IPID's ongoing battle with North West SAPS over Phahlane heats up
Johannesburg – The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) is urgently trying to interdict a team of North West police officers from investigating their officials who are probing the former acting police commissioner for corruption and money laundering.
IPID say the slew of counter-investigations against their officials appears to be an attempt to protect Khomotso Phahlane and the North West officers.
Most of the members of the North West team are also being investigated by IPID for various serious offences, including torture and murder.
The SAPS team, headed by North West deputy commissioner Major General Ntebo Jan Mabula, have been at the centre of other political arrests which include those of former NPA prosecutor Gerrie Nel and former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head General Johan Booysen.
This fresh court application comes days after new charges were laid against another one of IPID's officials, Mantsha Raphesu.
Raphesu was charged for offences including passing personal IPID information to non-IPID members in a WhatsApp group.
IPID's court application before the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria was brought against the North West team, the commissioner of police, Phahlane and the Minister of Police.
In the application, IPID asks that the new acting police commissioner ensure that the SAPS investigation against IPID's Phahlane team – Mandlakayise Mahlangu, Temane Binang and Mantsha Raphesu – is not carried out by the officers from the North West team.
IPID said the urgent application was necessary as there was a real conflict of interest in the SAPS investigations against them.
In an affidavit by IPID boss, Robert McBride, he said: "IPID’s investigation against Lt-Gen Phahlane has faced serious and persistent obstruction from members of the SAPS."
McBride said that in November 2016, the North West SAPS team began investigations against the IPID team at the behest of crime intelligence for "security threats" against Phahlane.
Charges were then laid against the original complainant in the case against Phahlane – forensic investigator Paul O'Sullivan.
O'Sullivan and his assistant Sarah-Jane Trent were charged for fraud, contravention of the IPID Act, extortion, contravention of combatting the corrupt activities act and they were accused of impersonating IPID officers.
IPID officials Mahlangu and Binang were also joined as co-accused in the case.
McBride in his affidavit said that IPID maintained these charges were "spurious and unlawfully concocted" to obstruct their investigation against Phahlane.
The prosecution against the four was struck off the court roll on November 8 for an unreasonable delay in the proceedings.
But on November 9, it came to IPID’s attention that Raphesu was also under investigation by the SAPS team for WhatsApp messages he apparently sent to Trent.
Her cellphone was allegedly stolen from her and its contents downloaded by the North West police team when she was arrested.
These latest charges appear to be an attempt to finger McBride in wrongdoing.
The charge against Raphesu alleged that he "provided information which was supposed to be kept confidential to Trent who is not a member of IPID, thereby aiding Sarah Jane Trent, Paul O’Sullivan, Mandlakayise Mahlangu and Robert McBride to commit corruption."
McBride in his affidavit said that one of the main concerns was that members of the North West team – including Mabula, North West head of commercial crimes Brigadier Daniel Ncube, North West Commander of the Special Crimes Unit Lieutenant Colonel Ismail Dawood and Organised Crime Brigadier Cliford Kgorane – are also being investigated by the same IPID officials they are investigating.
McBride said this was an untenable situation which was escalating.
He said that of grave concern is the officer who is charging Raphesu – Brigadier Daniel Ncube – who is the subject of an investigation by Raphesu.
Two deputy directors of public prosecution have recommended prosecution against Ncube and other team members.
Raphesu has been involved in an investigation against Ncube, Dawood and Kgorane related to the unlawful arrest, kidnapping and intimidation of O’Sullivan and Trent.
Attached to the court papers is also a memorandum by a deputy director of public prosecutions and a senior state advocate which found prima facie evidence of unlawful arrest, kidnapping, fraud and defeating the ends of justice with O’Sullivan’s arrest.
The prosecutions office concluded that "prosecution must be instituted" against the SAPS members for their unlawful arrest of Trent and O'Sullivan.
"The position adopted by the SAPS seriously compromises the independence of IPID. The result is that IPID’s investigators cannot function effectively and independently without fear of reprisal and retaliatory investigation by the SAPS officers they are required to investigate," said McBride.
McBride said the current situation was also making it impossible for them to finalise the investigation into Phahlane.
IPID spokesperson Moses Dlamini said it was clear that members of the SAPS "are not concerned about abusing their power to protect senior officers from investigation that they’re willing to launch counter-investigations against IPID investigators".
He said: "It’s all about protecting Phahlane."