Robert McBride, executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), has won the fourth and final round in his long fight against former police minister Nathi Nhleko after parliament this week passed the Bill that strengthens his hand and independence as head of the police watchdog body.
The first round was when the High Court in Pretoria set aside McBride’s unilateral suspension by Nhleko.
The second was when the Constitutional Court concurred with the high court’s ruling.
Thirdly, the minister was shifted from his post and finally fired.
Parliament has now passed amendments that sought to rectify the flaws identified by the Constitutional Court pertaining to certain sections of the Ipid Act, the Public Service Act and the Ipid regulations.
The move strengthened McBride’s hand and this was seen as a victory for the man who was tormented by the minister’s interference on his police oversight job.
The ConCourt in 2016 ruled that the minister of police had no power to unilaterally suspend the Ipid head. It concurred with an earlier ruling by the High Court in Pretoria that Nhleko acted unlawfully in suspending McBride and that the legal provisions for him to do so were unconstitutional.
In its September 6, 2016 ruling, the ConCourt further set aside the suspension and disciplinary action against McBride, who had challenged Nhleko’s actions in court.
Many saw Nhleko’s decision as compromising the independence of the Ipid.
ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu was ecstatic that parliament was able to amend the legislation within the 24-month deadline set by the Constitutional Court. The Bill will now go to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence before it is signed into law by the President.
In another development, the ANC’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) study group whip, Mnyamezeli Booi, praised the police watchdog body for the progress it had made in probing corruption cases involving senior police officers, such as former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane and Crime Intelligence’s Captain Morris Tshabalala and Major-General Obed Nemutanzhela, who are facing a host of charges, including corruption.
At the meeting, Ipid head of investigations Matthews Sesoko asked Scopa to ensure that the Ipid Act, the Intelligence Service Oversight Act and Saps Act were amended in order to strengthen its oversight capacity on crime intelligence.
“The report by Ipid gave an indication that these investigations are nearing conclusion.
“In welcoming the report, we reiterate our stance that those found guilty of wrongdoing must face the full might of the law.
“The ANC pledges its full support to the police watchdog in its ongoing efforts to bring criminals in the police force to book,” Booi said.
Booi urged National Treasury to intervene where necessary by providing adequate funding to Ipid to enable it to “achieve their main task of fighting corruption within the police service”.
“We cannot have a situation where the fight against crime is hampered by the lack of equipment and technological capability due to funding constraints,” he said.