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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 February 2001
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE; INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE: BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Mr M George
SA Police Service Budget Briefing
Independent Complaints Directorate Presentation
The committee was briefed by the South African Police Service on their priorities for the upcoming year. Much of the discussion focussed on the transformation process which the SAPS is contemplating and whether it would bring the levels of crime in South Africa down. Additionally, explanations were given on how monies would be spent in reaching these priorities.
The Independent Complaints Directorate briefed the committee on their current state of affairs. Specifically, highlighting the difficulties that they are facing due to financial constraints. The committee was concerned that the ICD situation was not much better than it had been the previous year. Exactly the same problems and financial difficulties had been highlighted as before. The Chair stated that the current state of affairs was unacceptable and called on the committee to make a decision on this issue. The committee thus called on the ICD to make a presentation at a later date on what the ideal budget would be for their proper operation. The ICD agreed to the proposal.
South African Police Service (SAPS)
The National Commissioner Mr Jackie Selebi informed the committee on the priorities of the SAPS and also what is being done to address shortfalls in service delivery.
Mr Selebi emphasised the intention of SAPS to close down over 200 specialised units. He stated that the reason was that each unit only concerned itself with its own mandate and remained unconcerned about infringements of the law that fell beyond this mandate. For example a narcotics detective would only be interested in making a drug bust. If the perpetrator had a stolen vehicle in his possession whilst selling drugs a detective from the vehicle theft unit would have to investigate this matter separately. The problem was that too many detectives would thus be working on the same case.
The idea is therefore to create integrated crime combat teams. Mr Selebi stated that power would be concentrated at police stations because as it would be manned by officers from various fields. This was his motivation to close down the specialised units. The Commissioner noted that ± 7000 experts would be redeployed. He added that there might be some opposition to it but that it was all part of the transformation process.
Mr Selebi cited the ridiculous example of the Commercial Crime Unit that consisted of only one member.
He stated that another priority is to improve service delivery. Police officers should become more professional in their attitudes. The Commissioner stated that another problem that needs addressing is the overpopulation of our prisons. Last year the department of Correctional Services was overpopulated by 60%. He added that even if no new arrests were made prosecutors would need two years to work through their backlogs. Mr Selebi concluded that the issue of salary increases for SAPS members would be dealt with in the near future.
Commissioner Schutte briefed the committee on the SAPS budget 2001/2002. The committee was also informed on how the 2000/2001 budget had been spent in accordance with their priorities. The briefing also highlighted new priorities of the SAPS and what strategies are being followed to give effect to these priorities.
For detail on the briefing please refer to the attached document.
Adv Swart (DP) asked the following questions:
(i) Is the upgrading of police stations the responsibility of the Public Works department?
(ii) What is specialised visible policing?
(iii) Is it true that the service only intends to increase personnel by a 1000 each year?
(iv) How many new vehicles have been bought?
Commissioner Schutte gave the following responses:
(i) The department of Public Works is responsible.
(ii) Examples would be dog units, bicycle units as well as mounted units.
(iii) The aim is to use sector policing. Various factors are to be taken into consideration when deciding on the personnel needs at police stations.
(iv) Approximately 7000-9000 new vehicles have been bought. However, Commissioner Schutte emphasised that the current fleet of vehicles must first be upgraded before the fleet could be extended.
Mr Selebi added that last year damages to vehicles amounted to R54m. In Gauteng alone the damages amounted to R50m. The need exists for station commanders to exercise better control over the use of vehicles. The Commissioner felt that discipline of SAPS members took a turn for the worse when the police force was changed to a service.
Mr M Booi (ANC) asked what infrastructure has been put in place to get this message across to station commanders. The Chair interjected that the committee would deal with discussions on transformation at another time. Mr Selebi reacted that the process is not as simple as what it seems. At the centre of transformation is effective and efficient service delivery. Management in the SAPS is engaged in team building exercises. He felt that sufficient transformation is currently taking place in the SAPS.
The Chair stated that the issue of transformation is a discussion on its own. He informed the Commissioner that there were rumours of racism in the Western Cape. What was being done to address the issue? Mr Selebi pointed out that if racism were ever present in South Africa, would the logical conclusion not be that it is also present in the SAPS.
The Chair conceded.
Dr B Geldenhuys (NNP) pointed out that there seemed to be a contradiction. If the SAPS is so well managed then why are the levels of crime rising. He referred to a recent news article that reported a shortage of ± 4500 police officers in the Western Cape. Dr Geldenhuys asked how the SAPS was able to determine that their police officer complement should be 127 000.
Commissioner Schutte noted that one always hears about shortages of police officers in provinces but what is never mentioned is that officers are often redeployed from other provinces where they are being underutilised in those provinces that have a shortage.The figure of 127 000 police officers is calculated via a formula. The factors that are taken into consideration is the work volume and the number of police stations that there are. The figure of 127 000 could be reviewed if the need should arise.
