Keith Keating on behalf of Forensic Data Analysts said; “During the last few months there have been various false and misleading reports in the media and Parliament regarding our business, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), and myself.” These media publications cite a report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and other ‘unidentified sources’.
There are many indications that the aspersions cast over FDA in the past months are aimed at having FDA’s contracts with the South African Police Service (SAPS) and State Information Technology Agency (SITA) terminated arbitrarily. In recent months, FDA has been exposed to hostile corporate takeover tactics which began with a demand to hand over shares in the company without compensation, with stern threats of dire consequences should these demands not be met. Proof of these threats have been reported to SITA, but no action has been taken to date.
These are reminiscent of the methods employed to force Optimum Coal into business rescue, allowing it to be bought for scraps by Tegeta and to take over Optimum’s government coal supply contracts. It is now common cause that a series of irregularities had given rise to Tegeta’s takeover of Optimum.
Moreover, there is reason to believe that an ongoing rift between two high ranking government officials may also be at play in this matter. This became clear subsequent to a raid being performed on various properties, purportedly focused on Lieutenant General Phahlane (“Phahlane”), when the first information was immediately ‘leaked’ to the media that suggested information was uncovered at first glance which could prove that evidence against one of the officials who had commissioned the raid had been fabricated.
ABOUT FDA AND KEATING
Keating has been in the forensic supply business for over two decades and established FDA to bring world class forensic tools and support services to South Africa in the fight against crime.
FDA is a 47% black owned specialist service provider and supplier of forensic hardware, software and other forensic tools. FDA is a 100% South African owned company, and spends double the prescribed contributions towards social upliftment programs.
The forensic tools and support services supplied by FDA to SAPS have been instrumental in increasing forensic investigation capacity, accurately identifying suspects, reconstructing crime scenes and ultimately positively impacting on the ability of law enforcement agencies to successfully prosecute criminals.
NO PROSECUTABLE CASE
Despite a year-long investigation, and consideration of facts and evidence, from which wrongdoing is alleged, in the possession of IPID and other law enforcement authorities, no step has been taken to prosecute.
Insidious allegations that either FDA or Keating, personally, had purchased vehicles for the erstwhile Acting Police Commissioner, Phahlane, or any other government official as reward for undue benefits are totally devoid of truth.
Keating has been doing business with Durand Snyman, a businessman (and car dealer), for many years and has been involved in many different business interests. The transactions alleged to have constituted some form of wrongdoing, were in fact the product of numbers that were artificially bundled together to make completely unrelated transactions seem related.
Keating had bought a farm, together with farming equipment and game from Snyman, for which various legitimate, arms length payments had been made in good faith and the goods duly delivered.
As part of an unrelated and ongoing investigation into Phahlane, certain payments were attributed to Keating having allegedly indirectly bought vehicles for the benefit of government officials, thus causing a basis for suspicion of unlawful gratuity, which is categorically denied.
The numbers reported in the media, alleged to have been payments for those vehicles, do not accurately add up; as these numbers purport that some of the vehicles were not purchased by Snyman’s customers, when they were in fact purchased by Snyman’s customers. Affidavits that were submitted in support hereof were disregarded and have not been mentioned in media or parliamentary reports.
There is ample proof that the monies that are alleged to have been used to pay for vehicles to government officials were in fact lawful payments for goods that Keating had received from Snyman in an unrelated capacity.
It is also alleged that FDA has received a benefit through the over efficient processing of a transaction for the purchase of 169 forensic light sources (‘FLS’) from FDA by SAPS.
If any homework was done on this transaction, the information would have revealed that the payment and invoicing is but one part of a long string of activities that were required to take place before such a transaction for value exchange could have been approved and paid.
The order of these forensic light sources started 8 months prior to the transaction eventually being finalised through invoicing and payment, whereas the procurement had been lawfully approved months before.
The finalisation of the payment on the final day of the financial year is, as admitted by SAPS, not out of the ordinary and the insinuations of wrongdoing are ill conceived. This procurement instance does not constitute fiscal dumping according to the definition by National Treasury.
“TORCHES” FOR R300 000 A UNIT
The bulk of equipment serviced and maintained by FDA was sourced to SAPS pursuant to an open bidding process, awarded to a supplier other than and unrelated to FDA and in terms of a bid published by SITA.
The forensic light sources, together with the support and maintenance service contract, were provided at acceptable market related prices in terms of approved procurement practices. These forensic light sources are used to detect various different bodily fluids and other evidentiary material at crime scenes.
The R300 000.00 (which is actually R274 798.37 excluding VAT) is not simply for a household “torch”; it is for a complete Rofin forensic light source (FLS) kit, consisting of the following items:
- UV LED head + battery
- Purple 415nm LED head + battery
- Blue 415nm LED head + battery
- Cyan 505nm LED head + battery
- Green 530nm LED head + battery
- Orange 595nm LED head + battery
- Red 620 LED head + battery
- White 400-700mn LED head + battery
- Mains AC charger
- Ball mount
- Mirror, Episcopi and Fluoresent Mount Photographic accessory
- Large carrying case with inbuilt battery connection
- Charger – w indicator x 4
- Beam shaping filter 5 degrees
- Beam shaping filter 20 degrees
- Beam shaping filter 50 degrees
- Beam shaping filter 60 degrees x 1 degree
- Cable carry case to car plug
- Power cable – Smart charger
- Goggles: Orange
- Goggles: Red
- Goggled: Yellow
- Goggles: Clear
- Barrier filter GG 457
- Barrier filter OG 515
- Barrier filter OG 550
- Barrier filter OG 590
- Camera adapter 50mm
The purchase price of each such FLS kit also includes the first year of product maintenance at a specific and stringent agreed service level. For example, if an item is broken, it must almost immediately be fixed or replaced with another to ensure continuity in the investigation. Items can become damaged or defective for a wide range of reasons that do not reflect on the quality of the products.
