2010 security boss quits

Fresh questions are being asked about South Africa’s readiness to provide security for the 2010 Fifa World Cup after the sudden resignation of the tournament’s security manager, Wally Rhoode.

Rhoode, an Umkhonto weSizwe veteran and former head of security at the National Prosecuting Authority, vacated his office at Soccer City on August 1 to pursue family business interests.

But within the security industry it is thought that he jumped before he was pushed—and that his resignation relates to the fiasco with the appointment of security providers for the World Cup curtain-raiser, the Confederations Cup, in June.

The Mail & Guardian has established that:

  • According to Private Security Regulatory Authority (Psira) spokesperson Siziwe Zuma, Psira is conducting an investigation into allegations that the organising committee and its service providers employed unqualified security guards and stewards during the Confederations Cup;
  • The committee appointed a consortium involving controversial security firm Africa Strategic Asset Protection (Asap), the dodgy practices of which were exposed by the M&G in 2007, to supply X-ray scanners and metal detectors to the Confederations Cup; and
  • Security giant Fidelity is considering legal action against the organising committee after the company refused to use poorly trained stewards for matches in Bloemfontein. The stewards are taking Fidelity to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.

Blunders
These developments come after numerous security blunders before and during the Confederations Cup. The M&G revealed in June that two weeks before the kick-off no company had been appointed to provide security at hotels, stadiums and training grounds.

After last-minute negotiations with the Swedish-led Securitas consortium fell through, the organising committee appointed little-known Chippa Protection Services. Chippa had to recruit new guards for the tournament.

Fears about inadequate security forced the South African Police ­Service to step in and provide 800 extra officers to safeguard matches at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria and the Royal Bafokeng stadium in Rustenburg. Midway through the tournament, the committee brought in extra ­security guards to help Chippa.

Although the committee’s security department is headed by embattled former prisons boss Linda Mti, Rhoode was in charge of operations and participated in procuring security services. He was employed as a senior superintendent by the police’s VIP protection unit before becoming the NPA’s security chief. When the organising committee started operating, Rhoode was appointed security manager and brought with him former Scorpion Moira Sampson to head its security training.

Industry sources say he was the committee’s main contact point for the security industry.

Rhoode strongly denied this week that his departure was related to the chaos surrounding security for the Confederations Cup.

“I resigned in April, before the FCC [Confederations Cup]. The organising committee asked me to stay until after the FCC,” Rhoode said. He admitted being in charge of security operations at all times during the Confederations Cup and to having vacated his office two weeks ago.

The organising committee’s Rich Mkhondo confirmed Rhoode’s resignation “with effect from August1 2009”. He did not comment on Rhoode’s claim that he had resigned four months earlier.

‘The whole team’
Asked why he quit less than a year before the committee hosts its showpiece, Rhoode said: “Our family business is suffering. You know the building industry is very tough — family comes first.”

Rhoode vehemently denied that his departure was linked to the awarding of security tenders or to his relationship with certain service providers.

Security industry players have questioned his alleged “closeness” to companies awarded Confederations Cup tenders and his role in appointing them. Although he admits being part of “the whole team” that appointed contractors, Rhoode says he could not have acted improperly. “I was part of the adjudications committee that scores on technical grounds. A whole range of other people were doing other checks.”

He denied having a prior relationship with Chippa, saying it is “difficult to tell” whether it had delivered an inadequate service.

Rhoode said he had nothing to do with the appointment of additional security guards during the tournament. “Speak to Mr Mti and the committee about that.”

On his relationship with other service providers, Rhoode admitted knowing some of the principals involved in X-ray company Asap and Accredited Solutions for Event Stewarding (Acses), awarded the tender to train more than 2000 stewards appointed by the organising committee. But he denied any impropriety, saying he was not their friend or business partner.

The M&G has reported that Acses is led by Cape Town-based jazz organiser Desmond Grootboom and that the company’s training was invalidated by Sasseta, the industry’s training authority, after it was discovered that trainers were not registered with Psira.

A small industry
“I have known of them [Acses], but I have no relationship with them — A lot of people tried to work with the organising committee. The industry is small,” Rhoode said. “I have no relationship with him [Grootboom]. I met him long ago at the North Sea Jazz Festival.” Grootboom’s ESP Afrika organises the festival.

Asked if he knew of Acses’s inadequate accreditation before appointing it, Rhoode said: “Based on the papers in front of us the consortium complied with the necessary stuff.”

Rhoode is linked to Asap through former president Nelson Mandela’s chief bodyguard, the late Thobile “Tall” Mtwazi, who served with him [Rhoode] in the VIP unit and owned 67% of Asap. Asap was part of the African Dreams consortium appointed to provide the organising committee with the 22 X-ray scanners and 176metal detectors used at the four Confederations Cup venues.

Asap financial manager Sonny Basson confirmed the company’s appointment to “import and distribute” the equipment.

The M&G was reliably told that African Dreams did not submit its tender on time and only the names of R&D Screening, Hisco, HAB and Sidas Security were recorded in the register at 11am on March 17, the closing time.

“I am not aware of that, because all bids, before they come for adjudication, [go] to the procurement and monitoring committee, which shortlists companies,” said Rhoode. Basson did not respond to the claim.

Kickbacks
Rhoode first said he was introduced to African Dreams during the bidding process for the Confederations Cup, but later admitted “knowing the company Asap” and, specifically, the late Mtwazi.

“What I know is Tall Mtwazi —was one of the directors when I was still in the police. But Tall Mtwazi is dead. I don’t know his partners.”

The M&G revealed Asap’s history of corrupt practices in August 2007, particularly around the awarding of a contract for a revamped access-control system in Parliament.

It was revealed that Asap paid kickbacks to Shane Jacobs, a consultant employed by the public works department to develop tender documents for the parliamentary contract, and Russel Christopher, the intelligence and security adviser to former speaker Frene Ginwala.

The matter was reported to the Scorpions, which conducted a preliminary investigation. But in February Adrian Mopp, former Western Cape Scorpions head, informed the complainant that the unit could not continue the investigation because of the closure of the Scorpions.

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