botha conducted himself in an unprofessional manner.

His conduct not only blatantly undermined his superiors, but it also had the potential of jeopardizing the investigation. This act has irreparably damaged the relationship between Colonel Botha and Saps.

Throughout the said meetings, Colonel Botha was aware that Major General Taioe was the investigating officer in the case and his commander.

However he apparently chose to disregard General Taioe and kept him in the dark about his meetings with the NPA and the resultant outcome of these discussions - that a summons be served on Advocate Jiba.

During these clandestine meetings with the NPA, Colonel Botha was not in possession of the case docket.

Colonel Botha, who had retired from the Saps more than two years ago, was contracted to assist the Detective Service Division, given his many years of experience as an investigator of serious and violent crimes.

He added a lot of value to the Saps's investigative capacity, particularly in assisting Saps management during the Oscar Pistorius trial, as well as dealing with blue light robberies in Gauteng and investigations into rhino poaching as the acting head of the National Investigation Unit under Lieutenant General Vinesh Moonoo.

It is therefore sad that he and the Saps had to part ways in this manner.

His last day in the office was on 28 April 2015.

Management of the Saps would like to thank him for his contributions and wish him well in his future endeavours.