These entire sets were imported at $16500(USD) each, which price excludes: shipping costs; taxes and duties; storage, transport and logistics costs; maintenance costs; and other business expenses, that enable continued supply to the SAPS at the required standards as agreed during procurement.
TOTAL SALE OF GOODS AND SERVICES TO SAPS
According to media sources, the leaked IPID report regarding FDA and Keating states a total rand value from the sale of goods and services by FDA directly to SAPS, for over more than a decade, is close to R5.5 billion.
In response to these reports, Keating said “our records indicate that even if our contracts with SITA are categorised as SAPS contracts, the alleged amount will still have been overstated by almost 300%. The total contract value, for contracts entered into directly between SAPS and FDA, is R457 million, which is also billions of rands less than the amounts being reported on”.
These figures could easily have been verified through a basic investigation.
MAINTENANCE CONTRACT FOR ROFIN, SPHERON AND NIKON PRODUCTS
FDA’s dealings with SITA have always been above board. If, for whatever reason, SITA has ever not complied with any procurement regulation, this can in no way be attributed to FDA.
A short history of FDA’s involvement with SITA:
The discretionary decision-making competence to award and extend FDA’s agreements vests in SITA, and requires approval by the board of directors following administrative processing and escalation through various committees.
On 1 October 2006 FDA entered into a three year contract as a subcontractor to Gijima on the basis of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specifications for maintenance of Rofin, Spheron and Nikon forensic tools used by SAPS. The contract was set to expire on the 31st of August 2012.
On the 1st of September 2009 the Gijima contract was extended by SITA for a further three years. FDA accordingly, as per OEM specifications, continued to deliver services to SAPS under Gijima’s extended principal contract.
Nearing the end of the Gijima contract a new bid was advertised for similar goods and services as those provided under the Gijima contract, but the scope of goods and services increased to address the established operational requirements of SAPS.
On or about the 1st of February 2012 a similar contract was awarded to the Khauleza Consortium for a period of six months. FDA was again, as per OEM specifications, appointed as a subcontractor to the Khauleza Consortium.
On the 1st of July 2012 a decision was made by SITA to contract directly with FDA for the maintenance of Rofin, Spheron and Nikon products, thereby reducing costs of the contract.
SITA has been directly contracting with FDA since then (1st of July 2012) in order to fulfill the maintenance and support requirements of SAPS, as per OEM specifications.
Some of the pertinent considerations, for SITA’s contracting with FDA, are the following:
- SAPS owns thousands of Rofin, Spheron and Nikon products that are in daily use by SAPS crime scene investigators and forensic officials;
- FDA is the sole service agent for Rofin and Spheron products in the region;
- The dire consequences of any disruption in the operability of the forensic equipment, as a result of a lack of 24/7 support and maintenance thereof;
- The challenge of replacing FDA with a service provider that can support and maintain the products in compliance with the OEM and SAPS specifications;
- The challenge of replacing FDA with a service provider with the ability to comply with the stringent service level standards set by SAPS;
- Longer term contracts allow for additional savings for the benefit of the public purse.
The failure by SITA to initiate procurement processes before the expiry of contracts contributed significantly towards the frequent extensions of existing contracts.
The SAPS officials that appear with Keating in the published photographs were in Cambridge for an officially sanctioned conference regarding Radio Frequency Identification Technology.
Keating flew to Manchester to watch the football match, whereafter he attended a presentation in Graatz regarding the shortcomings of current RFID technology in use in South Africa. After attending the presentation in Graatz he returned to South Africa.
Neither FDA nor Keating had paid for football tickets or shirts for these officials that appear in the photographs; the officials had paid their own expenses.
Keating attended the SCOPA meeting on the 29th of November 2017 regarding contracts between FDA, SAPS and SITA.
Keating, as a member of the public, was completely within his Constitutional rights to attend an open meeting of a parliamentary committee.
It was further disturbing to note that the Executive Director of IPID, had misled SCOPA by stating that Keating was not cooperating with investigations, a statement which is patently false.
“I attended the hearing, as FDA and I were under discussion at these hearings. The position has always been that we are available to engage on and provide our side of the story. No formal accusations have been put to myself or FDA” Keating stated.
“The allegations of wrongdoing are unfounded and untrue”, says Keating.
FDA and Keating therefore insist that fair legal process must be followed if allegations are brought against them. Such a process would allow FDA and Keating to answer to a detailed case constructed upon proven facts and sound arguments in an appropriate forum.
Keating concluded that “We are confident that fair legal process will allow FDA and myself to be vindicated in time, whereas anything short thereof would defy our Constitutional rights, which we are determined to uphold.