Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill: SAPS implementation briefing

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07 September 2009
Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee was briefed by the South African Police Services (SAPS) on the Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill, (B7-2009). SAPS stated that there was a conflict in the Bill. Certain functions had been assigned specifically to SAPS, but the Bill required SAPS to report to the Minister of Sports and Recreation, which created a conflict. It suggested that the provisions dealing with the SAPS should either be removed from this Bill and placed in a completely separate new Bill, or that they be removed and be crafted in the form of an amendment to either the SAPS Act or the Regulation of Gatherings (RAG) Act of 1993.

The Committee expressed dismay that such a pivotal issue was not considered by the SAPS prior to this point, and stated that had the Committee not called in SAPS, this issue would have gone unnoticed. Members were distressed that they had only been consulted at the last minute about the legal ramifications of the Bill for the SAPS. The Committee asked how this had happened, and expressed its disquiet that there seemed to be lack of coordination within the Department. The Bill had been to Cabinet, which included the Minister of Police, and had been examined by the legal sections of both Departments, as well as going to Parliament. The Committee noted that public hearings on this Bill were already being conducted. It was of the view that those hearings needed to be halted and that the Bill needed to be re-examined to determine how best to address the issues. The Chairperson would communicate with her counterpart in the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation.

Meeting report

Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill: Implementation presentation: South African Police Services (SAPS)
Mr Bheki Cele, National Commissioner, SAPS, stated that he had looked at the Safety at Sport and Recreational Events Bill (the Bill) and heard issues raised by the Department of Police and the SAPS Legal Division, and discovered that the Bill had substantive ramifications for the SAPS. As such, the SAPS needed to have a bigger say in what the Bill mandated from SAPS. He suggested that all police-related matters should be taken out of the Bill and either form a separate Bill or fall under other appropriate Bills, under the auspices of the Minister of Police. The Bill instructed the National Commissioner to report to the Minister of Sports and Recreation and this was not the manner in which governmental hierarchies worked.

Ms Lindiwe Mtimkulu, Divisional Commissioner: Legal Services, SAPS, reiterated that the SAPS was concerned that certain sections in  the Bill dealt with the duties of the SAPS. Policing was under the ambit of the Minister of Police and the National Commissioner. She suggested that the options available could be either to create a completely separate Bill that contained all the provisions on policing, so that they should be taken out of this Bill, or that the relevant portions could be inserted as an amendment to the SAPS Act or that they could be inserted into the Regulation of Gatherings (RAG) Act.

Mr Bertus van der Walt, Director: Legal Support, SAPS, stated that legislation that normally assigned functions to the SAPS was couched in the form that, for example, the Criminal Procedure Act used. However, this Bill went further than the Criminal Procedure Act, in that it actually assigned functions to the SAPS and the National Commissioner under the Minister of Sports and Recreation. He added that the Minister had too much power over policy, and that there was a need to determine whether the Bill impinged on the constitutional workings of the SAPS. Mr van der Walt reiterated the options available, and stated that the preferred way forward would be to include the provision in the Bill as amendments to the Regulation of Gatherings Act

The Chairperson asked the delegation to remind Members as to what the responsibility of the legal section within the SAPS was and what their role in this bill was.

Mr Cele replied that they had several roles. If the Bill was a police bill, they would be responsible for its development. He assumed that in any legislative process, the Department concerned would consult all other departments that the legislation impacted upon, but there had been a problem in that the Department of Sports and Recreation (SRSA) did not consult SAPS. Mr Cele added that it was the duty of the Legal Services to make a decision, but to report to management in order to look at the implications. He added that in the processing of this Bill, it seemed that Legal Services kept the problems to themselves for a while, but that now the SAPS was looking at this in a unified manner.

The Chairperson asked what SAPS Legal Services role was and what actually happened.

Ms Mtimkulu replied that they had several functions, including a general support function in terms of crime intelligence, human resources, civil litigation and drafting of legislation. She added that normally they would interact with any department that had drafted a bill and then engage with SAPS management. She stated that in this case they had consulted Commissioner Pruis as the relevant person in management.

Mr M George (COPE) stated that he agreed with the SAPS observations, but the problem was that this Bill had been to Cabinet, where the Minister of Police was included, and that it had been approved there. He asked why this was so and how a Bill with so many problematic issues had got this far in the approval process.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) agreed that there were problems in the Bill but said that the issue of the National Commissioner reporting to the Minister of Sports and Recreation could be resolved.  She added that the SAPS Act dealt with the day-to-day functioning of the police and that individual crimes were covered by separate legislation. As such, she indicated that the Bill should be considered in light of how these other pieces of legislation informed the SAPS Act. It was undesirable that two separate bills be created. She believed that a better option would be to put these provisions in the RAG Act.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) explained that he was trying to understand the rationale behind the National Commissioner reporting to the Minister of Sports and Recreation. He said that if the consultation that was supposed to have occurred had taken place, then this predicament would not have arisen.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) expressed her disquiet that at the last minute the Committee was pulled in to deal with this issue. She felt that this was absurd. She believed that the public hearings already under way on the Bill should be cancelled in order to afford this Committee the necessary time to follow due processes. In its current form, the Bill blurred reporting lines with regards to the SAPS. Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that the other option would be to try to continue the hearings and change the Bill during that process.

