Forensic consultant Paul O’Sullivan has claimed he was forced to breach the Citizenship Act because he needed to travel “under the radar” to avoid potential assassination attempts.
O’Sullivan was arrested atOR Tambo International Airport in April for breaching the Citizenship Act of 1995, after using his foreign passports to travel outside the country despite the fact that he is also a South African citizen.
But the police officer who arrested him for the breach maintained the arrest was swiftly enforced because the investigator was allegedly trying to flee the country.
O’Sullivan is the first person in South Africa ever arrested for the lesser known crime. His trial began on Tuesday in the Kempton Park Magistrate’s Court.
While O’Sullivan admits to the infraction, he has pleaded not guilty on all six charges of contravening the act over the past 18 months.
Home Affairs immigration officer and first witness for the State, Kenneth Ndou, on Tuesday explained that he was approached by police investigators to research O’Sullivan’s travel history.
It was discovered that O’Sullivan had South African, Irish and United Kingdom passports, and had used the latter two to travel outside the country.
O’Sullivan’s lawyer, advocate Barry Roux SC, told the court that his client had been forced to travel “under the radar” because of death threats from Radovan Krejcir, who is incarcerated.
Roux said that because police officers had allegedly been known to have been involved with Krejcir in the past, O’Sullivan did not want to leave a trace that he had left the country, and that this was achieved by not using his South African passport.
But Ndou told the court that regardless of whether O’Sullivan used his local or foreign passports, Home Affairs’ movement control systems would still be able to determine whether the consultant was in the country or not.
According to Roux, the threat against his client’s life had forced him to contravene the Citizenship Act, and he had not done so with direct intent.
Ndou was also forced to concede that the Department of Home Affairs had submitted a written statement saying no one else had ever been arrested for the same crime, and that those local dual-citizenship travellers using their foreign passports were simply warned not to do so again.
The second State witness, former Hawks Captain Thembikhaya Mangqalaza, told the court that O’Sullivan was under investigation for a fraud matter related to SA Airways, and that was why his travel history had been checked at Home Affairs.
The officer said his investigating team had received intelligence that on the day O’Sullivan was arrested, he was going to travel to the UK and “not come back”.
Roux denied this, asking the officer where this information came from. But Mangqalaza was unable to give an answer.
Roux insisted that police had abused the Citizenship Act to arrest O’Sullivan earlier than the fraud investigation would allow.
Mangqalaza denied this.
The trial continues.