Limpopo head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Innocent Khuba on Friday told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he felt former minister of police, Nathi Nhleko, wanted him to do something without former Ipid executive director Robert McBride knowing.
Khuba was giving testimony on a call he described as “very unusual” which he received from Nhleko sometime in March 2015.
Nhleko’s brief call to Khuba was a request that the latter should cooperate with Werksmans Attorneys, a private law firm the former minister had tasked at the time to probe two contradictory Ipid reports on the Zimbabwe rendition matter, to which Khuba said he responded by saying “okay”.
Khuba told the commission’s chair, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, that at the time Nhleko called him, Werksmans had contacted him to arrange for an interview and that he had referred the private law firm to his immediate superior at the time, national head of investigation in the Ipid Matthews Sesoko.
Nhleko’s direct call to Khuba came after the former minister’s personal assistant had contacted Khuba to arrange that he travel to Cape Town to meet with Nhleko to discuss the rendition matter.
Khuba told the commission that he had told Nhleko’s personal assistant that he would need permission from McBride.
In a subsequent call from Nhleko’s personal assistant, she suggested that Khuba should travel to Cape Town over the weekend to meet the former minister without McBride knowing, the commission heard.
Khuba said he, however, maintained that McBride would have to know, to which the personal assistant said she would talk to Nhleko.
The next day, Nhleko called Khuba directly and within a few weeks of that call McBride was suspended, the commission heard.
“He phoned directly, he used a cellphone, he introduced himself to say that he is the minister of police and I could hear the voice because I think [a] few weeks [before] he had come to our office to address us,” Khuba said.
He continued: “For me, it was very unusual because politicians normally will not communicate with the staff, they may communicate with the heads because they report directly to them, so I felt he wanted me to do something without Mr McBride knowing.”
Khuba also told the commission that at some stage he was requested to sign an affidavit supporting Nhleko’s own, which stated that McBride had influenced Khuba to alter the Ipid report on the rendition matter to recommend that former Hawks head Anwa Dramat and former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya should not be charged.
Khuba added that this version by Nhleko was already being reported on by the media.
However, Khuba said he refused to sign an affidavit in support of Nhleko’s version because it was not true.
Khuba was suspended on May 21, 2015, along with McBride and Sesoko, on allegations of altering the investigation report into the Zimbabwe rendition. He was later dismissed by Israel Kgamanyane, who acted in McBride’s position during his suspension.
There were two contradictory reports into the rendition matter. One was a preliminary report which recommended that Dramat and Sibiya be prosecuted, while a final report, signed by McBride after he took office in 2014, was also signed by Khuba and Sesoko, and found that evidence related to Sibiya could not support prosecution.
Further investigations revealed there was no element of crime committed relating to Dramat in the rendition case.
Nhleko then tasked Werksman Attorneys, a private law firm, to probe the two Ipid reports. The Werksman report was then used to institute criminal charges against McBride and two other investigators in the rendition case.
(Additional reporting, News24 Wire.)