Hawks blame McBride

2016-10-30 06:00
Robert McBride.

Robert McBride.

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The Hawks are blaming police watchdog boss Robert McBride, who heads the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), for setting them up to face criminal charges – after four of their officers were caught on tape holding a senior lawyer at the SA Revenue Service (Sars) hostage.

Two senior Hawks bosses told City Press they believed McBride “colluded” with Sars’ legal services official, Vlok Symington, to record their officers refusing to allow him to leave a boardroom in the tax collector’s Khanyisa office building in Brooklyn, Pretoria.

A bodyguard of Sars commissioner Tom Moyane was also seen barring Symington from leaving.

A senior Hawks official told City Press that recording the conversation between Symington and Hawks officers was “the same modus operandi which was used by [the former Limpopo head of Ipid, Innocent] Khuba”.

Khuba led the investigation into the 2010 illegal rendition of five Zimbabwean nationals, which led to the axing of former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and the former head of the Gauteng Hawks, Shadrack Sibiya.

Khuba exposed how a Hawks officer promised him his job back if he incriminated McBride in the alteration of the final Ipid report, which exonerated Dramat and Sibiya.

Now the Hawks believe that McBride convinced Symington to record his confrontation with the officers.

Symington recorded video and audio footage of his confrontation with the four Hawks officers – Brigadier Nyameka Xaba, Colonel H Maluleka, Lieutenant Colonel S Palaza and Captain M Sewele – over an email proving that Sars’ own lawyer found the case against Gordhan to be questionable.

Symington’s boss, Kosie Louw, mistakenly forwarded to him email correspondence between Xaba, prosecutor Torie Pretorius, Moyane and Sars lawyer David Maphakela, in which Maphakela said he disagreed with the case against Gordhan pursued by the Hawks.

“For ethical reasons, I cannot be involved in this one, as I hold a different view from the one pursued by the National Prosecuting Authority and the Hawks,” he wrote.

Gordhan has been charged with fraud for granting early retirement to his then deputy, Ivan Pillay.

The case has been widely slammed as being politically motivated and having scant chance of success in court.

Xaba, who led the visit to Symington, is the detective investigating the fraud case as well as the case against Sars’ so-called rogue unit.

Xaba also investigated charges against McBride for defeating the ends of justice, on suspicion of McBride’s having altered the final renditions report.

After the recorded incident came to light on Wednesday, Symington laid charges of kidnapping, assault, intimidation and crimen injuria with Ipid, against the four Hawks officers and Thabo Titi, Moyane’s bodyguard.

Symington alleged he was manhandled, assaulted and held hostage by the men, and that one grabbed the email from his hands in the passage during a scuffle.

He also told Ipid his hand and arm were twisted and that he sustained bruises.

However, the four Hawks officers refused to present themselves for warning statements, after Ipid’s National Specialised Investigative Team assistant director, Anthony Sehas, contacted them to do so. Instead, they demanded questions be sent to them by Sehas.

Sehas gave the Hawks until Tuesday to provide Ipid with answers to its questions (see box).

City Press has learnt that Xaba told Hawks head Berning Ntlemeza what happened and that their conversation with him would form the basis of their responses to Sehas on Tuesday.

The four Hawks officers said they asked Symington to hand over the email because he was not supposed to have it.

“Those documents were only for communication between Sars’ legal adviser and the lead investigator of the rogue unit [case].

"In his response, [Symington] said he got them from his supervisor, Kosie Louw,” they told Ntlemeza.

The four went on to say that they gave Symington a few hours to make a witness statement, while they went to Moyane’s office to inform him that Symington had emails he was not supposed to have, as they were “official correspondence between Sars’ legal adviser and the Hawks”.

Moyane, they said, apologised. “The commissioner requested his protector [Titi] to go and fetch the documents from Mr Symington and bring them back to his office,” the four officers said, adding that when Titi asked Symington to hand back the documents, “he started to ask questions as to why we wanted the documents and started to fume”.

The Hawks officers accuse Symington of being rude to them, “shouting as to why we want the documents back”.

“He was told that the documents came into his hands by mistake. He could not listen and continued shouting,” the officers told Ntlemeza.

After Symington asked to make copies of the email correspondence and was refused, Moyane’s bodyguard closed the door, the four claim.

“We begged him to hand over the document, but he refused and claimed he was held against his will,” they said.

It was then that Symington called 10111.

“Colonel Maluleka pleaded with him to hand over the documents to me – because it was addressed to Brigadier Xaba, not Sars or him,” said Xaba.

“Moyane’s bodyguard also called the commissioner to intervene. Ultimately, Louw arrived with his colleagues to convince Symington to hand over the documents to us.

"He refused to accede to their request,” the four told Ntlemeza.

They deny assaulting Symington, saying Palaza merely “took away the documents out of his hand”.

“Symington’s supervisor, Louw, apologised to Colonel Maluleka about the incident,” added the officers.

“This is purely a fabricated story for reasons unknown to us,” they said.

“Unusually, the incident took place on October 18 2016 and the case was reported on October 26.

"After an hour the case was registered and the Ipid investigator called the Hawks investigators allegedly involved to avail themselves in the Ipid offices for warning statements.”

Ipid spokesperson Moses Dlamini said they would “investigate the case against the Hawks officers without fear or favour”.

He declined to comment on senior Hawks’ allegations that McBride was part of a conspiracy to charge them.

Hawks spokesperson Hangwani Mulaudzi declined to comment.

Read more on:    sars  |  hawks  |  robert mcbride

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