Lindsay Dentlinger12 March 2024 | 5:00

Parly wants safeguards to ensure State security agencies don’t abuse vetting powers

Concerns over the blanket vetting of churches and NGOs arose during public hearings of the so-called 'spy bill'.

Parly wants safeguards to ensure State security agencies don’t abuse vetting powers

A view of Parliament. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Parliament wants to put safeguards in place to ensure State security agencies don't abuse their vetting powers.

This follows an outcry during public hearings on the so-called "spy bill" that there would be blanket vetting of churches and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).


- Intelligence office, Parly continue back and forth on powers and autonomy

- Citizens’ privacy won’t be abused by 'spy bill', assures Ntshaveni

The bill, which will de-establish the State Security Agency (SSA) and create foreign and domestic intelligence services, is now at an advanced stage of deliberation by an ad hoc committee.

Parliament intends to pass the legislation before the end of March.

According to the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill, only certain categories of individuals and organisations will be subjected to security vetting.

These include those who want to be employed by the State, to render a service to the State or need to have classified information.

But a sticking point is a proposal by State security that individuals or institutions suspected of being a national security threat also be subjected to what will be known as a security competence assessment.

“It does not say by including institutions then the agency will be on the witch hunt and just target institutions willy-nilly,” said the African National Congress’ Bheki Hadebe.

However, the Democratic Alliance’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard was less assured.

“It cannot be that we hand over that kind of power to the same people who so egregiously abused it previously.”

Legal advisors said they would consider whether exclusions could be made to the clause.

Deliberations on the bill continue.