'Extend 48 hours for questioning of detainees'

Waghied Misbach

Waghied Misbach

Safety and security minister Charles Nqakula wants to extend the constitutional limit of 48 hours for detaining suspects.

He said this was necessary because the police need more time to complete their investigations.

Nqakula said it was also costing the state "huge sums of money" in litigation when suspects slap the government with lawsuits for wrongful arrest.

He said extending the time limit was particularly necessary for suspects who were out on bail for other cases. Lawyers can apply for bail almost immediately after an arrest.

"At that point the arresting officer doesn't have enough information to oppose bail. There are a number of repeat offenders we are arresting. Some are out on bail."

Nqakula was speaking to journalists after a briefing to the safety and security portfolio committee in parliament yesterday.

He said a "case in point" was the 24 suspects arrested in KwaZulu-Natal recently. A number of them were out on bail.

"Therefore we want to argue for a longer period of time for detention, being mindful that we don't want detention without trial in South Africa. But it gives a reasonable time for the police to complete the necessary investiga-tions."

Nqakula also said that he was not aware of an investigation into national police commissioner Jackie Selebi's alleged links to high-flying criminals.

"I have said that anyone who has concrete information must come forward and then an investigation canbe started on that basis. We are not going to start an investigation," he said.