Judgment reserved in Helen Suzman Foundation’s court bid regarding IPID appointments

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Counsel for the Helen Suzman Foundation, advocate Max Du Plessis, has maintained in the Supreme Court of Appeal that Parliament Portfolio Committee on Police’s decision to get involved in the renewal of the contract of former IPID executive director, Robert McBride, amounted to political interference.

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein today heard arguments in the Helen Suzman Foundation’s battle to protect the independence of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).

The Foundation is seeking to set aside a 2019 court order that gave the Portfolio Committee powers to decide to renew McBride’s contract. The matter in the SCA relates to when former IPID boss McBride took legal action after Police Minister Bheki Cele opted not to renew his contract which was set to end in February 2019.

Du Plessis argued that the whole renewal process should have guidelines.

“To the extent that there is no paragraph that speaks about it’s been done without guidelines. With respect, it’s about the Constitutional questions. What are the requirements for renewals? They must not have executive interference. You must ensure the processes give right to no suggestion. In other words, independence must not be violated because perception is crucial,” he said.

The Police Minister’s legal representative, advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, argued that there is no authority that says Parliament should not be involved in the process of renewal of the contract.

“Judges when they are removed the matter is taken to a vote by Parliament. The Public Protector when she is removed, the matter is taken to vote by Parliament. Parliament plays a role to protect the independence of those institutions,” Ngcukaitobi said.

Judgment has been reserved.