The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) is hopeful that following the unanimous passing of the Evidence Amendment Bill 2020 last week in the House of Representatives, this will soon lead to changes in their governing structure and increase the scope of how they conduct police investigations.
Speaking yesterday, PCA Director David West said amendments to the Coroner’s Act which were taken to the Parliament before Christmas would “Allow for the PCA to be an interested party in a coroner’s inquest and also the FIU Act is to be amended to allow them to pass information on the PCA.”
Other amendments being proposed include Special Reserve Police and Municipal Officers coming under the investigative ambit of the PCA, and for the PCA to also be able to admit video recordings along with their findings and recommendations.
He said the proposed amendments would ensure the PCA’s powers are strengthened moving forward.
West is hoping these legislative changes would soon be tabled in the Parliament. He said following the passing of the Evidence Bill “It should be next on the Order Paper, hopefully.”
Explaining the amendments would ensure they had greater powers to gather evidence in respect of their investigations, the PCA head said, “We would be able to participate in a coroner’s inquest which is important as that deals with police shootings, and we can get involved by bringing witnesses to the court, and we can produce our evidence that we have also.”
The Evidence Bill seeks to introduce modern methods for the gathering and use of evidence in criminal trials.
It also provides for the use of different identification procedures, interviews and oral admissions, special measures evidence by video link and other matters.
Asked for updates into the investigations on the deaths of Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon, the two suspects who were detained in the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt and died in police custody, West said it was continuing.
The attorney retained by Morris’s family, Nestor Dinnoo-Alloy said arrangements for the funeral had been tentatively set for February 18. Professing his client’s innocence and questioning why the due process of law was disregarded in this instance, Dinnoo-Alloy said, “His family has to wear this stigma for the rest of their lives.”