Ipid widens probe of Khomotso Phahlane, gives details of alleged car-boot cash payments
The police watchdog has filed a damning affidavit that details how an investigation against national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane unfolded.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) filed the affidavit by its investigator‚ Mandlakayise Mahlangu‚ in the North Gauteng High Court late on Thursday.
Sketching how the investigation began‚ Mahlangu’s affidavit includes allegations that Phahlane tried to intimidate witnesses in order to block the investigation.
The document states that private forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan alerted investigators to potentially serious corruption allegations.
“On November 1 [last year] the investigative team was constituted…. O’Sullivan confirmed to me that he had evidence and could locate witnesses to support his allegations.”
In the weeks that followed investigators learnt how Phahlane had allegedly paid his home builder and subcontractors in cash‚ Mahlangu says.
We will talk to the National Prosecuting Authority‚ which is highly respected. We will not talk to people like Ipid‚ who are in the pocket of O’Sullivan
“I asked the builder if he had built Phahlane’s home and he confirmed he had. I then asked him how he had been paid for such work.
“He indicated that the bulk of his payments were made in cash‚ which had been given to him by either Phahlane or his protector‚ in plastic bags from the boot of Phahlane’s car.”
The affidavit follows Ipid’s announcement that the corruption charges against Phahlane had been expanded to include money laundering‚ defeating the ends of justice and racketeering.
Mahlangu’s affidavit is a response to Phahlane’s allegations that Ipid’s investigation into him is unlawful.
Phahlane has accused Ipid of allowing O’Sullivan to drive its investigation.
Mahlangu’s affidavit paints a picture of Phahlane apparently hellbent on quashing any form of investigation into him or his private life‚ including attempts to silence state witnesses and force them to alter their sworn affidavits to Ipid.
Ipid’s investigation centres on Phahlane’s time as forensic sciences laboratory head and the awarding of R93m worth of tenders to certain forensic equipment providers while he was in charge.
Mahlangu’s claims reveal alleged cash payments made from Phahlane’s car boot to the builder of his R3m Pretoria home and cash payments to the builder’s subcontractors.
“Big deposits” made into Phahlane’s bond account and his personal off-duty relations with forensic company service providers have piqued Ipid’s interest.
The need for the data analyst was exacerbated by death threats made to my life‚ my family and O’Sullivan
Mahlangu said the builder could not remember whether he had received any electronic fund transfers from Phahlane.
Mahlangu claims that‚ according to the builder‚ Phahlane paid him R710,000 in cash in three payments — two of R350,000 and one of R10,000.
The subcontractors provided details to Mahlangu of how they allegedly were also paid in cash‚ allegedly by Phahlane using his driver‚ “who made the payments from the boot of a black BMW”.
Mahlangu claims the subcontractors paid in cash included:
• the electrician‚ who received payments amounting to R50,000; • the plasterer‚ who was paid R170,000 in fortnightly instalments; • the plumber‚ who was paid R30,000; and • the tiler‚ who was paid between R5,000 and R10,000 on seven or eight occasions.
Mahlangu said investigators had statements from a company that had benefited from tenders awarded when Phahlane headed the forensic science division.
“A statement explaining invoices that had been used to acquire electronic equipment that had later been installed in Phahlane’s house were deposed to us.”
The invoices‚ he says‚ were for R126,900 paid in cash‚ and R80,075 paid by EFT.
“The information reveals dubious transactions in Phahlane’s financial affairs.”
It was during their investigations‚ Mahlangu says‚ that they acquired the help of a data analyst.
“The need for the data analyst was exacerbated by death threats made to my life‚ my family and O’Sullivan.”
He said the investigation into threats made to witnesses showed one came from a cellphone belonging to an OR Tambo International Airport-based policeman‚ while cellphone data showed that another threat was made from a handset‚ which received reception from the “3G–SAPS–Intel–HQ–MN1–NGA” tower [linked to the police crime intelligence headquarters]”.
In the affidavit Mahlangu claims: “There were [no phone calls] to anyone who had previously worked on this matter‚ until this investigative team was constituted … it was for these reasons‚ and Phahlane’s interference with the investigation‚ that Ipid head Robert McBride requested the police minister to place Phahlane on leave pending the investigation’s outcome.
“There is high probability of Phahlane using his office to undermine the investigation. It is clear that he has made contact with three witnesses‚ and two of them have since deposed to affidavits pertaining to the investigation and interviews held with them.”
Mahlangu claims Phahlane has accessed a court file containing witness information; and established a task team that has questioned Ipid witnesses‚ and made them prepare statements different from those they gave to Ipid investigators.
Phahlane’s lawyer‚ Piet du Plessis‚ on Thursday accused Ipid of carrying out an illegal investigation.
He said Phahlane would answer only those questions posed by a “competent and responsible” organisation.
“We will talk to the National Prosecuting Authority‚ which is highly respected. We will not talk to people like Ipid‚ who are in the pocket of O’Sullivan.”