During his testimony at the Zondo Commission, McBride accused Phahlane of targeting IPID investigators who were probing into corruption links against him.
On Tuesday, 16 April 2019, former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) boss Robert McBride claimed that the now-suspended Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane orchestrated a counter-investigation into IPID to circumvent a corruption probe linked to him.
While testifying at the Zondo Commission of inquiry into State Capture, McBride gave evidence against Phahlane and the controversial “Mabula team” – a crack group of officers from the North West tasked to investigate IPID officials, private investigator Paul O’Sullivan and his attorney Sarah-Jane Trent.
McBride told the inquiry that when he returned to his office in October 2016 after an 18-month long suspension, he received a request from O’Sullivan for an update on a case he had reported to IPID during McBride’s suspension. The case dealt with allegations of corruption and money laundering made against Phahlane, who was said to have received millions of rands from service providers registered with the police.
Last week, McBride had told the commission that he had discovered that two cases had been opened into this matter within IPID, but both were subsequently closed due to their duplication on the system. He noted that the misrepresentation of success statistics on the institution as a ploy to cover up corruption in the police top ranks had become a trend during his absence.
A task team comprising of IPID officials Mandla Mahlangu, Temane Binang, Mantsha Raphesu and Cedrick Nkabinde was set up to investigate allegations into Phahlane. Amongst its tasks, the team was to probe into the construction of Phahlane’s home at the exclusive Sable Hills Estate, north of Pretoria, which was allegedly funded by a police service provider, as well as vehicles in the possession of Phahlane and his family that were said to be sponsored for their personal use.
In January 2017, three months after McBride arrived back at IPID, Phahlane’s house was raided.
“Phahlane in 2017 launched a challenge for the search warrant. A response from IPID’s side was given and Phahlane identified a number of technical issues with the search warrant. The matter lay dormant for almost 18 months. Upon the removal of Nkabinde from the task team, we became aware that Phahlane was initiating and attempting to re-enroll that initial search warrant challenge, based on a testimony he got from Nkabinde,” McBride told the commission.
McBride detailed how the Mabula team relocated to Gauteng and were living at a hotel in Pretoria for almost a year with the sole purpose of dealing with O’Sullivan, Trent and IPID. Eventually, O’Sullivan and Trent were arrested, followed by the separate arrests of two members of the IPID task team. None of the prosecutions were successful.
At the core of McBride’s four-day testimony was the alleged interference in IPID’s work, and interference so apparent that upon his return, McBride had scheduled a meeting with top law enforcement officials hosted within the State Security Agency (SSA) to campaign for the independence of his institution.
“At a certain stage after my return, I realised there are counter-investigations [by the police into IPID] and that the criminal justice system is shaking. I was concerned about national security. I then approached the SSA to call a meeting between all the heads of services, so we could get an undertaking that we will be allowed to do our work,” he said