It’s still dark when the mobile starts blowing up. I’m already halfway through the day’s first coffee, though. The gale that’s been howling overnight and the whining of Catastrophe, my deaf, geriatric cat, put paid to any plans for a lie-in till sunup.
The truth is I was already half awake when Catastrophe started demanding breakfast. She turned up at my back door a couple of days after photographer Peter McKenzie died. She’s been there since, despite the ban on pets in the building.
One never knows.
The first message is from my bra, Navin. The Hawks and the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) are raiding a luxury complex in Umhlanga Ridge near his house. The complex — there’s a garage and supermarket and some other shops as well — was built by Timmy Marimuthu. He is a convicted drug dealer turned businessman who has been heavily implicated in the looting of the South African Police Services crime intelligence slush fund. And in what appeared to be an attempt to shake down Oupa Magashula, the former head of the South African Revenue Service, which cost the former taxman his job.
These days Marimuthu is very heavily involved in a church in Greenwood Park. Timmy’s an interesting guy. The Jali commission into corruption in the correctional services department heard evidence that Timmy didn’t actually spend time in prison when he was sentenced for dealing in mandrax in the early 1990s.
Navin’s run into the Hawks raiding party while filling up at the garage in the complex. He’s convinced that the Hawks are hitting Timmy’s house.
My head starts racing.
Back in 2012 a report on alleged corruption by crime intelligence to the then inspector general of intelligence, Faith Radebe, by some police generals landed on my desk at the place where I was working.
According to the report — I still have a copy somewhere, but I can’t find it — Marimuthu and a whole mob of his family members were illegally on the crime intelligence payroll as operatives and were chowing merrily, along with the families of top crime intelligence generals.
Radebe had failed to act on the report, so it ended up with me, which is a bit of a hoot, given my history with the police. Be that as it may, I ended up at Timmy’s complex at Somerset Park, and his church, and at then-police minister Nathi Mthethwa’s family house at KwaMthethwa, where a wall was built with the slush fund, and, we are told, without Mthethwa’s knowledge.
The report even took photographer Khaya Ngwenya and myself to Black Rock, the camp at Lake St Lucia used by the apartheid-era Vlakplaas death squads for interrogations, murders and braais. The crime intelligence brass and their friends had taken over the facility and were using it for parties and fishing trips. Nobody was home when we popped in, which was a pity, but fortunate, I suppose.
A series of stories were published.
Crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli got fired — briefly —but apart from that, little appeared to have been done by the police to clean house when it came to crime intelligence. That was that, until the matter ended up being ventilated at the Zondo commission into state capture a couple of weeks ago — at least partly, with evidence about the looting of the crime intelligence informer fund by Mdluli and his muckers.
Perhaps Timmy’s chickens have finally come home to roost.
The mobile goes again. It’s a contact of mine, with some information about the raid.
Navin’s right, but he’s wrong. The Hawks and the AFU are hitting one of the tenants in Timmy’s complex, former Durban mayor Zandile Gumede. The Hawks are looking for Mama, who it appears is no longer using the premises, and about 16 other people. They’re busy seizing assets and cash valued at about R250-million around the city after getting a high court preservation order against Mama and her co-accused in the case, in which Durban Solid Waste was scammed for well over R200-million.
Mama is in the dwang, but Marimuthu seems to be in the clear. Again. Timmy’s chickens, it appears, are still roosting elsewhere.
Gumede had given Somerset Park as her address when she got bail after being arrested on corruption charges in May. Mama has another home at eTafleni, a big palace of a place, with lots of stainless steel and tile and a magnificent view of the Inanda valley.
We were at eTafleni a couple of months back, shooting pictures for a story that hasn’t materialised yet. It did appear a bit weird that the mayor would be renting a house from a convicted drug dealer and alleged beneficiary of state capture, when she had such a lovely spot to stay in.
Then again, this is Durban, Mama is Mama and money is, of course, money.