The Portfolio Committee on Police today voted to adopt a Motion of Desirability on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Amendment Bill [B21-2023] and will continue with processes to consider the Bill. The majority view was that there is an urgent need to strengthen, through legislation, IPID’s institutional and operational independence and give effect to the Constitutional Court judgement in the case of McBride v Minister of Police and another.
While there were concerns about the Bill’s lack of certification by the Office of the State Law Advisor as it relates to apprehension on the constitutionality of clause 4 of the Bill, the committee emphasised that the Bill’s principles are accepted. The committee’s adoption of the motion of desirability is in line with National Assembly Rule 286 (6). The committee reiterates that it has taken due regard of the legal advice provided and will ensure that its processes comply with the Constitution, South Africa’s laws and regulations and National Assembly rules.
“This decision is necessary as Parliament is the only body that has the mandate to legislate the structural and operational independence of IPID in accordance with section 206 (6) of the Constitution. We must also emphasise that the decision was taken with full consideration of the legal advice provided and that every step of the process will be guided by legal considerations,” said Mr Nocks Seabi, the Chairperson of the committee.
Meanwhile, the committee received a progress report and implementation plan emanating from the recommendations made by the Presidential Expert Panel report on the July 2021 unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The committee welcomed the detailed plan and progress in implementing the recommendations directed to SAPS.
In line with this, the committee welcomed the implementation of the Increased Crime Prevention and Combating Action Plan, which will result in the countrywide mobilisation of SAPS resources to address violent crime through high-density operations, intelligence-led roadblocks and suspect tracking operations. The committee also welcomed the work to enhance relationships with the community through community police forums. Financial support of R70 million to these forums will provide them with the necessary support to procure the tools of trade they need to function efficiently.
Meanwhile, the committee raised its concerns about the slow prosecution of criminal cases linked to the unrest. While the committee acknowledges that criminal justice processes are sometimes protracted, it emphasised the need to ensure successful prosecution as a deterrent against a recurrence of such events.
The committee welcomes the progress in filling critical vacancies at the Division: Crime Intelligence. SAPS management informed the committee that a Divisional Commissioner was appointed in December 2022 and processes are underway to fill another 15 posts. A further 268 vacancies were filled in the 2022/23 financial year. The committee remains of the view that Crime Intelligence is critical to ensure proactive policing. The filling of posts is a major step towards enhancing this environment.
The committee also welcomed the plans to capacitate SAPS members with crowd control techniques and the assurance that more than 10 000 SAPS members were trained as first responders in crowd management. A further 4 900 Public Order Police members received training in the principles and techniques of basic crowd management, which the committee also welcomed.
Meanwhile, the committee has decided to give Members of Parliament time to consider whether it will be ideal for the committee to conduct a full enquiry on the unrest or to defer it to the seventh Parliament. The committee will draft a process plan setting out timeframes to see if the committee will have adequate time to process the matter. The committee previously deferred the matter to give time to the Presidential Expert Panel and the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) investigations to avoid duplication. The SAHRC has said it is in the process of concluding its investigation.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.