It is no secret; South Africa is now at a point whereby crime is no longer a mere talking point nor a concern. Sadly, it has now transformed into an unavoidable component within our everyday lives, seeing South Africa holding 6 of the ten most dangerous cities in Africa.
The above, coupled with the fact that policing legislation and their general demeanour towards the public is in dire need of an upgrade, has now led to Gov. approving an Amendment Bill which will introduce a range of changes.
This follows the Police Ministry welcoming a move by Cabinet to approve the South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020.
According to the Police Ministry, there were several imperatives which led to a full review of the Act. These include; the need to address the current 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 lifestyle audits and conflict of interest.
Those joining the service will be subjected to processes to ensure the integrity of the organisation is maintained. Police recruits will also be expected to 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 improve community policing, thereby offering more peace of mind to South Africans.
Furthermore, the coordination between the police service and municipal police services needs to be improved in terms of the concept of a single police service.
The amendment will enhance the framework for the establishment, powers, functions and control of municipal police services.
Regarding protests and other demonstrations, previous judgements found individual 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.
This includes the assurance that no automatic rifles may be used in crowd control, and lethal force may not be used for protection of property only.
However, whenever life and property are endangered simultaneously, the use of lethal force will be warranted. The South African Police Service Amendment Bill, 2020, further provides a way to improve relationships between the police service and the community by ensuring police members deal with the public with dignity and respect the rights of the everyone. Especially the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities.
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.
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