The Committee continued to hear presentations on and interrogate the various programmes of the South African Police Service (SAPS), as set out in the 2009/10 Annual Report. This meeting addressed the Administration Programme.
The National Commissioner outlined that a number of policies had been changed within the SAPS. This included the death grant, which would be distributed equally, irrespective of rank, to those who died when employed by SAPS. This was one of the few Departments who took deaths of its members seriously. The presentation outlined flaws in the systems, including the numbers of firearms purchased but not distributed, the fact that the number of firearms exceeded numbers of members, and the numbers of lost firearms that were not recovered. Members were very concerned about all of these issues. Further difficulties were cited with the purchase, distribution and wearing of bullet proof vests, and once again SAPS could not explain the exact position; a number was stated in the Annual Report and may or may not be correct, but could not be verified, and may not take into account those vests that had exceeded their useful life. Members also isolated the building of police stations as a substantial problem, citing several instances in which the estimated costs more than doubled, while the building was considerably delayed. Members firstly questioned those officials who had been in management for some time about these issues, and questioned most stringently why there were not sufficient controls and checks in place to identify the problems at an early stage. They also felt that SAPS should not be building police stations, as the Department of Public Works (DPW) could do so cheaper and faster, although this was disputed by SAPS, who claimed that if this was correct, then it did not explain the problems in a number of the stations. Members questioned the lack of progress at various stations, and also questioned whether this was not affecting the community’s safety, and whether, by the time a station was completed, the need for it may have fallen away. They criticised the apparent lack of reference to proper plans and quantity surveys. Members then asked what consequences would follow if it was found that in fact members of SAPS had lied, either to the committee or to their superiors. This issue was raised again and the Chairperson summarised at the end of the meeting that it must receive serious attention.
Members also asked several questions about the assets, also in light of problems raised around vests, firearms, vehicles and tracking systems, and SAPS noted that it would draw up an asset register to account fully for all assets. The Committee suggested that provincial commissioners be held accountable, and that SAPS should not take the information provided at face value, but verify it independently. Members were concerned that several of the issues raised had been ongoing for years.
Members then questioned the targets for training and training achieved. The SAPS outlined the different levels of training and that trainees would not be members of SAPS before completing their training, and would be paid at level 3, rising to level 5 or more on completion. SAPS noted that some of its ranking was inconsistent, with some graduates being ranked as constables. Members were concerned whether training was completed before or after promotion, asked what was the content of training, who would train, what training was provided for trainers, and what would happen if a person failed the course.
Members also examined issues around vehicle tracking systems and asked what steps were followed if vehicles were misused.
In regard to disciplinary issues, Members questioned the difference between a final written warning and a suspended dismissal, and noted that yet more proceedings were required to actually dismiss a person who had a final written warning or suspended dismissal and committed the same offence again. Members said that there were some positive aspects to this presentation but highlighted the issues requiring more attention, as well as those on which further written reports were required.