Legacy Report and Five Year Review: Research Unit briefing

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06 July 2009
Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Secretary presented the Legacy Report, which described the last Committee’s work between 2004 and 2009, including the entities overseen, the stakeholders with whom the Committee interacted, the methodology, legislation, oversight visits, study tours and international agreements. The Committee Researcher then briefed Members on the Five Year Review compiled by the Research Unit, which was intended to give Members a sense of the priorities and the concerns of the last Committee, as also what remained to be done. The National Crime Prevention Strategy and National Crime Combating Strategy were outlined, as they were both aimed at social development and combating crime. Sector Policing was intended to develop capacity. The long term Strategic Plan was aimed at combating organised crime, serious and violent crime, and crime against women and children. It was noted that the Domestic Violence Act would need to be amended.

Members asked whether the problems in implementation of the Domestic Violence Act arose through poor training of officials, or problems within the legislation, and whether the monitoring was conducted on individuals or stations. They also requested a list of the specialised units that had been shut down, whether there had been studies on the success of those units, and crime statistics and comparisons pre-1994 and after 2000, to assess the success of the newer strategies. Members commented that the previous Committee had paid few visits to police stations and camps, because of the Parliamentary programme, which did not reflect the status of the whole provinces, and noted that unannounced visits would reflect the true picture, and assist in strengthening the Committee’s oversight role. The effect of the new strategies on corruption and the reasons for corruption were questioned, and the observation made that it was difficult to assess the role of Parliament in the fight against crime without access to the information on resources from the SAPS, which had been requested but not provided. Members noted that although sector policing was accorded a budget, there were still no guidelines and policies in place. They questioned whether the target of a crime-free society was achievable. The Community Policing Forums’ work and motivation, the need for clear guidelines, the need to engage with SAPS officials dealing with domestic violence, and the role of SAPS in combating crime across borders were also raised. The Committee agreed to hold a workshop to plan strategy, and noted that the issues of management and discipline at police stations were critical.

Meeting report


Mr Jeremy Michaels, Committee Secretary, briefed Members of the Portfolio Committee on the Legacy Report. This detailed the functions of the Committee, entities overseen by the Committee, stakeholders with whom the Committee interacted, methodology, legislation, oversight visits, study tours and international agreements (see attached report for details)

Mr Mpumelelo Mpisi, Committee Researcher, briefed Members on the Five year Review drawn up by the Parliamentary Research Unit (see attached document). This was intended to give the current Members a sense of the issues that were dealt with, the concerns of the past Committee, and an overview of what remained to be done. He noted that the approach and ultimate goal of the two main strategies, National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) and National Crime Combating Strategy (NCCS) was concerned with socio-economic upliftment and social development. NCPS was implemented in May 1996, and NCCS was introduced in April 2000, after crime had escalated. These two strategies were dubbed the ‘road map’ to social development and crime free society. The NCPS also introduced Sector Policing and Operation Washa Totsi as a measure to develop capacity at local and provincial level. The long term strategic plan (2005-2010) was aimed at combating organised crime, serious and violent crime, and crime against women and children. The Domestic Violence Act (DVA) needed to be amended, and its implementation overseen.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked for clarity as to whether the lack of implementation of the DVA was owing to poor training of the South African Police Service (SAPS) officials, or whether it arose from problems within the legislation itself. She also asked for clarity on whether monitoring and evaluation was conducted on individuals, police stations, or outcomes of the station.

Mr Mpisi said that implementation of the DVA was a problem. The matter was raised with the Department and depended on decisions made by the Department. The Committee would continue to review and discuss these challenges. Introduction of proper monitoring procedures was required so that every aspect, ranging from information on staff monitoring, to resource allocation and reporting cards, could be evaluated. The relevant information would then be evaluated on a quarterly or yearly basis and existing problems would be corrected.

Ms Kohler-Barnard also asked if it was possible to obtain a full list of the specialised units that were shut down.

Mr G Schneemann (ANC) asked the researchers if Parliament had conducted any studies on the success of special units in other developing countries, as well as countries which were not developing countries, as this would be useful research to review.

Mr Mpisi said he would respond to the Committee once he had the relevant data to answer those particular questions.

Mr Schneemann asked if there were crime statistics available to the NCPS and NCCS, particularly pre-1994, as the impression then was that the township areas had a higher crime rate than the urban areas. He was interested in the crime trend over the years, although he acknowledged that the figures pre-1994 would not necessarily be accurate.

