Robert McBride. Picture: ALON SKUY
Robert McBride. Picture: ALON SKUY

Independent Police Investigative Directorate head Robert McBride has laid bare a relationship between Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and the acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane that could land them in hot water.

Appearing before parliament's portfolio committee on police for the first time since his return from suspension, McBride detailed how Phahlane seemed to enjoy unwavering support from Nhleko, while he (McBride) struggled to get him to read his reports.

"It is difficult to envisage that the minister will take our recommendations seriously. When we send our monthly reports, they get sent back to us."

McBride noted that Nhleko and Phahlane appeared to have a much better working relationship.

Addressing a committee on the police watchdog's investigation into allegations of corruption and wrongdoing against Phahlane, McBride made it clear that the rift between himself and Nhleko - who has attempted to have him removed from his post on the basis that their relationship had broken down - ran deep.

He said the arrests of private investigator Paul O'Sullivan and his assistant were an attempt to disrupt Ipid's investigation, contravened sections of the Ipid Act and were an act of intimidation.

O'Sullivan was arrested on Monday, accused of impersonating an Ipid officer, shortly after his assistant, Sarah-Jane Trent, was arrested on Friday.

McBride said Phahlane had falsely claimed there had been a security breach when O'Sullivan, with Ipid investigators, had gone to the private estate where Phahlane lives. McBride said Phahlane should have contacted VIP protection services instead of calling a police unit from the North West, which has been accused of using torture tactics.

The committee also heard that, while Phahlane had told them he had provided proof of payment for the R80000 sound system provided by a police supplier, what he had actually provided was an e-mail in which he indicated that he had instructed his bankers to pay.

Chief director of investigations for Ipid Matthews Seseko said this still needed to be supported with bank statements but said the watchdog had evidence that the person listed as a payment reference was a member of the company that had supplied it.

He raised questions about Nhleko's role in the transfer of former acting head of Ipid Israel Kgamanyane into a top job with major-general rank at the Hawks, even though Ipid had not approved the transfer.

- The Times

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