Cape Town – The battle for the control of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) has intensified, with its head Robert McBride lodging scathing papers in the high court in which he requests that his contract be renewed.
McBride argued that Police Minister Bheki Cele has no basis not to extend his contract as executive director of Ipid when it expires at the end of the month.
He said his contract must be extended because if it was ended, sensitive cases he was investigating, involving senior police officers, would be jeopardised.
The Helen Suzman Foundation entered the fray, backing McBride’s bid to have his contract extended.
In his papers, McBride argued that the decision on whether to extend his contract, rested with Parliament’s portfolio committee on police and not Cele.
“The decision whether to renew the appointment of the executive director is not one that the minister is empowered to take.
“It is a decision that must be taken by the National Assembly’s committee on police, being the parliamentary committee responsible for appointing the executive director and for oversight of Ipid,” said McBride.
“It is also important to appreciate that many of the cases Ipid investigates are highly politically sensitive. They include cases of alleged corruption at the highest levels of the SAPS, such as the investigations (into) alleged corruption against former acting national commissioner of police Lieutenant-General (Khomotso) Phahlane.”
McBride listed more than 20 cases that Ipid was investigating against senior members of the police involving hundreds of millions of rand.
Ipid will brief the portfolio committee on these cases next week.
The portfolio committee on police said on Saturday it would meet on Tuesday to discuss McBride’s position.
Chairperson of the committee Francois Beukman said Speaker Baleka Mbete referred the matter to them for a decision. That stemmed from a letter Cele sent to Mbete requesting the committee to consider not renewing McBride’s contract.
“The request will be processed in terms of rule 227 of the rules of the National Assembly, and the committee will ensure that the proceedings (are) in accordance with the Constitution, the rules of the National Assembly and related precedents.
“It is anticipated the committee will consider a process-proposal on how to deal with the referral, and a timetable for the processing of the referral in the next week,” said Beukman.
Cele defended his decision, saying McBride had no right to continue in the position after the end of his contract.
“Once those five years are up the director’s term terminates as a matter of law. Beyond year five, the Ipid director, as McBride rightly acknowledges, has ‘no right to have (his or her) appointment renewed’,” Cele said.
He said the decision to renew or not renew the term of office for McBride lay with the portfolio committee.
The Helen Suzman Foundation has applied to the High Court in Pretoria to be an amicus curiae (friend of the court) in McBride’s case, and in their application, back McBride’s bid to have his contract extended.
Executive director of the foundation, Francis Antonie argued that the court should make a determination on the interpretation of the Ipid Act.
He said the interpretation of the law must be such that Ipid is insulated from political interference.
He said the renewal of the term of office must be at the insistence of the Ipid head, and not the minister.