CityPress - - News - BIÉNNE HUISMAN bi­enne.huisman@city­press.co.za

When his trial starts later this month, Paul Scheep­ers – the man ac­cused of spy­ing on the ANC on be­half of Premier He­len Zille – will face 26 charges for tap­ping the phones of South Africans and smug­gling il­le­gal spy gad­gets into the coun­try.

The sus­pended for­mer SA Po­lice Ser­vice (SAPS) crime in­tel­li­gence boss is ac­cused of manag­ing an un­law­ful pri­vate spy busi­ness on the side, and us­ing his priv­i­leges as a po­lice of­fi­cer to ob­tain con­fi­den­tial cell­phone records and hack into peo­ple’s phones.

The trial will play out against a murky web of po­lit­i­cal fight­ing and al­le­ga­tions of top-level cor­rup­tion within po­lice ranks.

In the run-up to the court ap­pear­ance, City Press has seen the charge sheet de­tail­ing the for­mer po­lice­man’s al­leged lies in court and his dodgy deals as a pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor for sur­veil­lance firm Ea­gle Eye So­lu­tions, which he formed while em­ployed by the SAPS in 2003.

The charge sheet states: “The ac­cused ap­plied to the SAPS to be per­mit­ted to per­form pri­vate re­mu­ner­a­tive work ... These ap­pli­ca­tions were not ap­proved due to a con­flict of in­ter­est.

“In his ap­pli­ca­tion to per­form pri­vate re­mu­ner­a­tive work, he states that the type of busi­ness he con­ducts is ‘au­dio restora­tion, cell­phone foren­sics, build­ing of track­ing units, ser­vice and sales of soft­ware in re­spect of cell­phones’.”

But Scheep­ers al­legedly con­tin­ued his pri­vate spy­ing. It is claimed that over five years, he lied to var­i­ous courts, in­clud­ing the Bel­lville Mag­is­trates’ Court, to ob­tain “205 sub­poe­nas” that were re­quired, should po­lice of­fi­cers want to ac­cess peo­ple’s in­ti­mate cell­phone and text mes­sages.

The court doc­u­ment has named at least 14 South Africans who had their pri­vate cor­re­spon­dence ac­cessed by Scheep­ers with­out their knowl­edge, through an al­leged fraud­u­lent ap­pli­ca­tion and for pur­poses that were not po­lice re­lated.

The list in­cludes Cape Town lawyers Ge­orge van Niek­erk, Willem van der Colff and Francois van Zyl, a se­nior coun­sel at the Cape Bar who rep­re­sented the Bri­tish mur­der ac­cused Shrien De­wani.

Ac­cord­ing to the court doc­u­ments, Scheep­ers told the Bel­lville Mag­is­trates’ Court the three men “are in­volved in the com­mis­sion of armed rob­bery and ATM bomb­ings”, and he re­quired their cell­phone records for investigation.

This week, Van Zyl told City Press he had no idea why his records were hacked. “I can’t re­ally com­ment be­cause the way I see it, I am a state witness. But hon­estly, I don’t know why it was done,” said Van Zyl.

Scheep­ers also al­legedly ac­cessed the records of po­lice col­leagues Con­sta­ble Mkhuseli Ngqiyana, from Cape Town, and Brigadier Anand Pil­lay, the po­lice com­mis­sioner of the African Union Mis­sion in So­ma­lia, who at present lives in Mo­gadishu.

Fur­ther­more, the court doc­u­ments state that Scheep­ers smug­gled a sur­veil­lance gad­get called the IMSI Grab­ber into South Africa.

Made by a Bri­tish foren­sic com­pany, the IMSI Grab­ber “al­lows the user to grab IMSIs [In­ter­na­tional Mo­bile Sub­scriber Iden­tity num­bers – a ser­vice provider’s unique iden­tity num­ber associated with a user’s SIM card) with­out the knowl­edge of the user”, the doc­u­ment states.

In 2010 Scheep­ers sold an IMSI Grab­ber to an­other pri­vate in­ves­ti­ga­tor, Ge­orge Thomas of SBV So­lu­tions in Jo­han­nes­burg, who had it in­stalled in his Toy­ota For­tuner.

Scheep­ers (44) was ar­rested on May 8 last year in Cape Town and re­leased on R20 000 bail. He missed his first court ap­pear­ance be­cause of “se­ri­ous de­pres­sion”, his lawyer Sageer Pansari said.

This week Pansari would not dis­close whether Scheep­ers’ had im­proved or not.

In ear­lier court pa­pers, Scheep­ers al­leged that there were “ul­te­rior pur­poses” for his ar­rest and that he was in pos­ses­sion of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion re­lated to high-level po­lice cor­rup­tion.

In the doc­u­ments, he noted that he knew of an of­fi­cer who “reg­u­larly at­tends meet­ings with very well-known druglo­rds and crim­i­nal-gang bosses in the West­ern Cape”.

In Novem­ber, the ANC in the West­ern Cape called for Zille to be im­peached for al­legedly hav­ing con­tracted Scheep­ers to spy on them.

At the time the party laid charges at the Cape Town Cen­tral Po­lice Sta­tion against Zille for “em­ploy­ing a pri­vate covert in­tel­li­gence in­ves­ti­ga­tor to ex­e­cute il­le­gal com­mu­ni­ca­tions sur­veil­lance work on state land and prop­erty”.

Zille re­sponded that Scheep­ers had been con­tracted to de­bug the West­ern Cape leg­is­la­ture’s phones in 2010. “I saw Scheep­ers once, briefly, when I handed him my cell­phone. He handed it back to my sec­re­tary af­ter­wards. I never once dis­cussed spy­ing or sur­veil­lance with him, and that was never his brief,” she wrote in her news­let­ter.

Michael Mpofu, Zille’s spokesper­son, added that in the ten­der ap­pli­ca­tion process, Ea­gle Eye So­lu­tions had not dis­closed the com­pany’s di­rec­tor was an SAPS of­fi­cer. “The com­pany was hired for one-off de­bug­ging of cell­phones in 2010 af­ter the then Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency failed to re­as­sure our Cab­i­net that none of its mem­bers was un­der sur­veil­lance,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Mpofu, Zille did not have any in­volve­ment in this pro­cure­ment process.

The charge sheet against Scheep­ers notes that in May 2010 Ea­gle Eye So­lu­tions was con­tracted by the West­ern Cape leg­is­la­ture to “de­bug cell­phones, and con­duct cell­phone en­cryp­tion and SIM card en­cryp­tion”. He was paid R125 450 for the ser­vices. Scheep­ers’ trial will start at the Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crime Court in Bel­lville on June 28.


IN THE DOCK Paul Scheep­ers

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