Former Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) boss Robert McBride has described a meeting with top law enforcement officials hosted within the State Security Agency (SSA) to allow for the independence of his institution.
However, he says, what was discussed and his attempts to convince members of the police, the Hawks, and the intelligence agency of Ipid’s independence “fizzled off”.
Testifying at the state capture inquiry on Tuesday, McBride said upon his return from suspension in October 2016, he realised the “criminal justice system is shaking”.
“At a certain stage after my return, I realised there are counter investigations [by the police into Ipid] and that the criminal justice system is shaking … I was concerned about national security. I then approached the SSA to call a meeting between all the heads of services so we could get an undertaking that we will be allowed to do our work,” he said.
“I went to the only authority who doesn’t have investigative prosecutorial powers and they are seized with the security of the state. I went to the director-general [Arthur Fraser at the time]. He arranged a meeting with the heads.”
McBride said there were about two or three meetings attended by himself, Fraser, then National Prosecuting Authority boss Shaun Abrahams, then SA Revenue Services commissioner Tom Moyane and former police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.
“A number of issues were discussed. We undertook that we will manage our difference of opinions through the work that we do,” he said.
“In one of the meetings, immediately after the first meeting, [Phahlane] went to the media about something in the effectiveness of trying to contain the fallout from investigations we were doing. Out of that process, those meetings kind of fizzled off.”
McBride’s testimony is continuing.