SAPS Amendment Bill to help fight organised crime, corruption

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pretoria - The passing of the SAPS Amendment Bill would represent a step forward in the fight against organised crime and corruption, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

Speaking during the debate on the SAPS Amendment Bill in Parliament on Wednesday, the minister explained that in 2008/09, government and Parliament engaged in a lengthy and consultative process that ultimately resulted in the establishment of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) within SAPS.

After finalising the process to establish the DPCI, it was agreed that the legislation which created the unit would be subject to a three-year review in terms of Section 17K of the SAPS Amendment Act of 2009 after being enacted.

"This review was aimed at using the operational experience gained in these three years to further strengthen our legislation and the effective functioning of the DPCI," he said.

Then, in March 2011, a judgment by the Constitutional Court declared chapter 6 A of the South African Police Service Act, and which deals with the DPCI, to be inconsistent with the Constitution because it failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the DPCI.

The Constitutional Court suspended the declaration of invalidity for a period of 18 months to afford Parliament an opportunity to remedy the defect.

"The Bill that is before this House therefore seeks to achieve two objectives. The first is to address our commitment in our undertaking, that we would review and improve the legislation governing the DPCI, three years after its enactment. Secondly, to honour and respond to the Constitutional Court's ruling regarding the DPCI," the minister explained.

The process of drafting the legislation began in April 2011 and included a serious review and analysis of what the Constitutional Court ruling actually implied, a review of international standards approaches and positions regarding such organised crime and corruption fighting mechanisms.

In addition, there was also a review of different options and extensive consultations with National Treasury and the DPSA regarding what models would best work during the process of drafting the legislation, Mthethwa said.

"This was a relatively detailed process and took about 10 months to complete. However, at the end of that process we had satisfied ourselves that amendments to Chapter 6A of the South African Police Service Act and strengthening the role and position of the DPCI, was the correct way to go," he added.

The current Bill seeks to align the legislation with the Constitutional Court judgment and based on the extensive research and analysis process, also seeks to improve the legislation governing the functioning of the DPCI and the approach to fighting organised, economic, transnational crime and corruption.

Mthethwa said the Bill provided the DPCI with the adequate structural and operational independence to perform its functions.

"The Bill ensures that there will be a strong legal basis for the approach to organised crime and corruption. This should include a clear mandate, institutional placement, appointment and removal processes, internal structures, functions, jurisdiction, powers, responsibilities, budget, personnel related matters relationship with other institutions accountability and as well as reporting lines," he added.

The minister said the Bill addressed all the relevant issues and ensured that government was able to enhance and build on existing successes and approaches in the fight against corruption and organised crime.

"In the final analysis, the Bill further recognises that anti-corruption bodies or structures do not operate in a vacuum. It emphasises a need for strong coordination and cooperation with other government departments and specialised areas.

"It also recognises that SAPS has a Constitutional mandate to fight crime and that such mandate must include organised, economic and transnational crimes as well as corruption," said Mthethwa.