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Assets worth R75 million seized from former top cop in ‘blue lights’ corruption case

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The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has restrained the assets of former South African Police Service (Saps) officials facing fraud and corruption charges in the infamous R191 million “blue lights” criminal case.

The case, which involves former high-ranking Saps officials, Kgomotso Phahlane and Deliwe De Lange, is in connection with a corruptly awarded contract by Saps to a service provider – Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement – for the supply and fitment of blue lights and sirens to Gauteng police vehicles in 2017.  

Restraint order

On Friday, an appointed curator together with the Sheriffs of the Court, members of the Hawks and members of the AFU proceeded to the accused’s residential addresses in Sandton, Pretoria, Boksburg, Springs and Sasolburg to execute a provisional restraint order following an application by the AFU.

ALSO READ: ‘Blue light’ graft: Top cop arrested following home raid

The order was granted on 18 August 2022, by the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg and it identified assets with an equitable value of R75 million.

The NPA’s AFU on Friday restrained the assets of former Saps officials in Gauteng worth R75 million in the controversial R191 million ‘blue lights’ corruption case. Picture: Supplied.
Some of the immovable assets seized by the AFU on Friday. Picture: Supplied.

The spokesperson for the NPA’s Investigating Directorate, Sindisiwe Seboka, said the assets included at least 19 immovable properties linked to the accused as well as approximately 115 vehicles, which included three trucks.

Approximately 115 vehicles were seized on Friday in Sandton, Pretoria, Boksburg, Springs and Sasolburg. Picture: Supplied.

Seboka said investigations were still ongoing to trace further assets belonging to the accused.

“The sole director of Traffic Law Enforcement (Pty) Ltd is Vimpie Phineas Tlalefang Manthata. Manthata and his entity are accused along with several high-ranking officials who were employed by Saps at the time.

“These include Johannes Kgomotso Phahlane who was then the acting national commissioner, Ramahlapi Johannes Mokwena, Nombhuruza Lettie Napo, James Ramanjalum, Deliwe Susan De Lange, Ravichandran Swamivel Pillay, Joseph Maetapese Mulaiwa and Bonang Christina Mgwenya,” she said in a statement.

Picture: Supplied.
Picture: Supplied.

R191 million ‘blue lights’ case

The state alleges that the accused worked in concert, to ensure that Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement was awarded the “blue lights” contract, and paid approximately R65 million.

Seboka said the amount escalated to present-day estimates of R121 million.

“The Saps officials were mostly rewarded with cash payments, which in several instances appear to have covered their monthly expenses, leaving their salaries largely intact.

“The evidence indicates that in certain instances, the reward was in the form of the purchase of luxury cars and expensive clothing and accessories paid for by Manthata.”

Picture: Supplied
Picture: Supplied

Investigations further revealed that Instrumentation for Traffic Law Enforcement and certain of the Saps officials were in constant communication during the procurement and payment process.

The communications were linked to the withdrawal of substantial amounts in cash by Manthata and the cash received by the Saps officials.

“Upon conviction, the AFU will proceed with an application to institute a confiscation enquiry aimed ultimately at the recovery of the stolen funds in terms of the provisions of Chapter 5 of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act 121 of 1998,” Seboka said.

The accused in the R191 million “blue lights” corruption case are expected back in court on 2 November 2022.

NOW READ: Three cops accused in vehicle scam case ‘also connected to blue lights investigation’




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This Catholic priest fought narcos in Colombia, now he is to lead the peace process

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“I only slept three hours at night,” he recalled. “I did my second year of theology at the same time as my police promotion course.”

After his ordination, Suárez understood his mission was to help transform “the hearts of policemen.”

He volunteered for police patrol shifts from midnight to 6 a.m. While on patrol, he had long conversations with the men he was posted with; sometimes, he would hear their confessions or invite them to pray the rosary together.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with fellow members in uniform. Father Silverio Suárez
Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with fellow members in uniform. Father Silverio Suárez

One particular conversation with a colleague stands out in his mind: “Two days later, he was killed in a terrorist attack and we buried him.”

“I have seen so many comrades become victims of violence, who have been kidnapped and … were kept in the worst living conditions,” he added.

As a priest, Suárez also comforts and ministers to the families of his colleagues who have been kidnapped or killed.

In Colombia and other South American countries including Chile and Venezuela, it is not unusual for priests to be full members of the police force, Suárez said. He insists that “being a policeman and a priest is absolutely compatible.”

“What is the mission of the priest? Above all, serve God and serve your fellow men. What is the mission of the police? … To save lives, to defend life,” he said.

