The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) is disappointed that the Portfolio Committee on Police elected to ignore the majority of submissions made to it by civil society organisations and legal experts when considering the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Bill.
Although many of the submissions strongly suggested that it would be preferable for an anti-corruption entity to be located outside of the SAPS, the Bill approved by the Committee retains the Hawks in the SAPS. Even though concessions were made with regard inter alia to the fixed non-renewable term of office for the head of the unit, the remuneration of the head, security of tenure of staff, the ring-fencing of the budget of the directorate and a reduced role for the Ministerial Committee, these changes in the Bill are insufficient to form a robust and protective layer of independence around the Hawks as an anti-corruption entity. The possibility of political interference in the functioning of the Hawks remains. In its judgment in the Glenister case the Constitutional Court stressed that there is a constitutional obligation on the state to establish an independent anti-corruption body
that is sufficiently protected from undue political influence. CASAC believes that the Portfolio Committee has failed to properly implement that aspect of the Constitutional Court ruling. The Committee also missed the opportunity to stimulate a broader debate amongst all South Africans about a comprehensive strategy to overcome corruption.
Sipho Pityana, Chairman of CASAC said:
“It is regrettable that the Bill was processed with such haste. The proposed Bill reflects poor policy choices and constitutes a bad political decision. Once again matters that should be resolved through a democratic political process will be deferred to the courts.” CASAC hopes that the National Assembly will tomorrow reject the proposed Bill and refer it back to the Portfolio Committee for further consideration.