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After spending time in a “rat and sewer infested” cell and wiping out his financial resources fighting corruption in South Africa, forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan has found a partner. The man who responsible for bringing one-time Interpol chief Jackie Selebi to justice has teamed up with civic society body Afriforum. Their new anti-corruption unit will apply a clause in the SA Constitution which allows privately driven criminal prosecutions where the State decides not to proceed. O’Sullivan says the unit is eyeing low hanging fruit including SAA’s deeply compromised chairman Dudu Myeni and, in the wake of the Public Protector’s Report, President Jacob Zuma and his business associates, the crony capitalist Gupta brothers. – Alec Hogg
Paul O’Sullivan is back in London. Good to see you here near Heathrow. Paul, what are you doing in the UK this time?
Well, Alec as you probably know, last week was the school holidays, it was half-term holidays, so I spent some time with my children. The mother of my children has now put her foot down and prevented my children from travelling to South Africa, so the only way I can see my children now is for me to travel to the UK until the storm has blown over.
Well, I’m not surprised and I’m sure you aren’t either, if you have your dad pulled off the aeroplane, as it’s happened to you last time.
Yes, I was bringing them back to school Alec, and the two minor children (I have seven children), but those two in particular had been to visit us for Easter and I was bringing them back, they were due back at school on the Monday morning and I think we were flying out on the Friday night. The door was closing, they were actually about to pull the handle and I had a glass of champagne in my hand and I was watching the door closing. Then all of a sudden the door stopped being closed and opened and I was taken off the plane with my children and that was the start of a horrifying chapter in my life.
No doubt in their lives as well. There was all kinds of talk about perhaps you were going to get arrested at the airport.
Well, I didn’t bring them here. In fact, what happened was they came then as unaccompanied minors two days later and I came out for the older of the two girls who’s having her tenth birthday. I came here for her birthday and yes, they had indicated that these dirty prosecutors had issued an email to my attorney stating that they intended to arrest me. As it turns out they didn’t arrest me, I’d like to see them do it now because we’re now geared up to fight them and beat them, not only fight them but beat them and I think we’ve got the measure of them.
They’re all cowards, they’re all politically corrupt and in some cases they’re not just politically corrupt, they’re corrupt in as much as they’ve been receiving kickbacks. We’ve identified them and dockets have been opened. So the last seven months I haven’t been sitting back twiddling my thumbs and letting them take the upper hand I’ve been fighting back and I think we’ve now got the measure of them.
You said “we”, you’ve teamed up with AfriForum, who is AfriForum?
AfriForum is a civil-rights movement based in South Africa. They have more than 180 000 members. I think they’re shortly going to go over the 200 000 member mark. They’re predominantly interested in protecting the rights of marginalised minorities, or disempowered minorities, so I suppose the bulk of their membership would be the Afrikaans community and the farming community, but they’ve spread further afield than that as well. I’m quite content that they’re not an Afrikaans cultural group; they are actually much more widespread than that. I’d seen and heard mention of them in the media before, but when I went to the head office in Pretoria, I was shocked at the scale and the efficiency and professionalism of their operations, and they go out of their way to do things in a proper and correct manner.
Up to this point you’ve been fighting the war pretty much on your own, it must have cost you a bit of money.
Yes, Alec, I can honestly tell you, I mean the Selebi case cost me in excess of R6mn, that of Radovan Krejcir cost me more than R5mn and exposing these corrupt cops and prosecutors and the likes up to now has taken me over R4.5mn. I’ve now reached the stage where I have to throttle in and stop what I’m doing if I hadn’t have teamed up with AfriForum, in fact.
Why did you do it?
Look, you know, why did anybody climb Everest? You know because it was there. It’s the right thing to do as that famous orator, Burke said, “All that’s needed for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” and I’ve long held a view that if a country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for. When I look at what the likes of Mandela and all those other people, (I mean I have some very good friends, people like Mathews Phosa and all these other people that they either went into exile or they went into prison) and I look at what they went through, they didn’t do that just so that some thieving vagabonds could come along and steal the country while everybody was looking the other way. I feel that South Africa has the potential to be, without a doubt, the next powerhouse of the world, if not the world, certainly of Africa.
