IT systems linked to firearms and forensic evidence were affected, says FDA © Sports Inc/PA Images
IT systems linked to firearms and forensic evidence were affected, says FDA © Sports Inc/PA Images

IT supplier shuts down police systems in payment row

3 May 2018

A major IT supplier to South Africa’s police and the country’s IT agency, which is under investigation for corruption, has shut down key software systems after going unpaid for five months.

In a joint statement the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) said certain software systems had been shut down but the action had not “completely brought operations to a halt”.

The statement followed a threat by contractor Forensic Data Analysis (FDA) to pull the plug. Shortly before systems went offline FDA director Keith Keating had threatened to collapse the country’s criminal justice system if SITA did not immediately pay five months’ worth of outstanding invoices for SAPS systems.

FDA warned that it was about to deny use of software linked to police forearms permits and criminal forensic evidence data. “The minister, SAPS and other stakeholders have been duly warned about the risks involved, but have acquiesced regardless of the impacts,” FDA added.

South Africa’s police refused to say whether the county’s criminal systems had indeed been paralysed.

It added: “While the shutting down of the said systems is likely to affect the efficiency of certain operations within the SAPS, they however do not completely bring operations to a halt.

“To ensure that operations can continue unhindered and that service delivery is not compromised, contingency plans have been put in place.”

It said that in the meantime the service was seeking legal advice on this matter and would act accordingly.

In November the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) instructed SAPS and SITA to terminate the multimillion-rand contracts with FDA after discussing “irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure at SAPS”.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi said: “The position of the committee is that the contracts with FDA are of a corrupt nature and we want to have them cancelled.”

Keating, a former policeman turned entrepreneur, has denied bribery allegations and claims they are part of a political takeover of his business.

Godi said: “For the first time in this Parliament, the person who is alleged in [connection to] irregular procurements came and sat throughout the meeting, Mr Keith Keating, without any hint of shame or embarrassment. We deplore and condemn that kind of stuff.”

Scopa also said it condemned reports of intimidation and threats directed at members of the SITA leadership probing allegations of corrupt contracts at SAPS.

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