Mr Mpisi said that it was necessary to obtain the relevant data with regard to crime trends pre-1994 in order to say with certainty that there was indeed an upsurge in crime prior to the shift to the NCCS.

Mr Schneemann questioned the Committee’s views on visits to police stations and training camps, noting that the past Committee visited only one training college on one day.

Mr Michaels answered that the problem around visits to police stations and colleges was that the previous – and current - Portfolio Committee would be bound by the programme of Parliament, and this impacted upon the how the Committee conducted its work. SAPS had followed up on some of the Committee’s recommendations, but training irregularities persisted.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) was concerned about corruption within SAPS and asked whether the NCPS and NCCS had an effect within SAPS. He was also concerned about the reports and delays which characterised the nature of SAPS. Success depended on the integrity of the police, and if the public did not trust the police, the fight against crime would not be won. He asked what the role of parliament was in the fight against crime.

Mr Mbisi said that he had attempted to acquire the checklist for Sector Policing from the Department but was still waiting for it. This role of Parliament in the fight against crime could not be defined until the information on resources was provided. He said that research was necessary and that the Department would need to answer to the question relating to the impact of punishment in deterring corruption within SAPS.

Mr X Mabaso (ANC) asked what measures were in place to curb police corruption. He wondered if the police officials were neglecting problems owing to their apathy, or were no longer identifying with problems owing to extended time within SAPS. He also asked if there was a link between drug-related crime by the youth and liquor outlets.

Mr M George (COPE) asked why Sector Policing, implemented in 2002, would be implemented with a budget, but without guidelines and policies in place. He also questioned whether a crime free society was in fact possible.

Mr Mpisi commented that Japan had a crime free society, proving that it was in fact possible. In an ideal society, people should be able to leave their doors unlocked even when sleeping.

Rev Meshoe asked for clarity regarding the basis on which the Department refused to give guidelines on Resources and Sector Policing when researchers requested them on behalf of the Committee.

Mr Mpisi said that the Committee required information on Resources and a Sector Policing checklist from the Department. The problems of lack of proper policing and lack of resources were limiting the work of the Committee. He said that the Department had promised guidelines by September. However, without knowing how much the Department was planning on spending on implementation, it was not possible for the Committee or researchers to comment on resource availability.

Mr Mabaso asked what strategy of motivation was in place for members of the Community Policing Forums (CPF).

Mr Mpisi answered that members of the CPF needed recognition for their participation, and the strategy was to make these members feel appreciated. Clear guidelines and role definition in CPF was important to prevent members deciding on their own policy in their fight against crime.

Mr George suggested that SAPS members who had dealt with domestic violence should be present to debate and give the Committee guidelines on the restructuring of the DVA. If this Act were to be amended without full research, the changes in implementation could cause uncertainty amongst SAPS officials.

Mr Mabaso inquired whether South Africa’s crime prevention strategies extended also to neighbouring countries, and whether South Africa was playing a part in dealing with crime extending across borders, in Southern Africa.

Mr Mpisi said he would respond to the Committee once he had the relevant information.

The Chairperson asked if any research unit had reviewed the impact of the Portfolio Committee on monitoring of police stations, and whether their oversight functions had been under-utilised.

Mr Mpisi said that the problem with sampling police stations was that sampling of five police stations in the Western Cape would not reflect the status of the entire province. An objective view was necessary and the question of sampling must be addressed.

Ms Kohler-Barnard added that announced visits were naturally met with red-carpet treatment and a tour of the cells. Therefore she believed that unannounced visits were a far more effective tool. She suggested that visits should include all MPs, and discussion and utilisation of the monitoring tools together with the local station head would address problems at the stations more effectively. She also made reference to documents compiled from a crosscutting study of rural area stations which highlighted shortages at stations, and said that Mr Michaels would be able to elaborate on the subject. This document revealed, for example, that one station in a specific area had not had access to water over the past two years.

Mr Michael agreed that unannounced visits were more valuable, and said that there was no policy that prevented the Committee from conducting unannounced visits. Research data had been collected using the monitoring tools, and results relating to resources and irregularities in SAPS’s staff management had been shared with the Committee, and used successfully to challenge officials on these issues at Annual Report and Budget Vote hearings.

Mr George recommended that both unannounced and announced visits to stations should be used, as information required by the Committee was not readily available when SAPS’s management was not present.

The Acting Chairperson said that the Committee should meet for a strategy workshop to discuss these issues. She agreed that unannounced visits to police stations revealed what was really happening. The issue of management and discipline at the police stations was critical.

The meeting was adjourned.


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