Cedrick Nkabinde, a former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) investigator, complained to the Public Protector’s office last year, alleging irregular appointments, maladministration and victimisation for his protected disclosure regarding alleged unethical conduct by former Ipid head Robert McBride.
A week ago, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane signed off on a scathing report stating that Nkabinde’s complaint that he was suspended for whistle-blowing was “substantiated”.
McBride told the Mail & Guardian that after preliminary discussions with his lawyers “we have decided to apply to interdict findings and remedial action until the review has been heard and to launch a review application”.
Nkabinde was suspended for alleging that McBride had exhibited unethical behaviour in relation to numerous investigations including that of former acting national police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.
But in responses seen by the M&G, and sent to the public protector in June by former and current IPID officials including McBride and Theresa Botha — one of the subjects of the investigation — they dispute all the adverse allegations and proposed findings that are contained in the report.
Nkabinde claimed that IPID suspended him because he blew the whistle on the alleged irregular appointment of Botha as a deputy director at IPID whilst she only had matric and was a South African Police Service clerk.
This led to the protracted fight between McBride and police minister Bheki Cele, culminating in the former IPID head’s contract not being renewed.
“Ubiquitous evidence in my possession revealed that the entire selection/recruitment panel failed to exclude the CV of Ms Botha during the selection process despite the fact that it did not have the necessary information as her position/job title…the members violated the IPID recruitment policy,” reads the report.
IPID officials maintain that the proposed findings are informed by allegations by a disgruntled and vindictive former employee.
“Nkabinde has been found to be dishonest and responsible for leaking information and deliberately undermining IPID’s investigation against the former national commissioner of the SAPS, Lt-General Johannes Khomotso Phahlane on serious charges of corruption and money-laundering. He has also been found to be unreliable by a court. The public protector is aware of this,” reads IPID’s responses to the public protector.
Mkhwebane, in her final report, goes further stating that IPID referred Nkabinde’s matter to be investigated by the Presidency but when adverse findings against certain officials that were involved in the recruitment were communicated, “Mr McBride did not implement the recommendations as made in this report by Advocate Richard Moloko.”
The public protector also found that Nkabinde’s suspension was in retaliation against his protected disclosure regarding alleged unethical conduct by McBride and the grievances against the irregular appointment of Botha.
“The complainant was subjected to a disciplinary hearing/ occupational detriment by the IPID and charged for reasons that were patently or causally related to his making of a protected disclosure,” reads the report.
According to the report, on June 12, Ipid responded to Mkhwebane, disputing that Nkabinde’s complaint to Cele was protected disclosure since it was not made in “good faith”.
“They strongly argued that the complainant and other members…had been promised a promotion in the SAPS crime intelligence if they agreed to give false statements implicating McBride and other senior Ipid managers involved in the investigation of General Phahlane. In support of this assertion, the Ipid officials furnished my office with a number of annexures including affidavits made under oath by members of Ipid.”
Nkabinde told the M&G that he welcomed the Public Protector’s report.
“I am very happy that at last justice prevails and the truth is out. I am now meeting with my lawyers for legal advice and after the meeting with my lawyers I will make my next move public,” he said.
One of Mkhwebane’s recommendations includes that the acting executive director of the Ipid, Victor Senna, should in 30 days take steps against all Ipid members who violated the Ipid Act and the Constitution which resulted in the irregular appointment of Botha and the improper prejudice of Nkabinde.
She stated that within 60 days there should be a judicial review to set aside the appointment of Botha, to develop a policy relating to the proper handling of whistle-blowers without victimising or disclosing the identity of the whistle-blowers.
Senna has been at the helm of the Ipid since March when the police portfolio Committee did not renew McBride’s contract following a public and protracted fight with Police Minister Bheki Cele, who had instructed the former Ipid head to reinstate Nkabinde.
At the time of publishing, Ipid had not responded to questions.
Read the public protector’s report below: