SAPS Amendment Bill Reorganising the Hawks

The Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) has made its written submission to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for the Police on the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Bill aimed at restructuring the Hawks. The HSF has been involved in this process since 2008 when we presented to Parliament opposing the dissolution of the Scorpions.

In a landmark case, the Constitutional Court in Glenister v The President of the Republic of South Africa & Others - in which the HSF participated as amicus curiae - suspended Section 6A of the SAPS Act. Section 6A governs the establishment and operation of the Hawks.

The SAPS Amendment Bill was drafted in response to the Court’s decision that the legislation that brought the Hawks into existence (effectively replacing the Scorpions), was invalid in that it failed to secure an adequate degree of independence for the Hawks.

To adequately combat the scourge of corruption, and other high priority crimes, the newly drafted unit must enjoy levels of independence that will allow it to carry out its mission without fear, favour or prejudice.

The HSF believes that the Bill does not meet the requirements of the Court’s judgment for the following reasons:

  • the proposed unit will not be sufficiently independent - structurally or operationally;
  • there are insufficient safeguards to protect the unit from political interference;
  • the unit will not be seen to be adequately independent.

The HSF suggests that:

  • the Directorate and its Head cannot fall under the SAPS;
  • falling under the SAPS is unconstitutional;
  • security of tenure of the Directorate’s staff needs to be secured;
  • central to the HSF’s submission is that the Directorate should be solely responsible for determining which offences are investigated;
  • the criteria for appointment of the Head of the Directorate should be vigorous and transparent;
  • the issue of security clearance must not be subject to the arbitrary exercise of power.


27 March 2012