South African Police Service Budget: National Treasury, Auditor-General, Union input

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23 February 2010
Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The purpose of the meeting was to get some input from the role players on the South African Police Services (SAPS) budget from National Treasury, Auditor General South Africa, and the two police unions POPCRU and SAPU.  

National Treasury gave an analysis of the budget vote, comparing it to the previous years, and indicating the comparative growth across the economic and programme classifications. Most funding was directed to Visible Policing, at 38% of budget, followed by Administration at 35 %, the detective services at 17 % and crime intelligence at 4 %.  Personnel was set to rise from 163 000 in 2007 to 2 660 by 2012/13. Some selected performance indicators were also given. It was noted that the targets for reducing crime had been decreased from the 7 to 10% target in the previous years to 4 to7%.
Members questioned the reduction of targets, how much of the administration budget would be spent on maintenance, and commented that in terms of previous rulings, the Department should not have to rely upon the Department of Public Works for all maintenance. Members also questioned if allocating more to SAPS, perhaps at the expense of other departments in the Cluster, was sensible, pointing out that there were already backlogs in these sectors. Members also questioned why there had been no specific allocation to departments, other than the Department of Justice, for implementing the Child Justice Act, and expressed the view that perhaps there was too much “fat” being built in to cater for situations that were not properly budgeted for. There were suspicions that Visible Policing was still being used as a source for other types of spending, although National Treasury could not comment on specific instances raised.

The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) noted that SAPS had not progressed as it should in terms of amenities and facilities for the disabled. AGSA highlighted overspending in Administration and Detective Services, but underspending in Visible Policing, largely due to prolonged payment processes. There was also under spending for crime intelligence and security services. The need to intensify the fighting of crime would result in a tremendous increase in the number of police staff over the next three years. Therefore large budget increases were to be expected. AGSA recommended that the SAPS must gather all its information in ways that could be verified by AGSA. Members asked whether National Treasury was confident that any mistakes by SAPS would be able to be rectified, asked about tender processes, the use of forensic investigators by AGSA, and what would happen to monies not spent.

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) made a detailed submission on the budget and both this Union and South African Police Union pleaded that their comments be accorded serious consideration, as several of the issues had been raised in previous years without any appreciable difference. POPCRU noted its recurring concern about the organisational structure of SAPS, which it still regarded as top-heavy, expensive to the taxpayers, and a hindrance to service delivery since not sufficient resources were allocated to station level, nor was there expertise being developed at this level.

Crime prevention should be tackled by a range of role players. POPCRU urged the strengthening and better funding of the Community Safety Forums, and better monitoring of progress of all cases from inception through to prosecution. POPCRU condemned privatisation of the Forensic Science laboratories envisaged in the Forensic Procedures Amendment Bill, and recommended that there should be a better quality management system, including at forensic laboratories, to ensure better management of all cases. POPCRU felt that effectiveness of sector policing required resource-intensive efforts, establishment of partnerships, and involvement of the youth, with stipends to be paid by government. In addition, more budget should be allocated to training. Although there had been progress in transformation, POPCRU felt that transformation had to do with effectiveness in delivering services. POPCRU commented that the forthcoming World Cup would require tremendous resources, especially to deal with opportunistic crimes, and questioned whether all stakeholders were pulling together to ensure safety and security. It emphasised that the term “criminal justice system” envisaged a proper system rather than disparate elements.
The South African Police Union (SAPU) also said that it was airing issues raised previously. It emphasised that there should be greater concentration on safety and security not only during the World Cup, but in general. SAPU said it was not given sufficient time to consider the budget. It commented that it was concerned about police reservists, who were essentially expected to provide loyalty and commitment, yet were not being properly compensated, and many were otherwise unemployed. It was necessary to strengthen police capacity and intelligence to bolster public confidence and prevent social chaos. SAPU had welcomed the initiatives to redeploy the military to border posts as it regarded protection of the borders as a joint function, and pointed out that the porosity of the borders was effectively creating problems that SAPS was then expected to police. SAPU called for its comments on pay and promotion prospects for those who wished to remain “at the coalface” to be seriously considered by management and called for political support from the Committee. It also expressed concern at lateral appointments systems being misused for non-scarce skills, and at the principle that former DSO members now re-entering the SAPS at higher ranks. It also called for political support that policing of special national events should bring overtime pay and incentives. SAPU expressed its extreme dissatisfaction with the Police Medical Scheme POLMED, and called for alternative schemes to be allowed to compete. In regard to disciplinary issues, it felt that there were long delays causing hardship to members. Finally, the vehicle replacement policy needed to be reviewed.

