McBride application seeks to limit Nhleko’s powers

McBride has launched a constitutional challenge to the minister’s power to unilaterally remove Ipid’s head.

FILE: Ipid head Robert McBride. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Nathi Nhleko's legal team says an application to limit his office's power to suspend the head of Independent Police Investigation Directorate (Ipid) is an attempt to erode the power of the executive.

Suspended Ipid head Robert McBride has launched a constitutional challenge to the minister's power to unilaterally remove the watchdog body's head.

McBride has been suspended for allegedly interfering in the investigation of Zimbabwean suspect renditioned in 2010.

Advocate William Mokhari has referred to the separation of powers, arguing that the suspended head's application seeks to undermine the police minister's oversight function of Ipid.

He further questioned the motive for McBride's action, suggesting that it was simply to save his job, because he failed at previous attempts to interdict the minister from suspending him.

However, Advocate Steven Budlender argued earlier that Parliament, and not the minister alone, should be empowered to suspend the Ipid head.

Budlender pointed out that parliamentary approval is also required during the appointment process.

The Helen Suzman Foundation and Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) have submitted the mere perception that Ipid is not independent undermines its ability to properly function.