The Police Portfolio Committee research team gave a workshop on the Annual Report due to be presented by the South African Police Service (SAPS). The workshop focused on each SAPS programme and the work done in the 2008/09 financial year. The main programmes singled out were Administration, Visible Policing, Detective Services and the expenditure analysis and findings of the Auditor-General. It was reported, that the Administration programme had done well in achieving some of its set targets. A total of 182 754 posts were filled out of a total 183 180 created posts. Even though a huge number of personnel had terminated their service (3 310), over 14 611 police officers, a bulk of them being entry level appointments, had been recruited. A lot of resources was reported to being channelled towards the visible policing programme. It was through this programme that over 13 675 firearms had been recovered, most of those being R5 and R4 rifles which are mainly in the custody of the SAPS and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF). Detective services showed significant improvements, which worryingly for the Committee was not matched by high conviction rates. Some members were concerned that although most of the targets were met, most of those targets were very low and very easy to reach. The Auditor-General, although not giving a qualified audit, highlighted a few matters, which needed to be addressed. Those areas included expenditure discipline, it was reported that a condonement of R28.4 million was made in that financial year and this was too high compared to R10.0 million of the previous financial year. SAPS was the only law enforcement agency in the world that had reached a 31% female recruitment level.
The purpose of the meeting was to allow an opportunity for Portfolio Committee members to interact with the parliamentary research unit, to be able to share information and raise issues about the South African Police Service (SAPS) Annual Report 2008/09. Mr Mpumelelo Mpisi, from the research unit led the presentation, focussing mainly on Administration, Visible Policing, Detective Services and the findings of the Auditor-General. He reminded the members that the two pieces of legislation governing the work of the SAPS categorically state that the mission of the department was to prevent, combat and investigate crime. To maintain public order, to protect and secure inhabitants of the Republic and their property and to ensure everyone upheld the rule of law. He said it was important to hear from the department how they were keeping up with those important objectives. Mr Mpisi looked at SAPS’s five-year strategic plan (2005-1010) which spelt out among other things, a commitment to combat organised crime, to reduce incidents of crime against women and children, to deepen community and sector policing and to drastically reduce contact crime.
The information gathered from SAPS Human Resources management revealed that out of a total 183 180 number of posts, 182 754 were filled. Recruitment initiatives resulted in 14 611 personnel being attracted, 11 034 being entry-level recruitments, that is, constable level appointments and 3 577 being appointments at other senior levels within the rank and file of SAPS. It was also reported that a total number of 3 310 SAPS members had terminated their service due to reason ranging from death, dismissal and either promotion or transfer. It was further reported that SAPS was the only law enforcement agency in the world that had reached a 31% female recruitment level, making it one of the top departments in terms of employment equity.
Programme: Visible Policing
The programme had recorded a total of 1 223 505 arrests compared to 1 274 602 in the previous financial year. It also saw the recovery of 13 675 firearms, up from 12 765 firearms recovered in the 2007/08 financial year. Mr Mpisi said that most of the firearms recovered were R4 and R5 rifles and it was common knowledge that in the majority of robbery cases, R5 rifles were mostly used. It raised a critical question which was how criminals were getting hold of those weapons since the SAPS was the main custodian of R5 rifles. He said it would be interesting to know how many of the recovered firearms belonged to SAPS and how many were linked to crime scenes. Another issue closely linked with the programme of visible policing was that of police reservists but a moratorium had been placed on this by the Minister of Police to halt the process. He said it would be interesting to know when the moratorium would be lifted. Some worrying statistics included the increase in the number of escapes from police custody, attacks on police and the killing of police officials.
Programme: Detective Services
Under this programme, it was reported that the detection rate of crime was very low and the department needed to explain what measures were being implemented to make sure it solved the current situation were more than half of the cases went undetected. It was encouraging however to realise that some of the set targets were indeed achieved. These included the target number of cases taken to court, the conviction rate set target of 19% was also achieved, and the detection rate of offences and assaults against women as set at 42% was also achieved. The Forensic Science Laboratory reached its set target of analysing 92% of samples within 35 days. Targets not reached in this programme included the set target by the Criminal Record Centre to finalise its cases within 30 days. Mr Mpisi said the department needed to explain why some targets were not met and also why the Department had set very low targets. Organised crime activities still remain not convincingly arrested. In the current report, 7 060 arrests were made but this was matched by only 868 convictions. During the 2006/07 year report, the overall number of arrests stood at 4 873 whereas the number of convictions stood at 4 969.
Ms A van Wyk (ANC) asked Mr Mpisi to explain where he got the information on the killings of police officials. She asked about the circumstances under which those police officials were killed, that is, whether they were killed on duty or while off-duty.
