Top cop turns on McBride over Dramat

27 September 2015 - 02:04 By MZILIKAZI wa AFRIKA, PIET RAMPEDI and STEPHAN HOFSTATTER

Controversial police watchdog head Robert McBride has been named as having altered a damning report to exonerate former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat for his role in the Zimbabwean rendition scandal. In a plea bargain signed on Wednesday, the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate in Limpopo, Innocent Khuba, confessed to all charges against him, including editing the rendition report, and directly implicated McBride and Ipid head of investigations Matthews Sesoko.Khuba's guilty plea might complicate McBride's efforts to clear his name and get his job back.However, in a later development that at first appeared to muddy the waters further, Khuba allegedly signed an affidavit clearing McBride of direct involvement in the matter of the altered report.Khuba, represented by his attorney Moloko Phooko, pleaded guilty to charges of dishonesty and defeating the ends of justice at his disciplinary hearing at Ipid headquarters in Pretoria on Wednesday.Yesterday, McBride sent Sunday Times what he claimed was an affidavit signed by Khuba on Friday, in which he allegedly made a U-turn and exonerated the embattled Ipid chief.story_article_left1However, the validity of the affidavit was questioned by Khuba's lawyer, Phooko, who said "there was no such a thing".In the signed agreement, Khuba pleaded guilty to a charge that he, "Sesoko and McBride altered the report which had been handed over to the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority], and deleted information incriminating Lieutenant-General Anwa Dramat, the former National Head of DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, the Hawks] and/or Sibiya, the provincial head of DPCI Gauteng, from the report in order to reach a conclusion that Dramat and Sibiya had been exonerated by Ipid when you knew or ought to have known that the final Ipid report on January 2014 recommended that Dramat and Sibiya be criminally charged".Having implicated McBride and Sesoko, Khuba could now be called as a witness in their hearings.This brings into question whether McBride lied under oath in his high court bid to stop Police Minister Nathi Nhleko from suspending him, when he claimed in court papers that he never saw the initial report that recommended that Dramat and Sibiya be charged.Khuba was slapped with a final written warning valid for six months and his suspension lifted, effective tomorrow."Mr Khuba's [candour] and openness about the offence, that he did not waste the employer's time in engaging in a protracted hearing, including his remorse, were considered to be sufficient mitigating factors against a sanction of a dismissal," read the ruling by hearing chairman Patrick Ngutshana.Nhleko's spokesman, Musa Zondi, said the ruling not only showed that "we are getting closer to the truth", it also vindicated the minister and the position he took on the matter."And that position was that we cannot allow people in positions of influence to subvert the law in pursuance of a culture that is not in keeping with human rights in a democratic dispensation," he said.McBride was suspended in March and faces several charges of misconduct for allegedly altering a report on the illegal rendition of five Zimbabweans in 2010.mini_story_image_hright1This was after Werksmans Attorneys, commissioned by Nhleko, recommended that McBride, Sesoko and Khuba be charged criminally and departmentally for allegedly removing evidence from a previous Ipid report to exonerate Dramat and Sibiya.Yesterday, McBride declined to answer specific questions including his take on Khuba's guilty plea and suggestions that the ruling meant he could have lied under oath.The Sunday Times exposed the rendition scandal related to Dramat's team having arrested five Zimbabweans in 2010 and 2011 under the pretext that they were illegal immigrants implicated in the murder of a police officer in their country.The men were handed over to Zimbabwean police at the Beit Bridge border crossing without proper deportation papers. They were later tortured in their home country. Two of them were killed and a third disappeared.Dramat accepted a golden handshake when the scandal about the doctored report broke.Sibiya was fired after being found guilty at an internal disciplinary hearing in July.Advocate William Mokhari SC, the pro forma prosecutor in the matter, yesterday said Khuba's guilty plea could have consequences for McBride. Mokhari said Khuba, contrary to media reports, did not submit any affidavits during the hearing clearing McBride."He [McBride] could not be exonerated by the hearing because it was not his hearing in the first place. And Khuba never mentioned him in the hearing," Mokhari said.Khuba, according to Mokhari, was not required to explain himself because he had pleaded guilty.story_article_left2"Unfortunately, in formal hearings that's not how it works. That becomes necessary if you want to exonerate yourself or you want to explain a particular point. But if you go there and say, look, I am guilty, all that has to be recorded is your guilt and findings."The other thing of how it happened may come out in the hearing of McBride and Sesoko because he [Khuba] will be asked," Mokhari said.He said the recorded proceedings "took something like five minutes"."He [Khuba] said: 'I understand the charge, and I plead guilty, freely and voluntarily.' And he signed the guilty plea. From there it was taken to the hearing. It was read out by the chairperson who asked him, also through his lawyer: 'Do you understand what it is you are pleading guilty to?' And he said: 'Yes.'"The chairperson then pronounced him guilty on the charge as it was. Then the proceedings ended," Mokhari said.Khuba yesterday declined to comment, saying: "I am not allowed to speak to the media."McBride and Nhleko have been embroiled in endless court battles since they fell out over the Ipid report that was tampered with.McBride has taken his boss to the Constitutional Court.investigations@sundaytimes.co.za..

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