Minister of Police briefing : leases, fraud investigations, psychological assistance to disabled victims, section 35 retrenchments

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29 November 2011
Chairperson: Ms LS Chikunga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Police, Acting National Commissioner, and Civilian Secretariat for Police Services attended the meeting to brief the Committee on four issues raised during the Annual Report discussions. The Minister of Police noted that he had already ordered investigations into the questions of incorrect expenditure, which had risen significantly in 2010/11, particularly in relation to office leases. Investigations by various government agencies, including the Auditor-General, Public Protector and Special Investigating Unit, were ongoing. The investigations covered the functioning of the Bid Committee, and irregular expenditure, procurement and equipment, as well as renovation work on police stations. The Ministry wanted to address the current problems as well as ensure that they would not recur. The issues of fruitless and wasteful expenditure would also be covered. The Minister noted that section 35 of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Act was important, as it allowed for retrenchment of “dead wood” in the service, or for operational or reorganisational reasons, but conceded that it had been misused over a number of years. It had been used not only for those who had already reached retirement age, rather than the normal retirement processes, to allow them to receive large amounts of compensation, but also to give large sums of money to SAPS members who were under investigation for criminal offences. The Minister had not been given the names of those who benefited under the section 35 procedures, as all of them had been signed off by the suspended National Police Commissioner, Gen Cele. He reported that the section would be reviewed, and all the instances in which it was to be used must in future be discussed with the Minister. It was also alleged that some of those receiving payouts were the subject of criminal investigations, and he said these would proceed, although no funds could be recovered. The Minister also noted that there had been questions about the filling of appointments, under Gen Cele, since posts would be advertised under section 45, then withdrawn, and the posts would then be filled from within.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police (the Secretariat) briefed the Committee on the funding of psychological reports for mentally-disabled victims of sexual offences. It had recently been reported that SAPS heads had taken the decision to withdraw funding for these psychological reports, which could establish whether the victim had been capable of giving consent. There had been particular problems in Eastern Cape, where no other non-government agency existed to assist victims. During discussions, it became apparent that Detective Services had at times confused the funding of the assessment by South African Police Service (SAPS), and the payment for expert evidence in the court, the responsibility of the National Prosecuting Authority. In the long term, it was understood that this assessments should probably be arranged and paid for by the Department of Social Development, and there were discussions on that, but in the meantime an instruction had been issued by the Head of Legal Services to SAPS to rectify the situation and resume payments.

The Acting National Commissioner of SAPS
briefed the Committee on the SAPS operational plans for December and January. He urged that all Members should participate in Community Policing Forums, and noted the emphasis of working with and for communities. Although extra deployments had not been made specifically for the Festive Season, it was ensuring that all existing units’ operations were more efficient and that funding would be available if needed. There was a focus on robberies with firearms, contact crime, which was fuelled by alcohol consumption, stronger police visibility and intelligence operations, as well as focus on the business sector, which was usually affected during this season by heists, robberies and ATM bombings. An awareness campaign had been launched, to engage with the community. There would be stronger enforcement of the liquor legislation, vigilant checks on border movement, which raised the risk of human trafficking, stronger enforcement of firearms regulations and cordons and searches in identified hotspots, including roadblocks and vehicle checks. The 16 Days of Activism against violence to women and children was also a focus. Over 2 000 police officers had been deployed in preparation for the Conference of Parties (COP 17), and although the venue itself had been security certified and handed over to the United Nations Security, SAPS was patrolling the perimeter and had plans, including provincial plans, to protect other structures, including on-and offshore power and fuel plants.

