JOHANNESBURG - There was an active and sustained attack on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to stymie its criminal investigations into members of the police crime intelligence unit, through the suspension and persecution of Ipid managers, former police watchdog boss Robert McBride told the state capture commission of inquiry on Thursday.
''The purpose of my evidence is to help this commission and to express my own experience as Ipid head...and what I observed. A number of litigations, persecutions and judgments had led to my believe that there was an attack on the anti-corruption drive. My suspension in 2015 was meant to do that. Senior managers were removed through suspensions, spurious disciplinary hearings, and people who were not equipped to deal with the tasks diligently were installed...and one would hear a narrative that performances improved in the aftermath of the removal of managers.''
McBride headed the Ipid between 2014 and February 2019 when his five-year contract ended. He was replaced by Ipid chief financial officer Victor Ofentse Senna.
McBride said although there was evidence of rampant abuse of the secret service account at police crime intelligence, the refusal to declassify documents for investigators put arrests and prosecution of wrongdoers on hold.
''There was cooperation from crime intelligence, but it only lasted a few months. There was what we used to call a 'blue curtain', as one of the oldest institutions in country, the SAPS, resisted change or oversight. There was evidence of corruption even before my appointment...but declassification of documents to enable us to investigate remains a problem. There has been no prosecutions to date.''
In some instances, the Ipid had to use Section 205 of the Criminal Procedure Act to launch investigations. Senior police officers, had, instead of cooperating with Ipid, approached the courts to oppose Ipid, McBride said.
''That is a matter of litigation at the moment...there seems to be reluctance from divisional commissioner of crime intelligence to use his power to declassify documents.''
Evidence leader, Advocate Paul Pretorius, asked McBride why and who was interested in hollowing out and weakening the Ipid. The former Ipid boss said himself and a few other senior officials from the SA Revenue Services (SARS) and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), who were also pushed out at their respective institutions, agreed that there was a concerted effort to capture and weaken some of the country's key institutions.
''I expressed myself publicly on that question previously. I said at the time there are attempts to cover up crimes committed and crimes planned to take place in the future. A meeting was arranged with members who suffered same fate from SARS, Ipid and the Hawks. [This] was arranged by interested parties and NGOs at Nelson Mandela Foundation in 2015. We expressed concerns on what was happening in the country.
"Myself, [former Hawks boss Anwa] Dramat and [former SARS commissioner Ivan] Pillay then released a joint statement on attempts to weaken institutions. In order to succeed in that, chairperson, you have to capture the State. At the time we used the term 'political coup','' said McBride.
Other senior officials, including former Gauteng Hawks boss Patrick Sibiya and former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysens were also victims of the hollowing out of the State through their prosecutions, he added.
In some cases, members of crime intelligence would be appointed to Ipid to ''investigate'' cases, and would return back to their posts after suspensions and prosecutions against Ipid managers were effected.
Meanwhile, said McBride, criminal investigations dating back to 2010 against people such as controversial Durban businessman Thoshan Panday, accused of bribing KwaZulu-Natal top cops while netting millions from his many companies, and a Major-General Ntebo Mabulu, accused of torture and murder, were mysteriously withdrawn by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
McBride took the hot seat at the state capture commission on Thursday after two previous postponements. His long-awaited testimony will shed light on the alleged capture of law enforcement and justice cluster.
African News Agency (ANA