POLICE Minister Nathi Nhleko has lashed out at Speaker of Parliament Baleka Mbete over the handling of his request for head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Robert McBride to face a disciplinary inquiry, exposing growing rifts in the ANC in the process.

Nhleko accused Mbete of “behaviour which negates the severity of this matter”, after Parliament declined to hold an inquiry into claims that McBride altered an investigation report into the alleged illegal rendition of Zimbabweans, some of whom are 
said to have died at the hands of the neighbouring country's police.

Nhleko alleges McBride changed the report to protect former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart, Shadrack Sibiya, both of whom have subsequently been charged in connection with the alleged renditions.

They maintain the police's crime intelligence division was responsible.

Nhleko’s attempts to get Parliament to discipline McBride have now escalated into a full-blown row with Mbete, after she told him his request could not be processed before the expiry of a 30-day deadline set by the Constitutional Court.

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed McBride had returned to work yesterday after his suspension by Nhleko automatically lapsed at the end of the 30 days.

But the minister appears not to accept that McBride may return to work, advising him in a letter that their relationship had “irretrievably broken down” and he should therefore ask Mbete where to report for duty.

The row follows apparent indecision in the ANC caucus over whether or not to support the inquiry, with the portfolio committee on police initially declining the request, then agreeing to consider it on Tuesday, only to revert to its initial position that it could not proceed.

Mbete had written to Nhleko setting out the legal opinion last week, saying the committee could deal with the matter only by way of a resolution of the National Assembly and this would not be possible before the expiry of the deadline, as the next sitting was scheduled only for Tuesday.