McBride a per­fect groom in mar­riage of skill and ex­pe­ri­ence

Eye

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - ISSUES - WIL­LIAM SAUN­DER­SON–MEYER Jaun­diced

WHAT a silly fuss about strug­gle hero Robert McBride be­ing cho­sen to head the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­tiga­tive Direc­torate (Ipid). So typ­i­cal of racist, Euro­cen­tric lib­er­als not to ap­pre­ci­ate the unique skills set he brings to the job.

Con­firm­ing the cab­i­net rec­om­men­da­tion to Par­lia­ment, Po­lice Min­is­ter Nathi Mthethwa said the Ipid was “an im­por­tant tool” in the arse­nal against po­lice crim­i­nal­ity. McBride “will help this im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion to achieve (its) man­date”.

Ad­mit­tedly, McBride lacks the lofty aca­demic cre­den­tials of, say, Dr Mark Shaw, whom Beeld re­ports to be one of the re­jected short­listed can­di­dates. Shaw headed the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies’ crime and po­lice sec­tion, ad­vised the Gaut­eng safety min­is­ter, chaired the Com­mit­tee of In­quiry on Po­lice Re­form, and was chief drafter of the gov­ern­ment’s 1998 white pa­per on Safety and Se­cu­rity.

Shaw then joined the UN Of­fice on Drugs and Crime, where he was chief of the Jus­tice Re­form Unit and worked on the Pro­gramme Against Transna­tional Or­gan­ised Crime.

He did ex­ten­sive field work on polic­ing in frag­ile and post-con­flict states be­fore be­ing head-hunted by a Hong Kong con­sul­tancy that deals with com­mu­nity and con­flict is­sues around the world.

But, hey, McBride is no aca­demic slouch. He has a brace of BAs as well as a cou­ple of diplo­mas in the art of for­eign diplo­macy. He also has ex­pe­ri­ence in bomb-mak­ing.

Think also of the hands- on prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence he will bring to the task.

Ipid in­ves­ti­gates the ou­trages rogue po­lice per­pe­trate. Who bet­ter to un­der­stand the in­ter­play of scru­ples and ex­cess in the more than 700 deaths of sus­pects each year at the hands of the po­lice, than McBride, who killed three women and wounded 69 peo­ple with a bomb placed in Ma­goo’s Bar in Dur­ban in 1986?

In any case, al­though po­lit­i­cally un­re­con­structed cit­i­zens twit­ter squeamishly about the Ma­goo’s escapade as if it demon­strates a fun­da­men­tal char­ac­ter flaw in McBride, they ig­nore that the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion granted him amnesty. Some­times you have to get your hands wet, um dirty, I mean.

If any­thing, the Ma­goo’s bomb­ing demon­strates that here is a man who knows how to fol­low or­ders and un­der­stands the chain of com­mand.

This will be a crit­i­cal tal­ent when deal­ing with in­ci­dents like the Marikana mas­sacre – where the po­lice shot and killed 34 min­ers – in de­cid­ing ex­actly where re­spon­si­bil­ity should be al­lo­cated and where de­flected.

While the likes of Shaw might know about polic­ing “frag­ile and post- con­flict” so­ci­eties, McBride knows about the murky cir­cum­stances in which fragility and con­flict are ac­tu­ally cre­ated.

He was once ar­rested – charges were later dropped – for arms smug­gling in Mozam­bique while, he claims, on as­sign­ment for the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Agency.

There were con­vic­tions, too, for drunk driv­ing and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice, re­sult­ing in jail sen­tences that were over­turned on ap­peal.

So McBride un­der­stands first­hand that be­ing ac­cused of bad things doesn’t make one a bad per­son.

It is likely that the in­ter­view­ing com­mit­tee – for­tu­itously con­sist­ing mostly of his old armed strug­gle com­rades – will have taken this into con­sid­er­a­tion in pre­fer­ring him to some in­génue who has never even seen the in­side of a jail cell.

Dur­ing McBride’s trial for drunk driv­ing and de­feat­ing the ends of jus­tice, there were eye- pop­ping ac­counts of Ekurhu­leni Metro Po­lice un­der his con­trol be­ing a mire of rigged pro­mo­tions, false state­ments, the kid­nap­ping of sus­pects, the as­sault of wit­nesses and the cov­er­ing up of crimes.

Th­ese were ob­vi­ously friv­o­lous ac­cu­sa­tions – why else would Ekurhu­leni spent R12m in ratepay­ers’ money to de­fend McBride? – but nev­er­the­less, again all grist to the ex­pe­ri­ence mill.

Sim­ply put, McBride’s ap­point­ment is in the high­est tra­di­tion of ANC cadre de­ploy­ment. Can’t wait for the ANC’s new in­tegrity com­mit­tee to give it its pub­lic seal of ap­proval.

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