MPs to grill Nhleko over McBride suspension

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Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, at a media briefing on August 19, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He said it was premature for him to consider whether President Jacob Zuma should repay a portion of the money spent on upgrades to Nkandla.

PARLIAMENT – Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police will on Tuesday invite Police Minister Nathi Nhleko to brief MPs on the suspension of Independent Police Investigative Directorate(Ipid) head Robert McBride and the explosive report that accuses him of manipulating evidence to shield former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat.

“We will tomorrow invite the minister to brief the committee,” the chairman, Francois Beukman, said on Monday.

He said MPs had expressed a wish to call Nhleko to discuss the instability at the watchdog directorate, even before the report compiled by law firm Werksmans was widely quoted in the Sunday press.

“Obviously the independent report will now also form part of discussions,” he added.

The report accuses McBride, whom Nhleko suspended in March, of altering the findings of an Ipid probe into the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals to exonerate Dramat.

It reportedly recommends that Dramat face criminal charges over the renditions and that the minister also act against McBride for tampering with the original findings of the watchdog’s investigation.

Several news reports have said Nhleko would soon act on Werksmans’ s recommendations, and that McBride now risked arrest. Nhleko’s spokesman has not been available for comment.

The Democratic Alliance’s deputy spokesman on police, Zakhele Mbele, on Monday welcomed the decision to invite Nhleko and added that he was sceptical of the conclusions of report Nhleko commissioned.

“The DA is of the belief that this is a desperate last-ditch attempt by Minister Nhleko to throw the scent off himself and his gross misconduct in his handling of the Hawks debacle and to suppress the Ipid head from revealing the truth of the mess that the minister has made at these critical crime-fighting institutions,” he said.

Mbele warned that were Nhleko to have McBride arrested, he would be abusing his power.

He said minister already exceeded his powers when he suspended Dramat last year without consulting Parliament.

“The minister is set to abuse his power once again by arresting McBride and acting in bad faith in an effort to discharge his insidious political agenda.”

Nhleko appointed Werksmans to investigate discrepancies between an initial Ipid report that implicated Dramat in the renditions matter and the second that cleared him. The law firm’s findings appear to vindicate the minister.

Dramat was formally relieved of his duties and released from the police force at the end of March. He opted to leave after initially successfully challenging his suspension in court.

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