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Johannesburg - High-profile forensic investigator Paul O’Sullivan was almost assassinated on Thursday – before a specialised police task team swooped on three would-be killers.
The two men and a woman were believed to be after O’Sullivan and SAPS Colonel Nkosana “Killer” Ximba, allegedly on jailed Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir’s bidding.
A heavily armed police team arrested the first suspect at a Sandton restaurant around noon. The information they gleaned from him led them to the man and woman at the Road Lodge in Rivonia, where the woman was checked in, just after 5pm.
Officers recovered three vehicles in the process: a Nissan panel van, a silver Toyota Fortuner and a BMW X6. Inside the BMW they found an R5 assault rifle, two 9mm pistols, blue police lights, five balaclavas, gloves, six cellphones and numerous number plates.
National police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said the arrests were the result of an intensive intelligence operation.
Officers had been following the accused for days, aware that they intended assassinating O’Sullivan and Ximba at their homes on Thursday morning.
O’Sullivan told The Star he almost shot three police officers after he caught them tailing him on Thursday morning.
He said he had gone for a walk when he saw three men in a black BMW following him. Feeling that his life was in danger, he drew his pistol and challenged them.
“They said: ‘Please, Paul, don’t shoot. We are police and we are here to help you’,” he said.
The officers told him they were following him because they were aware his life was in danger and that a hit had been taken out on his life for later that morning.
O’Sullivan said police told him the planned hit was to take place between 10am and noon, when he was going to leave his house on the way to a meeting.
The men would first target Ximba and then him.
“They said a Fortuner was going to be the spotter vehicle and they would call men who would wait for me in another car with the R5 rifles and they would plug me,” O’Sullivan said.
He was told to leave his phone behind because it was being traced.
O’Sullivan thanked the police for a job well done, but said he had been ready for any eventuality.
“I don’t believe I am infallible or invincible, but if (the assassins) had tried to shoot me, they would have been the ones taken away in body bags,” he said.
Makgale said the two men, aged 32 and 33, and the woman, aged 23, would appear in the Sandton Magistrate’s Court today to face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, theft, and possession of stolen vehicles.
One of the men had been on the run, Makgale said. He was being sought in connection with the attempted murder and kidnapping case for which Krejcir had been arrested.
Makgale said detectives had been gathering a lot of information since Krejcir’s arrest.
“This is a major breakthrough in the case,” he said, “and police plan to make more arrests.”