A DA Member asked about the spending on private jets, under the broad topic of wasteful expenditure. It was suggested that a full forensic audit into SAPS be carried out, as the Auditor-General’s report had covered only a sample of the budget. In relation to the section 35 payouts, Members asked about the individuals involved, the time frames for completion of the report, recovery of the amounts paid out, and their concerns that some members receiving payouts were under criminal investigation. A DA Member raised concerns over the rapid promotion of the Acting National Commissioner, stressing that she was not questioning his ability in the field, but his administrative experience, whilst other Members thought this was inappropriate and expressed their full support for him and his work. The Minister suggested that Members reserve comment until they saw the outcome of the Acting National Commissioner’s work.  Other questions were raised about police reservists and the possibility of incorporating some into permanent services, the necessity of giving funding and support to Community Policing Forums, gang violence, the particular programmes under the 16 Days of Activism, and further details on the withdrawal of funding for assessments of mentally disabled victims. Members also asked if there were plans to curb the flow of counterfeit and illegal goods over the Festive Season, questioned when the White Paper would be released, and stressed that increased police presence should not be confined to urban areas, but also deployed to the rural areas. Members also enquired as to what steps were being taken to support those working in police stations without proper facilities, including water and electricity, asked for comment about the suggested “demilitarisation” of police services and asked if there were plans to re-establish the Narcotics Unit. All Members expressed their appreciation for the work of the Minister and SAPS members on the ground.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, and the new Acting National Commissioner, Gen Nhanhla Mkhwanazi. The Committee congratulated Gen Mkhwanazi on his appointment, noting that this would be a challenging appointment with a lot of work. Although the Portfolio Committee fully respected the separation of powers, it would offer its support. The Chairperson expressed her appreciation for the fact that GE Mkhwanazi had, on his appointment and on his own initiative, requested a meeting with her to discuss the Committee’s work, and the two had held full and frank discussions, focusing on the strengthening of detective services and training. She also thanked the Minister for finding time to brief the Committee.

The Chairperson noted that in October, the Committee had met with the Department of Police (the Department, or SAPS) on its Annual Report. One of the items raised was the budget of R55 billion allocated to various programmes. It was important that the Department should not underspend. At the beginning of the year, the Department had identified key spending priorities, and most were achieved. The Department had now received several unqualified audit opinions, and its efforts t in achieving that were commended. In that period, the FIFA World Cup also took place, and the South African Police Services (SAPS) had fully demonstrated its capacity and capability to fight crime effectively during this time, in fulfilment of the core mandate. The crime statistics showed that crime was decreasing. Insofar as training was concerned, the Committee looked forward to seeing how the training would contribute to the future efforts of the SAPS.

However, there were also many issues that still needed to be investigated and worked on. The first was the irregular expenditure. In 2009/10 the Department incurred irregular expenditure of R2.5 million, but that increased in 2010/11 to R76.1 million. This had to be addressed. Even if some of that amount was to be condoned, there was still a figure of R6.8 million which definitely would not be condoned. The Committee was not happy about this irregular expenditure. There had also been an increase in the fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and that too would need to be addressed.

Secondly, the Committee wished to discuss section 35 of the SAPS Act. The Committee understood that this allowed people to take early retirement, not through the normal route, for operational or good reasons. However, there were indications that this section had been misused, and when the Committee was informed that one of the senior commissioners had followed this route, and had been paid a great deal, it was concerned.

On a positive note, the Chairperson noted that this Committee had never had a problem with lack of cooperation from the Department. The Annual Report was professionally prepared, and clearly set out what the Department was doing. The Committee had asked that some other matters be added in, to clarify certain issues.

Minister of Police’s briefing
Hon Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Police, noted that an additional matter to be discussed today was the psychological funding of victims, on which he would elaborate shortly.

In relation to the irregular and fruitless expenditure, he noted that at about the same time that Department was to appear before the Committee, he had also received a report on these matters, and had also given instructions to commence investigations into them. This related particularly to the office leases. All the incorrect expenditure matters were under investigation, handled by different agencies of government. Some of the investigations were not yet concluded, but there did seem to have been irregular spending, although he could not go into further details at this stage. A full report would be made in due course. He noted that in August 2011 he had given instructions to conduct an investigation, and based on that, and a legal opinion received, the Office of the Auditor-General (AG) was asked to investigate further matters. The Acting National Commissioner would be following up on those. He had also asked the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to investigate the expenditure on the basis of the AG’s report. The AG had also been asked to conduct a full investigation in to the functioning of the Bid Committee. The Civilian Secretariat for Police Services (the Secretariat) was interacting with National Treasury and had requested investigation into irregular expenditure, procurement and equipment as well, although the main problems arose with the accommodation. The Secretariat was also working with National Treasury to ensure better compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and would ensure that all procedures were properly aligned with National Treasury guidelines, and this work would continue into 2012.

