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The key question from this cracking interview with forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan is whether Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of SA’s “very high risk” police commissioner was the result of neglect, incompetence or wilful deceit. Despite being provided by O’Sullivan with hard evidence that Fannie Masemola spends much more than he earns, overlaid by concerns that he’d spent six years as deputy to a corrupt former boss, SA’s president still appointed him police chief. His endorsement was included in Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, where he spoke of his confidence that Masemola was “more than up to this task and responsibility”. In this powerful interview, O’Sullivan explains his detailed investigation ahead of the appointment – and revealed six of eight candidates were unsuitable, Masemola among them having been described as “very high risk”. He says a Sunday World report over the weekend that reveals Masemola’s corrupt practices should spur Ramaphosa into action as “this has the potential to be much more damaging to him than Phala Phala.” O’Sullivan spoke to Alec Hogg of BizNews.
Excerpts from the interview with Forensics for Justice founder Paul O’Sullivan
Paul O’Sullivan on the appointment of Fannie Masemola as chief of police in light of his corrupt practices
Well, you know, if he knows, if Cyril read that report of mine and he appointed Masemola, then he’s got some questions to answer. And I sent this email on Sunday. It’s now Wednesday and I’ve not had a response. So it’s a problem. We can’t have a police force like the police force we’ve had since the year 2000. We have not had proper leadership in the police for 22 years. The police have been less leadership. It’s been like a rudderless ship. And the bad news is that crime continues spiralling upwards. The good men and women in the police service are not being recognised or they’re being sidelined. General Reed should have been appointed as chief of police. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. Instead, he resigned and he left the police. And when I spoke to him, he said the reason he resigned was because he knew that Masemola would victimise him. And he didn’t want to work in a toxic environment. And therefore, he resigned and left the police. And I suggested in my email to Cyril that it’s crucial, it’s critical that the police in this country be fixed and be fixed quickly and to demonstrate some backbone by either firing this guy now or just paying him off. He’s got less than a year to run to his 60th birthday, so he has no legal expectation of being employed past the age of 60. Now, if he can be paid off and got rid of, that will pave the way for appointing a proper person. And if they’re going to appoint the proper person, my suggestion is that they approach General Reeds and say, listen, we want you back in the police. Come back and lead the police because he’s a good person and he will do a proper job. And our lifestyle audit on him shows he’s a person that lives within his means. He has no chequered background. He’s been a career policeman for the whole of his life so he’d be an ideal person for the position and of course to position a person of colour as well. So he’s not a white pale male, as they call them. And if Cyril doesn’t get a grip on this, it will be his downfall.
On the Pretoria driving instructor bribery debacle that’s going on
I think it’s a fact that people that can drive are not going to get a driving licence unless they pay a bribe. And the failure of the police to do anything about it really goes to the lack of leadership in the police. Having said that, if that sort of thing is going on, it would amount to organised crime. Now we do know that there’s a new head of organised crime in South Africa. It’s a person who I know very, very well. And it’s Shadrack Sibiya. General Sibiya is now head of organised crime. So maybe we are going to see some backsides getting kicked now.
On his desire for a big clean up in the police force
It’s all fixable. There’s nothing there that can’t be fixed. And the best place to start is to put in a good manager. And they haven’t done that. They put in this fellow, Masemola, when I write to him and I’ve had to write to him since his appointment in respect of several matters, and the matters I’ve written to him about are matters of national importance. And I get a response from one of his sidekicks saying the matter is being attended to but they’ve actually done nothing. You know, we appeared in court because we didn’t, but Phahlane appeared in court. But a whole lot of other senior police officials a couple of months ago in Pretoria in the Commercial Crimes Court, I was there and I subsequently wrote to Masemola demanding an explanation as to why the senior police officials that appeared in court that day went back to their offices to work the next day. And all I get is an answer saying the matter is being dealt with. That’s not a proper answer.
I wanted to hear that they’ve been immediately suspended and that they would be dismissed, that the charge sheet against them. It involves the same person, by the way, the guy that bought Masemola his luxury bags, allegedly, because I’ve not seen the evidence. So I have to say allegedly. But the guy that allegedly purchased Masemola’s Louis Vuitton bag is the same guy that had to appear in court with him. And I’m just wondering. Well, there’s a conflict of interest in Masemola not suspending them, and he’s a bit of a fool to do so because he’s brought attention to himself now, because I didn’t just write to him. I sent a copy of my email to the president and I sent it to Shamila Batohi and Andrea Johnson. And I said, it’s unacceptable that a person at the rank of general is arraigned in court for fraud and corruption. And he’s allowed to go back to his office to continue with whatever fraud and corruption he was involved in and to intimidate potential witnesses against him. So we need a big clean-up and it needs to start and it needs to not only start, it needs to be done with a bit of gusto. And the only person that I’ve been able to lay my eyes on right now that can actually do that is General Reeds.
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Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.