Ekurhuleni metro police chief Robert McBride has been dismissed with immediate effect, the mayor’s office announced on Friday.

“The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality yesterday [Thursday] relieved the chief of police, Mr Robert McBride of his duties with effect from today, September 26,” said mayoral spokesman Prince Hamnca in a statement released on Friday morning.

However, the council will still foot the legal bill in his drunken driving trial.

“The chief of police will be remunerated for the remainder of his contract of employment ending 30 November 2008,” said Hamnca.

“Council also agreed to meet its obligations to pay the legal costs of the chief of police related to his court case as a person whose matter arose whilst being an employee of council, excluding any new legal costs arising from legal actions subsequent thereto.” The Citizen newspaper estimated his legal fees to be between R7 million and R11 million.

The decision was taken at a council meeting on Thursday, more than two months before his contract expires and with his drunken driving trial still underway.

Reports earlier this month indicated that he had returned to work, a direct violation of the special leave he had been put on pending the outcome of his drunken driving trial.

The Citizen newspaper said the decision to dismiss McBride was made under the leadership of the new mayor, Ntombi Mekgwe, who announced this to an extraordinary session of council.

McBride’s career, first as political activist and later as law enforcement official, has made news headlines repeatedly, starting with his detention in 1998 by Mozambican authorities on gun running charges.

His drunken driving trial was this week postponed to October 16.