South Africa

AmaPanyaza granted same legal status as Gauteng traffic officers

Amapanyaza Gauteng legal status

They operate under the supervision of the other law enforcement agencies such as Gauteng Traffic and local authorities.

“Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, has conferred peace officer status upon Gauteng’s Crime Prevention Wardens, known as AmaPanyaza.

This decision follows the Gauteng provincial government’s request in June 2023 for Lamola to grant them legal status, as outlined in section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977.

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“Under section 334(1)(a), the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has the authority to confer peace officer status to any person by their office, to exercise power under the Criminal Procedure Act, any offence, or any designated class of offences,” said Lamola on Tuesday evening.

“After conducting a thorough analysis of the applicable legal frameworks, it was determined that for the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens to exercise peace officer powers, they must assume the same legal status as Gauteng Provincial traffic officers. Provincial traffic officers currently carry out their duties within the ambit of their peace officer designation, supported by the necessary legal framework.”

Lamola emphasised that this decision is part of the government’s commitment to preventing crime in the province.

Lesufi welcomed the move and said it affirmed his assertions that AmaPanyazas have always been legal.

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“We welcome this announcement that finally clarifies the uncertainty over the status of the Crime Prevention Wardens. This announcement affirms what we have said all along, that the Crime Prevention Wardens are a legal, well-equipped provincial law enforcement body that collaborates with other law enforcement organisations in the province. They operate under the supervision of the other law enforcement agencies i.e Gauteng Traffic and local authorities,” said Lesufi.

AmaPanyaza appointments

About 6,000 AmaPanyazas were trained by the Gauteng government to become wardens to assist the police with crime in the province. However, they have not been without controversy.

Last month, Lesufi apologised for comments that he acknowledged came across as “insensitive” and “threatening” towards a minister, presumed to be Lamola.

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“These police wardens, you as a minister are refusing to recognise them. Your days are numbered. We can’t, when young people are assisting us to fight crime, you want to undermine them,” said Lesufi at the time.

“You can’t when we have trained young people to be on the streets in our townships and protect our young people when they are studying at night in our schools, you don’t want to recognise them.

“We say to this minister, give us the power for these young people to have the power to get guns so that they protect our townships and chase away criminals in our own areas.”

ALSO READ: Lesufi apologises, seeks meeting with minister ‘to clear the air and make amends’

This happened amid debates around the constitutionality of the appointments of AmaPanyaza.

Accountability Now has lodged a complaint against Lesufi and his Cabinet with the Public Protector regarding their constitutionality.