After discussions with the SIU, it had been agreed that irregular expenditures on renovation of police stations fell within its area of jurisdiction so the SIU was also asked deal with that issue. Mr Mthethwa stressed that the Ministry was not only seeking to correct what was wrong, but also wanted to ensure that in future similar patterns would not recur.

In relation to Section 35 of the SAPS Act, Mr Mthethwa noted mention of a specific General, and said that this specific matter had not been raised with him. It was, however, important to consider how this section was being used, and to plan to resolve any problems before they occurred in future. He noted that section 35 gave powers to the National Commissioner of Police to effect changes to the staff, and these were similar to the powers given to the Director General of other departments. The purpose of the section was to enable “dead wood” in the SAPS to be effectively retrenched, or to deal with cases where the post may have been closed, or reorganisation of the Department, against payment of compensation, The Minister conceded that there was a possibility of this section being manipulated. There was a place for this kind of procedure, but at this stage the Department could not do very much to correct instances where it had been incorrectly applied. However, the Act was being reviewed, and the Executive would play a significant part in this process.  That had started some months ago, with the review of the White Paper.

The Minister also noted that there had been questions about the filling of appointments, under the suspended National Police Commissioner, about the process in which posts would be advertised under section 45, then withdrawn, and the posts would then be filled from within.

Minister Mthethwa emphasised that all these instances arose despite the fact that the Department had been receiving unqualified audit reports. The Department was not leaving matters to chance and was trying to ensure that it ran properly, within the confines of the law. He noted that criminals did not “take leave” at any time and the Department was always vigilant in pursuing its mandate to create a safe and secure South Africa.

Psychological reports on mentally disabled victims of sexual offences: Civilian Secretariat of Police briefing
Ms Jenny Irish-Qhobosheane, Secretary of Police, Civilian Secretariat of Police, gave a report on the funding of psychological assessments of rape victims. A person who was mentally disabled or challenged, who had been a victim of a sexual offences, needed to be psychologically assessed by an expert to determine whether that person was capable of giving consent, and it was also often difficult for such a person to be properly interviewed to determine whether consent had been given. In court, expert witnesses would also be used to prove the question of consent. SAPS had taken a decision to withdraw the funding for psychological assessments. However, when this came to the Minister’s attention, he had asked the Secretariat to look into it. The Secretariat had held a series of meeting with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Ms Irish-Qhobosheane pointed out that there were about 200 such cases nationally, so there would not be a huge impact on SAPS funding. The biggest problem, however, had been the Eastern Cape, where the funding and the processes had immediately come to a halt; in Western Cape a non-government organisation (NGO) was performing that function. The NPA had reported that this special assessment was part of its investigation, but it was not its responsibility. In the long term, she suggested that it would be appropriate for the SAPS to liaise with the Department of Social Development (DSD) as to whether this assessment was not a DSD function. SAPS Legal Services had been instructed by the Minister to immediately rectify the situation and arrange for such instances to be funded again, in the meantime, until discussions with the DSD were concluded.

Operational Plans: “Operation Duty Calls” for the Festive Season 2011/12
The Minister introduced Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi and said that he had been intrigued with the range of comments made after his appointment. A previous National Commissioner appointment had been criticised on the basis that the candidate had been a politician, but the current appointment provoked criticism that Gen Mkhwanazi came from within the ranks, so he said that there would be criticism no matter what was done. Gen Mkhwanazi had been appointed for very good reasons, and he would be focusing on his job.

Gen Mkhwanazi noted that since his appointment, he had spent a considerable amount of time at his desk, responding to questions from Parliament, said that many of the questions were very searching, and some had asked the same questions in different ways and had been a challenge to answer. He hoped that all Committee members were members of Community Policing Forums (CPF), an ideal structure for building good relations between the police and communities.

