MPs to revisit law governing Ipid boss

Date: 29 Jun 2018

PARLIAMENT is tightening the law to prevent the minister of police from unilaterally suspending the head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) without the approval of the House.

Ipid and the civilian secretariat for police said yesterday that Parliament would oversee the decision to suspend the head of Ipid, going forward.

But the DA called for former police minister Nathi Nhleko to be held accountable for the court action and decisions to suspend the head of Ipid, Robert McBride.

The amendment to the Ipid Bill comes after the Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 that Nhleko did not have the powers to suspend McBride. It ordered Parliament to fix the law.

Advocate Dawn Bell of the civilian secretariat for police told the portfolio committee on police, during the public hearings, that their proposals would strengthen the bill.

Bell said the proposals would ensure parliamentary oversight in the suspension or the removal of the head of Ipid.

“The minister may, in consultation with the relevant parliamentary committee, provisionally suspend the executive director, pending the outcome of a disciplinary inquiry instituted by the relevant parliamentary committee into the fitness of the executive director to hold office,” said Bell.

“Upon conclusion of the disciplinary inquiry, the relevant parliamentary committee will submit a report, together with its findings and recommendations, to the National Assembly for consideration,” Bell added.

“The executive director may only be removed from office upon the adoption by the National Assembly of a resolution calling for the executive director’s removal from office,” she said.

Dianne Kohler Barnard of the DA called for Nhleko to be hauled over the coals for his conduct in suspending McBride in 2015, without following due process.

She said the state incurred thousands of rand in legal costs after McBride challenged his suspension in court, which led to the Constitutional Court judgment.

McBride said he did not know if action had been taken against Nhleko over his conduct.

“I am not aware of consequence management at the executive level regarding the irrational action of Nhleko. In recent years, the courts have sought to make persons pay personal costs,” he said.

The chairperson of the committee, Francois Beukman, said only President Cyril Ramaphosa had powers to appoint the cabinet.

In his cabinet reshuffle in February, Ramaphosa axed Nhleko and replaced him with Bheki Cele as police minister.

In its submission to the committee, Ipid said Parliament had until September 5 to fix the bill.

“The bill seeks to give effect to the Constitutional Court’s judgment and order in the McBride case to ensure that the executive director’s conditions of service are no longer subject to the laws governing the public service and to provide for parliamentary oversight relating to the suspension, discipline and removal of the executive director.”

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi - siyabonga.mkhwanazi@inl.co.za