Yesterday the Western Cape Legislature passed the Western Cape Community Safety Bill which will improve the way in which the Provincial Government conducts oversight over the police and significantly contribute to increasing community safety, improving community-police relations and act as a catalyst for more efficient and effective policing.
The DA challenges all ANC-run provinces to follow the Western Cape’s lead, and ensure that they exercise their constitutionally mandated oversight role over the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The Western Cape Community Safety Bill will allow provincial government to oversee the effectiveness of the police service and create a formal oversight relationship between the Department of Community Safety and the SAPS to address systemic problems and policing challenges.
The Bill gives effect to the Constitutional oversight responsibility of the province to improve policing by focusing on
- addressing police misconduct;
- identifying systemic problems; and
- making recommendations on how best to improve policing.
In this way, it will also contribute to decreasing incidences of police brutality and misconduct as well as addressing breakdowns in relations between the police and the community.
Police Minister Mthethwa has for a long time opposed the Bill and questioned its constitutionality despite this very legislation being allowed for in section 206 of the Constitution. This shows his clear lack of political will for effective oversight and accountability of the police service - as does his legal challenges to the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry into the breakdown between the police and the community.
The purpose of this legislation is not to control the police but to hold the police accountable to the community they serve.
The DA urges all other provinces to adopt similar legislation. It will go a long way to ensuring that the police work efficiently and effectively for the communities they are supposed to protect and serve.