South Africa

South Africa

House of Cards: Magistrate says O’Sullivan free to fly

House of Cards: Magistrate says O’Sullivan free to fly

Forensic Investigator Paul O’Sullivan spent three surreal days in the Kempton Park magistrate’s court this week facing a minor charge under the Citizenship Act. O’Sullivan played a significant role not only in bringing former police chief Jackie Selebi to book but also putting Czech crime boss Radovan Krejcir behind bars. That the Hawks are irked by O’Sullivan’s work became evident when a KwaZulu-Natal based Colonel who had been assigned to O’Sullivan's case said the investigator was a “criminal who behaved like a crime boss”, without presenting a shred of evidence. The magistrate would have none of it. By MARIANNE THAMM.

Things can backfire badly in court. Years ago, a delightful case which proves exactly this was heard in the Cape Town magistrate’s court. It involved two government employees who worked for the then Department of Public Works. The charge of defamation had been brought by a section head who had been offended by a suggestive photocopy a minion had left on his desk.

The offending bit of evidence was of two lions mating and bore the slogan of a once well known beer brand in South Africa “down a lion, feel satisfied”. The boss had been offended by the image, the prosecutor told the court, because it suggested that he, a married man, was having an affair with another employee and it was clearly an attempt to humiliate him in front of his junior staff.

The staff member who placed the picture on the boss’s desk had a field day in the dock, of course, not only proving that his superior was indeed having an affair but that he also spent quite a bit of time on the roof of the building where he had set up a braai/party nook complete with a single bed for his clandestine trysts. If the boss had just crumpled up the offending image and tossed it in the bin none of us would have been the wiser.

The same scenario played out in proceedings in the Kempton Park magistrate’s court this week where forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan spent three days in the dock while a Hawks Colonel reportedly told the magistrate that O’Sullivan was “a criminal who behaved like a crime boss” and that he was facing numerous other criminal investigations – none of which related in any way to citizenship or passports.

O’Sullivan is facing charges under the Citizenship Act after he was dragged off a plane on 1 April by a posse of Hawks officers. It is the first time ever in South Africa that a citizen has been arrested, handcuffed, frogmarched off a plane and driven to Pretoria in a high speed blue light convoy for a relatively minor offence. O’Sullivan holds Irish, South African and UK citizenship.

O’Sullivan has maintained that his arrest was malicious and an attempt by the Hawks to intimidate him. The investigator has lodged several criminal cases against a number of high ranking current and former Hawks and SAPS members as well as a range of politicians and ministers.

This week, KwaZulu-Natal-based Colonel Amod Hoosen said he had been assigned the case as he was viewed as “neutral” and “independent”. He said it was he who had made an application to arrest O’Sullivan because he [O’Sullivan] had sent an e-mail to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, politicians and “various media houses” about alleged corruption in South Africa.

O’Sullivan, said Hoosen, had also sent an e-mail to the Hawks claiming he was “going into exile”.

Daily Maverick has seen O’Sullivan’s e-mail to Ramaphosa sent on 26 July, 2015 at 13:21. About 20 years ago Ramaphosa received a “most conscientious student award” from O’Sullivan who was then lecturing at the Houghton Reserve Police College where Ramaphosa completed a course.

O’Sullivan begins his mail to his former student, now the Deputy President, thus; “The good thing about our Constitution is that it guarantees freedom of speech – especially when it is in the public interest. I thank you for that Cyril. You worked tirelessly to bring about peaceful change and a Constitution that is admired by the world. I hope you will remember our times together almost 20 years ago, when the future looked so bright.”

He sets out for Rampahosa the various cases, including those he has lodged against former SAPS head of detectives, Lieutenant General Vinesh Monoo, whom he alleges is linked to various criminal syndicates and known crime bosses.

I have been targeted by these dirty cops as they are desperate to stop me in my tracks. I’ve got criminal cops conspiring to murder me (at this stage five cops are awaiting trial on conspiracy to murder charges – I was the target), they also bring fraudulent applications for search warrants of my office, and attempt to nail me on trumped up charges.”

Nkandla, O’Sullivan tells Ramaphosa, “is nothing at all, compared to what’s going on at Wachthuis, where the rot has set in so deeply, we are in danger of becoming a criminal-police state. In fact, if anything, Nkandla is a distraction that crooked cops are using as a smoke screen whilst they burn our country.”

It is not known whether Ramaphosa responded to O’Sullivan or whether he has passed on any information to relevant local authorities.

O’Sullivan and his legal representative Barry Roux attempted to prove to the court this week that O’Sullivan’s arrest had nothing to do with his possession of multiple legal passports but was an attempt by the Hawks to shut down or thwart O’Sullivan’s extensive probes.

Hoosen told the court that O’Sullivan was a flight risk and that he had arrested him because the investigator had sent an e-mail (to the Hawks as well, remember) informing them he was “going into exile”.

Later Roux shredded Hoosen’s claim, asking him to read the e-mail O’Sullivan had sent and to point out exactly where the investigator had said this, which he was unable to do. Later Hoosen admitted that he had been appointed by Moonoo in March 2015 to investigate O’Sullivan and that he had met with the former policeman on several occasions since his [Moonoo’s] retirement from the force.

The court heard that all of the investigations against O’Sullivan – there are around 12 including espionage, fraud, extortion and kidnapping – are being led by a specially constituted “task team” headed by Gauteng Hawks Head Prince Mokotedi. All of these cases are still being investigated and no charges have yet been brought.

On Wednesday Roux applied for O’Sullivan’s bail conditions to be temporarily relaxed so that he could fly to London at the weekend to attend the birthday celebrations of one of his daughters.

The state opposed the move saying O’Sullivan was a “flight risk”. However, the magistrate, Wynand Nel, said that he did not believe this to be the case and that it appeared as if the e-mail O’Sullivan had sent out had to do with corruption in the SAPS and the political realm in South Africa and that there was no indication O’Sullivan would not return to South Africa. The case was postponed to 2 August.

While many who supported former police commissioner Jackie Selebi (including Prince Mokotedi during Selebi’s trial) have vilified O’Sullivan and have attempted to discredit his work, Robert McBride, immediately after his appointment IPID head, publicly apologised to the investigator.

In November 2006, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), the predecessor to IPID, issued a statement and posted it on its website, which cast aspersions on the integrity of Mr Paul O’Sullivan about the allegations he had made against then SAPS National Commissioner, Jackie Selebi,” said McBride.

McBride said that after “a thorough review of the matter, no evidence could be found in the ICD/IPID archives to come to the conclusions that were arrived at by the then ICD [that O’Sullivan’s allegations against Selebi were ‘ludicrous’]. They are consequently without any substance whatsoever.”

Of course, one way the Hawks or others in law enforcement agencies can make Paul O’Sullivan go away is to investigate the serious charges he has lodged – with supporting thick wads of substantial sworn affidavits and evidence – against various of their members. There appears to be absolutely no appetite to do so, of course, with no one currently guarding the guardians. Welcome to the new old normal abnormal. DM

Photo: Paul O’Sullivan (Sally Shorkend)


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