McBride’s disciplinary hearing postponed

2015-05-21 14:26
Robert McBride (Jenni Evans, News24)

Robert McBride (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Pretoria - The disciplinary hearing of suspended Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride over a controversial report on the rendition of Zimbabweans was postponed to July 6 on Thursday.

This was to allow McBride's lawyers to make an application to stay the disciplinary hearing, pending the outcome of a court challenge.

''We agree as the parties that this application cannot be determined today (Thursday) because we only received it yesterday,'' said advocate William Mokhari, the ''prosecutor'' for McBride's employer in the hearing.

The court challenge is about the powers of the police minister to suspend him, as opposed to Parliament.

Mokhari, who also ''prosecuted'' former NPA lawyer Glynnis Breytenbach during her disciplinary, said they would oppose most parts of the application.

The application for the stay was only received on Wednesday.

Timeline agreed to

The court challenge turns on whether the Police Minister Nathi Nhleko had the power to suspend McBride. McBride's contention is that only Parliament can do this.

A timeline was agreed for the filing of documents and the parties would regroup at a different venue in central Pretoria to accommodate the media and extra numbers, on July 6, for the actual application for a stay to be made.

''That being the case, that concludes the business for today,'' chairperson Phillip Mokoena SC told the lawyers gathered around the table of Hawks headquarters boardroom in Silverton, Pretoria.

Journalists and photographers had to pack up as quickly as they had set up to clear the boardroom and McBride survived another day in employment, albeit suspended.

Although affable, he did not want to comment afterwards, beyond responding politely to greetings.

Proceedings had already been delayed slightly for the successful application of an order to Media24 and the Mail&Guardian's AmaBhungane investigative division, who had wanted it to be open, in the public interest.

The Ipid investigates complaints of misconduct against the police and McBride's troubles relate to him allegedly being involved in clearing Anwa Dramat, former head of investigative unit the Hawks.

McBride was appointed executive director of Ipid in March 2014, but a year later the minister of police gave him notice that he might be put on precautionary suspension.

Urgent application

He brought an urgent application to restrain the minister from suspending him, but on March 18 the court found it was not urgent and struck off the roll.

In his application, McBride alleged that the decision to suspend him was not motivated by "any legitimate reason nor reasons given in the suspension notice", but rather by "his concern to undermine and suppress the Ipid investigation report that vindicates Dramat and Sibiya, and upon which the minister had relied to justify his suspension of them".

McBride was eventually suspended from Ipid in March, reportedly because of a decision he took to clear Dramat and Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya of allegations that they were involved in the rendition of five Zimbabwean nationals.

Contradictory reports

In his notice of intention to suspend him, Nhleko alleged that the Ipid head had breached his statutory responsibility to act with independence and impartiality in that he informed Dramat and Sibiya, through their legal representatives, in writing that they had been cleared by the Ipid investigation.

According to media reports there are two contradictory reports.

In an initial report, Ipid found Dramat and Sibiya were directly involved in the renditions.

According to a final report, compiled in March 2014, they were cleared on the basis of additional evidence. Alternate suggestions are that McBride is protecting Dramat and Sibiya, or that Sibiya and Dramat are being targeted because they are part of high profile investigations.

In 2010, five men, including Witness Ndeya, Gordon Dube and Pritchard Tshuma, were illegally repatriated to Zimbabwe by the Hawks. The proper extradition process was not followed. Ndeya and Dube were allegedly murdered by Zimbabwean police.

If McBride is successful in the application he will bring on July 6, the hearing will be stayed.

Read more on:    saps  |  ipid  |  hawks  |  anwa dramat  |  robert mcbride  |  nathi nhleko  |  shadrack sibiya  |  pretoria  |  police

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