Fortunately, not everybody was looking the wrong way, you have the Public Protector, and you have the report and state capture which in fact only came out yesterday. Have you had a chance to look at it yet?
Oh yes, I managed to get my hands on the report, I think about two o’clock yesterday afternoon and I can tell you I’ve demolished a good bottle of Merlot and had a cold towel wrapped around my head and I went through that report until late last night. I discussed it with my colleagues at AfriForum and we’ve taken a decision that AfriForum will open formal corruption dockets against the people that have been named and shamed in there. I don’t know, I think it’s an absolute disgrace.
Paul, opening a docket, laying a charge isn’t a guarantee that there’ll be a prosecution.
Well, that’s clearly the case. I mean I opened dockets against Jackie Selebi in the year 2001 and he was only charged in 2008 and I must admit, the seven years in between was seven years of hard slog. That’s probably primarily because I was doing it on my own, but now I’m no longer on my own. I’ve teamed up with AfriForum and they have a lot of muscle. AfriForum have already announced a week or two ago that we’ve put forward this anti-corruption unit. It’s now been formed and we have the necessary skills on board to investigate corruption, whether it’s state-sponsored or wherever, but primarily we’re interested in state-sponsored corruption and if one takes a look at this state capture report, we have made a decision, there was a media announcement in the early hours of this morning that AfriForum will be opening dockets and proceeding with them.
Now, just opening a document, as you rightly say is not the end of the matter. So what we are planning to do (and I don’t want to steal any thunder from AfriForum because there will be a media conference soon to announce it), but we will be prosecuting cases. In other words, we will force the state to make a decision to prosecute, or if they decide that they’re not going to prosecute, to issue a certificate that they’re not going to prosecute and then we will cherry pick those cases, we will pick the ones that have the best evidence in them and we will prosecute them ourselves. We will, in other words, run a parallel activity to the national prosecuting authority.
That’s like private prosecutions, how does it work?
Well, it works very simple. There’s a provision for it in the Criminal Procedure’s Act. First the state has to decline to prosecute and it’s a constitutional thing as well because everybody’s entitled to their day in court, everybody is entitled in terms of the constitution to have justice and if the state have made a decision that they’re not going to prosecute and that person feels strongly enough that there should be a prosecution, then he can take over or she can take over the role of the state and bring that prosecution themselves. Obviously, they then have to fund that and that funding includes the fact that quite often they have to make a deposit into the court to cover the legal costs of the other side in the event that they should win.
So it’s privatising the criminal justice system, (to a degree at least).
Well, it is, but it’s necessary in South Africa because the criminal justice system has been captured by state sponsored criminals and I’m talking about people associated with Zuma. One only has to look at the situation where, I think it was Harold Wilson in 1969 that said “A week is a long time in politics”. Well, a week has been a long time in South Africa. In the last week, I mean if we turn the clock back to this day last week, this day last week we had a situation where a number of people were awaiting trial on offences relating to fraud.
We had Gordhan and two others, which was Pillay and Magashula, the retired or ex-Commissioner of SARS, they were awaiting trial on charges of fraud and theft, we had Robert McBride, Matthew Sesoko, and Innocent Khuba from the IPID, (that’s the Independent Police Investigative Directorate), they were awaiting trial on charges of fraud and all these cases were to appear in court this week, in fact, on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. On Monday we have Sean Abrahams announcing that the charges are withdrawn against Gordhan, on Tuesday we have McBride, and two others appear in the Regional Court in Pretoria and the so-called PCLU, which is the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (I call them the Political Crimes Litigation Unit), they announced that they are no longer going to prosecute McBride, Sesoko and Khuba.
Then we have this delightful situation where on Wednesday, the High Court allows the DA, the EFF and others to intervene in Zuma’s application to prevent the release of the Public Protector’s report (sorry, that was on Tuesday as well). Yesterday Zuma, realising that he’s not going to win, has to concede that the public Protector’s report will be released and it is indeed released. So a lot happened this week and I don’t think the show is over. I think before Christmas, there’s going to be a lot more happening and I’m pleased to say that myself and AfriForum, we’ll be out there at the front of the battle.
