Paul O’Sullivan on war with Phahlane: ‘I’ll expose these criminals with badges’

JOHANNESBURG — Days after it was publicly revealed that IPID was investigating allegations of corruption levelled against former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane in February this year, the likes of Paul O’Sullivan, his legal assistant Sarah-Jane Trent and IPID officers Mandlakayise Mahlangu and Temane Binang were presented with charges. O’Sullivan played a part in discovering alleged corruption involving Phalane and reported it to IPID. But that act on its own clearly angered Phalane, who in turn, opened a case against O’Sullivan containing 34 counts including alleged corruption, fraud and racketeering. This week, Phalane’s case against O’Sullivan was struck off the roll by a court in Pretoria. And O’Sullivan says he’s now determined to go all out in exposing corruption in the police force. This snippet below (involving BizNews editor and publisher Alec Hogg interviewing O’Sullivan) first appeared in our premium section – be sure to sign up and read the full interview by clicking here. – Gareth van Zyl

Paul O’Sullivan

You were in court this week. Was that part of that whole process?

Yes, I was in court yesterday, as you know. After Robert McBride was reinstated by the Constitutional Court, I met with him last year in October and I said to him, ‘Robert, the one case that has to be dealt with and has to be dealt with urgently is this docket I opened,’ by that stage it was 10 months earlier, and I said, ‘this docket that I’ve opened, a copy has been supplied to Phahlane and it shows absolutely prima facie evidence of corruption.’ Now, that was a small case in the big scheme of things because I think the amounts of money involved were probably about R100m. That investigation was then put back on track and during the course of that investigation, in order to try and bring that case to a point where it caught up with the 10 months that had been lost on it. I decided, pro bono, without charging IPID to supply the resources to IPID to assist them to bring that case speedily to a conclusion.

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That led to a number of interviews and the investigation was expanded. I assisted IPID with that investigation. Now, of course, they know fully what he was up to so, there’s no longer a need for me to sit and hold their hands while they’re interviewing people but the initial interviews that took place last year, November – we were involved in those interviews. Then gradually, IPID took over the investigation and they carried on with it themselves but they lacked the resources, in terms of data analysis and so on, which we have those resources. So, they came back to us and they asked us to help analyse certain data, which we did and we were able to see immediately that Phahlane has a very serious criminal case to answer.

South African Police Service (SAPS)

So, as a result of our investigations, Phahlane then appointed General Mabula in the NW Province, who himself is under investigation by IPID for charges of murder and kidnapping. So, General Mabula, who clearly has an interest in seeing IPID neutralised despite the high levels of crime in the NW Province, he then takes somewhere in the region of 15 – 20 colonels, captains, and brigadiers and he assigns them to taking down IPID and taking down O’Sullivan. Lo and behold on the 10th February, this year, they raided my offices. I thought they were people coming to kill me so I left but they arrested my attorney, Sarah-Jane Trent. Then 3 days later they arrested me. Both arrests were declared unlawful and they’ve come with a whole lot of charges against this. They’ve dragged their feet because we were arraigned in court and then they kept delaying it saying, ‘we’re carrying out further investigations.’ We took a very hard line with them in court and eventually on the 6th October 2017, the court ruled that we must be ready to plead and start the trial on the 8th November, because we had to force them to start the trial because we know we’ve done nothing wrong.

So, the court ruled that they had to give us a copy of the docket before the 8th November, which means they should have handed it to us, at the latest, on the 7th November. On the 8th November, yesterday, we arrived in court and we said, ‘why haven’t you given us the docket?’ They said ‘no, we’ll give it to you after today.’ No, but that’s not what was agreed. Then they handed over a 4-page letter with 34 charges on it, which they intended to add, and those charges included charges of racketeering, managing a criminal enterprise, corruption, all sorts of fancy charges. The sort of charges that the people that carried out the investigation should be facing. So, the matter then went before the court and we argued for several hours and at the end of it the Magistrate said, ‘this is ridiculous – the conduct of the State is unlawful.’ They cannot continue like this and I’m striking the matter from the role. If they want to bring these charges back to court they have obtain a certificate from the National Director of Public Prosecutions.

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So, we are now going to start the process to expose these criminals with badges and criminals with gowns, and actually turn the whole thing back on them. That’s what we’re going to do but we realised that they’ve intensified their actions in the last few months for the simple reason that we have uncovered more corruption and fraud on their part. I’m talking about contracts for IT supplies with the police in SITA. Now, part of the police IT budget is managed by SITA, which is the State Information Technology Agency, and over the last 5 years, due the corrupt relationship between Phahlane and others underneath Phahlane, including his own wife. This company called FDA (Forensic Data Analysis) is owned by a guy called Keith Keating. What they have been doing is they’ve been sending money to Namibia to the bank account of a guy called Durand Snyman. Durand Snyman then transfers the money from Namibia back to SA, and that money was used to purchase cars. Not just for Phahlane but also for his wife, for his daughter, his sister, and for other employees within the Police Service, including the head of cyber forensics in the police and then carried out…

Former Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko (L) and the Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane (R).

Paul, let’s just slow down a little bit there and unpack this thing because it can get a bit confused for people who aren’t as close as you are. There is an IT company run by this guy called Keating, you said. Keith, is it?

Yes, Keith Keating.

Keating then gets R1bn contract from Phahlane, from the police?

Who said R1bn?

Well, I’m asking.

It’s R6bn.

All right, he gets a R6bn contract. Phahlane then, through the IPID, through the investigators of the police that you’ve said. They find out that Keating has bought cars, which he’s given to Phahlane, to his wife, to his sister, etc. That evidence – it’s kind of open and shut. Either he bought the cars for them but he obviously used the Namibian fellow, Durand Snyman, as you call him.

Yes, Snyman has the company in Pretoria that supplies cars and some of these cars, you can match the pricing so, you’ll see a transfer to Namibia, for example, of R250 000, and a week later Phahlane’s daughter is driving around in a VW Golf…