Lease Management in SAPS offices 2011/12

Committee: Police

Chairperson: Ms L Chikunga(ANC)

Date of Meeting: 14 Feb 2012

Summary

The South African Police Service (SAPS) gave a presentation to the Committee, focusing on the leases to which it was committed in 2011/12. However, prior to that, Members also raised and briefly debated questions around the conditions at police stations, sick leave abuses, and the need to investigate allegations against a police squad in KwaZulu Natal. It was reported, in relation to leases, that an audit had been done in 2010, when the current management of SAPS took over, into all leases to which SAPS was committed, and this was done both to find out exactly what premises were being used, and to check that there was no abuse of the processes. The responsibility for finding and leasing premises lay with the Department of Public Works (DPW) who would bill and receive payment from SAPS. This system, however, was not always stable, and in many instances SAPS had been threatened with or actually evicted from premises because DPW had either not paid for lease or services costs, or had failed to negotiate renewals satisfactorily. There were also a number of instances where SAPS’s requests for renewal of leases had not been done timeously, resulting in uncertain month-to-month arrangements. SAPS leases related to office accommodation, living quarters, high sites and other ground for grazing, security fences, access roads, shooting ranges, water pipelines or construction sites. The process from the SAPS side, in conducting a needs analysis and conveying requests to DPW, was outlined, and the numbers of leases in each province were tabled. It was pointed out that SAPS was not involved in the tender, negotiation or signature processes, and although it should receive copies of the leases these were seldom provided, with SAPS most often occupying and paying on the basis of a letter of instruction from DPW. The total budget allocation for leases was R911 million.

The reconciliation exercise that commenced in 2010 had shown that four buildings listed by DPW were in fact not occupied by SAPS, and these leases had now been removed from the DPW listing. Although DPW had also provided information about the lease costs, it became apparent from the presentation and the delegation’s answers that SAPS was not, in all instances, able to verify this information because it did not have copies of all leases. Further information in this regard was requested by 23 February. SAPS was aiming to downscale the number of leases, as it agreed that purchase or building its own premises was preferable, although this would take time.

Members debated the merits of purchasing buildings and urged that SAPS should pay particular attention to reducing the number of leases; although this was stated as an aim it had so far not been achieved overall. They asked how the needs analysis was done, and pointed out that the previous management’s allocations did not always make sense. Members asked what had been done to implement the recommendations of the Public Protector, which related only to the Pretoria and Durban leases, but also what SAPS had done to try to ensure that the various irregularities and discrepancies did not recur. They were very concerned about the assertion that SAPS, although it recorded a contingent liability of R600 million in relation to the Durban lease, was not involved in the court action, because DPW maintained that leases were its sole responsibility and it saw no reason either to involve SAPS in negotiations, or even to keep it informed. This also was reflected by the fact that leases were not provided to SAPS. SAPS was also not consulted on renewals of leases, and this had led to the situation where huge escalation clauses were sometimes included. Members expressed their disquiet at this approach and urged SAPS to regularise the relationship, but pointed out that DPW’s approach also did not absolve SAPS of responsibility, and that it should have taken active steps to obtain the documentation it required for verification purposes. Some Members felt that the various inconsistencies were indicative of an irresponsible attitude on the part of the previous SAPS management, but also made the point that several of the delegates now present had been part of senior management in the past, and were not prepared merely to hear excuses about past events. They made the point that SAPS, as a law-enforcement agency, should ensure that everything it did and all agreements to which it was a party were totally above board. SAPS gave the assurance that it was conducting investigations into the widely divergent charges per square metre, across a number of rural and urban areas. Members discussed whether there had been irregular spending, and although they were assured that no payments had been made for those buildings not occupied, they later heard that charges were levied for extra space that was never authorised under a lease in Mpumalanga. A further report-back on this issue was also requested from SAPS. Members asked if action had been taken against those responsible for inconsistencies or irregularities, and against any landlords. Members expressed extreme concern over the shocking living conditions in some barracks, as well as the evictions, which reflected very poorly on SAPS. They asked who was responsible for maintenance, asked that the contracts for Honeydew should be examined, and urged that if SAPS was paying for services it was not receiving, this should be taken further.
The SAPS was also asked to follow up on processes to ensure that a donation in Mpumalanga that had been offered to upgrade police stations could be accepted and used.



Minutes

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson commented that the Committee, during its recent visit to Limpopo, noted that many recurrent issues were again prevalent, including failure to observe the requirements around record keeping, in terms of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) and Child Justice Act, files not kept according to instructions, and failure to observe the Criminal Law Forensic Procedures Act. The Committee had prepared reports and they should be used to improve the situation in all police stations. Many detectives had still not undergone training. The Committee wanted to see emphasis on improvement in this area.