It’s quite obvious why Zwane and van Rooyen, two ministers in Zuma’s cabinet as well as Zuma himself tried to block the release of the Public Protector’s report, but what do you make of the fact that the Chief Executive in the Public Protector’s office resigned yesterday ahead of that report going out as well?
Well, it’s my understanding that, that’s pure coincidence. It’s my understanding that it was the beginning of the month and she wanted to leave at the end of the month and that she’s been having some health issues. So I’ve not attached, at this stage, any suspicion to that.
Nothing sinister in that, but if you then take it one step further that report that did come out last night that you enjoyed reading with your bottle of Merlot and towel around your head, is this the beginning or the end for the Zuptas?
Well, I think it has to be. I think we have this situation, it’s not just the beginning of the end for the Zuptas, but it’s the end of the beginning for South Africa re-establishing its constitutional democracy because the constitutional democracy of South Africa has been under attack by criminals for the last ten years and we’re now seeing a situation where the people of the country, (and it’s not a political thing, it’s all parties and members of all parties), members of the ANC are coming out and saying “This has got to stop”. So we’re going to see the end of the beginning for the constitutional democracy being re-established, a dream that people like Tambo and Mandela had for South Africa can now be realised and I’m proud to say I was a part of that fight.
Indeed you were to your personal cost as you mentioned earlier, but just going ahead now, the whole private prosecutions, you’ve explained how that’s going to work. Have you identified anybody that will be on your hit list?
Oh yes, we have. Perhaps we should change the tone of it from hit list to something a little bit less malign, shall we say, but more benign. I think what we want to do is we want to identify cases that are winnable. There’s no point in going after complex cases. For example, I was having a look, you know late last year; in fact a little bit more than year ago, I opened a docket against a number of people involving the Prasa fraud and corruption scandal. Now, if we had to prosecute that, we’d need a team of people and the prosecution would drag on for years. There is clearly no point for us to be involved in something like that. That would be costly and time consuming and while we’re doing that there’d be many other things slipping through the woodwork, so we’ve decided to cherry pick. Now the constitution doesn’t allow the National Prosecuting Authority to cherry pick.
Everybody is supposed to be equal before the law and they’re supposed to identify their prosecutorial decisions without fear, favour, or prejudice. Well, we all know that hasn’t been happening and the National Prosecuting Authority have in fact abandoned the oath of office to prosecute without fear, favour or prejudice and the result is that if you’re a Zuma, or a friend of Zuma, or you’re in business with a friend of Zuma or your wife plays tennis with a friend of Zuma, or something like that you will not be prosecuted. Now that’s clearly wrong, so we’ve identified a number of those cases and we’re saying we’re going to put the National Prosecuting Authority on notice.
The first thing we’ll do is we’ll issue a notice in terms of the Criminal Procedures Act to say to the National Prosecuting Authority, “There you are, you’ve had that case since this date or that date and you’ve not prosecuted, in fact, you haven’t even…” and The Hawks as well, because you can bundle them in together with the National Prosecuting Authority. We’re going to say “You guys have done nothing. You’ve had all the evidence, it’s been put in front of you, and you’ve taken the decision, a quiet decision, and a secret decision not to do anything with it. Well, we’re not putting you on terms, we’re giving you 30 days to issue a notice that you’re not going to prosecute or announce to us that you are going to prosecute and if you don’t we’re going to go to court and we’re going to get the court to issue a notice that you’re not going to prosecute and then we’re going to mount the private prosecution”.
Who are you going to start with?
I think, you know, one has to look at the low-hanging fruit and clearly some of the low-hanging fruit would include the people like Dudu Myeni. Here we have a woman who’s closely linked to Zuma, in fact, she’s the founder, and chairman of the Zuma Foundation and the Zuma Foundation itself hasn’t issued accounts for the last three years. One has to wonder whether or not the Zuma Foundation’s been used for money laundering. There’s no ability of the man in the street to see that the Zuma Foundation is clean. So you have this woman that set that up and runs it, she’s running the national airline, South African Airways, she ditches a deal with Emirates Airline because they don’t make a contribution to the Zuma Foundation. Now I can’t understand how the two can be linked.
