Helen Suzman Foundation pleased with McBride ruling

Helen Suzman Foundation pleased with McBride ruling

The ruling by the North Gauteng High Court on Friday that the suspension of the executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directive (IPID) Robert McBride by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was unlawful, has been welcomed by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF).

File photo: Gallo Images

McBride was suspended in March by Nhleko, who alleged that the IPID head had tampared with the evidence in a probe into the Hawks alleged illegal deportation of five Zimbabweans wanted for the murder of a policeman in Bulawayo.

McBride’s evidence exonerated then Hawks head Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat, whom the minister was taking action against for his alleged role in the renditions. Dramat was placed on special leave and he subsequently quit his job.

Nhleko still went ahead and suspended McBride, a move the IPID boss challenged in court in August, arguing it was in breach of the Constitution, which compels the minister to consult his cabinet colleagues before taking such action.

On Friday the high court found that the police minister had acted unlawfully when he suspended McBride.

The court concluded that the IPID Act was unconstitutional, in that it afforded the minister of police an untrammelled power to interfere with the activities of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations, also known as the Hawks, through exerting undue pressure on, if not abusing the powers of, IPID.

Reacting to the ruling, HSF said the high court agreed with its submissions “that because IPID performs an oversight and accountability role in respect of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (‘the Hawks’), it must necessarily be at least as, if not more, independent from undue political interference than the Hawks”.

The order has been suspended for 12 months, to allow Parliament time to correct these defects. In the interim, the provisions of the SAPS Act, 1995, dealing with the suspension and removal of the head of the Hawks, will apply to the head of IPID.

The HSF had intervened in the matter as amicus curiae (friend of the court), contending that the IPID Act failed to provide adequate institutional, operational and structural safeguards for IPID’s independence.

The HSF said it was pleased that the court had vindicated its long-held beliefs that the rule of law and constitutional supremacy depends on independent intuitions.

“This latest ruling, when read with others, serves as an indictment of those who would seek to undermine the independent institutions that have the constitutional authority to hold the government accountable,” said the foundation in a statement issued late on Friday. - ANA

(File photo: Gallo Images)

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