Ipid executive director Robert McBride. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI, SUNDAY TIMES
Ipid executive director Robert McBride. Picture: SIMPHIWE NKWALI, SUNDAY TIMES

In a judgment that reinforces the autonomy of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday ruled it unlawful for police officers under investigation by the police watchdog to then conduct "revenge investigations" against the very officials investigating them.

Judge Neil Tuchten also raised concerns that the "hostility" between the police and Ipid had seemingly become "so bad" that their relationship was becoming dysfunctional.

Ipid executive director Robert McBride said that the watchdog had always been convinced it would win the court case, which was born out of Ipid’s investigation of former acting police chief Khomotso Phahlane.

Ipid went to court after it emerged that a police squad from the North West investigating the Ipid officers had been appointed in the criminal investigation against Phahlane. Ipid said all the members of the North West squad are "currently subject to Ipid investigations".

In terms of the court order granted by Tuchten‚ the North West squad‚ led by Gen Ntebo Mabula‚ must be immediately removed from any investigation by the South African Police Service of any of the members of the Ipid investigative team and McBride.

Tuchten said it was apparent that the relationship between the police and Ipid "has become fraught‚ to say the least".