Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
10 Oct 2019
6:00 am

McBride and colleagues slam Mkhwebane for ‘inaccuracies, errors, lack of logic’

Sipho Mabena

The public protector's latest work has even been criticised for being 'hard to read'.

Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane. Picture: Neil McCartney

Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) boss Robert McBride and senior managers at the police watchdog have slammed Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s report criticising them, describing it as riddled with inaccuracies, illogical conclusions and errors of law.

“It is plainly irrational, unreasonable and unlawful. The report is, therefore, liable to be reviewed and set aside on multiple grounds,” Ipid’s head of investigation, Mathew Sesoko, said in his affidavit filed in court on Tuesday.

In an affidavit deposed on behalf of the other applicants, Sesoko charged that Mkhwebane’s report was hard to read and that they had reason to believe it was biased.

McBride, Sesoko and others have approached the High Court in Pretoria for an urgent order setting aside the public protector’s findings and remedial action against McBride and his former subordinates.

Mkhwebane’s office on Wednesday said in a letter to McBride’s attorney they would not oppose the urgent application to suspend the enforcement of remedial action.

The public protector’s head of legal services, Alfred Mhlongo, said in their letter that it was normal practice for the office not to oppose interim orders suspending the enforcement of remedial action.

Mkhwebane has, however, deviated from this practice with respect to other cases, particularly with her findings against Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The public protector’s office is in the process of instructing a legal team to defend the report and its remedial action, in the hopes that the case can also be expedited.

In her report released last month, Mkhwebane recommended that the Ipid executive director take action against the senior managers within 30 days of the report.

She called for an investigation and the recovery of irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure incurred.

She found that the allegations of irregularities in the procurement of a forensic analyst to probe anonymous threats to staff, the recruitment of Thereza Botha as a deputy director and the alleged targeting of a whistleblower were substantiated.

Mkhwebane also ordered that these transgressions be reported to Treasury and the irregular appointment of Botha be reported to the police minister to initiate a judicial review to set aside her appointment.

But the applicants, all implicated in the report, will have none of it and want the findings and remedial action to be reviewed and set aside on multiple grounds.

Sesoko submits that the remedial actions threaten their personal and professional interests, arguing that it was inadequate and unlawful that Mkhwebane did not consider and evaluate all their submissions and evidence.

He said it was irrational for Mkhwebane to conclude that McBride’s emergency procurement of an analyst to probe the threats was unjustified.

Sesoko said anonymous threats were made to Ipid officials investigating then acting police commissioner Lt-Gen Khomotso Phahlane.

He said McBride “was justified to authorise emergency procurement” of the forensic analyst to probe, saying it was irrational that Mkhwebane found the threats were sensationalised.

He also disagreed with Mkhwebane’s findings that Botha’s appointment in October 2017 did not follow recruitment prescripts, was irregular and amounted to irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

Mkhwebane ruled that Botha was unqualified for the position and that it was created for her, but Sesoko argues this is not true and that Mkhwebane failed to disclose the evidence she based her findings on. He said the report was tainted with bias and ulterior motives, due to the involvement of a former colleague of one of the complainants in the investigation.

Sesoko also revealed that the complainant, Cedric Nkabinde, was appointed in 2016 by McBride as a member of Ipid’s special task team set up to probe Phahlane. – siphom@citizen.co.za

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