Mthethwa: Police not the law

2013-04-12 14:33
Nathi Mthethwa (Picture: Beeld)

Nathi Mthethwa (Picture: Beeld)

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Johannesburg - Police must see themselves as the enforcers of the law and not the law itself, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.

"Every institution of the democratic state is expected to enforce the Constitution, and the police are no exception to this," Mthethwa said in a speech prepared for delivery.

"The police derive their mandate from the Constitution of the Republic, which contains the whole chapter dedicated to human rights."

Mthethwa was speaking at the Free State provincial crime prevention summit in Bloemfontein.
The minister outlined a number of approaches police were taking.

Professionalism in the police

This included the regulatory environment, which entailed dealing with legislation and prescripts that governed policing.

Mthethwa said a review of the SA Police Service Act would go to Parliament in the next few months. This had to address professionalism in the police, and making accountability of structures more pronounced.

"Over the last year, we have identified some areas related to our disciplinary codes and practices that need to be improved, and are currently being addressed," he said.

"To this end, we also began engagements with policing unions as we seek their partnerships and support in our endeavours of professionalising the police."

Mthethwa said the SAPS code of conducted needed to be elevated.

The police service also needed to align its standing orders and national instructions with its policies.
The alignment and simplification must be implemented before the end of the year, he said.

"However, transformation of the police cannot just focus on policy and legislation, but must also address a number of different aspects that deal with policing."

Addressing certain issues

Mthethwa said the police service had improved its recruitment processes.

"With regard to training, immediately after 1994 we placed considerable emphasis on our curriculum on human rights," he said.

"However, as the needs of policing increased and changed, this aspect of training may not have been elevated to the required and appropriate level."

Mthethwa said the police were revisiting the whole process, and engaging with human rights institutions regarding the substance and quality of this training.

The police needed to address employee health and wellness.

"Policing is a difficult duty. Police are required on the one hand to protect human rights, and on the other hand they are encouraged to be tough on crime and criminals," he said.

"As South Africans have become angrier about crime, the police have often retreated into a defensive position, which further isolates them from society and their mandate."
Read more on:    police  |  nathi mthethwa  |  bloemfontein  |  police brutality

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