Home South African Ramaphosa enters the fray over decentralisation of police function

Ramaphosa enters the fray over decentralisation of police function


Government does not have a policy on devolving policing powers to provinces as SAPS is a national competency.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Police Minister Bheki Cele during a visit the Inanda Police Station in KwaZulu-Natal. Pictures: Siyabulela Duda (GCIS)

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has entered the fray over the calls by the official opposition that the police function should be decentralised to provinces.

Ramaphosa made his views known on the matter after DA leader John Steenhuisen wrote to him arguing that Sections 99 and 206 of the Constitution allowed for the devolution of policing powers to provinces, particularly where provinces can show that they can do a better job of keeping citizens safe.

Steenhuisen asked what the Western Cape government needed to do in order to get more policing powers so that they could achieve a safer province.

He also asked what the government’s policy position was regarding the devolution of policing.

Steenhuisen’s parliamentary question comes less than 20 days after Police Minister Bheki Cele was asked in the National Assembly by DA MP Andrew Whitfield whether he has commissioned any studies into the decentralisation of policing services and whether he intended to commission any such studies.

Cele has maintained that the Constitution provided that the national commissioner was responsible for exercising control over managing SAPS in accordance with national policy and the direction of the relevant cabinet minister.

In his written response, Ramaphosa said the Constitution provided for the security services of South Africa consisted of a single police service.

“Furthermore, in terms of Section 205(1) of the Constitution, the national police service must be structured to function in the national, provincial and, where appropriate, local spheres of government,” he said.

Ramaphosa echoed Cele’s sentiments that the SAPS national commissioner was responsible to control and manage the police service in accordance with the national policing policy and directions of the Minister of Police.

He also stated that a provincial commissioner was responsible for policing in his or her province as prescribed by national legislation and subject to the power of the national commissioner.

“The Minister of Police does not have policing powers and, therefore, cannot assign or transfer the responsibility of the national commissioner to control and manage the single national police service to a member of the provincial executive council or to a municipal council.

“Such a transfer will be inconsistent with the provisions as contained in Chapter 11 of the Constitution, and accordingly, invalid.”

Ramaphosa said the proposed change in the existing legal position would require an amendment to the relevant provisions as contained in the Constitution.

“Government does not have a policy on devolving policing powers to provinces as SAPS is a national competency.

“However, there is an Integrated Model of Policing Policy to operationalise the policy direction outlined in the National Development Plan and the 2016 White Paper on Policing for a professional and accountable police service, that is underpinned by prudent and efficient use of resources and the use of smart, modern policing approaches,” he said.

Ramaphosa also said an integrated police service would act as a single collective voice for policing, helping to strengthen governance and accountability in all spheres of government.

It also ensured optimal coordination and alignment across the three spheres of government, he added.

The DA has been pushing for the decentralisation of the police function over the past few years.

It has used the matter as its campaign ticket during both the 2019 general elections.

Last September, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde took the matter to the National Council of Provinces, where he asked that their proposal be tried and stated if it worked, Cele would take the kudos, and if it failed, he would take the blame.

This was rejected outright by Cele, saying he was not interested in kudos.

Cape Times

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