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SAPS bill questioned

African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum says the Hawks should be completely independent from the police.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa (left) and Commissioner Anwa Dramat, Head of the Hawks. Picture: Eyewitness News.

CAPE TOWN - The Hawks should be completely independent from police, the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum said on Wednesday.

Various groups made submissions to Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police.

The organisations were providing feedback on the redrafting of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Act, which resulted in the formation of the Hawks.

In 2011, the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg found that the legislation fell short of creating an impartial crime-busting unit.

This came after businessman Hugh Glenister took the matter to court after the ANC disbanded the Scorpions.

The Scorpions had a 93.1 percent conviction rate.

The forum's David Bruce said the office of the national police commissioner was not immune to political meddling.

"If the independence of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) is going to be protected, it seems inappropriate that the DPCI has to be accountable to the national police commissioner."

Bruce recommended the Hawks to be located outside the police service.

The Helen Suzman Foundation's Lewis Nash pointed out the SAPS Amendment Act does not make mention of the need for the head of the Hawks to be fit and proper to hold office.

"This is something that is lacking."

The general consensus was that the unit was in no way independent.