Cele given three months to recommend candidate for Ipid head

Police Minister Bheki Cele Picture: GCIS
Police Minister Bheki Cele has been given three months to recommend a candidate for the position of executive director of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid).

This request was made by parliament’s police portfolio committee and the select committee on security and justice.

As per the Ipid Act, the minister had to nominate a suitably qualified person for appointment to the office of executive director and the committees then had to, within a period of 30 parliamentary working days of the nomination, confirm or reject the nomination, the committees said in a joint statement.

“The appointment of a permanent head of Ipid is critical, especially considering the critical role the Ipid is supposed to play. Furthermore, the appointment of the Ipid executive director will enable the Ipid to achieve set targets and ensure stability in the department,” select committee chairperson Shahidabibi Shaikh said in the statement.

While the committees granted the further three months’ grace period for the ministry to headhunt a fit and proper person, it was noted that legally the recommendation should have been made by February 2020.

“The contract of the former executive director ended on 28 February 2019, which means the year stipulated by the Act is three months overdue. We need to reach finality on the matter to set Ipid on a new path of stability and effectiveness in delivering its mandate,” portfolio committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said.

Despite the strict timelines given, both committees had emphasised the importance of finding a fit and proper person for consideration. “The timelines do not mean we should compromise on the quality of the recommended individual,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

The committees also “welcomed assurances that members of the executive of the South African Police Service [SAPS] and the South African National Defence Force [SANDF] are implementing a majority of orders in the [Collins] Khosa judgment”, the statement said.

According to media reports, North Gauteng High Court Judge Hans Fabricius ruled on May 15 that, among other things, Cele and Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula had to, within five days, develop and publish a code of conduct and operational procedures regulating the conduct of their members, including that of the metropolitan police departments. This code of conduct had to be published in newspapers as well as on social media, he ordered.

The Pretoria News reported that on April 10, Khoza, 40, was allegedly assaulted by members of the armed forces at his Alexandra home in Johannesburg for allegedly contravening the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown regulations by drinking alcohol in his yard.

Khoza died following the assault. The post-mortem report, which was handed to the court, indicated that he had died of blunt-force trauma to the head. His family turned to the court for an urgent order directing the SAPS, the SANDF, and other armed forces to toe the line during the lockdown. They also successfully secured an order that the Khoza incident, as well as other similar incidents during this time, had to be properly investigated

In his 77-page judgment, Fabricius said the guidelines had to include the circumstances when the use of force may be used, which had to be in strict compliance with the law.

He further ordered that guidelines be issued about enforcing physical distancing and the restriction of movement and other activities during each of the stages of lockdown. These guidelines had to include when a person could be arrested, as well as alternative means of securing their attendance at their trial. The ministers also had to supply information as to where the public could lodge complaints against members of the SANDF and SAPS who did not comply.

Fabricius further ordered that the SANDF had to place all members who were present at Khoza’s home that day or adjacent to his premises, on suspension with full pay within five days. This was pending the outcome of an investigation into his death. Similarly, he also ordered that the head of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department put all JMPD officers who were at or around Khoza’s home that day on suspension pending the outcome of an investigation into their possible misconduct. Fabricius said his orders were designed to ensure that South Africa complied with its Constitutional and international obligations, the Pretoria News reported.

On Friday, Cele indicated that the SAPS and SANDF had complied with most of the judgment orders, but intended to appeal certain aspects.

African News Agency (ANA)