The Chairperson expressed disappointment that the Secretariat’s report that formed part of the SAPS 2009/10 Annual Report did not reflect the necessary detail. The report was more forward-looking as opposed to reporting in detail per programme on the activities of the Secretariat for the past year. For these reasons the Committee found it difficult to properly assess the Secretariat’s performance. The Secretariat conceded that there was truth in these comments. However, the Secretariat said that the reporting period covered one period up to September 2009, and then the period from September 2009 to March 2010, when the majority of the activities occurred and the restructuring and reshaping of the Secretariat began. There had been underspending, with only R16.9 million, or 77%, of the budget spent. The largest portion of the underspending occurred because a corporate branding exercise had been re-thought and cancelled. There was also over-expenditure in some areas, due to outstanding payments and the need to build capacity after the restructuring. Three new Units, the Policy Research Unit, Support Services Unit and the Partnerships Unit were established. The Secretariat had held various imbizos to establish the key areas for future attention. It needed to address the general safety and security in rural areas, ever-increasing stock theft, highly politicised and dysfunctional Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and the uncertainty regarding the recruitment, status and rights of reservists. Stock theft, in particular, had escalated and most thefts were being committed by thieves with firearms. Both long and short term interventions were planned. The major challenges for the Secretariat were the need to finalise of a number of policies, and complete the amendments to the SAPS Act and the Private Security Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) Act. The policies receiving attention included the Community Safety Forums, which catered for safety and security on a broader front than what the Community Policing Forum did. The delay with the SAPS Act drafting arose because the Secretariat first needed to assess the true state of policing before it began its overhaul. The delay with the PSIRA Act was compounded by disputes between SAPS and PSIRA as to responsibility for the amendments. The civil litigation involving the police had been discontinued because it actually fell within the ambit of SAPS, although the Secretariat would fulfil its monitoring and evaluation role. Firearms management was another matter that demanded much of the Secretariat’s attention.
Members reiterated that the Report did not provide details of the set targets and the achievement of those targets. They felt that qualitative reports were as important as quantitative data. Members also expressed concerns that their constituencies were complaining about the non-performance of Community Police Forums and the attitude of the police officers, including slow or no response, lack of vehicles, reluctance to investigate and collusion of magistrates. Further concerns expressed by members included the large annual loss of firearms and the many complaints from the reservists about their rights and status. Members were not happy with the delays with some of the deliverables of the Secretariat and they questioned whether the Secretariat had the necessary budget or the capacity to fulfill its mandate. They encouraged the Secretariat to publish some of their valuable reports and findings in the public domain. Members also questioned the policy on payment of bonuses, asked whether the Secretariat would be seeking larger allocations, asked for comment on the overspending, particularly for Head of Department meetings, and wondered if the Secretariat would review the accuracy of information supplied to the Committee by SAPS, citing bullet proof vest and firearms statistics as being of particular concern. They sought confirmation about the communications aspects and the work of the Partnerships Unit, and were pleased to note that the Secretariat had identified and was addressing some shortcomings.
Civilian Secretariat for Police 2009/10 Annual Report presentation
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Civilian Secretariat for Police (the Secretariat) and stated that the Committee appreciated its efforts to address the concerns highlighted previously. However, it was disappointing that the report on the performance of the Secretariat, which formed part of the 2009/10 Annual Report of the South African Police Service (SAPS), did not reflect the necessary detail. In particular, she commented that there was a failure to report on previously stated targets, and generally insufficient reporting on past performance. The report was more forward-looking, as opposed to reporting, in detail, on the activities under each programme of the Secretariat for the past year. For these reasons the Committee found it difficult to properly assess the Secretariat’s performance. However, on a positive note, she praised the Secretariat for the manner in which the budget was presented, stating that it was far clearer than in the past.
Civilian Secretariat for Police briefing
Ms Jenny Irish Qobosheane, Secretary for Police, responded to the comments regarding the targets. She reminded members that when the budget was presented on 23 June 2009 the Secretariat had announced that the targets would not necessary remain the same. Despite this she would, in her presentation, attempt to address the issues around targets.
