Phahlane was arrested on Friday morning and appeared before the Johannesburg Commercial Crimes Court in connection with corruption and fraud.
EFF MP Phillip Mhlongo, who sits on Parliament’s portfolio committee on police, said: “Because of McBride, you today have general Phahlane arrested. “Why would the committee want to punish Robert McBride who has done the job. Why is Bheki Cele so obsessed with McBride when we know very well that General Phahlane’s alleged corruption happened during Cele’s era as the commissioner of the SAPS.
Phahlane appeared in court alongside the head of the South African Police Service’s supply chain, Major-General Ravichandran Pillay, who faces charges related to a 2016 tender awarded for instrumentation for traffic law enforcement.
Both men were released on R20 000 bail.
In a statement, Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed Phahlane’s arrest.
“The arrests relate to procurement irregularities relating to emergency (blue) lights amounting to more than R86million. Ipid conducted an investigation and gathered evidence of criminality,” said Dlamini.
Phahlane, in his answering affidavit, maintained that his arrest was suspicious in that it was made only after Parliament took a decision to not extend McBride’s contract as head of Ipid.
Phahlane is no stranger to controversy. Last year his wife, Brigadier Beauty Phahlane, and a car dealer, Durand Snyman, were also accused of corruption.
Phahlane was accused of taking kickbacks in order to secure tenders for police suppliers. It was also revealed that both he and his wife received cars from Snyman, which he had earlier claimed to be sponsored vehicles.
This week Parliament decided that McBride’s contract should not be extended, citing a breakdown in the relationship between him and Police Minister Bheki Cele.
Opposition parties, who have opposed the decision taken by the committee, charged that McBride’s removal was nothing but a political move.
“What the minister did was illegal. Before we closed Parliament last year, we amended the Ipid Act and put it in line with the constitutional ruling on the independence of Ipid. For the committee to have gone and endorsed the minister’s position, is a complete dereliction of duties in terms of its oversight role,” Mhlongo said.
DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said: “The DA believes that the serious allegations and prima facie evidence against Phahlane represent the rot and corruption that have become endemic in the Saps under a failing ANC government.
“Although Phahlane may soon be made to pay his dues, this arrest by no means heralds a new dawn in the police service.”
McBride’s five-year contract ended on Thursday.
He has exposed alleged corrupt links between Phahlane and certain Saps contractors. He also lifted the lid on alleged attempts to plunder crime intelligence funds for partisan political ends in the ANC.