Mkhwebane report could thwart McBride’s bid to become her deputy

Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate head, Robert McBride, has hit back at a scathing report by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane that could derail his bid to become the next deputy public protector, saying the timing of the report was “suspicious”.

Mkhwebane made several findings against the police watchdog over an irregular appointment that occurred under McBride’s tenure.

Releasing several investigation reports on Wednesday, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane found that Ipid irregularly appointed Theresa Botha as a deputy director of its national specialising investigative team.

“Botha was appointed to a post that never existed before,” said Mkhwebane as she delivered her findings.

The complaint against Ipid was lodged with Mkhwebane’s office in June 2018 by former Ipid investigator Cedrick Nkabinde, who was also an applicant to fill the position.

Mkhwebane said she was aware that the report was already in the public domain “and some of the complainants have already made pronouncements that they will be taking the report on constitutional review”.

“For instance I have noted that the former director of Ipid Mr Robert McBride has already made a public statement to the effect that he will be taking the report on judicial review,” said Mkhwebane.

Former IPID Head Robert McBride.
Former IPID Head Robert McBride.

She labelled McBride’s undertaking as opportunistic and a “tired defence mechanism of those who don’t want to be held to accountable” and resorted to calling her findings “part of the so-called fight-back campaign”.

“For the record, any party that is aggrieved by my decisions is entitled to challenge the matters in court and on receipt of court papers we will study the application and decide on whether we can defend the matter successfully and whether that has an impact on the mandate of the public protector. Be that as it may, you need to note that this investigation was not our own initiative, it was as a result of a complaint being lodged with our office,” said Mkhwebane.

She said Nkabinde’s complaint alleged irregularities in “procurement, appointments and administration” relating to the appointment of Botha.

“In a nutshell, he made the following complaints, that Ipid changed and manipulated the requirements of the post of deputy director in order to suit Botha without any job evaluation processes being conducted by a job analyst as required by the institution’s own policies. As a result the complainant and other candidates that had applied for the job were disadvantaged and prejudiced by this maladministration and nepotism,” said Mkhwebane.

She went on to reveal that Nkabinde alleged that an internal investigation was conducted and adverse finding against senior officials at Ipid was reached, however, its recommendations were never implemented. Instead, the complainant was suspended “in retaliation” for raising the matter and in particular his disclosing of “unethical conduct”.

Read: Mkhwebane fights to keep Sars ‘rogue unit’ report

the timing was “suspicious"

She added that during her office’s investigation they came across information that suggested that Ipid did not follow proper procurement processes and appointed Botha to a post that never existed before.

McBride hit back at Mkhwebane’s report, saying the timing was “suspicious in that the release is on the eve of the widely anticipated testimony of senior Ipid investigators at the Zondo commission into state capture at which evidence started today [Wednesday]”.

He said the report was likely to interrupt Ipid’s investigations into the alleged corruption and looting within the police because the report implicated most of Ipid’s executive members.

He added that he was likely to take the “highly questionable” report on review.

On Thursday, spokesperson of the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, Bulelani Magwanishe, announced 28 candidates, including McBride, who stand in line to take over the role of deputy public protector, which will become vacant when incumbent Kevin Malunga’s tenure expires in December.

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