Calls made to strengthen role of Inspector-General of Intelligence at ‘spy bill’ hearings

National Council of Provinces

National Council of Provinces

Published Jan 24, 2024


Calls have been made for the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence to be strengthened and to have his independence reinforced.

This is according to the chairperson of the ad hoc committee on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, Jerome Maake, in light of the public hearings on the bill that are under way in Limpopo.

The so-called “Spy Bill” seeks to overhaul the country’s state security apparatus and separate it into two agencies for the foreign and domestic spheres.

The hearings kicked off in Limpopo on Monday and are set to move to Gauteng on Thursday.

Maake said public hearings held at the Nkowankowa Community Hall in the Greater Tzaneen Local Municipality attracted about 300 members of the public.

“The committee received a number of oral submissions regarding the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, largely related to the powers of the Inspector-General of Intelligence. Members of the public expressed the need for the role of the IGI to be strengthened and its independence reinforced,” he said.

Maake said many community members focused on security concerns.

They questioned whether intelligence gathering was taking place in the area.

“Some community members also highlighted the need for intelligence efforts to address human trafficking, especially that of children. This sentiment was linked to the community’s request for improved border safeguarding and the need to address cross-border crime.”

He added that the public noted the rise in online scams, a development that showed the importance of addressing matters of cyber security.

“These are important submissions and will be taken further by the committee during upcoming deliberations in Parliament,” he said.

Maake said that at a public hearing held at Musina Local Municipality, most of the inputs were about security issues, especially issues related to cross-border crime and illegal migration blighting the area.

“The attendees also raised questions about whether the intelligence gathered by the intelligence services reached the South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force, and the Border Management Agency that is responsible for border security.

“The oral inputs also stressed the need for improved intelligence-driven policing in the area and residents called for an urgent increase in the number of police.

“They also called for soldiers to be deployed along the borders. These concerns are all linked to the bill as it is evident that intelligence-driven border safeguarding requires effective intelligence services.”

Meanwhile, the ad hoc committee resolved earlier this week to extend the deadline for written submissions on the bill from January 31 to February 15.

Maake said the extension was granted because the advertisement was published during the beginning of the holiday season in mid-December 2023.

“With the current extension, the advertisement would have run for almost two months, which is sufficient time for the public to make written submissions.

“Unfortunately, the timeline to process the bill, coupled with the ad hoc committee on the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill having to report to the National Assembly by 1 March 2024, implies that no further extensions may be granted,” he said.

The committee has received over 6 000 written submissions.

Cape Times