She then tries to swing a deal to Quartile Capital, where the directors of Quartile Capital have, in their own personal capacity suffered judgement against them for tax. In other words, they haven’t paid their taxes and she wants to swing a deal to them for a R6bn deal to acquire a new Airbus and when treasury stop her from doing that, the Minister of Finance gets fired, plunging the country into political and economic turmoil. Then we have a new finance minister appointed who lasts four days and it later transpires that before he was appointed, the job was offered to another chap by the name of Jonas. In return, he was asked to make sure that the South African Airways route to Mumbai would be cancelled, so the Gupta Airline can get the route. When you look at all this, it’s quite clear that there’s low-hanging fruit there.
From a prosecuting perspective, you’re talking about?
Yes, from a prosecuting perspective and it’s very clean.
It’s an open and shut case?
Open and shut case, I have all the documents. I’ve opened a docket in March of 2015 against Dudu Myeni and the docket I opened in March 2015 against Dudu Myeni implicates here in attempting to buy the cellular phone and bank records of three directors of South African Airways. Now these were the three directors who were stopping her from getting her hands in the cookie jar and she wanted to get some dirt on them and the best way she thought she could do it was to appoint a private detective to come to me and attempt to get me to go to Vodacom and discreetly and unlawfully acquire their cell phone records so that she could do a witch hunt on them. I flagged that up and sent a sworn statement to the CEO of South African Airways and there’s clearly offences being committed there.
So you’ve got that situation, you’ve got her attempt at, I mean it wasn’t’ an attempt, she altered board minutes to change an agreed transaction with Airbus from ten units, in other words ten aircraft to two units. She wanted the other eight units floating around out there so she could play around with Quartile Capital and they could raise the cash and buy it. Now what’s the purpose of introducing a middle mannetjie? There can only be one purpose and that is to loot the Treasury.
If you’re going out to buy a motor car from Ford, Mercedes or BMW, you don’t go to a third party and say “Listen, I want to buy a BMW, would you come to the showroom with me and have a look at the cars and you buy it and I’ll buy it from you, or you buy it and I’ll lease it from you”. What’s the purpose of having a middle man in the deal, especially a middle man that never went through any procurement process; we’ve got all the evidence.
Paul, one thing that confuses me and I think confuses many South Africans is despite being exposed as Dudu Myeni has been with Quartile Capital and the whole Nenegate, she does it again with BMP Capital. Again, there’s overwhelming evidence from it and I want to maybe just see if you can get into the mind of this person. You’ve worked with these kinds of people for many years.
Oh yes, I mean I’ve studied the criminal mind as well for many years. I’ve been playing this game now for more than 40 years and if one has a look, one can liken it to a puppy dog. What happens is your new puppy dog, and you’ve got him housetrained, but after you get him housetrained, that’s just about his toiletries, the next thing is he starts chewing on the cushion or something like this. You shout “No” and he stops and he looks at you and then he carries on chewing and eventually you have to get to a regime where you train them a bit, you have to resort to other methods. When you’re dealing with criminals, the criminal mind, they justify what they’re doing, they don’t say “Ooh, what I’m doing is wrong”, and they justify it. If they didn’t justify it they couldn’t do it. The difference would be of course, psychopaths. Now psychopaths, many of them know what they’re doing is wrong and they get pleasure out of it.
I think we probably have a few psychopaths in suits involved with Zuma and his friends, but when one looks at someone like Dudu Myeni, she knows that she’s being protected; she knows that she can do no wrong. I mean even Gordhan did not have the ability, despite the fact that he was Minister of Finance, who exercised his ultimate control over South African Airways, he could not stop Myeni from staying on as chairman of South African Airways and in my opinion that is an absolute disgrace, but if one looked at the state capture report, there is evidence that South African Airways were involved in the collusive arrangements with the Guptas there as well and it just has to stop.
The problem is that these criminals know they’re protected, they know that they have friends in high places; they know that there are generals in the police. I mean, I was arrested on the 1st of April, dragged off to a rat infested, sewer infested police station in Pretoria and on the following day transferred to another police station with my handcuffs behind my back and it’s a good job they were behind my back because the Irish in me might have resulted in Mocker Teddy getting a broken nose and he starts insulting me and then telling me in the same sentence that I don’t know how I’ve upset Dudu Myeni.
