Cops vs cops

2017-05-14 06:22
Khomotso Phahlane

Khomotso Phahlane

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Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane could soon find himself in the dock on charges of corruption, money laundering and defeating the ends of justice.

Phahlane is said to be under investigation for possible contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act, relating to more than R1 million in “gratuities” he received from a Pretoria car dealer.

City Press has learnt that a senior commercial crimes court prosecutor was recently assigned to police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to provide prosecutorial guidance.

Senior sources from Ipid and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) told City Press that the aim was to consolidate all the charges against Phahlane before the matter could be placed on the court roll.

The top cop is already in hot water for enjoying a questionable relationship with a supplier during his tenure as divisional commissioner for forensic services. It was through this supplier that he allegedly bought an R80 000 sound system for his palatial home in Sable Hills Waterfront Estate in Pretoria.

He also allegedly paid contractors working on his house in bags of cash from the boot of his car.

Faces charges

Phahlane may also face charges of defeating the ends of justice after Ipid investigators tasked with probing him received death threats via SMS.

Phahlane, however, denies any wrongdoing and has launched a court application in the High Court in Pretoria, seeking to interdict Ipid from investigating him.

As the net closes in on Phahlane, City Press has also learnt that the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) has begun a process to attach assets of his, worth R1 million – the amount which it believes he accrued by corrupt means.

A senior NPA official, based at the unit, said: “That process is at an advanced stage.”

The official said the AFU case was “not dependent on the criminal case, which is currently being investigated by Ipid”, adding that the Ipid probe was “being led by the office of the North Gauteng director of public prosecutions, Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi”.

The official said most of the investigation work had been completed, but they wanted to obtain a few more statements before they could launch the preservation application at the North Gauteng High Court.

AFU application

City Press has seen some of the documents which form the basis of the AFU application.

The statements include one from suspended National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega, who allegedly told investigators that while she was commissioner, Phahlane did not disclose any sponsorships or business interests he had outside of his SA Police Service (SAPS) employ.

Ipid investigator Mandla Mahlangu also made a statement in which he detailed how Phahlane bought and sold cars to businessman Durand Snyman, who owned Prima InspectaCar in Wonderboom in Pretoria – including a Land Rover Discovery, a Mercedes-Benz C250 Elegance, a Nissan Navara, a Toyota Hilux and a Volkswagen Polo.

Sources within Ipid told City Press that Mahlangu detailed how Phahlane sold second-hand cars to the dealership at vastly inflated prices and how Snyman allegedly also gave Phahlane a “sponsored” vehicle, registered in Phahlane’s name.

“Snyman made a substantial loss on all the vehicles he transacted on. This was not the behaviour of a reasonable businessman ... Both Snyman and Phahlane have hidden the transactions from scrutiny. Phahlane also failed to disclose the vehicles or financial benefits he received to his employer,” one statement made by Mahlangu read.

Phahlane, the documents say, allegedly made more than R1 million off the deals, and Snyman told investigators he did this with a view to conducting a future business relationship with Phahlane.

“In my experience as an investigator, I have yet to hear of a businessman providing another businessman with cash or vehicles worth more than R1 million with a view to a future business relationship at some indefinite time in the future,” one of Mahlangu’s statements read.

Snyman’s lawyer, Christoff Loch, said his client has responded to Ipid questions and was waiting for their feedback.

“For now, we do not see it prudent to litigate in the media,” he said.

Snyman has publicly denied having a corrupt relationship with Phahlane.

Meanwhile, Phahlane is not going down without a fight.

Summonses

City Press has seen summonses for two Ipid investigators probing Phahlane to appear in the Pretoria Regional Court on May 30.

The two, namely Mahlangu and Temane Binang – together with forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan and attorney Sarah Jane Trent – face charges of fraud, extortion and conspiracy to contravene the Ipid Act.

According to the summonses, the four are accused of having accessed confidential files containing information about Phahlane’s Pretoria home.

One of the SAPS detectives on the case has also laid charges of intimidation against Ipid head Robert McBride.

The showdown between Ipid and the SAPS leadership is expected to continue in Parliament on Tuesday, when Phahlane is expected to be grilled about the alleged interference in Ipid’s work by police officers.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said: “As a matter of policy, the NPA does not comment on whether asset forfeiture proceedings are being contemplated, will be initiated or whether indeed they have been initiated against any person(s) or entity(ies). We can only comment on asset forfeiture proceedings once an application either for restraint, preservation or forfeiture has been lodged with the registrar of the high court.”

Mfaku said any criminal matter involving Phahlane would require the authorisation of National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams.

“The national director has not been requested to authorise any matter involving the national commissioner,” he said.

The NPA has confirmed that it has summoned two Ipid officials to appear in court on May 30.

Phahlane’s spokesperson, Sally de Beer, said the matters remained subject to investigation.

On record

“The acting national commissioner is on record as having stated more than once that he will cooperate with any competent authority conducting an investigation in good faith,” said De Beer.

“Any responses to be provided will be done so through the courts.

“It is common knowledge that there will be an appearance before the portfolio committee on police this Tuesday in connection with certain allegations made relating to interference in investigations.

“Should there be any truth to the information contained in your enquiry, it is concerning that yet again, information has been leaked to the media.”

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said: “Ipid is quite concerned about the interference by senior police officers. It means that they believe themselves to be above the law.

“If such conduct is allowed to continue, no senior police officer will ever be investigated – no matter how serious the allegations against them – because they will simply assemble their own private army of goons to undermine investigations against their masters,” he said.

“This kind of conduct is an attack on our Constitution and the rule of law by people who are supposed to respect the laws of our country.”

Read more on:    khomotso phahlane  |  ipid

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