A look back into the case against Phahlane

2018-02-08 18:36
Khomotso Phahlane. (Supplied)

Khomotso Phahlane. (Supplied)

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WATCH: Phahlane charged with corruption, out on R10 000 bail

2018-02-08 14:20

Former acting police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane was released on R10 000 bail on Thursday. Watch. WATCH

Johannesburg - It has been just over a year since it was revealed that then acting police commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane was being investigated for corruption by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate. 

At that stage, his career appeared to be flying high.

He was known as "Mr Back to Basics", praised by academics and politicians alike for his old school approach to policing. 

It appeared that he was a sure bet to take over the job permanently and that, for the first time ever, South Africa would have a police chief without any smears to his name. 

If it weren’t for forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan and IPID head Robert McBride, he would probably still be heading the police force.

In 2016, frustrated that the numerous cases he had opened against the police were going nowhere, O’Sullivan decided to take a closer look at the man who seemed to be ignoring his pleas to sort out the corrupt elements in the force.

He did a bit of digging into Phahlane and found that he lived in a multi-million rand mansion in the luxurious Sable Hills Estate.

O’Sullivan wondered how it was possible that Phahlane and his wife, both career police officers, could afford such an expensive home.

O’Sullivan began to send the top brass in the police a series of emails, warning them to take the cases he had opened seriously. In some of them, he included a picture of Phahlane’s house, asking how he could afford it. He also warned that he would go to England and give a press conference exposing the "Zupta’s" and their alleged capture of the criminal justice system.   

'Our investigators have been harassed'

It was not long afterwards that O’Sullivan was arrested, dramatically hauled off a plane about to fly to London, by a group of Hawk’s officers for contravening Section 26 (B) of the Citizenship Act.

He was the first person in the country to ever be charged for the crime. Months later, in a trial that could only be described as a shamble, the charges against him were dropped. 

O’Sullivan was convinced he was onto something with Phahlane and opened a case of corruption against him with IPID.

Soon thereafter, McBride was suspended and the case seemingly went nowhere. It was only when McBride was exonerated and brought back into IPID’s offices that the case was resuscitated. 

Khomotso Phahlane's house (File, Supplied to News24)

When News24 first broke the news in late 2016 that Phahlane was being investigated, the general reaction by the public was disbelief.

Phahlane came out fighting. He vehemently denied the allegations and said he was being targeted as part of a political conspiracy to get him out of the coveted top job in the police

But IPID also stood firm. 

Standing outside the Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria just after Phahlane, his wife Beauty and car dealer Durandt Snyman had appeared on charges of corruption on Thursday, IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said it was a relief to show the world that they had a real case against Phahlane. 

It has been a tough year for the directorate’s investigators. 

"The past year our investigators have been harassed. They have had death threats and false cases have been opened against them. All in the defence of one man," Dlamini said. 

Death threats

O’Sullivan and his assistant, attorney Sarah Jane Trent, were arrested despite the fact that O’Sullivan - who by now had been charged with at least six different alleged crimes and which one by one are being thrown out of court – had a high court order that he should be summoned to court and not arrested. 

Trent has laid a counter-charge of kidnapping against the police who arrested her. They were a team from the North West, led by North West deputy commissioner Major General Ntebo Jan Mabula. According to IPID, Mabula appears to have been hired specifically to protect Phahlane.

IPID has gone to court in an attempt to stop the police team from being in charge of cases involving IPID’s investigators.

IPID investigators were also charged, along with O’Sullivan and Trent, on a rack of charges and there were attempts to also charge them with racketeering before that case was also thrown out of court. 

The group also received death threats. 

McBride and Phahlane fought it out in Parliament and allegations between the two flew around, which only stopped when newly appointed Police Minister Fikile Mbalula suspended Phahlane. 

But it wasn’t the case involving the building of Phahlane’s house, or even an R80 000 sound system he had acquired, and which IPID was interested in when they raided his house earlier last year. Instead, it was the cars owned by Phahlane and his wife which saw the top cop land in court. 

Recently the allegations have escalated with IPID, including in their investigation of police supplier Keith Keating and his company Forensic Data Analyst (FDA).

In December a joint operation between the Hawks and IPID saw seven properties connected to Keating and Phahlane raided. 

Corruption charges

It was revealed last year that Keating’s company FDA had allegedly received R5 billion in SAPS contracts since 2010. 

IPID believes Keating had paid for the vehicles for Phahlane, his wife and sister, and that this had been facilitated through Snyman. 

The vehicles were allegedly purchased under a fake name, John Doe, and Keating allegedly paid for them by putting money into Snyman’s account. 

Keating had a contract for the supply and maintenance of Rolfin lights to the police, allegedly said to be worth R1bn. 

The properties searched in December included Phahlane’s home in Sable Hills, and Keating’s FDA offices and home. 

Phahlane, Snyman and Keating have denied the allegations against them.  

But on Thursday Phahlane, his wife and Snyman faced charges of corruption for six cars he and his wife drove. 

The cars include a Mercedes-Benz C, Land Rover Discovery, and two bakkies which were paid for by Snyman. 

The car dealer has previously claimed he sponsored the vehicles, but the State alleges they were a form of gratification given to the couple.

IPID has not ruled out the possibility of further suspects being arrested in the case.

They accused were granted bail of R10 000 each and will appear in court again in March. 


Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  kgomotso phahlane  |  paul o'sullivan  |  corruption

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