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Nailing of Phahlane: O’Sullivan bags his second crooked SAPS Commissioner
JOHANNESBURG — For some months, forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan has been stalking SAPS Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, whom he describes as “a criminal with a badge“. Thanks to O’Sullivan’s efforts, this week the country’s top cop and his wife were formally charged. Against them is an open and shut case of corruption involving cars the Phahlanes were given by a businessman accused of bribing his way into some big police contracts. From available evidence, it looks likely that the suspended Phahlane will be the second top dog O’Sullivan’s efforts puts behind bars – his first being the seemingly untouchable former Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi. I enjoyed a cup of tea and a chat with the head of Forensics for Justice and his partner at the NGO, Sarah-Jane Trent. They shared the back story on how they nailed Phahlane and explain why it strikes such a huge blow against corruption in South Africa. – Alec Hogg
Well, I’m in Johannesburg and I’m with Paul O’Sullivan, and it’s always good to see you, Paul, usually it’s in London…
Yes, because obviously, I travel up and down to London quite a bit, as you know, I have an office there. We have one in Johannesburg and we have one in Nairobi so, I do get around quite a bit. When I’m in London I do try and look you up if there’s something going on.
Well, there’s something going on right now. The Phahlane case, which you’ve been talking about for a long time has now finally hit mainstream. Just take us back a little bit because this is the second Commissioner of Police that you’re in the process of putting behind bars.
Yes, and I think if I was a gambling man, which I’m not, I’d bet my last cent on the fact that he will go to prison, but you know we live in a democracy, (so I’m told), and he’s entitled to a fair trial. So, I don’t want to say anything that would be prejudicial to a fair trial because that would actually assist him in getting off. But if one looks at our website, the Forensics for Justice website, and as you can see, Sarah-Jane from Forensics for Justice is sitting here with us today. If you look at our website… Some people are overwhelmed by the volume of documents that we’ve filed there, but in particular I want to point any listener in the direction of the documents pertaining to the capture of the Criminal Justice System. Now, as time goes on more and more evidence comes to the fore. We can now fairly accurately pinpoint the date upon which Jacob Zuma made a decision to take control of the Criminal Justice System, and we pinpoint it to early 2014.
What’s the relevance of that timeline? Sarah-Jane (Trent), I was going to talk to you a bit later but move your chair a little closer, have some more tea with us and chip-in when you feel it’s appropriate.
Look in 2014, Alec, a number of events happened one after another, but the most important event that happened in 2014, which is not publicly know about, there was a gentleman by the name of Ntlemeza who was slated to become the Head of the Hawks. He was vying for the position of the Head of IPID.
But why is IPID important?
IPID is very important because your Criminal Justice System consists of four main components, and that is the Police, the Hawks, the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority), and IPID. Of course, the courts, I suppose aren’t part of the Criminal Justice System. They are supposed to be separate to it and they’re supposed to be independent, which for the most part they are. But the active elements of the Criminal Justice System are the Police and the Hawks. They’re supposed to be two separate entities, in terms of the legislation, but they’re not. They’re joined at the hip and we don’t have the separation that there should have been after the Scorpions was disbanded, and the Glenister judgement, as you know, which we also sponsored that. It was the Helen Suzman Foundation and Web Events all very kindly provided the legal resources for that.
Now, Hugh Glenister was quite a smart cookie. He realised that if the Scorpions were gone and there wasn’t another independent body to replace them then the police were free to do what they wanted and there’d be no control over them. So, the legislation that was ultimately enacted with Section 17 (1) of the Police Services Act. So, you’ve got this new section that suddenly drops in and that new section is probably about 20-pages of the Act, which sets out chapter and verse as to how the Hawks should form and operate, and I think they called it the Director for Priority Crimes Investigation. Now, in the system one of the most important components is the IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate).
So, are they the police of the police?
That’s correct, and if you look at their new logo – they guard the guards. So, if you don’t have somebody guarding the guards then the guards fall asleep at night or worst still some guards would, if they have the keys to the premises they would be thieves with keys. So, if you don’t have somebody looking after your night watchman you can’t be surprised, after a long weekend, if you come to your warehouse and find it empty. Now, in the case of the police, they need to be properly supervised. They’ve proven they can’t police themselves. It’s been proven time and time again, and best practice and best models around the world, including the likes of the UK, Australia, America, and Canada…
I sat on the Ryan Commission back in 1997 in Australia. We were looking into the corruption in the New South Wales Police. So, police corruption isn’t a South African invention. It’s been going on since Sir Robert Peel invented the Police Service. How do you recruit and make sure that’s everybody is honest? It’s impossible. So, when you’ve got these dirty apples you have to deal with them. Now, the function of doing that is twofold, if you look at the legislation. First of all, it’s the DPCI or the Hawks, and secondly, it’s also IPID because IPID even have authority over the Hawks. So, IPID have the ability to arrest Hawks and seize evidence and documents, etc., and they also have the ability to deal with crime intelligence.
So, you don’t want the wrong person running IPID?
And this Ntlemeza?
