New website tracks police accountability

10 June 2004

A new website,, developed by UCT's Institute of Criminology, was launched on May 10.

The launch formed part of a workshop on Strengthening Oversight of Police in South Africa, and is part of a larger project on promoting police accountability, sponsored by the Open Society Foundation-South Africa and the Open Society Justice Initiative.

The project promotes policing that is consistent with the spirit and provisions of the Constitution of South Africa. It was initiated in 2003 with a series of workshops involving key oversight agencies where a number of activities were identified as important to strengthen oversight.

Fifty-seven participants attended the recent workshop, representing the South African Police, national and provincial departments of safety and security, the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), non- governmental organisations and research institutions.

Pointing to the talk to Parliament earlier in the day by former president Nelson Mandela, Advocate Karen McKenzie, executive director of the ICD, said: "Mandela indicated that he would like to see us remain vigilant so that the future never again becomes the past; this website assists in that vigilance. We need easily accessible, transparent information for supporting police accountability in South Africa."

The website offers worldwide links to police accountability institutions, as well as links to police accountability structures in a number of African countries. Important and new publications are online and there is a good search facility.

Senior lecturer in criminology at UCT, Elrena van der Spuy, stressed the fact that the quest for security sector transformation in emerging democracies is a challenging one. While the South African case study is considered a blueprint for transformation of the security sector in other parts of the world, vigilance is required to consolidate advances in this area.

The point was also made that all parties need to take part in the re-writing the Police Act.

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