Helen Suzman Foundation goes to Court over SAPS Amendment Act

The Helen Suzman Foundation has filed papers with the Constitutional Court to oppose the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Act. The Foundation made its written submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for the Police on the SAPS Amendment Bill which was aimed at restructuring the Hawks. The HSF has been involved in this process since 2008 when we presented to Parliament opposing the dissolution of the Scorpions.

In a landmark case, the Constitutional Court in Glenister v The President of the Republic of South Africa & Others - in which the HSF participated as amicus curiae - suspended Section 6A of the SAPS Act. Section 6A governs the establishment and operation of the Hawks.

The SAPS Amendment Bill was drafted in response to the Court’s decision that the legislation that brought the Hawks into existence (effectively replacing the Scorpions), was invalid in that it failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the Hawks.

To adequately combat the scourge of corruption, and other high priority crimes, the newly drafted unit must enjoy levels of independence that will allow it to carry out its mission without fear, favour or prejudice. The Helen Suzman Foundation believes that the SAPS Amendment Act fails to secure the adequate independence required by the Court.

We maintain that the Act does not meet the requirements of the Court’s judgment for the following reasons:

  • the proposed unit will not be sufficiently independent - structurally or operationally;
  • there are insufficient safeguards to protect the unit from political interference;
  • the unit will not be seen to be adequately independent.

The HSF believes that:

  • the Directorate and its Head cannot fall under the SAPS;
  • security of tenure of the Directorate’s staff needs to be secured;
  • central to the HSF’s submission is that the Directorate should be solely responsible for determining which offences are investigated;
  • the criteria for appointment and removal of the Head of the Directorate should be vigorous and transparent.

The HSF’s executive summary and its full submission can be found HERE

23 November 2012