Monday, September 26, 2022

Paul O’Sullivan on corruption, pushback and Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala scandal

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In this riveting fireside chat at the fourth BizNews Conference, Paul O’Sullivan relates his experience of struggles with corrupt politicians. He recalls various encounters with crooked police he was trying to bring down and gives his view on what really happened at Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm, where a few million dollars were allegedly stolen from the president’s residence, as well as many more interesting insights.

Paul O’Sullivan on the dangers he faces after exposing corruption in South Africa 

Certainly, back then I was gunning for Selebi and he’d been put away. He got a 15-year jail sentence. He never served a day in prison. He was booked into a prison hospital, which was actually a private clinic, which his medical aid or the proceeds of crime paid for. And he spent a while in a private clinic, and then they did an Arthur Frazer/Zuma on him, and he was released on medical parole. And two years later, he passed away while he was on medical parole. You know, I have no happiness about anybody passing away, but I would have preferred it if he had actually served some time in prison because he tried to have me and my family murdered in order to stop me from doing what I did. And he also made lots of false allegations against me. He said I was a spy and I’ve been sent to South Africa to destabilise the country, which is a complete load of rubbish. One of his sidekicks, a guy called Andre Pryce, found me. I’ve got that tape recording. It’s quite funny to listen to him talking. He’s telling me that. What would Tony Blair think about what I’m doing? And of course, I know who Tony Blair is. I said, Who the hell is Tony Blair? He said, “Your prime minister,” I said, “No, no, Nelson Mandela is my president. I don’t have any prime minister,” because Mandela was the president of South Africa then. Anyway, you know, the games that were being played and the corruption in the police service was rampant. And not long after Selebi was sent to jail, he took it on appeal. I don’t know if you remember. And it went to the Supreme Court of Appeal and it was dismissed – he had to start serving his sentence. He was taken to prison in an ambulance, and when they got to the prison, they said, “No, we don’t take people from ambulances. You’ll have to take him to a clinic somewhere.” And he ended up in a private clinic in Pretoria with police officers guarding him to make sure he didn’t escape. And he spent three or four months there and then he got medical parole. And I think that was probably the training ground, if you like, for Arthur Fraser and Zuma. You know, if you talk about the costs of corruption, this country, which I’ve been saying for the last 35 years or must be close to 40 years now.  It’s one of the most beautiful countries in the world but the cost of corruption has nearly brought us to our knees. 

On the pressure he is currently facing

Unfortunately, we are under a lot of pressure. I don’t know if you know this, but last Friday the state attached all the assets of Phahlane and all of his accomplices in one of the biggest corruption cases this country’s ever seen, save for perhaps the Guptas. But within the police service I’ve been going after Phahlane since 2015, and I opened the docket against him in February 2016. And on the 1st of April 2016, I was dragged off a plane by, we’ll call them accomplices of his, with my small children. And I was detained and tortured for three days. And then they took my passport and they said I couldn’t leave the country. They proceeded to raid my offices on a regular basis. They kidnapped some of my staff and took them away. They came away empty-handed every time they raided my offices. 

In fact, in one of those raids, they expected to find me there. And I was standing in Trafalgar Square, having a discussion about #ZumaMustGo or something like that. I got a phone call that the cops were there at my offices and that they raided the place again. And they’re all dirty cops and the stupid idiots, they don’t realise that we have video footage and a microphone, so we’re recording what they’re saying while they’re there and we’ve got all the evidence and then some of the cops involved and apart from the crooked cops that I was going after, some of the cops involved in these raids are now on trial themselves because I decided I’m going to apply the same amount of energy that they applied to try and stop me into making sure they get prosecuted. The trial started recently of some of these people and I went to the High Court I think in May when a general, two Brigadiers, a colonel, a captain and a warrant officer were on trial for kidnapping and torture. So, you know, there’s a lot going on. And the story of the book, which we couldn’t come up with a name, we came up with the title: Stop Me if You Can, because before they yanked me off the plane on the 15th of March 2016. I sent an email to the chief of police. I copied Ramaphosa. He was the deputy president then – I wouldn’t communicate with someone like Zuma at all. But I copied Ramaphosa because he and I go back quite a long way and I wanted him to know what was going on in the police. And the email was also sent to Dudu Myeni and Ntlemeza, Ntlemeza’s spokesman. Who has now been dismissed from the police and he’s soon going to be arrested and charged as well. 

On what he believes happened at Cyril Ramaphosa’s Phala Phala farm 

International buyers of game, which is a movable asset, if they’re going to come to a game farm and buy an expensive buffalo for a couple of million dollars, they’re not going to want to leave that buffalo there, they’re going to want to take it away with them. Now, a person selling a buffalo to somebody from a neighbouring state, a southern African state. It’s an auction. What are you going to do? You’re going to bring a suitcase full of cheques with you and pull out the one at the right value. And they’re going to be bank-approved. So what they do is they trade in U.S. dollars – most game auctions are traded in U.S. dollars. Because who’s going to accept the cheque? There’s so much fraud going on these days, so a lot of game auctions are done in cash. Now, when I say the big game auctions, I mean if you’re buying Springbok and whatnot at R1,000 a pop, you can do it with your credit card. But who’s going to put a credit card through $1,000,000? So I’m just not certain that the allegations are factual. I think if you take a bit of hearsay and you sprinkle a bit of stuff on it, you can make it sound a lot worse than it is. Now, there’s allegations, for example, that Bejani Chauke went to the border with Namibia, and then they went over the border and they stayed at Geingob’s house in Windhoek. And now my understanding of that is that something close to that did happen, but it had nothing to do with the theft of any money or game or other issues of international importance. And it was during a period where you couldn’t urgently travel from one country to another because of Covid regulations and stuff like that. But I’m not saying that’s an excuse. I’m just saying I’d like to see the evidence. And if we’re going to be so gullible, you know, at the end of the day, Ramaphosa is the president. And if one looks at the alternatives -I mean, who wants Juju as president? You know, we aren’t going to get an alternative right now. 

Read also:

  • Paul O’Sullivan: The Zondo Commission missed the mark
  • The back story to ‘Stop Me If You Can’: Paul O’Sullivan on his new book
  • From the archives: Rob Hersov: Battered but unbowed after ‘that’ BNC speech which Zondo et al proves was on the money

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