2008-03-27 : Deirdre O'Neill

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2008-03-27 : Deirdre O'Neill

Postby GOSA » Fri, 2008-05-16 09:55

The unlawful attack by a member of the Cape Town Metro police on Deirdre O’Neill did not take place in a vacuum. Nor is it an isolated incident. A 2 minute media search brings up a host of examples of abuses of force and violent crimes perpetrated by police and metro police. These violent crimes range from hiring out firearms for heists to beating motorists to death for traffic offences. Where the victim was known to the perpetrator she was often a wife or girlfriend, shot by a SAPS or Metro Police member with a service pistol. In a disproportionate number of cases where the law-enforcement official and the victim did not know each other race appears to play a role in the assault and the incident should be investigated as a hate-crime.

One thing is clear: Effective policing is collapsing and the rule of law is under threat. The 'never again' dreams of the drafters of our Constitution who were determined that police powers would be cast in stone and strictly adhered to are in shatters.

The police are out of control in South Africa.

The experiment with Metro Police forces is a disaster.
Both threaten our constitutional order.

According to our Constitution: "S199 (7) National legislation must provide a framework for the establishment, powers, functions and control of municipal police services". Is there effective control of municipal police services?
Ask Deirdre O’Neill!

Where did the politicians lose their grip on the reins of our law-enforcers?

Gun Owners of South Africa believe that the rot set in with the process of enactment of new gun control legislation. The Minister for Safety and Security and the Commissioner of the SAPS are both on record refusing to comply with S 137 of the Firearms Control Act which requires that compensation be paid for surrendered firearms. When the FCA could not be implemented quickly enough the Minister allowed the Central Firearms Register to implement a de facto gun ban that saw the issuing of firearm licences come to a standstill. The Minister allows the CFR to tide roughshod over gun owners rights to administrative justice in terms of the Constitution and The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act. The result is that approximately 930 out of around 1000 gun dealers have been forced into liquidation.

Less sophisticated law-enforcers were quick to take note of the official attitude of the nation's top cops towards the law and the rule of law.

There is no mention of the administration of firearm licencing in Section 199 of the Constitution:
"Police service
(3) The objects of the police service are to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law."
The Central Firearm Register has no powers in terms of our Constitution to regulate the licencing of firearms.

Again, a mockery is being made of our Constitution:
"207 Control of police service
(1) The President as head of the national executive must appoint a woman or a man as the National Commissioner of the police service, to control and manage the police service.
(2) The National Commissioner must exercise control over and manage the police service in accordance with the national policing policy and the directions of the Cabinet member responsible for policing."

GOSA have to ask: What kind of example did the Nation Commissioner set?

The principles governing national security are contained in S 198 of our Constitution. Subsection c. provides that national security must be pursued in compliance with the law while subsection d. requires that national security is subject to the authority of Parliament and the national executive.
S206 of the Constitution apportions political responsibility:
"(1) A member of the Cabinet must be responsible for policing...".
The biggest threat to policing in accordance with the Constitution is the intransigent Minister, Charles Nqakula. Ultimately though, the Minister can only mess up to the extent he does in the complete absence of Parliamentary oversight by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Safety and Security.

Once again, Constitutional mandates are not met. This is a problem of values. There is a rotten core at the heart of South Africa's ruling elite which cannot distinguish between right or wrong, but thinks it is perfectly acceptable to take the people's money while at best going through the motions of doing the people's business, in defiance of the Constitution they swore to uphold. Section 199 is clear on this issue:
"(8) To give effect to the principles of transparency and accountability, multi-party parliamentary committees must have oversight of all security services in a manner determined by national legislation or the rules and orders of Parliament."

That really is the crux, is it not? The checks and balance in the Constitution are only as effective as the people doing the checking. The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Safety and Security has never audited the implementation of the Firearms Control Act, and has allowed our country to be embarrassed before the world with its total absence of control or, in fact, any action whatsoever in the whole saga around the Commissioner of the SAPS.

Clearly, a reminder is appropriate of how Section 199 of the Constitution regulates the conduct of the security services:
"(4) The security services must be structured and regulated by national legislation.
(5) The security services must act, and must teach and require their members to act, in accordance with the Constitution and the law....
(6) No member of any security service may obey a manifestly illegal order.
(7) Neither the security services, nor any of their members, may, in the performance of their functions-
.....further, in a partisan manner, any interest of a political party."

The sad fact is that the Constitution is meaningless while parliamentarians like Annelize Van Wyk and Maggie Sotyu refuse to do the job the people pay them for.
What have YOU done for YOUR rights today?
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