She also expressed the Committee’s concern about information provided during the Annual Report hearing on sick leave abuses, citing a number of statistics and saying that these averaged as high, in some stations, as 77 days sick leave taken by officials at one station. Clearly there were abuses, and the statistics were not being used by management to inform steps that had to be taken. There were several reports where the same person would report one illness after another, and she suspected that medical staff could be colluding. South African Police Service (SAPS), as the upholders of the law, should be investigating any suspected corruption or collusion.

Another issue of concern related to a KwaZulu Natal police squad, where it had been alleged that this squad was effectively operating as a death squad, and this must be investigated.

The Chairperson asked the SAPS representatives to give full details of every lease that SAPS had entered into, including details of space, cost, the landlords, and the periods. She also asked how SAPS had ensured that there was no abuse or corruption in this regard.

SAPS opening remarks
Lieutenant General Christine Mgwenya, Chief Operations Officer, SAPS, said that a meeting had been arranged to take SAPS members through the reports compiled by Parliament and the other areas of concern. She noted, in answer to the Chairperson, that sick leave had been identified as a primary risk within the organisation, and control measures had been introduced, including the appointment of health risk managers, and doctors who could independently assess those who claimed continuously to be ill. There seemed to be a lack of command and control amongst supervisors, and SAPS was worried about this, as it impacted negatively on service delivery when fewer members were available for each shift.

SAPS had also identified training of detectives as an area needing attention, and extra allocations of fiscal resources were needed.

Finally, she noted that in regard to the allegations against the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) squad, a task team had been appointed and investigations were continuing. The members of this squad had been separated and re-deployed in the meantime, and a notice to suspend one had been issued.  SAPS management was awaiting the outcome of the investigation.

Lease management in South African Police Service Premises 2011/12
General Mgwenya then dealt with the question of leases and said that measures had been put in place to ensure that there was no abuse. An audit, never previously done, had now been run to check how many buildings were being leased, where these buildings were, how much was being paid, and whether there was optimal use of buildings. The leasing of the buildings was the responsibility of Department of Public Works (DPW), but SAPS paid for the leases.

SAPS continuously faced challenges with the leased buildings. There was inter-dependency between SAPS and DPW. In some instances, SAPS had faced eviction, because DPW had not paid the rental, but this only was known when the landlords advised SAPS, or even locked it out. Some landlords did not comply with Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) requirements, and here DPW would try to negotiate a shorter lease, and landlords often decided not to renew and evicted the tenants.

Lieut-Gen Dr Audrey Mofomme, Deputy National Commissioner: Physical Resource Management, SAPS, reminded Members that in September 2010 SAPS had given a presentation to the Committee, when it outlined some of the challenges around leases, and had indicated that further information would be obtained. She added that late the previous evening, SAPS had been asked to give information on names and rental per square metre, and had reported on some challenges with the information around leases. Information was available on the names and rental per square metre, although it did not appear in this presentation.

She noted that a number of facilities were included in supply chain management. Official accommodation included office accommodation. Living quarters were divided into single and married quarters, owned or leased by SAPS. Land included high sites (for technical and communication equipment), grazing grounds, security fences, access roads, shooting ranges, parking, water pipeline and sites where accommodation was constructed.

Once a request for accommodation was received from a region or station, the need would be compared against current available accommodation. Space allocated would be based on the number of personnel, and the type of equipment needed. The DPW would be requested to provide a list of available state owned facilities, and a costing document. An assessment was done to determine the immediate need against the ability to accommodate this through the capital works programme. SAPS had to undertake a financial approval process, and only after these steps were taken, would the lease agreement be concluded. She added that DPW invited tenders, and SAPS was not involved in that process. Once possible premises were identified, DPW would issue a procurement instruction to the relevant regional office of DPW. SAPS should, on conclusion of the lease, get a copy of the lease agreement, although in practice this often took some time, and it would often occupy on the basis of a letter of instruction. SAPS’ liability to pay took effect from occupation. A diagram showing the process was also tabled (see attached presentation).

There were, in total 1 365 leases, or 967 for office accommodation, 91 living quarters, and 307 parcels of land. She provided a breakdown per province. For police stations alone there were 181 leases, of which 121 were full police stations, 43 were satellite stations and 15 were contact points.

The total allocation was R911 million for the year, and expenditure to November 2011 was R568.7 million, representing 62.4%, with R342.7 million being available still, as invoices from December and January were still be presented by DPW. 

She outlined the verification process for the SAPS leases. Provincial inspections by SAPS were made to all leased facilities, to determine the physical occupation and proper use, and Head Office would conduct meetings with regional offices to verify leases reflecting on the Property Management Information System, with physical inspections. A reconciliation had now been done and some leases were removed from the portfolio drawn up by DPW, where it was found that in fact SAPS was not occupying those premises. Four leases were discovered – in Graaff Reinett, East London, Ladysmith KZN and Themba, North West / Gauteng (where park homes were reflected, although these were owned by SAPS so it was only the land was leased). These had now been removed from the listing.

The aim of SAPS was to downscale on leased accommodation wherever possible, and build own premises under the Capital Works building programme, as well as consider options of lease-to-own. SAPS was trying to fix the escalation costs of current leases to control exorbitant increases, and to achieve optimal use of current leased facilities. Lieut-Gen Mofomme tabled a list of premises where there had been downscaling, whose value ranged from R17 820 (Kimberley Archives) to R1.147 million (Parow Forensic Service Laboratories). The envisaged savings per annum were also set out (see attached presentation for four premises and another three capital works projects would still be approved. Leases for residential accommodation dropped from 1 018 in 2007/08 to 91 in 2011/12.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme expanded on some of the challenges, confirming that non-payment of landlords by DPW had led to lock-outs and evictions on personnel, with negative impact on service delivery. Where leases were not successfully re-negotiated, SAPS would show under-expenditure in the lease budget, and affect its ability to claim in the following financial year. 592 requests were made to DPW for renewals that had not been effected, between April 2011 and 31 March 2012. Where leases had expired and were not renewed, month-to-month arrangements had been made. The Acting National Commissioner of Police was engaging with DPW on this and other needs. She noted that SAPS had been locked out of several premises, including a vehicle guarding unit in Port Shepstone, high sites in Eastern Cape, where technicians were not allowed access to work on communication equipment. At the Rushmere station, DPW had maintained it was only prepared to negotiate a two-year renewal, and where the court had found in favour of that landlord. A lock-out also occurred in the previous week in Mossel Bay because the end user did not provide information about the needs assessment and DPW did not pay the landlord, although this had now been rectified.

Discussion
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked whether it was cheaper and more convenient to lease or to build.

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) pointed out that every year this Committee was asked to approve a massive budget for SAPS, and several times the Property Management section had been called in to comment, yet the situation had remained “chaotic”. She enquired why SAPS was continuing to lease, rather than purchase its own buildings.

Mr M George (COPE) pointed out that if buildings were owned, they at least would appreciate in value whilst SAPS would also be saving on lease costs.

The Chairperson noted that, despite the stated intentions to reduce the number of premises leased, there had in fact been some increases, after an initial fall in figures.

Gen Mgwenya confirmed that SAPS was of the view that it was more cost-effective to purchase buildings, and this was the reason why it was trying to reduce leases and promote capital works building. She agreed that SAPS had not been entirely successful in reducing all leases. The backlog in building new police stations had contributed to the challenges of the previous management, but current management was trying to correct the position.

Ms Molebatsi asked how the needs analysis was done, suggesting that the population and crime indicators ought to be taken into account. She raised concerns that in some villages there were two police stations, but neighbouring villages were not serviced at all.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) thought that the fact that there were evictions, and premises were not used, indicated that the needs analysis was not effective.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya answered that current SAPS management was grappling with what had informed the placement of stations in the past; in a Pretoria area, the police stations was 80 km from some of the people it served. SAPS would consider, in future, the Department of Public Service and Administration recommendation that services should be available no more than 4 km from the people who required them.

Ms Molebatsi asked what was done for staff when no living quarters were available.

Ms Molebatsi asked what steps had already been taken by SAPS to ensure that there were no recurrences of these contraventions. In particular, she wanted to know what had been done to implement the recommendations of the Public Protector in regard to remedial actions around the Pretoria Lease.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) agreed with her colleague, and also enquired about the status of the court cases on the Durban and Pretoria leases, for which SAPS had recorded a R600 million contingent liability. She asked if it was likely that taxpayers would eventually have to foot this bill.

Mr Ndlovu pointed out that matters in the Public Protector’s report were limited to Pretoria and Durban premises. He asked whether any action had been taken against the landlords at those premises and where SAPS stood in relation to those leases.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya noted that SAPS was taking action to correct procurement irregularities, and was implementing some of the remedial actions recommended by Public Protector. An audit had been done of SAPS’s own processes, and it was putting control measures in place. Specifically in relation to the leases in Pretoria and Durban, DPW had decided to seek cancellation of those leases through court action. SAPS was not consulted on this, despite the fact that the building was procured for SAPS, as DPW did not regard SAPS as an interested party, and therefore felt that it did not need to be involved in the process.
 
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked why, if SAPS was not involved, it had found it necessary to set aside such a large amount as a contingent liability.

The Chairperson felt that SAPS should not wait to be called in by DPW, but could have initiated meetings with DPW. She enquired what the SAPS Legal Unit was doing, and whether SAPS would accept liability if the court case went against it. She also wanted to hear exactly what SAPS was doing to ensure that this type of situation would not recur.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya said that the Legal Officer and other personnel had been assigned to deal with the matter and SAPS did regard itself as an interested party. However, there were also some challenges in meeting with the DPW, with its constant change of personnel. In KwaZulu Natal the provincial office still needed office accommodation, a point raised by the Public Protector. SAPS could not take actions that would interfere with the court process.

Mr M George (COPE) suggested that SAPS must try to overhaul its relationship with DPW. The fact that court actions were pursued, potentially at a cost to SAPS, without SAPS being involved, was completely incorrect.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) noted the reference to an audit in 2010, and enquired if no prior audits had been done, and whether this meant that management of SAPS had simply been approving payments without knowing exactly what was due, which he described as irresponsible.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya said that current management was not responsible for this situation, but was now acting to correct it. Previous management would have to answer for themselves as to whether they had been irresponsible. The audit was conducted for the first time in 2010, when the current management took over. None of the delegates present at this meeting had been part of management at the time of the leases.

The Chairperson heard her point, but said that she and other Members were not happy with the suggestion that no responsibility could attach to them. Some of the delegates from SAPS present at this meeting had been in senior management for some time prior to this, and they could surely give responses. It was possible that some of those responsible may have even been promoted. Members wanted to know what consequences would attach for this situation, and were not willing merely to accept statements absolving all those present from responsibility. She pointed out that the current management was not even implementing some of its own decisions, such as the decision to reduce the number of leases. Payments had been made by current management without reconciliation. She pointed out that whilst the Committee was prepared to allow a “honeymoon” period to the Acting National Commissioner to be fully on board, it was not prepared to offer the same concessions to those who had been part of senior management in the past.

Gen Mgwenya noted these comments.

Rev Meshoe questioned why the money approved by Parliament in the budget was not in fact used to pay for leases, resulting in lock outs. He asked if there was no communication between SAPS and DPW in the case of lock-outs.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya initially responded that there were not real difficulties with DPW and the Acting National Commissioner was currently engaging with the DPW. Continuous changes of personnel in DPW did not help the continuity.

Maj-Gen M Mantsi, Head: Immovable Asset Management, SAPS, when responding to later questions, indicated that there were difficulties in getting DPW to agree to and attend meetings.

Rev Meshoe enquired how the assessment for office space would be done, and whether this would be done by a committee or individual.

Rev Meshoe was concerned about the escalation costs, pointing out that in some instances, the escalation had been as high as 30%, far above market rates. Again, he enquired if management would simply pay without checking on it, or attempting to reduce these charges.

Mr George asked how SAPS intended to “fix” escalation costs.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme clarified that the “fixing of escalation costs” meant that DPW should try to negotiate a fixed and market-related escalation clause, when negotiating the renewal of leases. Landlords would often ask for increases at much higher percentages when renegotiating.

Rev Meshoe asked for more details on the renewals, in particular whether DPW would consult with SAPS.

The Chairperson asked if the leases were advertised, or if there were simply one-to-one negotiations

Maj-Gen Mantsi responded that SAPS was not sure what process was followed. SAPS was not part of the process, nor was it told how this was done.

The Chairperson was unhappy with this response. SAPS was a law-enforcement agency, and must be above reproach itself. It had numerous leases. It was therefore in its own interests to ensure that the correct processes were followed in respect of each of those leases. SAPS could not abdicate its responsibilities.

Rev Meshoe said that this proved his point about irresponsible behaviour. SAPS had to find out how the huge escalations occurred for itself, and not merely accept whatever it was told by DPW.

Maj-Gen Mantsi indicated that there were instances where SAPS would not accept escalations that DPW had agreed to. In addition, it had queried the figures given in some instance for the charges per square metre. DPW complained, when SAPS first raised these points, about the delays in the process, but SAPS was insistent that it wanted the information. She confirmed that several meetings had been arranged, but cancelled by DPW, both at national and regional level. There were continuous attempts by SAPS to engage with DPW on issues that affected SAPS.