In preparation for the Festive Season, SAPS deployment had not been actually mobilising extra members although it tried to make sure that many SAPS members were available, and that there would be sufficient funding. Instead of simply making appointments, SAPS was trying to focus the budget more specifically to strengthening existing crime-fighting initiatives. A number of recent arrests had been made, particularly in relation to robberies with firearms, and there would be continuing focus on contact crime, which was fuelled also by alcohol consumption, and there would also be a stronger police visibility and intelligence operations. SAPS was also focusing on the business sector, as during this season there tended to be heists, robberies and ATM bombings. An awareness campaign had been launched, to engage with the community. A national launch of the “Operation Duty Calls” was done on 4 September, and since then there had also been provincial launches. He stressed that SAPS operated jointly with other government departments. Contact meetings took place with Head Office in Pretoria

He also noted that there would be stronger enforcement of the liquor legislation. In relation to security, SAPS was aware that movement across the borders, particularly during the Festive Season, raised the risk of human trafficking. There would also be a focus on enforcement of the firearms regulations. There were also cordon and searches being carried out in identified “hotspot” areas. Roadblocks and vehicle checks were being carried out. Many other matters had been identified as the focus areas for the year. The school exams were almost over, and SAPS was trying to ensure the protection of scholars, particularly those matriculants who would be converging on the traditional celebration spots. The 16 Days of Activism against Violence shown to Women and Children was another particular focal area at the moment. The Conference of Parties (COP 17), being held at the moment, was also a matter requiring specific deployment, in line with commitments made by government. SAPS had signed a safety certificate for the venue on 26 November and the venue itself was now the responsibility of the United Nations security, although SAPS was offering support and expertise if there was any crime inside the venue. The UN would have the final say as to whether it wished to lay any charges. SAPS would be focusing on the outer perimeter of the conference centre. Risk areas had been identified, which included overcrowding, protesters, national key points where banners may be displayed and the possibility of attacks, and proactive measures had been taken. Coordination structures were not limited to KwaZulu Natal alone, where the COP17 was being held, but other provinces had their own operational plans, including the Western Cape, who had to protect against possible attacks on Koeberg, and protection was needed for oil platforms at sea. 2 759 personnel were deployed strictly for COP17. There had not been any incidents so far and it was hoped that this would be maintained.

Gen Mkhwanazi finally expressed his good wishes to all for the Festive Season.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) said that the suspended National Police Commissioner spent R1.5 million of State funds on national and international trips. She asked if the National Police Commissioner was provided with his own private jet. She did not understand why South African Airways was not utilised. She then started to ask questions about the Chief Financial Officer of SAPS’s arrangements for the furnishing of his house.

Ms A van Wyk (ANC) raised a point of order. She asked the Chairperson to advise whether today’s discussions would be broad, or were intended rather to focus on more limited issues on the agenda.

The Chairperson noted that there had been four days for this Committee to interact with the Department on the financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report, and the Department had responded to questions asked in the meeting and in writing. After that process, Members had then identified specific matters that it wished to discuss with the Minister, and these were the focus of the meeting today, so she would prefer that  Members should focus on the agenda topics, and on issues that should be discussed at a political level. If all other matters were to be discussed, the Chief Financial Officer and other departmental officials would have been been invited.

Ms Kohler-Barnard responded, with all due respect, that her question was to do with irregular expenditure, which was one of the topics being discussed.

Ms van Wyk raised another point of order. She said that the questions did not all relate to irregular expenditure. For instance, one of the figures referred to accommodation for the FIFA World Cup and the Minister had already indicated that these were under investigation. She urged Members not to abuse the opportunity for media profile. She asked that Members could confine themselves to the topics on the agenda.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if she could finish her question.

The Chairperson said that she could finish the question but if questions did not relate to matters on the agenda, then they would not be entertained at this meeting.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) also raised a point of order, saying that, as indicated by Ms van Wyk, various expenditure was already under investigation. He was therefore not sure whether the Committee was able to engage further with the Minister on the details, at this point. He would be rather uneasy about a full discussion on these issues that were under investigation.

The Chairperson ruled that the Minister would be permitted to state that he was unable to respond if a matter did form the subject of an investigation. She asked that Members should not abuse the opportunity offered by this meeting, and indicated that the session was intended to get clarity on specific issues.

