Pretoria — The Police Ministry has welcomed the move by Cabinet to approve the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020, to be published for public comments.
The current South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act No. 68 of 1995), predates the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Minister Cele says the amendments were long overdue.
"While all officers are guided by Section 205 of the Constitution of the country, there was a need to bring this bill in line with the Constitution to ensure optimal policing within the current environment."
There were a number of imperatives that led to a full review of the Act which included the need to address shortcomings in the legal framework which governs the police service.
The amendments also seek to address matters of vetting and integrity testing of those employed within the SAPS under the SAPS Act, through life style audits and conflict of interest.
Those joining the service will also need to be subjected to processes to ensure the integrity of the organization is maintained. Police recruits will be expected to also submit a buccal sample for DNA testing.
The Act will also 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 seek to enhance community policing and oversight of the Community Policing Forums over the police.
The coordination 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.
Regarding protests and other demonstrations, previous judgements found certain sections of the South African Police Service Act on this matter, unconstitutional. The reworked Act now proposes to address operational concerns raised in the non-notification of intended gatherings under the Regulations of Gatherings Act.
The amended Bill will also give effect to the Farlam Commission Recommendations.
Including 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 South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020, provides a way to improve relationships between the police service and the community by ensuring that police members deal with the public with dignity and respect the rights of the public, especially the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.
Minister Cele remains encouraged by the proposed changes.
"These amendments make room for accountability and discipline within the police service and I believe they will go a long way in ensuring that the SAPS better serves the people of this country whilst at the same time, boost the trust between communities and the men and women in blue." - Cele concluded.
Members of the public are encouraged to add their voices to the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020. It is published in the Government Gazette for public comment.