The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
Forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, in his new partnership with AfriForum, has concluded a lengthy investigation into the way that President Jacob Zuma and his crony capitalist partners the Guptas “captured” South Africa’s criminal justice system. He also has some good news: the dominos are starting to fall and, O’Sullivan says, new brooms will sweep away the miscreants soon. In this hard-hitting interview he unpacks the key issues, explains how the Zupta strategy worked – and why it is now starting to implode. Hope springs. – Alec Hogg
Paul, you’ve actually put a report together looking at the criminal justice system and how the capture started perhaps there and has given those who would use the system the ability to implement, put their own people in, and ensure that they aren’t actually brought to account.
Yes, that’s right Alec. AfriForum commissioned the report a few months ago, we carried out the research and we made quite shocking findings and the findings quite simply are that the criminal justice system has been criminalised and I can’t think of any other rational explanation than when you look at who benefits from the criminalisation of the criminal justice system.
The people that benefit apart from the crooked cops and prosecutors that have been appointed into the system, the other people that benefit are the underworld and when I say the underworld, I’m talking about the underworld with close connections to Jacob Zuma and we are looking at people like, for example, the convicted murderer Qin Shi Huang and curiously his criminal record has been wiped clean and yet he never applied for a pardon or anything and anyway you generally wouldn’t get a pardon for murder a few years later, but his record has been wiped completely clean.
Paul, let’s just go into it for those who don’t understand the criminal justice system and how it works. What are the parts of it?
Well, your main components of the criminal just system, it’s split into three main components. You have the law enforcement agencies and that would be the police, that would be the Hawks, which is part of the police, that would be Metropolitan Police Services and that would also include, from a law enforcement point of view, the likes of IPID, which is the Independent Police Investigative Directorate because the Act says that they have the same powers as a police officer and in some regards they actually have more powers because they have powers of search and seizure without a warrant.
That’s on the policing side and we call them law enforcement agencies. Then you have the National Prosecuting Authority and their job is to first of all, decide whether or not there’s a prosecution warranted and if a prosecution is warranted to carry out that prosecution and the third leg of the criminal justice system is the courts themselves and that’s the magistrates and the judges that sit and listen to the evidence being presented and make a decision as to whether or not the state has proven its case.
Which parts of the system have been criminalised in the way that you described?
Well, I’m saying without a doubt, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Police and the Hawks. You only have to look at some of the things that have been going on. You have a whole list of people that have been subjected to what can best be described as trumped up criminal charges and I’m not going to list them in any particular order because there’s no importance, but the one that immediately comes to mind is Gordhan, the Minister of Finance. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that him being criminally charged was serving the needs of only one person in South Africa and that was Zuma and those closely associated with Zuma.
Remember Gordhan’s the one that would have to approve any financial packages to South African Airways and if you cast our mind back about a year ago, in fact, just over a year ago, now I think it was this week, a year ago when the then finance minister put his foot down and refused to allow Myeni to get her fingers in the till at South African Airways and he was summarily fired and replaced by a chap by the name of Des Van Rooyen, who apparently, if one reads the state capture report, was appointed by the Guptas and when he turned up on his first day of work, arrived with two Gupta employees and within a day or two there were emails flying around within the Gupta organisation that made it clear that they’d won. So you have this situation. Now of course that’s the financial side of things.
However, that was reversed. As we had Nenegate the Rand fell.
Well, it was reversed, but then what happened was Zuma came under tremendous pressure. I mean the Rand almost collapsed, certainly the stock market went through a terrible time, and then you have this situation where, I can’t remember the figure; I think it was R50bn wiped off the value of stocks overnight because of one hideous criminal act by a president who decided to fire, he committed fraud. How can you tell a whole country that you’ve replaced this man because you’ve got him a job at BRICS when no such job even existed? It was an absolute lie, he lied to the country, and he lied to parliament and how he’s still running the country is beyond me.
Paul, just to delve there a little bit, we’ve now seen coming through the courts this bond trader called Eric Wood who works for the Guptas, has been trading clearly bonds in a brilliant capacity as far they are concerned, made them a lot of money. There’s a lot of talk within the financial services community that the Guptas made R600m out of the whole Nenegate saga, collapse of the Rand, selling the Rand beforehand. Do you think this is just envy talk or do you think there could be some substance to it?
