Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says he has appointed a task team to oversee the process of enhancing the independence of the elite crime-fighting unit, the Hawks.
The Minister said the decision to review the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations follows a Constitutional Court judgement in November last year which ruled that the crime fighting unit needed to be “adequately independent”.
He said this when he briefed journalists in Cape Town following his budget vote speech in Parliament on Friday.
“The Constitutional Court directed that we should enhance the independence of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations. In this regard, we have commenced with the establishment of the DPCI as an independent budget programme.
“The new programme will be introduced through the MTEF process in June 2015. A task team has been established with a target for a new programme by 1 April 2016,” he said.
The Minster said the “institutional reform” of the Hawks will, over and above focusing on its legislative framework, look at its management structure.
The department was working with the Department of Public Service and Administration to look at the Hawks structurally.
“Alongside this process is the need to capacitate the Hawks by significantly ramping up investment in capital infrastructure, which involves the upgrading of information technology network and the creation of human capability to assist in the effective combatting, investigation and prevention of priority and trans-national crimes and corruption,” he said.
Calls for police killings to stop
The Minister said he was concerned at the number of police who were being killed on and off duty.
It was important for members of the community to start working with police to improve relations between themselves and the men in blue.
“It is our fervent wish that our members continue to do what our Constitution requires of them and that all people within our borders embrace the work of the police,” said the Minister.
He said 86 members had lost their lives in the past financial year – 35 on duty and 51 while off duty. This was an overall increase of close to 12% compared to the previous year.
“As society it is important to inculcate in ourselves that killing police is killing the nation,” he said.
Service delivery protests
During his budget vote to members of Parliament, the Minister said there had been a spike in the number of service delivery protests around the country which was stretching police resources.
Over the past year, there were 14 740 incidents of service delivery protests, of which 12 451 were peaceful and 2 289 turned violent.
“We are also mindful that citizens have a right to air their grievances. However, society needs to understand that the solution to these protests do not lie with the police.
“They lie with the ability to exercise leadership and the effective address of service delivery issues and other developmental needs in our communities. In this regard, we urge all political parties of different persuasions to play a constructive role in stabilising our communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister said in his budget proposal that more money would be spent on detective work and visible policing.
One of issues the police would look at includes re-looking the issue of bringing back specialised crime fighting units. During his department’s outreach programmes, one of the main concerns members of the public raised was drug and substance abuse.
Source : SAnews.gov.za