The Assassination of a Top Hawks Cop… The Kidnapping of an ISIS “leader”… The Lady R… – Hennie Van Vuuren joins the dots

What are the links between the assassination of HAWKS Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Mathipa on 6 August this year (2023); the kidnapping of alleged Islamic State (Isis) leader Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard Kadir Jemal Abotese from the Mall of Africa on 29 December last year (2022) allegedly by members the SANDF Special Forces; and military front company vehicle photographed at the scene of the kidnappings as well as next the Lady R vessel that docked in Simonstown in December last year (2022) when weapons were loaded off. BizNews speaks to Hennie van Vuuren, the Director of Open Secrets, about its investigation into the murder of the Crimes Against States Unit officer who was “somebody committed to holding the powerful to account”. Van Vuuren warns that “the power of the people with guns will only grow” if those responsible for his murder are not held to account. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introductions
  • 00:18 – Hennie van Vuuren on HAWKS Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Mathipa
  • 01:46 – van Vuuren on the assassination of Lieutenant-Colonel Mathipa
  • 03:24 – How the SANDF interfered in Mathipa’s investigations
  • 07:15 – On the kidnapping of Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard Kadir Jemal Abotese
  • 10:49 – On the suspicious activities of the SANDF special forces
  • 13:44 – On the SANDF’s front company
  • 15:10 – Why Mathipa was suspicious of the SANDF forces
  • 16:34 – On getting justice for Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Mathipa
  • 17:39 – Concludes

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Highlights from the interview

Who assassinated HAWKS Lieutenant-Colonel Frans Mathipa on 6 August this year (2023)?

BizNews speaks to Hennie van Vuuren, the Director of Open Secrets, about its investigation into the  murder of the highly respected officer of the Crimes Against States Unit.

Van Vuuren describes the late lieutenant as “somebody committed to holding the powerful to account”.

Read more: Hawks launch investigation into senior politicians named by De Ruyter in Eskom corruption reports

Lt-Col Mathipa was killed after telling colleagues that he was going out to investigate a matter he’d been working on for a number of months. “It involved the abduction of two individuals, allegedly by members of the South Africa National Defence Special Forces Unit.”

Van Vuuren describes how in the months preceding his assassination, the SANDF had been attempting to effectively block Lt-Col Mathipa’s investigation into the kidnapping of alleged Islamic State (Isis) leader Abdella Abadiga and his bodyguard Kadir Jemal Abotese from the Mall of Africa on 29 December last year (2022).  He was allegedly involved in funding and co-ordinating Isis activity in Africa. The two are still missing.

“And what Mathipa was attempting to do in terms of his investigation was to obtain the cell phone records, the tracker details of the individuals that were at the Mall of Africa on that day. And we know they were there because the military has admitted that they were there. They said that the Special Forces just happened to be at the Mall at exactly the same time, at the same date, in the same vicinity as the people that were abducted…And they said that they were there on a training exercise. 

Read more: Hawks chief side-steps ‘Spy Car’ watching SAPS Whistleblower

“So what Mathipa was trying to do was to test this and the one way to test it was to say, right, we’ve got the number plates of the vehicles that were there. Those are there from CCTV footage. And we’ve got photographs of members of Special Forces because they were paying for their parking tickets in the mall. They’ve got them actually inserting the tickets into the boom gates as they are leaving and photographs of that. So there’s extensive evidence that pinpoint Special Forces in the Mall on the day.”

Although the military seemed happy to work with Lt-Col Mathipa at first in April this year, “something turned within the South Africa National Defence Force”, and the information was denied him.

Lt-Col Mathipa had no option but to turn to the courts to order the SANDF to provide that information. “How the military responded to that was to try and interdict the process. They in turn went to the High Court. They said, we are not going to provide this information. It’s not in the interest of national security. A, we don’t have this material, but B, that this is top secret or sensitive.”

However on 20 July –  two and a half weeks before Lt-Col Mathipa’s assassination – a judge refused to grant the interdict. “The SANDF was ordered to pay costs – and that paved the way for Mathipa to gain access to those records. So their attempts to place obstacles in his way, legal obstacles, all failed and had come to naught. And, you know, the next step really was for him to obtain this crucial material that certainly wasn’t in the interest, from what we understand, of South African Special Forces to be revealed.

|So we not only have a crime of abduction potentially, but we have then the crime of murder, the assassination, killing a police official who’s investigating. And then that shows a potentially a systemic pattern of coverup…”

Read more: The mysterious Lady R: More questions re SA’s arms-to-Russia claims with Prof Esterhuyse

Meanwhile, the extent of the apparent cover-up reaches all the way back to the mysterious case of the Lady R. Van Vuuren describes how a vehicle spotted at the scene of the kidnapping was also photographed by the Lady R vessel that docked in Simonstown in December last year (2022) when weapons were “certainly loaded off”.

“…one of the vehicles, the white Mercedes Benz Combi that is parked next to the shipment for the Lady R, appears then three weeks later at the Mall of Africa in what is believed to have been the SANDF’s possible role in the abduction of those two individuals.”

Van Vuuren says the vehicles are registered against a Special Forces front company called Peters Communication Trust. “So they are owned directly by Special Forces, a front company set up to try and create some kind of a mask. Well, clearly the mask wasn’t very effective in this instance.”

He says it is now up to South Africans to demand accountability. “We need to hear from our politicians and we need to hear from an array of politicians, including the President, as to what transpired. We can’t have an inquiry, a closed and secret inquiry in this process. We need an open process. We need questions to be asked in “parliament. 

“Until I think right now we run the risk that given the sensitivity of this matter, given the risks that people feel around this issue, people we’ve spoken to certainly are very concerned about who’s involved and what the consequences might be of speaking out. It’s up to the people we elect and put in office to ask the questions of the military of what’s going on and to support the Hawks in their investigation so that whoever is responsible for Mathipa’s murder is investigated and prosecuted and held to account. 

“Because if we don’t do so I think we would argue that the power of the people with guns will only grow. And that is a direct threat to our democracy.”

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