The trend of removing department heads and replacing them with individuals compliant with the wishes of political bosses, left at least three key state institutions weakened, the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard on Monday.
On his third day of giving testimony, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) former executive director Robert McBride painted a picture of paralysed independent statutory bodies like Ipid, Hawks and the South African Receiver of Revenue (Sars) when key individuals were removed.
Among some effects of the changes ushered in at leadership level were McBride’s suspension in 2015 for 18 months by former police minister Nathi Nhleko, the removal of Hawks former head Anwa Dramat who was replaced by General Berning Ntlemeza, and the appointment of Tom Moyane as Sars commissioner, which led to tax collection figures being inflated.
Regarding the impact of his replacement by former Free State head Israel Kgamanyane, McBride said one of the first decisions his successor had to take was to “terminate Ipid’s brief to lawyers challenging the police minster – to ensure Ipid did not protect its independence.
“We soon had a situation where Ipid’s statistical performance was being questioned by the auditor-general, who queried the manner in which cases were being closed by Ipid under Kgamanyane.
“One particular case was that in which [former national police commissioner] Khomotso Phahlane was implicated. There was a duplicate file under a different case number and later both cases were closed. Ipid’s practice of closing a number of cases became widespread across provinces.
“Another development under Kgamanyane was an untrue report that Ipid’s performance had gone up after my suspension. This was not only untrue but an inaccurate manipulation of statistics, and due to the closing of cases under what was called ‘special closure’.”
In what McBride described as bizarre suspensions, transfers and dismissals implemented by Kgamanyane under the guise of “restructuring”, eight Ipid senior managers were affected.
- Matthews Sesoko, then national head of investigations, and Ipid lead investigator Innocent Khuba, who were both suspended on May 21, 2015 after being charged for “altering the report into Zimbabwean rendition”.
- Gauteng Ipid head Felicia Ntshangase who was suspended on July 8, 2015 by Kgamanyane.
- Head of corporate services Nomkhosi Netsianda was suspended on August 19 2015 on allegations of media leaks.
- Ipid national spokesperson Moses Dlamini who was suspended on June 20, 2016.
- Antonett Mphago, director: executive support in the office of the executive director on allegations of media leaks.
- Vinesh Boodhoo, director: investigation in Gauteng was transferred to the Eastern Cape in July 2016.
- Marianne Moroasui, then chief director: legal services.