Members asked mostly questions of clarity, in relation to involvement of the unions in budgeting, the reinstatement of the specialised units, call centres, induction of youth into SAPS and militarization of the service.

Meeting report

South African Police Service (SAPS) Budget:
Comments on the SAPS budget by National Treasury (NT)
Mr Rendani Randela, Director, Justice and Protection Services Directorate, National Treasury, gave an analysis of the Department of Police / South African Police Service (SAPS or the Department) Budget Vote for the years 2010 – 2013. He defined the strategic priorities of the Department over the medium term, which were combating organised, serious and finance crime to reduce it by 4 to 7% (as compared to the previous target of 7 to 10%) and improving service delivery to the community. He set out the budget figures and growth (see attached presentation for details), noting that the current budget was R52.5 billion, rising to R60.3 billion by 2012/13. He pointed out that the main cost drivers were increases for personnel, infrastructure and equipment purchasing.

On the budget growth per economic classification, the highest consumer was staff salaries, followed by capital payment for building and maintenance of police buildings and equipment. Transfers and subsidies accounted for the smallest proportion of the budget.

Mr Randela moved on to the 2010 MTEF allocation. The baseline was increased for additional policing personnel, the new Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI), property management and cost of living adjustment. Some funding had been shifted from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ).

Mr Randela outlined the programme classification. The majority of the funds would be directed towards Visible Policing. Visible Policing would take up a chunk of 38 % of the allocation, followed by administration taking up 35 %, the detective services would take up 17 % and crime intelligence was allocated a meagre 4 %.  The reason as to why the administration program would be allocated 35 percent was that it would have a centralised function. Mr Randela added that in the short term, more resources would be directed towards the Detective Services. Personnel was set to rise from 163 000 in 2007 to 2 660 by 2012/13.  Detective services in the current year overtook administration with regards to personnel.

Mr Randela concluded his presentation with the selected performance indicators, which indicated a steady rise on the detection rate for contact crimes, already at 95% in 2009/10 and anticipated to climb by 1% in the years 2012/13. Detection rates for property-related crimes were expected to remain stagnant on 85% in the same time frame as contact crimes. For detection of crimes dependent entirely on police action, there would be an anticipated increase from 54% in the year 2009/10 to 57% in 2012/13. Finally the percentage of previous conviction reports generated within 30 days were expected to escalate slightly from 16% to 19% from 2009 to 2013.

Ms D Schafer (DA) asked how much of the 35 % of the administration budget would actually be spent on maintenance. She stated that she was of the understanding that most of the maintenance was done by the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Mr Randela said that a decision was made in 2006 to absolve DPW from maintenance in the sense that although it would do the work, the bill for it would be paid by SAPS.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the plan seemed good on paper. However, she stated that when the Committee visited the police stations, the foyers were too narrow to hold queues. She believed that the police stations were needing to go to the communities in order to raise their own funds, as they could not get anything done by the DPW. She strongly stressed that the DPW was not working.

Mr Ndlovu mentioned that at one stage projects requiring spending of over R0, 5 million were supposed to be handled by the DPW; only if they were less than that amount could SAPS deal with them itself. He questioned what had happened to that policy.

Mr Randela responded that it was up to the Department to find innovative ways of dealing with the DPW. He stated that the Department used only R5 000 as the figure for small maintenance issues.

The Chairperson queried whether National Treasury was convinced of practicality of that method.

Mr Randela indicated that National Treasury was aware of backlogs.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) suggested that the DPW should be ordered to explain these matters to the Committee.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked for clarification on the economic classification, which stated that R23,9 million would be spent on provinces and municipalities. He asked for an explanation what exactly the money was for.

Mr Randela responded that the money would be used on expenses such as vehicle licenses and property rates.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) queried as to how much money FIFA had contributed to the government on the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, to bolster security for the event.

Mr Randela stated that he was not aware of any monies received from FIFA for security.  He said that money received was only from the State.

Ms van Wyk asked a question relating to the lowering of targets, especially on combating serious and violent crimes.  She questioned whether National Treasury was comfortable with the lowering of those targets.

Ms van Wyk asked about the budget growth per programme. She asked if salaries fell under administration.

Mr Randela indicated that each programme would have its own budget allocation.

Ms van Wyk then said that over the past eight years the bulk of the Criminal Justice and the Correctional Services cluster budget went to SAPS. She asked whether more money would be given to other sectors within the Criminal Justice system so that they could catch up. She then asked whether prosecutors could cope with the work load as the number of prosecutors had not been increased nor had the courts be strengthened accordingly. There was a backlog of cases and that the Correctional Services also faced a lot of challenges. She queried whether there was a plan to remedy those imbalances.

Mr Randela responded that SAPS had struggled to reach its targets in the past. Increasing the targets would be seen as work in progress. He added that fighting crime was not only the responsibility of the police. The ordinary citizens also had to take responsibility by not purchasing stolen goods, or by reporting their fellow citizens to the police.

Mr Ndlovu agreed with the principle set out by Mr Randela. However, he felt that this did not excuse the Department from being fully responsible for its duties, and he believed that what Mr Randela was saying could be seen by the authorities as an excuse to shift responsibilities.

The Chairperson added that the Committee expected the police to lead the community policing initiative and all other aspects of fighting crime.

Mr Randela responded that National Treasury would like to see the targets increase to 100%. He stated that he would like to retract what he had said earlier, as he could see that it could be misinterpreted.

Ms Van Wyk asked what SAPS had said to justify the bringing down of the targets.

Mr Randela answered that SAPS’s previous failures to meet the targets influenced National Treasury’s concession that they could be reduced, although the decision to drop those targets had been made by SAPS.

The Chairperson said that Mr Randela was not in a position to speak for SAPS, and this question could be asked when SAPS next appeared before the Committee.

Mr Randela then responded to the questions around the bolstering of the Justice system. He stated that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had funds, and that it was advertising and appointing people. He did not see sense in pumping money in a department that made no good use of the budget allocated. He then compared the 5% vacancy rate of the SAPS to the 25% vacancy rate of the NPA. He added that with the funds allocated to the police and the justice budget, there were additional funds directed at catering for the whole cluster.

Mr Ndlovu asked Mr Randela to elaborate further on the Cluster comment, saying that when SAPS presented to the Justice Cluster, it claimed that it did not need more money.

The Chairperson questioned whether the requirements of the Child Justice Act were included in the budget.

Mr Randela responded that the implementation of the Child Justice Act cut across the sectors of policing, correctional services, social development and justice. He added that the money allocated for the mechanisation of the Criminal Justice system was given to the South African Revenue Services (SARS).

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked where, in the pie chart under Programme Classification, the money for the Cluster was featured.

Mr Randela responded that the money allocated for the Cluster was incorporated into administration, and hence administration accounted for 35% of the Programme Classification. He estimated that the sum would be in the region of up to R300 million. Over and above the administration funds, there would be a sum of about R3 million allocated for the revamping of the Criminal Justice system, and this sum was in the baseline of the Department of Police. He added that this money was allocated during the 2009 MTEF.  This accounted for less than 1% on the Programme Classification chart. The total budget for the upgrading, building and maintenance of police stations was estimated in the region of R800 million He noted that the only department that had bid for funding from National Treasury for implementation of this Act was the Department of Justice.

The Chairperson informed National Treasury that on 24 February 2010 the Committee was told that an amount of R650 million was requested from National Treasury by SAPS.
of justice.

Mr Randela attributed those monies mentioned by the Chairperson to the baseline of SAPS. He maintained that within the Cluster, only DOJ had submitted a bid for implementation of the Child Justice Act.

