Former police minister Nathi Nhleko and former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) boss Robert McBride butted heads over the police watchdog's contradictory reports into the infamous Zimbabwe rendition matter, the state capture commission of inquiry heard on Wednesday.
This was the evidence of national head of investigations Matthews Sesoko, who was referring to an IPID investigation into the rendition of five Zimbabweans between November 2010 and January 2011.
IPID issued two reports which had different conclusions.
The first report was signed by lead investigator Innocent Khuba and it recommended that former Hawks bosses Anwa Dramat and Shadrack Sibiya be prosecuted.
But a second report found that there wasn't sufficient evidence pointing to any criminality, the inquiry heard.
"In December 2014, General [Anwa] Dramat was suspended by the minister. I actually saw it on the news. To our surprise, the minister indicated that the suspension was on the basis of the investigation and report by IPID. It took us by surprise because our report did not make such recommendations," Sesoko told the commission.
"When the executive director (McBride) was approached by the media, he indicated that the IPID report did not make these recommendations. This is when the conflict between the minister and executive director McBride started," he added.
Commission chairperson, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, asked the witness: "As you and Khuba worked on this [second] report and made the recommendation that there should be no charge, did Khuba not mention the earlier contradictory [first] report?"
Sesoko responded: "No, he did not mention that he sent such a report to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). However, we did discuss the issue of whether there is evidence to sustain the charging of these generals and we concluded that there was none," Sesoko said in response.
Sesoko further revealed that it was only in January 2015 when he learnt about the first report which Khuba signed.
"I was surprised when we got the media inquiry. We even suspected that the signature of Khuba had been forged. Khuba could not immediately remember it. He went to his records and then he remembered and explained the circumstances surrounding the report," he testified.
In March 2015, the minister suspended McBride and appointed a provincial commissioner in the Free State as the acting head.
Shortly thereafter, the former police minister appointed Werksmans Attorneys to investigate the circumstances surrounding the first and second reports.
Khuba, McBride and Sesoko had to attend interviews relating to the matter.
"We would have expected the minister to approach the executive director as someone reporting to him to explain the circumstances. There was no need to appoint a law firm. This was a simple operational issue that could have been explained .
"Later, when events happened, it became clear to us what the intention was. It was clear that there was an orchestrated effort to put General Dramat in a bad light, had our report found wrongdoing and manipulated the evidence, we would not have found ourselves in the situation we find ourselves in," Sesoko said.
The law firm, in its final report, found that Khuba, McBride and Sesoko should be charged with fraud and defeating the ends of justice.
Sesoko told the inquiry on Wednesday that he found out he would be charged along with Khuba and McBride through a Sunday Times report.
"The journalists never even bothered to contact us about this report making adverse findings against us. These are the same journalists who reported on the Cato Manor saga.
"It seemed to me that they were pushing a specific agenda to deal with us," Sesoko alleged, referring to Werksmans Attorneys' investigation.
The inquiry continues.