Police chiefs air dirty laundry in Parliament

IPID Executive director Robert McBride and SAPS’ Khomotso Phahlane shocked MPs as they traded serious allegations against each other during a tense meeting of Parliament’s portfolio committee on police.

The two were summoned by the committee in the wake of claims that Phahlane had been interfering in IPID’s investigation into his alleged corrupt dealings with SAPS service providers.

The committee has now called on police minister Fikile Mbalula to intervene in the saga and he’s also expected to appear before the committee in the next two weeks to report on the matter.

The complaint had been laid with IPID by police union POPCRU and private investigator Paul O’ Sullivan.

IPID’s chief director of investigations Matthews Sesoko detailed how investigators on Phahlane’s case received death threats in the form of text messages from numbers that could be linked to SAPS members.

Sesoko also detailed how Phahlane had asked witnesses not to co-operate with the investigation and how he had “unlawfully” gained access to a list of witnesses in his case – pointing to possible intimidation of witnesses.

He also said that a SAPS unit from the North West‚ headed by Major-General Ntebo “Jan” Mabula‚ had specifically been brought in to “actively counter” the investigation.

McBride said he and several other IPID members linked to the case were now all actively being investigated by the police.

But Phahlane said he would comply with any “competent authority” conducting an investigation but insisted that IPID was far from independent.

“It should be renamed OPID- for O’Sullivan’s Police Investigative Directorate‚” he said.

Phahlane told MPs that his private bank statements‚ plans to his house and other evidence relating to the case had been shared with O’Sullivan‚ claiming IPID had been “captured”.

The committee was shown emails in which O’Sullivan threatened him and an exchange of text messages between O’Sullivan and McBride dating back several years.

In one email‚ O’Sullivan warns Phahlane that he will be “all over you like a badly fitted suit” if he did not go after Czech fugitive Radovan Krejcir.

In another‚ he claims he will go after Phahlane’s wife after he has dealt with him.

Phahlane also defended the use of the North West unit saying they had been brought in to assist after a threat analysis revealed a real threat against him.

He said he had been “lucky to survive” an attack in a Johannesburg spa late last year.

McBride however said that as the complainant‚ O’Sullivan had assisted with their investigation but said his role had been limited. He said out of the 67 witness statements taken in the case‚ O’Sullivan had only been present for‚ or assisted with six.

He also started to question the bravery medal awarded to Phahlane following the spa attack‚ but was interjected by FF Plus MP Pieter Groenewald who said this was “mudslinging”.

McBride also indicated that Phahlane should be placed on suspension to allow IPID to conclude their investigation‚ but Phahlane said there was no need for him to be sitting at home.

MPs from across the political spectrum‚ expressed concern with what they had just witnessed.

ANC MP Leonard Ramatlakane said “somehow this has to be stopped” while DA MP Marius Redelinghuys said the meeting was “unprecedented and absurd”.

Francois Beukman‚ another ANC MP who is the chairman of the committee‚ called on both sides to adhere to the law or approach the courts where they differed.

“There shouldn’t be interference‚” he said.