Subpoena for SASCOC to appear before Committee: resolution; FAD Forensics presentation

Sports, Arts and Culture

13 September 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Khompela (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered its resolution to summons South African Sport Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) to appear before the Committee. Members were not happy with the wording of the resolution and asked Parliament’s legal advisers to review it. The Committee reconvened later in the day and formally adopted the revised resolution.

FAD Forensics made a presentation on a device that measured the specific bone structure of an individual’s face. The particulars of an individual together with the measurements taken would be captured in a database. The technology had various applications and was even utilised by SAPS to identify missing individuals. The application of interest to the Committee was that it could be used in sports, especially at school level where cheating about the age of athletes was rife. The measurements and particulars of athletes would be captured and would be loaded on a card which was proof of an athlete’s identity and age. It needed to be updated once every two years.

Meeting report

The Chairperson mentioned that discussions had taken place between the President’s Council and three rugby unions which were to form a rugby franchise in the Eastern Cape.
He reminded members that in the Committee’s previous meeting he had mentioned that there was an individual who could measure the age of schoolchildren participating in school events. A presentation by FAD Forensics on the issue would be made to the Committee later in the meeting.

An Indonesian parliamentary delegation whose portfolio covered sports, youth and disabled persons was visiting Parliament and wished to interact with the Committee on a variety of issues. The Committee was scheduled to meet the delegation at 11:00am on Friday 17 September 2010.

Committee Resolution on summonsing of SASCOC
The Chairperson stated that the Democratic Alliance had requested that the resolution first be brought before the Committee for consideration. He proceeded to read out the resolution. The resolution after being adopted by the Committee would be forwarded to the Speaker of the National Assembly.  Thereafter it would be sent to the relevant persons affected by it. The resolution had emanated from legal advice obtained from the parliamentary legal advisers.

Mr T Lee (DA) asked why the resolution required “verbal evidence” to be given by the SASCOC President. Why did it not state “evidence” which included all types of evidence whether verbal or not.

Mr L Suka (ANC) could not understand why members were specifically named in reference to taking the resolution. It should state that the Committee as a whole had taken the resolution.

Mr C Frolick (ANC) stated that it was in principle the first time that the Speaker of the National Assembly had agreed to a resolution to engage in a process to summons an entity to appear before a parliamentary committee. He asked why the action taken in the resolution was being personalised. It should state that the action being taken was against the President of SASCOC.

Several members questioned the wording of the resolution. It stated that adoption was by a majority of members. By inference it gave the impression that there were members who had not agreed to the resolution. It should rather state that there was unanimous support by the Committee on the resolution. Further, there was no need for concurrence with the Speaker – which the resolution stated – as the Committee and the Speaker were on the same wavelength.

The Chairperson agreed with these concerns. He asked the Committee Secretary to get hold of the Parliamentary Legal Adviser to shed light on the wording of the resolution.

Mr Frolick stated that it was the duty of the Committee to protect the integrity of Parliament. The Committee needed to convince the Speaker that SASCOC had to be summonsed to appear before the Committee.

Mr Lee said that the Committee was setting a good precedent with the action that it was taking against SASCOC. The Committee however needed to be consistent in the manner in which it dealt with these matters.

The Chairperson stated that when it came to Committee decisions, members were above party affiliations.
 
Mr Lee suggested that the Committee deal with the resolution after the parliamentary legal advisers had had a chance to deal with the issues raised by members.

The Chairperson agreed, saying the Committee would reconvene later in the day to formally adopt the resolution after parliamentary legal advisers had looked at it.  The resolution once formally adopted would be forwarded to the Speaker the following day. The Committee agreed with the suggestion.

FAD Forensics presentation
The delegation comprised of Mr Zak Gordan, Chief Executive Officer, Mr David Stevens, Technology Consultant, Mr Michael Stevens, Technology Consultant, and Mr Richard Opperman, a member of FAD Forensics. Mr Gordan conducted the presentation. He was the inventor of the Facial Anthropometric Device (FAD) and was the CEO of FAD Forensics which was registered in 2006. The idea originated ten years before. In 2006 a local patent was obtained. Only in 2010 did the method realise as a European patent. The FAD device was therefore entering the market for the first time. The device provided certainty - what one saw was reality. In 2007 SAPS had used the device to identify missing persons. The measurement that the device took was an exact copy of a person’s face. He noted that the research done on the device had academic accreditation from the University of Witwatersrand which dated back to 1999.

DNA identification cost the state R20 000 and it took eight months to obtain the results. Only if a victim was known, were DNA tests conducted. Fingerprints on the other hand were only successful if the person had a criminal record. The FAD technique was both simple and cost effective. It was a software application which took facial measurements. There were no two persons who had the same facial feature measurements.

