Fearless South African forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan is at his feisty best in this interview at a London pub called the King’s Head. He is promising to “do a Selebi” on a number of president Jacob Zuma’s crooked deployed cadres, including Eskom’s reinstated CEO Brian Molefe. The way O’Sullivan sees it, these corrupt public servants belong behind bars, and he is determined to put them there. O’Sullivan remains positive about South Africa, despite setbacks like the recent and as yet unreported Table Mountain murder and kidnapping of the head of the United Nation’s Food Programme. Have a listen to find out why the ace crime fighter sees the country’s glass as being half full. As long as the likes of O’Sullivan are fighting for justice, hope springs. – Alec Hogg
I’m with Paul O’Sullivan, we meet in the most interesting places. We’re in London again, this time at the King’s Head Pub, which is… I see you’re enjoying your Guinness there, Paul, but the last time we were in London, about a month ago. It was outside Trafalgar Square and at that time if you remember there were about 600 South Africans protesting ‘Zuma Must Fall’ – well he hasn’t fallen yet.
No, well you know Rome wasn’t built in a day but I’m fairly confident that Zuma will not go to the next general election and even if he does go to the next general election, along the way, every time he steps out of line he’ll be slapped back into line. We’re seeing the results of that now. We’ve got this Constitutional Court judgment, which we’re expecting to have the outcome over next week, and hopefully, that will be ‘yes’ to a secret vote and that will be a vote of ‘no confidence in Zuma’ and after that vote of no confidence, let’s see what happens then.
It’s interesting on that secret ballot because there’s been so much resistance to it from Zuma’s side, and Julius Malema says ‘when they get the secret ballot (he thinks it’s going to happen) – that’s the end of Zuma.’ Do you think it’s as cut and dried as that?
I think in politics nothing is ever cut and dried. There’s a lot of dynamics there. I do believe that those that have been feeding out of the trough with him will definitely vote in his favour but what can they do? Can they rob more of the country and share it with the rest of the MPs? I don’t know. In my opinion, anybody that votes to keep Zuma as President is dishonest and is corrupt. So, let’s see what will happen but if the majority of the ANC MPs vote to keep Zuma then the ANC truly deserve to lose the next general election.
The last time we spoke you said that the Zuptoids control the criminal justice system but subsequent to that, when we had a conversation, you did say that you felt optimistic that things were moving in the right direction – that things were changing?
Yeah, I’m still optimistic, Alec. I mean one has to consider what’s happened to Ntlezema. Now Ntlezema is a Zuma appointment. He was put there to protect Zuma and he has effectively gone, let’s put it like this – he’s in the departure lounge. The flight hasn’t taken off yet and the flights been delayed, there’s fog on the runway and soon the fog is going to clear, and he’ll be gone, he’ll be history. Then I’m going after a few more of his cronies, people that have been appointed by him together with Zuma. People like Moketedi and other sharp, blue-eyed boys who are there to protect Zuma.
Just wait a little. Why is it so important – Ntlezema how important is he and how big a job does he hold?
It’s not the importance of his job it’s the importance of the people he appoints, so he, for example, appointed the National Head of the Hawks in charge of commercial crime, he’s a guy called Brigadier Khan, or General Khan, he was appointed by Ntlezema. He was appointed for one reason and one reason only to make sure that the dockets that would see Zuma or any of his accomplices go to prison are held in a dark room somewhere without ever seeing the light of day, and that’s his function. Now, I’m starting to make headway into him and he will be moved. The new Head of the Hawks will be forced to move him, if she doesn’t move him herself there’ll be court applications brought. So, although it appears I work alone, I do for the most part. I bring to the attention of certain civil organisations, what’s going on, and they complement the work I do with their applications. So, you have the Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom under Law and AfriForum and they all bring relevant applications to court to compliment the work that I’m doing. So, for a great deal of it, I go and find out all the facts, put I in front of them, and they go and polish the job off. I think we’re starting to see the Zuma mountain crumble. Phahlane has got to go soon. Phahlane is an evil man. He’s a criminal and there’s no doubt in my mind he’s a criminal. Remember, I have first-hand knowledge of the evidence against and he will be going to prison but what he’s doing at the moment, he’s delaying the process.
We see in the media that Phahlane calls the IPID the OPID, he calls it ‘O’Sullivan’s Police Investigative directive instead of the independent one. Your relationship goes back a long way and clearly, there’s not much love there.
Well, it’s got nothing to do with love. I just hate criminals and since Phahlane is a criminal I hate him and I hate him more because he’s the Chief of Police, albeit it an acting position and as Acting Chief of Police to have a criminal, as an Acting Chief of Police – in my opinion, it’s untenable and here he goes around in his fancy cars and showing his ill-gotten gains and then he has the cheek to take dirty cops, accomplices of his and send them after me and send them off to my lawyer, and send them after honest people that work for IPID. So, I hope at some point Phahlane tunes in and listens to this cause you, Phahlane, I am sending you to prison. I said it two years ago and I’m saying it again now.
Is he in the same mould as the man that you did send to prison, the former Head of Police, Jackie Selebi?
Hell no, Selebi wasn’t half as corrupt as Phahlane is. Phahlane has made a lot more money than Jackie Selebi. I’d be surprised if Selebi took more than a million or 1.5 million. Phahlane has taken millions, millions of rands and not only has he done that he’s brought about a situation where the Forensic Services Division of the Police has been using out of date chemicals and shoddy equipment and they’ve used out of date chemicals and shoddy equipment so that Phahlane could build a fancy mansion at Sable Hills Estate. So, not only will he go to prison. I’ll be taking that mansion off him. That mansion will be going on auction – I can give a guarantee of that.
Paul, last time we spoke as well, it was the day after your offices had been raided by a couple of dozen policemen. Has anything come from that?
Nothing at all. They went away empty handed. I think they might have taken away Phahlane’s bank statements but they would have had that anyway, so really there’s not a lot there for them. Those people that raided my offices are themselves, under investigation by IPID for torture and murder, and they got the cheek to come and raid my offices. So, not only will I be sending Phahlane to prison but General Mabula and Brigadier Hangwani, and Brigadier Nkubi, I will be sending them to prison as well.
When you say you’ll be sending them to prison you have new strategies in his regard.
I shall keep the heat on until they are taken to court and convicted and sent to jail. I will not allow them… Once I get my teeth into something, Alec, I never give in and I’m putting them on terms. I will never give in while I’m breathing, they will go to prison.
While you’re breathing is there concerns though that these are pretty dangerous characters that they might be coming after you, when you go back to South Africa?
Let them bring it on. I’ll eat them for breakfast and I’ll still be hungry afterwards. I have got no fear of dirty cops like that. They have got none of the training I have and 10 of them can come and see me and I’ll deal with all of them.
Paul, just your allies, as you have now put together. You’re working with AfriForum and Gerrie Nel is now also in that organisation. How’s that all working out?
Well, I don’t work for AfriForum. I have a synergy with AfriForum and I support AfriForum in their anti-corruption initiatives and they support me in my anti-corruption initiatives, so there’s a synergy there. Gerrie Nel is, as you know, is a Prosecutor, a very seasoned Prosecutor and he’s a good Prosecutor – I’ve worked with him on a number of cases and I’m pleased to say that he’s finding his feet very well. I think, very soon, in the not too distant future, there’s going to be an announcement. I know what it is but I am sworn to secrecy and you won’t get it out of me, no matter how many pints of Guinness you buy me.
So it’s an announcement on progress in attacking the corruption in South Africa?
Then from the last discussion we had as well, the new Head of Police, the new Minister of Police, [Fikile] Mbalula, you said your interactions with him up to that point, he had just been appointed, were not bad. That he seemed like a straight talker and straight shooter. Are you comfortable with what’s happened in the past months?
