UPDATE: Robert McBride fights to keep his job as IPID boss

The head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Robert McBride, is challenging Police Minister Bheki Cele's decision not to renew or extend his contract which comes to an end at the end of February, letters seen by News24 show.

"I hereby inform you that I have decided not to renew or extend your employment contract as executive director of IPID. You are hereby advised that your last official working day will be on Thursday, the 28th of February 2019," wrote Cele in a letter dated on January 16.

The police minister noted that he would inform Minister of Public Service and Administration Ayanda Dlodlo of his decision on McBride's contract.

However, the IPID boss wrote back to Cele on Tuesday.

"By unilaterally determining whether my tenure as 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 the IPID," McBride stated.

No comment yet

Cele's spokesperson Reneilwe Serero confirmed that McBride's letter was received by Cele's office at around 17:30

"We received the letter from Mr McBride and we will provide comment at a later stage".

McBride also wrote to chairperson of the portfolio committee on police Francois Beukman.

"It is for the portfolio committee on police - the body responsible for confirming the appointment of the executive director of IPID - to determine whether or not to renew or extend my term of office, not the minister of police."

McBride stated in both letters that he will seek urgent legal redress should Cele and the portfolio committee on police not address his concerns.

McBride was in 2015 in a protracted fight with former police minister Nathi Nhleko after he was suspended. He was also accused of tampering with an IPID report.

McBride also challenged Nhleko's powers to suspend him at the time, and argued that the suspension contradicted the independence of IPID.

Nhleko’s decision to suspend McBride was then found to have been invalid and was set aside by the Constitutional Court.

Turning to a ConCourt ruling

In his letter to Cele, McBride also refers to the Constitutional Court ruling that the executive director of IPID was not a public servant employed by the police minister under the Public Service Act.

The Constitutional Court had specifically held that section 6(3)(a) of the IPID Act was unconstitutional for making the executive director subject to the laws governing the public service. 

"As is recorded in the aforesaid judgment of the Constitutional Court, the Minister of Police correctly conceded in those legal proceedings that s 6(3)(a) was unconstitutional, for the reasons stated by the Constitutional Court," he said.

"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 (sections  6(1) to 6 (3) of the IPID Act 1 of 2011)" he wrote.

McBride further noted that Cele's decision purported to backtrack on the court's concession and was in direct contravention of the provisions of IPID Act and the judgment of the Constitutional Court. 

He demanded that Cele withdraw his decision; and immediately refer the decision on whether to renew or extend his employment contract to the Portfolio Committee on Police.

"Moreover, and in any event, your decision is an exercise of public power that is subject to the principle of legality. Accordingly, even if you had the relevant power (which you do not), I am entitled to the reasons for your decision. In the event that you decide not to accede to my demands, I hereby request the written reasons for your decision, to be furnished to me by no later than close of business on 24 January 2019."

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