Action Society’s proposed amendments to the National Prosecution Authority Amendment Bill and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Amendment Bill to ensure robust independent oversight over the South African Police Service (SAPS) and expedite case resolution through shorter trial periods, reduced case backlog, ensuring swift justice for victims. According to Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society, a decentralised NPA along with increased accountability through IPID will pave the way to faster and more effective prosecutions.
Action Society was invited to present its recommendations on the Amendment bills in Parliament earlier today following its written submissions on the bills as part of the public participation process.
Action Society’s submission on the NPA Amendment Bill highlights the significant challenges in terms of efficiency and responsiveness of the current centralised structure of the NPA. “We propose a visionary shift in the distribution of prosecutorial power within the country. This shift would entail constitutional amendments that empower provinces to establish their prosecuting authorities, working concurrently with the national NPA. The devolution of prosecutorial power to provinces can significantly enhance the efficiency of the criminal justice system because provinces are better equipped to understand and address the unique challenges and crime dynamics within their jurisdictions. Local prosecutors who are intimately familiar with their communities and the specific nuances of cases can expedite case resolution. This can lead to shorter trial periods, reduced case backlog, and swifter justice for victims. The devolution of power also enhances accountability and transparency within the NPA. Localised prosecuting authorities can be more directly accountable to their respective communities and provincial governments,” said Cameron.
Read Action Society’s submission here.
In Action Society’s presentation on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Amendment Bill, Cameron highlighted the importance of keeping IPID out of the hands of the police, as it allows for unchecked criminality within the police service under its current leadership. Referring to the recent #BlueLightMafia incident in Johannesburg, Cameron illustrated how the internal disciplinary process of the South African Police Service has collapsed making independent scrutiny by IPID that much more important.
“Any provision that infringes upon IPID’s autonomy challenges the foundational principles of IPID and compromises its ability to act as an effective watchdog over the police, thereby undermining the broader goals of fostering transparency, accountability, and justice within the policing system. In fact, we believe it is necessary to go even further and establish IPID as a Chapter 9 Institution.”
“Establishing IPID as a Chapter 9 Institution through our proposed amendments is a decisive step towards securing its independence and efficacy. Such enhancements in its constitutional status, governance structure, and operational autonomy will empower IPID to execute its mandate diligently, uphold the rule of law, and contribute significantly to the reformation and fortification of South Africa’s democratic framework. As the Amendment Bill stands currently, it is unconstitutional because it will decrease parliamentary and public oversight, in effect delegating scrutiny over the SAPS to the minister of Police, rendering this oversight body without teeth.”
Read Action Society’s Submission here.