Greater independence for IPID closer as amendment bill approved

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Amendment Bill, which aims to allow for greater independence of the police watchdog head, was on Tuesday approved in the National Assembly.

It intends to be aligned to the 2016 Constitutional Court ruling that gave the National Assembly 24 months to rectify a defect in the IPID Act, a law that essentially gives the minister of police powers to suspend, take any disciplinary steps pursuant to suspension, or remove from office the IPID executive director.  

The bill will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the amendments to the act intend to restrict political influence in the removal and suspension of the police oversight body's executive directors.

"Furthermore, the amendments give IPID more independence from the police minister. When the bill is passed into law, it will require Parliament to have an oversight role in which a two-thirds majority vote will be needed in the National Assembly to suspend, discipline or remove the executive director of IPID," he said in a statement.

"We are pleased that we were able to amend the legislation within the 24-month deadline set by the court."

ANC 'pleased' with IPID investigations

Meanwhile, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) said it would "meet soon" with South African Police Service (SAPS) management to "hear their side" on IPID's current investigations, as well as how the SAPS is dealing with the implicated officers.

According to ANC's Scopa study group, it was "pleased" with the progress being made by IPID in its probe into cases such as the charges of corruption and defeating the ends of justice facing former acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane.

"The IPID head of investigations Matthews Sesoko in the briefing suggested that amendments to the IPID Act, the Intelligence Service Oversight Act and the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act might be necessary in order to strengthen the oversight capacity of crime intelligence," said study group whip Mnyamezeli Booi.

"The report by IPID gave an indication that [high-profile] investigations are nearing conclusion. In welcoming the report, we reiterate our stance that those found guilty of wrongdoing must face the full might of the law. The ANC pledges its full support to the police watchdog in its efforts to bring criminals in the police force to book."

Scopa said it had met with IPID to follow up on meetings the committee has held with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and the police in which procurement processes at SITA and links to controversial company Forensic Data Analysts, Phahlane and other police officials were discussed.