Speech: Police: Minister Nathi Mthethwa

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SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF POLICE, E.N. MTHETHWA, MP ON THE OCCASION OF DEBATE ON THE SAPS AMENDMENT BILL (DPCI), NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, PARLIAMENT, CAPE TOWN

23 May 2012

Honourable Speaker;

Honourable Members of Parliament;

Criminals continue to prey on our people and society. Organized crime, serious economic and transnational crimes as well as corruption, undermine our democracy and have a negative impact on our people. To address this, it is essential that we wage an all out war against criminal elements involved in these types of crimes, criminals who seek to derail the progress we have made as society.

Of critical importance, Members of Parliament, public representatives across all levels of our governance system and public servants in general must participate in this offensive in a determined and coordinated manner.

Internationally it is accepted that you cannot separate organized crime and corruption, and that the two forms of crime are considered to be two sides of the same crime. It is also internationally-accepted that to address these forms of crime a strong multi-agency approach and focus is required.

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 the South African Police Service (SAPS).

As government we are continuously seeking to improve the quality of law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system as a whole. It is for this reason that after finalizing this process to establish the DPCI, we agreed that the legislation which created this unit would be subject to a 3-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 3 years to further strengthen our legislation and the effective functioning of the DPCI.

On 17 March 2011, the Constitutional Court in Glenister v the President of the RSA and Others declared chapter 6 A of the South African Police Service Act, and which deals with the DPCI, to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 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.

We respected the Constitutional Court and at the same time began in earnest to work on the changes as highlighted during the judgement. 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, 3 years after its enactment. Secondly to honour and respond to the Constitutional Court’s ruling regarding the DPCI.

It is important to reiterate that, contrary to what has been projected by some members of the opposition and certain so-called legal experts, the Constitutional Court in its judgment indicated that the creation of ‘a separate crime fighting unit within the South African Police Service was not in itself unconstitutional.’

The Court also, contrary to what some have inappropriately projected in the public domain, stated that the Constitution does not require fully independence but, rather adequate levels of structural and operational independence. In defining independence international standards require political commitment and adequate resources, powers and staffing of the structure or approach.

The process of drafting this legislation began in April 2011 and included amongst; a serious review and analysis of what the Constitutional Court ruling actually implied, a review of international standards approaches and positions regarding such organized crime and corruption fighting mechanisms. In addition, a serious review of different options and extensive consultations with National Treasury and the DPSA regarding what models would best work during the process of drafting this legislation.

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.

During our international review we were able to recognize that international standards neither offer a blue print for setting up or administration of an anti corruption institution nor advocate a single best practice model or a universal type of anti corruption agency.

The current Bill that is now before this House therefore seeks to align our legislation with the Constitutional Court judgment and based on the extensive research and analysis process, seeks to improve the legislation governing the functioning of the DPCI and our approach to fighting organize, economic, transnational crime and corruption.

The Bill provides the DPCI with the adequate structural and operational independence to perform its functions. However, what is also important is that the anti-corruption law enforcement approach is not over burdened by having to investigate cases of petty corruption. Therefore it is ideal to limit their jurisdiction to serious cases.

The Bill ensures that there be a strong legal basis for the approach to organized 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.

We therefore believe that the Bill before this House addresses all these issues and will ensure that as government, we are able to enhance and build on our existing successes and approaches in the fight against corruption and organized crime.

In the final analysis, the Bill further recognizes that anti-corruption bodies or structures do not operate in a vacuum. It emphasizes a need for strong need to for coordination and cooperation with other government departments and specialized areas. It also recognizes that SAPS has a Constitutional mandate to fight crime and that such mandate must include organized, economic and transnational crimes as well as corruption.

The democratic state through the Constitution has tasked the police to be responsible for investigating and preventing crime, including organized crime and corruption.

The passing of this important piece of legislation is one step forward as we advance our fight against organized crime and corruption. An effort in which everyone of us must put the shoulder to the wheel.

I thank you.

Zweli Mnisi

Chief Director: Communications/Spokesperson

Ministry of Police

Republic of South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)12 393 4341 & +27 (0)21 467 7007

Fax: +27 (0)12 393 2833 & +27 (0)21 467 7033

Mobile: +27 (0)82 045 4024

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.saps.gov.za