South Africa

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Helen Suzman Foundation calls for halt on appointment of new IPID head

Helen Suzman Foundation calls for halt on appointment of new IPID head
Minister of Police Bheki Cele. (Photo: Esa Alexander / Sunday Times)

Lawyers for the Helen Suzman Foundation have written to the Portfolio Committee on Police requesting that the process for the appointment of a new executive director of IPID be halted pending a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling.

The Helen Suzman Foundation said it had noted with “some alarm” that it appeared that Police Minister Bheki Cele had written to the National Assembly nominating Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng as the preferred candidate for the post.

The appointment has been referred to the portfolio committee for consideration and report. But, the HSF pointed out, the portfolio committee, Cele and IPID were respondents in a pending Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) matter with regard to “the lawful interpretation of the tenure and renewal of the executive head of IPID”.

“By virtue of private agreement, the minister, the committee and the then executive director of IPID, Mr Robert McBride, agreed to their own (unlawful) interpretation of the act, which was (improperly) made an order of court by agreement,” said the HSF.

This interpretation, apart from “suffering from procedural defects in having it made an order of court” did not comply with the requirements of independence under the act, the Constitution and international law.

The dispute relates to the question of whether the minister and the committee were permitted to take a decision not to renew the tenure of the then executive director, Robert McBride as well as their interpretation of the act.

“Until the court has pronounced its judgment, the office of the executive director cannot be viewed as vacant and, as a result, any appointments made to this office would be unlawful.”

The HSF said it anticipated that the SCA would set this matter down for hearing during the November term.

“Against this background, the HSF is making a formal request that any appointment process in respect of IPID’s executive director be halted.”

An unlawful appointment, it added, would have “dire consequences for the administration of justice and an important corruption fighting institution, IPID, as well as the perception of IPID”. DM

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