Although the High Court on Friday ruled that Police Minister Nathi Nhleko acted unlawfully in instigating a disciplinary hearing and suspending Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) boss Robert McBride, the decision would need to be validated by the Constitutional Court before he can return to work.
Referring to her ruling of setting aside McBride’s suspension, Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane said: “[It] shall have no force unless and until confirmed by the Constitutional Court”.
McBride got the legal ball rolling in August when he approached the court stating he did not think Nhleko was allowed to suspend him without consulting other members of Cabinet, in terms of the Constitution.
Following the ruling delivered by the High Court, sitting in Johannesburg, Parliament and Nhleko had 30 days to instigate fresh disciplinary hearings against McBride.
Should they proceed with the disciplinary action, they would need two thirds of the votes to suspend McBride.
McBride welcomed the ruling as a step towards getting reinstated as head of the police watchdog group.
As head of Ipid, McBride had argued that he would not be able to fulfil his mandate to act independently if the police minister was allowed to remove him from his position.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate probes allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing by police officers.
McBride was suspended in March as part of the fallout into an investigation into the illegal deportation of five Zimbabweans wanted for the murder of a policeman in Bulawayo.
He was accused of tampering with an Ipid report into whether the former head of the specialised police unit the Hawks, Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat, was involved in the renditions.
Dramat was suspended on December 23 and after much back and forth between court, his office, and being on leave, he resigned in April.
Gauteng Hawks head Major General Shadrack Sibiya was fired in September after being found guilty of gross misconduct after a disciplinary inquiry into the renditions. NEWS24