Mr Ndlovu wished to clarify why the Committee was asking these questions, reiterating that on 23 February 2010, SAPS representatives had said that they did not need a budget for this. The representatives of SAPS said they would implement the Child Justice Act in-house. He found the versions of National Treasury and those of the representative of SAPS to be problematic.

Ms van Wyk commented, with dissatisfaction, that it seemed that there was “fat” built into the budget.

Ms Kohler-Barnard mentioned that from time to time SAPS seemed to have the ability to “pull out” much money, and mentioned that there were suspicions that Visible Policing was being used as a source, since previously money had been spent on a cruise to the Caribbean, a large sum was also used to throw a party in Bloemfontein, both of which were paid for out of the Visible Policing budget.

Mr Randela said that as long as SAPS was abiding by the rules, it had the power to spend funds as it saw fit. He denied knowledge of any of the incidents highlighted by Ms Kohler-Barnard.

Comments on the SAPS Budget by the Auditor General South Africa (AGSA) 
Ms Corne Burger, representative of the Auditor-General, commented that AGSA had found that there was “lethargic progress” in terms of SAPS’s amenities and facilities for the disabled.

The Auditor-General had also found that there were two areas of overspending – namely in Administration and Detective Services. On administration, the amount was R1,17 million. The reason for the overspending was that SAPS was focusing on training interventions, and spending a great deal of money on information technology. The overspending on the detective services was R71 million, and this was due to the restructuring of the detective environment, with the bulk of the money being spent on resources such as purchasing of new vehicles, equipment and so forth.

In the area of Visible Policing, there was under spending by 23% (R99 million). The reason for this was attributed to the prolonged payment process. Ms Burger stated that if the processes took long to complete, all the payments due did roll over to the following year, thus accumulating unnecessary debt.

Crime intelligence and security services spending were also under-budget. Because of the government’s commitment to intensify the fight against crime, this became one of the main priorities for the Department as set forth in the medium term budget and in the President’s State of the Nation Address. The need to intensify the fighting of crime, through efforts to combat hijackings and robberies, as well as violent contact crimes such as murder and assault, would result in a tremendous increase in the number of police staff over the next three years.

In terms of Administration and Visible Policing, AGSA was expecting large increases of 35% and 41% respectively on the budget.  Ms Burger stated that the increase in administration was for upgrades of buildings to ensure smoother functioning of police stations. The rise on visible policing was attributed to increased personnel on the streets, especially in view of the 2010 World Cup. The total police budget showed an increase. Detective services would move from 15,8 % to 17%, crime intelligence would increase by 15%, and protection services would go up 5% within the total budget.

AGSA suggested the Department embark on systems of gathering its information so that the auditors could verify it. On the total budget, there was a revised estimated increase for 2009 of 2,6 %, and an additional increase of 10% for the current year.

Ms van Wyk asked whether Ms Burger was confident that the Department would rectify mistakes and would solve the problems.

Ms Burger answered that National Treasury was very much involved with the deciphering of SAPS information by deploying its own IT components. Ms Burger stated that it was too soon for the Auditor Generals office to make any comment on this.

Ms van Wyk asked about tenders, and whether AGSA could assure the Committee that it should not be too concerned about tender processes.

Ms Burger noted that there had been irregular expenditure amounting to R19 million, reported in the financial report of the previous year. The Department would have to follow a process in reducing the irregularities in terms of tenders. She also stated that the auditors were busy with other investigations relating to spending irregularities within SAPS.

Mr Ndlovu needed clarity on the percentage on detective services and crime intelligence. He asked why there was not a percentage for the detective and intelligence services.

The Chairperson asked whether the auditors picked up any recycling of parts in terms of equipment in laboratories.

Ms Burger said that she had no knowledge of the recycling on machinery parts.

Ms van Wyk asked whether AGSA used forensic investigators when visiting the forensic laboratories, as that field was highly specialised.

Ms Burger said that from time to time it could take along other experts in the auditing areas.

Mr Ndlovu asked what the reason was for the time laps in the allocation of tenders.  He asked for clarity as to what happened to the monies not spent.

Ms Burger stated that AGSA thought it logical that, in instances where funds had been under spent, those monies should then be surrendered to the government.

