Meeting with Kenyan delegation; Second Hand Goods Bill: NCOP proposed amendments: Briefing by SAPS & deliberations

This premium content has been made freely available


19 November 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security hosted a visiting delegation from Parliament of the Republic of Kenya, and discussed and compared issues of safety and security within the two countries. Questions and discussions centred around the chief security concerns, how best to address them, and structural management of security. The oversight function was described, and a copy of the monitoring tool would be forwarded to the Kenyan parliament. Specific questions related to monitoring of police stations, appointment of officials and their training, interaction between the police service and the public, the distinction between deployment of the police and the military, levels of crime and the refugee problem.

Members then received a presentation from the South African Police Service on the amendments proposed by the NCOP to the Second Hand Goods Bill. These included a change to the long title, insertion of a new definition for a charity organisation in Clause 1, changes to the Schedule to exclude trade in second hand books and clothing, insertion into that Schedule also of irrigation equipment as an item to be covered by the Bill, an amendment to the definition of pawnbroker, and the changes in respect of foreign owner or investor involvement in second-hand dealerships, through changes to Clauses14 and 39. The changes in respect of the offences and penalties clause, the provision of a further offence in respect of continuing contraventions, technical amendments to Clause 42 and the exclusion of charity organisations who were exempted from the operation of the Bill, and the changes to the Schedules were explained. Some Members were concerned about the regulations on foreign investment into South Africa, believing that insufficiently strict background checks were carried out, which potentially could allow for foreign criminal organisations to operate, either directly or by fronting South African citizens. Concerns were also expressed about the exemption of second-hand book dealers, suggesting that this could allow for crime in the sector, as many books were exceedingly valuable and such books were generally not marked by the owners. Other Members expressed the view that over-regulation might harm these businesses. There were also concerns that South Africa could become a dumping ground for foreign second-hand goods. Members decided that the final decision on this matter would stand over to a future meeting.

Meeting report

Safety and security issues: Meeting with Delegation from Parliament of Republic of Kenya
The Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security hosted a visiting delegation from Parliament of the Republic of Kenya. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss and compare issues of safety and security within the two countries.

Members from both countries asked each other questions regarding issues such as the chief security concerns, the means of addressing them and structural management of security within their respective countries.

Ms A Wan Wyk (ANC) fielded a number of questions on behalf of South Africa’s Committee.

Ms Van Wyk noted that the Committee had a broad oversight function with regard to the South African Police Service (SAPS. In particular the Committee was responsible for legislation which directly affected the South African Police Services (SAPS). She pointed out that the SAPS totalled over 160 000 personnel, and was thus a very large organisation for one Committee to oversee. As a means of addressing this issue, the Committee had devised a monitoring tool that was applicable to police stations throughout the country. This tool described what members of the public could expect from police stations by way of service and facilities. Ms Van Wyk indicated that the Committee carried out inspections on police stations as frequently as possible. She indicated that this monitoring tool would be made available to the Kenyan delegation.

A Kenyan delegate asked if police stations were notified prior to inspections.

The Chairperson confirmed that they were not, as this might then enable them to hide their shortcomings prior to inspection.

The Chairperson pointed out that the Committee’s powers allowed it to make recommendations about the adequacy of certain candidates for senior police positions in South Africa. She made the point that it had been the experience in South Africa that it was of great importance to clarify the structures which governed the police services. 

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) pointed out that South Africa’s National Commissioner of Police was currently under suspension, and that this was an issue of controversy within the country.

A question from a Kenyan delegate asked how police officers were chosen in South Africa, as well as how they were trained.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) answered that SAPS recruitment in South Africa was open. Whereas previously a driver’s license had been one of the requirements, this had since fallen away. The only formal requirement now was a matriculation certificate. Mr Ndlovu pointed out that one of the critical elements of a well functioning police force was its training. To this end, South Africa had committed a great deal of resources.

Another question related to how South Africa’s police services were expected to interact with the public.