Ntlemeza was vying for the job as Head of IPID, and whilst he was vying for the position Robert McBride was appointed. Ntlemeza then told a particular person, who is an employee or an investigator at IPID, and he was trying to get this person to manipulate certain IPID investigations. In particular, the investigation into Shadrack Sibiya and Anwar Dramat. After Robert McBride was appointed to run IPID, Ntlemeza then confided in this person at his house one evening, up in Limpopo, that ‘by the way, I’m going to be the new Head of the Hawks and we’re going for Anwar Dramat – we’re going to take him out.’ Now, that was in 2014, and of course, as we all know, on Christmas Eve of 2014, Anwar Dramat did not hear Santa Clause on the roof. He received a written notification that he was being suspended.
What was his role at that time?
He was the Head of the Hawks.
Okay, I’ve got it.
So, they needed to get rid of him. Then what happened, when they suspended him on Christmas Day, Ntlemeza woke up to find in his Christmas stocking an appointment as Head of Hawks and he got stuck right in. By January he had already suspended the Head of Hawks for Gauteng. He had already arranged for certain case dockets to be brought to his office, which he had no business dealing with. He subsequently arranged for the suspension of the Head of Hawks in KZN. Now, you might ask, ‘what the heck is going on here?’ Well, it’s quite clear to us at Forensics for Justice because we know that Anwar Dramat had the cases pertaining to Nkandla. He had them at his office. The cases pertaining to Jen-Chih Huang were with Shadrack Sibiya, and we all know that Jen-Chih Huang is best friends with Khulubuse Zuma, and indeed Lieutenant-General Moonoo and others that are near and dear to the Zuma-family and unfortunately, he’s a criminal. Then Johan Booysen, who was the Head of Hawks in KZN, he was suspended because he was investigating other persons near and dear to the Zuma family in KZN.
It sounds like Ntlemeza gets in, he has instructions, and he picks the people off.
He starts knocking them off, but he had a problem and that problem he had was after his appointment, when he was appointed I think I was in Australia at the time, and I got a phone call and it’s not pleasant because of the time difference between here and Australia – I think I got the phone call just after midnight. The person confided in me that the person that had just been appointed, the acting-Head of the Hawks was indeed a criminal. So, I got back from Australia and I sat with this person and I drew up a docket. In the first week of 2015, rather than go to the police to open the docket, because we are now talking about the person as the acting-Head of Hawks, I went to see McBride.
Okay so the problem was that the Criminal Justice System, those four arms, two of them were captured. The one that was independent was McBride at IPID, and that was your only option to go to.
Well, at that stage the police hadn’t been captured. The Hawks were captured first and as you know, Shaun Abrahams, and I don’t have it in front of me right now, but around about the same time the plan was made to bring Shaun Abrahams in so, he was the puppet appointed by Michael Hulley, to capture the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority). Now, if you own the police and the NPA it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to be charged with anything. Now the capture of the police came with the Riah Phiyega incident. She joined the police I think two or three weeks before the infamous shootout in the platinum-belt, where I think there were 30, or 40 or 50 miners.
Yes, at Marikana, and the trouble is still going on there today. It’s not over yet. It can boil-over at any moment. She wasn’t a career policewoman. She had no real policing skills at all, other than what she learnt in the first two or three weeks so, she was treating the police more like a businessperson or a politician would treat it. She was trying to say the right things and she allowed… She didn’t take what I call decisive control over the police so, the police was running amok at that stage to the extent where I sent her a very detailed docket in 2014, exposing the corruption of Lieutenant-General Moonoo, and for her sins – she decides to send a copy of the docket to Moonoo and ask him for his comments. Now, that’s called defeating the ends of justice because you’re tipping-off a criminal suspect.
The net result of that by the way, was that Moonoo then deployed dirty cops to start trying to find dirt on Paul O’Sullivan and they’ve been at it ever since. So, this is a four-year battle I’ve been fighting with Moonoo, Phahlane, Ntlemeza, and so on and so forth. But the importance of IPID is that, you know if you look at the legislation they are supposed to be independent. Now, how can you be independent when you’ve got people like Nkosinathi “Firepool” Nhleko, who himself is corrupt, and we can prove it? I don’t make these statements without being able to prove it, and I’m more than happy if he would issue me with a summons because I would use that to expose the dark underbelly of the capture of the Criminal Justice System. So, you have this ridiculous situation where Nhleko is then approached by Robert McBride, and he’s approached by Robert McBride because McBride was trying to do the right thing.
So, he goes and has a meeting with Nhleko in February 2015, and he said, ‘look here, Paul O’Sullivan has opened a docket against Ntlemeza. On the face of it, it would appear that Ntlemeza has a case to answer for corruption and defeating the ends of justice.’ A week later McBride was suspended so, now you had a problem. So, McBride’s then acting 2 OC (2nd-in-command), a guy called Israel gets appointed acting-Head of IPID. Quite strange because I subsequently opened a case against him for defeating the ends of justice, for refusing to carry-out an investigation into the docket I had opened against Ntlemeza. I subsequently opened a docket against Phahlane because in October 2015, Riah Phiyega was suspended on the Marikana issue, and in her place was appointed this guy called Phahlane. Within days of his appointment I knew that he was corrupt.
So, this was a situation where, as you’ve explained, from late 2014, the various arms of the Criminal Justice System now were all captured, including Phahlane.
Yes, I’m saying the capture was completed.
Completed with him.
The capture was completed by late 2015. By late 2015, Zuma had absolute control over the Police, the Hawks, the NPA, and the IPID.
Then they came for you – they started to deal with you and Sarah-Jane?
