State capture inquiry - July 28, 2020
Johannesburg - Former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko will continue his testimony on Tuesday at the State Capture Commission.
Evidence presented by former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride came back to haunt Nhleko on Monday.
Nhleko, who appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture at state entities, on Monday gave his version of events on what led to McBride’s suspension in 2015, also leading to the suspensions of former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart Shadrack Sibiya.
The bone of contention relates to the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean citizens, by South African law enforcement agencies, who were wanted for alleged crimes in that country, some of whom were later killed by the Zimbabwean police.
In his testimony, McBride said while a preliminary report into the matter recommended that Dramat and Sibiya be suspended and prosecuted, a final report, which he submitted to Nhleko, absolved them and instead recommended that then Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie “Cowboy” Maluleke be held accountable.
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He had also claimed that Nhleko had hired Zimbabwean convicted fraudster Lionel Moyo, who went by the name Leon Mbangwa, as his chief of staff during his stint in the police ministry and did so without security clearance.
But Nhleko on Monday explained that he had tasked the reference group to investigate the discrepancies between the reports before suspending Dramat, Sibiya and eventually McBride.
Nhleko said he did not know of Mbangwa’s history of a criminal conviction as he was transferred from within the public service when he worked for him.
“I actually found him as part of the recruitment exercise and hunting around that I conducted which then located him in the KwaZulu-Natal legislature. Mr Mbangwa in KZN was a senior manager, basically a chief director kind of position that he held there within the legislature,” Nhleko said.
McBride, who has since been appointed as the head of the State Security Agency foreign branch, was meant to appear before the commission yesterday to be cross-examined by Nhleko but sent a letter stating that he needed more time to prepare.
Nhleko’s lawyer complained about McBride being a no-show.
His legal representative, advocate William Mokhari, said the former minister’s team was disappointed by McBride’s failure to appear before the commission as they had made necessary preparations to quiz him on the allegations he had made.
“Insofar as McBride’s position that he will not be coming to be cross-examined today for the reasons that he articulated, we will leave it in the hands of the chairperson (Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo) to decide, but what we wish to place on record is our displeasure in us being informed on the eve of the hearing when we have taken all the time to prepare,” Mokhari said.
Meanwhile, Nhleko was also quizzed on why he failed to deal with the case of controversial and now convicted former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli during his tenure despite identifying it as one of the priority issues.
Nhleko told the commission that he never received clarity on why Mdluli remained on perpetual suspension.
This was despite Mdluli’s matter being identified as a priority by the reference group which he established to investigate the efficiency and other issues within the SAPS management as well as provide advice to him.
Last year, Mdluli and his former colleague Mthembeni Mthunzi were found guilty of the kidnapping and assault of Oupa Ramogibe, a husband of Mdluli’s former lover, who was kidnapped and eventually gunned down in 1999.
Commission chairperson Justice Zondo described it as strange that Nhleko did not address the Mdluli saga throughout his tenure in the police ministry, including ensuring the institution of a disciplinary hearing to bring the matter to finality.
“It just seems strange to me that for the whole term the suspension should continue and you don’t know what is going on about it and why the suspension is taking so long.
“You had identified it as an issue which needed to be attended.
“I don’t know if your term took five years, which would be quite some time,” Justice Zondo said.
Nhleko said he accepted Justice Zondo’s view but argued that he wanted the matter to be dealt with properly.