She said that it was important to note that the 2009/10 financial year could be broken down into two periods. The first period included work up to the end of September 2009, under the old system. The second period referred to activities after September 2009, when the Secretariat was undergoing re-organisation and reform. The majority of the activities reported on occurred during the second period, after September 2009. There was an earlier acknowledgment that most of the work would focus on institutional reform, which explained why the budget was aligned to that. The vision and mission had changed slightly from what was presented in June 2009, but was the same vision and mission presented to the Committee in January 2010. The same applied to the objectives, which were now included in the introduction to the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Bill [B16B – 2010] (the Bill).
Ms Irish-Qobosheane noted that there was a budget of R21,9 million for 2009/10. An amount of R16,9 million (77%) was spent. There was an under-spending of R4,9 million. She said there were specific reasons for this under-spending. Firstly, the majority of the budget was spent after September 2009. Due to the anticipated restructuring not many activities happened during the period up to September 2009. In addition, an amount of R3,9 million (and not R3 million as reflected in the report), was previously budgeted for the corporate branding exercise, the Soccerex. The idea was to stage a soccer exhibition where the Secretariat would have a stall. When this proposal landed on the desk of the new Secretary it was decided that it was not a valid expense. After consultation with the National Commissioner of Police, the proposed expenditure for this was thus rejected. It had originally been thought that it would be appropriate for the operational arm of SAPS to have that kind of exposure prior to the World Cup, and to spend the money on developing a data management system for the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. However, after discussions with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Information Systems Management (ISM), it was clear that the money would not be able to be spent, due to the tendering and other formal process.
Further key reasons for under-expenditure included the decision not to pay overtime in an ad hoc manner. Staff were instructed to finish duties within normal hours, and, to give explanations when they could not do so. The only staff who were allowed to claim for overtime were the messengers and drivers, who had little control over the time required for a specific job. That did not mean that some of the senior managers were no longer working overtime or over weekends, but simply that they were not claiming for overtime. This had reduced the spending from the budgeted R232 000 for overtime, to only R52 000. Another reason for underexpenditure related to new office equipment. Here, an amount of R779 000 was budgeted by the Secretariat. When the equipment was purchased, the money, according to the new SAPS policy, was paid from a central ISM budget.
The unusually large expenditure for the Policy and Research Unit was due to an outstanding payment to Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) for a report completed in April 2009. Annexure A provided a breakdown of the total expenditure.
The reason for exceeding the personnel budget was the need for the Secretariat to build capacity in order to deliver on its mandate. It was necessary to appoint three Chief Directors to head up each of the new units whilst the position of Secretary of Police was upgraded. Annexures B and C merely reflected the other vacancies that had not been filled. These vacancies represented lower levels, and might change after the Ministerial approval of the restructuring plans.
There was no cost for the work study and skills audit performed by Deloitte &Touche, due to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU with business partnerships. The Office of the Secretary of Police (OSP) had developed Performance Agreements for the new Chief Directors whilst Human Resource Management (HRM) worked with senior management to redesign the Performance Agreements for all other employees. OSP held three workshops with all the provincial Heads of Department (HODs) to promote alignment. OSP held workshops with various civil society groups on the reforms at the Secretariat. It established a legal team to manage the legislative load of the Secretariat. As part of its research into best practices, OSP interacted with various international bodies. Several tasks were also performed by OSP to support the Minister in his functions. OSP had to facilitate the Strategic Planning for the Secretariat. It also performed various activities with regard to the Firearms Amnesty and the implementation of the Firearms Control Act.
