It all reached a crescendo on June 14 1986 when a single act by Robert John McBride would affect his life and alter it forever. THEMBA MOLEFE looks at the life of a man who stirs emotions every time he hits the headlines
Robert McBride was born on July 6 1963 in the suburb of Wentworth, Durban, and is a former cadre of the ANC's erstwhile military wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe.
McBride's parents were school teachers.
He attended Fairvale High School in Wentworth.
His father Derrick McBride had great influence over Robert, whom he trained in martial arts in his early teens, and also developed his early interest in politics.
It has been written that the younger McBride was particularly influenced by two books, one titled Coloured: A profile of two million South Africans and, Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson.
While on death row for his role in commanding the June 14 1986 car-bombing of Why Not and Magoo's bars in Durban, in which three people were killed and 69 injured, McBride met Paula Leyden whom he later married.
Leyden was then working among prisoners on death row. The couple are now divorced and McBride has remarried and lives with his wife Nina in Ekurhuleni.
Currently, he is embroiled in a controversy that is almost as career threatening as his appointment as chief of Ekurhuleni metro police.
It all began on December 21 2006 when McBride crashed his vehicle on the highway in Centurion, Pretoria.
His officers who arrived at the accident scene initially said that he had not been drunk as was alleged by witnesses.
It has now emerged that McBride had in fact downed a bottle of expensive whisky, if the allegations are anything to go by.
The officers claim in new affidavits that McBride had finished a bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky at an end-of-the-year party near Hartbeespoort Dam.
The officers - Stanley Segathevan, Patrick Johnston and Itumeleng Koko - now allege in affidavits that McBride was drunk.
By yesterday, the National Prosecuting Authority was still deciding if it would charge McBride with driving under the influence of liquor.
And as matters stand, the Ekurhuleni metro council is still firmly behind its police chief, despite claims to the contrary.
Deputy city manager Mkhabela Sibeko told Sowetan that the three officers had earlier made a statement under oath that McBride was "as sober as a judge" and nothing untoward had happened.
"They assured the mayor, Duma Nkosi, and myself that McBride was sober prior to and during the accident.
"They corroborated their story with copies of statements they made under oath," Sibeko said.
"They have lost credibility as witnesses and it is unfortunate that the name of the council gets involved in their lies. When they made the initial statements they were not under duress," Sibeko added.
And so, the war of words continues.
On Tuesday, the three officers brought an application in the Johannesburg high court for a restraining order against McBride because they felt "unsafe".