Where is KwaZulu-Natal’s Community Safety Bill?

Sizwe Mchunu, MPP

Leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature / DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety

The Democratic Alliance calls on KwaZulu-Natal’s newly-elected Legislature Speaker, Lydia Johnson, to clarify what has happened to the province’s Community Safety Bill, submitted to her Office by the DA on 4 June.

It has been four months since the Bill – which seeks to make KwaZulu-Natal a safer place – was submitted to former Speaker, Peggy Nkonyeni.  Despite its significance, there has been no feedback whatsoever.

This Bill is precisely what KwaZulu-Natal needs.  It comes at a time when many communities are under siege.  It also comes after a spate of public complaints over police conduct and while the official number of serious conduct-related allegations against SAPS members continues to grow.

Earlier this month, the Independent Police Investigative Unit (IPID) announced that the number of criminal and brutality cases – which include incompetence, corruption, fraud, bullying and major criminal activities such as assault and murder – against KwaZulu-Natal police officers increased by 60% during the current financial year.

The DA believes this can be put down to poor oversight and management at senior levels.

The KwaZulu-Natal Community Safety Bill seeks to;

–        Make the police more accountable to the safety needs of communities

–        Increase the amount of support and resources that Community Safety organizations can receive from the provincial Safety Department

–        Provide for a provincial police ombudsman with the ability to investigate complaints of police inefficiency or distrust in communities

–        Empower KZN’s Safety MEC to demand mandatory reports from the Provincial Police Commissioner on deaths caused by police activity, all criminal cases being investigated and convictions achieved; firearms lost; or any other matter relating to the efficiency of the police’s relationship with communities

–        Give the provincial cabinet the ability to summon the Provincial Police Commissioner to appear before them and hold that person accountable for non-performance.

When the DA presented the Bill to the Speaker, we pointed out the recent Constitutional Court ruling on Private Members Bills, which allows opposition parties the right to propose new laws directly to Parliament and all legislatures for voting and consideration.

We called on the Speaker to amend the rules of the KZN Legislature in line with this ruling, to prevent ANC-stacked committees from blocking new laws tabled by the opposition.

We are yet to hear from the Speaker’s Office in this regard.

The Community Safety Bill was signed into law in the DA-led Western Cape in April 2013.  There is no good reason why it should not be implemented in KwaZulu-Natal.

The DA expects Speaker Johnson to advise what has become of the Bill and to commit to ensuring that it is tabled without delay.