Gen Mkhwanazi responded that he must stress the relative costs of the transport. Government had to have a number of different jets, of different sizes, which were regarded as government transport. The running costs of the Police jet were R10 000 an hour, and the jet carried eight passengers. He pointed out that the cost of one ticket alone, from Pretoria to Cape Town, was in excess of R7 000 on SAA, so a comparison of the costs would be R40 000 for return flights of the jet, carrying eight people, whilst the South African Airways (SAA) ticket costs for the same number of people could exceed R56 000. In addition, for operational reasons, it was often necessary to fly at times other than scheduled passenger services, and the jets were able to fly to areas that SAA did not cover. The jet had been bought and was used for the purposes of fighting crime. In addition to these considerations, the pilots had to keep up their flying hours, and it was preferable to fly the jets full rather than having the pilots fly them empty.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if the same applied to international trips for the National Police Commissioner.

Gen Mkhwanazi noted that it a team would always fly, not the National Commissioner alone. There would be arrangements made to have the maximum numbers on board, and to arrange the flights so that the minimum time was taken.

Minister Mthethwa added that it was not only the National Commissioner who used the jets, but he would also do so, particularly when meetings were arranged for hours when other airlines were not flying.

Ms Kohler-Barnard noted that the Auditor-General had made it clear that the amount of irregular expenditure represented a sample of just 5% of the full budget, which had been selected for audit. If the figures were extrapolated, the total figure for irregular expenditure could exceed R1.5 billion. She asked if the AG could be requested to conduct a full forensic audit and what would be done to deal with the matters in the Department.

Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that section 35 of the SAPS Act had clearly been abused and used as the “back door” for some SAPS members who were under investigation to leave with huge severance packages that exceeded the norm. She had written to the AG, requesting that he investigate this matter. Joey Mabasa was apparently awarded R3.5 million, despite the fact that criminal investigations into his conduct were ongoing at the time. Four others were, according to Hawks head, Mr Anwar Dramat, paid out under this section, despite the fact that they were under criminal investigation. The suspended National Police Commissioner had personally signed off on those discharges. She noted the comment that if they were found guilty on criminal charges, SAPS could not recoup the money. She asked how it could be allowed to happen that a single individual had the right to give inflated payouts to those under investigation. She said that not everyone would have fallen within the confines of this section, and have been “dead wood”, because some had actually reached retirement age, and what criteria were applied.

The Chairperson noted that some of the questions asked by Ms Kohler-Barnard had been matters raised by the Committee already, so there was nothing new in them, but that the Committee wanted the discussion on the issues also to extend to a political level.

The Minister agreed that these matters would all be looked into, and he had already also indicated his own reservations on some of the matters. He had asked the suspended National Police Commissioner, Bheki Cele, to report on the section 35 matters, but had not been given the names of those receiving payouts in terms of this section. Criminal investigations would clearly need to be pursued. He had asked the Acting National Commissioner to look into these matters.

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) thanked the Minister for investigating the irregularities.

Ms van Wyk noted that although the Annual Report had mentioned the fact of the section 35 “retrenchments”, the Department had indicated that it was not yet sure of the exact amount involved, as there also may be outstanding amounts in relation to the Government Employee Pension Fund (GEPF). The Committee had questioned that statement, noting that the information should have been available at the end of the financial year, and she was also concerned as to where SAPS got the money to effect these large payouts. The Committee would have to ensure that these amounts had not impacted on the operational side of SAPS. She was pleased to hear that the Minister was addressing the issue, but stressed that it would be vital not only to investigate what had happened, but also to put strong systems in place that could not be manipulated by individuals in future. She asked if it was not possible that section 35 payouts should rather be placed before the Minister, before the Acting National Commissioner signed off on them. The reason for having section 35 in place was understood, but there had to be strengthened control, so that section 35 could also not be used for those who might challenge the SAPS by insisting on doing the right thing, or who were perceived as creating problems for management.

Ms van Wyk shared concerns expressed by Ms Kohler-Barnard about the fact that Gen Dramat had mentioned that four of those receiving payouts were under investigation, and he had even indicated that their arrests were imminent. That was of huge concern to the Committee. She also asked about a matter where it appeared that someone had been moved from Gauteng to Head Office, then released under section 35, where there was an investigation pending.