Mr Dumezweni Zimu, Head: Partnership Unit, Civilian Secretariat for Police, reported that, since its inception in November 2009, the Partnership Unit (PU) held several imbizos with communities to listen to their feelings about crime and the police. The MOUs established with business associations were entered into because of the opportunity to incorporate business expertise into the work of the police. PU had a series of consultations with rural communities, and the issue of stock theft was of particular concern, and had in fact escalated to robbery, because people were robbed of their stock at gun point. Consultations were also held with the Community Policing Forum (CPF) Board and interfaith organisations to inform them of the Department’s plans and to strengthen the working relationships. The experiences with the CPFs were that all seemed well at provincial level but closer inspection revealed that many local CPFs were highly politicised bodies, and that many of them were dysfunctional. After the disbandment of the National Reservist Task Team, all reservists’ issues and complaints were referred to the PU.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane added that the major concerns around reservists had to do with the reliability of the psychometric tests. After many discussions, some of the recruitment criteria had been relaxed, but the tests were identified as perhaps not accurately predicting the future success or suitability of reservist candidates.
Mr Irvin Kinnes, Head: Policy Research Unit, Civilian Secretariat for Police, said that, since its inception in January 2010, the Policy and Research Unit (PRU) had taken over the responsibility for policy on institutional reform of the Secretariat and the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD). PRU also developed a draft policy on reform of the regulatory framework for the private security industry. The Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) was not happy with the draft and in fact was developing its own bill. The matter had been referred to the Minister for guidance and intervention. A Resource Centre had been established to provide the Secretariat with an information hub from which it could draw information and a variety of reports. PRU established a civil society reference group to help with research activities. Draft policy guidelines were developed for the establishment of Community Safety Forums (CSFs). A national working group had been set up to finalise the policy guidelines. The Departments of Correctional Services, Justice and Constitutional Development, Human Settlements and SAPS were represented on this working group. PRU also established a task team to review the Metro Police.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane added that the Secretariat had been able to develop three policy documents, as opposed to the four indicated in the budget. One issue with the PSIRA policy was the question whether there should be an independent regulatory body or whether the State should be more directly involved in regulation. Although the Minister appointed the members to PSIRA, they acted as an independent body and, in terms of the law, the Minister had very little scope to interfere. She added that South Africa was the only country besides the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK) where there was an independent regulator. In fact, the UK had adopted the South African model. The Resource Centre had been tasked with providing the Department with daily media analysis, and did not incur any additional costs.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane indicated that the Chief Director for the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (MEU) was not able to be present, and she would comment on the work of this Unit. Since its inception in January 2010, the MEU had established provincial teams to monitor the Firearms Amnesty. A national Monitoring Forum had also been established, comprising representatives from Provincial Departments of Safety. A team was set up to develop a monitoring database which would be implemented in the 2010/11 financial year. The MEU had also established an M&E reference group. In terms of projected outputs, the Secretariat had not developed four reports but did focus on four areas. These were the Firearms Amnesty, recruitment of suitable staff within SAPS, Forensics and the docket analysis. Because the MEU was the driving force behind the work of the Secretariat it had to be further capacitated.
She then commented on Support Services. The HRM team was mainly focused on new appointments for the re-organisation process and performance agreements. Of the reported R500 000 budget for training, only R90 000 was spent. This was due to the moratorium placed on training. The focus was mainly on shifting people around according to the restructuring plan. From the start of the new financial year, much more would be spent on training and development. The key areas of focus in Support Services were financial management and supply chain management. In the past, processes and procedures had not followed the PFMA guidelines. Too many consultants were used. It was decided to halt the practice of outsourcing work to consultants, except for vary special reasons. It was also decided that no payments would be allowed ex post facto. A proper asset register had been established. The Supply Chain component also needed additional capacity.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane finally commented on targets. She said that the leadership training for CPFs did not happen because of the pressing need to first restructure the way CPFs operated. There were just too many gaps, and therefore leadership training was not done. The process to restructure the CPFs was not an easy one, because there were many disagreements in the ranks of the CPFs. Civil litigation had been discontinued, because it actually fell within the ambit of SAPS, although the Secretariat would fulfil its monitoring and evaluation role in that regard.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane noted that over 30 legal opinions were provided to the Minister. The publications, as reported, were not completed due to the restructuring. From the next year the Secretariat would place reports in the policing journal.
