Robert McBride. Picture: SOWETAN
Robert McBride. Picture: SOWETAN

Police minister Bheki Cele has not renewed Robert McBride’s contract as executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

In a letter to McBride dated January 16, Cele informs the head of the police watchdog that he has decided not to renew or extend his contract.

McBride has had a volatile relationship with the police and has pursued some of the service’s top police officers. He was suspended by former police minister Nathi Nhleko, but this was overturned by the courts.

Recently McBride launched an application to force police commissioner Khehla Sitole and his two deputies, Lt-Gen Lebeoana Jacob Tsumane and Lt-Gen Francinah Ntombenhle Vuma, to give Ipid information about a meeting in which senior officials allegedly discussed inflating the price of a procurement contract he believed would have been used to launder money with which to buy votes at the ANC’s elective conference in December 2017. 

In his application, McBride said Sitole and his two deputies breached their duties by failing to give Ipid information and documents it requested for three investigations into contracts between the police and a company trading as I-View Integrated Systems.

Cele said in his letter, which Business Day has seen, that McBride’s contract would come to an end on February 28. The option does exist to renew the contract, but Cele has decided against it. McBride’s last day will be on February 28. 

In his letter to McBride, Cele said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the services you have rendered as the executive director of Ipid and wish you well in your future endeavours.” 

Meanwhile, McBride has demanded that Cele withdraw his decision and refer it to the parliamentary portfolio committee on police.

McBride said in a letter dated January 22 that the decision was not Cele's to make.

He that said by unilaterally determining that his tenure was completed, Cele acted “unlawfully and in violation of the constitutionally entrenched independence of Ipid”.

McBride said if Cele did not accede to his demands by end of business on January 24, he would “seek legal redress on an urgent basis”. 

He also gave the minister the same deadline to furnish him with written reasons for his decision.

In a separate letter sent to Francois Beukman, chair of the committee, McBride asks for his assurance by January 31 that the committee will make the decision on whether to renew or extend his contract, and inform him of their decision by February 14.