Mr G Schneemann (ANC) also thanked the Minister on this point, but said that he would ask his questions on these matters after the investigations had been finalised.

Mr Ndlovu thanked the Minister for the details of the investigations into section 35 matters, and said that he would await the outcome with interest. He asked also to know if there was any possibility of getting money back that was wrongly paid to these individuals.

Mr M Swathe (DA) sought clarity as to what the timeframe was for the section 35 investigations.

Minister Mthethwa stressed that anyone given a section 35 payout, who had a criminal charge to answer, would have to answer to that and the investigations would be followed. The name of Maj-Gen Mabasa was mentioned, but the suspended National Commissioner had noted that that there was no case against this person. The Secretariat had been asked to follow up on this issue.

Mr Mthethwa said that it would be impossible to get money back from the SAPS members who had received it under incorrect circumstances, because it was pension money. It must be remembered that they did not award themselves the section 35 payouts but applied for them. This had apparently been going on for years, and was provided for in the SAPS Act. The main issue was that these large payouts had been implemented without informing the Executive authority. Using section 35 was a serious matter, and should not have been left to the National Commissioner alone. Section 35 did have its place, where the prescripts of the Act were followed correctly. However, where someone was in any event about to leave because s/he was of pensionable age, it was clearly an abuse of the process to use this section. He stressed again that all criminal cases would be pursued. In relation to the question of the time frames, he said that when the matters were handed over to other authorities, such as the AG, Public Protector and SIU, for investigation, the urgency was indicated and it was hoped that responses would be forthcoming near the beginning of 2012. However, it would be preferable to allow time for proper investigations and full responses rather than to try to push matters through.

Ms Kohler-Barnard also noted that questions had been raised about the section 45 appointments. She said she had some queries about the appointment of the Acting National Commissioner, who had been promoted over a number of other senior generals, into this post. Although he had a sterling record on the ground, he had very little management experience, and she asked why he had been promoted to his current rank, skipping several other ranks in the process. She asked what other SAPS personnel might have been considered for this post. The Public Protector was already investigating the apparently incorrect promotion scheme operated under the suspended National Commissioner, including allegations that some officials had been promoted several ranks at one time. She said that she was not calling into question Gen Mkhwanazi’s ability as a police officer, since he had been described as a “rising star” but the principle that he should be able to rise through the ranks and not be “parachuted” into this position.

Mr Schneemann wanted to congratulate and wish the Acting National Commissioner well on his appointment. He thought it was unfortunate that this platform should be used to question his appointment. The Committee should accept that the Minister and President had made the appointment correctly. None of the Committee Members served in the SAPS, and therefore did not know what qualifications were required and who would be suitable.

Ms van Wyk also congratulated Gen Mkhwanazi on his appointment and said that she was confident that, with the right support, he would perform well.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for comment on the issue of police reservists. It had been noted that every South African had a civic duty to assist the police, and yet many offering their services as reservists had apparently been turned down. The reservists had been demonised under the suspended National Commissioner and she enquired as to the current thinking on this issue.

Gen Mkhwanazi noted that he had been working with reservists already and that the Minister would be dealing with this issue also in the following year. He supported the concept of reservists and noted that he had been working with some excellent reservists.

Minister Mthethwa added that the issue of reservists had been raised, and two years ago he had relaxed some of the requirements around age, to try to assist some reservists then to enter the formal police service. However, he said that some people saw reservist service as one way to earn income, which was not the original intention behind it. One former commander had proffered his services as a reservist. He noted that the question must be asked why people wanted to render services, and to what extent there were applications from those genuinely interested, and applications from those who had other motives. SAPS was busy drawing up a policy on reservists, and the system of moving from commandoes to reservists had some problem. It was intended that those in appropriate age brackets would be given a chance to apply to SAPS itself.

Mr Lekgetho was interested in the comment on the Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and believed that if these were strengthened, they would represent the interests and aspirations of the community. He thought that more funding was needed to allow them to do their work independently, otherwise they were doomed to failure.

