Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed why he could not back Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride for another term in the job in a lengthy submission to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police.
In a letter, Cele wrote that a misconduct complaint against McBride to the Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane had been referred for investigation.
“This means that the complaint, at very least, makes out a prima facie case against Mr McBride,” alleged Cele.
He was writing to the committee after McBride argued that the committee, and not Cele, had the authority to decide not to renew his five-year contract when it ends on February 28.
Comment from McBride was not immediately available, but Cele’s submission included a lengthy list of untested allegations regarding leave pay, procurement, using the services of a private investigator and abuse of authority.
The full details of the letter and the allegations it contains could be made public when the portfolio committee on police meets for an update on the issue on February 22.
Renewing term would be ‘irrational’
IPID’s job is to investigate complaints against the police ranging from shooting incidents, officers refusing to help, to allegations of large-scale impropriety by high-ranking officers.
Cele wrote: “The allegations against Mr McBride are serious and cast significant doubt on his fitness and propriety to hold office as executive director.”
He said previous court judgments had shown the importance of determining whether officials such as the National Director of Public Prosecutions are “fit and proper” to hold office.
Cele said not only was there a complaint to the Public Protector, but there was also a report by an IPID investigator, Cedrick Nkabinde, with claims against McBride and a “whistleblower” report.
He said that although McBride “may in time” refute the allegations against him, he will have these claims hanging over him and IPID until then.
“It would, I submit, be irrational to renew Mr McBride’s term in light of these allegations which reveal prima facie evidence of misconduct.”
The letter also recommends checking whether McBride has valid security clearance given his job.
Matter set down for February 22
Cele recommends a fresh interview process for new IPID head.
“IPID’s independence and effectiveness — and the public perception of IPID’s independence and effectiveness — would be better served by appointing a new executive director.”
The submission, signed on February 18, is in line with a timeline set following a court application by McBride to challenge Cele’s authority to decide whether to extend the contract or not.
In a draft order the parties agreed that the decision Cele had taken not to renew McBride’s term was a preliminary decision that must still be confirmed or rejected by the committee.
“It is recorded that the second respondent (the portfolio committee) intends to take a decision regarding the renewal of [McBride’s] appointment on or before 28 February,” reads the order.
The matter was postponed to the urgent court roll of the high court in Pretoria and is set down for February 26.
The portfolio committee was ordered to report, via affidavit, on its progress by February 22.
McBride’s career has been riddled with legal complications ranging from an allegation of drunk driving that he was acquitted of, to “doctoring” a report on the illegal return of a group of Zimbabweans wanted by that country’s police. He was also spared from a death sentence following a bomb that detonated at a bar in Durban in 1986 when he was in the military wing of the ANC. — News24