Well, I think me initially, so what happened was because Sarah-Jane hadn’t put her head above the sandbags at that stage. So, in 2015, when all this was going on, we formed Forensics for Justice. Now, we had a very good reason for forming Forensics for Justice. The reason was that we wanted it to be a NGO, a properly formed NGO, a non-profit company, because up until that stage, all of these pro-bono investigations that were being done were being funded by Paul O’Sullivan. Unless I was robbing banks in the evenings or something, sooner or later I was going to run out of money and in fact, that happened in 2016. I had reached a point where I could no longer continue to afford these escapades.
Then what happened was after Phahlane was appointed. I notified him by sending him copies of the dockets that I had previously sent to Phiyega, and I sent it to him in writing. I set-out chapter and verse as to why Moonoo was corrupt and that his corruption was clearly linked to the Zuma family, and I gave him the links. The links were Jen-Chih Huang, who’s a Chinese mafia guy based here in Bedfordview. Now, Jen-Chih Huang was convicted of murder. After he was released from prison he was kicked out of the country but he was friends with Moonoo. Three-weeks later he was back in the country, despite having being deported. He’s back in the country. He doesn’t have citizenship, by the way, to this very day he doesn’t have citizenship because he couldn’t corrupt the right people at Home Affairs, and they would have said, hang-on a second, we’ve got you on our system as having being deported so what are you doing here?
Is he still here in SA?
He’s still here.
With a clean criminal record.
Now, how did he get that right, if he couldn’t corrupt the right in Home Affairs?
It’s one of the things I’ve asked Phahlane.
Were you trying to test Phahlane? Or did you know he was already corrupt by that stage?
No, at that stage I didn’t think he was corrupt. I thought, okay, I hadn’t joined the dots, so to speak, at that stage. What I did was I then wrote to Phahlane and I said, ‘there’s an email, this is Moonoo, these are the people Moonoo has been running with and this guy, Jen-Chih Huang, and here’s all the information on him, that’s why he should be of interest to you.’ And Jen-Chih Huang I fingered as being very close to Khulubuse Zuma. In fact, Khulubuse Zuma was a business partner of his.
And Michael Hulley.
And Michael Hulley, yes. In fact, Michael Hulley and him had flown together, with Zuma, to China to do the China Rail Deal. So, you know, there’s a number of reasons why they had to be dealt with. Then I sent him another email. I said, ‘okay, there’s Moonoo, this is Yusuf Kajee, these are all the tobacco barons, and this is all the billions of Rand being lost to the fiscus every year because of this bunch of criminals, and this guy, Yusuf Kajee, is in bed with Edward Zuma,’ who is, as we all know, Zuma’s oldest son. In fact, we’ve been investigating that because it would appear that when he was born his mother was only 15. Now, the problem is she’s vanished off the face of the world so, we would really like to speak to Minah Shongwe from Swaziland. We’d love to speak to her because all the information that we’re receiving is that she was only 15, when Edward was born. If that is the case, well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out what offences took place then.
So, we then have the situation where Edward Zuma is in bed with these tobacco barons, and curiously, dockets are opened by the SARS people for serious fraud, running into hundreds of millions of Rands, against Yusuf Kajee. Other dockets involving hundreds of millions of Rands, in fact billions of Rands, are opened against Jen-Chih Huang by SARS. The next thing is I’m investigating this so-called corruption that took place around the Pamodzi transactions, now the Aurora.
Yes, the goldmine?
Yes, now the Aurora thing, the main men were Solly and Faizal Bhana, Michael Hulley, and of course, Khulubuse Zuma. There was a Mandela there as well, Zondwa Mandela. Now, Sarah-Jane here, she worked on that liquidation so, she did a lot of the research. We had the situation where I’m now investigating the theft from another mine using the same modus-operandi that was used at Pamodzi in Aurora, and lo and behold I managed to trace witnesses and I get sworn statements that gold is being stolen from the tailings and taken out in bags, and removed to a fancy apartment in Houghton where the Bhanas’ are living, and cash is handed over. I think one of the handover points was Killarney Mall, the Mug & Bean, where a bag of cash was handed over to one person, and a bag of gold was swapped. That’s all highly illegal. It’s not only money laundering but if you look at the legislation pertaining to gold mining – it’s in breach of that legislation as well. So, I got sworn statements on all of that. Then what I did was I had an undercover agent phone the Bhanas’ and put the wind in their sails – let them get a bit stressed about it.
That must have been an interesting phone call because I’ve seen your emails.
Well, I’ve got the phone call.
You put lots of stress into peoples’ lives when you send emails, and I can imagine a phone call.
Yes, well this phone call… the guy was an undercover agent so, they would have seen him as a friend.
Paul didn’t make the phone call.
I never made the phone call so, the agent made the phone call and he recorded it, and the agent said to them, ‘oh, Paul O’Sullivan wants a sworn statement from me – he wants everything I know about etc…’ you know. I’ve still got the phone call. So, this guy, Bhana says, “I’ll phone you back.” Then after a few minutes he phones him back and he says, “Oh, don’t worry about O’Sullivan. I’ve spoken to General Moonoo. Moonoo says, he’ll take care of O’Sullivan. He’ll make a few phone calls in the morning and everything will be taken care of.” So, then the agent said to him, “Well, should I phone him, or shouldn’t I?” He said, “No, ignore him. He’s got no authority. You don’t have to answer the phone if he calls you.” Now, that’s the Bhanas’, all right.