She concluded by reporting that the store room in her office was loaded with corporate branding gifts, most of which the Secretariat had decided to donate to orphanages. Some of the gifts, like pens, could be used by the office.
Ms A van Wyk (ANC) expressed concern about the way SAPS was billing its cost centres. She asked why, for instance, the Secretariat did not have to pay for the IT equipment.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said that in the past each division had its own IT budget, but it seemed that ISM was holding the entire IT budget. She was not happy with that scenario because it made it very difficult to keep track of the equipment and the history of such purchases. It also impacted on the Secretariat’s planning because all IT acquisitions had to be cleared with ISM first.
Ms van Wyk asked for an explanation on the complaint of PSIRA that the Secretariat was dragging its feet in finalising the policy guidelines.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane claimed that the blame apportioned to the Secretariat for the delay on the PSIRA guidelines was not completely accurate. In fact, PSIRA had requested a delay due to the World Cup and also because this organisation felt it lacked capacity to implement some of the guidelines.
Mr Amichand Soman, Head: Support Services, Civilian Secretariat for Police, added that the Secretariat had it on record that PSIRA had asked for postponements. Subsequent conversations with PSIRA seemed to suggest that the latter was not quite sure about its thinking on the guidelines. One of the concerns expressed by the PSIRA representative was around the capacity of the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) to deliver on the training.
Mr George asked when the PSIRA Act would be finalised.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane explained that the delay with the PSIRA Act was the dispute the Secretariat and PSIRA about who was responsible for the drafting of the Act. PSIRA went ahead and drafted an amendment but those amendments amounted to nothing but meagre tinkering, and did not address the initial objective to overhaul the Act completely. She said that as things stood either PSIRA would present the amendments during the first session of 2011 or the Secretariat would present its amendments during the second session.
Mr George asked if PSIRA had the capacity to draft those amendments.
The Chairperson replied that PSIRA would soon be appearing before the Committee and that the question should be asked of PSIRA directly. She also stated that PSIRA had not presented its Annual Report to Parliament yet and that the Committee could not interact with PSIRA in the absence of such documents.
Ms van Wyk enquired about the legal capacity of the Secretariat, especially since it seemed that this office would be handling all legal reforms within SAPS.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said that the Secretariat, for legislative capacity, had previously relied heavily on the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and the State Law Advisors. However, the proposed organisational redesign made provision for a legislative unit within the Secretariat.
The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it also could present Bills to Parliament in the event of the responsible parties not responding positively.
Mr M Swathe (DA) sought clarity on the differences between the CSF and the CPF. He asked what the Secretariat planned to do about the apparently poorly performing CPFs.
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) thanked the Secretariat for acknowledging that there were problems with the CPFs and for saying that it planned to address the issues.
Mr Kinnes explained the difference between the CPFs and the CSFs. He said that whereas the CPFs focused only on policing matters, the CSFs would focus on the broader criminal justice system. The work of the CSF was cross-cutting and would include other Departments that looked at the delivery of broader safety in communities. The Secretariat had been developing policy for the CSFs and the biggest problems were that of mandates, scope and structure. The Secretariat was busy visiting provinces to consult broadly, including consultations with local governments. As was previously indicated, the working group had already been established, and its deadline to deliver a policy was December 2010. He also informed the Committee that contact had been made with UNISA to produce a special edition publication to include articles on all organs that do civilian oversight. The Portfolio Committee on Police would also be invited to submit an article. His Unit was also developing a policy for CPFs to address problems, such as the use of the CPF as a launch-pad for political careers. He said that even Station Commissioners were using the CPFs for their own personal agendas. There was a need to review the role of the Provincial and National Police Boards. Questions could be asked about the necessity for the National Police Board and whether it would not be easier for the Secretariat to simply work directly with the Provincial Police Boards.
