Campaign partern, the African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF) presented this submission to the Portfolio Committee on Police regarding policing practices in the enforcement of the lockdown regulations, made in terms of section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act of 2002 (the Regulations) to combat the novel coronavirus (Covid-19). While APCOF commends the timely and decisive response from the government to challenges posed by Covid-19, we emphasise the significance of striking a balance between the promotion of public health and safety on the one hand, and the protection of non-derogable constitutional rights on the other. We believe that, even in these compelling circumstances, the provision of policing services must remain guided by principles of, inter alia, equality, non-discrimination, necessity and proportionality in the use of force, and be subjected to effective internal controls and external oversight to ensure accountability and transparency. The constitutional role of the South African Police Services (SAPS) has not changed and remains to:
- ensure the safety of and security of all persons in South Africa;
- uphold and guard the fundamental rights of every person as guaranteed by the constitution;
- ensure cooperation between the Service and the communities it serves in combatting crime;
- reflect respect for victims of crime and their needs; and
- ensure effective civilian supervision over the Service.
In this submission, APCOF makes observations and recommendations to promote the required balance, and to ensure that SAPS fulfils its role within the rights-framework envisaged by the Constitution.