Solly and Faizel?
So, they’ve both been sequestrated in the meantime because of Khomotso. Now, you’ve got this situation where I can now tie Moonoo into Jen-Chih Huang, Yusuf Kajee, and the Bhanas, and they’re all involved in serious criminal conduct running into millions and millions, and hundreds of millions of Rands. The Aurora thing was I think R2bn.
Just as well you’ve got Sarah-Jane here to correct the facts.
Yes, I knew there was a billion and I knew there was a two there somewhere.
Paul’s better at that than me.
So, then you’ve got this IPID Head suspended so, I’ve realised what’s going on. I decided okay, it’s red rag to a bull time. So, on the 15th March 2016 I sent a scathing email to Phahlane, Ntlemeza, Kamanyane – to the whole lot. I told them, I’m going to fly to London on the 1st April, and on the 4th April, I’m going to give a media conference in White Hall and I’m going to say that the Criminal Justice System in SA has been captured by the underworld. That the underworld has taken over the Criminal Justice System, and that big business around the world should either disinvest or stop investing in SA until the corruption grinds to a halt.
Very brave, but Sarah-Jane that’s the way he operates…..
Yes, but look he also puts in things like ‘be like the apartheid police – stop me if you can. I’ll do what I can.’ The tone can be a bit aggressive but that’s to put them on the backfoot but it’s also, when we were having the trial, this whole BS trial with the passport cases. Firstly, they didn’t even know what the law was, and what he had actually done wrong. But during that trial all they concentrated on was that email, and there was a colonel in the police, and a warrant officer. Yes, but he said that he’s going to runaway from SA and go into exile. He said, ‘catch me if you can.’ You know, like that movie, and Barry Roux, who was acting for Paul said, “Come, here’s the email – show me.” So, they twisted that email and took little bits that they could then stop Paul. They dragged him off the plane on the 1st April.
Which is what you did. That’s a very famous story. You’re sitting on the plane; the doors were about to close.
That’s what happened, and by the way that email had a photo of Phahlane’s house. Paul said, “By the way, Phahlane, did you win the lottery or something because how did you afford that house?”
What was the house worth?
And what has he paid?
He paid R1.2m.
He paid R1.2m for a R8m house?
It cost him R1.2m to build a R8m house.
And he only drew off the bond…
Was he using convict labour?
No, he was using the proceeds of crime.
Bags of cash.
Bags of cash, okay?
That’s when the war really began because I was yanked off the plane with my two small children, who were seven and eight-years’ old at the time. It was quite funny because this one dirty cop kicked me on the ankle and my eldest daughter said, “Don’t you kick my daddy, he’ll arrest you.”
And what did the dirty cop do to that… smile, laugh?
Well actually, no, he calmed down then because he was quite aggressive because when he told me that I’m being arrested and who he was. I said, “I know who you are. You’re one of Moonoo’s dirty cop friends.” That’s when he got angry with me and yet, under cross-examination in the court he admitted that he would have regular meetings with Moonoo.
At Sibaya Casino in Durban. Now, we’ve traced some of the money laundering of Moonoo and these hoods that he runs around with to the various casinos, where they go and they squander their money, swap it for chips and let other people go and get their chips and then, ‘hey, presto – it’s all cleaned up.’ So, that’s where a lot of the money laundering goes. Now, these guys yanked me off the plane. They tortured me, I’m saying it’s torture, because it meets precisely the United Nations’ definition for torture – it meets it. The United Nations’ definition for torture is unlawful arrest, unlawful detention, and being held in conditions which are not humane for the purpose of, (and it defines it), punishing you for something that you’ve done, or obtaining information from you, or stopping you from carrying out a course of action that you’re planning in the future so, it meets precisely. It ticks all the boxes.
Although they didn’t put any wires on my testicles or anything like that. What they did amounts to torture. By the way, I was allegedly arrested, well I was arrested for using my Irish passport. Yet, the four-days that they detained me they kept interrogating me and the interrogations went on from early in the morning until 22h00 or 23h00 at night, or midnight. These interrogations were about Dudu Myeni – what information did I have about her? What information did I have about Moonoo? What information I had about many others?
So, that sort of thing and it gives you an idea of what’s been going on.
So, it wasn’t anything to do with the Irish passport? It was to get you in jail so they could find out what you know?
Did they scare you? Sarah-Jane, does he scare?
Can I tell you what it was like, because I was there as well? Just where the visitors come, there was sewerage running. There was sewerage coming out of the toilets in the cells. There were rats. I saw them with my own eyes. Paul, has a bad back, a broken ankle, and he had to stand in the cell in a corner all night. There was faeces wiped all over the place. Rats running around. You can’t eat because you can’t use the loo. You walk into the cell with the bags of goodies or whatever you have to eat and drink – they take it from you and that is not right. Not even for a murderer is that okay.
But on what grounds so, the grounds were that you were using an Irish passport that you shouldn’t have been using, and you got locked up?
Well, that’s what they said I shouldn’t be using but in fact, the court found that I had acted lawfully.
But Paul, do you scare because for most human beings this kind of treatment would have got them either immigrating or giving up on the work that they did?
I think if you’re going to let them win then you shouldn’t have entered the arena in the first place.
