Ipid Amendment Bill one step closer to being implemented

Date: 05 Jul 2018

THE National Assembly has adopted the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) Amendment Bill, which aims to curb political influence in the removal and suspension of the police oversight body’s executive directors.

The bill, if passed into law, will require a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly to suspend the Ipid head.

Police portfolio committee chairperson Francois Beukman said: “The bill has now been adopted and supported by all the political parties. We welcome the fact that the bill has been approved.

“This means we have complied with the Constitutional Court’s deadline.

The amendments to the Ipid Act follow a Constitutional Court ruling last year directing Parliament to amend the legislation as it gave the police minister too much power to suspend or remove the head of the police watchdog.

In 2015, then police minister Nathi Nhleko suspended and removed Ipid head Robert McBride. McBride approached the Constitutional Court, challenging the constitutionality of the clause in the act that authorised the minister to remove him.

The court declared the provisions unconstitutional and ordered Parliament to bring them in line with the constitution. The bill aims to afford the body greater independence from the police minister.

Beukman said the committee was confident that the amendments satisfied the Constitutional Court ruling. “It will now be cleared by the Parliamentary legal advisers as constitutional. It must then be sent to the Speaker, and then sent to the National Council of Provinces for consideration. The advice that we got from Parliament’s legal advisers was that it was consistent with the constitution, and some of the input we received yesterday confirmed that,” said Beukman.

The DA welcomed the adoption of the bill, but said matters it raised regarding the amendments would need to be addressed in the near future.

DA MP Zakhele Mbhele said: “Insofar as the amendment bill covers the basics and does what it needs to do at the bare minimum in responding to the court ruling, it’s not something to complain about.

“We proposed amendments, but it is not a train smash that they were not agreed to by the majority of the committee. However, it does leave room for ambiguity and ambivalence that could create problems in the future,” said Mbhele

The Council for the Advancement of the SA Constitution, the Helen Suzman Foundation and other civil society groups all backed the bill.

By Mary Jane Mphahlele -

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