South Africa 16.9.2013 09:56 am

Suzman foundation application continues

The pair had been charged with stock theft.
Photo: Supplied

The pair had been charged with stock theft. Photo: Supplied

The application by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) and businessman Hugh Glenister, challenging the constitutional validity of the SAPS Amendment Act, is expected to continue in the Western Cape High Court.

On August 23, David Unterhalter, for the foundation, said their concerns related to appointments within the unit and whether political involvement and oversight resulted in insufficient insulation from interference.

Lawyer for President Jacob Zuma, Kemp J Kemp argued that the appointment of a head for the Hawks relied on objective criteria, saying that the police minister’s discretion only took effect when deciding who he wanted to appoint from those who met the criteria.

He said the focus should be on the fit and proper aspect rather than the minister’s discretion.

It was also argued that while Parliament had oversight in terms of the legislation, it would be limited to receiving a report on an appointment.

The foundation said that since the head of the unit was responsible for appointing other members, if the head was not suitably independent, their independence would also be compromised.

Kemp said the focus should be on the fit and proper aspect rather than the minister’s discretion.

The amendments were drafted in reaction to a previous Constitutional Court victory by Glenister, in which the executive was ordered to change the legislation to provide the Hawks with independence from political interference, among other things.

Glenister brought his suit following the dissolution of the Scorpions, an investigative unit under the National Prosecuting Authority, in 2008.

The Scorpions, or the Directorate of Special Operations (DSO), were replaced by the Hawks, which fell under the SAPS.

Kemp argued that the public could rely on the Hawks to accept complaints of corruption and thoroughly investigate them.

Lawyers for Glenister and the foundation previously appeared before a full Bench of high court judges as part of an agreement to have their cases heard at the same time.

They approached the Constitutional Court separately in November to oppose the amendments, arguing they were still insufficient, but were denied direct access to the court.

-Sapa

 

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