Ipid probes Hawks boss’s links to ‘Brexit bad boy’
Police watchdog is looking at allegations of compromising ties between Kholekile Galawe and the British businessman
The relationship between Northern Cape Hawks head Kholekile Galawe and controversial Brexit funder Arron Banks is under investigation by police watchdog Ipid.
At the heart of the probe by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, initiated by national Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya, are the ties that bind the pair.
Banks, a British national, is understood to have financed and directed the most aggressive Brexit campaign, gifting millions of dollars to various anti-EU causes.
He also authored a book on his role in the leave campaign titled Bad Boys of Brexit.
According to Galawe, in an affidavit penned in response to the Ipid probe, he said he aided Banks in registering a criminal case against his former business partner, Chris Kimber, in 2017.
While paving the way for the registration of a criminal docket, Galawe was also in talks with Banks as a potential investor in his business ventures. The connection between Galawe and Banks was revealed in an exposé, aired by the BBC’s Channel 4.
With news reports suggesting Galawe’s proximity to Banks rendered him compromised, and with his integrity in question, Hawks head Godfrey Lebeya had called for a meeting.
Spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi said: “He [Lebeya] has opted to institute an inquiry internally and through Ipid to test the allegations. Major-General Galawe will remain in his office because there is no clear transgression he made except for media reports that are purporting the allegations against him,” he said.
In Galawe’s affidavit, obtained by Times Select, he detailed the genesis of his relationship with Banks and Kimber and denied allegations of impropriety.
He said he’d first befriended Kimber in 2016 when he toured the businessman’s brickyard – looking for a potential investment opportunity – and that their friendship had flourished.
“We used to discuss business opportunities in the Northern and Eastern Cape – hunting and social issues – but we never had any formal business talks,” he said.
On meeting Banks, Galawe said retired KZN Hawks head Johan Booysen had put them in touch midway through 2017 because Banks wanted to open a case.
“After listening to his story, I informed him that I would provide him with an experienced officer who was going to take a detailed statement … I advised him that my office did not have the capacity to handle a case of such magnitude and that it would have to be investigated by the Serious Economic Offences Unit.”
While the criminal investigation into Kimber continued, Banks had invited Galawe and a private business associate to a glitzy royal banquet in London.
On the invitation to the royal banquet, Galawe said: “The opportunity was fertile, and businesspeople were going to be invited from South Africa to the birthday of the queen of England, an event Banks was facilitating.”
He said that UK junket had come to nought when a scheduling conflict prevented him from attending.
Speaking to Times Select, Booysen said former police officer Kobus Coetzee, a close aide of Banks, had approached him in 2017.
“Banks wanted me to investigate a businessman named Chris Kimber for an alleged fraudulent deal in which Banks lost several million rand. As I was no longer with the police, I advised them to work through the Hawks in the Northern Cape, as the alleged offence occurred in Kimberley.”
Booysen then put them in touch with Galawe.
“Not long afterwards I received an invitation from Banks to attend the Queen’s Ball with him which came via Coetzee. A week before the ball Coetzee again phoned me and asked if I could make it, insisting all expenses would be covered by Banks.
“He then asked me if I could ask Bheki Cele if he would attend. I informed him that the minister was extremely busy and that I doubted that he could do it with such short notice. A day or so later he asked again,” he said.
At the time Cele was still deputy minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and the intent of invitation remains veiled in mystery.
Police Minister Bheki Cele, through his spokesperson Reneilwe Serero, denied having any links to Banks.
“The minister has not travelled to London to meet with the British national for any matters,” she said.
Banks’s aid Kobus Coetzee said his investigation into Chris Kimber was ongoing and would not be drawn to comment on his alleged overtures to Booysen.
Efforts to contact Banks, through Coetzee and otherwise, were unsuccessful at the time of publishing.