Minister Mthethwa commented that CPF members often did an outstanding job in helping communities in the fight against crime. There were interactions with business and provincial Departments of Safety and Security, in relation to equipment. SAPS expected everyone in the community to be a member of a CPF. With the new dispensation, people would be elected. However, one of the provisions would be that people must join with a genuine desire to see crime reduced, and not for ulterior motives.

Mr Lekgetho started to comment on interaction with various police stations.

The Chairperson interjected to ask that the questions should be confined to what was on the current agenda, and the question was not pursued.

Mr Schneemann asked if gang violence was an area of focus during this period, noting that no specific mention was made of it. He had received a call about gang violence in Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth. He agreed also about the effect that alcohol was having, particularly on violence and crime in residential areas.

Gen Mkhwanazi said that the SPS was not focusing on arresting those simply because of their known membership of gangs, but was rather concentrating on those who were actually found to have committed criminal activities.

Minister Mthethwa added that the question of gang violence in Port Elizabeth was serious, but it was also prevalent in Cape Town. SAPS was interacting with other groups to try to come up with initiatives, and was also investigating whether the strategies used in the past had been workable and useful. SAPS appreciated that lasting solutions were needed.

Mr Schneemann said it would have been helpful for Members to have been given more information on the 16 Days of Activism operations in the various areas.

Gen Mkhwanazi promised to forward a written breakdown of all activities during the 16 Days of Activism to the Committee.

Mr Schneemann noted that there were many people in the SAPS who were doing outstanding work and they were not always appreciated, with only negative aspects being raised and the good work not being mentioned. He expressed appreciation to all in SAPS for the work that they would be doing over the Festive Season, and asked that the Committee’s congratulations for their work should be conveyed.

Mr Ndlovu requested the Police Secretariat to inform the Committee how the withdrawal of funding for assessments of mentally disabled sexual offence victims had come about, pointing out that the mentally disabled were understood to fall into the category of vulnerable people.

The Chairperson asked if the decision to allow mentally disabled victims to receive the services again had been taken and implemented.

Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said that the instructions to resume the services had been issued. A meeting between the Secretariat and Legal Services in the Department of Police was set up, to ensure that the issue was fully discussed and the particular difficulties in the Eastern Cape had been raised. She reiterated that, in the longer term, it would be appropriate for SAPS to settle the issue with DSD. Unfortunately, the Department had simply assumed that it was not its responsibility, without firstly conferring and making sure that alternatives were in place. She noted that the Detective Services branch had confused the distinction between having a psychological assessment, and using an expert witness to report on the psychological state of the victim in court. The assessment had to be paid for by SAPS. Expert witnesses would be paid for their attendance at court by the NPA. She agreed that the payments and services should not simply have been cut off before the issue was resolved with the DSD, which would include discussing DSD’s capacity to deal with and pay for these services. After the meeting with the Secretariat and the arrangements to resume the services, Gen Rantho from the Legal Services division had personally phoned all provincial heads to ensure that they understood the letter and would resume the services.

Mr Ndlovu noted his concerns about counterfeit and illegal goods that were likely to flood in to the country during the Festive Season and asked if SAPS was working with all other departments, and would urge them to be vigilant, to apply the law correctly and report any irregularities.

Gen Mkhwanazi responded that the Minister and he would be holding a number of meetings with various departments whose work involved dealing with counterfeiting problems. The music industry, in particular, suffered greatly at this time of year. There would be a launch on 2 December to focus attention on these issues.

Ms van Wyk was pleased that the Bid Adjudication Committee was being investigated. The Committee had not received quite enough information to be able to pinpoint what exactly was wrong.

Mr Swathe asked when the White Paper would be released.

Minister Mthethwa said that the White Paper would be presented to Cabinet early in the next year. It formed the basis of all legislation and was a compass for where SAPS would be heading in future.

Mr Swathe noted that crime would be expected to rise in the festive season. There was visible policing in towns and townships, but he asked if crime was also being addressed in the rural areas.