Mr Meshoe added that it would be embarrassing if the public picked this up and highlighted issues that should have been dealt with by the Committee.

Mr G Schneeman (ANC) agreed with Ms Van Wyk that the Committee  needed more time to look at the Bill properly. He added that the Committee did not have the right to reject  the Bill, as it was a Sports and Recreation competency. Mr Schneeman agreed that the reporting issue was of concern, but stated that he was more concerned by the fact that a member of the SAPS Legal Division was present at the hearings with the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation and that these issues were not brought up then. He was very concerned that if the National Commissioner had not appeared today, the Bill could well have gone through in its present form, resulting in a host of problems. Mr Schneeman stressed the need to slow the process down and discuss the Bill, the hearings, and consult with both Ministers.

The Chairperson replied that this created the impression that people were not taking their jobs seriously. The Bill was signed by both departments yet it was evident that a serious error had been made. The Chairperson felt that the situation was unacceptable, and asked SAPS at what stage the legal advisors had realised that there was a problem.

Mr Cele asked the Chairperson whether she still wanted the financial implications of  the Bill to be presented.

The Chairperson replied that she did.

Mr Andre Pruis, Deputy National Commissioner: Operational Services, SAPS, stated that in relation to the financial implications of the bill, it was necessary to consider the impact of SAPS’s role in terms of the function of personnel, number of personnel, equipment requirements and duration of event deployment.  He added that the operational side of the Bill dealt with competencies that the SAPS was already undertaking. Mr Pruis stated that in terms of the command structure, the Bill introduced new developments. He added that increased costs would stem from intelligence gathering, security of ports of entry and the securing and sanitising of airspace or borderlines around the event venue.

Mr Meshoe asked whether the actual cost was going to be addressed.

Mr Pruis replied that it would. He added that the securing of cities, stadiums and transport routes would also contribute to an escalating cost. He added that accreditation of people and the development of contingency management plans would also take time and funds. Mr Pruis stated that the biggest cost would be the deployment of members and that it would cost R640 million to deploy 40 000 personnel for eight weeks during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. He indicated that all role-players in the security of the World Cup should receive the same operating allowance and stated that to cost the World Cup it was necessary to look at the average number of events and the interdepartmental budgets related to these events.

The Chairperson asked whether Mr Pruis was stating that there were in fact cost implications.

Mr Pruis replied that he was indeed saying so, and was saying that events did cost money. He added that if the SAPS provisions in the Bill were moved to the RAG Act that then the Bill would have no cost implications for the SAPS.

Ms Van Wyk stated that in Section 6 of the Memorandum on  the Bill there was no indication of what  the Bill would actually cost the SAPS per annum. She stated that there were clear indications that there would be a deficit for the next few years and that the cost would be borne by both departments. Ms Van Wyk asked what proportion of this would be carried by the SAPS.

Mr Schneeman stated that Slide 12 clearly stated that there would be no negative cost, and that Mr Pruis had contradicted what was in the presentation. He added that the Bill was going to bring about the need to police events that previously would not have been policed, and that obviously there would be a greater cost.

The Chairperson expressed her agreement that there was a clear contradiction on the position of cost from the SAPS.

Ms Mtimkulu replied that if the provisions of  the Bill dealing with the SAPS were to be removed from this Bill, and inserted into another Act, then  the Bill itself would no longer have any cost implications for the SAPS.

Mr Meshoe stated that he did not understand why SAPS was contradicting themselves and added that if they had made a mistake they should just admit it and not continue trying to confuse the entire situation.

The Chairperson stated that even if the provisions dealing with the functions of the SAPS were moved to another Act, the SAPS would still have to foot the Bill for additional services and capacity, even though it would not be done under this Bill.

Ms Van Wyk asked what it was costing the SAPS as  the Bill stood and how it would affect the functioning of stations, specifically on weekends, as Station Commissioners were already saying that there was a negative impact due to the policing of special events.

Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that FIFA had asked that the Soccer World Cup be exempt from the provisions of the Bill, as it would have an impact on the clean implementation of event procedures. She asked the SAPS whether it had considered this as well.

Mr Sisa Makabena, Senior State Law Advisor, Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, replied that the amendments to  the Bill as discussed in the Portfolio Committee on Sports and Recreation meetings had not yet been reflected in this draft.

Comm Cele conceded some points raised by the Committee and stated that the SAPS needed to look at how the process had got this far. He added that Bill had been in the pipeline for three years and that it still had glaring conflicts. Comm Cele conceded that SAPS had not had a unified direction when dealing with  the Bill and that it would try to redress this now and stop working in compartments. He noted that the SAPS had handled the matter badly, and would try to rectify this.

The Chairperson stated that someone would need to account for this mishap. The situation was unacceptable. The Bill had been to the highest levels of both the Department of Police and the Department of Sports and Recreation. Parliament was also involved. She reiterated that someone needed to be held accountable. This Committee would have to engage with the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation as to how to halt the hearings and deal with this issue. She confirmed, in answer to a question from Ms Kohler-Barnard, that she would raise the issue with the Chairperson of that Committee and would revert to Members.

Other Committee Business
The Chairperson stated that the Committee must postpone the adoption of the Committee’s Strategic Plan, until certain other information had been provided.

 The meeting was adjourned.


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