Clip Hawks wings, let Eagles fly - institute

2012-04-24 22:36

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Cape Town - The police’s crime-fighting unit the Hawks should be replaced with the Eagles which “see better and are less susceptible to poison”, the SAPS amendment bill hearing heard on Tuesday.

Speaking to the parliamentary portfolio committee on police, the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa’s Paul Hoffman said the bill in its current form should be scrapped.

He said the Hawks should be done away with and replaced with the Eagles.

“Eagles see better, fly higher, go after bigger prey and are not as susceptible to poison as those scarce little creatures that we call the hawks.”

ConCourt ruling

The bill is a response to a Constitutional Court ruling relating to the structure of the Hawks.

The court judgment in March 2011 found that the 2008 SAPS Amendment Act governing the Hawks did not meet the constitutional requirement for an effective and independent body to prevent and expose corruption, and was not protected from political influence or interference.

In March, the police secretariat Jenny Irish-Qhobosheane argued that the bill aimed to bring the legislation in line with the current Constitution, by making the head of the directorate for priority crime investigation (DPCI), and not the national police commissioner, responsible for the investigation of organised crime.

"In the past it was the national commissioner who decided what matters will be investigated. We have amended the act to say that it is the head of the DPCI."

But Hoffman, as well as the Institute for Security Studies, argued that falling under the police meant the unit lacked the independence required.

Hoffman said that the unit, in line with the Constitution, must act without fear, favour or prejudice.

Bill’s flaws

Speaking on Monday to News24 about the bill, the ISS’ Chandré Gould said: “While they’re [the unit] within the police, there are two things that compromise their independence. One: the bill says that the national commissioner of police decides on the budget of this unit.

“Now, because the commissioner is not an independent person, it’s a person that is appointed perhaps for political reasons, for as long as that person controls the budget of the unit, the unit can’t be independent. Controlling the budget is a way of controlling the unit.”

Hoffman warned that if the bill was pushed through in its current form, it definitely would be taken back to the ConCourt to be challenged again.

The first challenge was brought before the ConCourt by businessman Hugh Glenister, who sat alongside Hoffman at the hearing.

Glenister made a short, emotional speech to the committee telling them that Parliament was about “the rule of law” and “corruption occurs because we give it the opportunity”.

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Read more on:    police  |  iss  |  hawks  |  legislation
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