Johannesburg - Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) executive director Robert McBride on Thursday detailed how the country’s law enforcement agencies were corrupted and captured during his five-year tenure as the institution’s boss.
McBride told the commission of inquiry into state capture that suspensions, transfers and bogus disciplinary hearings were instituted at key law enforcement agencies such as the SA Police Service, the Hawks and the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
”There was an attack on anti-corruption institutions,” McBride said, adding that this manifested in the suspension of anti-corruption institution bosses who were replaced with pliant officials.
According to McBride, there were also several cases that should have been prosecuted in the period he was in charge of Ipid even though some predated his tenure.
These include Colonel Navin Madhoe’s attempt to offer former Hawks’ KwaZulu-Natal boss Johan Booysen a R2 million bribe to drop Durban businessman Thoshan Panday’s fraud charges, the fraud case against former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, ex-crime intelligence divisional commissioner Richard Mdluli, also for fraud, and another top cop Major-General Ntebo ‘Jan’ Mabula’s torture of suspects including police officers.
According to McBride, the plan was clearly to cover up crimes that had happened before, crimes that were happening at the time as well as crimes that were planned.
He said this happened at Sars after the appointment of Tom Moyane as national commissioner and the Hawks after Mthandazo Ntlemeza replaced Anwar Dramat as the anti-corruption and organised crime unit’s head.
He said statistics were still being manipulated to give the impression of an improvement in performance.
McBride said when he was suspended for about 18 months between March 2015 and September 2016 he discovered that about four crime intelligence officers had taken over investigations at Ipid.
However, when McBride, Ipid national head of investigations Matthews Sesoko and its former Limpopo head Innocent Khuba returned after being cleared in court the officers returned to crime intelligence to thwart more of the directorate’s investigations.
McBride explained that crime intelligence officers were not supposed to have access to Ipid dockets but work to provide information to other police units because they are not allowed to testify in court to protect their identities.
He said the charges were withdrawn because there was no evidence to sustain their prosecution.
”We were dumbfounded. Why were we arrested in the first place?”
McBride asked why the National Prosecuting Authority’s priority crimes litigation unit was involved in the matter when it was a fraud case.
He said there was no case and evidence from the start and that then Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was the complainant.
McBride also revealed that he was taking Parliament’s decision, to endorse current Police Minister Bheki Cele’s decision not to extend his five-year contract when it ended in February, on review.
The former uMkhonto weSizwe operative will also implicate Justice Zondo’s younger brother Mxolisi Zondo in his evidence but it looks unlikely that the country’s second most senior judge will be asked to recuse himself as the evidence pertaining to his sibling amounts to a single paragraph in McBride’s statement.
Justice Zondo said he was also considering approaching President Cyril Ramaphosa to ask him to amend the commission’s terms of reference so that he does not have to deal with his brother’s evidence, which relates to Sesoko’s disciplinary that had been chaired by Mxolisi Zondo.
Justice Zondo added that he would also consider not making a final decision on the matter but hear the evidence implicating his brother and invite the public, professional bodies such as the General Council of the Bar and the Law Society of SA to make submissions.
Mxolisi Zondo has indicated that he will not apply to cross-examine McBride or any other witness and won’t testify.
He said there was no conflict of interest as the record of Sesoko’s disciplinary hearing was available to the commission.