Mr R Zondo (ANC) asked what is being done about the deterioration of the training centre at Hammanskraal. He asked for clarity on training. Mr Selebi answered that the aim is to transfer the detective training academy to Hammanskraal. He added that the SAPS is trying to utilise its assets as best it can. The training program has become more progressive as increased emphasis is on career development. The issue of gender representativity has also been considered.
General C Viljoen (FF) stated that with the focus of policing shifting to local government level, who is going to pay for the training at local government level.Commissioner Eloff stated that the cost would be borne by local government. However the National Commissioner would determine the framework for the training.
Mr Booi asked why nothing had been said about community policing. Is it still relevant?
Mr Selebi emphasised the continual importance of community policing. It is the duty of station commanders to encourage community policing in their respective areas.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked for statistical figures on community policing. How many there are? Who do they report to? The SAPS had no figures.
Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD)
The presentation team comprised: Adv Karen McKenzie (Executive Director), Ms Elize Verster (Chief Financial Officer), Mr Steve Tibo (Complaints Registration), Mr Elias Balloi (Administration).
Adv McKenzie stated that she would brief the committee on their priorities and also try to explain some of the difficulties that they face in trying to realise these priorities.
ICD investigators are currently being overworked, as they have to investigate and monitor cases. Funds to employ extra staff are lacking. The alternative has been to encourage the multi-skilling of staff.
Another difficulty facing the ICD is the lack of funds to update their aging database.
To make matters worse they are to undergo a normal audit in addition to a performance audit in the near future. The cost of the performance audit would be R500 000.
Adv McKenzie stated that they are trying to keep rental costs to a minimum as they only have R140 000 to their disposal. Luckily in the Orange Free State they are sharing offices with the National Archives and therefore do not pay rent. The ICD is currently negotiating with the department of Public Works for them to enter into one-year private lease agreements as opposed to the three-year leases secured by Public Works. They are also considering sharing office space to cut down on costs.
The ICD has also had to reprioritise its investigations due to a lack of funds. In certain instances they were not able to go out to crime scenes due to funds lacking for petrol. Investigators were therefore limited to 1000 km per car. Even airtime for investigators’ cellphones has been limited to R100 per month.
Another problem that has arisen is that the ICD is unable to pay overtime that investigators have logged. Adv McKenzie conceded that the best that they could offer investigators is unnumerated time off. This creates a problem in itself because giving any of the investigators off is counter productive. They also had to freeze ten posts that are currently vacant in the ICD. Funds thus have to be transferred from personnel to cover operational costs. Last year the situation became so dire that they had to halt operations by the end of November. In conclusion, Adv McKenzie stated that things are not looking better this year and that the likelihood of operations shutting down this year seems inevitable.
Ms Elize Verster gave a detailed and technical presentation on the Budget. The details of which have not been minuted. For details of the budget tables, email email@example.com
The Chair stated it seems to be a trend that the ICD’s operations come to a halt. He asked if operations had halted in November 2000, what had staff done since then.
Mr George felt that this situation is totally unacceptable, as these people must still be paid.
General Viljoen agreed with the Chair. He added that if no matters are being investigated, then what is the function of the ICD. General Viljoen suggested changing the scope of the ICD’s duties. Maybe narrowing it down so that they are able to cope.
Adv McKenzie reacted that it is on option to consider but that the legislation setting out their mandate would have to be changed. At present the ICD has to respond to each and every death that has occurred whilst an individual was in police custody. Adv McKenzie felt that limiting their sphere of investigations could help.
Mr E Ferreira (IFP) stated that it seemed obvious that the ICD is unable to carry out their mandate successfully with the money that is allocated to them.
Ms A Van Wyk (UDM) felt that the issue must be addressed. The concern was that the problems of the previous year were being highlighted once again. Ms Van Wyk was adamant that an informed decision must be taken on the ICD.
Mr Swart asked what percentage of complaints is unfounded and what percentage of complaints is racially linked. He added that if racism is a problem then the ICD should be funded properly to address the problem. Mr Steve Tibo (ICD) stated that they do not have the exact figures with them to answer the questions but he felt that 30-40% of cases are substantiated.
Mr Zondo agreed that the relevance of ICD should be decided on. He also asked if members of the ICD have been found guilty of misconduct and if so, what steps have been taken against them. The question remained unanswered due to time constraints.
Mr O Kgauwe (ANC) interjected that he has a whole range of issues to raise with the ICD. He felt that the committee needed to meet with the ICD again to deal with the unresolved issues.The committee agreed to the suggestion.
The Chair consequently asked the ICD to make a presentation to the committee at a later time setting out a concise framework for its ideal operation. The suggestion was also made that the Safety and Security Secretariat, the Minister and the National Treasury should also be present at the ICD’s presentation. The committee agreed.
Mr George pointed out that he did not want the ICD to feel that they should justify their existence. The aim of the meeting would be to address the ICD’s financial concerns.
The meeting was adjourned.
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