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

McBride tells inquiry 'Mabula team' used to 'counter' Ipid probe into Phahlane

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Apr 16, 2019

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Johannesburg - Former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane was determined to stifle Ipid’s investigation into his alleged inappropriate relationship with a South African Police Services (SAPS) service provider, that he appointed a team to counter Ipid’s investigation. 

McBride spoke critically of Phahlane on his fourth day of testimony at the Zondo commission on Tuesday. 

He explained how Ipid began probing Phahlane with the assistance of private investigator Paul O’Sullivan. 

O’Sullivan had reported a complaint with Ipid regarding a possible corrupt relationship between Phahlane and certain SAPS service providers. 

The complaint was reported while McBride was suspended. He said on his return, O’Sullivan pleaded with him to look into the matter. McBride said he found that the case, which was reported to then acting Ipid head Israel Kgamanyane, had been closed and no investigation had been done. 

So in November 2016, he put together a team of Ipid investigators that would look into the money laundering and corruption allegations against Phahlane.

The corruption allegations stem from the construction of Phahlane’s home in Sable Hills Estates in Pretoria. 

McBride said it was found that a SAPS service provider had funded the installation of an R80 000 sound system at Phahlane’s residence. 

It had also been established that Phahlane had vehicles which were purchased or leased by the same service provider, McBride said. 

McBride said based on this evidence Ipid conducted a raid at Phahlane’s home in January 2017. Phahlane was not pleased and opened a civil claim against Ipid for what he believed was an illegal raid. 

McBride said Phahlane used his powers as the acting national commissioner to establish a task team named the “Mabula team” which worked to counter Ipid’s investigation into Phahlane. 

The team focused its eyes on O’Sullivan and his assistant Sarah-Jane Trent. The two were charged in connection to the investigation by Mabula team.  

“This SAPS counter-investigation was authorised under the guise of a security breach against the Acting National Commissioner. The Acting Divisional Commissioner General Makhele, the North West Provincial Commissioner General Motswenyane, together with the Mabula Team concocted a report that was utilised to authorise their travel to Gauteng to investigate the purported security breach,” McBride said. 

“The Mabula Team then proceeded to counter the investigation of Ipid by  approaching all the witnesses in the Ipid investigation to get them to change their initial version against Phahlane and the SAPS service providers and their involvement in the construction of Phahlane’s house and the cars,” he said. 

McBride said the counter case against O’Sullivan and Trent was opened they were accused of impersonating Ipid officials when they accompanied Ipid investigators to the raid at Phahlane’s home. 

McBride said he had attempted to sort through the conflict between Phahlane and had even approached the department of state security. 

A meeting was held which included him and Phahlane but little effort came from those engagements. 

Phahlane and his wife Beauty along with a service provider were eventually arrested in February 2018 and charged with corruption and money laundering linked to Ipid’s investigation. 

They were released and made a few appearances at the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court. They chargers were later provisionally withdrawn in November 2018. 

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