In the sports arena, athletes could have their measurements taken and would be issued with a FAD card. FAD was a tool used to measure the face. The FAD card was encrypted and could not be duplicated. The FAD had been rated as one of the top ten medical inventions in 2003. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) assisted with investment in developing a prototype. The device had been tested on school children and it was a success. Future developments included a FAD scanning device. The objective of the FAD was to have a sports card that was linked to a database. There would be a 24/7 database call centre. The identification would be speedy and accurate.

Mr Lee asked if the FAD card could not be tampered with. Also, a person could always tamper with the face by way of plastic surgery.

Mr Gordan responded that it was exactly what made the FAD system different. FAD measured the facial bone depth. If tampering was to be done, it had to be done to the bone.

Mr Dave Stevens continued with a technical demonstration of the FAD system. A photograph of the athlete would be taken whereafter it would be placed on the card, together with details of the athlete. It included anthropometric details, ethnicity and date of birth etc. Mr Gordan added that the most important thing was the FAD encryption. It was the uniqueness of the FAD system.

Mr Stevens said that even if an athlete did not have his card, he could still be identified by taking facial measurements. Once all the information was collected and placed on the database it could be accessed even by cellphone via the internet. Details could be validated accurately and quickly. Once validated, athletes could be reissued with cards at the event itself. He noted that duly authorised officials would have access to the database. 

Mr M Dikgacwi (ANC) asked if the organisation was representative of Africans and females.

Mr Gordan responded that FAD Forensics was a South African based company. It had Level 4 status as far as Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) was concerned. The organisation comprised of 60% females. The organisation was training unskilled persons and was not only focussed on persons with formal training.

Mr Suka asked if FAD Forensics had offices throughout South Africa. The nature of its work would take it all over South Africa.

The Chairperson said that the FAD system was needed mostly at school level sports events. A great deal of cheating was taking place at school sports events. Falsified birth certificates were used by older athletes to compete in lower age categories.

Mr Lee asked what the price of the FAD gadget was. Had it been tested and was it used in schools.

Mr Gordan said that the cost of the FAD unit was not the issue. The unit could be made simple and inexpensive. The identification card was also inexpensive. The device could be a disposable measuring tool. The product was uniquely SA and could contribute to the creation of jobs. The issue was once again not the cost per unit but rather its application.

Mr Stevens said that the device had been tested for schools. Once the information was obtained, the card was only one output. The details of athletes could be printed out.

Mr J Van Der Linde (DA) asked why the card was only valid for two years.

Mr Gordan said that the card had an expiry date. Scientifically a child’s features did not change in two years. The card needed to be updated every two years to keep track of the facial features of a child. Even adult cards needed to be updated. The contract with the IDC was that of an innovation grant. The focus for the FAD system was on schools. In order to address the need that existed for this type of system, data needed to be collected. He noted that he had a background in dentistry and that forensic science was his speciality.

The Chairperson gave an example of a bus accident involving school children with no data available at the scene of the accident to identify victims. How could the FAD system assist with identifying the badly injured who were perhaps unrecognisable? 

Mr Gordan replied that the device could be used at the accident scene to take measurements of the skull. These measurements could be superimposed over photographs of victims to get a match. The FAD system did not disregard DNA testing. The FAD system could be part of SAPS kit at disaster sites. The system was a world first. The tool available could either be made of plastic or of polycarbonate and could cost as little as R5 to R10. It was the methodology of the technology that was important.

The Chairperson stated that Minister Stofile was interested in the FAD device. A meeting between the Minister and FAD Forensics should take place.  It was a good to hear that the FAD device could be used to track missing children as well. 

Letter from SASCOC to the Speaker
The Chairperson brought it to the Committee’s attention that the Speaker had received a letter from SASCOC. The letter noted that SASCOC had at no stage been disrespectful or acted defiantly towards Parliament. SASCOC went on further to state that it would have liked to brief the Committee at least four times a year. With regards to the Committee’s recent request for SASCOC to brief members, it stated that it had been unable to oblige as it was could not divulge sensitive information about the Caster Semenya controversy or about the Forensic Audit Report on Athletics South Africa.   
The Chairperson said he begged to differ on what was being asserted in the letter. The Committee had been privy to the arrogant correspondence that had been received from SASCOC. Minister Stofile had had to brief the Committee when SASCOC had refused to do so. He added that if SASCOC still refused to appear before the Committee after being summonsed, the organisation would be in contempt and warrants would be issued. The Chairperson went so far as to say that even if SASCOC had to face jail time, so be it.

The meeting was adjourned.

Voting on the Resolution about SASCOC
The Committee reconvened later in the day to finalise and vote on the resolution.

The Chairperson tabled the revised resolution for consideration.

Members were satisfied that all their views had been properly captured. Consequently, the Committee accepted the resolution.

The meeting was adjourned.

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