McBride comes out guns blazing, lays into Nhleko
Former Ipid head Robert McBride slams former police minister Nathi Nhleko for ‘going low’ and using a ‘hurried’ report to ‘nail’ him and his colleagues.
Former Ipid head Robert McBride is pictured at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held in Parktown, 12 April 2019. Picture: Refilwe Modise at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture held in Parktown, 11 April 2019. Picture: Refilwe Modise
Guns blazing on his second day of giving testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) former executive director Robert McBride yesterday blasted former police minister Nathi Nhleko.
The cause of McBride’s ire was Nhleko’s claim that McBride and former Hawks head Anwa Dramat were involved in the rendition of Zimbabweans. These charges were later withdrawn.
McBride, who was briefed on the “rendition case” upon being appointed as head of Ipid in March 2014, said he had to deal with a report alleging Dramat and Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya were involved in handing over Zimbabweans to Zimbabwe police for prosecution.
Having been given two days by Nhleko to produce a final report, McBride said he cleared the two of wrongdoing because of lack of evidence.
This landed him in hot water with his political boss, who later suspended him in 2015 for 18 months for “altering” the preliminary report.
According to McBride, days before his suspension, he was refused permission by police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman to address members of parliament on the preliminary and final reports on the rendition saga. The opportunity to do so was only granted to Nhleko.
In his presentation, Nhleko, who is said to have made use of the preliminary report which found Dramat and Sibiya criminally guilty of rendition, said this action showed “lack of concern for the deaths of Zimbabweans” and that it was “insensitive, dehumanising and undervaluing black life”.
Under cross-examination by commission evidence leader Paul Pretorius, McBride responded: “The context in which Nhleko said this was very emotive because people would assume Dramat and I, who have both sacrificed life and time in prison for this country to be free, were responsible for the so-called rendition.
“Nhleko’s presentation – making use of innuendos – was far from the truth. He went low and malicious in his orchestrated plan.
“Dramat and I were prepared to pay the ultimate price to end the very same dehumanisation Nhleko was talking about.”
McBride also lambasted Nhleko for having briefed law firm Werksmans to investigate him, Ipid head of investigations Matthews Sesoko and lead investigator Innocent Khuba on their role in “altering” the final rendition report.
“He (Nhleko) did not understand the notion of Ipid as an independent statutory body. As police minister, he also did not know where his authority began and ended.
“He preferred a private law firm – Werksmans – to exercise oversight over parliament, which presented a misunderstanding of the role and separation of powers between the state and parliament.”
Rubbishing the discredited Werksmans report, which was leaked to Sunday newspapers, recommending the former Ipid head and his colleagues face disciplinary and criminal charges, McBride said: “They recommended that I, Sesoko and Khuba be charged because they could not pinpoint who came up with the final version.
“They (Werksmans) were questioning our investigation with limited knowledge. They may be regarded as an international law firm, but in this instance, they got it wrong.
“It was a hurried report – a process to nail us.
“They did not look at whether the alteration to the preliminary report was lawful – a critical question to ask.
“It was merely a basis for criminal charges to be brought against us.
“It should be noted that the author of this dodgy report, advocate Sandile July, was later quoted in court as having threatened to challenge his subpoena on the basis that his report was hearsay and he could not stand by it in a court of law.”
After being wrongfully accused, McBride – charges against whom were withdrawn on November 1, 2016 after an intense legal battle – had advice for Werksmans and the media.
“Private law firms like Werksmans should be more careful about not impinging on the independence of certain bodies like Ipid.
“The changing of the report is neither here nor there.
“It would have been criminal not to include the extra evidence, which was material in this case,” said McBride.
“It is critically important to assess what has been leaked to you and don’t allow yourself to be part of an agenda,” he said. The hearings continue on Monday.