Mr Ndlovu pointed out that the SAPS placed great emphasis on cooperation with the public. In particular, the public are seen as a critical means of intelligence gathering.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) reiterated the cooperative relationship that SAPS was meant to have with communities and members of the public. There had been great progress made in safety and security concerns within the country as a result of this partnership.

A Kenyan delegate asked under what circumstances South Africa’s military were deployed, and whether marches and protests were allowed in South Africa.

Ms Sotyu pointed out that South Africa made a clear distinction between public safety and national defence. 

Mr Mahote pointed out that South Africa was a democracy and that legal protests were permitted, but that there were strict rules which governed the legal procedures which must be followed in carrying out a protest. These involved planning and consultation with the local authorities and police.

Ms Van Wyk indicated that SAPS had seen some major changes during the course of the country’s democratic governance. Whereas there had previously been a police force, this had now been replaced by a police service. The emphasis was now on service as opposed to force, with a particular human rights focus. There were nevertheless challenges, as it was always difficult to gauge how much force was appropriate in policing. There would always be individuals who would use too much force whilst operating, but there were mechanisms in place for dealing with transgressions of this sort. Ms Van Wyk indicated that the military was only deployed very rarely in South Africa. In instances where it was deployed, it was subject to the command of the police. She added that the military had primarily been deployed to assist in cases of national disasters, as well as during some instances of civil unrest during the mass action by hospital workers.

Ms Barnard agreed with Ms Van Wyk about the country’s reluctance to call in the defence force. She indicated that it was always a sensitive issue whether to deploy the country’s military, given the international media attention such a step would draw. There was a perception globally that involving the military in domestic issues indicated that the country faced collapse or that there was civil repression.

Ms Barnard asked the Kenyan delegation what the levels of crime in Kenya were like. She added that the levels of crime in South Africa were very high. In addition, she asked whether Kenya shared the problem of refugees that South Africa faced. 

A member of the delegation responded that in Kenya’s urban areas there were problems with organised crime. There were also problems with armed militias that operated within various regions of the country. Refugees were an ongoing problem, which put strain on the Kenyan government. In particular there were two very large refugee camps with hundreds of thousands of refugees. Conditions in these camps were poor, with disease, malnourishment and other such problems.

The delegate also remarked on some general concerns with regards to Kenya’s police force that was a central force headed by a military officer. In addition, the delegate mentioned that there were other structural and resource issues which Kenya’s police forces faced.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) thanked the Kenyan delegation for their time and stated that he thought it had been a useful meeting.

The Chairperson also thanked the Kenyan delegation and asked for any closing remarks. 

A member of the Kenyan delegation thanked the Committee for their time. He said that the Kenyan delegation had been most impressed with the hospitality they had received as well as the facilities on offer in South Africa. Members of this Committee would be most welcome to visit Kenya.

Second Hand Goods Bill (the Bill): Proposed NCOP Amendments
Mr Bertus van der Walt, Director, SAPS, briefed the Committee on the proposed amendments to the Second Hand Goods Bill [B2D-2008] that had been suggested by the National Council of provinces (NCOP).

He firstly explained that the Long Title had been amended to change the word “limit” to “combat”.

In Clause 1 a new definition had been inserted for a charity organisation. Mr van der Walt explained the feelings in regard to second hand clothing. Many poor people made their living from selling second-hand clothing, and it was felt that this market should not face significant and potentially hampering regulation. There had also been an appeal by members of trading organisations who dealt in second-hand books to exempt them from increased regulation in the Bill. This was on the grounds that their industry was small, unique and vulnerable in many respects. It was their argument that increased regulation would significantly hurt their prosperity. For this reason amendments had been proposed to line 44, under Clause 1, to stated that “goods” being regulated in Schedule 1 would not include books and clothing.

An amendment was made to the definition of “pawnbroker” by insertion of a new paragraph (c) and there were grammatical changes to make this paragraph then read correctly.

There were technical amendments to Clause 4(1).

