The appointment of Jennifer Dikeledi Ntlatseng as the new head of the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) has received the green light from parliament.
However, MPs were divided at a session of the parliamentary portfolio committee on police on Wednesday on whether to proceed with the process due to possible legal problems.
In terms of the Independent Police Investigations Directorate Act, a new chief must be appointed for the police watchdog within 12 months. However, this post has been vacant since 28 February 2019 when Robert McBride’s term came to an end. In addition, the Helen Suzman Foundation has warned that the appointment should not be continued because the appellate court has yet to hear its case in which it asks that McBride be reappointed.
Furthermore, in a separate case, the court ordered parliament to amend the IPID Act.
Andrew Whitfield, DA MP, says the legislation in question must first be amended before the committee approves the appointment. However, as the amendment process could take up to a year, the majority of MPs said it was in the public interest for the appointment to proceed, especially in light of allegations of police abuses during the national disaster caused by the Covid. 19 pandemic has been instituted.
They also feel Ntlatseng, former director of community safety in Gauteng, has the necessary qualifications for the position.
Tina Joemat-Pettersson, chair of the committee, warned that the issue should not be politicized.
“We cannot allow a dark cloud to hang over the appointment,” she says.
“We strongly support the candidate who is proposed. We are convinced that the process was robust and that we appoint an individual with the necessary experience and with thorough knowledge of the criminal justice system. ”
Joemat-Pettersson instructed Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, who was present at the session, to hand over a comprehensive report to Parliament on why the appointment was delayed. In the meantime, parliament will be serious about amending the relevant legislation on IPID.
According to Cele, the panel set up to make the appointment in February could not find a suitable candidate from all who applied for the post. The process of finding a suitable candidate then had to start all over again.