Mr Swathe was concerned about the escalation in stock theft and asked if, after the reported community consultations, the Secretariat had a clear plan to address these threats.
Mr Lekgetho said the Committee visited Escourt, KwaZulu Natal, recently and had consultations with the local chiefs about the stock robbery. He hoped the Secretariat could plan a visit to those affected areas to get first hand reports about the seriousness of these crimes.
Mr Zimu said that plans and intentions could look very rosy on paper at office level, but it was through the imbizos that first hand knowledge of the situation was gained. In trying to develop short term interventions the Secretariat would visit affected communities and request suggestions from grass-roots level. A suggestion was made for the placement of containers manned by two to three police officers. Matatiele reported that this intervention actually helped to reduce stock theft. However, there were other problems, like the attitude of local police officers and the refusal to deploy police officers into those areas. Other issues were raised by farmers, labour unions and AgriSA. The plan was to develop a joint Rural Safety Programme that involved all stakeholders including government, SAPS, AgriSA and farm workers. Other long term interventions included redeployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) along the borderlines. According to recent reports the attitude of the police was changing, and four containers were placed within the Matatiele area. The Secretariat hoped to keep open the channels of conversation with communities in order for all affected to take lessons from other areas, like the Eastern Cape, and to learn as they moved along. Some farmers were told that their workers included some of the criminals, and that in turn would lead to labour issues. Many of these issues would be addressed in the proposed policies. Mr Zimu light-heartedly remarked that after one year in his job he felt like a paramedic because the work was emotionally draining.
Mr Lekgetho asked how many reservists there were and asked whether they too were armed with guns and wore the same uniforms as the police. He referred to the Commissioners recent announcement of a R200 000 grant for the death of a police officer, and asked whether reservists were covered under that grant. If not, then he requested the reasons. He pleaded for a review of the disclaimer that reservists had to sign in order to indemnify the SAPS in cases of death or injury.
Ms van Wyk had noted that the majority of complaints from reservists stemmed from the psychometric testing, but was interested in hearing the nature of the other complaints.
Mr M George (COPE) said that many of the crimes attributed to SAPS were committed by reservists. He told the Secretariat that reservists in the Defence Force were properly screened and trained. In that regard, he asked if the Secretariat had a meaningful solution.
Ms Kohler-Barnard expressed concerns that the drive to recruit ex-SAPS members appeared to have been a mere publicity stunt, because the hopes of thousands of people were dashed when they were not recruited.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said the Reservist Policy actually addressed most of the concerns raised by members around recruitment, uniforms, disclaimers and so forth. The problem with reservists was that many of them viewed their position as a step towards formal employment into SAPS. The fact was that many of them were doing long hours duty and were not being paid for that. The new thinking was that reservist should be engaged similarly to the SANDF reservists and not necessarily serve as a recruitment platform for SAPS. There were 3 265 people recruited as police out of a total of 35 786 reservists.
Mr Zimu said the disclaimer related to the fact that reservists were in a voluntary capacity. Injuries or harm to reservists whilst on duty were covered by the SAPS Act. The problems arouse when reservists were injured whilst on their way home after a shift. When new policies are developed the Secretariat might have to re-think how that aspect could be covered.
Mr Lekgetho did not fully understand Mr Zimu’s answer and asked him to repeat the explanation.
Mr Zimu explained that the reservists were complaining that they were often attacked on their way home. The Act did not cover that aspect and therefore the policy was under review.
Mr Zimu also said that the people who were not accepted into the force did not qualify because of their age. The relaxed criteria for reservists with more than three years service to enlist with the police required that the reservists must be less than 40 years old. Other criteria included a motivation from the Station Commissioner as well as the CPF. The reservists also had to have matric or the equivalent in terms of experience. There were also fitness criteria and the psychometric tests.
