#UnrestSA: Parliament to set up ad hoc committee to look into week of violence

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SANDF members patrol the streets in Alexandra amid the unrest in the country.
SANDF members patrol the streets in Alexandra amid the unrest in the country.
PHOTO: Sharon Seretlo/Gallo Images
  • Parliament will establish a joint ad hoc committee to investigate the unrest.
  • The matter has been referred back to the Speaker and NCOP chairperson to establish the committee in consultation with the whips, as both houses are in recess.
  • They will decide on the composition of the committee and what it should present to Parliament.

Parliament will establish an ad hoc committee to investigate the unrest which engulfed KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng two weeks ago.

The committees with oversight over the security cluster met on Friday morning. It was planned that they would receive a briefing from the ministers in the cluster.

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Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said she had received a letter from the chair of chairs, Cedric Frolick, on 27 July, stating that there "were indications of serious lapses of the security services and police" and that it is "crucial for Parliament to get a complete picture of the reasons for the unrest, the consequences thereof, as well as the responses of the state".

Joemat-Pettersson said: 

Whatever work we do in this committee should be above the prescripts of the law and above all scrutiny, and it should occur within the prescripts of the rules of the Parliament of South Africa.

A briefing from Parliament's legal services followed. Senior parliamentary legal advisor Siviwe Njikela said Frolick's letter was specific that the inquiry must be made by committees from both houses of Parliament. The work done by both houses is regulated by the joint rules, which provides for the joint committee system.

'Oversight role'

Joint committees may be established by resolutions passed by both the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Both houses are currently on recess, so such resolutions can't be adopted.

Njikela said, in such a case, the rules provide that a committee can be established by the Speaker of the National Assembly and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, in consultation with the chief whips of the majority party in both houses.

The committee must establish terms of reference, including time frames.

Members from several parties agreed with this approach and that the presentation be scheduled for Friday – which the committee received very late on Thursday – should be postponed.

Joemat-Pettersson:

We all take our oversight role very seriously, and we all agree that we must exercise our responsibility as parliamentarians very urgently.

She said the matter would be referred to the whips, National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise and the National Council of Provinces Chairperson for them to look at the committee's composition to lead the inquiry, who should chair the committee, and the prescripts of what the committee should present to the house.


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