Monday, August 6, 2012
Glenister calls on citizens to fight Hawks bill
Glenister calls on citizens to fight Hawks bill
By Sue Segar
Hugh Glenister. Picture: Cara Viereckl
Hugh Glenister, who last year won a lone crusade against the laws which disbanded the Scorpions and established the Hawks, has embarked on another campaign – this time to fight the “tweaked” Hawks bill.
Glenister, a Joburg businessman, said yesterday there was “no way” corruption would end if the Hawks reported to the SA Police Service as envisaged in the new SAPS Amendment Bill. He asked people to join the fight against the bill by sending objections to Parliament by March 27. “Ordinary people must hold up the stop signs and say, ‘Enough’. It is vital to involve the public.
Broader society must become critically involved in asking how we can create the best (anti-)corruption body in the world,” he said. “It is in all our interest to ensure, firstly, that there are good laws that prevent corruption and, secondly, measures to nail corrupt people. “Corruption is inevitable if you create bad laws.
The people of SA have to realise that they are actually in charge. They have to do their bit to keep the politicians in check, to make the government afraid – to effectively put the fox in the henhouse. “If we do not keep them in check, our taxes will go through the roof and will not be used for the benefit of all, but for an elite, nepotistic bunch.” The bill, tabled in Parliament this month, is the government’s response to the judgment last March which found that the Hawks were not sufficiently protected from political interference, nor independent enough to fight corruption effectively.
The Constitutional Court gave Parliament 18 months to amend the legislation or it would be declared constitutionally invalid. The new bill is aimed at bringing the directorate for priority crime investigation – otherwise known as the Hawks – into line with the judgment. Last week a “tweaked” version of the legislation that established the unit in place of the Scorpions was presented to Parliament’s portfolio committee on police.
The committee set a deadline for written submissions on the bill of March 27. Those who make written submissions can ask to make a presentation at public hearings scheduled for April 23 and 24. A key concern of Glenister’s is the fact that the unit is to remain within the SAPS, with its boss still reporting to the police minister. Glenister said this did not satisfy everything the Constitutional Court had asked for. Glenister also slammed the speed with which the bill was being processed.
“I don’t know what the rush is.” The new bill proposes, among other things, that the head of the unit – who should be appointed by the minister, in agreement with the cabinet – should be given a non-renewable fixed term of seven years. This is in contrast to the renewable term which existed in the previous legislation. Under the previous law, the head was appointed by the national police commissioner and could be removed with relative ease. The new bill proposes that the boss of the unit may be removed by the police minister only after an inquiry and only on grounds of misconduct, continued ill health, incapacity and on account of no longer being a fit and proper person to hold the office.
The minister must also report to Parliament within 14 days after the removal and any arguments the head may have made in his or her defence must be provided. The head of the unit can be suspended without pay before this. The new bill also proposes that the head has the power to appoint staff, determine the number and grading of posts (in consultation with the ministers of police and public service and administration) and to decide on cases to be investigated.
But this must be done subject to policy guidelines issued by the minister of police and approved by Parliament. In the previous legislation, the guidelines were set by a ministerial committee and approved by Parliament, an arrangement that posed another concern in the Constitutional Court judgment, which said this gave senior politicians the power to “determine the limits, outlines and contents of the new entity’s work”.
The national police commissioner, as the SAPS accounting officer, will also be responsible for the finances of the Hawks. Glenister described the tweaked bill as an insult to all South Africans. “I am very worried that government appears to be rushing through the amended version of the legislation without proper consultation and thought. A tweaked version of the original legislation that was proven to be unconstitutional is not going to cut it. I can’t accept that and I don’t expect the South African public will accept it either,” he said.
“There is no way to control or to stop corruption if the Hawks remain under the umbrella of the SAPS. Corruption must be stopped, and the only way to do this is to create an anti-corruption body that is independent, specialised, properly-resourced, well-trained and endowed with the protection needed to ensure the security of its personnel.” Glenister said he was ready to go back to court should the current proposal remain in place. He said he was encouraged by how many people had already responded to his call, ranging from Cosatu’s Corruption Watch to the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution and others. “They are saying, ‘we have a problem and we need to fix it’.
Why the rush when we could involve civil society in a good debate and apply the full range of clever minds to make beautiful recommendations on how to prevent corruption in the first place and, when it falls through the cracks, how to nail them and lock them away?” he said.
Written comments can be submitted to Zola Vice, Portfolio Committee on Police, 3rd Floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town, 8000, or e-mail her on firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 086 604 5468, by March 27. The bill is available on Parliament’s website: www.parliament.gov.za