Police Ministry breaks the law - fails to appoint IPID head within one year

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Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale at the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday.
Deputy Minister of Police Cassel Mathale at the meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday.
Jan Gerber, News24

The Ministry of Police is in contravention of legislation as it will not fill the vacant position of the Executive Head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) within one year of the vacancy arising.

Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale told the Portfolio Committee on Police on Wednesday that they interviewed three candidates for the position earlier this month, but none of them were suitable, and they will now embark on a headhunting process.

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The term of the previous executive director of IPID Robert McBride ended on March 1, 2019.

This after Police Minister Bheki Cele was adamant that he should not be reappointed, and the ANC contingent on the previous Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police ensured that his contract was not extended in a contentious process about a year ago.

On Wednesday, after Mathale said the post will not be filled by the end of the month, committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson pointed out that the IPID Act required that it be filled within a reasonable time, not exceeding a year.

Mathale said two advertisements for the post were issued, one in July 2019 the other in August 2019, after which they had 49 applicants. A shortlist of four was drawn up, but on the day of the interview - February 24 - one of the candidates withdrew the application.

READ | There will be a new IPID head by March, Cele promises

The panel, consisting of Cele, Mathale, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and the head of the Civilian Secretariat for Police "couldn't find a person who is appointable", according to Mathale.

The panel recommended a headhunting process which should find a candidate by the end of April. The person's appointment should first be approved by the committee.

Headhunting process raised alarm bells

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said it is "extremely disappointing" that they're not in a position to appoint a head for IPID.

He said a headhunting process raised alarm bells because this will take place behind closed doors.

This lead to questions about the credibility of the process, which raised questions about the credibility of IPID.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said the ministry would have to come up with reasons why they did not comply with legislation.

"We concur with members here, we're not excited about this," Mathale said. "If we had our way, we would be submitting a name here."

Whitfield said Cele owed the committee an apology for his "complete and utter failure to meet the deadline".

Joemat-Pettersson said she will liaise with National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise's office about the possibility of granting the ministry an extension.

"We are definitely now outside the time frame of the act," Joemat-Pettersson said.

Cele, who assured the committee in November 2019 that a candidate will be presented to them by March, wasn't present as he was at the pre-budget Cabinet meeting.

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