Ipid bites over ‘outrageous’ Phahlane funding
Cop watchdog wants cops to promise they won’t investigate the officials who are investigating them
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has hit out at Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Khehla Sithole over the state’s continued “outrageous” funding of former police chief Khomotso Phahlane’s court battle with the police watchdog.
Both Cele and Sithole are not fighting Ipid’s court application for an order that it hopes will stop police implicated in criminality from themselves driving criminal cases against the Ipid officials investigating them.
That case was born out of the ugly legal drama that erupted between Phahlane and Ipid, after the directorate launched a high-profile corruption investigation into the police chief. Ipid and its head, Robert McBride, have accused Phahlane and his alleged allies within the North West police department of driving criminal cases against the investigators on his case.
In a letter sent to Sithole, following a meeting with Cele where the possible out of court settlement of the case was discussed, Ipid’s legal advisors questioned why police leadership was allowing Phahlane and North West police officials to oppose their case.
“It is, with respect, untenable for you to allow your subordinates to adopt a position in litigation against Ipid (and relating to the relationship between SAPS and Ipid) that is at odds and in defiance with the position adopted by you,” Ipid chief director of legal services Marianna Moroasui wrote to Sithole.
“It is within your powers and obligations to bring to an end to the pending litigation, and to instruct [Phahlane and North West police authorities] to accept the position you have adopted in relation to the litigation.“Alarmingly, the SAPS is continuing to fund with public funds, the opposition of the litigation by [Phahlane and his alleged allies]. It is completely outrageous for the SAPS to fund litigation by members of the SAPS in circumstances where the position adopted by these members are directly contrary to that of the national commissioner.
“It is of great concern that an amicable settlement of the litigation between the Ipid and the SAPS should be frustrated by the conduct of those who are under your direct control and supervision,” the letter
In the letter, dated 23 May this year, Moroasui states that Ipid does not believe that Sithole “can justifiably remain supine whilst your subordinates abuse public funds”.
Ipid’s lawyers wrote two more letters to Sithole in the weeks following Moroasui’s correspondence, in which various unsuccessful efforts to settle the case were documented. Ipid’s lawyers repeatedly stated that they wished to resolve the case amicably.
Times Select has sought comment from both Cele and Sithole about the apparent contradictions in the police’s stance on Ipid’s litigation, without success.
Ipid and McBride want the North Gauteng High Court to order that “it is unlawful and/or unconstitutional for any member of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to undertake or oversee an investigation into a member of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) where the SAPS member has a personal interest in such an investigation, or is himself or herself the subject of an Ipid investigation”.
The case will be argued in court on Thursday.