The SA Police Service has been left with egg on its face after Judge Francis Legodi ordered the release of forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan, arrested on Monday evening outside AfriForum’s offices in Centurion.
It’s understood the charge was that he had impersonated an Independent Police Investigative Directorate officer, which O’Sullivan denies. He has charged that the arrest was merely an act of intimidation from the police against his cases against top police, parastatal and state heads.
Earlier, Judge Francis Legodi heard from Quintus Pelser SC for O’Sullivan that arresting officer Brigadier Pharasa Ncube had taken it upon himself to reinterpret Deputy Judge President Audrey Ledwaba’s court order declaring O’Sullivan had to be given 48 hours’ notice of his impending arrest.
According to Ncube, the order related to another, separate matter, and, as his current arrest was on a different matter, it did not hold sway.
According to Ledwaba’s order, agreed to between the prosecutor and O’Sullivan’s legal team, the order begins: “In any matter…” and goes on to detail that O’Sullivan would only be brought to court by way of summons and if his arrest was necessary, the “…respondents undertake to afford the Applicant [O’Sullivan] 48 hours’ notice to present himself at a designated police station”.
The order is dated 16 November, 2016.
Legodi said he had called Ledwaba, who confirmed the original order preventing O’Sullivan’s arrest unless the conditions laid down by Ledwaba were adhered to.
He subsequently ordered the matter removed from the roll and made another order that the police must comply with Ledwaba’s previous court order.
Costs were reserved.
AfriForum’s Kallie Kriel called O’Sullivan’s arrest an abuse of power.
“We’re just doing the last of the paperwork and he’ll be out in a few minutes,” said Kriel on Monday night, adding he was glad O’Sullivan had had the court order preventing his arrest unless certain conditions were met.
“I think as an organisation we want to ensure the rule of law is upheld,” Kriel said.
“State power must not be abused and what we’ve seen happen today was an abuse of state power. Ignoring an order from the court is contempt of court, but in the end justice prevailed.”
O’Sullivan has also spoken out, saying he will not back down.