But what keeps you going in those kinds of circumstances?
I don’t like injustice. In fact, if they hadn’t have done that they would have probably got away with everything, but by doing that they just inflamed me and they made me angry. Angry, but in a controlled way, and I decided, okay, you want to fight – let’s do it.
Sarah-Jane, you also went to prison. You also had a…
Yes, it was shocking but…
If you weren’t related or working with Paul and Forensics for Justice you would not have had that experience presumably?
No, I was taken and I think I was just plonked along because I’m also a witness with Paul against Phahlane and the investigation was really getting somewhere. The evidence is overwhelming but they just wanted to get to Paul. Paul got away because he has an interdict. He got away – he knew he was within his rights to flee the scene, and they took me. I don’t think they knew what to do with me. They just drove me around with cable-ties, took me to a police station. They told everyone to deny that I was there. There’s police witnesses at the police station.
Are they coming up now, and saying that?
I think they’ve got. I haven’t been a part of that investigation obviously, because it’s an IPID investigation.
So, IPID are onto that one as well?
Yes so, I’m not influencing that.
So, McBride is unsuspended. He comes back in full-force, and ‘watch out Phahlane,’ because you’ve got an honest cop who’s investigating. If you’ve got an honest guard investigating the guards.
Yes also, if you look at Robert McBride he didn’t fight for this country, and go into prison for 6-years for someone like Phahlane or Ntlemeza to come and screw it all up for the people. It’s just not going to happen.
I was interviewed by ‘The Daily Maverick’ yesterday and I made a point. They asked, ‘but doesn’t this 4-days in jail… Actually, there were other incidents as well, but doesn’t that put you off?’ I said, ‘Well, Nelson Mandela spent 27-years in jail. That didn’t put him off. In fact, look at what he did for the country.’ So, if he can do 27-years in jail, 4-days is really nothing. I think, at the end of the day, we have to teach these thugs a lesson and that’s what I intend to do.
Sarah-Jane, how long were you in jail?
So, they came to the office at 16h30 on the Friday afternoon. I got to the police station in Kameeldrift at 19h00. Then at 21h00 on Sunday night, after an urgent application to release me, in terms of my constitutional rights, I was released. They did not let me out before 21h00. They were writing out a slip but they took 5-minutes to write a word. They were so malicious.
Now, is there malice on your side because given the treatment that the two of you had at the hands of these dirty cops?
No, you can’t have malice. You have to have professionalism. The minute you start playing the game the way they play it, then you’ve just lowered yourself to their level. I sent, what I call ‘teasers,’ in some of the emails that I’ve sent them.
They’re pretty aggressive ‘teasers.’
Yes, but it’s words. It’s a written word.
But it works.
What it does is it tells them that by the way, you will be going to prison, and by the way, prepare yourself for prison. I think those types of words wrong-foots them completely and that’s the reason why I do it.
It makes them angry and emotional, which makes them…
Then they make a lot of mistakes.
Phahlane’s case that’s now coming into the mainstream, what is that all about?
Well, it’s very simply this. When I did the initial investigation, it focussed on a number of areas, with certain police suppliers and the cash-flow, I stated in my opinion, had been driving into his house. Then after I had opened that docket in February, then 6-months later (or a few months later), after all this punishment I had gone through – I decided that I had obviously hit a nerve there so, I’m going to go back and look at that again. I think it was in late 2016, or early 2017 that I said, let’s start focussing on other assets that he owns. We found a house that his mother had up in Limpopo somewhere – it’s more of a mansion.
Well, it’s more of a small farm. How many kilometres on Google Earth that you can see this patch of grass?
Yes, because it’s got irrigation and everything it’s like an oasis in the middle of the desert.
So, it’s hard to miss on Google Earth?
Yes, you can’t miss it on Google Earth so, I saw that and I thought, wow that’s something else and then I flew over it, as you know I have a plane, and I took pictures.
What’s his mother’s farm worth?
What job did she do?
We also did the Google History to see what it was and how fast it was actually made.
Yes, so what we were able to do was in the same way I did with his house – you are able to go to Google Earth History, and you’ve got a timeline on the property. You see these things springing out of the desert and all of a sudden, there it is in its steaming glory and you can value it. It’s not rocket science. In the case of Phahlane we were able to see that the roof was going on his house before he drew one-cent off the bond account. Now, hello, who paid for all that? Obviously, we later found out that it was coming out of the boot of his car in bags of cash.
So, you have suppliers to the police, who were giving Phahlane bags of cash, which he was then using to spring up in the middle of the bushveld a mansion for his mother, as well as his own house, and that’s money laundering?
Correct, it is absolutely money laundering.
Absolutely, but also remember, if you look at what him and his wife were earning at the time. In total max it was R80k for both of them.
Yes, and they were paying their school fees in cash.
Now, I don’t know how someone can pay for 4 kids’ school fees, have a Land Rover, and a Merc, etc., and pay for one of their girls’ university, and build an 8-bedroom house, 2-kitchens, 6-bathrooms, with a swimming pool, a sauna, and a jacuzzi – everything on R80k coming into the house.
Well, clearly, they can’t.
How does that happen?
You know the criminal mind. Surely, from some perspective, you’ve got to think, hang on, someone is going to find out about this, or not?
