South Africa

Newsflash: IPID head Robert McBride off the hook for child abuse

By Rebecca Davis 20 March 2018

On Tuesday, the state announced that it was withdrawing charges against IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate) head Robert McBride for child abuse. No reasons were given at the Pretoria Magistrates Court as to why the charges were being dropped – but it marks a provisional end to a story marked by peculiar circumstances from the start. By REBECCA DAVIS.

Robert McBride will not be prosecuted for child abuse for now. When McBride appeared in the Pretoria Magistrates Court on Tuesday, it marked the provisional end of seven months’ worth of court appearances for the IPID head, since being charged with contravening the Children’s Act in August 2017.

Charges were laid against McBride last year after his 15-year-old daughter claimed that he had throttled and punched her while driving.

McBride painted the incident as part of a normal family disagreement. He admitted having “admonished” his daughter after becoming concerned about her “rebellious” behaviour, but strongly denied assaulting her.

It was McBride’s contention that the case was opened as an attempt to tarnish his reputation. He said that charges had been laid by a woman who had previously asked him to quash traffic fines for her, and been rejected. McBride provided documents to the media showing that the woman in question had a long history of opening cases with the police, including a previous case against a parent accused of assaulting a child.

McBride also suggested that the case could be part of a wider conspiracy to damage his career. As Daily Maverick noted at the time, McBride has made powerful enemies during his tenure at IPID: among them, former police minister Nathi Nhleko and former acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane, both of whom McBride accused of wrongdoing.

Complicating the matter was McBride’s daughter’s strenuous objections to the idea that there was anything untoward behind the claims of assault.

The girl told EWN: “I’m not concerned about his reputation or his line of work. I’m concerned about what he did to me.” She also said that she was speaking out publicly out of fear that McBride could otherwise use his influence to make the docket disappear.

McBride’s legal team had initially intended to present arguments on why he should not be prosecuted, but announced in February that the IPID head had decided to abandon these on the grounds that the matter should be ventilated in court. It was reported at the time that McBride’s team intended to call his youngest daughter to the stand to testify in defence of her father.

McBride’s attorney Jaco Hamman was reported on Tuesday as saying that the team was happy with the outcome. Because no reasons were given as to why the state was provisionally dropping the charges at this time, however, questions remain.

The assault charges have been just one of numerous issues filling McBride’s plate of late.

Last month it was reported that the IPID head faced imminent arrest for racketeering, which McBride said was a retaliatory move against him for his action against former acting police commissioner Phahlane.

It was also alleged in February that McBride had accused former police minister Fikile Mbalula and other top police officials of bribing delegates before December 2017’s ANC electoral conference. McBride allegedly made the claims – denied by Mbalula – in a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

With a new president and a new police minister in charge, are the dropping of assault charges against McBride the first sign that the new political climate will be less fraught for the IPID head? DM

Photo: Robert McBride is seen at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Thursday, 30 September 2010 during an appeal by the Citizen newspaper against an award of damages and defamation granted to him. Picture: Werner Beukes/SAPA


Watch Pauli van Wyk’s Cat Play The Piano Here!

No, not really. But now that we have your attention, we wanted to tell you a little bit about what happened at SARS.

Tom Moyane and his cronies bequeathed South Africa with a R48-billion tax shortfall, as of February 2018. It's the only thing that grew under Moyane's tenure... the year before, the hole had been R30.7-billion. And to fund those shortfalls, you know who has to cough up? You - the South African taxpayer.

It was the sterling work of a team of investigative journalists, Scorpio’s Pauli van Wyk and Marianne Thamm along with our great friends at amaBhungane, that caused the SARS capturers to be finally flushed out of the system. Moyane, Makwakwa… the lot of them... gone.

But our job is not yet done. We need more readers to become Maverick Insiders, the friends who will help ensure that many more investigations will come. Contributions go directly towards growing our editorial team and ensuring that Daily Maverick and Scorpio have a sustainable future. We can’t rely on advertising and don't want to restrict access to only those who can afford a paywall subscription. Membership is about more than just contributing financially – it is about how we Defend Truth, together.

So, if you feel so inclined, and would like a way to support the cause, please join our community of Maverick Insiders.... you could view it as the opposite of a sin tax. And if you are already Maverick Insider, tell your mother, call a friend, whisper to your loved one, shout at your boss, write to a stranger, announce it on your social network. The battle for the future of South Africa is on, and you can be part of it.


Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or if you are already an Insider.


Public Protector vs Gordhan and the role of State Security in latest legal battle

By Marianne Thamm

Don't believe Han Solo's evasion of Empire TIE Fighters. There are many miles of vacuum space between each asteroid in a field.