June 19, 2018

Scopa backs Ipid in police investigations

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has pledged its full support for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) in its efforts to bring criminals in the police force to book.

Shocking details of cases investigated by Ipid into high ranking police officers, such as former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane who is facing corruption charges, almost eclipsed the stand taken by Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

But Scopa has come out fighting on the side of Ipid after hearing astonishing accounts of how the police have obstructed Ipid investigations into SAPS corruption. Chairperson Godi referred to “intimidation” tactics being used against Scopa when it came to the unit’s investigations into corruption within the SAPS.

This comes days after rumours had circulated that Ipid head Robert McBride faced imminent arrest arising from Ipid’s investigation into Phahlane.

The police watchdog unit has frequently encountered criticism and McBride has faced regular rumours and threats of arrest. Only weeks before, McBride publicly claimed on eNCA that the unit was under attack following the arrests of senior police and intelligence officers.

Scopa wants everyone, including the police, to recognise that Ipid is a legal structure that Parliament recognised and supported.

During a Scopa hearing in Parliament, Ipid described how the police itself prevented the investigative unit from carrying out its duties and doing its work. The police watchdog told the Committee that it was struggling with a number of high-level police corruption cases because of the refusal by SAPS to declassify documents that Ipid needed to conclude its investigations. Ipid had been forced to apply for a court order to obtain classified documents.

Committee Chairperson Themba Godi told the parliamentary Committee that Ipid had been hindered in its work and subjected to intimidation tactics. Scopa was pulling Ipid out of the shadows to ensure that everyone, including the police, recognised that Ipid was a legal structure that Parliament recognised and supported, he said.

He told the Committee that the police played a critical role in the fight for good governance and against corruption. If the police were “infested with criminal elements” this fight would fail. It was necessary to clean up the police, Godi said and the Committee intended to give Ipid all the support that it required.

He referred to previous intimidation tactics in which he alleged SAPS senior officers had organised “rogue elements” to try to derail Ipid’s investigations.

This led to frank questions from members of the Committee about the relationship between SAPS and Ipid, and in particular between the National Police Commissioner and the Ipid Executive Director. The Committee also asked if the Minister was supporting Ipid in its investigations.

It resolved to hold another hearing in which it would call the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, SAPS, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) to appear before it to give them the “right to reply”.

The Committee also asked Ipid to provide Scopa with correspondence between itself and the National Commissioner of SAPS regarding requests for declassification of crucial information.

Ipid also told Scopa that SAPS’ refusal to declassify information was hindering its investigation into the case of Captain Morris “KGB” Tshabalala who was employed at SAPS while he was a wanted criminal. Tshabalala was re-employed by SAPS in 2015 while on parole following a second stint in jail. Ipid said it was struggling to establish who was responsible for re-hiring Tshabalala into SAPS but the information was not forthcoming.

Ipid has also been struggling since 2012 to get information declassified in the case of General Richard Mdluli.

The Committee promised to follow up on why Ipid is struggling to find funding for the Marikana investigation, as recommended by the Farlam Commission. The funding is needed to provide for Marikana scene recreations. The Committee said it wanted to see people charged to the full extent of the law for their involvement in the tragedy of Marikana.

Ipid was represented at the hearing by Mr Matthews Sesoko, Chief Director: Investigation and Information Management, who called for amendments to the Ipid Act, the Intelligence Services Oversight Act and the SAPS Act to deal with declassification of information and documents.

Sesoko said there was a need for legislative amendments to strengthen oversight of Crime Intelligence and the Secret Service Account funds in particular.

Included in the Ipid delegation was Innocent Khuba, Project Manager: High Profile Cases, Chris Magoteti, Parliamentary Liaison Officer and Colonel Kobus Roelofse from the Hawks who was assisting Ipid.

Moira Levy

Information sourced from the Parliamentary Monitoring Group

 

Additional Info

  • Author: Moira Levy
Last modified on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 10:16

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