Press Statement: Helen Suzman Foundation: In re: Robert McBride & Another v Minister of Police & Another case no 6175/19 (GPD)

The Helen Suzman Foundation (“the HSF”) has a long-standing involvement in and commitment to ensuring the institutional independence of state entities, especially those tasked with the fight against corruption.

When the Minister of Police, contrary to law, sought to inform the Executive Director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (“IPID”) that he would not renew his term of office, it was to be expected that Mr McBride would launch an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria on 29 January 2019. In essence, McBride seeks urgent relief from the court on the interpretation of the procedure to be followed for a renewal of his tenure as Executive Director of IPID. The relevant provision is section 6(3)(b) of the IPID Act. McBride’s interpretation of the IPID Act is that, while the nomination depends on the Minister of Police, the final decision for renewal for the position of Executive Director lies with the Portfolio Committee on Police (the second respondent).

The HSF offers a different interpretation of section 6(3)(b) of the IPID Act. The HSF argues that the correct interpretation of the renewal procedures for the Executive Director – one based on a simple reading of section 6(3)(b) of the IPID Act and which is constitutionally compliant – is a renewal which takes place as a matter of course at the instance of the sitting Executive Director. This interpretation of the renewal procedure avoids any potential political interference and is therefore in line with the Constitutional Court’s emphasis on the importance of the independence of institutions such as IPID, as set out in several recent judgments. The absence of political interference in the renewal of tenures is particularly important for such independence. It is for this reason that renewal procedures are distinct from appointment and removal procedures.

The HSF served its application to be admitted as an amicus curiae (a friend of the court) on 6 February 2019 in order to present its argument to the court. The matter is set down for hearing on 12 February 2019. The HSF’s notice of application, founding affidavit and heads of argument may be accessed here.

It should be noted that this case takes place within the context of an earlier application by Mr McBride in which he successfully sought to have his suspension by the previous Minister of Police set aside, and in which the HSF acted as amicus. Parliament has however failed to address, in the prescribed time of two years, the defects in the IPID Act which were identified in the Constitutional Court’s judgment and order.

Francis Antonie
083 408 7943

Anton van Dalsen
082 888 0500

Lee-Anne Germanos
082 560 3816