I think there is substance to it. Eric Wood is not just a bond trader is he? It’s quite clear now that he’s also a money launderer. If one looks at the recent debacle, which only came out yesterday or the day before, a brilliant piece of work by Sam Sole, Stefaans Brummer, and Susan Comrie, who have spent a year investigating the relationships between certain Zupta companies and the outside world and they’ve uncovered a massive fraud and corruption between Neotel and Transnet.
When you look at that it’s quite clear that a briefcase company by the name of Homix was used to rake off the money from Neotel and then the money was squirrelled away offshore and I think that the guy that was running Homex, he was paid the princely sum of one percent of the amount he squirrelled off. That might not sound a lot until you realise the amount squirrelled off runs into hundreds of millions of Rand. So you have the situation where Neotel end up paying all this money over in order to get contracts worth billions of Rand at Transnet and they pay this fee, your facilitation fee or whatever you want to call it.
We call it a bribe.
Absolutely, there’s no doubt it was a bribe and then the money was laundered with invoices through TNA, so this company Homex wasn’t placing any ads in The New Age or anything like that and yet, promptly you have the situation where the money went into the bank account immediately, the same day or the day after, 99 percent of the value of the invoice was being re-invoiced by TNA, which is another Gupta company and the money was being sent out.
This is very clear, that path. They charged a commission to give Neotel a contract from Transnet, which incidentally was run by Brian Molefe at the time. The question has to be why are these people not now being thrown into Jail?
Well, I think the revelations have only come out this week. I’ve personally sent a very detailed email to the head of Hawks in Gauteng, who is a Zuma loyalist. He’s proclaimed himself to be 100 percent JZ. So you can work out for yourself he’s a Zuma loyalist, but I have said to him in an email that “There’s the evidence, you need to go fishing, and if you don’t get cracking, somebody else is going to take the job over from you”.
As you’ll recall last time we met we made it clear that AfriForum have identified a number of projects where there’s low hanging fruit and if the government (and when I say the government, if the NPA) don’t pull their finger out and start these prosecutions then AfriForum themselves are going to start private prosecutions because it’s not in the interest of the country to have all this money sloshing around. Unfortunately, a lot of it has gone offshore; it’s gone to places like Hong Kong and Dubai.
I think we both hope that one day there’s going to be retribution to those who have been stealing from the South African public, from the taxpayer, but how likely is it that they can be stopped given the circumstance that one’s seeing, that the criminal justice system as you’ve described it has been captured?
Well, even though the criminal justice system’s been captured, Alec, the people of the country are not sitting back and allowing it to happen. I’ve embarked on a number of court cases myself and now I’ve joined forces with AfriForum. We are gearing up to actually undo the damage that’s been done and we’re not on our own. The Helen Suzman Foundation and Freedom Under Law were arguing in court this very week on the 6th and 7th of December and judgement has been reserved there. The purpose of that exercise was to set aside the appointment of Ntlemeza who is wholly unfit for office.
Just by way of example, when I was investigating some of his background I found he had a judgement against him by SARS for R131 000. Now, what’s a police officer doing getting a judgement against him by SARS for R131 000? These court judgements are public documents, so I sent one of my staff to the court to get the file and have a look and lo and behold the file has been stolen from the court. The only person that could benefit from that file being stolen from the court is Ntlemeza himself.
He is the head of the Hawks.
He is the head of the Hawks, he doesn’t pay his taxes, a file relating to that goes missing from the court, it’s stolen, and this man is now running the Hawks and more to the point, he’s been found by two separate high court judges who in their judgements have declared him to be a dishonest person and that he lies under oath and he is wholly unfit and it is wholly improper for that person to have been appointed head of Hawks, but he would be appointed because he’s Zuma’s man, he’s Nhleko’s man and more to the point, the year before he was appointed he was running around interfering in cases that had nothing to do with him and rushing people. You know there’s the famous Khuba statement, which came out earlier in March this year, which made it crystal clear that Ntlemeza was in a desperate hurry to get Dramat suspended so that he could step up and take Dramat’s job.
Now if a general in the police knows three months before another general is suspended, that, that whole investigation is intended to bring about that suspension so that he can get the job, it means that there’s a sinister plot and I’m saying there is a sinister plot and the head of that plot is Zuma and he is ably assisted by a chap by the name of Nhleko who himself has many questions to answer. I believe his wife fell out with him because of his antics with another lady and now he’s been seen in public with that other lady. I believe that she’s been the beneficiary of certain contracts from the Ministry of Police, so you know; the whole thing is completely sordid.
