Pretoria - Emboldened by a forensic investigation clearing him of fraud and corruption, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane is now gunning for his detractors, with private investigator Paul O’Sullivan being his prime target.
He also gave the clearest indication yet that he might not co-operate with the investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid). The directorate was investigating allegations that Phahlane interfered with witnesses during a probe into the construction of his luxury house in an upmarket estate in Pretoria.
On Thursday, the acting national commissioner released the report findings which exonerated him on all allegations of irregular appointments, and payments of scarce skills allowances; and the disregard for organisational structures, among others.
The allegations, dating back to 2011 during Phahlane’s tenure as divisional commissioner in the Forensic Services Division, were laid against him by police union Popcru. But the investigation dismissed the allegations as unfounded and unsubstantiated.
After making it clear that he was putting the matter to rest, a seemingly relieved Phahlane trained his guns on his detractors for damaging his reputation. He said he learnt of the Ipid investigation against him through the media, and that he had not been served with a warning statement, a final formal procedure before a person was charged with a criminal offence.
He lashed out at the investigation, saying it was spearheaded by O’Sullivan, who he described as a “foreigner” with a questionable character, himself facing criminal charges.
“He has been leading the investigation, questioning people, and concocting statements... which were signed off by the Ipid investigating officer. It’s irregular, it’s uncalled for, it’s unthinkable. You can never imagine that kind of a situation in this country,” said Phahlane.
If the probe was “legitimate”, said Phahlane, “by all means you will find me co-operating, but I take serious exception to the insults directed at me”. O’Sullivan, he said, was going around trying to “put substance to baseless allegations.
“Worse is that Paul O’Sullivan is facing criminal charges before a court. He is facing an array of investigations... and you bring him to the house of the acting national commissioner, you are allowing him to take photographs of the acting national commissioner’s house.
“You can’t derive joy out of such. I really find it bizarre that that kind of situation would have been allowed and continues to be allowed. He continues to try to gain access to the estate. He himself, wrote me an email that said I’m surveilling your house’. Is that not a violation of one’s privacy... compromising one’s security?” Phahlane asked.
When contacted for comment, O’Sullivan said: “He (Phahlane) is talking rubbish. He is a criminal and I’m going to send him to jail.”
Meanwhile, Phahlane made it clear he was continuing with litigation against the three whistle-blowers, a lieutenant-colonel who has since resigned from the police service and two warrant officers.
The litigation against the trio was about “the assault on my integrity, it’s about the attack on me personally”, and that was why he was seeking legal recourse. The defamation case is due to be heard in the high court in Pretoria next year.
He added his relationship with Popcru hadn't been strained by the allegations it levelled against him.