Well, I think what happens is a lot of these criminals, and I saw it with Selebi. He was on the TV on the 5th November 2006, and Selebi waved his hands in the air at the TV cameras, and he said, “Look at these hands, they’re clean. They don’t need search warrants they can go and look at my bank accounts and they will see what money I’ve had paid in.” When I looked at his body language the penny clicked, and I phoned Andrew Leask, who was the lead investigator at the Scorpions at the time. I said, “Andrew, stop looking for cash. Look at what he hasn’t spent. Don’t look at what he has and don’t look at what he’s received.” That’s where the investigation went and they found that this man and his wife didn’t draw a cent in cash from an ATM or anywhere for 5-months. They didn’t even draw enough to buy a loaf of bread or a pint of milk. Neither of them spent nothing on their credit cards for 5-months so, I’m left wondering, how did they pay for their food and their household contents? If you’ve got bags of cash lying in the house it’s burning a hole in your pocket, and the same with Phahlane. What’s the point in drawing money out on the bond? Go and register the bond so you can, ‘oh, I’ve got a bond registered for that.’ Meanwhile, he didn’t draw anything on the bond.
So, the specific case though that he’s now in front of the courts with.
It’s the motor cars.
How did that all work out?
Let’s just go into a little bit of detail there because I think the thing can’t go into the merits of the case that may still come out in court. But put simply, because it is in the public domain, a supplier to the police – a company called FDA, which at various times was part of the very large company, EOH.
Listed on the stock market?
These share prices being collapsed?
Yes, now I’ve got no doubt whatsoever that some of the criminal conduct of FDA/Keith Keating/Phahlane took place while they were part of the EOH Group.
So, they’re not part of EOH anymore?
No, what happened with EOH, and I think they did the right thing. They decided, listen pal, we don’t want you in our Group and they unbundled the thing, they reversed out of the transaction but now he owes them the money that they paid him.
As a purchase price?
Yes, well you know no company in a merger and acquisition pays the full purchase price on the day they take over the reins. Normally, you have to work out a warranty period of 2 or 3-years, and during that period your figures have to be substantiated and everything, and it gives you the opportunity to say, hang on a second – this marriage isn’t working out and boom, that’s what they did. So, he has to repay them all that money.
This is Keating?
Yes, he has to repay all that money to FDA.
And Keating was a supplier to the police?
A massive supplier to the police. Now, that all came out in Parliament. Keith Keating had the gall to go and sit in Parliament and listen to the testimony about how he had scammed the police and SETA out of billions of Rands.
It was R5bn to R6bn.
Yes, we’re talking serious money. Now, what happened was Keith Keating didn’t just buy Phahlane. In fact, he used to brag that he owns the police. That was a classic, Keith Keating braai time, after a few beers – ‘don’t worry, I own the police.’ Now, Keith Keating engaged himself together with this fellow, Durand Snyman, and the Phahlanes’ in money laundering. So, what he would do was, Keating would send the money to Windhoek, and the money would arrive in Windhoek into the account of Durand Snyman. Then it would come back to SA, and you know we have common customs and a common monetary area.
Yes so, you can move money between the banks very easily. The money would come back and then be used to buy these cars, which were supplied to Phahlane, his wife, another colonel that worked in the police at the forensics division, Phahlane’s daughter, and his sister.
So, you give me the contract and I’ll give you a Toyota?
Well, I’m not sure if it worked exactly like that but certainly, there was a quid pro quo. In the Act it’s defined as a gratification. So, these cars arrived, and we started looking at all of this early last year, I think, and we smelt a rat so, she sent a file to IPID and said, ‘look at all those cars.’ We pulled the history on the motor cars, forensically, and we said when each car was bought and what IPID did was they put good old-fashioned shoe leather on the ground, and they went out and investigated each and every one of those cars. What they found was horrendous and that’s on the charge sheet, it’s all there.
So, that’s the case. It’s funny, it sounds a little bit like Al Capone. He had lots of people murdered and he could have potentially, had charges of many years or many death sentences against him but they got him on tax evasion. Is it something like that, where this Phahlane, from the way you’ve described it, his mother’s mansion…?
But that’s how they got Selebi, by not having anything come out of the bank.
Not the huge things – don’t go for the elephant but actually find an Achilles heel.
What you have to remember, Alec, is that corruption is a covert crime. Now, robbing a bank is an overt crime. So, if you go and rob a bank, after the bank has been robbed, especially if there’s shots fired, everybody who was standing around and saying, ‘oh, that bank just got robbed.’ But corruption is a covert crime, and everybody thinks, ‘but there’s no victim – who’s the victim?’ Well, the victim is very clear, it’s the taxpayer, in the case of government corruption or police corruption, or sometimes it’s criminals who get away with cases that they shouldn’t have got away with.
Surely, it’s the public because the criminals are on the streets and they should have been…
Exactly, yes. Look at Radovan Krejcir – he had all these cops in his pocket and he was getting away, quite literally, with murder. If we hadn’t had heaped the pressure on that we heaped on he would still be out there running the show.
Paul, it actually boggles the mind. This is the guy who is the Head of the SA Police Services.
It’s the second time now that the Head of SAPS is going to jail, potentially. We can’t pre-empt the court’s judgement but they’ve got chapter and verse, which shows cars were given to him and his family members, etc. What’s going on in this country if the Head of the SAPS, the chief guard, is the person who should be protecting you but in fact, he’s going to be going to jail. How does that happen?
