Cape Town - The City’s Safety and Security Investigation Unit (SSIU) has dealt with another contention over its legitimacy, this time by Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Ronald Lamola, who said there was no provision for the establishment of such a unit in South African legislation.
In a written response to questions by GOOD Party member Brett Herron, Lamola said a law enforcement officer appointed by a municipality cannot be relied on to extend the scope of Government Notice No 1114 of October 19, 2018, which was used to cater for traffic officers and traffic wardens who were not members of municipal police services.
In March, Minister of Police Bheki Cele also confirmed that the SIU operated outside the law as he said it was not established in terms of the Police Act.
However, the City last week indicated that it obtained a legal opinion that confirmed the SSIU functioned within the law.
Lamola said the notice (Declaration of Peace Officers) must be interpreted within the confines of Section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act and other applicable legislation which refutes any interpretation that it empowers a municipality to establish a criminal investigation unit outside the ambit of Chapter 12 of the SAPS Act.
The City said it was still studying the said written reply by the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services and that it would respond at the appropriate time.
Lamola said Sections 64E, 64F and 64H do not afford a municipal police service the power to investigate offences and neither does the notice.
“Members of a municipal investigation unit, that has not been established as a municipal police service in terms of Chapter 12 of the SAPS Act, cannot be regarded as peace officers to exercise, with reference to the offences and the powers specified in the declaration,” he said.
Herron said mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis must close down the illegal crime and intelligence unit and engage in mature discussions and lawful processes in respect of the devolution of policing powers to local government.
Herron said while the party agreed that certain policing powers should be devolved, local governments can’t grab whatever powers they like as he said this amounts to state-sanctioned vigilantism and creates systemic loopholes organised crime will exploit.
Herron said the City’s arrogation of criminal investigation and intelligence powers, relying on a false or dishonest interpretation of Lamola’s determination of the powers of law enforcement officers, was unlawful, unconstitutional, and undermined the fight against organised crime.