Today Corruption Watch (CW) and the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) highlighted the need for transparency and public participation in the upcoming appointments of the SAPS national commissioner and the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (the Hawks). Both positions are vacant and the minister of police has stated that they will be filled by the end of the year.
In their launch of the joint public awareness campaign, both organisations outlined their intention to advocate for improvements in the way these critical appointments are made. The campaign aims to increase awareness about the respective roles and the desired appointment process, as well as to allow for public engagement and participation, in accordance with the National Development Plan, which also highlights the need for a transparent and competitive process.
The two organisations have reviewed the previous appointment processes, which have resulted in the employment of highly unsuitable candidates. To avoid a similar outcome with these current positions, CW and ISS recommend a revised, more efficient and transparent appointment process.
This proposed appointment process includes the following:
- The establishment of a police leadership selection panel by the minister of police, with advice from the Civilian Secretariat of Police and the parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Police;
- The inclusion on the panel of objective individuals able to review candidates fairly in relation to set criteria. These individuals could include: a retired police general, an expert in criminal and police law, representatives from Treasury and the Public Service Commission, an ethics expert;
- The development of clear merit-based criteria for both the SAPS and Hawks positions, drawing from international standards and best practices and representatives of civil society with first-hand knowledge of policing;
- Public advertising of the posts by the minister of police for a month-long period;
- Receipt of applications by the Civilian Secretariat, which will then send qualified shortlisted candidates with security clearance to the panel;
- Public interviews of shortlisted candidates by the panel, with the inclusion of public submissions;
- Scoring of shortlisted candidates by the panel;
- Agreement of a maximum of five candidates for each post;
- Submission of a shortlist of the most appropriate candidates for SAPS national commissioner to the president for him to appoint the new commissioner; and
- Submission of shortlisted candidates for the head of the Hawks to the minister of police to make the appointment.
CW and ISS firmly believe that these recommendations will result in the appointment of far more appropriate individuals than we have seen in the past. This revised process will also signal greater political will in ensuring that these key institutions are strengthened, and are led by competent people with a commitment to overseeing a more vigorous approach to combating corruption and crime in the country.
David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, commented: South Africa is a country with a strong legal foundation, an independent judiciary and a robust media and civil society. Why, then, are we beset with such high levels of corruption? The answer lies in one word: impunity, that is the ability of wealthy and politically connected individuals to get away with their evil deeds. This is a direct consequence of years of incompetence and corruption in the senior leadership of the SAPS and the Hawks, as well as other SAPS units such as crime intelligence. This campaign is aimed at addressing this problem and, with sufficient public support, it could be a game changer in the battle against corruption.
Gareth Newham, head of the Justice and Violence Prevention Programme at the ISS, said: The SAPS has the budget, technology and police officers with the experience and ability to tackle organised crime and improve public safety. However, over the past five years we have witnessed a 20% increase in murders and an almost 32% increase in armed robberies. Moreover, corruption in government and the private sector has run rampant, one of the results of the president’s appointment of people without the requisite skills, expertise, experience and integrity for key criminal justice positions. Our previous minister of police appointed a man already found by a Judge to lack honour and integrity as the head of the Hawks.
The direct consequence of this, is that citizens are all less safe while those involved in crime and corruption have little to fear. It is now time to address this situation for the benefit of our country. Further poor appointments to head the SAPS and the Hawks will mean that for the next five years, we are likely to see the police further weakened and public safety deteriorate further. Everybody who is sick and tired of crime and corruption should support this campaign.
Corruption Watch SA