Mr van der Walt also discussed the proposed insertion of a new Clause 39 into the Bill. He explained that this linked into Clause 14. This clause related to disqualification of persons being registered as dealers, and one of those disqualifications had applied to a person who did not permanently reside in the Republic of South Africa. This would thus have disqualified foreign investors in South African companies or foreign based companies in South Africa. The NCOP felt that these provisions were not desirable, although it did accept the need for greater regulation of foreign shareholders to prevent crime. Mr van der Walt explained that the amendment now proposed to Clause 14 would not state that non-residence in South Africa would be an automatic disqualification. Instead, there would be a cross-reference to the new Clause 39. This clause allowed the National Commissioner to condone any disqualification. . Furthermore Clause 14(2) was now being amended to delete any reference to the non-residence under the registration provisions. Regulations were then provided for under Clause 41, including requirements in respect of the application by anyone other than the natural person involved, including details such as the full name and identity details of partnerships (foreign and local).

The NCOP had then also made amendments, relating to offences and penalties, in Clause 32(1), and a new subclause 32(3) was to be inserted to provide that a Court may, in addition to any other penalty, impose a further fine or imprisonment in the case of continuing contraventions, suspension or cancellation of any exemption, registration or a forfeiture order.

Mr van der Walt then discussed the technical amendments to Clause 42, as well as insertion of a new subclause (c) into that Clause, excluding charity organisations who were exempted. He also pointed out the changes made to the schedules, indicating in particular the exclusion of clothing and books once again from the Schedule, and the inclusion of irrigation equipment in respect of agricultural implements.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) indicated that she was concerned about two main issues; the potential for foreign criminal elements to conduct business in South Africa, and the second-hand books issue.

Ms Van Wyk was of the opinion that the regulations on foreign investment into South Africa did not require strict enough background checks on foreign investors. This allowed for the potential involvement of foreign criminal organisations, either directly or by using South African citizens as fronts. She thought that the Committee must ensure that more detailed background checks be conducted on foreign investors to curb these potential problems. She pointed out that the recent xenophobic attacks that South Africa had witnessed had in part resulted from the feeling of local people that foreigners were stealing their goods, which were then being sold again in shops.

Ms Van Wyk also expressed concern about the exemption of second-hand book dealers from the Bill’s regulations. She believed that granting them an exemption would allow for the possibility of crime in this sector as a result of decreased regulation. She pointed out that while their industry might be vulnerable, it was not unlike other smaller industries, and therefore should not merit any special treatment. Furthermore, there were some second-hand books that were extremely valuable, and there was therefore a need for protective regulation. She argued that exempting second-hand book dealers from the requirements of the Bill would send a message to thieves that it was acceptable to steal certain types of goods, but not others. She also questioned whether there was indeed an urgent need to resolve these technicalities within this meeting. The limited time-frame which this meeting involved could result in hasty and poorly considered decisions.

Rev Meshoe indicated that he shared Ms Van Wyk’s concerns. He urged the Committee to ensure that South Africa did not become a dumping ground for foreign second-hand goods, in particular those acquired illegally. This would require greater regulation of foreign investors to prevent the intrusion of foreign organised crime syndicates into the South African market.

Ms Kohler-Barnard also took Ms Van Wyk’s opinions very seriously. However, she wondered whether regulating second-hand book stores would not hurt their business. She was of the opinion that second-hand book stores generally dealt in low-value paperbacks, and that requiring proof of identity on the purchase of these books by customers would put unnecessary burdens on transactions. Ms Barnard also questioned how it would be possible to ascertain whether books had been stolen by second-hand dealers. She indicated that books were often unmarked, as marking them lowered their value, so that it was difficult to identify who was the original owner of the book was. This was a matter that should be dealt with by the investigating police officers.

Mr Walt indicated that a possible solution to this issue might be to exclude the word ‘books’ from the Bill. If a more general description were devised this could be interpreted as covering books.

The Chairperson took Members through the Bill, and Members indicated those clauses on which they did not have a problem, and those which elicited differing views.

The Chairperson indicated that there was still some time to deliberate the matter further and proposed that the matter stand over to a future meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related documents


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: