Remarks by Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at the Debate of the Independent Complaints Directorate Bill National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town
2 Sep 2010
Honourable members of Parliament
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate Bill (IPID) that has been placed before this House forms an important part of our approach to policing and the type of Force we envisage and wish to move towards.
We once again wish to re-emphasise that, as the ANC government and current police administration, we have committed ourselves to actively combating crime including serious and violent crime by being tougher on criminals and organized syndicates. We have however always emphasised that this tough stance on crime must be balanced by our philosophy that policing must also be oriented along respect for human rights, be community-centred, biased towards the weak and the safety needs of society.
This piece of legislation seeks to establish and put in place mechanisms which will ensure the rule of law is upheld at all material times, even by the law enforcement agencies. This approach is therefore a far cry from the alleged militarization approach which had been brandied about by some in society. This Bill was introduced into Parliament together the Civilian Secretariat for Police Bill. The two Bills speak to our commitment to civilian oversight of the police. The issue of civilian oversight of the police is not just a mere rhetorical slogan on our part but fundamental to our policing approach.
The fact that we have introduced these Bills before introducing other pieces of legislations further confirms our seriousness within which we value this function. This seriousness affirms our view that this government and ministry have neither desire nor likelihood of this country, at any point moving towards a police state.
In changing the focus and the name of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), we are sending a clear message that the new body will focus on not just processing complaints but the emphasis is on developing strong investigative capacity. We also seek to investigate substantial systemic defects in policing and general corruption.
The drafting and final introduction of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Bill was preceded by the development of clear policy. This draft policy drew on the comprehensive guidance given by the White Paper as well as on past ICD experiences and reports emanating from Parliament regarding ICD’s functioning.
The Bill before you not only changes the name of the ICD to the Independent Investigative Directorate (IPID) but also creates a separate piece of legislation for the IPID and removes it from being governed under the South African Police Service Act.
Historically there have been several problems that have plagued the smooth operations of the ICD. While it had investigative powers on police, it still had to submit its recommendations to the National Commissioner of Police. The ICD has had no powers to ensure the implementation of its recommendations.
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. Equally, there have been concerns raised in relation to the ICD lack of powers when investigating cases. In the legislation determining the mandate of the of the new IPID the focus is squarely on what the most important issues are, that the IPID should deal with in order to make a real impact.
The different, yet complimenting role of the Secretariat for Police is also taken in consideration. There can be no question that the historical dysfunctional nature of the Secretariat created vacuums that the ICD, unsuccessfully, tried to fill. As a result, the lines were blurred and the focus was not always on the ICD’s primary mandate. In the process of determining the mandate, the principle used is that, the IPID should investigate those matters that will have a lasting impact on transforming the police into a structure that not only deals with crime with vigor but also police upholding the law and the Constitution.
It is important to note that the monitoring by the ICD of the SAPS compliance to the Domestic Violence Act as well as general complaints by members of the public, are removed from the mandate of the IPID.The Bill locates some of these oversight functions to the Secretariat, such as the Domestic Violence Act. The Bill further recognises that police themselves must ultimately be responsible for investigating irrespective of whether the perpetrator is a police or not.
The one area we have specifically located under the new IPID, is the investigation of any police officer involved in rape.We adopted this stance primarily because; crimes against women and girl children remain one of government’s key priorities. We want to ensure that in cases where a police officer is suspected of committing such crimes, that such a case is investigated by an independent body. This approach will go a long way in building public confidence in the Force while at the same time, re-enforcing government’s commitment to ensure the most vulnerable in society, are not abused by the very people who should protect them.
For the IPID to achieve its objectives and strategic goals, it is imperative that its operational framework is properly aligned. To this end, the structure of the new IPID must speak to its core functions. Past experiences indicated that there have been structural challenges which impacted on the Directorate’s success. The Bill before members speaks to the fact that the National Office should be a lean, administrative office providing strategic leadership and direction but with capacity to execute the mandate, located at various provincial offices.
The White Paper speaks to the need to strengthen the relationship between the ICD and the Civilian Secretariat for Police. This Bill enhances the relationship in some detail and strengthens cooperation between the two bodies.
With this piece of legislation we have committed ourselves to continue working for the entrenchment of the human rights culture. We have now provided the new IPID with the necessary tools and it will be up to the leadership of this body to implement their mandate.
I thank you.
Issued by: South African Police Service
2 Sep 2010
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