Home South African MPs delay parliamentary inquiry into July unrest, looting

MPs delay parliamentary inquiry into July unrest, looting

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The committee resolved to wait until the investigations by the SAHRC and independent presidential panel have concluded their work.

Parliamentarians have delayed their inquiry into the July riots that engulfed Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal and caused billions of rand in damages and hundreds of lives lost. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

THE POLICE portfolio committee has decided to delay conducting its parliamentary inquiry into the unrest that erupted in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July.

The committee resolved to wait until the investigations by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the independent presidential panel have concluded their work.

In August, the committee had given MPs two weeks to make inputs on the terms of reference for the inquiry.

In July, chairperson of committees Cedric Frolick ordered the body to look into the serious lapses in the ability and capacity of the policing services to deal with the violence and unrest in the two provinces.

Instead of looking into the terms of reference at Wednesday’s meeting, ANC MP and committee whip Albert Seabi said he wondered whether they would be doing the matter justice.

“I understand the president is appointing an independent panel to investigate. The Human Rights Commission is busy with the investigation and we are expected to do an investigation as a committee,” he said.

“Is it not possible to wait for the two reports and then evaluate whether the two reports clearly capture our views before we can get into a decision of going on with the investigation?” Seabi asked.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said he was not fundamentally opposed to the suggestion, but there was a need to flesh out the suggestion.

“I would suggest that the principle of accountability insofar as Parliament is concerned is sacrosanct. I mean we cannot abdicate our responsibility to the executive nor to a Chapter 9 institution when we are expected to hold the executive to account,” Whitfield said.

He noted possible duplication and information that may come to light from the two investigations could inform the parliamentary inquiry.

“I would accept that it would make sense to delay our process as long as the committee remains resolute that we will conduct a process with respect to what transpired during the unrest and that process will be able to use information that is available following the conclusion of Human Right Commission hearings, which should be presented to the committee as well as any information which comes out of the independent task team appointed by the president,” Whitfield said.

The chairperson of the committee, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, said Seabi and Whitfield’s suggestions were not mutually exclusive.

“It is not as if we are not to investigate, but we allow the independent inquiry of the president and Human Rights Commission to continue and subsequently we look at recommendations which have been made. This will change the terms of reference and adjust to what we suggest today.

“We should not abdicate our responsibility,” Joemat-Pettersson said.

EFF MP Andries Shembeni said: “We agree, let’s delay until we get information and it will inform our way forward.”

Political Bureau

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