Hawks bill 'could go back to ConCourt'

2012-04-24 10:49

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Cape Town - The South African Police Service amendment bill could end up back at the Constitutional Court if it is signed into law in its current form, a crime and justice researcher has warned.

Speaking to News24 in Cape Town, Institute for Security Studies (ISS) researcher Chandré Gould warned that the bill did not meet all of the Constitutional Court's requirements, namely that it be free of political influence.

The bill was drawn up after the Constitutional Court ruled that chapter six of the SA Police Service Act, as amended, which enabled the disbanding of the Scorpions and the formation of the Hawks, was constitutionally invalid.

Minimalistic requirements

Gould said the bill addresses some of the ConCourt ruling’s requirements but in a “minimalistic way”.

“We have an opportunity, because of the ConCourt judgment, not only to come up with a body that minimally meets those requirements but to come up with the best kind of body that we can have to deal with and investigate corruption in South Africa.

“Because corruption is a serious problem for South Africa, we really need to take whatever steps are necessary to come up with the best body necessary."

Gould said the amendment bill had several flaws, one of them being that the unit [the Hawks] is kept inside the police and is answerable to the police commissioner.

“While they’re 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.”

'Not independent enough'

Gould said the other problem was that while the Hawks remained within the police, it won’t be seen as being “sufficiently independent”.

In the SA Crime Quarterly, Irvin Kinnes, a PhD student at the UCT Centre of Criminology and Gareth Newham, the head of the Crime and Justice Programme at the ISS, argued a point supporting this.

Kinnes and Newham cited an example in which current Hawks boss Lieutenant General Anwa Dramat “shelved criminal investigations into crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli... allegedly on instruction from acting National Commissioner General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi”.

One of the bill’s other flaws is that it does not set out clear guidelines for who the unit’s head should be.

“According to the bill in its current rendition, the person appointed to the head of this unit could be a politician!

“It could be somebody who has no investigation experience. It could be anybody.”

Hugh Glenister, who took the case to the ConCourt, will be speaking at a Parliamentary hearing on the bill on Tuesday.

Gould, Newham and members of other bodies will also be making presentations for the next two days. 

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Read more on:    police  |  iss  |  hawks  |  corruption
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