McBride orders taxpayer cash to defend own case

13 September 2015 - 02:00 By STEPHAN HOFSTATTER, MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA and PIET RAMPEDI


Embattled police watchdog head Robert McBride personally authorised getting taxpayers to fork out R500, 000 for his legal bills in his efforts to evade disciplinary action. This emerges from a series of damning internal memos from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate and supporting documents seen by Sunday Times reporters.They reveal Ipid received an invoice for R500, 000 from law firm Adams & Adams for a deposit "for legal services" a day after Police Minister Nathi Nhleko handed McBride a suspension letter, on March 10, for allegedly tampering with evidence in an Ipid investigation.The following day, on March 12, McBride approved a memo authorising the payment to be used by Adams & Adams to defend him."It is important that Adams & Adams Attorneys be placed in the funds in order to render legal services as and when we need them in these investigations," the memo says.story_article_left1"Some are very urgent. Today the attorney will be launching an urgent application in the high court and had to brief two counsels, one junior, one senior."The "urgent application" the memo refers to was McBride's bid in the High Court in Pretoria to interdict Nhleko from suspending him.A payment stub shows the fees were disbursed to Adams & Adams less than a week later, on March 18.McBride argued it was unconstitutional for Nhleko to suspend him because the constitution protects Ipid's independence. McBride failed to interdict his suspension but succeeded in getting disciplinary processes against him put on hold until his constitutional challenge is heard.The memos also reveal McBride had previously authorised Ipid to deviate from normal tender procedures, which require three quotes before a service provider is appointed, in hiring Adams & Adams.The charges against McBride are for his alleged interference in an investigation related to five Zimbabweans taken over the border illegally by Hawks officials in 2010 and 2011 and handed to Zimbabwean police. Two were killed, one disappeared and the others were tortured.The case led to Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya being fired earlier this month after he was found guilty of gross misconduct in a disciplinary hearing, and former Hawks head Anwa Dramat quitting under a cloud in April.McBride submitted a report on the case to the National Prosecuting Authority soon after he was appointed in March last year; it exonerated Sibiya and Dramat, with evidence against them excised.A previous Ipid report signed off by the chief investigator on the case and handed to the NPA contained detailed evidence against them and recommended both be charged.Nhleko accused McBride of interfering with the investigation, tampering with evidence and covering up for Sibiya and Dramat. McBride denies these charges and claims he had not even seen the first report by the time Nhleko used its findings to suspend Dramat.story_article_right2In April, Nhleko added a charge of gross financial misconduct against McBride for approving that Ipid should pay R500000 towards his legal fees.Asked for comment, McBride said the legal services of Adams & Adams "were procured entirely within the prescripts" of the law.The constitutional challenge was launched by Ipid "and myself" as Ipid's head."It was entirely appropriate and, in fact, required of me, as the executive director of Ipid, to initiate the constitutional challenge to protect Ipid's independence and integrity," he said.He accused Nhleko of "plainly interfering with Ipid's operations"."It is a classic case of being required to dance to the tunes of the minister or facing the consequences."Ipid's decision to withdraw from the constitutional challenge "through the instruction of the minister" was "of great concern", he said.He pointed out that he paid his own legal fees for his successful Labour Court application to interdict his suspension pending the outcome of his constitutional challenge. The Labour Court ordered Nhleko to pay these costs and dismissed his application for leave to appeal, with costs.investigations@sundaytimes.co.za

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