In respect of the other complaints, he said that one example was the corruption claim which was referred to the Inspectorate. Another issue that caused unhappiness was the criteria for height. Applicants felt it was unconstitutional. He used the example of a visit to Alexander Bay, where people were generally short in stature, and felt that the height criteria could be relaxed to cater for their specific circumstances. The constitutionality of the height issue was being investigated by SAPS.
Mr Zimu continued to provide details of the number of reservists per province, as well as the breakdown of those who were incorporated into the police. He gave a breakdown of the total numbers by province, and explained that the figures in brackets then referred to the number of reservists who had then been incorporated into the police. There were in total 35 786 reservists. The provincial breakdown was: Free State 3307 (257), Western Cape 5486 (337), Eastern Cape 4389 (388), Limpopo 2425 (318), KZN 2427 (337), Gauteng 8535 (659), Northern Cape 2205 (153), Mpumalanga 3321 ( 295) North West 3576 (514). At Head Office there were 115.
Mr Lekgetho reminded the presenters that he asked whether the reservists also wore a uniform and carried a gun like the police.
Mr Zimu replied that they did, but that they could not operate without supervision from a police officer.
Mr George found it strange that only seven staff members received bonuses and asked for the reasons. He noticed that the Secretariat reported on training as having been inadequate and asked whether the staff could properly be penalised with non-payment of bonuses if they were not adequately trained.
Ms Letty Raseroka, Human Resource Management, Civilian Secretariat for Police, explained that when the Secretariat paid bonuses it took its cue from the SAPS policy that dictated that only 20% of any division within SAPS would receive a bonus. This resulted in only seven members receiving bonuses. It did not suggest that other members were not performing.
Mr George was not satisfied with the explanation on bonuses. He asked how the seven members were selected. He also felt that it was a slap in the faces of those who were not selected, despite good performances.
Ms Raseroka emphasised that it was SAPS policy to only pay bonuses to 20% per level. She agreed that the point that Mr George raised was valid and that, indeed, this policy did lower the morale in the Secretariat.
Mr George remained unsatisfied with the response because it still did not explain how staff members were selected for a bonus.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane continued to explain that Secretariat staff were employed under the Department of Public Services and Administration legislation, and that the Secretariat had informed SAPS that it would, in future, not be following the SAPS policy on bonuses, but would rather take guidance from DPSA policies. That would mean that the Secretariat would divide the budgeted amount amongst the members who deserved a bonus, as opposed to awarding it to one member only. However, generally she felt that the performance bonuses within government did not inspire excellence, and had proposed to DPSA that non-monetary rewards and recognition should be awarded to high-performing staff members in addition to the financial rewards. These non-monetary rewards should also be given throughout the year and not only once a year.
Mr George asked how the Secretariat was going to convince National Treasury on the need for a bigger allocation, considering the reported under-spending. He noted that the Secretariat was to become an entity in its own right, and wondered how it would then plan to budget for the MinMEC meetings.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) mentioned that the Secretariat had certain areas where there was over-spending, and asked for more details on that.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane commented firstly on the over-spending, saying that the budget was R120 450 and the amount spent was R276 932. That was due to the HOD meetings being raised from the status of formal meetings only, and evolving into three or four day workshops where many of the restructuring issues had to be thrashed out. She explained that references to inadequate training was previously explained as a result of the priority to first match people to the right jobs and then to start training.
Previously the budgeted figures were in many cases a mere thumb suck. When the Secretariat had presented the new revised budgets in January 2010, it had actually costed each line item very carefully and therefore the discrepancies and the resultant under- or over-expenditure should not recur. In terms of future budget requests SAPS had already indicated that it would make up any differences. It did not envisage having to approach National Treasury for additional budget because when certain functions were shifted from SAPS to the Secretariat, SAPS had committed to move those budgets across as well.
She added that the Secretariat’s role at MinMEC meetings was not a logistical one, but rather that of providing content like briefing documents and agendas.
