Hawks will report to minister says new police bill

The SA Police Service Amendment Bill has been passed by the National Assembly which will entrust the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) – known colloquially as the Hawks – within the ambit of the police force and reporting to the minister of police. This is in line with the Constitutional Court’s finding in terms of the Glenister ruling.

During the debate in the National Assembly, the current police minister, Nathi Mathethwa, defended the changes wherein the final amendment as such was worked into the anchor legislation at the last minute, thus altering the Bill to reflect the fact that the Hawks would not report to the national police commissioner.

The Bill, now to go the president for signature, also states that the Hawks are empowered to decide on any matters to be investigated and which decision will prevail over any provincial commissioner.

The Democratic Alliance voted against the Bill, as did the FF+, with the ACDP and COPE siding with the ANC, the DA stating that the opportunity of having a truly independent investigative unit having been lost since politicians, to quote Dianne Kohler-Barnard of the DA, “were still able to fiddle about with it”.    The ACDP felt that as the law would be in line with the Glenister findings, this would be sufficient.

The predecessors of the Hawks were known as the Scorpions, who were disbanded at the wishes of the ANC as a result of a party decision made at the ANC’s pre-election conference at Polokwane.

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