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Robert McBride stops short of accusing Werksmans of acting in bad faith

The former watchdog body boss has testified about the so-called Zimbabwe rendition case and the trumped-up allegations levelled against the police involved.

A screengrab of former Ipid head Robert McBride giving testimony at the state capture commission on 12 April 2019.

PRETORIA - Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride has warned private law firms appointed to investigate constitutionally created bodies like Ipid to tread carefully or risk undermining their independence.

McBride has testified at the Zondo commission of inquiry, explaining how a report compiled by law firm Werksmans Attorneys was used by former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to suspend him and discipline Ipid investigators.

The former watchdog body boss has testified about the so-called Zimbabwe rendition case and the trumped-up allegations levelled against the police involved.

McBride stopped short of accusing Werksmans Attorneys of acting in bad faith or impropriety.

But it was clear that the report compiled about Ipid’s handling of the Zimbabwe rendition investigation was flawed. It was handed to Nhleko as justification to suspend McBride and others.

“Private legal companies, especially with a good reputation like Werksmans, should not easily take up cases that impinge on the independence of constitution created bodies. They must exercise more caution.”

McBride accuses Nhleko of abusing his authority to undermine Ipid’s independence.

‘SINISTER MOTIVES‘

Mcbride says sinister motives were at play when Crime Intelligence compiled a docket against senior Hawks officials, all as part of an effort to have them removed from office.

A preliminary report, signed off under his predecessor, implicated the senior police officials, while a later final report under his watch exonerated them.

Nhleko relied on the preliminary report to act against the top cops.

McBride says the preliminary report relied on by Nhleko was produced under the leadership of his predecessor and based solely on evidence gathered by Crime Intelligence.

He says the final report, which he signed off, contained all available evidence, including information which cleared the implicated parties.

“There was independent of Ipid exercise in the signing of the second report. Whereas in the first report there was undue pressure placed on the investigator and sinister motives by the people that were involved, including Crime Intelligence.”

McBride will return on Monday to conclude leading his evidence.