Paul, you’ve written the report, you’ve given us some insight or some tasters into that, but the reality is people on the ground in South Africa, many are now saying this has just gone too far, it’s irretrievable, do you agree with that?
No, I don’t. You know that famous Irishman said “All it takes for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” and there are many good people in South Africa. If one looks at the police service, 90 percent of the people, the men, and women that work in the police service are good people. You have a small percentage of criminals who have been appointed at the rank of general and those people need to be cleaned out and they will be cleaned out, they will not be allowed to stay in the police. They know despite the things they’ve done to me and they’ve really persecuted me this year, I have not given up and I’m going to carry on until the police have been rid of people like that and then you look at this other thing. We have a specialised unit in the National Prosecuting Authority which is called the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit that was formed in 2003 by a presidential proclamation.
The purpose of that unit, by the way, in terms of the proclamation is to deal with the Rome Statute. The Rome Statute is a statute that deals with South Africa’s membership of the International Criminal Court and what I find ironic is that the cabinet, i.e. Zuma have unilaterally decided that South Africa should come out from the International Criminal Court and yet the specialised unit that was created to deal with the ICC activities insofar as South Africa’s concerned is still carrying on.
In fact, for the last five or six years it’s not done any ICC work at all, it’s only done political persecution work for Zuma, so that’s what led to people like Gordhan being charged, McBride, Dramat, Sibiya, the list goes on, including myself. I’m a victim of that same unit and the sooner that unit is disbanded and those prosecutors who are knowingly assisting Zuma to stay out of jail, they need to be charged with racketeering.
Where is it going to end? I hear your argument and I’m sure most enlightened South Africans support your endeavours, but where does the tipping point come from, do people have to go into the streets, how does it all turn around?
Well, I think people have been in the streets already. On the second of November you couldn’t drive through the city centre of Pretoria because of the large volume of people that went out to support Gordhan, so I think there’s already evidence that the people are prepared to go onto the streets and the corrupt elements within the state machinery are absolutely stupid because if they continue with what they’re doing, there’s a great possibility sadly so that there could be bloodshed because people aren’t going to stand idly by and watch this criminal element run by Zuma and Zuma associated individuals trying to take over the country. I mean they’ve pillaged South Africa in the past few years.
The amount of money they’ve stolen could have educated all the poor people that can’t afford to be educated; it could have paid for all that. When you look at the vast sums of money being channelled offshore by the Zuma family, I mean Khulubuse Zuma himself has bank accounts in Panama. I mean what kind of a country are you living in when relatives of the president are channelling money offshore and hiding it in tax havens? That needs to be undone and I think it will be undone, but if you look at the state capture of the criminal justice system, the other entity I forgot to mention is SARS. There’s no doubt in my mind that SARS has been neutralised. The tax collecting ability of SARS has been poisoned by Zuma and that needs to be set straight as well.
Where is the tipping point? I think that’s what I’m getting at, how do you give somebody who’s been watching all of this, listening to this, is frightened by the consequences, how do you give them hope?
Well, I think we live in a country where the rule of law still prevails even though people are being unlawfully arrested and being unlawfully charged. The end result is that the charges eventually, when it comes to the trial the charges are thrown out of court or the prosecution realise they don’t have a winnable case and they walk away with their tail between their legs, so I think, in the coming months, we’re going to see the dismantling of the criminal justice system chaos which Zuma has set loose on South Africa, we’re going to see the appointments being reversed and I think it’ll be like a domino effect. When one falls, the rest will start falling.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the current Acting Commissioner of Police is guilty of very serious offences and he will soon be charged. The only thing that can possibly happen is that there’ll be a delay before he gets charged, but it’s not a case of whether he will be charged or not, it’s a case of when he will be charged and I am prepared to bet my reputation on the fact that he will be charged because I’ve seen and gathered some of the evidence that will be used against him and when you have a Chief of Police who is involved in corruption, you know you’re on a very slippery slope.
In most countries in the world, what happens is if you’re a criminal they pop you into prison, but in South African under the current leadership, you get promoted, you become an Acting Chief of Police and then they pin medals on your chest and that’s what Nhleko did last week, whilst knowing that there’s a big cloud over this person and he went to Parliament this week and he told the Parliament that he has every confidence in Phahlani, so my message to Nhleko is when he is charged, I think the country will have lost confidence in him and he must then step down.