Comments on the SAPS budget by Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU)
Mr Mncedisi Mbolekwa, Provincial Secretary, Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union, appreciated the opportunity for the Union (POPRU) to give comments on the Departments’ strategic plan and budget vote. This invitation reflected that POPCRU was an important stakeholder in the advancement of the strategic imperatives of the Department, and encouraged continued relationships with the labour movements within the SAPS.

Mr Mbolekwa elucidated that POPCRU was not only responsible and accountable to its members, but also to society at large. It was important for the Union not to single out the Department and its performance only, but also to ascertain whether the members employed by the Department were indeed fulfilling their duties as to ensure that the mandate bestowed upon them was fulfilled.

Mr Mbolekwa asked that the submission of the Union should not be treated as a mere formality, but that the inputs and concerns be treated with respect; the Union would not like to see that it raised the same issues repeatedly without positive changes resulting, as this had unfortunately happened in the past.

He noted that it was appropriate to acknowledge conditions that were a prerequisite for a safe and secure country, noting that the unions fully understood the difficulties that its members faced. Police officers risked their lives when confronting crime, and he registered, on behalf of a great many people, appreciation to SAPS for their sterling work, and noted that many had paid the ultimate price with their lives and had perished in the line of duty.  Mr Mbolekwa called for the honouring those unsung heroes and heroines with an unwavering commitment to intensify the fight against crime.

Mr Mbolekwa referred back to the ideals of the Rivonia trialists and said that the Freedom Charter remained one of the most famous documents in the history of the freedom struggle. The aspirations contained therein, including peace, security and comfort, defined the tasks that should be accomplished. The preamble of the Constitution reasserted the profound statement that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.” This bound all parties to work together to “improve the quality of life of all citizens and to free the potential of each person.”

It was well known that on its accession to power the Government of National Unity had inherited a society marked by deep social and economic inequalities, as well as by serious racial, political and social divisions. All services, including SAPS, had to be transformed into a coherent, representative, competent and democratic instrument for implementing government policies and meeting the needs of all South Africans. Government, in moving towards its vision of a public service which was representative, efficient, transparent, effective, accountable and responsive to the needs of all, had identified eight priority areas for transformation.

These included rationalisation and restructuring, to ensure a unified, integrated public service. There was a need for Institution-building and management to promote greater accountability, organisational and managerial effectiveness. There must be representativity and affirmative action. Service delivery must be transformed to meet basic needs and redress past imbalances. The State must be democratised, human rights developed, attention paid to employment conditions and labour relations, and there must be promotion of a professional services ethos. These were all priority areas mentioned in 2004. The Union contended that they were also priority areas for 2010, and said that they must be given a slice of the budget.

While acknowledging strides in improving service delivery, he noted that there were several areas that needed attention in the budget. The first was organisational structure. In the past, POPCRU had indicated that the SAPS’s structure was top-heavy, and it had also demonstrated what that structure cost the tax payers. It also impeded service delivery. He asserted that the Union would not rest or abandon that issue until it was taken seriously and attended to. Over the past two years, the pretext of restructuring had in fact amounted to a waste of taxpayers’ resources.

He said that a flatter organisational structure was needed, instead of the many layers of command and control that currently existed. This would ensure a better delivery of service to citizens. This restructuring was necessary to ensure better policing and improved services, using the local police stations as their central point. Revising the structure would allow for decentralisation of work and authority, along with specialised skills that would be available at station level. This would ensure that crimes were investigated where they had occurred, and would also increase leadership , management, decision making and skill levels, could deal with those stations’ unique crime challenges, empower station commissioners to render a comprehensive service and effectively manage all resources, and amend accountability frameworks to more effectively assess effectively the performance of station commissioners in terms of standardised performance indicators. The management , monitoring and evaluation of the individual police stations were key to success in combating crime.

Mr Mbolekwa reiterated that SAPS Head Office should be regarded as a policy-making body, and did not require a bloated structure; the current structure used too much of the budget, which should rather be removed from Head Office level and allocated to station level, where the actual activities were taking place, at present with far too little budget.

