Pretoria – Suspended head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Robert McBride will face his disciplinary hearing on July 27.
The chairman of the hearing, advocate Phillip Mokoena SC, on Tuesday turned down McBride’s application for a stay of the hearing pending the outcome of his constitutional challenge regarding his suspension and the validity of his hearing.
His constitutional challenge will be heard by the high court in Pretoria on August 25 and 26.
Turning down his application to put the hearing on hold, Mokoena said McBride would not suffer irreparable harm if it went ahead.
“To the contrary, the disciplinary inquiry will furnish the employee (McBride) with a platform and an opportunity to vindicate his labour rights as enshrined in the Constitution.”
The matter is of huge public importance and has attracted a lot of public interest, Mokoena said. It would not be in the public interest nor justice to be stayed pending the outcome of the constitutional challenge, which may only be in the distant future.
“Should the matter be stayed pending the high court application, Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court decisions, this would mean he would remain on suspension, with full pay, for the entire period. His employer will not be able to take any disciplinary measures against him,” Mokoena said.
It would only be fair to all the parties if the hearing was dealt with expeditiously and to have all the issues which had attracted public interest in the operations of Ipid, out in the open, Mokoena said.
McBride was suspended about three months ago after allegations of misconduct were levelled against him regarding his role in the latest Ipid investigation report on the illegal rendition of Zimbabwean nationals in 2010.
The latest report, which McBride said was the final one, exonerated both (now former) Hawks head Anwa Dramat and Gauteng head of the Hawks Shadrack Sibiya of being involved in the illegal rendition. Both these men were earlier suspended and faced a disciplinary inquiry into their alleged roles in the illegal renditions. Dramat had meanwhile quit his job.
Shortly before his suspension by Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, McBride turned to the high court in an urgent bid to avoid the move to suspend him. But in March Judge Hans Fabricius struck the matter off the roll, finding that it was not urgent. This meant McBride had to await his turn on the normal court roll.
McBride also lost his bid to challenge the appointment of Mokoena as chairman of the disciplinary inquiry. He had asked that the Cabinet appoint another chairman who was “lawfully” appointed. But Mokoena found that Nhleko, as Mcbride’s employer, had the right to appoint him – an independent chairman.
He also found that Nhleko, as employer, had the right to launch disciplinary proceedings against McBride, as long as it was in accordance with the Labour Relations Act.
Mokoena said there may be merit in McBride’s constitutional challenge and it might succeed or fail. “I do not have to speculate. However, in applying the law, I find no basis why the disciplinary inquiry should be stayed.”