Under-fire heads of Sars, the Hawks and Ipid join forces with ex-colleagues to battle corruption and defend the independence of state institutions
Robert McBride, the suspended head of police watchdog the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) – together with former SA Revenue Service (Sars) deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay and axed Hawks boss Anwa Dramat – have banded together to fight what they insist are trumped-up charges.
The three have charges pending against them after being investigated by the Hawks.
Now they have formulated a fightback plan, which involves a public relations drive, lobbying politicians to intervene, assisting one another in putting a strong case together in court, and fundraising publicly to cover their legal fees.
They have also joined forces with a number of their former subordinates who have been suspended since last year. The coalition consists of the following members:
From Sars: Pillay and former colleagues Peter Richer, Johann van Loggerenberg, Yolisa Pikie and Adrian Lackay;
From the Hawks: Dramat and his former subordinates, fired Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya, KwaZulu-Natal head Johan Booysen and Pretoria head Lesley Maluleke; and
From Ipid: McBride and his colleagues, Pule Maoka, Matthews Sesoko, Felicia Ntshangase and Nomkhosi Netsianda.
The group, led by McBride, Dramat, Pillay and Sibiya, held a meeting at Luthuli House late last month while President Jacob Zuma was on a state visit to Iran.
They met ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe, Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize and ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte.
“They told the three that they were being targeted by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, Hawks boss Mthandazo Berning Ntlemeza and Sars commissioner Tom Moyane,” said an insider.
City Press was informed by three independent sources close to the protagonists that Pillay and Dramat told the ANC leaders that, although they mediated with the state on their behalf during their exit negotiations, “Moyane and Nhleko have reneged on their agreements that they would not be investigated or pursued further”.
The group also claimed at the meeting that Moyane and Nhleko were using state resources to fight them, while they had no money to fight back.
They added that they would expose corruption in state institutions that might embarrass the party. “They told the ANC that they will fight on all fronts, including going to the media, which may embarrass the ruling party as many of those suspended and fired in the group are members of the party,” said the insider. City Press understands that at the meeting, the ANC leaders promised to “raise their issues”. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa denied the meeting took place. It is understood that the group will open a trust account into which members of the public who want to support them can donate money to help them fight their legal battles. The group issued their first statement this week, saying: “The events at the Hawks, Ipid, Sars, Crime Intelligence, the State Security Agency, Denel and the National Prosecuting Authority are not unrelated. “There appears to be a remarkable coincidence in the methods used to remove officials from these institutions, the players involved and their intersecting interests. “In our view, attacks on individuals in these institutions are aimed at undermining the fight against corruption. “A key part of all of our mandates was to investigate cases of corruption. In reviewing our individual experiences over recent weeks, we have discovered a convergence in the cases that we were working on. “A common thread is that cases under investigation involved individuals or entities with questionable relationships to those in public office. “Most of these cases involved state tenders of some kind that were awarded due to patronage with influential individuals in public office.” Former Sars spokesperson Lackay wrote that there were commonalities in how the suspended or axed officials were removed from their positions. “Internal documents, or ‘allegations’ from within institutions, are leaked to select journalists. Working in tandem with ‘anonymous’ sources, facts are distorted in the media,” he wrote. On Tuesday, McBride’s advocate, Steven Budlender, told the Constitutional Court his client could not do his job independently if Nhleko was allowed to suspend him without consulting other members of Cabinet. In December, the North Gauteng High Court ruled that the laws that had allowed Nhleko to suspend McBride were unconstitutional. Nhleko appealed the ruling, but has since changed his position, saying he understood that suspending McBride was unlawful, but requested that the court not rule on the legality of his suspension. McBride this week accused Nhleko of being a “serial violator” of the Constitution.
POLICE Robert McBride
HAWKS Anwa Dramat
SARS Ivan Pillay