Paul O’Sullivan: Wolves guarding sheep at new SAPS Kidnapping Unit; and ‘it’s personal’ vendetta against State Capture law firm

Ace forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan says South Africa’s new specialist unit to counter a surge in kidnapping has all the signs of an inside job. The founder of Forensics for Justice says the leadership of the SAPS unit is compromised (the operational head is himself on trial on kidnapping charges), while family of unit members are acting as couriers of the cash to kidnappers—a case of wolves appointed to guard sheeple. Also, in this interview, the no-nonsense crime fighter admits his mission to destroy legal firm Lawtons (ex Hogan Lovell SA; previously Routledge Modise) is personal. He spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 01:34 – Paul O’Sullivan on the corruption surrounding Eskom’s Kusile power plant
  • 02:07 – O’Sullivan on if he has read Andre de Ruyter’s new book Truth to Power
  • 03:10 – On his mission to take down Lawtons law firm, formerly Hogan Lovells South Africa
  • 12:45 – On criminality and corruption within the South African Police Service, particularly the new kidnapping prevention unit
  • 21:21 – On Police Minister Bheki Cele

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Excerpts from the interview

Paul O’Sullivan on his mission to destroy Lawtons law firm

Hogan Lovells South Africa was rotten to the core – dirty lawyers running a dirty law firm. [So] what did they do? They changed their name from Hogan Lovells South Africa, to Lawtons. But of course, they lost 60 or 70% of their staff because their business collapsed – it imploded and their staff scattered and went everywhere. Well, that’s a problem because they’d installed themselves in one of the fanciest buildings in Joburg at 140 West Street in Sandton. So I didn’t carry on attacking Hogan Lovells not realising this sleight of hand. I’m just thinking, okay Lawtons suggests another law firm in the same building as Hogan Lovells.

Read more: Paul O’Sullivan: The Zondo Commission missed the mark

So I had a meeting, earlier this year in February, with the real Hogan Lovells, and they said, ‘Paul, you don’t understand. It’s not us. Hogan Lovells South Africa is now called Lawtons.’ So I thought, what? [And] I did some research and I saw that [all] the main protagonists are still there. All the, I shall call them ‘low ethics’ lawyers, that were involved in propping up state capture are still there. And I thought, My God! How did they get away with it? Change your name, and then say, ‘No, that wasn’t us, had nothing to do with us. My hands are clean.’ Meanwhile, it’s them! So I decided, okay, I’m going after them and they haven’t got the guts to even pick up the phone and say sorry. And I’ve said to them, my plan now is to wipe your firm out, to have a proper implosion, finish what I started five years ago.

Read more: Paul Hoffman: Avoiding a repeat of the worst excesses of State Capture

O’Sullivan on why taking down Lawtons is personal to him

This is very personal. [My] one daughter was eight years old and the other daughter was nine years old, [and] we were on [our] way to London, where I was taking them back to school. I was dragged off a plane with my two small children, assaulted in front of them and then dragged away [to be] detained and tortured for four days. By Lawtons’ clients. Now, if Lawtons hadn’t have done what they did – although they were called Hogan Lovells South Africa, it’s still the same company – I wouldn’t have been dragged off that plane.

If Anwa Dramat would have remained the head of the DPCI. If Shadrack Sibiya had remained as head of the DPCI in Gauteng. [Then] I think none of the things that happened to me would have happened. We had three criminals running the police and they targeted me. They wanted to teach me a lesson. I will never forget the day that [former Hawks head] Mokotedi said, ‘Listen, the only thing you can do is pack your bags and leave the country.’ They wanted to escort me to the airport, and [said] I must sign a form that I surrender my South African citizenship, and they’ll let me off the hook. And I thought no. To hell with it! I’m going to take you guys on. And we beat them.

Read more: Best of 2022: O’Sullivan pulls the carpet from under Fraser’s feet

On the SAPS kidnapping prevention unit

The kidnappings for ransom that take place in South Africa. It’s a shocking crime, and these people [kidnap] in some cases it’s minors – and I don’t mean people with picks and shovels – it’s children. They’re kidnapping children and they’re keeping them and they’re demanding huge ransoms. Now, what are the police doing about this? They formed this special unit. It’s an anti-kidnapping unit. Who’s leading it? A major general Khan, who’s supposed to be a major general in police crime intelligence, [but] was unlawfully appointed. [He] runs a whole lot of private businesses in his spare time earning millions of Rands, flies around on private jets and drives Ferraris and Lamborghinis on car rallies. And he’s now in charge of this anti-kidnapping unit. And the operational man in charge is a colonel, a Lieutenant Colonel Ismael Dawood. Ismael Dawood is currently on trial in the High Court of Johannesburg – wait for it…. – for kidnapping, torture and murder.

Now, when you have a a chief of police that allows a person that’s on trial for kidnapping, torture and murder, to be in charge of a kidnapping unit to stop all the kidnapping. The end result is mind blowing, and the end result is that we [are] now having people kidnapped and we’re having family members of the cops that are supposed to be catching the kidnappers acting as go-betweens between the kidnappers and the families of the kidnap victim for carrying the cash. And in one case – and we’ve got the evidence – we’re [just] not putting it out there yet. In one case, the ransom was paid into the bank account of a family member of one of the senior cops involved in the anti-kidnapping unit. Now. How the hell do you do that? Who puts that kind of a strategy together?

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