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South African Police Service Amendment Bill on Track

May 28, 2021

Department of Police

The Draft South African Police Service Amendment Bill is being finalised for tabling in cabinet.

The police minister, General Bheki Cele, announced this during the police department’s 2021/22 Budget Vote Speech.

The draft bill, designed to contribute to the effective and efficient combating of crime, was published for comment in October 2020.

Cabinet approved the draft bill in September 2020 for publication for comment.

According to the cabinet statement, the draft bill “provides, amongst others, a legal framework in the governance of the police service and the establishment of community-based neighbourhood forums. The Bill also takes into consideration the recommendations that came out of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry led by retired Judge Ian Farlam”.

The draft bill aims to amend the South African Police Service Act of 1995 in order to establish a legal framework for policing aligned to the Constitution of 1996, principles laid down in the National Development Plan 2030, to align the act with the White Paper on Policing of 2016, the White Paper on Safety and Security of 2016, the Community Policing Policy and the Policy on a Single Police Service, in order to contribute to the effective and efficient combating of crime.

The draft bill proposes to delete certain sections of the South African Police Service Act of 1995 that the Constitutional Court found to be unconstitutional.

It also seeks to amend certain provisions of the Regulation of Gatherings Act that the Court also found unconstitutional in the Mlungwana judgment.

The draft bill provides for the setting up of the Intelligence Division of the Police Service in terms of the South African Police Service Act of 1995.

The draft bill also provides for integrity testing of recruits to the Police Service as well as lifestyle audits in respect of members of the Service and conflict of interest.

The proposed legislation also seeks to increase the penalty for certain crimes relating to the abuse of police equipment.

The minister also pointed out that the Draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill and the Draft Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill were approved by cabinet earlier this month for public consultation.

The draft bills were published in Government Gazette 44593 at the end of last week for comment.

The Draft Firearms Control Amendment Bill aims to amend the Firearms Control Act.

Provisions include muzzle loading firearm to be included in the definition of firearm; amendment of the provision relating to prohibited firearms; provide for the period of validity of all competency certificates to be five years; applicant for a firearm to provide a valid reason for possessing a firearm; no firearm licences may be issued for self-defence purposes; conditions under which a firearm licence for occasional hunting or sports-shooting may be issued; provide for the limitation of firearm licences that may be issued to a dedicated hunter, dedicated sports-person or professional hunter; deletion of provisions that permit a private collector to collect and possess firearms and ammunition in a private collection; the period within which a renewal of a firearm must be made and consequences for a failure to do so; periods of validity of firearm licence or permit; renewal of firearm licences and that a firearm licence remains valid until the application for renewal is decided; establishment of the Central Firearm Register as a division in the South African Police Service and valid firearm licence issued for private and public collection to remain valid until the expiry of that licence.

The Draft Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Amendment Bill seeks to update the Protection of Constitutional Democracy against Terrorist and Related Activities Act of 2004 with regard to “developments in international law, to give effect to certain Constitutional Court judgments and to address challenges experienced with conducting investigations and prosecutions”.

Provisions also deal with foreign terrorist fighters and address the sentencing of the financing of terrorism.

The proposals involve the amendment of certain definitions in the principal act, and the insertion of some new offences related to maritime and aviation security.

The extradition provisions in the principal act are expanded to include all terrorism related offences in the principal act.

Comment on both bills was invited within 45 days of the date of publication.

Other developments highlighted include:

• A request to declare another Firearm Amnesty period is currently receiving attention and necessary consideration;
• Civilian Secretariat for Police Service is busy with the promotion of draft legislation to contribute to the professionalization of the police service, addressing the regulation of the possession of firearms and updating legislation to combat international terrorism;
• Draft Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill and Draft Independent Police Investigative Directorate Amendment Bill in the pipeline;
• Private Security Industry Levies Act, 2002 – treasury process to review into a Money Bill – can address funding challenges and allow the Authority to fully execute its legislative mandate.