EXCLUSIVE: McBride 'begged' ex-NPA boss to prosecute IPID cases for months, Abrahams denies 'baseless' claims

2019-03-02 08:26
Robert McBride Foto: Lindile Mbontsi

Robert McBride Foto: Lindile Mbontsi

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One of the last acts Robert McBride attended to as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) has been laid bare in a recent letter to newly-appointed National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) Shamila Batohi, urging her to fast track high-profile cases which he says were "singled out" by the police watchdog.

In the letter - which News24 has seen - McBride notes that he repeatedly appealed to former prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams over two years to intervene in IPID cases that were not being prosecuted.

And now, the former IPID boss has officially questioned if Abrahams was "biased in dealing with IPID cases".

McBride, whose contract as IPID boss expired on February 28, alleges that NPA officials were complicit in interfering in IPID cases.

News24 has seen correspondence between McBride, Abrahams and various IPID officials dating back to May 2017.

The correspondence is attached to a letter McBride wrote to Batohi. It is dated February 4, 2019.

IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini confirmed the authenticity of the letter and correspondence, telling News24 that McBride wrote to Batohi requesting her to "review the irrational decisions of some of the NPA officials who singled out IPID cases against senior police officers and declined to prosecute where there was ample evidence". 

"This situation was allowed by former NDPP Advocate Shaun Abrahams, even after IPID raised its concerns with him," Dlamini said.

In the revealing correspondence, totalling 101 pages including attachments, McBride appealed to Batohi to intervene in high-profile IPID cases and details how he repeatedly requested Abrahams to intervene when decisions were taken not to prosecute IPID cases.

He included responses from Abrahams, which reveal that the former NPA boss had looked at various issues raised by McBride, but found them unsubstantial.

READ: McBride to challenge Parliament's decision not to renew contract

McBride, in his letter to Batohi, refers to a meeting held with then acting NDPP Advocate Silas Ramaite on December 5, 2018.

"In that meeting we raised concerns with Adv Ramaite about former NDPP [Abrahams'] bias in dealing with IPID cases. Even where we made representations or raised issues with some of the decisions made, he [Abrahams] simply agreed with the decisions of advocate [George] Baloyi and adv [Sibongile] Mzinyathi without any cogent legal reasoning," McBride’s letter reads.

"As it will become clear from the correspondence to the former NDPP Shaun Abrahams and his responses, I raised issues with him regarding interference with our investigation by senior SAPS members and some prosecutors in the NPA without any intervention."

Responding to McBride, Abrahams sets out in detail why he stands by the various decisions taken by prosecutors, and provides an update to McBride on matters he raised concerns about, including that prosecutors were complicit in SAPS interference in IPID investigations.

Abrahams also told McBride that there were no ulterior or nefarious motives behind the NPA officials’ decisions. 

However, in his letter to Batohi, McBride details the cases he wants the NPA top boss to intervene in and ends the letter with a request for a meeting with her to discuss the issues he raised.

His concerns and requests for intervention deal extensively with cases surrounding former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane and a team of SAPS officers from the Klerksdorp Organised Crime Unit under General Ntebo "Jan" Mabula.

IPID previously alleged that Phahlane used his position to illegally obtain documents related to their investigation against him.

In his letters to Abrahams, McBride said the advocate guiding the defeating the ends of justice investigation into Phahlane was of the view it was "a prosecutable case".

He said the matter was referred to Mzinyathi, who, "after some delay in making a decision", decided not to prosecute.

ALSO READ: Phahlane granted bail, lawyer argues arrest 'nothing but a show for the media'

McBride also elaborated on the matter involving Major General Mabula and several others who were the subjects of an investigation into torture. 

McBride said that the actions by Mabula and senior police officials made it clear that there were "rogue elements" in the police who were clearly being assisted by "some in the NPA to further their nefarious objectives". 

McBride said the matter was decided on in 2010 and suspects were arrested. The cases were later withdrawn so the matter could be centralised.

ALSO READ: Court rules in favour of IPID in case against North West police officials

But Abrahams disputed McBride's allegations, saying all the decisions that he made as NPA boss were made without "fear, favour or prejudice and were not remotely informed by any improper motives or influences". 

Speaking to News24, Abrahams said: "I dispute McBride’s allegations as baseless and unsupported by any evidence. IPID matters are ordinarily dealt with within the area of jurisdiction of respective DPP offices and or at Specialist NPA business units such as the (Priority Crimes Litigation Unit) who is dealing with the Marikana matter, the (Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit) who is dealing with the Phahlane matters and the DPP office [in] Pretoria which is dealing with a matter in which McBride and others are implicated." 

He said these offices make decisions whether or not to prosecute in IPID matters.

Abrahams said the SCCU and PCLU can only make decisions in consultation with the DPP concerned.

"DPPs and the heads of specialist prosecution units report to a Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions.  

"The National Director does not deal with IPID matters and does not make decisions on IPID matters although he or she may be briefed on some of these. The National Director would review cases if asked to do so and would also consider racketeering charges when requested to. 

"It’s a pity that I have not been provided with the letters in which McBride makes these allegations.  From media reports, particularly the Mail & Guardian, it appears that McBride has filed an affidavit at the state capture commission (of inquiry), and in which he again levels certain allegations against me," he said.

Abrahams said he intends to respond to all the allegations, provided there is merit in them, once the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture writes to him. 

Read more on:    npa  |  ipid  |  shamila batohi  |  shaun abrahams  |  robert mcbride

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