The Parliament Research Unit presented that a budget of R5.2 billion had been set out for the South African Police Service. While the priorities of the Police Department remained the same, emphasis had now shifted to “trio-crimes” and increased detective services versus increasing visible policing. Concerns were raised about the SAPS management of funds within the Corporate Service sub-programme, as a large amount of money was unaccounted for. An explanation would have to be given by the Police Department. The Auditor-General’s Office presented the budget vote of the Independent Complaints Directorate, flagging a large amount of unauthorised expenditure. Many risks were identified by the Auditor, with the main problem being identified as the many vacancies within the Directorate and a resultant R1.2 million spent on overtime.
SAPS Budget Presentation
Mr Mpumelelo Mpisi, Researcher Parliament Research Unit, presented the outcomes of the Department of Police budget vote and the analysis thereof. It was noted that previous legislative mandates and policy documents governing South African Police Service (SAPS) objectives were still relevant in guiding the budget. The Strategic Priorities outlined for 2010 -2014 would also be carried forward throughout the budget.
While reducing the number of high-contact crimes (such as murder, rape and assault) was still a major priority, emphasis had shifted to now focussing on “trio-crimes” (robbery, business robbery and car-jacking). In order to do so, emphasis was also to be placed on increasing detection rates from 13.8% to 34%. This was still a relatively low detection rate as it fell below 50%. Nonetheless, such an increase would be a “marvellous improvement” and would go a long way in changing the perceptions of safety in South Africa.
Overall R5.2 billion was to be allocated to the Department. This translated in a 3.43% increase from 2009/10. This increase did not in fact mean a greater allocation of funds, but was rather a measure to keep up with inflation. This increase was less than that the 2008/09 to 2009/10 period, but could perhaps be attributed to the global economic downturn.
While most programmes were to see an increase in the allocation of funds, the Visible Policing programme experienced a slight decrease of 1.77%. This did not necessarily mean a sharp drop in allocated funds but was rather a measure to “sustain the base line” of the budget.
With the slight decrease in allocated funds to the Visible Policing programme, all its sub-programmes also received a decrease in funds. Most noticeably the Specialised Interventions sub-programme received a decrease of 9.99%.
The Department of Police’s Annual Report, however, showed that large sums of money were shifted from the Visible Policing Programme into other, unspecified, areas. This occurred during the time when Visible Policing was still the main focus of the Department. The Committee would have to question the Department about this.
It was reiterated that the priorities of the Department of Police had not changed drastically to previous years. However, there was a shift in the level of emphasis attributed to these priorities. The main change was that the detection of crime was now focussed on with more emphasis than visible policing. This was to be specifically translated into specialised units of detectives being formed within the police force, in order to bring down levels of crime.
The Detective Services Programme saw an 8.53% increase in allocated funds compared to the previous year of 7.74%. With more emphasis placed on this programme more detectives would obviously be recruited in the hope of apprehending more suspects. However, it was brought to the committee’s attention that the number of detectives the department actually employed would have to be discussed. This was because while the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) stated that in 2009 31,460 detectives were employed, the Department’s Annual Report stated that only 23,000 detectives were in employment. Furthermore, it was the number of detectives actively carrying out investigations that should be counted, not those detectives in managerial roles. In general, the Detecting Services Programme would have to be discussed at length with the Department.
In analysing the manner in which funds would be allocated to the Administration Programme it was highlighted that the allocation to the Minister of the department had decreased minimally (0.77%). Overall a 7.05% increase in allocation of funds to the Administration Programme was to be seen, compared to 5.89% in 2009/10. Despite a modest increase in the overall budget, the Administration Programme now received a greater portion than previously.
Mr Mpisi informed the committee of his concerns. The funds allocated to the Corporate Services section, and specifically to training, of the Administration Programme did not match what had actually been spent by the department. While R14 billion had been allocated to this section, less than this was spent on training. The remainder of the allocated funds were not accounted for. While other financial experts were consulted, these excess funds could not be traced and no clarity was to be gained from the Annual Report. Furthermore, what was expended that year was not presented to Parliament.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked if there was therefore around R1.1 billion rand unaccounted for in the 2009/10 budget.