Ms D Schafer (DA) said the information given by the department on borderline security did not contain any figures on the progress made. She asked if Mr Mpisi had any knowledge of the situation regarding borderline security.
Mr Mpisi promised to look into the issue of borderline security and report to the Portfolio Committee at a later stage.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked for clarity about guns used in most crime scenes. Could Mr Mpisi confirm that indeed his research findings told him that R5 rifles were mostly used by criminals and yet these were the weapons mainly kept by SAPS.
Mr Mpisi did confirm that R5 rifles were the main weapons used by criminals and it would be interesting to find out how these weapons ended up in the hands of criminals and how many in particular were acquired from South Africa’s security agencies.
Mr Meshoe pointed out that the figures on organised crime revealed that in the 2006/07 financial year, the overall number of arrests was smaller than the overall number of convictions. This must be a typing error or a bizarre situation where convictions were larger than the number of arrests.
Mr M George (COPE) said he was worried about the figures presented. He noted that the report gave the overall number of arrests for the 2007/08 year to be 1 214 and this climbed to 7 060 in the following year. He wanted to know what factors caused such a huge discrepancy or increase.
Mr Mpisi said he got all his figures from the SAPS Annual Report but he promised to go back and verify them again so as to be sure he did not give incorrect information.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) said if he remembered correctly, the Minister of Police gave figures on how many police reservists had been or were in the process of being recruited. He noted however that Mr Mpisi provided no figures about how many and who were those police reservists that would be recruited to assist the police.
Mr Mpisi said the current figures on reservists was that there were 53 200 reservists but this process had been put in jeopardy since a moratorium had been placed on them to allow for the review of the legislation governing the recruitment of reservists. Perhaps the department need to tell the Portfolio Committee about how far the process was at the moment and when the moratorium would be lifted.
The Chairperson wondered what could be the reasons behind the decrease in violent crimes and yet a sharp increase in crimes such as house breaking and other minor crimes. She was concerned that it might be a case of the police not giving enough attention to the crime types that were increasing.
Auditor-General Findings / Expenditure Analysis
Mr Rendani Randela, Director: Justice and Protection Services: National Treasury, reported that although the department did not receive a qualification, the Auditor-General did raise matters of concern. One area raised was that the department’s information systems were not appropriate to facilitate the preparation of a performance report that was accurate and complete. This included inadequate control processes and procedures designed to ensure the accuracy and completeness of reported performance information.
Other shortcomings raised by the Auditor-General included firearms control registers which were not properly maintained in six provinces, supply chain management non-compliance with procedures relating to the use of urgent and emergency procedures, advertising and evaluation of bids. Asset registers were also reported as not properly maintained and lastly the failure of SAPS to maintain an effective, efficient and transparent system of internal controls regarding performance management as required by PFMA.
The Auditor-General was concerned about an increasing frequency of the condonment of irregular expenditure by the Accounting Officer of the Department of Police. It was reported that the Accounting Officer condoned R28.4 million in 2008/09 year (compared to R10.0 million in 2007/08). The Department was also advised to avoid incurring irregular expenditure by adopting strict measures and through effective communication of those measures to SAPS officials as a whole and most importantly those who could be party to the irregularities.
On expenditure analysis, visible policing received 41% of the total budget, while the crime intelligence programme got the lowest allocation of R14 487 89. Despite some virements in certain programmes, the overall expenditure remained in line with expected spending plans and this was commended by the Auditor-General.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) asked ifthe Auditor-General had said anything about the irregular vehicle purchasing contracts entered into by the erstwhile Scorpions, which were now a part of the SAPS. She also wanted to know how the process of transferring property belonging to the former Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) to the new unit (Hawks) was progressing.
Mr Randela said specific details about the irregularity of the vehicle purchase contracts were to be found in the Annual Report of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The transfer of property was said to be going smoothly and was due to be completed soon.
Ms Schafer said her worry was that breach of contract often had consequences and asked what consequences would attach such termination of the contract since SAPS would now be directly responsible for any possible law suit in that regard.
Mr Randela replied that negotiations were underway to reach an out of court settlement but chances were that the matter could end up going to court.
Rev Meshoe asked how many of the recommendations made by the Auditor-General had been or were being implemented.
Mr V Ndlovu said his concern was that there were huge degrees or deviations in terms of spending on certain programmes, which seemed to amount to more than the 8% allowed by regulations governing such deviations. In his view such deviations would come at the expense of another programme and he wanted to know which of those programmes were sacrificed.
Mr Randela said Mr Ndlovu was correct that a maximum of 8% deviation from expected expenditure was allowed but was not aware what could be the reasons and consequences of expenditure deviations that went over 8%.
The Chairperson thanked the research team for their work.
The meeting was adjourned.
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