Secondly, Mr Mbolekwa said that crime prevention was not only a criminal justice initiative, and therefore was most likely to succeed when tackled by a range of role players, including government departments such as Health, Education and Social Development, as well as provincial and local government, non-governmental organisations, the business sector and the public at large. POPCRU said that there was a need to urgently strengthen management and appropriate funding of the Community Safety Forums (CSFs). CSFs should monitor and coordinate the functioning of the Criminal Justice System at all levels, from inception, through investigation and forensic testing, to the opening of the docket. The station commissioners should monitor the progress and the quality of the docket, statements inside the dockets and the possibility of prosecution. There should be a smooth handing over of work, from the departments of Police, Justice and Correctional Services, without any blockages, and monitoring of the cases would lead to all role players completing the cases within the required period, without delays. He condemned the privatisation of the Forensic Science Laboratory that was envisaged by the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill of 2008. POPCRU recommended that a quality management system should be introduced and adopted by all departments within the Criminal Justice Cluster to ensure that the turn-around time in terms of the whole circle of prosecution, including examinations by Forensic Science Laboratories, were up to the acceptable standard.

Mr Mbolekwa noted that the success of policing relied on active community participation, which gave effect to sector policing. The effectiveness of the sector policing (to ensure closer co-operation and integration with the community) entailed a resource-intensive exercise and the establishment of local partnerships. Therefore, redeployment of experienced and senior police officials at level of sector policing and police stations was of paramount importance. Youth should be involved in a massive programme of community policing and safety, with stipends paid by the government as part of National Youth Service (NYS), to instil the value of service and to protect the community and public property. Therefore, a reasonable portion of the budget should be allocated to youth development and training in policing , safety and security.

Mr Mbolekwa also said that the budget should ensure that sufficient funds were invested in the field of training and development of officers at all levels, including managerial level.

Whilst POPCRU acknowledged the significant progress that had been made in relation to transformation issues, the Union strongly felt that the budget had to be rather more vocal in terms of the principles that guided the transformation agenda. A transformed SAPS would be judged by one criterion above all, its effectiveness in delivering services which meets the basic needs of all citizens in terms of safety and security.

Mr Mbolekwa hailed the 2010 FIFA World Cup as one of the biggest infrastructure investment projects in the country, whose investment in terms of growth and development would leave behind a legacy to benefit future generations. He said that during the event, the focus should be on crimes expected to occur, such as human trafficking and drug smuggling. For this reason an increase in police presence was of paramount importance, and the question was whether as all stakeholders within the justice framework were pulling to the same direction in order to provide safety and security during that major event.

Mr Mbolekwa noted that Sections 199 and 205 of the Constitution mandated the establishment of a single Police Service to combat, prevent and investigate crime, to maintain public order and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property. POPCRU saw this as a Constitutional imperative and said that the term ‘criminal justice system’ assumed that justice was to be regarded and judged as a system, not an accidental assemblage of disparate and disconnected elements with varied historical origins. The process of placing municipal, metro and traffic police under the command and control of the National Commissioner of the South African Police Services was a force multiplier.

Mr Mbolekwa concluded that employees, as stakeholders, were the vehicle in achieving great objectives of any department, and thus rallied behind the spirit of extensive consultation in as far as all processes  were concerned.  The fight against crime was part of an integral approach in the effort to accomplish the goal of a better life for all. The adoption of a sound budget was not enough for the union, who would never hesitate to challenge any instances of deviation from the budget tabled and adopted. A fully united front would result in a more peaceful society.

Comments on the SAPS budget by South African Police Union (SAPU)
Mr Vusumzi Matam, Vice President, South African Police Union, said that SAPU also wished to air issues again that had been raised on previous occasions. He asked the Chairperson for an assurance that the Union’s participation would be taken seriously, and not treated merely as a political exercise. Mr Matam vehemently repeated that the same matters raised by the Union in the past were still under the spotlight. Union members were under tremendous pressure to deliver, and unions raised in the bargaining chambers would be taken to conclusion.

SAPU had been encouraged by the President’s firm emphasis of the need to deal with violent crime, and crime in general, in the State of the Nation Address. SAPU was not concentrating on the crime likely to be encountered during the 2010 World Cup, but based its position also on the concerns of many South Africans whose quality of life had been severely disrupted by the high levels of crime. SAPU’s position was that the crime situation required a more sustained approach in ensuring that citizens could live in peace and harmony before, during and after the Soccer World Cup.

