LIVE FEED: State Capture Inquiry - July 29, 2020
Johannesburg - The Zondo Commission will continue hearing Law enforcement related evidence of former minister of police Nkosinathi Nhleko on Wednesday morning.
On Tuesday former Hawks boss General Berning Ntlemeza's name popped up at the Commission of Inquiry Into Allegations of State Capture as Nhleko wrapped up his testimony.
Nhleko’s testimony shed light on various incidents that took place during his tenure.
Last year, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) investigator Innocent Kuba told the commission that Ntlemeza had approached him on December 6, 2014 and told him to watch the news as there would be a “hit” on Ntlemeza's predecessor at the Hawks, Anwa Dramat.
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This was allegedly shortly before Dramat was sent a notice of suspension by Nhleko on December 9. Dramat was later replaced by Ntlemeza.
Nhleko, among other things, denied the allegation and said he had, however, briefed then national commissioner of police Riah Phiyega and former president Jacob Zuma about his intentions.
Nhleko also used the last day of his testimony to take aim at Ipid under its former head, Robert McBride, accusing officials of the directorate of tampering with outcomes of investigations to shield top officers implicated in wrongdoing.
This included allegations by McBride that Nhleko had chosen to rely on a preliminary report by Ipid that recommended that Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart Shadrack Sibiya be considered for criminal prosecution over the Zimbabwean renditions saga, while a final report had absolved them and instead recommended that then Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie “Cowboy” Maluleke be held accountable.
The saga involved the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean citizens to Zimbabwe by South African law enforcement agencies.
The Zimbabweans were wanted for alleged crimes in that country, and some of them were later killed by the Zimbabwean police.
Nhleko, who suspended McBride in 2015, claimed on Tuesday that the facts in McBride’s final report had been “polluted” to absolve Dramat and Sibiya. He said the first report had been concluded, signed off and sent to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision on whether to prosecute, despite it being called preliminary by McBride.
“There is no provision either by law or convention for that matter that you would then have a so-called second report which in itself does not nullify nor withdraw the first report, having similar status,” Nhleko said.
While he conceded that the Ipid was legally empowered to change its reports if there was a legitimate change in material evidence, he said the changes were aimed at protecting Dramat and Sibiya hence his decision to institute an independent probe by private law firm Werksmans.
Commission chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo quizzed Nhleko on why he chose to launch an investigation instead of first seeking an explanation from McBride regarding the changes and discrepancies between the two reports.
“My intimation would have been to call the executive director and say ‘please explain to me what this is all about'," Justice Zondo said.
Nhleko told the commission that he had suspected a deliberate cover-up by Ipid's leadership under McBride.
“The way I viewed this was that these are serious acts of misconduct," he said.
"You are bound to develop some theoretical framework in your mind that there is something untoward about something like this when you come across it. You are also bound to conclude that it is possible there was a cover-up of sorts,” he said.