The Portfolio Committee on Police met to discuss five petitions of a general nature that were referred from the National Assembly. The Committee together with the Committee’s Content Advisor,discussed the petitions, some of the issues that came up include:
The uncertainty of some Committee Members on how to deal with petitions as the Portfolio Committee had not dealt with petitions before.
It was proposed that the Committee schedule the hearings on the petitions for the second term and bring the petitioner(s) together with the relevant departments with a view to resolving the matters brought up in the petitions.
The Committee agreed to meet and listen to the petitioners in the second term and invite the South African Police Service and discuss the petitions and possibly develop a tool to deal with the petitions.
A report from the Committee will be developed after the responses from the relevant departments and petitioners have been heard.
The Committee Content Advisor,Mr Irvin Kinnes,said the Portfolio Committee on Police had five petitions referred to it by the Speaker (ATC No 51-2016) on 17 November 2016. The procedure for the Committee to process the petitions is regulated in Chapter 14 of the Rules of the National Assembly (14th edition). Rule 33 (d) makes provision for the Speaker to table written instruments including special petitions and other petitions of a general nature.
Part 3 of the rules makes provision for the following:
Rule 344 makes provision for the form of the petition to be prescribed by the Speaker in accordance with the guidelines determined by the Rules Committee. Rule 345 states that the petition must be in one of the official languages. All the petitions must be signed by the petitioners themselves according to Rule 346 (1).
According to rule 347 (1), a petition must be lodged by a Member with the Secretary for approval and tabling by the Speaker. The lodging of the petition must be signed at the beginning thereof by the Member. Rule 347(2) provides that a Member may not lodge a petition on his or her own behalf, but such a petition may be lodged by another Member.
Rule 348 makes provision for each petition to be deposited for at least one day with the Secretary who must submit it to the Speaker for approval before it is tabled in the Assembly. If the Speaker finds that the petition complies with the guidelines determined by the Rules Committee, the Speaker must approve it and table it in the Assembly without delay in terms of Rule 349. After tabling, a petition is then referred in terms of Rule 350 (1) if it is a special petition to the Committee on Public Finance and in terms of Rule 320(2), to a relevant Portfolio Committee if it is a petition of a general nature.
The five petitions received were all of a general nature. The petitions made available include the petition from Ward 65, 66 and 67 of the Ekhurleni Metro, calling on the Assembly to investigate the spiraling crime in Etwatwa, to ensure more visible policing and to investigate the alleged complicity between the South African Police Service and crime syndicates which was tabled by Mr M Waters (DA) at National Assembly.
The second petition was from residents of Soshanguve South calling for the establishment of a satellite police station, tabled by Mr D Bergman (DA).
The third petition was from the Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo, Soweto, calling for relief after the withdrawal of its operating licence by the City of Johannesburg and harassment of worshippers by the Johannesburg City Metro Police during church services, which was tabled by Mr R Chance (DA). The Petition was referred to the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as well as Portfolio Committee on Police.
The residents from Edenvale in Gauteng also issued a petition calling on the Assembly to follow-up a Carte Blanche expose- prompted by Case No 331/05/2015- on police brutality, bribery and corruption at the Edenvale Police Station. The petition was tabled by Mr Waters and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Police.
The petition from residents of Birch Acres, Kempton Park, called for increased resources to be provided to the Norkem Park Police Station in order to ensure effective and visible policing and was tabled by Mr Waters.
The Content Advisor suggested that the Committee consider that it should ideally call the petitioners to brief the Committee on the key issues raised by the petitioners. It is advisable to call all the relevant departments that are relevant to the petition in order to address the desired outcomes requested by the petitioners. The Committee must also check if the petitioners have tried to access other remedies prior to coming to Parliament, such as dealing with a ward councilor or a station commander, for example.
The Committee should also try to ensure that petitioners have a proposal for resolving the issue that had given rise to their petition in the first place.
The Committee can then choose to hear the submissions of the petitioners at its meeting, alternatively the Committee can decide to have an inspection in-loco in the area noted by the petitioners. The Committee can also decide to have a meeting in the area where the report arose and invite interested parties.
The Committee can then, after the hearings, make recommendations and refer the Report to the House for consideration.
Status of Petitions
The petition from wards 65, 66 and 67 of the Ekhurleni Metro, calling on the Assembly to investigate the spiraling of crime in Etwatwa, is to be processed by the Committee.
The petition from residents of Soshanguve South’s status is that the Committee has already made a plan with SAPS asking SAPS to investigate the plausibility. A response has been received which states that the SAPS is busy with a work study to see the plausibility of the matter.
The petition from the Unity Fellowship Church’s matter was dealt with by the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and a report was submitted to the House.
Thepetition from residents of Edenvale, as well as the petition from residents of Birch Acres in Gauteng, are to be processed by the Portfolio Committee on Police.
The Content Advisor proposed that the Committee schedule the hearings on the petitions for the second term and bring the petitioner(s) together with the relevant departments with a view of resolving the matters brought up in the petition.
A report can be developed after the Committee has heard the responses of the relevant departments and the petitioners.
The Chairperson thanked the Content Advisor for his contribution as well as the recommendations he gave.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) was encouraged because he could see a way forward. He supported the proposal made by the Content advisor to bring relevant departments when meeting with the petitioners, and is looking forward to the engagement.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked for clarity on the meaning of the “to be processed” status of some of the petitions that were referred to the Committee.
Mr Kinnes explained that the Committee has to make enquiries to the petitioners to check if they had in fact followed the right processes.
Ms L Mabija (ANC) commented that Parliament was the last resort for people. She sought clarity about the role of councillors and provinces when it came to petitions.
The Content advisor replied that Ms Mabija is correct in saying that Parliament is the last resort for petitions. People should be encouraged to go to ward councilors, the Province and if the issue is not resolved it can go to Parliament. He further added that from what he understands, the petitioners did go through the process.
Mr Maake said he had not dealt with petitions before and asked if petitions were not issues that the Parliamentary Constituencies could deal with. He made reference to the Unity Fellowship Church in Chiawelo petition and mentioned that the Church was granted space provided that they do not make a noise. He does not know how to deal with such issues because it seems as if the church was loud and so broke their condition.
The Chairperson said the Committee should meet and listen to the petitioners in the second term and invite the South African Police Service and discuss the petitions and possibly develop a tool to deal with the issues.
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) said concerns that come to the Committee need to be verified first and have provinces investigate the concerns raised and provide a full report of the investigations.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee for its contribution, the Committee will request information from SAPS and cases that really need attention will be brought to the Committee, as well as invite the Provincial Commissioner and the relevant station commanders as the first step in dealing with petitions, and then report back to the House on them.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Petition from residents of the Boksburg North Police Precinct
- Process for the Portfolio Committee on Police hearing on Petitions, 28 February 2017.
- Petition from Unity Fellowship Church
- Petition from residents of Birch Acres, Kempton Park
- Petition for: Ward 89 South African Police Service
- Portfolio Committee on Police Petitions presentation.
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