South African Police Service Second Amendment Bill: briefing

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12 August 1998
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12 August 1998

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South African Police Service Second Amendment Bill [B61-98] - access from

This Bill has been introduced via a private member, Mr D Gibson of the Democratic Party, and it attempts to address the problems of crime, the alleged personnel shortage in SAPS as well as alleviating unemployment by creating a voluntary national service possibly using RDP job creation funds.

During discussion it emerged that the Department felt that the committee appointed by the Minister to investigate suggestions regarding the SAPS should consider the ideas contained in the Bill first and though not opposed to it in principle, there were legal and practical problems with the Bill..

Both the National Party (NP) and African National Congress (ANC) committee members were critical of the Bill. The NP suggested further input was needed from SAPS before discussion of the Bill could continue. The ANC argued that the issues should be referred to the Job Summit or dealt with in the White Paper.

The Chairperson said a date would be set for a meeting with the Commissioner regarding the Bill.

The Chairperson, Mr RS Molekane (ANC), reminded members that the Bill in question had been introduced by Mr DH Gibson (DP). After welcoming Adv. Du Plessis and Adv. Joubert from the Department of Safety and Security, he asked Mr Gibson to take the committee through the Bill.

Mr Gibson (DP) said he believed the Bill was a simple one, but that it contained a powerful concept: that of the institution of a voluntary national service. Referring to the Memorandum on page 6 of the Bill, he felt that voluntary national service could help arrest the spiralling crime wave, the personnel shortage of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the high levels of unemployment. He continued that the voluntary national service could improve the image of the police whilst providing an important skills pool in the country. Mr Gibson was of the opinion that the cost would be less than that of a full scale increase in numbers of the SAPS, and that it could possibly be absorbed by RDP funds as part of a job creation scheme.

Mr Gibson then discussed the proposed provisions of the Bill, adding that it allowed for flexibility in terms of the Voluntary National Service Program itself and in terms of the requirements for applicants. Finally he submitted that the Bill was reasonably historic in that it was the first Opposition Private Bill to go past the Private Members' Legislative Proposals and Petitions Committee to the Safety and Security Committee. Accordingly he asked the committee to give it serious consideration.

Mr Molekane (ANC) then called on members of the Department of Safety and Security for their views on the Bill.

Adv. Du Plessis began by stating that the Minister was not against the enhancement of the SAPS, but that there were practical problems with the Bill. He referred to the committee appointed by the Minister to investigate and receive suggestions regarding the SAPS, and emphasised that the role of this committee is to consult widely and consider suggestions like those of Mr Gibson. Thus he continued that although the Minister was not in principle opposed to such a Bill, it was felt that its concerns should be dealt with in a more structured manner, for instance, by such a committee.

Adv. Joubert reiterated that there were legal and practical problems with the Bill. He said the Bill in its present form lacks the necessary detail and clarity. He highlighted concerns about the obligations placed on the Minister and the Commissioner, stating that enabling provisions would be preferable. Adv. Joubert found the financial implications of the scheme to be a major obstacle, and agreed with Adv. Du Plessis that other measures were currently in place to address the concerns of the Bill.

Mr ME George (ANC) made reference to a previous report that stated that the SAPS was being trimmed down and questioned the motivation behind the Bill as an employment-creating mechanism. He stated that the Bill did not address the real issue of crime prevention, that its costs would be enormous and that furthermore its contradictory nature was evident from the very memorandum. Accordingly he felt the Bill should not be allowed to continue.

Mr PA Matthee (NP) asked the officials from the Department of Safety and Security to clarify the present situation in the SAPS. He stated that on one hand the Committee hears about a trimming down of the SAPS, but on the other there are constant complaints about personnel shortages. He also enquired about the committee appointed by the Minister, asking about its composition and when results could reasonably be expected. Mr Matthee felt that it would be impossible to discuss the Bill until such time as detailed information regarding current SAPS strategies was known.

Mr Molekane responded that the Department officials were not involved in these structures and thus could not be expected to answer the questions. He asked the member to discuss the Bill

Mr Matthee once again said that the Bill could not be discussed until it was known where exactly the committee appointed by the Minister was in its process. He suggested that the Minister should clarify the matter before the discussion on the Bill continued.

Mr JA Marais (NP) agreed with Mr Matthee, stating that the discussion was a waste of time until clarity was achieved.

An ANC member then asked Mr Gibson whether he had taken note of other options or solutions, such as the White Paper, social factors and other processes.

Adv. Du Plessis stated that the White Paper was nearing completion, and that it should be available by December.

Adv. Joubert reiterated that many matters in the Bill were unclear, but felt that he was not in a position to answer satisfactorily, and that questions should rather be put to the Commissioner and the Chief Executive Officer. He was of the opinion that the Bill was not the best option, as current emphasis was on the retraining of present staff.

With reference to Dr Zuma’s plans for medical students and the Department of Justice’s plans for law students, Mr Gibson responded that the idea of national service had become a popular one. He emphasised that the service would be voluntary, and felt that people would respond favourably.

In answer to Mr George, Mr Gibson said that crime had not been adequately addressed, and encouraged Members to be forward thinking and look beyond present solutions. He felt that voluntary national service could provide the solution, and that costs need not be exorbitant. He discussed the wide ranging positive effects of such a scheme and again pointed to the RDP as a possible fund provider.

Addressing the Department of Safety and Security officials, Mr Gibson requested that since the Minister was not opposed in principle to the Bill, that the Bill be allowed to continue.

Ms N Kondlo (ANC) said the emphasis should be on the redistribution of resources, and accordingly the Bill was misplaced. She said the Bill contradicted Meyer Kahn’s idea of a lean Police Service, and that it should rather fall under the coming Job Summit where those issues would be discussed. Ms Kondlo questioned where the resources would come from, asking whether it was really the responsibility of the SAPS to train youths for jobs outside the SAPS.

Mr MS Booi (ANC) said the Bill should have happened earlier. He felt resources would be better spent if they were concentrated on the Community Police Forums, whose initiatives are constantly thwarted by lack of funds. Mr Booi said that the Community Police Forums conformed to Mr Gibson’s ideas of forward thinking innovations. He continued that there was a danger inherent in the Bill in that after two years volunteers would have a military training, and if there were no jobs they could possibly use these skills to the detriment of the country.

Mr Molekane then summarised the two principle arguments of the meeting:
1) The NP argument by Mr Matthee and Mr Marais that further input was needed from the SAPS before discussion of the Bill could continue.

2) The ANC argument that the issues should be referred to the Job Summit or dealt with in the White Paper.

Mr George said that the NP and ANC arguments were not mutually exclusive. He supported Mr Matthee’s call for progress reports, and suggested that the Bill itself was in need of more input.

The Chairperson thanked the Members for their positive contributions to the meeting, and said a date would be set for a meeting with the Commissioner.


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