The critical issues that SAPU wished to flag included issues around the Police budget, Police Reservists, intensifying the fight against crime, Border control, the Police Medical Aid Scheme (Polmed), Internal Disciplinary mechanisms, distribution of resources and legal services

SAPU said that it had been frustrated in not being able to make a meaningful contribution to the budget vote process because it had not been give enough time to consider the issues raised.  Budgets were complex documents, which required time and consultation with experts as well as members. SAPU asked that it be made privy to the information on time so that it could use the time for comment meaningfully.

Mr Matam stated that SAPS had always seen the police reservists as a needs based requirement. Police reservists was a voluntary service in a residential suburb to enhance the service delivery of SAPS in its crime fighting effort. That was performed by permanently-employed citizens who utilised their after-hours to bolster crime fighting. However, the recent strike actions by reservists, many of whom were alleged to be unemployed, was a stark indicator that using voluntary workers as reservists had created a huge dilemma. The use of unemployed youth was akin to scab labour without pay, which was in turn a social injustice. SAPU demanded that urgency was applied to find solutions to unemployment and poverty. There was social injustice in expecting volunteers, who were also needy, to perform with selfless loyalty without a return.

On the issue of intensifying the fight against crime, Mr Matam stated that everyone in South Africa, including visitors and foreigners, would like to see government intensify its efforts in addressing the high crime levels. SAPS, as a result of these crime levels, was held in poor regard. When this happened, the citizens, terrified by high levels of crime, would use whatever was available to them to ensure their own safety. SAPU’s view was that strengthening the police capacity and  intelligence was critical in addressing the looming security chaos.

Mr Matam expressed that SAPU welcomed control of the border posts and ports of entry, and also welcomed the proposed redeployment of the military to secure the borderline. SAPU believed that it was consistent with the Constitutional provisions for the military and the police to perform those separate, yet complementary, roles. SAPU also welcomed deployment of police students to the borders to gain experience, and stressed that this deployment was as critical as any other, since the borders were porous and required tight security. A growing foreign element could complicate the crime situation. He stressed that even though SAPU welcomed legitimate foreigners in the country, it believed that tighter control measures needed to be put in place. With the resent wave of xenophobic attacks, SAPU wondered how the illegal immigrants had entered the country in the first place and had begun building informal settlements. He pointed out that SAPS was expected to deal with any problems resulting from this.

Mr Matam also raised the issue of ranks. He said that many police officers in lower ranks would like to remain at the coalface, doing operational duties, as long as they were paid adequately. SAPU argued that serious consideration must be given to its proposals around promotions, especially promotion for those who did not wish to become commanders.

Mr Matam warned that it was a trend in SAPS that many vacant posts were advertised externally but filled by external incumbents. Lateral appointments were accepted  by labour in the quest to address the issue of scarce skills such as pilots, bomb disposal specialists, forensic analysts, social workers and more. However, this was being misused to employ people with no specialised skills, such as clerks, secretaries. That opened the door to “patronage” employment and closed down opportunities for those who were loyal not to progress promotionally. The backlog was attributable in part to this, and SAPU demanded that the practice cease.

Mr Matam said that the some former members of the SAPS had left it to join the former Directorate of Special Operations (DSO) and, on dissolution of that body, were now returning to SAPS holding very senior ranks. SAPU believed that police officers should not leave the service with the intention of returning to it with senior ranks, and vowed to continue to address the matter. Failure to resolve this issue would undermine the government’s efforts to address crime levels.

Mr Matam noted that police officers would not have the opportunity to benefit from the FIFA World Cup, and so SAPU wished to propose that its members be properly incentivised for the sacrifices they would make. This would not only be fair, but would also discourage SAPS members from engaging in other business that might detract from their responsibilities. SAPU had initiated negotiation and hoped the budget could cater for its suggestions. SAPU had raised this issue now as it hoped also for political support for the notion that policing of special national events should bring overtime pay and incentives. SAPU was not happy with the manner with which SAPS management had dealt with the issue, and he urged the Committee to use its constitutional powers and moral authority to ensure that the issue was adequately dealt with.