It sounds to me, to use your analogy a little bit, or to extend it a little bit, it’s like the puppy dog is chewing at the leg, but it has a huge big Rottweiler that is protecting it, so you can’t discipline that puppy. You’re not going to just keep continuing in its way.
Yes, I like that analogy. In fact, you try and discipline that puppy dog and the Rottweiler’s going to come and bite you. Now we have a situation where you have people, (and I can name them), people like Robert McBride, I sat down with him, (it must be more than two years ago now), and I went through in detail with him the details how Lieutenant General Moonoo was corruptly protecting Zuma associates.
Dockets had been registered, SARS, the so-called SARS Rogue Unit was ready to pounce on the Zuma associates, and we have cops in the police, in Moonoo’s office protecting those criminal associates. Those criminal associates of Zuma were opening dockets against the people at SARS and Moonoo, using taxpayer funds had cops wasting their time trying to put cases together against the employees of SARS to prosecute them for doing nothing more than doing their job and then the dockets that had been opened against the Zuma associates were all sitting gathering dust in a corner in Moonoo’s office.
By privatising prosecutions as you are doing, you again yourselves and AfriForum are one force, are there others who come to the party, who are there to assist you, business now says it wants to try and clean up or help to clean up South Africa. We had the People’s Assembly where there was a lot of emotive noise that was made, are there others coming now, even at this belated stage to support you?
Well, I think they will come. I mean everybody should stick to their knitting, shouldn’t they and if you’re in the business of doing business, you should stick to your business and if there are obstacles in the way it shouldn’t be a need for businesses, even big businesses to start employing prosecutors to prosecute dirty cops and dirty people that are involved in corrupt practices, but businesses suffer from corruption. I know because I’ve seen it. So if they want to make a difference they should join AfriForum.
NB: To donate to the corruption fund the word “corruption” must be added after the person’s name.
Or at least give some financial support, which is probably the way they can.
Yes, they should contribute. If we set up a prosecutorial team (and we are setting up), which is second to none, in other words, we’re going to not only match what the NPA are doing, we’re going to improve on what the NPA are doing and that’s easy to do because the NPA are incompetent. They are not running the show properly. You’ve got this Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, which are a bunch of thugs and all they’re doing is they’re prosecuting people that have tried to stop corruption in South Africa and they’ve completely missed their opportunity to do the right thing.
Paul, just from your side, it’s only seven months ago that you were thrown into jail as you’ve just shared with us a moment back, was that the low point for you now given that you are working together with AfriForum on this private prosecution?
Yes, I think it probably was a low point. There were periods there where things didn’t look too good. In fact, you know even up until a few weeks ago I was contemplating packing my bags and leaving the country and saying “To hell with it, they can go to hell, 30 years of my life is down the tubes and I’ll go and live in poverty somewhere else, rather than live as part of this regime” and when I was discussing it with Mathews Phosa, (you know many people don’t know this), I went into exile in 2007 because I was fighting Jackie Selebi and they put a death squad out. We couldn’t prove who was behind it, but we knew there was a death squad out and the information we got was they intended to kill my wife and children, so I decided to relocate the family for safety reasons and Selebi kept making noises and his spokespeople kept making noises about how they were going to deal with me.
I mean I had that idiot Selby Bokaba, who was Selebi’s spokesman telling me that my mother was a ‘hoer’ from Hillbrow and he was personally going to deal with me. So I had a lot to deal with and I went into exile for two years. When I returned, I returned after Selebi had been charged and before the trial had commenced and I sat with Mathews Phosa and we were having a cup of tea and he jokingly referred to me, when we were discussing with another colleague, he said “Well, Paul’s now a returnee”. You know so I almost went into exile again. In fact, when I sent that email on the 15th of March, I told them, if I have to I’ll go into exile and fight this corruption from overseas. Well, I’m still fighting the corruption. The low point is no longer a low point in my life.
One looks back on these things and said, “Well I’m glad they did it now, for two reasons: One, it reconfirmed that they are wrong and I will fight back. I don’t get put down so easily, I’m tenacious and the second reason I’m happy about it is because I’ve been told and I believe it, I have a very good claim against the state and all these criminals are going to put back my pension fund that they’ve taken away.
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