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News24.com | ‘Backstabbing’ and bad faith – the NPA and IPID war intensifies

Cape Town – The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) says it has nothing to defend after Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride accused it of picking and choosing which cases it acts on.

McBride outlined investigations he felt the NPA was dragging its feet on in a letter, which surfaced on Tuesday, September 5, sent to its director Shaun Abrahams in the second week of August.

These probes included one into former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, who IPID previously alleged had used his position to illegally obtain documents related to their investigation against him.

READ: Here are the probes McBride says the NPA is ‘stifling’

But in an emailed reply sent to News24 on Thursday, NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku said it was “regrettable” the letter had ended up in the public domain.

He also denied several factors McBride had outlined in the letter to Abrahams.

McBride’s letter comes as simmering tensions between police and IPID are bubbling over into the public domain.

The spat also comes as a number of police officers, as well as those with links to crime intelligence, have spoken to News24, saying they fear high-level probes are being intentionally derailed by colleagues.

Better communications

Mfaku said on August 14, NPA leaders had a scheduled meeting with their IPID counterparts.

“The NPA understood the purpose of the meeting was to pave a way for better working relations between the two institutions,” Mfaku said.

“Fifteen minutes before the commencement of the meeting, a letter dated 11 August 2017 addressed to the NDPP [National Director of Public Prosecutions] was received from the head of IPID.”

READ: IPID is a ‘massive failure’, Moerane Commission hears

Mfaku said it was then resolved “a framework of co-operation in the form of a memorandum of understanding” would be developed and entered into to improve communications between the NPA and IPID.

Issues, he said, contained in Mcbride’s letter were “satisfactorily discussed” and it was agreed that the NPA would formally respond to issues raised by IPID.

‘Regrettable’

“It is regrettable that the aforementioned letter found its way to the media, and does not bode well with the spirit the meeting was concluded,” Mfaku said.

“Notwithstanding this, the NPA is in the process of finalising its response to IPID, and will not respond to the issues through media.”

READ: DA calls on Inspector General of Intelligence to probe alleged ‘Project Wonder’ plot

In his letter to Abrahams, McBride had said there were concerns about which investigations the NPA was acting.

For example, McBride said, the advocate guiding the defeating the ends of justice investigation into Phahlane was of the view it was “a prosecutable case”.

But he said the matter was referred North Gauteng director of public prosecutions, Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, who “after some delay in making a decision”, decided not to prosecute.

On Thursday, Mfaku hit back.

‘Nothing to defend’

He said: “In so far as the question relating to allegations of selective prosecution is concerned, there is absolutely nothing to defend; as each matter is decided on its own merits in the areas of jurisdiction of the various directors of Public Prosecutions.”

If a party was dissatisfied with a decision, a matter could be escalated to Abrahams for him to review it.

McBride, in his letter to Abrahams, had said IPID was communicating with Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) investigators about the Phahlane probe “with a view to obtain a preservation order”.

All the paperwork had been wrapped up and all that was needed was a signature.

However, McBride said despite a promise the application would be launched, nothing happened.

“To date no progress has been reported to IPID, despite your undertaking to do so,” McBride wrote to Abrahams.

‘Incorrect’ information

But on Thursday, Mfaku said this was not correct. He said the AFU application was not complete.

“From the first draft submitted, several evidence gaps were identified, necessitating further investigations to be conducted.”

Mfaku said this had been discussed with McBride and his team.

“They undertook to address the identified evidence gaps and get back to AFU,” he said.

“AFU is currently awaiting IPID to provide the requested outstanding evidence.”

On Thursday, however, IPID spokesman Moses Dlamini told News24: “The IPID is not aware of any evidence gaps.”