Ipid raided acting national police commissioner Phahlane’s house last week. Linked to this is Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s attempts to get rid of McBride, who won a Constitutional Court bid to declare his suspension unconstitutional.
The fight has pitted heads of state institutions against one another, weakening their organisations. As the scrap continues, it is unclear who the “good” and “bad” guys are. But, to quote Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, it shows a “government at war with itself”.
So who are the players in this spider web of intrigue?
He has been acting national police commissioner since October 2015 after President Jacob Zuma suspended Riah Phiyega. Before that he headed the SAPS Forensic Service from 2012.
Phahlane has faced the ire of McBride and has been investigated for corruption. He has denied any wrongdoing.
The former metro police chief was appointed to lead Ipid in February 2014. His problems coincided with the appointment of Nhleko in June 2014. In March 2015 McBride was suspended as Ipid head in connection with an investigation into the rendition of five Zimbabwean suspects in 2010. He was charged with fraud and defeating the ends of justice for allegedly tampering with a report. That was dropped.
Then he won a case in the Constitutional Court that found Nhleko did not have the authority to remove him from his job.
Major-General Ntlemeza was appointed to lead the Hawks after his predecessor, Anwa Dramat, stepped down with a golden handshake. Ntlemeza’s appointment was controversial. He was previously found by the courts to lack integrity and was exposed for lying under oath. He is fighting a legal challenge to have him declared unfit to head the Hawks.
Ntlemeza has been linked to bringing charges against McBride, Dramat and former SA Revenue Service deputy commissioner Ivan Pillay. He was around when charges were formulated against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. The cases were later dropped.
So where does it end?
“We believe there are attempts to have the entire security sector implode and tear one another apart,” said SA Police Union president Mpho Kwinika, who is sceptical about the probe into Phahlane.
“We strongly believe there are ulterior political motives involved.
“There have been investigations into people who have done nothing wrong, with others, especially in crime intelligence, who have clearly done wrong, left alone,” he said.