Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele has dismissed suggestions by the DA for the governing of police officers to be the duty of provinces.
Cele made this clear when he responded to a parliamentary question from the DA’s Stefan Terblanche, who asked if he intended to devolve the police function to provinces.
In his reply, Cele said he had no plans to devolve the police function to any of the country’s provinces.
“The minister does not intend to introduce any amendments to any legislation in the National Assembly to devolve police powers to provincial governments,” he said.
The opposition party, which governs the Western Cape, in the build-up to the May elections pushed for police functions to be handed to provincial governments.
Party leader Mmusi Maimane has repeatedly said provinces should be empowered to administer their police force, because crime-fighting needed localised knowledge and intelligence.
In his written response, Cele said devolving police powers to provinces would be in contravention of the Constitution, which stated that the national police service had to be structured to function in national, provincial and, where appropriate, local government spheres.
He said the Constitution envisioned that national legislation should establish the powers and functions of the police service, and enable it to discharge its responsibilities - taking into account the requirements of provinces.
He also said provinces were entitled to monitor police conduct, oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the police service and, among other things, promote good relations between the police and the community.
“The Constitution makes it clear that provincial commissioners are responsible for policing in their provinces, as prescribed by national legislation, and are subject to the power of the national commissioner to exercise control over and manage the police service,” Cele said.
He also said the Constitution had introduced the concept of co-operative governance, which was structured in all three spheres of government.
“This implies that all the spheres of government must conduct their business within the spirit and principles of co-operative governance and intergovernmental relations,” he said.
“While the Constitution makes it clear that policing is a national competency, provinces have a huge role in the maintenance of law and order.”
The minister also said the national police commissioner was required to account to provincial legislatures on an annual basis on the state of policing in the province.