The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes the publication, for comment, of the draft South African Police Service Amendment Bill. We believe that this draft Bill is, at best, flawed, and at worst represents an attempt to affect an unconstitutional power-grab by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele. We will oppose this Bill with all the means at our disposal.

Ironically, the Bill professes to align the existing South African Police Service Act (SAPS Act) with the Constitution, but in going about creating a “single police service” it erodes the constitutionally-mandated powers of provincial, municipal and community policing structures. The Bill in effect strips provincial and local governments of decision-making and planning powers, while requiring them to continue bearing the bulk of the responsibilities associated with policing in their areas, including assuming civil liability and taking care of funding and equipping. The Bill awards substantial powers to the Minister to interfere in provincial and municipal policing matters.

The DA is of the belief that policing should be increasingly devolved, not centralised. In order to effectively fight crime we need a police force that is nimble enough to adjust to the unique circumstances of each province or community, rather than a “one size fits all” bureaucracy in which crime fighting strategies, policies and priorities are determined nationally by politicians that are far removed from the daily realities of ordinary South Africans.

The DA urges members of the public to submit their comments on the Bill as a matter of urgency. Comments should be submitted by no later than 14 November 2020, and must be addressed in writing to comments.bill@csp.gov.za or by post for the attention Dr. PC Jacobs at Civilian Secretariat for Police, Private Bag X922, Pretoria.

The ANC government has consistently failed to combat crime effectively, and this Bill, by centralising powers at a national level, is a step in the wrong, rather than the right, direction.