McBride vs Cele: Court awaits police portfolio committee's decision

2019-02-12 17:49
Robert McBride (File, Netwerk24)

Robert McBride (File, Netwerk24)

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Robert McBride remains in limbo about whether he can stay on as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

This after a settlement agreement was reached on Tuesday in legal proceedings McBride instituted against Minister of Police Bheki Cele. 

In a draft order handed to the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, the parties agreed that the decision Cele had taken to not renew McBride's term as IPID executive director was a preliminary decision that must still be confirmed or rejected by the Portfolio Committee on Police.

"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 and is set down for February 26.

Progress

The portfolio committee was ordered to report, via affidavit, on its progress by February 22.

Judge Wendy Hughes granted the order on Tuesday afternoon. 

McBride filed an urgent application, asking the court to declare Cele's decision to not renew his appointment as "unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid".

However, civil rights organisation Helen Suzman Foundation, which was admitted as a friend of the court (amicus curiae) objected to the settlement, saying neither the minister nor the portfolio committee should be allowed to make a decision on McBride's term. 

"This order should not have your ladyship's blessings," advocate Max du Plessis argued. 

With regard to Cele's decision, Du Plessis said " everybody agrees it was wrong". 

Turning to the portfolio committee, Du Plessis said in an answering affidavit, that the committee said it did not want to be rushed because its decision might end up on review. 

He said the foundation was not confident about the portfolio committee making a decision on the matter. 

But advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who represented Cele, argued that minister took the view that his decision was not final. 

Complaints

He also told the court that the portfolio committee complained about a rushed decision and that the draft order addressed its concerns. 

In his affidavit, McBride states: "In light of the minister's conduct and given that my term of office expires on 28 February 2019, I have been left with no option but to approach the court for urgent relief."

He said this was necessary to ensure that the portfolio committee was given the opportunity to consider and make a determination on whether his term of office should be renewed.

"It is critical that the portfolio committee decides the matter before 28 February 2019. If this does not occur, then my term of office will lapse due to the minister's unlawful and unconstitutional conduct."

Premature

In papers filed in the High Court in Pretoria, Cele argued that McBride's application was premature and moot.

Cele also said: "IPID will not grind to a halt without him. An acting director will do just fine while the National Assembly and the portfolio committee decides whether to confirm or reject my preliminary decision."

Cele said if his decision was confirmed, the post would be advertised and nothing stopped McBride from applying.

He also added that if his preliminary decision was rejected, McBride's term would be renewed and he would still get his full five-year term.

Cele also denied that he had "prevented" the portfolio committee from making a decision on whether or not to renew McBride's term.

Read more on:    ipid  |  bheki cele  |  robert mcbride  |  pretoria
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