IPID matter a case of who guards the guards

The Collins Khosa matter, as well as may other cases of brutality by law enforcers, highlight how citizens are failed by the government systems that are inadequate, unwilling or lack capacity to hold power to account, the writer says.
The Collins Khosa matter, as well as may other cases of brutality by law enforcers, highlight how citizens are failed by the government systems that are inadequate, unwilling or lack capacity to hold power to account, the writer says.
Image: Elvis Ntombela

In 2016, the Constitutional Court declared that parts of the act governing police watchdog body Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) were invalid and unconstitutional.

This was because this section of the law give the minister of police absolute powers to suspend or remove, without a parliamentary process, the head of the organisation meant to be totally independent of the police.

It makes no sense that the head of an organisation meant to ensure that the police stayed on the straight and narrow is at the mercy of the political principal of the very same police.

In its judgment the highest court in the land gave the National Assembly 24 months to amend the legislation.

Almost four years later, the amendment bill is yet to be signed into law by the president.

The importance of this was highlighted in a recent judgment by the Gauteng high court on Friday on the killing of Alexandra man Collins Khosa by members of the defence force and metro police.

In that judgment the court found that the unconstitutionality of parts of the act as well as the absence of a permanent executive director to act independently, led to the inadequacy of Ipid in investigating cases such as the killing of Khosa.

"In a number of respects Ipid itself is of the view that for reasons of inadequacy of funding and the provision of trained personnel, it is not always in a position to investigate complaints promptly and efficiently," the court found.

Today we report that the bill continues to sit on President Cyril Ramaphosa's desk for consideration, with spokesperson Khusela Diko saying an announcement would be made about it in due course.

The opposition has laid the blame squarely at the door of police minister Bheki Cele, whom it accuses of hogging power.

Regardless, the Khosa matter, as well as may other cases of brutality by law enforcers, highlight how citizens are failed by the government systems that are inadequate, unwilling or lack capacity to hold power to account.

When these systems are hamstrung by politics and bureaucracy, it is the most vulnerable in our society who are robbed of their fundamental right to justice.

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