The Western Cape government insisted on Tuesday that a community safety bill was in line with the Constitution, despite criticism from Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
“I am determined to implement this Bill in the Western Cape because I am confident of how it will make this province safer for the people this government serves,” Western Cape community safety MEC Dan Plato said in a statement.
“The Constitution was carefully considered during the drafting of our Bill and we are confident that it is in line with both constitutional and legal principles.”
Plato was responding to a statement issued earlier by the police ministry, which claimed the Bill clashed with the Constitution.
Mthethwa consulted legal practitioners in the field of constitutional law who found that the Bill was not constitutional “in its entirety”, his spokesman Zweli Mnisi said.
But Plato said: “Surely measures to make our communities safer should be supported, debated and introduced – not brushed aside before any meaningful engagement has taken place.”
The proposed legislation would grant the province powers to monitor the police and foster co-operation between the police and communities.
It also provided for the appointment of a provincial police ombudsman.
Under the Constitution, the national commissioner of police is tasked with the control and management of the police service.
Plato said the intention behind the Bill was to improve oversight mechanisms to enhance community safety. It was not intended to take any powers away from the police.
Plato denied that Mthethwa had raised his concerns about the Bill.
“To date, the minister has not provided me or my department with any detailed comment and so I find it strange for him to be making his position known via the media.”
Despite an extended public participation time frame, the SA Police Service had waited until two weeks after the closing date to oppose the Bill, Plato said.
“Minister Mthethwa would do well to give it a re-read, the people deserve no less.”
Earlier, Mnisi said that if the Bill went ahead, Mthethwa would challenge the constitutionality of the Bill. - Sapa