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‘He should’ve been police minister by now’

Published Nov 13, 2013

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Durban -

The estranged father of Robert McBride – who is controversially tipped to be the next head of the independent police watchdog – believes his son will do a good job, but has cautioned him to stay out of trouble.

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Derrick McBride, 81, was speaking to The Mercury at his Wentworth home just hours after news broke that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had nominated the former Ekurhuleni metro police chief to head the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) from early next year.

Reaction came in thick and fast, with opposition parties slamming the nomination but support coming from some surprising quarters, including senior Institute for Security Studies researcher Johan Burger, who was one of McBride’s lecturers at the Tshwane University of Technology where McBride studied for a B.tech, and who said he was intelligent, a good student and had an “extremely good policing background”.

McBride sr, although usually no fan of his son, said he believed he would be a success. The two have had a tumultuous relationship and have not been on speaking terms for more than 10 years.

Although initially reluctant to speak about the matter, he described his son as “highly dedicated” and “a strategic planner”, adding that he was capable of doing the job. “He’ll succeed. I’m absolutely certain of that… ” said the frail-looking McBride.

“Robert should have been the police minister by now,” he added, alluding to his son’s past personal problems.

Despite backing the pending appointment, he said: “I keep my distance from him because of our domestic affairs.

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“I’m his father, yes, but I don’t intend making peace with him.”

However, he was sympathetic about his son’s litany of run-ins with the law, saying he had been let down by the ANC leadership. “Because of the person he is, Robert never got any protection… He always did his job well, but because of the jealousy in the party, he got no help.”

McBride was convicted of murder following the Magoo’s Bar bombing in Durban in 1986, but was subsequently granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He was convicted, and later acquitted on appeal, for drunk driving while Ekurhuleni metro police chief.

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Nine candidates were interviewed for the advertised Ipid job and, the minister said, he was the top candidate to lead the unit, which has been without an executive director since the resignation of Francois Beukman in August last year.

“Mr McBride was the successful candidate following the shortlisting, interviewing process as well as the cabinet’s endorsement. We believe McBride’s appointment will help this important institution to achieve its mandate,” said Mthethwa.

The final decision rests with the portfolio committee on police which will only hear Mthethwa’s submission next year.

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McBride declined to comment.

 

Opposition party MPs who sit on the committee had plenty to say, insisting they would “vehemently” oppose McBride’s appointment.

“I would never vote for him to head such an important institution. His past is too murky,” said DA spokeswoman on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard.

“We need a proper person with a fantastic CV. McBride has, in the past, been involved in numerous scandals and does not appear to be suitable,” she said, adding that if the ANC MPs voted for McBride, she would appeal against the vote.

“For now I have to do some research to see how else we can prevent this from happening.”

IFP police spokesman Velaphi Ndlovu said the directorate should be led by a “free of scandal” person.

“Anyone who is about to be employed as Ipid head must have a track record of performance.”

FF Plus police spokesman Pieter Groenewald said McBride would not eradicate police corruption.

“McBride is extremely controversial and definitely not suitable for the position. The public should be able to trust the head of the Ipid, because a lot of complaints are against the SAPS. The Ekurhuleni metro council did not even trust McBride and suspended him,” said Groenewald.

Unions representing police had divided views, with the South African Police Union giving Mthethwa’s decision the thumbs down but the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union supporting him.

 

In a statement, Mthethwa did not refer to any of the controversies surrounding McBride. He said there was “understandably” expectation from the public for the directorate to live up to high standards.

McBride’s qualifications included an International Politics degree from Unisa and a diploma in foreign relations from the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations in Kuala Lumpur.

The Mercury

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