Brazilians will be looking at this with a sense of perhaps Deja vu in a way in that this is what Brazil went through. Now we have Operation Carwash, the President’s car and their speaker of the house is gone, the President of the Senators has departed etcetera, many top ‘businessmen’ thrown into jail. Do you see a South Africa repeat?
Yes, absolutely and it’ll either be run by the ANC or it’ll be run by the government of the day, so the ANC is fast running out of time. It’s no good them waiting until two or three months before the elections to fire Zuma. If they want to recover the lost ground they have to do it within the next two or three months. If Zuma is still president at Easter in 2017 I can predict that the ANC will lose the next general election and they’ll only have themselves to blame. So what they’re doing, you have a greedy few in the NEC who are sticking to their guns and protecting Zuma so that they can fleece the country for the next two years out of as much cash as they possibly can and I can guarantee you that in two years’ time the new government of the day will put all of those people in prison and I will gladly help them to do it.
Paul, getting back to the question I asked before, the tipping point, where do you see that? Often it’s one incident, we saw in Tunisia a person set themselves alight, hence Arab Spring, where’s the tipping point in South Africa, how far away?
I don’t know Alec; it could be this side of Christmas. On the other side of the coin it could be in the early part of 2017. As I said to you, we just need one or two dominoes to start falling and once we get that momentum going we’ll collapse the house of card and when that house of cards collapses Zuma is going to be like the proverbial emperor without clothes, he’ll be standing there naked and the whole country will be laughing at him.
People have been saying this for a while though.
Yes, but I have an inside track, I can see what’s going on and I’m feeling very confident right now. Justice in South Africa is very slow; you don’t get swift justice. You know, in the UK people step outside the law and they quickly get whipped back into line or they resign. You know the politicians in South Africa for the most part are gutless. When they step out of… I mean look at this fellow Zwane, what a piece of rubbish, I’ve never in my life heard of a minister that breached the regulations so badly.
He got on a plane and flew, he used state resources to fly to Switzerland so that he could enrich the Guptas and the taxpayer paid for him to fly to Switzerland and do that and on the way back he popped in to Dubai and did a little bit more massaging there. The bottom line is, that man and Zuma of course is protecting him. Zuma has to protect him because Zuma has to surround himself with ministers like that.
So you said the tipping point could be this side of Christmas, maybe early in 2017, what are the signs to watch out for?
Well, I think that the signs to watch out for in terms of the Criminal Justice System are the first big head to fall and there’s a number up there, you know, it’s like a shooting gallery in a way and the ducks that I’m looking at right now includes Ntlemeza, includes the Priority Crimes Litigation Unit, includes the Acting Commissioner of Police, Phahlani, it will soon include Mokotedi, you know, there are a number of targets there and they’re moving targets, but I think the minute they start falling, when one falls we’ll see a domino effect, the rest will start falling.
Why aren’t they just going to be replaced by more of the same?
Civil society won’t let that happen. You know we have a democracy in South Africa and we have a constitution. Unfortunately, the democracy has been bastardised by the current version of the ANC. This is not the ANC that Mandela ever dreamt of or OR Tambo or any of those or Sisulu, these people, they never dreamt of an ANC being run by a criminal and that’s what we currently have. The masses in the ANC, the rank and file of the ANC, they want change, they want to see Zuma pedalled out of power.
Of course, the guys with their noses in the trough, they’re very quick to defend Zuma, people like Collen Maine, the ANC Youth League guy, you know, but he has unexplained wealth and when you have people with unexplained wealth defending Zuma, you’re going to say “They would, wouldn’t they” because what else would they do except defend Zuma because it’s Zuma that’s given them their unexplained wealth. In the final analysis I imagine after the Zuma, Zuma has to stay on as long as he can because the minute he’s no longer in power his little empire will collapse along with him and he’s going to prison and a number of the people he surrounded himself with, they are going to prison.
The people of South Africa demand nothing less and we’re going to see that. The only hope they have of preventing that is to turn South Africa into a police state and they’re trying very hard to turn it into a police state but they are failing. Every criminal charge they brought against people exposing corruption, not one of those charges has het resulted in a conviction and most of the charges have actually been chucked out of court and I think we’re going to see more of that in 2017 and then this bunch of clowns are going to have to explain themselves.
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.