FORMER police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko has defended himself from allegations he had interfered with the independence of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) during his tenure.
Nhleko, who appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture this week, gave his version of events that led to former Ipid head Robert McBride’s suspension in 2015 and to the suspensions of former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and his Gauteng counterpart, Shadrack Sibiya.
The bone of contention relates to the illegal deportation of Zimbabwean citizens, by South African law enforcement agencies, who were wanted for alleged crimes in that country, some of whom were later killed by the Zimbabwean police.
In his testimony, McBride said while a preliminary report into the matter recommended that Dramat and Sibiya be suspended and prosecuted, a final report, which he submitted to Nhleko, absolved them and instead recommended that then-Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie “Cowboy” Maluleke be held accountable.
But Nhleko explained that he had tasked the reference group to investigate the discrepancies between the reports before suspending Dramat, Sibiya and eventually McBride.
Nhleko defended his decision to consider only the first report, and his subsequent suspension of McBride, and accused him of tampering with the original report in order to absolve Dramat and Sibiya.
“That point has been articulated as the eagerness of the minister to interfere with the independence of Ipid and that is incorrect,” he said.
He insisted that Ipid reported to him in terms of the law and that he was entitled to ask for any information pertaining to the work of its officials.
He said the first report had been concluded, signed off and sent to the National Prosecuting Authority for a decision to prosecute, despite it being called preliminary by McBride.
“There is no provision either by law or convention for that matter that you would then have a so-called second report, which in itself does not nullify nor withdraw the first report, having similar status,” Nhleko said.
Nhleko was also quizzed on why he failed to deal with the case of controversial and now convicted former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli during his tenure, despite identifying it as one of the priority issues.