McBride given nod as IPID head

By Drum Digital
29 January 2014

Parliament is all but certain to appoint Robert McBride as head of the watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate.

Parliament is all but certain to appoint Robert McBride as head of the watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate after the portfolio committee on police backed his nomination for the post on Wednesday.

The ANC outvoted opposition parties on the committee who had vehemently opposed McBride's nomination. They argued that the former Umkhonto weSizwe bomber's numerous past brushes with the law had rendered him wholly unsuitable for the post.

The African Christian Democratic Party's Kenneth Meshoe said: "I want to submit that the nominee is not commanding respect because of his carelessness. From the ACDP's side we do not believe that the man is suitable because of his lack of integrity and he will fail to set a good example to those that he will be leading."

But Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told committee members he had full confidence in McBride and believed under him IPID would "dispel the perception of impunity in the police" which had damaged its image.

"The image of the police is in tatters in some instances," Mthethwa said, adding that he had resolved that IPID must be strengthened to carry out its oversight role effectively.

The watchdog body has been without a permanent head for more than a year following the departure of Francois Beukman.

Mthethwa said it was normal for South Africans to hold divergent views and while some would abhor McBride's past -- which included the deadly Magoo's Bar bombing -- others would salute his contribution to the struggle against apartheid.

Opposition MPs also questioned whether McBride had the necessary qualifications for the post. By law, an honours degree or an equivalent qualification is needed.

Committee chairwoman Annelise van Wyk delayed the vote until she had received assurances that McBride's degree in policing from the Technical University of Tshwane met those standards.

The committee will now recommend to the National Assembly that it endorses McBride's appointment as head of IPID.

He was awarded amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for his role in the Durban beachfront bombings in 1986.

After a spell as a diplomat, he became head of the metropolitan police in the Ekurhuleni Municipality but lost his job after he was charged with drunk driving and defeating the ends of justice.

McBride was jailed for two years in 2011 by a Pretoria magistrate, but successfully appealed.

The opposition on Wednesday quoted extensively from testimony given against McBride in court, but Mthethwa said it was unfair to do so while ignoring the outcome of the case. - Sapa

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