McBride asks court to declare suspension plans unlawful

FILE PICTURE: Robert McBride. Picture: Michel Bega

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride asked the High Court in Pretoria on Friday to grant an urgent interdict against Police Minister Nathi Nhleko’s plans to suspend him.

“This is about a letter sent on Wednesday morning to my client to make submissions [by the end of the day] why he shouldn’t be suspended,” said McBride’s lawyer Steven Budlender. “The submissions have been made as a matter of caution,” Budlender said.

He confirmed that McBride had not yet been suspended and that, according to discussions in Chambers, it was agreed he would not be suspended until judgment was delivered. Budlender asked the court to declare the minister’s decision unlawful and invalid, and sought an order declaring unlawful provisions giving the minister permission to suspend the head of an independent body.

Read more: Nhleko serves McBride papers of suspension

“This is not an employment case. This is a case about the fundamental independence of Ipid… If my client is suspended, that will cause severe harm to Ipid itself,” he submitted. “The only way the head of an independent body can be suspended lawfully is by a parliamentary judgment. “The provisions have to adequately protect the head of Ipid.” Budlender submitted he would argue McBride’s case “briefly and crisply” before submitting heads of argument on Monday. Judgment is expected on Wednesday.

“This is a power that has been exercised for an ulterior purpose,” submitted Budlender. “We still don’t know on precisely which provision the minister relies for this suspension,” he told the court.

McBride appeared cheerful when he arrived at court. He sat in the front row of the public gallery wearing a black, pin-striped jacket.

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