Cele welcomes changes to policing as new law is published for comment

29 September 2020 - 17:56
The cabinet has approved the SA Police Service Amendment Bill that will see recommendations of the Farlam Commission being effected.
The cabinet has approved the SA Police Service Amendment Bill that will see recommendations of the Farlam Commission being effected.
Image: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The cabinet has approved the SA Police Service Amendment Bill, which will see changes within the police force, including the vetting of officers and the submission of DNA samples of recruits.

Police minister Bheki Cele has welcomed the bill, which will be published for public comment in the government gazette. The current SA Police Service Act, 1995 (Act 68 of 1995), predates SA's constitution.

Cele said the amendments were long overdue.

“While all officers are guided by Section 205 of the constitution, there was a need to bring this bill in line with the constitution to ensure optimal policing within the current environment.”

The amendments, according to the police ministry, seek to address matters of vetting and integrity testing of those employed within the police service under the SAPS Act through lifestyle audits and conflict of interest.

“Those joining the service will also be subjected to processes to ensure the integrity of the organisation is maintained. Police recruits will be expected to submit a buccal sample for DNA testing.

“The act will empower the minister of police to make regulations for the roles, functions, duties and obligations, requirements for appointment and disciplinary matters of deputy national and divisional commissioners.”

The proposed changes also sought to enhance community policing and oversight of the community policing forums over the police, the department said.

“The co-ordination between the police service and municipal police services needs to be improved in terms of the concept of a single police service. It will enhance the framework for the establishment, powers, functions and control of municipal police services.”

“The bill also addresses concerns raised about the non-notification of intended gatherings.”

The amended bill would also give effect to the Farlam Commission recommendations. These included the assurance that no automatic rifles may be used in crowd control, and that lethal force may not be used for protection of property only. However, whenever life and property is endangered simultaneously, use of lethal force will be warranted.

“The SA Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020, provides a way to improve relationships between the police service and the community by ensuring police members deal with the public with dignity and respect the rights of the public, especially the rights of women, children and people with disabilities,” said the police ministry.

“These amendments make room for accountability and discipline within the police service and I believe they will go a long way to ensuring  the police better serve the people of this country while boosting communities' trust in  the men and women in blue,” Cele said.

He encouraged members of the public to comment on the bill.

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