EXCLUSIVE: How a crooked cop tried to lock me up, by Jacques Pauw
Durban North detective Colonel Reuben Govender is a seasoned cop and one would therefore assume that, when he investigates an alleged crime, he would get the most basic information right.
Don’t hold your breath, because Govender is either incredibly inept or exceptionally devious and dishonest.
It’s both. He is an amateurish and sly cop who is in the pocket of one of the most controversial businessmen in the country - a Zuma crony who has paid the former president a salary while he was in office.
After my book, The President’s Keepers, was published at the end of October last year, security tycoon and racehorse owner Chockalingam "Roy" Moodley went to his pet cop, Govender, and laid charges of fraud, forgery and uttering, crimen injuria and criminal defamation against me.
At the same time, Moodley laid similar charges against News24 investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh.
Myburgh had nothing to do with my book, but has written about Moodley’s alleged shady business deals. The security tycoon probably ordered Govender to use the opportunity to bag Myburgh as well.
Moodley said both Myburgh and I had committed the offences on October 29 last year – the date my book was published. Myburgh had nothing to do with my book and has written nothing about Moodley on that date.
Heaven knows why there is even a case.
This week, I obtained a stack of documents, among them two affidavits by Govender, and applications for warrants for our arrests that he had prepared for a magistrate.
Lied under oath
The documents show how Govender, despite knowing that he had insufficient evidence, lied under oath to obtain the warrants and then embarked on a plot to lure Myburgh and I to Durban to apprehend us.
He would probably have locked us up and presented us with trumped-up charges. He has a track record of intimidating suspects and detaining them for weekends.
In court papers in various matters, some involving claims against the minister of police for unlawful arrest, the names of Moodley and Govender popped up frequently amid allegations of abuses of power and processes.
The astonishing thing is that nothing has ever happened to Govender, and he seemingly acts with impunity. I have no doubt that he enjoys protection from above.
Following Moodley’s charges against us, Govender approached a senior public prosecutor in Durban on November 14 to try and get an arrest warrant. The documents show that the prosecutor, a Mr Ntuli, told him there was "insufficient evidence to proceed" (the quote comes from court papers).
He then approached a magistrate in Pietermaritzburg to try and get a warrant. The magistrate sent him packing.
The documents I obtained this week prove how the senior policeman then committed perjury and lied at the behest of Moodley.
On November 24 last year, Govender made two affidavits in which he claimed that a source had informed him that, on that day, both Myburgh and I were in KwaZulu-Natal, attending a Democratic Alliance meeting in the town of Ntuzuma, just northwest of Durban.
It was utter nonsense, but this was Govender’s ploy to place us in the magisterial district of Ntuzuma.
The wrong Jacques Pauw
Govender then approached a senior magistrate in Ntuzuma to obtain warrants for our arrests. On the same day, Ntuzuma Magistrate N Rai signed the warrants, even though there was insufficient evidence in the docket.
Govender’s affidavits and the two "Application for Warrant of Arrest" (Form J50) are riddled with simple and sloppy slip-ups and mistakes.
To start with, he misspelt both our names. He then stated that I reside in the genteel suburb of Sandton in Johannesburg (in the posh Alice Lane, nogal!). He said I am 67 years of age and that I am the owner of two cellphones with numbers 083-250-0*** and 083-455-4***.
The colonel said: "Numerous attempts were made telephonically to reach Jacques Pauw, but to no avail. His cellphone numbers would ring and there was no answer."
No, here is the problem: none of those telephone numbers belong to me! After I got the documents, I dialled the first number and, to my astonishment, another Jacques Pauw answered. The second number belonged to his wife.
There are at least two Jacques Pauws in South Africa – and Govender had the wrong one! I have met the other Jacques, a distant relative, recently in my restaurant in Riebeek Kasteel in the Western Cape. He said Govender had never tried to get hold of him.
And sorry, Colonel Govender, I also don’t live in Sandton, and I will only be 67 in a decade from now.
If the good colonel had done a shred of homework and read the first paragraph of my book – which one would have thought he did, seeing that it is at the centre of the investigation – he would have known where I live.
And are you aware of the fact, colonel, that restaurants and guest houses have land lines which are available on their websites? Ever tried it?
Baying for our blood
Govender said in his application for Myburgh’s arrest that he is "around 50" and resides in Osborne Street in Greyville in Durban.
Again, a load of rubbish. Myburgh is about 20 years younger and lives in Johannesburg. Why didn’t he phone the News24 offices and ask where Myburgh is?
Govender lies in both affidavits by saying: "We have reasonable suspicion that the suspect is within the district of Durban and surrounding area."
With his arrest warrant in his pocket, Govender plotted our arrest by trying to lure us to Durban.
On December 4 last year, attorney Willem De Klerk received a phone call from Govender, who refused to divulge any details of the investigation, and insisted that both of us travel to Durban to meet him.
De Klerk told Govender that we would, at that stage, not answer any questions, but the policeman insisted that we travel to Durban and say it to his face.
On December 7, Govender again wrote to De Klerk and said it was clear that we had no intention of cooperating with him. He again insisted that we present ourselves to him.
We said we were willing to meet him in Johannesburg. He initially agreed, but then cancelled the meeting. He wanted to see us in his office in Durban within a few days.
Govender was baying for our blood. We had by then identified five cases in which Moodley, or those close to him, were the complainants in criminal matters where Govender, or those who report to him, were the investigating officers, and had made several arrests without warrants. Civil proceedings are pending in these cases.
From the documents given to me, it turns out that detectives from the Durban North detective services also obtained a warrant from Magistrate Rai for the arrest of Durban businessman Vinesh Juglal.
R12m business deal
Moodley has had an almost decade-long dispute with Juglal over a soured R12m business deal. He had been arrested by Govender and his men no less than five times.
Juglal sold a building to Moodley in 2010. The deal went sour and Moodley claimed that he was defrauded of R2.5m. None other than Govender investigated his complaint.
Court papers revealed that he arrested Juglal for the first time in March 2012, when the businessman went to an attorney’s office "at the request of Roy Moodley". He thought he was going to sign a lease and resolve the dispute.
When he got there, Moodley was not there. Govender was. He handcuffed him and arrested him for fraud, allegedly without a warrant.
He was detained at Phoenix police station until the following morning. He said Govender told him that he would stay behind bars until he settled the matter or paid back the R12m.
Eventually, he was released after his attorney brought an urgent application in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban. Govender arrested him a second time on the same fraud allegations in June that year.
Juglal eventually obtained an interdict against Govender, preventing any further intimidation or harassment.
In March 2016, the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit of the NPA withdrew the fraud charge against Juglal. He then sued the minister of police for R2m.
Despite the withdrawal of the case, one of Govender’s men, Detective Warrant Officer Ganas Moodley, told Magistrate Rai, on November 24 last year in an affidavit, that Juglal was still being sought for the 2010 fraud of R2.5m.
Ganas Moodley said that Juglal was "making a mockery of the criminal justice system" and that the police had tried in vain to get hold of him.
Rai inexplicably granted the warrant, alongside that of Myburgh and mine.
We were aware of Govender’s foul play and had no intention to report to Govender. We appointed a legal team in Durban, among them respected senior advocate Andrea Gabriel, to prepare to bring a high court application to remove Govender from the investigation.
De Klerk also communicated our reservations with Govender to the KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner and drafted a complaint to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
Govender wrote a threatening letter to De Klerk and said he was not accountable to him as an attorney. He said Myburgh and I were "extremely evasive", caused "unnecessary delays", and that we could have been arrested weeks ago.
And then came this ominous paragraph: "You have left us, as the police, with little alternative but to use the available legal processes to ensure their presence in order to face the criminal charges levelled against them."
On December 12 at 17:05, as Andrea Gabriel and her team prepared to go to court, the head of detectives in KwaZulu-Natal, Brigadier Andre Holby, told De Klerk that Govender had been removed from the case.
In an extraordinary change of events, Holby brought a late-afternoon urgent court application in Durban to have the warrants of arrests cancelled because of insufficient evidence. It was the police versus the police.
Prosecutor T Ntuli said he had studied the docket and that there was "insufficient evidence to make any decision", and that Govender had acted "prematurely" in his application for a warrant.
Holby said he was "concerned" about the warrants and that it should be cancelled.
'Going to show her'
Senior Magistrate Irfaan Khallil said in his judgment that it was odd that Govender had taken his case to Ntuzuma to get a warrant. That court did not have jurisdiction and there was no prima facie case against Myburgh and I.
Khallil ordered Holby to "look into the conduct" of Govender and directed the chief magistrate to probe Rai’s issuing of the warrants.
I am not sure what happened to the warrant for Vinesh Juglal, but in February this year, he won R1.5m in his case against the minister of police for his unlawful arrest and treatment by Govender and his cronies.
It has also subsequently emerged that, as Govender prepared for the arrest of Myburgh and I, the Durban Regional Court had ruled in favour of a Durban woman who was terrorised by Durban North detectives in a case in which Roy Moodley was the complainant.
Shanaaz Ally successfully sued the minister of police after she claimed she was arrested at the behest of Moodley. In her evidence, detailed in the court’s judgment, she said she had told Moodley’s wife that he was having an affair. Moodley arrived on the scene and threatened her with arrest, saying he was "going to show her".
Moments later, she was arrested by two officers from the Durban North police station and charged with attempted murder, crimen injuria and extortion. These charges were withdrawn after she made a statement, which was never filed in the docket.
In another matter pending before the Durban Magistrate’s Court, a former employee of Moodley’s, Yarnall Munsamy, said she and six other staffers at his Royal Security CC had been arrested "in a witch-hunt" and all accused of fraud in February 2011.
She appeared in court more than 10 times before the matter was set down for trial. She was acquitted in January 2015, without having to give evidence.
Munsamy was arrested by police officers working for Govender. She claims to be a victim of malicious prosecution.
She said Moodley "used his influences" to persuade the authorities to prosecute her and the five others.
On December 29 last year, Rai wrote a letter to Durban Chief Magistrate Edmund Bhekumthetho Ngubane, in which he said that it was unfortunate that he had been dragged into these matters, and that he had performed his duties honestly, properly and with integrity.
He said he had relied on the information that Govender (and Ganas Moodley in the case of Juglal) had supplied to him. He said Govender had told him that Myburgh and I were in the area attending a DA meeting.
He was, therefore, satisfied that there was sufficient evidence to issue the warrants.