The Committee met to receiving a briefing on all the clauses in the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill. The Bill effected amendments to the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977, the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000, the South African Police Act 68 of 1995 and the Explosives Act 15 of 2003.The Committee was informed that amendments to the Acts would allow for the compulsory taking of fingerprints of certain categories of persons. The amendments would regulate the storing and use of finger-prints and enhance the powers in respect of prints and samples for investigation purposes.
Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill
Mr Philip Jacobs, Acting Divisional Commissioner, SAPS Legal Services Division, briefed the Committee clause by clause on the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill. He stated that the Bill was actually a Department of Justice bill. Mr Johan De Lange, Principal State Law Advisor, Department of Justice, was also present. Two officials from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor, Ms Carin Booyse, Deputy State Law Advisor, and Mr Theo Hercules Principal State Law Advisor were also in attendance.
Mr Jacobs stated that the long title of the Bill had been sufficiently explained in the briefing by the Civilian Secretariat for Police in the previous meeting of the Committee.
Mr Jacobs referred to the insertion of sections 36A, 36B and 36C in Chapter 3 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977.
He read out the provisions of section 36A. It referred to the interpretation of Chapter 3 and set out the meanings of certain terms within the Chapter.
Section 36B related to the powers in respect of fingerprints of accused and convicted persons. Section 36B (1) made it obligatory on a police official to take fingerprints under certain circumstances. The police official “must” take fingerprints. The Criminal Procedure Act currently provided that a police official “may” take fingerprints. The police official currently had a discretion. The amendment made it obligatory to take fingerprints.
The provisions of section 36B (2) was the same as it currently was in the Criminal Procedure Act.
Section 36B (3) covered the storage of fingerprints on a fingerprint database maintained by the National Commissioner of Police.
Section 36B (4) listed the instances where fingerprints may be retaken.
He proceeded to read out the provision of Section 36B (5) - 36B (8).
Section 36C related to fingerprints and body-prints for investigation purposes. A police official may without a warrant take fingerprints or body-prints of a person or group of persons if there were reasonable grounds to believe that for instance a schedule 1 offence had been committed. The section listed other circumstances under which fingerprints or body-prints may be taken without a warrant.
The provisions of the Clause replaced the existing provisions of section 37 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The new section 37 related to powers in respect of body-prints and bodily appearance of accused and convicted persons.
Mr Jacobs explained that even though DNA issues were to be covered in a separate bill, reference was made to bodily samples in section 37. It was considered consequential amendments. The basic principles of section 37 had not changed. It only had to be aligned with the Act.
Section 212 of the Criminal Procedure Act was amended. Mr Jacobs considered the amendments to be consequential and was done for alignment purposes.
Section 225 of the Criminal Procedure Act was amended. It related to evidence of prints or of the bodily appearance of the accused. Amendments were made for alignment purposes as well.
Chapters 5A and 5B were inserted into the South African Police Act of 1995, after section 15.
Chapter 5A, section 15A dealt with the storage and use of fingerprints, body-prints and photographic images of persons. The storage responsibility was placed with the National Commissioner of Police.
Section 15B allowed for a comparative search against other databases held by the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Transport or any other national government department.
Section 15C was an administrative section and it provided that the National Commissioner must in consultation with the Minister, within six months of the commencement of this section issue national instructions relating to collection, storage, maintenance, administration and use of fingerprints, body-prints and photographic images.
Section 15D stated that the National Commissioner must secure the integrity of information on the database. Mr Jacobs read out the Section.
Contained a list of definitions which was to be inserted into Section 1 of the Firearms Control Act 60 of 2000. The idea was to update the Firearms Control Act.
Section 113 of the Firearms Control Act was replaced with an updated Section 113.
Contained a list of definitions which was to be inserted into Section 1 of the Explosives Act 15 of 2003. The additional definitions aimed to update the Explosives Act.
Mr Jacobs did not elaborate on the remainder of the Clauses and said that the amendments were consequential amendments.
Section 9 of the Explosives Act was replaced with a new section 9. The section dealt with prints and samples for investigation purposes.
Mr D Bloem (COPE,
Mr Jacobs replied that the term National Commissioner remained even though the designation of the head of police was now that of a military general.
The Committee had intended to adopt outstanding minutes but could not do so due to insufficient Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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