In front of a committee meeting packed with members of the public, think tanks, NGOs and the media on Wednesday, the Portfolio Committee on Police voted 7-3 in support of Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa’s controversial nomination of former Ekhuruleni Metro Police Chief Robert Robert McBride to head up the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). While no COPE members were in attendance, DA’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard, ACDP’s Kenneth Meshoe and Pieter Groenewald from the Freedom Front Plus were outvoted by Chair Annelize Van Wyk and six other ANC MPs including Mr Thobejane and Mr Lekgetho.
On Tuesday Kohler-Barnard told People’s Assembly that she was very concerned about McBride’s suitability for the IPID executive director position. “He has been arrested, incarcerated, rolled a car when he was drunk... I think the only reason they want him for this role is that he is a loyal ANC cadre who can’t get a job. For that position, what we really need is someone who is stable, solid with a sound knowledge of the law. McBride is not that person” Kohler Barnard said.
McBride’s role as Ekhuruleni Metro Police chief was axed after he was charged with drunken driving in Pretoria in 2006. Yesterday the Mail and Guardian reported that despite being “initially convicted and sentenced to five years in prison in 2011, McBride had both the conviction and sentencing overturned in 2013... [Furthermore] McBride was on death row for murder in the early 1990s for his role in the bombing of the Magoos bar on Durban's beachfront. He was released along with Barend "Wit Wolf" Strydom, by then president FW de Klerk, as a sign of good faith ahead of the Codesa negotiations”. On Wednesday, in his cool as a cucumber briefing to the Committee, Minister Mthethwa explained that six candidates had been shortlisted for the job but that McBride was the best man to “be charged with the task of policing the police... the IPID is required to investigate any misconduct within the police and we have been without a permanent head for a year... there is a perceived culture of impunity and we want to dispel that. We are confident this candidate’s nomination will do that”.
Along with Kohler-Barnard (DA), both Meshoe (ACDP) and Gronewald (FF+) also questioned McBride’s’ nomination due to concerns about his character and qualifications. Moshoe argued “he has a lack of integrity and will fail to set a good example”, while Groenewald said “the public must have trust... the IPID is where people go if they have complaints about police brutality and corruption”.
Groenewald also went on to question McBride’s qualifications and whether he had a post graduate degree as specified in the job ad for the IPID head’s role.
The Minister presented the Committee with a certificate to show that McBride has completed a four year degree, including an honour year. The Minister later hit back at opposition MPs saying, “I thought I was coming in front of a Portfolio Committee, not a panel of judges”.
As the IPID reports to Parliament, McBride's appointment as IPID's executive director therefore has to be approved by Parliament. Following the committee’s deliberations and the vote in McBride’s favour, the recommendation will now be put to the National Assembly (NA) for consideration. As the ANC has a majority in the Parliament it is expected the will NA vote in favour of McBride’s nomination and that he will begin his five year term as IPID executive director shortly. Considering the numerous allegations of corruption and police brutality currently facing SAPS, McBride will certainly have his work cut out for him.
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