I think he showed Ntlezema the door quite nicely, so I’m quite impressed with that. He’s taken a ‘no nonsense’ approach. You know he’s a politician. He doesn’t have to be officious in any way. He’s a politician and he shoots from the hip and there’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion. But what he needed to do is he needs to deal with Phahlane, because there’s sufficient evidence available to show that Phahlane is corrupt and the longer that Phahlane stays in his position, without being suspended, the clouds will start gathering over the Minister, so he needs to make sure those clouds don’t gather.
It’s a very complicated political set-up, a very complex country, South Africa, but you are positive. What do you say to youngsters who are asking you whether they should stay in the country? How do you instil that positivity in them too?
Well, where else will they go, you know? South Africa is probably the best country in the world. I mean who wants to live in London for crying out loud. You have to get onto these trains that go under the ground. They all shuffle into the ground like rats and then they’re compacted into these sardine tins and gets shoved along. It’s a shocking place. I can’t imagine people would voluntarily come and live in a place like London or even Perth for that matter, where you’ve got flies all over the place. Or you can go to Canada where it’s freezing cold for most of the year and the rest of the year it’s scorching hot and humid. So, yes, I think South Africa has still got the best of life in the world. I was looking at the crime stats in the UK the other day. There’s a very steep upward trend in crime. I see crime on a regular basis here, on a daily basis, you see crime taking place in front of you. Whether it’s people jumping the robot or I see people doing wheelies on motorbikes in the streets, in a busy shopping street and it seems to be okay. There’s nothing being done about it. The focus here seems to be on the small stuff, like where you park and if you don’t put your bags out at the right time or if your bags aren’t tied properly you get fines. What that is, it’s a kind of a ‘Nanny State’ going after the good citizens but the bad citizens – I see people on the underground trains drunk and drinking liquor on the train itself. That’s drinking in public – that’s an offence, it’s not allowed but nobody does anything about it, so yeah, at the end of the day I still fancy South Africa. It’s the best country in the world. We’ve got a few rotten politicians and a few dirty cops and a few dirty prosecutors but we’re going to clean it up. And you know what? The next dirty blokes that come along they’ll get cleaned up too, so I believe Civil Society will stand-up to them, they’ve proven it. Ntlezema is almost history, Phahlane will soon be history, Mokatedi will soon be history, Khan will be history and Zuma will be history and some of these dirty ministers they’re going to have account for their conduct. I mean look at this guy that spends all his time with the Ling-Ling twins in Nelspruit, the Minister of, what does he call himself… The Minister of Intelligence. I don’t know where his intelligence is. Maybe the Ling-Ling twins can tell us, but when you have a…
Who are the Ling-Ling twins?
Well, there’s photographs of him online with these two Chinese girls, with his dirty hands on those Chinese girls, and he’s probably four times the weight of the two of them put together. I don’t know how they get on together there but I should imagine it would be quite interesting to see. This guy has got no more intelligence than well, I think my dog has got more intelligence to be frank with you. This guy comes up with these cockamamie ideas that South Africa has been overtaken by foreign agents. It’s quite clear what agenda he’s peddling and this is the same guy. By the way, the Ling-Ling twins were employed by a rhino poacher in Nelspruit and the rhino poacher was caught by, I think, Al Jazeera, bragging to one of their journalists, about having the owner of the Ling-Ling twins in his pocket, so you can work it out for yourself. We’ve got certain Ministers that Zuma has appointed that are just complete – they’re either morally deficit or they’re intelligently deficit and those people belong in prison for what they’ve done in the last two or three years. They are accomplices of Zuma and they must face the music with him. You’ve got to look at this other fellow, what’s his name… Brian Molefe. I mean what a disgraceful state of affairs. He walks out of Eskom bawling his eyes out after bullshitting everybody that he was spending his time at the Saxonwold Shebeen, so the Saxonwold Shebeen turns out to be the Zupta stronghold. Then off he goes to a cushy job in the Houses of Parliament (not elected), roped in because Zuma said he should be brought in and three months later he walks back to his job at Eskom and resigns as an MP. What a disgusting piece of work that guy is. He must go to prison too and guess what? I’ll make sure he does.