Yes, it’s because of the political capture of the Criminal Justice System. If you want somebody to be the Chief of Police and look after your interests and you’re the president, and you have all these family members, and the friends of family members, who are all involved in serious crime – you’re not going to pick an honest cop, are you, because he might just arrest you? So, clearly, you’re going to pick somebody that’s flexible.
But Selebi was a long time ago.
I’m not talking about Selebi, I’m talking about Phahlane.
I’m talking about Selebi…Phahlane I get.
Well, Selebi is history, he was a political appointment.
So, he would have been crooked anyway. He wasn’t put there to protect anyone.
He was crooked from the get-go. When Selebi was Ambassador to the UN in Switzerland, he was given a briefcase full of money, it contained $1m by one of the Saudi princes. The money was supposed to be given to the MK Military Vets Association. Selebi, on the next flight to SA, he made special arrangements and flew in with that suitcase or briefcase, and he handed it over. When the guy sat and counted it, there was exactly $500k there. So, what happened to the other $500k? Selebi swiped it. Six-years later he became Chief of Police.
So, what’s the distinction or the differentiation between the two Chiefs of Police, who are going to jail? The one guy was just inherently corrupt. The other guy was…
He was inherently corrupt and there was insufficient investigation carried out before appointing him. If Mbeki had carried out proper investigation he would have found that Jackie Selebi was arrested in 1998 for being in possession of a stolen motor vehicle. Now, he was Director-General of Foreign Affairs then, as it was called then. He was found in possession of this motor vehicle and when the police interviewed him he told him that he bought it from a place. When the police went there Selebi had actually bought this vehicle from a chop-shop, and because of who he was and what not he managed to make the case go away.
It was swept under the carpet.
He should have been prosecuted there and then.
He should never have become Chief of Police but it was incompetence in his appointment. Whereas this appointment it wasn’t incompetence it was a very deliberate appointment to appoint Phahlane.
It was an intentional appointment of a person that would do what they wanted him to do.
And that’s what he did. The problem is you’ve got so many good people in the police that are capable of doing the job, and doing it properly. We have to get rid of these criminals in the police, and the sooner the better.
Yes, what do you call them, clowns with gowns and criminals with badges?
Yes, clowns with gowns and criminals with badges, and they haven’t been stopped yet. We’re in this hiatus at the moment, because Zuma should have been gone already but he’s not. I can’t wait for Zuma to be gone because as soon as he’s gone we’ll have a new president and the new president will immediately suspend Shaun Abrahams. If he doesn’t then the ANC don’t deserve to win the next election. He will immediately start taking action against the prosecutors that sat on their hands, instead of prosecuting those involved in State-Capture.
So, the big question about all of this is, will Ramaphosa be different? You’ve mentioned and you appear to be pretty confident that that’s the case, but in this country, we did have the TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission), after apartheid, and a lot of people got away with murder, literally, just by saying, ‘sorry.’ Is that not an option now so, the country can go ahead, and that these clowns with gowns and criminals be badges get away with it?
Let me explain to you. These people, what they’ve done, they haven’t done anything that was of a political nature. They’ve been robbing the country blind. Stealing billions from Eskom. How on earth could you possibly swiping SAA…? They’ve brought SAA, Eskom, PRASA, Transnet – they’ve brought those entities to their knees, and you want those people to come and have a ‘sit and tell all – say sorry, and be left off the hook?’ It will happen again in 10-years’ time. They must all go to prison and go for a very long time.
So, that’s the solution to this. It’s not a political crime. These are thugs who will do it again – does the criminal ever change?
We have this whole system – they go to jail, and hopefully come out of jail reformed.
No, it happens in some countries.
She’s laughing, am I that naïve Sarah-Jane?
Or is the question that naïve?
You know the problem, Alec, there’s no reformation process in this country. So, a person goes to jail, and if he’s a low-level criminal, he comes out a high-level criminal because he’s learnt the tricks of the trade in prison. So we don’t have a Criminal Justice System that functions, and why would it function, when you see all the corruption going on? Radovan Krejcir has his cell searched and the phone taken away, and the next day he’s got another phone – that’s corruption. So, they have to clean up the Criminal Justice System. The Criminal Justice System is producing criminals.
Can it be cleaned up?
Well, good leadership. Appoint good, solid people to run the organisation.
Is it all about leadership?
Absolutely, if you’ve got people that arrive at work at the right time of day, and arrive there with the intention of carrying out a decent days’ work and arrive there with the intention of not having sex with their subordinates, like some of these senior cops do, and arrive there with the intention of not living beyond their means. Arrive there with the intention of trying to do something today to make a difference to make your country a better country. If all the police had that, and all the prosecutors had that, and all the Hawks and everybody has that – and all the government ministers have that approach then this SA that we live in would be the best country in the world.
But doesn’t that sound like a utopia?
No, why should it sound like a utopia?
Because it sounds like it’s a complete opposite to what’s been going on.
Well, let me tell you something. Nelson Mandela had the ability to do that. He could have done it. He was a gentleman of gentlemen. He could smell a bad person. He could see that the person was basically good. I think it’s not impossible. If I thought it was impossible I would have packed my bags and ducked years ago. I believe that Nelson Mandela’s dream is achievable and it’s achievable in my lifetime.
