The unconstitutional aspects of the current IPID Bill are serious and have far-reaching implications for the effective functioning of IPID and its ability to hold the police accountable. The infringement on IPID’s independence, the erosion of parliamentary oversight, limitations on public participation, and the absence of clear evaluation measures collectively undermine the constitutional integrity of the Bill. Addressing these concerns is crucial to safeguarding IPID’s role as an unbiased, independent entity, essential for maintaining public trust and ensuring police accountability in South Africa.
These are the most significant threats Action Society identified in its formal public comment submission on the proposed amendments in the IPID Bill. The public has until 2 October 2023 to comment on the Bill.
The perceived erosion of IPID’s independence under the current Bill stands as a pivotal concern, primarily due to the extensive authority it bestows upon the Minister of Police. This authority envelops a spectrum of activities within IPID, crucially encompassing the power to appoint and dismiss the Executive Director of IPID. These provisions do not merely sow seeds of doubt regarding IPID’s independence but pose substantial risks of actually compromising it.
According to Ian Cameron, Director of Community Safety at Action Society, maintaining a clear distinction between the powers of the Minister of Police and the operational autonomy of IPID is crucial to preserve the integrity and credibility of the institution.
“Any provision that infringes upon this 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.”
Cameron cited numerous challenges that plague SAPS in fulfilling its mandate effectively. The persistent rise in crime statistics, instances of police criminality, and misconduct allegations have eroded public confidence in the service.
Convictions are down
“Under Bheki Cele’s leadership, there has been a marked decrease in the resolution of critical criminal cases, with only 14,5% of murders and 10,43% of armed robberies being solved. This represents a 30% decrease in the likelihood of solving murders and a 39% decrease in solving armed robberies.”
Crime is up
Earlier this week, Cele responded to a written question in Parliament on the rise in violent crime over the past ten years. “According to Cele 196 566 people were killed in South Africa in the last decade. However, these figures do not correlate with the police’s own statistics of 213 484 between 2012/13 and 2022/23. For Cele, it is just as easy to dismiss around 15 000 people as statistics as it is not to do his job properly. Nevertheless, the crime situation puts SA in third (‘bronze’) position in terms of world murder rates, just behind Papua New Guinea and Honduras, according to WiseVoter.com, a global statistical tracker of crime which provides detailed annual analysis of worldwide criminal trends.”
Trust in SAPS at an all-time low
Criminality within the police system has also increased, including rape and theft. According to a recent report 5 489 SAPS members were arrested between 2019 and 2020. Of these, 383 included charges of murder, rape and stock theft. Meanwhile, civil claims against SAPS are rising. “According to the police’s latest annual report, SAPS faced 13000 new civil claims in 2021/2022, and had to pay out more than R470 million for close to 5000 civil claims during the period.”
“Bheki Cele cannot be trusted with our safety. While we will continue campaigning for his removal from office, we cannot allow IPID to be turned from a watchdog into a bouncer institution for a growing police mafia.”