Mr Mpisi stressed that this was merely a concern of his and that he believed a logical explanation must exist. The committee was advised to simply ask the Department for clarity on this matter at their next meeting.
Ms A van Wyk (ANC) stated that since members of the Auditor’s General office were present in the meeting, they should perhaps be asked to look at the matter and see whether an explanation presented itself.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) advised caution on the matter. Until all facts were presented and the Department itself was consulted, no conclusions should be jumped to.
The Crime Intelligence Programme was allocated far fewer funds than previously with only a 3.17% increase versus a 12.25% increase in 2009/10. Most worryingly however, was that Crime Intelligence Operations received a sharp decrease in funds of 4.84%.
The question was raised as to why the allocation of funds to this sub-programme was not in support with the priorities outlined, and with Government’s vision, for the Department.
In the analysis of the Protection and Security Services Programme, it was highlighted that there was a 3.74% increase in funds allocated to VIP Protection Services as opposed to the previous year’s 0.57% increase. The Government Security Regulator sub-programme, however incurred a decrease of 2.71%. Was this the result of shifting priorities or simply of poor budget planning? This would have to be discussed in greater detail with the department.
Overview and Analysis of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) Budget Vote
Ms C Myburgh, Business Executive, Office of the Auditor-General, started the presentation by reviewing the 2008/09 financial year. In the Administration and Information divisions savings were realised due a planned relocation to new premises not occurring and to a number of vacancies. However, the Complaints and Processing Division had overspent its budget by R891 000, mainly due to salary increases in both September 2008 and January 2009. This expenditure was still unauthorised by Government.
The ICD’s current budget (2010/11) indicated a vast increase in funds allocated to the Administration Division, from 12.9% in 2009/10 to 38.7% currently. This could be attributed to the fact that a number of sub-programmes fell into this division, including the ICD’s Health and Wellness Programme. Similarly a 49.1% increase was seen in the Complaints and Processing Division. This increase was to include an adjustment of R881000 to cover the increase in salaries.
A number of risks were identified by the Auditor-General, the first being that inadequate budget monitoring resulted in the ICD incurring unauthorised expenditure. Equally as worrying, however, was that in 2008/09 the ICD had 17 vacancies and had therefore paid R 1 225 000 as overtime, while R731 000 was spent on 1186 sick days. Moreover, during the course of 2009, 66 ICD staff members had resigned. Lastly a 28% increase in local travel was seen, something that cost-saving measures should have been implemented upon.
Ms van Wyk stated that the funds allocated to the Administration Division of the ICD were far too high. An ideal distribution of funds would be a 26/ 64 split between administrative and practical divisions. While the Administrative Division might have contained the ICD’s wellness programme, the emphasis was still far too much on admin and not enough on practical duties.
Ms Myburgh agreed that administrative support should not form the main part of the budget. A further breakdown of the ICD’s Administrative division would be provided to the committee in order to track exactly how funds were being managed.
Ms D Schafer (DA) asked whether the money budgeted for the ICD’s supposed relocation to new premises had simply rolled-over or whether this would have to be re-budgeted. Secondly, why was an increase in travel costs identified as a risk? It could be supposed that with an increase in travel the ICD was perhaps attending to more of its duties around the country.
Ms Myburgh stated that no roll-over in funds had occurred as there had been no new commitment from the ICD to relocate after its first attempt. The money for any relocation would therefore have to be re-budgeted.
In terms of travelling expenses, it was conceded that this could have been due to the ICD catching up with backlogged work and that this was indeed a good thing. However, as part of the audit it had been identified that travelling could be carried out in cheaper and “smarter” ways.
Mr Schneemann referred to a footnote in the SAPS budget presentation, that the information on detectives was supplied by an email reply to the Chairperson. It was necessary to verify this information, and to be absolutely sure of the facts. Could clarity be provided on how this information was gathered?
Mr Mpisi stated that he had, on the committee’s behalf, emailed the Department to enquire about the number of detectives currently in employment. All figures and statistics therefore came directly from the SAPS themselves. This email response would be made available to the committee.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked about the shift in emphasis away from Visible Policing, and onto Detective Services. Which came first – the prevention of crime through increased, visible police forces, or the apprehension of suspects only once the crime had been committed? Clarity was needed on this issue, as surely prevention of the crimes in the first place was better than simply catching suspects after they had been apprehended.