Mr George complained that rural policing left much to be desired. He urged the Secretariat to provide Members with a detailed plan of how it aimed to address the matter. He added that in villages people were complaining that the police were slow to respond, and often there was no police van available. He added that he also had similar concerns on the CPFs, as already expressed by other Members.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) accepted that the Secretariat was engaged in a study to improve the CPF scenario but wanted to know if it had a deadline for the release of a document and its implementation.
Mr Zimu said the imbizos had helped the Secretariat to uncover many of the CPF weaknesses. There were many reasons why the CPFs were dysfunctional. Issues that had formerly been taken for granted, like the availability of a telephone service, affected the CPF’s performance. Another weakness was the tendency to elect the most popular candidate as Chairperson of the CPF, who, far too often, would also be the same person chairing a number of other community structures. He said it was sad that the political context found its way into the manner in which CPF members were elected. Communities needed to be educated that matters of safety and security were apolitical.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if the Secretariat was going to review the accuracy of the information supplied to the Committee by the various sections within SAPS over the last few meetings. She was deeply concerned with the schism between the information supplied by top structures and the findings on the ground. She used bullet-proof vests as an example, stating that when she visited a police station recently she was shocked to learn that most of the police officers did not have bullet-proof vests, despite assurances by SAPS that every SAPS member had been issued with a vest.
Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that every year, large numbers of firearm losses were reported, but no-one was held accountable. She wondered if the Secretariat could impose sanctions on members who were found to be accountable. Tax payers had had enough of paying for the endless supply of new firearms, only for many to end up on the street.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said that the sanctions were in place for firearms abuse, but that the Secretariat was working according to a priority list. The first priority was the amnesty issues. This would be followed up by the Firearms Registry and only once these had been dealt with would the Secretariat look at management of the weapons within SAPS. She reiterated that sanctions did exist but it was rather about how best to impose them. Those sanctions were not only for firearms but for a host of other disciplinary matters as well. The problem was one of how to implement them effectively. This was receiving attention.
Ms Kohler-Barnard She asked if the Secretariat was now at a stage where it could point out the focus areas for the review of the SAPS Act.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane commented that the legislation should be policy driven. The Secretariat was firstly looking at a complete assessment of policing in the country, whereafter policies would be finalised. The deadline for submission to Parliament was the second session of 2011. The Secretariat did not believe that it would gain anything by rushing the review process but had already established a task team to look at the state of policing and its policies. It had also started a process of consultation with the National Commissioner’s office. The plan was also to approach external drafting experts to help with the reform of the Act.
Mr George understood that the Secretariat would have its own budget by April 2011 and he expressed concern that the Secretariat would not have sufficient funds to cope with the load of legislative projects it had undertaken.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane reminded the Committee that the Secretariat would only have a designated budget by 2012/13 and that the budget for 2011 would still come from SAPS budget.
Ms van Wyk felt that the quality of the reports would probably improve in future, since the Secretariat had evolved to a cost centre, but urged the Secretariat to place greater emphasis on qualitative outputs in the future. She said that the “honeymoon period” for the Secretariat was over and that clear deadlines were needed on some of its work. For instance, the SAPS Act was up for review even during the term of the previous Chairperson of the Committee, yet it still contained references to the “Interim Constitution”. She also felt that the Secretariat had to publish some of its reports so that it could display the transparency of its mandate as a civil oversight body.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane accepted that the Secretariat could publish its reports more frequently and stated that the Secretariat was engaging with several journals about such publications, but would also endeavour to make more reports available to the Committee in the future. She accepted the criticism about the quality of the reports and said that it was something that the Secretariat would definitely take on board as well.
Ms van Wyk asked whether the Partnership Unit had taken over the role of communications for SAPS.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane clarified that the functions of Partnerships and Communications were different. The Partnerships Unit looked at social mobilisation, whilst the Communications function was in her own office, and focused on giving responses to issues in the public domain as well releasing certain findings to a host of stakeholders.
