In August 2016, the City of Cape Town adopted the Organisational Development and Transformation Plan (ODTP) which in the months leading up to its adoption saw a comprehensive review of the entire City structure and all departments.
The structures in several departments were changed to ensure operational effectiveness and to accurately align each department with its intended and legal mandates.
In terms of the Safety and Security Directorate, the Internal Investigations Unit’s members are appointed as peace officers in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. They are not members of the City’s Metro Police Department.
The mandate of the Law Enforcement Department is not the same as the Metro Police Department whose mandate is threefold: enforcement of by-laws and regulations, traffic laws, and crime prevention.
The Internal Investigations Unit was established in 2009 to investigate internal theft loss cases. The staff within the unit have the powers of peace officers in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act and as such are confined to the contents of the powers set out in the notice as issued by the Minister of Justice. On the other hand, the mandate for the investigation and detection of crime rests with the South African Police Service (SAPS) in terms of the SAPS Act.
The Internal Investigations Unit within the Law Enforcement Department investigates serious misconduct matters as well as allegations of fraud and corruption by City staff within the Safety and Security Directorate.
As part of the ODTP review process, it had come to the City administrative leadership’s attention that the Internal Investigations Unit was exceeding its mandate in that it was investigating councillors which is a function of the Speaker of the Council as set out in law. It had also come to light that the unit was investigating criminal matters which is the mandate of the SAPS in terms of the SAPS Act.
As part of the ongoing ODTP restructuring process, the City Manager also conducted an administrative review of the Internal Investigations Unit. During the run-up to the restructuring process, it also emerged that the unit was exceeding its mandate which was obviously procedurally inappropriate.
In this regard, it must be emphasised that the City government does not have investigative powers when it comes to criminal matters – which is clearly the mandate of the SAPS and the criminal justice system. We are not the police force.
In order to preserve the integrity of the City and to steer clear of the potential abuse of local government powers, the review of the unit was aimed at bringing it in line with its actual mandate.
To ensure that the restructured unit operates within its legal mandate, the City sought external legal opinion which confirmed the Metro Police Department and the Law Enforcement Department were not permitted to put structures in place to conduct external criminal investigations and investigations related to fraud. The latter clearly falls outside of the mandate of Metro Police Department and the Law Enforcement Department.
Furthermore, the Metro Police Department and Law Enforcement Department are not permitted to establish investigation units which investigate councillors involved in alleged fraud and corruption. This is the function of the Speaker of Council.
Strong, principled leadership is critical to upholding the City administration’s commitment to maintaining a clean and ethical government. During the review process of the Safety and Security Directorate which includes the Internal Investigations Unit, all due processes were followed. It is therefore obvious that the unit has not been shut down but that it has in fact been restructured in accordance with its legal mandate.
The City has clarified the matter with the provincial SAPS leadership and reiterates that should the unit come across information related to criminal activities, the unit will pass this information on to the SAPS as has always been the case.