Robert McBride‚ head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid)‚ has told Parliament that the arrests of Paul O’ Sullivan and his assistant were an attempt to disrupt their investigation into acting Police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and an act of intimidation.
He said the arrests also contravened sections of the IPID Act.
O’Sullivan was arrested on Monday — in contravention of a court order — after his assistant‚ Sarah Jane Trent was arrested on Friday.
O’ Sullivan was arrested on charges of impersonating an IPID officer‚ after he apparently went to Phahlane’s home with investigators from IPID who have been investigating allegations of corruption and money laundering‚ which involve the purchase of an R80‚000 sound system for his home‚ from a South African Police Service supplier.
But McBride told Parliament that O’ Sullivan was merely the complainant in the case‚ helping them with information‚ and that they had documentary proof that Phahlane had misled Parliament when he briefed them about the matter about two weeks ago.
Addressing Parliament’s police portfolio committee for the first time since his reinstatement as executive director of the police watchdog‚ McBride said the investigation was “at an advanced stage” and they had several statements relating to charges of corruption‚ fraud and money laundering.
He told the committee they had been misled when Phahlane last appeared before them.
In that meeting‚ Phahlane had told the committee that he had not been notified about the investigation into his affairs and that O’Sullivan appeared to be working for IPID and had identified himself as an IPID investigator when visiting the security estate where Phahlane lives.
McBride‚ however‚ said IPID had proof that Phahlane had met with then acting IPID head Israel Kgamanyane who had gone to discuss the charges with him. They also had a document bearing Phahlane’s signature instructing his personal assistant to set up a meeting with IPID in June last year.
“And unfortunately for Phahlane‚ we have transcripts and recordings of every interview done and at no point did he (O’Sullivan) identify as being with IPID or as a police officer‚” McBride said.
McBride said O’Sullivan was merely a complainant in the case‚ who had come to them with information and sources.
The lead investigator in the case‚ Mandla Mahlangu‚ had a wealth of experience‚ and was a man of integrity‚ he said.
“There isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell the claims of impersonation will stand up in court‚ because it simply didn’t happen‚” he said.
Chief director of investigations for IPID‚ Matthews Seseko‚ told the committee that while it was not up to them to pronounce on Phahlane’s guilt‚ there was sufficient evidence to conclude that “something does not add up“.
“What we have so far suggests wrongdoing or needs further explanation‚” he said.