Paul, how is the forensic investigations though in South Africa? We hear many stories about files disappearing and people who should be in prison – not going there because the forensic work hasn’t been done properly. You’re a forensic investigator is there any light on that side?
We have some challenges. Fortunately for us what we do, every time we open a docket, and some of our dockets run into several lever arch files. I mean the docket I opened against Lucky Montana was three lever arch files and we not only duplicated it, so we have a photocopy of the docket, we have a scanned copy and we scan it in high resolution, medium resolution, and low resolution, and we keep those scanned copies on a server in Dublin, Ireland. So, they can lose that docket as many times as they want and we can put it back on the table for them. A lot of people don’t know this. On Human Rights Day, this year in South Africa a woman, Mrs Nikoi, went missing on Table Mountain. This woman is a Director in the World Food Program of the United Nations and she’s originally from Ghana and her and her husband live in New York and they visited South Africa for this woman’s birthday and their wedding anniversary. They brought their 16-year-old daughter with them and they went to Table Mountain. They hiked up some or other trail and halfway up the trail she ran out of breath and she said she’ll meet them back at the road. She went back down to the road and she’s never been seen since. Now we have been commissioned to carry out an investigation. We’ve carried out an investigation and our investigation has ground to a halt because here we are, almost 60 days after her disappearance, despite the police having the information to carry out the necessary searches on their cell phones, and we’ve given them the cell phone numbers – they have not done that job.
Because they’re incompetent. You see, you’ve got good police out there on the ground and you’ve got other police that are lazy. This case was taken on by lazy cops and when a complaint was filed against these lazy cops, they were able to con their way out of the complaint. We’ve been putting pressure on them. They haven’t even filed the Section 205 Applications with the cellular phone companies yet, and our investigation has ground to a halt. We’re now treating it as a case of kidnapping and murder. The world doesn’t know about it yet. It’s completely… There’s no coverage of it in the media at all. The whole thing has been hushed up. Well, we’re going public with it next week. We’re going next week, we’re going to say that this woman that went missing on Table Mountain is now believed to have been kidnapped and possibly murdered. There’s been no ransom demand, there’s been no trail to follow and the reason there’s no trail to follow is because the police are too lazy to go and file the documents with Vodacom.
So, there’s lots of challenges and lots of work to be done. When will it start? When will the country be in a position where people with your mindset will be driving this, those kinds of investigations?
Well, I’m very positive about the appointment of the acting Head of the Hawks because Yolisa Matakata, she’s a career policewoman and she’s very efficient. Hopefully, she’s now kicking backsides. We’ll find out soon because I’ve highlighted to her the fact that Ntlezema has made some unlawful appointments, so let’s see what happens to those unlawful appointments. You know what’s happened to the Police Service? It’s become a place to bury loyal Zuma activists and what’s happened is people that have lost their positions elsewhere, but they’re loyal to Zuma, they’re given ranks of General in the Police, and they get a salary of the General in the Police and they have no police experience whatsoever. That type of conduct has to be dealt with and until it’s dealt with… You’ve got police at lower ranks who should be getting those positions, who look up and see that they now have a boss that doesn’t even know anything about the job and they think to hell with it, I’m going to become a Post Office worker, I don’t have to put my back into the job.
Well, it sounds like the bar here is getting a little rowdy but I want to close off with one question. Tell us who the good guys are? You’ve identified a lot of bad people within South Africa but who are the good guys? Who are the people who are doing a good job within the Criminal Justice System?
Ninety percent of the Police and 90% of the Prosecutors, and 90% of the Hawks are good guys. The rot is 10% but the problem is the rot is at senior management so we need to get rid of that lot. As soon as they’ve gone you’ll see massive changes and improvements in the Criminal Justice System.