The Chairperson asked where the Secretariat was getting its funds, because the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) of SAPS 2009/10 did not make this very clear. The Chairperson added her voice to the concerns that members raised about the impact of the imbizos and the challenges with reservists.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said that the question of from where the Secretariat’s budget stemmed remained a battle for her as well. The fact is that the Secretariat had approached SAPS to list the Secretariat’s budget separately, but when the SAPS budget was released she noticed that SAPS continued to include the Secretariat’s budget under Administration.
The Chairperson noted that the presentation referred to a Strategic Plan and an Annual Performance Plan, and wanted to know whether those were that of SAPS or the Secretariat.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane responded that the plans were those of the Secretariat.
Mr Lekgetho thanked the Secretariat for its efforts in Matatiele and urged the team to visit Escourt as a matter of urgency. This area was known as a ‘no-go area’ where police officers refused to be deployed. He urged the Secretariat to undertake a visit to the area and consult with the Chief and the local communities. The Secretariat should encourage the locals to adopt some of the interventions mentioned earlier.
The Chairperson supported Mr Lekgetho’s suggestions and reported that community members of a town called Bhekizulu were convinced that their stock were being plundered by thieves from the town called Emangweni. They complained that despite providing the local police with hard evidence, the police seemed very reluctant to investigate. The community was saying that armed horsemen arrived at night and simply robbed the stock. She emphasised the seriousness of the matter and said that the people from Bhekizulu were very poor and that they used the sale of cattle to fund the tertiary studies of their children. The knock-on effect was therefore widespread and devastating.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said she noted the concerns of the Committee and that the Secretariat would definitely follow up. She added the crime statistics reported a steady increase in stock theft. They also reflected increasingly more violent stock theft. The problem was not only limited to commercial farmers but also severely impacted on emerging and subsistence farmers. Her office would seriously take up on the issues of stock theft with SAPS. She felt that SAPS themselves, together with the media, had relegated stock theft to the periphery and it never enjoyed the attention that other “mainstream” crimes did. Her office would ensure that the matter received utmost priority. She said that SAPS had its Rural Safety Strategy in place but it was important for the Secretariat to follow-up to monitor how that strategy was being implemented. It would also be very important to involve the community in that strategy.
The Chairperson reported an incident where a commercial farmer paid an alleged thief R17 400 for 55 head of cattle. She said that this portrayed exploitation of the worst order. The cattle were sold on to the abattoirs even while the Court case was ongoing. A magistrate was also allegedly involved, who claimed that he could do as he pleased, including selling or purchasing cattle. The case had been postponed several times and the victim was sent from pillar to post.
The Chairperson asked about the shortcomings in the supply chain where improper procedures were followed. She asked what the effect had been of such shortcomings and whether any sanctions were subsequently implemented.
Ms Irish-Qobosheane said that all the people who were responsible had left the Secretariat and that, in a case of an ex post facto payment, the Secretariat did implement disciplinary action. Her office had engaged with SAPS about identifying these irregularities earlier, and the second measure was to tighten up on policies.
The Chairperson thanked the Secretariat for having moved with speed to build its capacity so soon. She also found it encouraging that the Secretariat could identify its own shortcomings, especially in terms of requisite capacity for the areas of Monitoring and Evaluation and Finance. She encouraged the Secretariat, when next appearing before the Committee, to include timeframes, expected outcomes as well as achieved outcomes in its presentations. She remarked that the portfolio committees’ work and programmes were seriously compromised and disrupted when Departments or entities did not stick to the timeframes, especially in regard to submitting Bills. She then reminded the Secretariat that the Committee also had the mandate to add to the Bills and that it could even introduce Bills itself. She felt that the Secretariat was on course and seemed to be doing things the right way. This much was evident in the calibre of the people appointed in key positions. The vision and mission statements also looked a lot clearer now they were presented in the revised state. In future, the Committee would not expect to see another report in which the targets and achievements were not clear.
The meeting was adjourned.
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