Phahlane feels the heat as businessman reveals details of their relationship

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The Pretoria businessman, the owner of a car dealership, has detailed his relationship with Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane in a sworn statement believed to form part of a case being investigated by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

In the statement, the businessman said he met Phahlane about four years ago at his dealership in Pretoria North.

“The day we met Phahlane he was dressed in his police uniform. Phahlane was looking at vehicles and during our discussion it became clear to me that he had a passion for vehicles.”

The statement, taken at Garsfontein police station on January 17, goes into detail about how the businessman approached Phahlane to be his black economic empowerment (BEE) partner.

He says that Phahlane was willing to be his BEE partner.

The man said Phahlane was appointed acting police commissioner in October 2015 and the partnership was not discussed further.

The businessman said that in December 2015 he decided to sponsor Phahlane with a vehicle to be used for community projects and Phahlane accepted the offer.

The man said that the agreement was that Phahlane would use the vehicle for 18 months and that it would be registered in Phahlane’s name so that he would be responsible for insurance, fuel, tolls and maintenance.

This is one of the six cars owned by Phahlane, said to include a Land Rover Discovery, a Range Rover Sport, a Toyota Hilux bakkie and a VW Amarok bakkie, that have drawn the attention of the police watchdog.

It is not known whether Phahlane declared the alleged gift of the vehicle to the police.

Rudolph Zinn, a professor in the department of police practice at the University of South Africa, said donations were regulated by standing orders in the police service.

“[The donation] must first be approved in writing by the SAPS. It must be an open and transparent process, and must be declared.”

He said of interest to the investigative directorate would be why the vehicle was registered in the commissioner’s name and not in that of the community project to which it was ostensibly donated.

David Lewis, Corruption Watch’s executive director, said a gift from someone wanting to do business with you implied that the gift was intended to induce you.

“It is called corruption. It is corruption 101,” he said.

He was, however, wary of “pre-judging” Phahlane.

Last week, the directorate’s investigators raided Phahlane’s upmarket home northeast of Pretoria looking for an R80,000 home theatre system as part of its corruption investigation. The directorate believes that the purchase of the system might be related to a contract awarded when Phahlane was head of the police’s forensic unit.

Phahlane has insisted that he bought and paid for the sound system himself.

Directorate spokesman Moses Dlamini declined to comment.

National police spokesman Brigadier Sally de Beer said the allegations, which were “unlawfully” leaked to the media, were factually inaccurate.

She said court proceedings would soon reveal all.

“As in the instance in which it was widely and inaccurately reported that Phahlane had received a sound system as a corrupt gift, the fact was that he had paid for it himself.

“These leaked allegations relating to vehicles are also misleading and false,” De Beer said.

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