Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride on Thursday gave the commission of inquiry into state capture some examples used to capture law enforcement agencies, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), which has weakened South Africa’s criminal justice system.
These examples include cases which were curiously dropped or not prosecuted; for example, cases which involved Durban-based businessman Thoshan Panday, former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, former police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, and Major-General Ntebo Jan Mabula.
McBride told the commission that Panday faced allegations of attempting to bribe former KZN Hawks boss Johan Booysen.
In Mabula’s instance, the matter was particularly serious because it involved the alleged torture of suspects by the police who sought to solve the case of money stolen from a police station in the North West, McBride said.
During the first session of his testimony ahead of the lunch adjournment at 1pm, McBride also spoke about the NPA’s decision to withdraw charges against him and others after the prosecutor stated there was insufficient evidence.
“There was, from the onset, no case, no evidence,” McBride told the commission, adding that the accused were at some stage refused access to certain documents related to the case.
McBride told the commission that those who sought to weaken the Ipid wanted to cover up crimes committed before, in the present, and ones planned for the future.
He said he was not the only one to come to this conclusion, making reference to a public statement that he, former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, and former Sars deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay around 2015, 2016 issued a public statement raising concerns about a concerted effort to weaken anti-corruption and crime-fighting bodies in the country for nefarious reasons.
McBride also told the commission that Ipid was made dysfunctional through appointments, dismissals, and the transfer of officials to head units which they were not adequately skilled to do so.
His evidence also dealt with how, through the unjustified classification of documents, Crime Intelligence obstructed the free flow of information to the Ipid and so impeded on the latter’s investigations into Crime Intelligence.
This, McBride said, which was not an isolated incident, would bedevil future investigations including commissions of inquiry.
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 the 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 have 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 the divisional commissioner of crime intelligence to use his power to declassify documents.”
(Additional reporting, ANA)
Watch the proceedings live courtesy of the SABC: