Judgment in McBride suspension case expected

2016-09-06 05:51
Robert McBride (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

Robert McBride (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)

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Cape Town - The Constitutional Court will on Tuesday rule in Robert McBride's protracted claim that the police minister’s suspending him as Ipid head was unconstitutional.

McBride was suspended in March 2015 for allegedly altering a report by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate on former Hawks boss Anwa Dramat and Hawks Gauteng head Shadrack Sibiya. They were accused of illegally deporting a group of Zimbabweans wanted for murder.

It started with an urgent application to stop Police Minister Nathi Nhleko from suspending him. It was found not to be urgent, and struck off the roll.

McBride secured a hold on his disciplinary hearing, pending the outcome of this court challenge.

In 2010, the Hawks allegedly illegally repatriated five men - including Witness Ndeya, Gordon Dube and Pritchard Tshuma - to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwean police allegedly murdered Ndeya and Dube. They were wanted in their home country for the murder of a policeman.

In an initial report, Ipid found that Dramat and Sibiya were directly involved in the renditions. A subsequent report, signed off by McBride, cleared them. McBride said he merely corrected grammar and typographical errors.

He claimed there was a plot against him, Dramat, and former SA Revenue Services commissioner Ivan Pillay because they were all tasked with investigating corruption.

Dramat resigned. The Hawks were investigating Pillay.

In a joint statement the three issued on the same day as the Constitutional Court hearing, they said recent events at the Hawks, Ipid, Sars, police crime intelligence, the State Security Agency, Denel and the National Prosecuting Authority, were not unrelated. 

In their view, their mandates involved investigating corruption, including tenders. The pattern leading up to their suspension was similar: a report or claims were leaked to a journalist. This was followed by an investigation, also leaked to journalists. After that they were suspended and eventually a departure settlement was reached. The aim was to hound them out of office and destroy their credibility, they claimed.

The dispute over whether Nhleko could suspend McBride went all the way to the Constitutional Court, which heard the matter on May 17.

That hearing was an application for confirmation of a High Court order that declared certain provisions of the Ipid Act 1 of 2011; the Public Service Act, 1994; and the Regulations for the Operation of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate, 2011, inconsistent with the Constitution and invalid. 

McBride did not believe they gave Nhleko the power to suspend him or remove him from office.

The High Court ruled that the independence of Ipid, expressly guaranteed under section 206(6) of the Constitution, was not protected by the relevant legislative provisions.

The provisions were declared invalid and inconsistent with the Constitution. As an interim measure, provisions from the South African Police Service Act were read into the Ipid Act.  These provide for parliamentary oversight of the removal of the head of the Hawks.

Nhleko’s decisions to suspend and discipline McBride was set aside. The latter order was suspended for 30 days, allowing Parliament a short period to institute action against McBride under the provisions read-in from the Saps Act, if it so decided.

All of these orders were referred to the Constitutional Court for confirmation.

Read more on:    ipid  |  constitutional court  |  nathi nhleko  |  robert mcbride

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