When asked about the use of violence, Suárez said that when his life has been in danger, he has had to defend himself, but fortunately, he has not had to kill anyone.

He has also devoted much of his time to serving prisoners and perpetrators detained by the police.

(Story continues below)

“In the detention rooms, there is barbaric overcrowding. In places where there were 150 inmates … they had to sleep squatting or sitting down because there was no place to lie down,” he said. “I bring them [clean] clothes. Many of them are very poor.”

He also offers Masses for the detainees and hears confessions. In some cases, Suárez has paid the bail, something that frustrated his police colleagues.

Suárez said that corruption within the police force is a serious issue, which is why he believes that good police training and formation are so important.

Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with Pope Francis. Father Silverio Suárez
Father Silverio Ernesto Suárez, Major General of the National Police of Colombia, with Pope Francis. Father Silverio Suárez

For the past year, Suárez, now 61 years old, was assigned to Rome, where he has been working to strengthen relations between the Colombian police force and the Italian police through a joint training program. The posting also gave him the opportunity to meet Pope Francis.

Drug trafficking continues to be the biggest problem facing Colombia, Suárez said, and the death toll inflicted by the cartels has been enormous.




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Illinois police release names of 5 family members found dead in home, includes two young children

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Authorities on Thursday released the names of five family members, including two young children, found dead inside a Chicago-area home this week.

Officers with the Buffalo Grove Police Department were called to a home Wednesday to check on the mother, Buffalo Grove Police Chief Brian Budds said Thursday. Officers forced their way inside and found five bodies, he said.

“Today is a very sad day for our community as we continue to process this unthinkable event,” Budds said.

CHICAGO’S LONGEST-SERVING ALDERMAN WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION WITH FEDERAL CORRUPTION TRIAL LOOMING: REPORTS

Buffalo Grove police were dispatched to a single-family residence in the 2800 block of Acacia Terrace for a call of a well-being check on a woman. Inside they found five dead family members, including two young children and an animal, police said.
(FOX 32 Chicago SkyFOX)

Investigators believe the killings were domestic-related.

The victims were identified Thursday as: Lilia Kisliak, 67; Andrei Kisliak, 39; Vera Kisliak, 36; Vivian Kisliak, 6; and 4-year-old Amilia Kisliak. An animal was also found dead at the scene.

Autopsies for all five revealed they died from sharp force injuries, the Lake County coroner said.

Authorities declined to disclose who inflicted the injuries or what kind of weapon was used. Vera Kisliak had sought protection orders in August and September and filed for divorce in July, Fox Chicago reported.

A co-worker of Vera Kisliak called the police on Wednesday, Budd said, which led to the discovery of all five family members.

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He also declined to comment on reports from neighbors that the police had been to the Kisliak home in the past month. A local resident told the Chicago-Sun-Times she called the police in August over concerns about how Andrei Kisliak treated the children.

  


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Ex-Florida official with ties to Gaetz sentenced to 11 years in sprawling public corruption case

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The disgraced former Florida tax collector who cooperated with federal authorities in their investigation into Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) was sentenced Thursday to 11 years behind bars.

Joel Greenberg’s sentencing was delayed multiple times as he cooperated with state and federal authorities.

The sentencing brings to a close one of Seminole County’s most sprawling public corruption cases, which spurred inquiries into Gaetz and other public figures, including Halsey Beshears, a former state House member who also served as the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Beshears resigned from his government post in 2021, citing health issues. Greenberg, Gaetz and Beshears were named on a December 2020 federal grand jury subpoena.

Authorities have accused Greenberg, an elected tax collector in Central Florida, of financial crimes, stalking, identity theft, sex trafficking a minor and other offenses.

Greenberg was initially charged with more than 30 criminal counts, but in May 2021 pleaded guilty to six charges — including sex trafficking and fraud — in exchange for his cooperation in multiple cases, including a sex trafficking probe into Gaetz. The two men were once friends, and Gaetz described Greenberg as his “wingman” to acquaintances.

The Justice Department’s probe into Gaetz, which started in 2020 during the closing months of the Trump administration, was looking into whether the Florida congressman had sex with a 17-year-old woman and paid her for it. Gaetz, one of former President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters, had repeatedly denied the accusations and was never charged with a crime.

In September, a person with knowledge of the investigation indicated that the DOJ would likely not pursue charges against Gaetz.

Greenberg helped prosecutors secure convictions in several other cases, including Joe Ellicott, a collectibles dealer who was a groomsman at Greenberg’s wedding and received a 15-month sentence after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and distributing a controlled substance.


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