Special Investigation Unit and Special Tribunals Amendment Bill: Voting

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Justice and Correctional Services

13 March 2001
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Meeting report

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTOFORLIO COMMITTEE

JUSTICE AND CONSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2001
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION UNIT AND SPECIAL TRIBUNALS AMENDMENT BILL: VOTING

Chairperson: Adv. J. De Lange (ANC)

Documents handed out
Proposed amendments: Special Investigation Unit and Special Tribunals (See Appendix 1)
Special Investigating Units And Special Tribunals Amendment Bill [B9-2001]

SUMMARY
The committee passed the Special investigation Unit and Special Tribunals Bill with amendments. This Bill gives the President power to appoint a person of experience, conscientiousness and integrity to head the Unit or the Tribunal. The DP, NNP and the ACDP abstained from voting.

The committee rejected the amendment proposed by Ms Camerer (NNP) that the appointee be "one of independent mind". The proposal put forward by Mr. Swart (ACDP) that "impartiality" be inserted was equally rejected. No votes were cast against the bill.

MINUTES
The Chair asked Ms Camerer (NNP) if she had changed her earlier position. Ms Camerer insisted that she stood by her position that the appointee be a person of independent mind and spirit. Mr. Swart suggested that the term "impartiality" be used in place of "independence" as one of the criterion for the appointment of the head of the Special Investigating Unit (SIU).

The Chair reiterated his earlier caution that consistency is of prime importance. He said that the terms "independence" and "impartiality" have never been employed in legislation of this nature. He clarified that these terms befit the establishment of institutions and not the appointment of individuals. He believed that the term "experience" "conscientiousness" and "integrity" were more appropriate since the terms address the pertinent issue of competence, capacity and capability. These were legal terms which are capable of clear measurement. On the contrary, the term's "independence" and "impartiality" have no clear yardstick, which makes them susceptible to controversy.

The Chair said that in reality it did not matter what adjective one employed. These were issues of perception. Such adjectives merely act as a guide to the appointing authority.

Ms Camerer (NNP) observed that perceptions are issues that must be addressed. She said that the controversy revolving around Judge Heath stem from the public perception that he was not only competent but fearlessly independent.

Mr Mzizi (IFP) said that the current legislation was not about Judge Heath. He asked members to desist from creating the impression that the SIU could not function without Judge Heath. Members should not be surprised to see that the person appointed to head the unit could turn out to be more competent than the predecessor.

The Chair appealed to members to take cognisance of the enormous responsibility the office of the SIU carried and avoid actions that would de-legitimise and thereby demoralise the office holder. The Chair at this juncture put the three positions taken to vote.

Only Ms Camerer (NNP) supported an amendment with the insertion of the term "independence". The rest of the committee (12 members) voted against this proposition.

On the proposal to incorporate the term "impartiality" in the amendment, only Mr. Swart (ACDP) voted for the proposition. The rest of the committee (12 members) voted against.

Clause 1 and 2 of the Bill was passed with 11 votes in favour and none against. Ms Camerer (NNP) and Mr. Swart (ACDP) abstained from taking the vote. Equally the motion of desirability to pass the bill with the proposed amendments was passed with the same pattern of voting.

Appendix 1
Portfolio Committee On Justice And Constitutional Development Amendments To Special Investigating Units And Special Tribunals Amendment Bill [B 9—2001]

CLAUSE 1

1. On page 2, in line 9, after "experience," to insert "conscientiousness and integrity,".
2. On page 2, in line 10, to omit "the office of" and to substitute "that office, as".
3. On page 2, in line 13, to omit "becomes" and to substitute "is".

NEW CLAUSE
1. That the following be a new Clause:
Amendment of section 6 of Act 74 of 1996
3.
Section 6 of the principal Act is hereby amended by the substitution for paragraph (a) of subsection (5) of the following paragraph:

"(a) Subject to subsection (6), the premises referred to in subsection (1) shall only be entered by virtue of an entry warrant issued by a member of a Special Tribunal, magistrate or judge of [the Supreme Court, other than the Head of the Special Investigating Unit concerned] a High Court, if it appears to such member, magistrate or judge from information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that any book, document or object which may have a bearing on the investigation—
(i) is in the possession or under the control of any person or on or in any premises within the area of jurisdiction of such Special Tribunal, magistrate or judge; and
(ii) cannot reasonably be obtained in any other manner.".


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