Former minister of police Nathi Nhleko on Tuesday highlighted to the chairperson of the commission of inquiry into state capture, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the “deletions” of “material” information in the Independent Police Investigative Directorate’s (Ipid) reports on the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans in 2010.
The Ipid produced two contradictory reports on the alleged abduction and illegal deportation of at least four Zimbabweans, who were handed over to Zimbabwean police by their South African counterparts.
After the lunch adjournment on Tuesday, Nhleko gave Zondo a few examples of the “deletions” from the first report dated 22 January 2014, resulting in the second report dated 18 March 2014.
The first report, signed off by Ipid investigator Innocent Khuba, found that former Hawks head Anwa Dramat, former Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya and Hawks cross-border desk head Leslie “Cowboy” Maluleke had been involved in the renditions and should be criminally charged.
However, after taking up office in 2014 as the Ipid head, Robert McBride was briefed on the case, he reviewed it and completed a second report which did not make such a recommendation, clearing Dramat and Sibiya.
On Tuesday, Nhleko pointed out that the starting point would be to question why there had been two reports with “conflicting recommendations”, adding that this is why he commissioned Werkmans Attorneys to ascertain what had transpired and whether the “alterations” to the first report constituted misconduct or wrongdoing and who would be held accountable for this.
Zondo asked Nhleko whether at the time he had a view on whether Ipid was entitled to change its recommendations from one report to another.
“I certainly don’t know whether I thought about it, chair,” Nhleko responded, adding that all he wanted was to resolve the issue of there being two reports.
Using a table he had prepared for the commission, Nhleko pointed out that where reference is made to Dramat and Sibiya in the first report, in the second these had been removed.
Zondo asked Nhleko whether witness statements in the docket of the rendition matter had been provided to him and whether before making a decision on disciplinary matters, he would have considered these statements.
Nhleko said that is why Werkmans was commissioned to conduct “detailed work” by using the two Ipid reports, the docket and any other “relevant information”.
Zondo said he understands that Nhleko’s concern was that it appeared as if there was an attempt at a cover-up to prevent him from taking disciplinary action against Dramat and Sibiya or to prevent the NPA from making a decision on whether the two should be prosecuted, hence the report was altered.
“That’s correct, chair,” Nhleko said.
Zondo also asked Nhleko why would it be thought that someone at Ipid was trying to defeat the ends of justice by altering the report when witness statements were available in the docket.
Nhleko accepted Zondo’s view, however, he said it was still questionable why the two reports had different information.
Nhleko also highlighted a number of “deletions” from the first report, saying these were not “cosmetic, grammatical changes” but “material” ones that could influence the outcome of a report.
“And this is what we should essentially be concerned about,” Nhleko said, adding that he views these “total deletions” as serious acts of misconduct which must be accounted for.
Nhleko also said he is pleased that a representative from Werkmans, Sunday July, will on Wednesday testify at the commission to shed light on the “nitty-gritty” of the firm’s investigation into the matter.
Zondo asked Nhleko how could the first report be considered a final report when Khuba had noted in it, as well as an Advocate from the NPA in a separate memo, that an analysis of Dramat’s cellphone records had not been completed by an expert.
Nhleko’s response was that investigators could shed more light on that, as well as the acting executive director at Ipid at the time, Koekie Mbeki, but questioned: “If the report was not final, what was it doing at the NPA?”
Nhleko is expected to wrap up his testimony at the commission on Wednesday.