Minister Mthethwa introduces the Independent Complaints Directorate and Secretariat Bills
3 Aug 2010
The number of alleged reported cases on civilian brutality at the hands of police as well as perceived lack of enhanced oversight functions on police operations will be a thing of the past following the Ministry of Police’s tabling of two separate yet complimentary pieces of legislations.
The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa met and introduced the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Bills to the Portfolio Committee on Police in Parliament today. “The two pieces of legislation we are tabling today seek to achieve and support our philosophy of an improved, smart, monitored policing as well as a comprehensive oversight of police. This must be reflective of the cadre of cop we want to create and see.”
“As we indicated before (during this year’s Budget Vote), we shall be taking no chances with the lives of police but equally not allow any police abuses on citizens. To address the historical weaknesses that have plagued the ICD, we are now moving towards a new orientation, which is, a legislative, monitoring and well-oiled machinery of police,” stated Minister Mthethwa.
If police powers are unchecked they can undoubtedly be abused and thus our country can easily slide into a police state, which is not the kind of policing approach we desire. The role of citizens in policing has to be enhanced at all material times.“The essence of the philosophy we are talking about also speaks to capacitating of communities so that they form part and parcel of policing in general. That is why as part of these proposed legislations, the location of Community Policing Forums will be located under Secretariat of Police,” added the minister.
Also present at the briefing, was the Secretary of Police, Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane who stated that the current situation that exists is more reflective of the pre-1994 period where policing in South Africa was characterised by weak accountability, lack of civilian and ministerial input into policing policy.“This situation has resulted in a number of problems. Some of these problems include a blurring in the lines of command and control within the department and confusion over the difference between policy and operational issues.”
“Based on this scenario a need was identified to develop separate legislation which would entrench and enhance the role of the Secretariat for Police. This legislation would address enhancing and empowering the Secretariat to perform its functions with regard to policy development, civilian oversight, accountability and enforcing the Ministry’s approach to partnerships,” added Ms Irish-Qhobosheane.
In the past, there had been general public perceptions that the ICD has been toothless as well as concerns raised in relation to its lack of powers when investigating cases. There have also been concerns raised in Parliament regarding the broad focus of the ICD’s mandate and their inability to effectively implement this mandate.
These perceptions have largely been as a result of the current operational system, whereby the ICD has been submitting its recommendations to the National Commissioner of Police. However it has no powers to ensure the implementation of its recommendations.
“The decision to develop separate legislation is based on the need to enhance the independent role of the ICD, to empower the ICD to perform its functions and to refocus its role to ensure that it is able to meet its strategic responsibilities,” stated Executive Director of ICD, Mr Francois Beukman.
Crimes against women have been a government priority for the last 15 years, yet the success rate of investigating cases where police involvement is alleged, is extremely low. To address this challenge, all rapes in cells whether by a police officer (on or off duty) or other detainees are allegedly involved, the ICD must investigate. This will prove the seriousness with which government considers this and it is hoped that this will result in higher conviction rates.
It is important to note that the monitoring of the South African Police Service (SAPS) compliance to the Domestic Violence Act, as well as general complaints by members of the public are removed from the mandate of the ICD. These belong better with the Civilian Secretariat and the provincial secretariats under the monitoring and evaluation unit of the Secretariat.In addition, cell inspections and station evaluations are removed in the Bill from the mandate of the ICD and transferred to the Secretariat.
While the majority of our police officers have done tremendous work in protecting members of society, the ministry has equally noted various disturbing reports about civilians who are either tortured or died while in police custody. We cannot allow such injustices to remain the same.
We are therefore convinced that these two pieces of Bills will go a long way in ensuring we curb such conducts by some few police officers.
For enquiries, please contact:
Spokesperson to the Minister of Police
Cell: 082 045 4024
Issued by: South African Police Service
3 Aug 2010
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