And Ramaphosa is he the right person to resuscitate that dream?
Look, I know him as an individual. You could say we’re friends. If we meet each other – he knows me, and we know each other. We’ve had supper together a number of times. We’ve drank wine at Wandie’s Place in Soweto, and I can tell you, if I look at who else is out there right now – he’s probably the best man for the job.
Well, the international community is enthralled by him. You’ve seen the Rand strengthen from $14.50 to $12. That takes a huge vote of confidence to move the currency that quickly.
That’s if you compare the Rand to the Dollar, but if you compare it to other currencies, it hasn’t moved quite that much.
Well, it’s at least half as much. There’s been a significant movement in the currency.
Yes, I think there are certain benefits to be had from a weaker Rand, of course, and there’s certain benefits to be had from a stronger Rand. At the end of the day, I suppose the Rand will always find its level, where people want to buy and sell it, but I do believe what’s more important is that we have a country, regardless at what level the Rand is at. Where the people of this country have confidence in their government. At this moment in time that does not exist.
The Rand is the share price of the country, and that’s kind of telling you that it’s moving in the right direction.
That there is a lot of optimism. The concern that some people have is that this optimism is over-done. Is that a concern that you are sharing? In other words, we’re getting too excited about it because it’s actually going to take a long time to fix, if it is at all fixable.
Well, I do believe it’s fixable but it will take time to fix. Zuma and his cronies has spent 10-years stuffing up SA so, we’re not going to fix it in 10-weeks. Some of the people that they’ve planted they’re almost like sleepers in a long-term spying novel, where people are planted at the age of 25 and told, in the old Soviet way of doing things – ‘you stay there – we’ll contact you in 10-years, until then, just get on with whatever you’re doing.’
How do you uncover that?
We know who a lot of them are, and I’ve called for a thorough investigation on every appointment that Phahlane has made, while he’s been in the police. I’ve called for an investigation on every appointment that Abrahams has made, while he’s been running the NPA. I’ve called for every appointment that Nhleko made in the Hawks, and every appointment that Ntlemeza made in the Hawks. So, I’ve called for all that and I think that has to happen. If it doesn’t happen it’s almost like you haven’t bothered to scan the body and remove the remaining cancer.
What about those people sitting in those situations? If you take a rational human being, they can see that the tide has turned. Are they coming forward now, and saying, ‘I’m not part of that camp anymore – I was forced to do it?’
Strangely enough, one or two of them have. I’m not going to name them, but I’ve said to him, “Prove it – go ahead and do something that proves to me that you’re not part of that gang.”
You told me about a tattle-tale room once.
Yes, and I think we need that tattle-tale room. What we need now is, and certainly with regards to State-Capture, is we need a tattle-tale room and the room needs to be big enough for six-people, no more. And we say, right, the first people that can come in here and tell us a story as to what went wrong. People that were actively part of it. Those ones, unless they’re the kingpins, we can let you off the hook and you can give evidence against the others, and I think that will happen. We’re going to have a situation in some of these cases, where the criminals that have committed crimes lower down on the food-chain are going to be able to cut a plea bargain with the State and instead of going to prison – come and tell it the way it was.
How do they do that because they had the opportunity? If you recall, probably a year or so ago, when the ANC did its investigation into State-Capture and nobody came forward.
Unfortunately, the ANC investigation wasn’t correct. You can’t have the mice guarding the cheese. You have to have somebody independent and it can be ourselves, we don’t mind. Forensics for Justice is happy to receive information. In fact, we have received information and tip-offs.
I know Business Leadership have been getting quite a few people through there as well.
Then Bonang must give me a ring because Bonang Mohale and I also go back many years. I remember working with Bonang when he was running Otis Elevators in SA, and that was before democracy, at a time when he was probably one of the first black CEOs of an international company in SA, in terms of the Sullivan Code, and that’s got nothing to do with me – the US had this thing called the Sullivan Code.
Yours would have been the ‘O’Sullivan Code.’
Yes, exactly. So, Bonang was appointed to run Otis Elevators, and I liked their style and I liked the way they did business so, I gave them a lot of business. I was looking after a large property portfolio then and I gave Bonang a lot of business, and we got on really well. Later on, we kind of followed the same rivers. He was working at SAA, and I was working at AXA.
And Shell SA, CEO.
Yes, and then he went to Shell. While he’s been at Shell we’ve seen each other a number of times. In fact, we formed the ‘Supper Club,’ which is, and I’m not going to name anybody in the ‘Supper Club’ but Bonang is one of them, and we meet every now and then and we solve all the problems of the world when we meet and have a few bites to eat.
Then you go out and physically solve the problems of the world, but what’s the O’Sullivan Code? You’ve mentioned the Leon Sullivan Code, which made a big change to SA, but just to close off this hour of conversation, what is the O’Sullivan Code?
Well, I think I’ve got a very simple code, and that is never do anything in life that you can’t tell your children about. That’s the code I live by. Work hard, play hard, keep your ethics up and think about what you’re going to do. If it’s not something and I’ve got children that range in ages, the youngest is 10, and if you’re not able to tell your children what you’re doing then it means what you’re doing is wrong so, don’t do it.
Paul O’Sullivan, and Sara-Jane Trent it’s been a pleasure talking to the movers behind Forensics for Justice. You can contribute to their work by donating by clicking here.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.