Mr Mpisi stressed that the budget did not de-prioritise the Visible Policing programme but that it now rather placed more emphasis on detection. This was due to the focus shifting from high-contact crimes to trio-crimes. In the case of high contact crimes, such as assault or murder, an increasingly visible police force would deter many offenders. This was not the case with trio-crimes which were often organised and carried out by syndicates, thus requiring specialised investigations. However, the two could not be divorced from one another – crimes could only be prevented if criminals were aware that they would be caught. Further discussion with the department on this issue would be needed.
Mr Ndlovu also enquired to the problem of overspending in the ICD’s budget. Did this mean that the Financial Officer of the ICD simply did not know how funds were allocated to his division? How was it possible to overspend so drastically?
Reverend K Meshoe (ACDP) asked about the salary increases that occurred in September 2008 and again in January 2009. What was the justification in increasing salaries twice within such a short period?
The Auditor-General’s Office replied that the unauthorised expenditure in terms of salaries was attributable to no proper budgetary monitoring within the ICD. The ICD had simply not kept the necessary funds aside for this purpose, and had therefore overspent. Salaries were increased twice within such a short period in order to bring the ICD’s remuneration up to national standards. The September increase was part of the normal government increase that all civil servants received. The January increase was part of the ICD’s effort to remunerate more competitively as 66 of its members had resigned due to salary issues throughout the previous year.
The Chairperson asked about the issues regarding overtime, sick days and vacancies.
Ms Myburgh responded that overtime payment should not be the norm within any industry – especially with the number of vacancies that should have been filled within the ICD. It was recommended that the ICD should look at its establishment and its mandate in order to rectify its employment situation. Moreover any overtime that did occur needed to be subjected to stricter monitoring and supervision, to ensure that the hours claimed for were actually being worked.
Reverend Meshoe requested that a breakdown of overtime hours be provided so that the committee could identify if any false claims were being made.
Revered Meshoe also asked about the 49.85% increase in allocated funds to the Criminal Record Centre within the Detective Services Programme of the SAPS. Why would such a drastic increase be needed for a programme that, in his view, provided mainly administrative assistance?
Mr Mpisi replied that with the increased emphasis on detection a greater demand would be place on the Criminal Record Centre. The Criminal Record Centre did not just deal with administrative issues but rather with the analysis and forensic investigation of evidence. For this reason, with more detection being carried out greater use of the Criminal Record Centre would be made.
Ms van Wyk referred to the 6.47% increase in allocated funds to the SAPS management. Was this to be the total management of the Police Department or only senior managers at national level? It was necessary to track the increases that Parliament allotted to policeman, to ensure that “police on the ground” received the money due to them and that it was not simply being siphoned out at management level.
It was answered that the 6.47% increase in management mostly referred to an increase in allocated funds for medical aid and training schemes. However, the Department itself would have to account for how increases were distributed amongst all levels.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked for clarity on the Government Security Regulator. What was its function and was this division compromised of private security individuals or of SAPS members?
The Government Security Regulator saw to the safety and security of Government buildings and establishments. While SAPS was crucial to the safety of buildings, some buildings were indeed monitored by private security companies. How this was decided upon would have to be raised with the Department itself.
The Chairperson asked Mr Mpisi for his view on the change in SAPS targets from lowering crime by 7 – 10% to the current 4 – 7%.
Mr Mpisi stated that he believed that those who made this decision must have been well informed. The Police Department had previously complained that a target of 7 -10% was unmanageable and this may have resulted in the lowering of objectives. However, the new target of 4 – 7% was within the range of what the SAPS was already achieving. It was ineffective and redundant to set a target that did not stretch or challenge the Department. While a lowered target might manage perceptions of crime better, it could possibly have no real effect on the work the SAPS was currently doing. This would have to be discussed with the Department in depth.
The Chairperson thanked the Auditor-General’s office and the Parliament Research Unit for their presentations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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