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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 February 2001
GERMAN STUDY TOUR; SECURITY INDUSTRY BILL
Chairperson: Mr M E George
Documents handed out:
Committee Report on German study tour (awaited)
Invitation for written submissions on the Security Industry Bill: The deadline for submissions is approximately 19 March 2001. Fax (462 2142) or telephone (4033758) the clerk, Mr L Pakati. This will be followed by public hearings.
The Minister was unable to be present to address the Committee. The study tour to Germany was an eye opener in terms of the advanced nature of German law enforcement where training is comprehensive and few if any policemen are lost to the private sector.
The Security Industry Bill which was drafted by a team of experts, will be processed by the Committee in May 2001. Strict attention to procdure will be followed to avoid the procedural problems that arose with the Firearms Control Bill. The Department was accused of not keeping the Committee abreast of developments with the Firearms Control Act Regulations. It was agreed that the Department will provide the Committee with their working document on the regulations. To facilitate a better understanding of the departmental budget, the National Commissioner will shortly brief the committee on the department's priorities.
Cancellation of Minister's visit
The Chair informed the committee that the Minister would not be addressing the Committee as originally planned. The Minister was currently the Acting President while both the President and his Deputy were out of the country. The Chair commented that the Minister should still address the committee some time in the future.
Committee Report on German study tour
The Chair informed the committee that the report on Germany has been tabled.
Mr George spoke on behalf of the delegation that had just returned from a tour to Germany. They had met many of their counterparts in the German government. He pointed out that Germany's views on law enforcement are totally different from South Africa's. For example they were unable to come to grips with the concept of community policing. It was beyond their comprehension why the community should be involved in law enforcement. They believed this should be left to the police. It was evident that law enforcement in Germany is highly advanced.
Adv P Swart (DP) stated that in Germany police officers are trained for a minimum of three years. Thereafter they have a choice to extend their training for another two years in order to advance beyond the rank of major. Adv Swart was shocked to hear that police officers are never lost to the private sector. They believe that becoming a police officer is a career choice and they stick to it until retirement.
The Chair commented that the training period for South Africa's police force was too short and that it should be extended. He felt that this might be the reason why they lack professionalism.
Mr M Booi (ANC) proposed that the Police Act of 1994 needed to be reviewed in terms of meeting South Africa's policing needs and objectives. He emphasised the need to depoliticise and demilitarise the police service. Additionally, they should be educated on the relevant provisions of the Constitution.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) supported this proposal. He stated that the police training college must forward their syllabus to the committee so that their training programme could be reviewed.
The Chair concluded that the Department should be made aware of these concerns as they have a direct impact on the government's plans to bring the levels of crime down.
Security Industry Regulation Bill [B12-2001]
After numerous delays, it was noted by the Chair that this Bill had finally been tabled.
Adv Kok of the Department briefed the Committee on the drafting process of Bill. He had not personally been involved in the drafting but a drafting team comprised of experts (including the deputy chairperson of the interim board on security) had been set up. The intention of including the deputy chairperson was not to be biased but rather to make use of his legal expertise as he is a lawyer.
Mr R Zondo (ANC) asked if the committee is behind schedule and when they would be dealing with the Bill.
The Chair stated that they would be dealing with the Bill in the second quarter of this year, immediately after the recess.
Adv Swart stressed that problems relating to process must be sorted out before the Bill comes before the Committee. He stated that they should avert the procedural problems that arose when they dealt with the Firearms Control Bill.
Adv Kok stated that the concerns of the Justice Department had been taken into account in the drafting of the Bill but it did not necessarily mean that the Bill also reflects the concerns of the interim board. The board would be making representations to the committee to express their concerns.
The committee secretary, Mr Lungisile Pakati explained the process now that the Bill has been tabled. The Committee would hear comments from the Department. Afterwards the Bill is advertised for public comment which usually takes two weeks. Thereafter public hearings would be held on the Bill. Mr Pakati and the Chair emphasised the importance of following parliamentary procedure.
Departmental Programme and Transformation
The Chair asked the Department to furnish the committee with their annual programme and brief them on transformation efforts in the police service. The Chair was insistent that the committee should intensify their oversight function.
Adv Kok announced that the Department is holding public hearings on 22 February 2001 on the Firearms Act Regulations.
Mr Booi was upset that the Department had not informed the parliamentary committee about the content of the regulations. He believed that this was undermining Parliament.
Adv Kok replied that no decisions had been taken yet. They are only trying to allow the public to have a say. He explained that thus far they only have a working document that outlines what the regulations are all about.
Mr Booi was angry because the committee had not been kept abreast of proceedings. He added that he had to hear from Gun Free SA about the public hearings.
The Department agreed to the Chair's suggestion that they make the working document available to the Committee.
The Chair asked members for suggestions on how to approach analyzing the departmental budget.
Mr Ndlovu commented that the committee could do nothing about the 2001 Budget, as the Minister of Finance was to announce it the following day. However the committee could address issues relating to the 2002 Budget. It was suggested that the National Commissioner of Police Services should address the committee on the 2002 Budget.
Mr Swart highlighted the fact that Budget discussions are held separately with police trade unions and police management. He felt that they should all meet together so as to have meaningful discussions on the budget.
Mr O Kgauwe (ANC) instead proposed that first the Department should present their Annual Report and the Committee could evaluate them on the goals that have or have not been met. He stated that the way they are doing things at present it could seem that they are unhappy with the Department's work which is not the case.
The Committee agreed to the proposal that they invite the National Commissioner to address the committee on the Department's priorities. The Committee can then evaluate if the budget has been used to address these priorities. The Chair added that every year they fight for more funds to be allocated to the departmental budget but yet they have no idea on what the funds are being spent.
The meeting was adjourned.
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