New legislation that will have a bearing on the mandate of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) will give the body the “necessary teeth” it needs.
This is according to ICD executive director Francois Beukman, who said the directorate’s mandate – to conduct independent and impartial investigations of alleged criminality and misconduct by SAPS and Municipal Police Services – had been expanded by the new legislation, the state BuaNews agency says.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) legislation was recently signed into law by President Jacob Zuma and is expected to become operational soon. The ICD will become known as the IPID. Beukman said while previously police would take their time in reporting matters for investigation to the ICD, with the new legislation, station commanders and police must notify the directorate of matters that need investigation immediately after they become aware of it.
Police officers who fail to report incidents to the ICD as stipulated will be guilty of an offence and will be liable for a fine and even imprisonment, he added. The legislation also, for the first time, obligates SAPS management to act and respond to the IPID’s disciplinary recommendations. As things currently stand, police management are reluctant to implement the directorate’s recommendations at the conclusion of an investigation, he noted.
The legislation will also sharpen the types of investigation that the directorate must carry out, Beukman noted. The IPID will concentrate its investigation on: deaths in police custody and as a result of police action; any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by a police officer; rape by a police officer or while in police custody; and complaints of torture or assault against police officers who are carrying out their duties.
In addition, the IPID may investigate corruption matters within the police and other matters referred to it. Beukman noted that the difference between the ICD and IPID is that the latter will focus on more serious crimes.
The ICD will no longer have to investigate service delivery complaints against police, as this will now become matters for police management to handle. Currently the directorate is dealing with about 6000 cases, of which about 2000 are related to service delivery.