In relation to the Police Medical Scheme (Polmed), Mr Matam said that SAPU had previously expressed its complete disapproval to the manner in which the medical aid scheme was managed. POLMED was created exclusively for police officials and their dependents, so that they could have access to quality health care services. Although the intentions were good, at present exorbitant amounts were paid for the service, which should be seen as a benefit, and not a liability for members. The vision of ensuring that police officers had adequate health care access had long been forgotten as a result of privatisation. SAPU was flooded by complaints from its members and recommended that other medical schemes be allowed to compete with POLMED.

In regard to internal disciplinary matters, Mr Matam said that SAPU fully supported creating a professional and disciplined police service. The Union supported democratic and transparent mechanisms which aspired to deal with lack of discipline. SAPU, however, believed that it was inconsistent with international trends and democratic norms to deny police officers the right to a fair and speedy disciplinary process. Those members whose disciplinary cases had not been finalised were treated unfairly and unacceptably as they were suspended without pay.

Mr Matam pointed out that, in relation to detectives, a number were sharing vehicles, sometimes as many as six to one vehicle. This was unproductive. This situation had arisen through the shortage of vehicles caused by boarding. SAPU recommended that the current replacement policy should be revoked and replaced by the immediate-replacement policy for boarded vehicles. 

Mr Ndlovu asked as to when and how the trade unions were involved in the budgeting of the department.

Mr Ndlovu asked how the unions treated their members that were found to be corrupt.

Mr Mbolekwa answered that the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” applied, and that proper procedures had been in place in the Department.

Mr Matam agreed with Mr Mbolekwa on the question on corrupt members and expressed SAPU’s condemnation of corruption

Mr Ndlovu also asked what the unions’ recommendations were on the issue of the dysfunctional legal system.

Mr Matam recommended that in respect of legal issues, privatisation should be abolished.

Rev Meshoe asked whether the unions were in support of having specialised units such as the Child Protection Services.

Mr Mbolekwa said that POPCRU fully supported those units, especially on provincial levels because of geographical challenges such as distance.

Rev Meshoe asked if the unions thought it was wise to have calls redirected through to the police via the call centres. 

Mr Mbolekwa thought that the call centres were not a good idea at all.

Mr Meshoe asked what were the criteria for the selection and induction of youth in the service.

Mr Mbolekwa stated that POPCRU was not prescriptive on the criteria, but were keen to contribute in terms of opinion and necessary support.  He called for the scrapping of the reservist component, as he believed that this amounted to incorrect labour practices.  He suggested the absorption of the reservists into the service so that they could be paid for their services. Mr Mbolekwa stated that POPCRU was open for suggestions and engagement. He also recommended that the police academies’ syllabus should be changed as most of them were vastly outdated.

Ms Mocumi asked what the unions’ recommendations were on the issue of medical aid.

Mr Matam said that SAPU proposed that management should solve the issue of medical aid even if it was by raising wages.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) wished to know how many members SAPU had.

Ms Molebatsi raised concern about the 56 000 who were mentioned as having been in the service for over twenty years without promotion, which must surely be a recipe for disloyalty and lack of morale.

Ms Schafer recommended that the unions should advise their members to be more fiscally responsible.

The Chairperson asked how often the unions met with senior management of SAPS,  as she felt that many of their concerns should have been directed to the senior management. She also asked if the unions thought the 2010 World Cup allocation was in line with the budget proposal.

Mr Mbolekwa answered that the unions were only involved with the budgeting in meetings such as the one pending. In response to the World Cup allocation, he said that it was difficult for the Union to take one position or another, but he hoped that the allocation was sufficient.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked what the unions’ position was on the militarisation of the service.

Mr Mbolekwa answered that POPCRU would not by any means support militarisation.

Mr Matam said that thought it was the duty of the governments to resolve the unemployment problems around reservists.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked what the unions thought of the party that was thrown by the police in Bloemfontein.

Mr Mbolekwa stated that he was present in Bloemfontein for the jubilation and he would lobby for the next episode of the party.

The meeting was adjourned.


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