Robert McBride: from head of Ipid to fighting for his job

31 January 2019 - 12:58 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Robert McBride has until February 28 as the head of the investigative directorate.
Robert McBride has until February 28 as the head of the investigative directorate.
Image: Sunday Times

Robert McBride has until 28 February as head of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), following a decision by police minister Bheki Cele not to renew his contract.

McBride is fighting to keep his job. 

Here's a look at highlights from McBride's tenure:

2014: Appointment as Ipid head

After his name was submitted by the then police minister Nathi Mthethwa as a preferred candidate for the job, McBride was appointed as the head of Ipid.

In 2013, there was some dissent when it was confirmed that he had been nominated, with trade union Solidarity publicly describing his nomination as a "disgrace".

McBride's appointment was met with controversy for being part of the 1986 Umkhonto weSizwe group that bombed the Why Not Magoos restaurant in Durban where three people were killed and 69 injured. 

March 2015: Dramatic start

On March 3 McBride took up his post as Ipid's head. McBride started on a rather dramatic note as he was investigating a case of four Zimbabweans who had been illegally repatriated in 2010. 

Former Hawk's boss Lt-Gen Anwa Dramat had been initially heavily implicated, but that changed when McBride joined as Ipid's head.

McBride was suspected of tampering with evidence, doctoring it so that it let Dramat off the hook. 

2015 March: Suspension

Just days after he took up the post, former police minister Nathi Nhleko suspended McBride pending the investigation into the 2010 Zimbabwe rendition matter. 

Nhleko said his decision to suspend McBride was not political, but he wanted to get to the bottom of the Zimbabwe rendition case.

2016: Charges cleared

After a court hearing in November, McBride and his two co-accused were cleared of the charges of fraud and defeating the ends of justice.

McBride had been investigated by Werksmans Attorneys and had maintained that their reports, which suggested he was lying, were bogus.

Prosecutor Sello Maema told the court that the key witness who was supposed to defend the report by Werksman could not take the stand and further described the report as a "hearsay."

2017: Teenager assault claims

Not long after McBride was finally cleared of fraud and defeating the ends of justice charges, claims surfaced that he had allegedly assaulted a teenager.

The controversial top cop admitted that the teen was known to him and said he had "admonished" her because he was worried abut her "rebellious" behaviour and concerned about her academic performance. 

In an interview with Sunday Times, the girl claimed McBride had throttled her, punched her in the face and threatened to kill her.  

In February 2018 McBride appeared in the Pretoria magistrate's court on charges of child abuse and assault with the intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

The case was postponed to March 20 for a trial date.

He was out on R10,000 bail.

In March 2018, the state provisionally withdrawn the charges. The court did not provide any reasons for withdrawal. 

2018: Leaked WhatsApp messages

As if McBride had not been in enough trouble with the law, messages between him and private investigator Paul O'Sullivan's assistant Sarah-Jane Trent were leaked. 

The Sunday Times reported WhatsApp messages sent between the two, included Trent asking for Nathi Nhleko's ID number. 

The messages surfaced as McBride was preparing to testify before the state capture commission about a Russian-trained police death squad which may have been involved in political assassinations, break-ins and harassment during Jacob Zuma's tenure as president. 

2019: Contract not renewed

On January 16, police minister Bheki Cele informed McBride that due to his term as Ipid's head coming to an end, he would not be renewing or extending his contract. 

McBride gave Cele until January 25 to withdraw his decision not to renew or extend his contract. He believes the minister's decision is unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional. 

2019: Court battle looms

McBride filed an urgent court application to get police minister Bheki Cele to reverse his decision not to renew his contract as Ipid's head. 

McBride argued that the decision not to renew his contract does not lie with the minister, but the portfolio committee. 


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