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South Africa: Government Introduces Bills to Keep Police Force Honest

(Aug. 18, 2010) It was reported on August 4, 2010, that Nathi Mthethwa, the Minister of Police of South Africa, recently introduced two bills, on the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD, whose name will change to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)) and on the Civilian Secretariat for Police, to the South African Parliament for floor action (South African Police Service, Minister Mthethwa Introduces the Independent Complaints Directorate and Secretariat Bills, South African Government Information website (Aug. 3, 2010), http://www.info.gov.za/speech/DynamicAction?pageid=461&sid=11925&
;;tid=14048
).

If enacted, the IPID Bill will eliminate some of the current functions of the ICD, and enhance its core mandate. The ICD will no longer be the institution in charge of monitoring compliance of the police with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act (Domestic Violence Act, No. 116 of 1998, §18, South African Government Information website, http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70651 (last visited Aug. 5, 2010)).

However, the ICD mandate to investigate deaths in police custody or as a result of police action will expand (see South African Police Service Act, No. 68 of 1995, South African Government Information website, http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=70987 (last visited Aug. 5, 2010)). According to the bill, the IPID, in addition to investigating deaths in police custody or deaths as a result of police actions, will be mandated to investigate complaints of rape by police, including by off-duty officers, rape of a detainee by other detainees while in police custody, torture, and any other matters referred to it by the Minister of Police or a member of the Executive Council (IPID Bill, §25, South African Government Information website, http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=127832 (last visited Aug. 5, 2010)). The Directorate will have the authority to investigate corruption or inefficiency complaints regarding the police if it deems fit (id.).

The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Bill will establish a Civilian Secretariat, one of whose objectives will be to exercise civilian oversight of the police (The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Bill, §4, South African Government Information website, http://www.info.gov.za/view/DownloadFileAction?id=127845 (last visited Aug. 5, 2010)). The Secretariat will assume the function of monitoring and evaluating police compliance with the Domestic Violence Act, a function currently mandated for the ICD (id. at §5). The bill also requires the Secretariat to conduct regular assessments and evaluations of the police force and in doing so to take into account the “recommendations, suggestions and requests concerning police and policing matters as it may receive from any source” (id.).