Robert McBride — the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) — has approached the high court in Pretoria to review and set aside the decision by Police Minister Bheki Cele not to renew his contract.
“This is an urgent application to set aside an unlawful decision taken by Minister of Police on 16 January 2019 not to renew my appointment as the Executive Director of IPID,” McBride states in court papers filed on Tuesday.
McBride is also seeking an order to direct the police portfolio committee to take a decision on whether to renew his appointment on or before it expires on February 28 this year.
“The Portfolio Committee’s consideration of the renewal of an appointment of the executive director is especially important, I submit, because the five-year duration of the executive directors’ term is relatively short…Continuity in the leadership in the directorate may be required at the time, depending on whether there are any politically sensitive investigations,” McBride says.
A flurry of correspondence which has now culminated in the urgent court application began when Cele sent McBride a letter saying he would not renew his contract. Just under a week later, McBride wrote back telling Cele that the decision was unlawful.
“I called upon the Minister to withdraw his decision and refer the matter to the Portfolio Committee and in any event, requesting reasons from the Minister for his decision. I also addressed a letter to the Portfolio Committee on 22 January 2019,” McBride says.
Francois Beukman, chairperson of the police portfolio committee, said that they had received letters from McBride and were waiting for the Speaker of Parliament to refer the matter to the committee as protocol dictates.
“We have received the letters and had seen that he [McBride] had indicated that he may go to court but the speaker is best placed to respond,” Beukman said.
In McBride’s founding affidavit, he argues that the decision to renew his contract does not lie with Cele. It is a decision that must be taken by the portfolio committee which is responsible for appointing the executive director and of oversight of IPID.
“By purporting to exercise this power, the Minister has undermined the independence of IPID…Further, an in any event, the Minister decision is also unlawful in that he has failed to provide any reasons for his decision,” he adds.