Hawks draft legislation to become more independent

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
By: 
Francis Hweshe

Cape Town - The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) and the Civilian Secretariat for Police are developing a new policy document and draft legislation, which is geared to make the Hawks more independent.

This comes after the Hugh Glenister Constitutional Court judgment in March, which found, among others, that the Hawks were "insufficiently insulated from political influence in [their] structure and functioning."

The documents are set to be tabled before Cabinet in October and in Parliament by November. They are also set to form the grounds for consultation with other affected government stakeholders.

The March judgment also said that those working for the Hawks had inadequate employment security to "carry out their duties vigorously" and that their appointment was "not sufficiently shielded from political influence."

Hawks head Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat said the SA Police Act and the National Prosecuting Act -- both amended three years ago -- had effected the closure of the Scorpions in the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the establishment of the Hawks within the police.

Dramat was addressing Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police on Tuesday during a joint presentation by the Hawks and the police.

"In the Glenister case, the constitutionality of the said laws has been questioned," he told the committee.

But he indicated that "the creation of a separate corruption-fighting unit within the SAPS was not in itself unconstitutional... and the legislative choice to abolish the DSO and to create the DPCI did not in itself offend the Constitution."

Dramat said that the Court considered two "crucial questions", one being the State's obligation to "establish and maintain an independent body to combat corruption and organised crime."

The other question was that the Hawks did not meet the "requirements of independence."

Dramat said the Court had ruled that the legislative provisions establishing the DPCI are constitutionally invalid and suspended the declaration of invalidity in order to give Parliament the opportunity to remedy the constitutional defect within 18 months.

The Committee welcomed the presentation, as it only wanted clarity on the ruling and the way forward.