** This story has been updated
Pretoria - Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) head Robert McBride has reached an agreement with Police Minister Bheki Cele that the Portfolio Committee on Police, instead of the minister, will decide before the end of this month on whether or not to renew his contract.
McBride turned to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, after Cele informed him in January that he will not renew his contract.
The Ipid head said it was not for the minister to decide, but that the decision lay with Parliament.
He asked the court in papers filed to find Cele’s decision unconstitutional, unlawful and invalid. He wanted the court to set it aside.
At the start of the court proceedings on Tuesday, Advocate Steven Budlender, acting for Mc Bride, told Judge Wendy Hughes that the parties have reached an agreement.
In terms of this all the parties agree that the decision regarding whether or not to renew McBride’s appointments rests with the portfolio committee and not with the minister.
It was further agreed that the committee would make its decision by February 28 and that the matter would again be enrolled on the urgent roll on February 26.
The portfolio committee will issue an affidavit on February 22 regarding it progress on taking a decision regarding the renewal of McBride’s contract.
The parties will be entitled to then make submission on whether the portfolio committee should be given more time to make its decision and whether McBride’s term should be extended in the meantime.
The Helen Suzman Foundation, which was added as a party to the proceedings, however, objected to the agreement.
Advocate Max du Plessis SC, said the court should hear the arguments regarding the merits of the case.
He said the issues needed to be vented in court and that the parties should not be allowed to rush matters by coming to an agreement that was not practical.
One of his concerns was that, given the limited time until the end of the month, the portfolio committee would be pushed into making a decision.
“They can't do this in a rush. If you allow this, they will find themselves in a review application...This matter should no be forced...You should allow a full ventilation of the issues and bring out a judgment,” Du Plessis said.
Judge Hughes, however, dismissed this argument and she made the agreement an order of court. She said she will soon give reasons for her order.
McBride, who attended the proceedings, afterwards told Pretoria News this was a constitutional matter and about ensuring the independence of Ipid.
“It is to see that the independence is not trampled upon….It is not about my contract. It is about the independence of Ipid.”