Gen Mkhwanazi said that Festive Season operations were not confined to specific places. Wherever police had jurisdiction, they would be operating, and this meant that SAPS would function both at land and sea, in all areas. He assured members that SAPS would have a presence in the rural areas, and it was aware of problems in these areas, particularly around alcohol use and return of people to these areas, that may spark off faction differences.

Mr Swathe asked for comment from the Minister of Police about the “demilitarisation” of police that had been suggested by Hon Trevor Manuel.

Gen Mkhwanazi said that the SAPS was not quite clear as to exactly what “militarisation” was supposed to mean, but stressed that the whole Police culture hinged on maintaining strict command and control.  Good discipline and promoting a culture of discipline would be maintained at all times.

Minister Mthethwa added that the SAPS philosophy and how it was applied was important, and the most important focus of SAPS at present, which was emphasised in different ways, was an emphasis on community. The bottom line was what SAPS did, and not how it was described.

Mr Swathe noted that many police stations did not have basic services, saying that this mostly affected the rural area police stations, which may not have running water or toilets. He asked what would be done to help the officers to do their work effectively.

Gen Mkhwanazi said that SAPS was doing its best to support all police stations, and he would not elaborate much on this, as it had been discussed before. A full report would be presented to the Committee in the following year.

Minister Mthethwa added that all SAPS members in all stations were expected to produce results of a certain standard, and it was regrettable that the lack of resources hampered the way in which they could perform and work. There had been emphasis on building capacity and mobility of SAPS.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) noted an escalation in drug abuse, and asked whether there were plans to re-establish the Narcotics Unit.

Gen Mkhwanazi commented that the job of Crime Intelligence included penetration of any bodies and situations to collect information, and it was not felt that the establishment of a special unit was the solution. In the past, these types of specialised units had been in place, but they had created administrative problems in themselves. Crime Intelligence should be able to handle the work that these units had been doing in the past. The public would be encouraged also to provide information.

Minister Mthethwa added that it took a great deal of time and resources to establish specialist units.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for clarity on the status of an Acting National Commissioner, and who would take decisions on shifting of staff. She wanted to know if the Minister and Acting National Commissioner would be dealing with matters.

Minister Mthethwa said that Gen Mkhwanazi had been promoted to his current rank, because it was necessary to enable him to give orders. He strongly suggested that instead of questioning or discussing the appointment, it would be preferable to await and observe the results that Gen Mkhwanazi would no doubt produce. He clarified that an Acting National Commissioner would be able to rely on the support of the Minister whenever he saw things that needed to be corrected.

Mr Ndlovu, on behalf of the IFP, thanked the Minister and his team and expressed appreciation for the work that they, and all SAPS members, would do over the Festive Season. He expressed the support of the Committee to SAPS and the Ministry.

Ms Kohler-Barnard, on behalf of the DA, expressed her sincere appreciation to the Chairperson for her sterling work, and the fact that the Committee acted always without fear or favour, and she hoped that SAPS had the same approach.

Mr Schneemann, on behalf of the ANC, noted that the Committee had had an arduous year, and thanked everyone for their work and dedication, including the opposition Members. This particular Committee engaged in robust argument but worked well. He also thanked the Chairperson for the manner in which she had led the Committee, and the Committee staff.

Minister Mthethwa said, in closing, that it was fully recognised that there were some gaps in SAPS, but he appreciated comments that would help the Department to improve. He was confident that SAPS would continue to score victories in the fight against crime.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had stressed that it wanted to see better training to try to improve on the numbers of court-ready cases. The Committee, in line with its constitutional mandate, would follow up on matters, and she appreciated the manner in which the Minister had taken up the matters raised, and the way in which vulnerable groups were being addressed. She agreed that section 35 had a specific purpose, and that it would have to be used from time to time, and was pleased to hear of steps being taken to address the past abuses. Positive responses from the Ministry on issues raised were seen as strengthening the work of the Committee. The Committee and its individual Members would be actively supporting SAPS. She noted that at times people reported crimes directly to the Committee, and all these issues were followed up. The Chairperson also thanked all Members for their work, for always being prepared to go the extra mile, and for the support they gave to her. She wished all at the Ministry, the Department, and SAPS members a blessed and safe festive season.  

The meeting was adjourned.


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