Case against former Cape cop on ice again as magistrate recuses herself
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Cape Town - Former Saps crime intelligence captain Paul Scheepers delayed his trial for the umpteenth time this week when his defence successfully persuaded a Bellville magistrate to recuse herself.
Scheepers, who made headlines last year as the cellphone expert of convicted wife-murderer Rob Packham, is facing a raft of charges.
They include 23 counts of fraud, as well as one alleged contravention of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act, one violation of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act and one relating to the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Scheepers, 49, was arrested in May 2015 and is out of jail on R20 000 bail.
Since his first appearance in April 2016 in the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court, he has managed to argue for nearly 24 postponements.
The latest comes after his defence called for the recusal of the magistrate based on her involvement in Scheepers’s Western Cape High Court application last year to have all his charges scrapped.
That application, which was withdrawn, was basically predicated on the argument that declarations of secrecy he signed as a police officer would make it impossible for him to articulate his defence.
Most of the charges he faces at the Bellville court relate to the private investigation business, Eagle Eye Solutions Technologies CC, which Scheepers allegedly ran from 2003 without the SAPS’ sanction while serving as a unit commander with Provincial Crime Intelligence.
The State alleges Scheepers obtained cellphone records for his PI agency by adding them to legitimate subpoena applications for unrelated crime intelligence cases. In the process, he is accused of allegedly duping senior Bellville prosecutors.
In order to obtain a subpoena for a police investigation, an investigating officer has to submit a sworn affidavit to a magistrate giving details of his/her investigation, including why cellphone records are required.
In some of the cases, Scheepers investigated as a PI, the State alleges that he illegally obtained the cellphone records of top lawyers including senior counsel Francois van Zyl, who successfully defended Shrien Dewani on wife-murder charges.
He also allegedly interfered in the 2013 John Commins murder investigation by allegedly illegally obtaining the cellphone records of several of the investigating officers, Commins family members and the alleged suspect.
Scheepers’s client allegedly was Commins’s daughter, Donne. No one was prosecuted for the former Western Province cricketer’s murder, which occurred during a robbery at his Newlands home.
Other charges relate to the State allegation that in September 2010 Scheepers illegally imported an IMSI grabber/locator into South Africa, a device capable of intercepting cellphone conversations, text messages and data and determining a user’s location without their knowledge.
Sources say the grabber has never been recovered and may still be in use. The equipment can only be owned legally in South Africa by the military and national intelligence.
Despite the legal cloud hanging over Scheepers, he remains a leading expert who, according to a high court affidavit, still assists the SAPS after his resignation. He was trained in London, where he specialised in cellphone
tracing and triangulation.