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SAFETY & SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 February 2002
INTERIOR SECURITY; ORGANISED CRIME; MONEY LAUNDERING; TERRORISM; DRUG TRAFFICKING: DISCUSSION
Chairperson: Mr M. George (ANC)
The German Federal Parliament's Home Affairs Committee discussed interior security; organized crime; money laundering; drug and human trafficking; and terrorism and their methods of dealing with these issues with the Committee. The Chair commented that it had been interesting to observe during their visit that Germany's home affairs portfolio included policing matters like those the Committee was responsible for. There was consensus amongst the Committee that much could be learned from Germany's experiences and strategies in dealing with these topics, and that international co-operation was necessary to effectively address these problems.
German Security Structures
Gunther Graf (Social Democrat Party) from the German Federal Parliament's Home Affairs Committee described German security structures, and the respective functions of federal and state police entities. Since September 11 attacks there was more integration and coordination among these groups, and fewer distinctions between "internal" and "external" security. New anti-terror legislation passed after September 11 had led to more funding of security services, and better linkages between them.
An ANC member and the Chair then explained that, in contrast to the German system, the SAPS is a unitary, national structure, with a national commissioner overseeing provincial commissioners. This set up is also mirrored on the policy side, with the national Safety and Security Minister setting policy in conjunction with provincial safety and security MEC's, with policy implemented by a national police secretariat.
It was also noted that the Committee emphasised the strengthening of the security of the police as they have become targets for criminals, with safeguarding personnel seen as a critical issue which should be urgently addressed.
Mr Swart (DP) stated that the presence of organized crime in South Africa was increasing, particularly the activities of international syndicates operating both here and in neighbouring countries (e.g., vehicle smuggling syndicates). While noting that there have been some recent successes in fighting these groups, he indicated that it would be a long term battle, as he had been dealing with gang activity in the Western Cape, which remains prevalent and difficult to prosecute due to initimidation of communities by gangsters.
The Chair then indicated that a problem in battling organised crime was the difficulty in catching the organisers at the top of the pyramid, and to prove their involvement in criminal enterprises. However, some progress was being made by specialized groups like the Scorpions' forensic accounting unit.
Graf responded that his colleagues were aware of South African problems in this area, having followed the post-1994 development and transformation of police structures. He also noted that penetrating the many layers of criminal involvement was a problem everywhere, and wondered whether the local problem was also due in part to a lack of effective legislation or resources, or both.
Mr Botha (DP) stated that until 1994 South Africa had been a "closed" country, so that the sudden exposure to money laundering and other sophisticated criminal enterprises was surprising.Â South Africa could learn much from other countries, including Germany, about how to curtail such corrupt practices.
Drug and Human Trafficking
Ms Van Wyk (UDM) stated that although most drugs, aside from dagga, were not produced locally, drug trafficking in South Africa had become a growing problem because of endemic problems with border control. While there had been some recent successes, thanks to better integration of police activities operating under post-1994 re-structuring, international cooperation was critical to this fight.
Organized human trafficking locally was a problem of the "in-flow" of illegal immigrants, due to the lack of effective policing of the nation's large land borders, but that "out-flow" to other countries had not yet become an acute issue.
Mr Kgauwe (ANC) indicated that there was no current South Africa "anti-terror" act, and commented that there was much to be learned from the German experience in addressing this topic, especially as to how new legislation is to balance constitutional rights with legitimate security concerns and counter-terror measures.
The Chair added that aside from urban terror problems in the Western Cape, which he said had been "crushed", there is currently no evident terror problem here.
Mr Bloem (ANC) asked how the Germans define "terror", and how police corruption, which he indicated was a concern here, had been addressed in Germany.
The meeting was adjourned.Â Â Â
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