Police Minister Bheki Cele won’t be renewing Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride’s contract when it ends in February – and McBride isn’t going without a fight.
“By unilaterally determining whether my tenure as the executive director of Ipid should be renewed or extended, and terminating my holding of the office, you have acted unlawfully and in violation of the constitutionally entrenched independence of Ipid,” McBride said in a letter to Cele seen by The Citizen on Tuesday.
McBride noted the Constitutional Court had found the Ipid head was not a public servant employed by the minister of police.
“As the head of an independent institution, the executive director is appointed by and holds office at the instance of the relevant parliamentary committee, being the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Police (PPC),” McBride told Cele.
In the unanimous judgment in the matter brought by McBride to foil disciplinary proceedings against him, the court slammed then police minister Nathi Nhleko.
“The manner in which the minister dealt with Mr McBride demonstrates, without doubt, how invasive the minister’s powers are. What exacerbates the situation is that he acted unilaterally,” the court found.
“This destroys the very confidence the public should have that Ipid will be able, without undue political interference, to investigate complaints against the police fearlessly and without favour or bias,” said the judgment penned by Justice Ronnie Bosielo.
In his letter to the PPC, McBride called Cele’s intended action “patently false”.
“The decision whether to extend or renew my term in office must be taken legally, and will require of the portfolio committee to take into account relevant factors,” McBride wrote to PPC head Francois Beukman.
“I am able to provide the portfolio committee with relevant information in my possession, which I respectfully submit should be taken into account by the portfolio committee before taking a decision.”
The relevant information, said McBride, would include the status of ongoing high-profile investigations he was supervising.
McBride gave Cele until January 24 to withdraw his declaration, and the PPC until January 31 to declare its intentions – or both will face court action.