Former Ipid boss Robert McBride. File photo: Boxer Ngwenya/African News Agency (ANA)
The ANC-dominated parliamentary portfolio committee on police, which missed a September 5, 2018, deadline set by the Constitutional Court on September 6, 2016, to amend the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Act of 2011, has blocked Robert McBride’s reappointment as Ipid head after Police Minister Bheki Cele did not renew his contract as Ipid boss when his five-year tenure expired on February 28.

McBride contends that Cele has no rational locus standi to determine any matter related to Ipid because the apex court already declared Ipid independent of the SAPS and, by extension, the minister. 

In other words: upon what justiciable legal premise is the committee blocking McBride’s re-appointment, rubber-stamping Cele’s decision to not renew his contract, when such premise has no force in law because the amendment deadline was missed by that selfsame portfolio committee?

Moreover, McBride is essentially arguing that the ANC, through Cele and the police portfolio committee, seeks to subordinate both the spirit and the letter of the Constitution to its political wishes.

The opposition DA supports McBride, that his tenure as head of Ipid be extended. It is for this apparent reason: If McBride’s contract is extended, so is his investigation of former police commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane’s alleged link to the R45 million of SAPS money which might have been used to install a grabber and buy votes at last year’s elective conference of the ANC; by implicated an extension to the legitimacy of the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa, and then the DA can use any dirt found to win votes in the May poll.

McBride seems merely a pawn in the ANC-DA tug-of-war.

McBride’s life and career have been dogged by controversy. First when he was the Ekurhuleni metro police chief in 2006, he was arrested after “crashing his official car on the R511 following a Christmas party”. 

He was convicted on charges of drunken driving and attempting to obstruct justice. Both charges were overturned in 2013 on appeal.

Then in 2015 McBride’s 15-year-old daughter accused her father of assaulting and abusing her. She alleged that the assaults had been going on for a while. The charges were later dropped by the State.

Long before the dawn of democracy, McBride had been labelled a “murderer” by families of the victims of the June 14 1986 Magoo’s Bar bombing which killed three and injured 67 people. 

He is hailed a hero in anti-apartheid circles for his contribution to the struggle.

About this struggle, he was originally conscientised by his father, Derrick John McBride, who made him read A J Venter’s Coloured: A Profile of 2 Million South Africans, which introduced the 11-year old McBride to the contributions of coloured leaders such as Robben Island prisoner James April, poet Don Mattera and academic Jakes Gerwel.

McBride was further politicised when he read the book Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson.

His leaning, while a teenager, toward the beliefs of Steven Biko, and later his participation, from the early 1980s in the military sabotage activities of MK to undermine the apartheid state was unsurprising, given his early political education, from his politicised extended family, which later came to include the ANC.

Well, until recently.

Relations have since soured, apparently.

Sunday Independent