Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride at the state capture inquiry. File photo: Bhekikhaya Mabaso African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Former Ipid boss Robert McBride says the South African Police Service has a systematic issue of patronage which seeks to serve corrupt elements within the service.

McBride returned to witness stand on Tuesday at the Zondo commission and told the commission how the culture of police members protecting each other and serving various agendas, which have nothing to do with policing, is rampant throughout Saps.

He said it is a concerning issue and it is a system that has been in place for many years and may never change until it is challenged from the root.

He used an example of one of his investigators at Ipid, Mandla Mahlangu, who was promised a job by a crime intelligence official Tlou Kgomo. 

Kgomo also offered Cedrick Nkabinde, also an Ipid investigator, a job with crime intelligence. The commission on Monday heard a voice recording of Kgomo offering Mahlangu a job as colonel within crime intelligence.

“They (corrupt policemen) have the willingness and power and custom and practise to offer out jobs as patronage. That is how the police system works, it works on patronage and people being promoted and appointed to carry out tasks on behalf of seniors. That how is it has been running,” McBride said.

“With appointments in the forensics lab, every year will be connected to assisting and facilitating further corruption and maladministration. In that process, everybody has the interests of protecting the seniors because it is the seniors that put them there and they have an obligation to protect,” McBride said.

“Sometimes people were in the same college together or come from the same village or police station, so bonds are formed between them including for patronage.”

The former Ipid official said only a strong and willing Saps leadership would be able to tackle the issue of corruption within the police service.

“And unless you have a strong hand about good governance, and respect for the rule of law and the constitution you will never get the Saps right. It is a system that has not been challenged, it is a system on its own and affects all of our lives. We will have this commission, your lordship will make recommendations and they will be carried out but the patronage system within the Saps will stay unchanged,” said McBride.

He said the most affected by corruption were the good policemen and women who feel demoralised as they watch those who have not earned their way up ranks getting promoted.

“For the good policemen that get their work done, they have to start thinking that this person does not do half the work that I do, but he is promoted above me because they are close to some Colonel. What is does is it demoralises the good people who are actually holding this ship afloat and the result is you will only get them either leaving the service or them thinking why should they work hard. And they start thinking in terms of their own material situations and then more of them are won into the crooked side,” he said.

“This issue of recruiting people as part of the crooked system is ongoing, it's ongoing all the time.”

The inquiry continues.

Political Bureau