The Chairperson reiterated her impression that many of the rates per square metre were exorbitant. She stressed that the corrected information was required by the end of the week.

Rev Meshoe noted that in Ekurhuleni there was a lease at R1 200 per metre, for a period of 99 years. He asked why this was agreed to.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that she would have to verify this. The longer leases usually applied to the high-sites, for technical equipment, which were privately owned. DPW had been requested to ensure that high sites be found that were state-owned, or servitudes registered.

Rev Meshoe asked why payments were apparently being made for office space in the first place that was not being used. He pointed out that if the Committee had not called for investigations, it was likely that this situation would have continued for years, and this reflected poorly on management.

Ms Kohler-Barnard also asked why the management team was not aware of what buildings were leased for SAPS. She would have thought an annual audit would have been basic business practice. She enquired who was supposed to be running the asset register, and described it as “shocking” that there was no clear information on this.

Mr George asked if any action was taken against people responsible for leases where buildings were not used, and pointed out that public funds were involved.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) enquired whether, in the process of accounting to the Auditor-General, SAPS had made any declarations in regard to what surely must be fruitless expenditure, as defined by the Public Finance Management Act. If not, then he asked when and how the instances cited in this presentation would be conveyed, how it would be quantified and exactly how much had been overspent on premises that SAPS did not occupy. He was also concerned about the role of management, saying that he would have expected a person would have been allocated to deal specifically with assets and accommodation. He pointed out that this problem related both to national and provincial structures. He asked what the response of management would now be to address the problem.

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) asked if anything had been done to recover costs paid in these instances.

Mr Ramatlakane asked if there were no service level agreements, at the very least, providing for reparation in the case of breach.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that service level agreements were signed only for police stations devolved to SAPS.

Mr Ramatlakane asked about the role of management, saying that surely somebody should have been allocated to deal with assets and accommodation. There was a huge structure and management, across all provinces, and he wondered what the consequences would be for provincial and national structures. He stressed that state resources should be properly used, for efficiency and quality of services. If payment was made incorrectly, there was a problem and he wanted to know what management would do in response. He also asked if there were not Service Level Agreements, providing for reparation in the event of breach. He too felt that it was shameful that police could be evicted from their premises for non-payment. He also thought that the DPW should be called in.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme said that an audit of all buildings occupied by SAPS had been undertaken during visits to the provinces. It was during that audit that the four premises were discovered that, although listed by DPW as SAPS-occupied, were in fact not so occupied. Nothing had been paid, and there was not in fact any fruitless expenditure in relation to those premises. In Themba, nothing had been paid for the park homes, but only for the land being leased.

The Chairperson said that the wording used in the presentation was confusing. She asked for confirmation that no lease costs had been paid in respect of these four premises, and also enquired if SAPS held copies of lease agreements.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme noted that SAPS did not have copies of all the lease agreements, as these were kept with DPW. Letters of confirmation tended to be issued instead. As a result of recent changes, SAPS was now checking the list of buildings provided by DPW, on a monthly basis, and as soon as these four buildings were listed, enquiries were made, the buildings were removed from the list and no payments had been made.

Mr George and Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the confusion had arisen through the use of the words “payment stopped”.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme confirmed this meant that no payments were approved and made, as SAPS realised that it was not occupying the premises. This applied to the office blocks and to the Themba park homes.

Maj-Gen M Mantsi, Head: Immovable Asset Management, SAPS, clarified that the payment was “stopped” in the sense that it was not allowed to happen, and it was not a cessation of payments made in the past. She reiterated that reconciliations were now constantly done, and the processes would indicate what premises, and how much space, was being utilised.

Ms Kohler-Barnard also expressed her concerns about the living quarters, many of which the Committee had noted were in slum condition, with no running water or toilet in most rooms, one broken toilet for a whole block, water running down the corridors, and vermin. She had heard that DPW had decided to upgrade some, and had given SAPS members notice to leave, but pointed out that no accommodation was provided, and SAPS members could surely not be expected to find their own accommodation in informal settlements or other places where their lives could be endangered.

Mr George agreed with this comment and urged that SAPS should attend to building quarters.

Mr Ramatlakane pointed out that the visit to Winburg barracks had shown dreadful living conditions, as outlined in the Committee’s report, and he wondered if anything had been done to correct this, and who was responsible for the maintenance, DPW or the owner of the buildings.

Ms P Mocumi (ANC) requested a breakdown of the leases by region, and called for an indication of who was responsible for maintenance of barracks in each region, whether they were owned or leased by SAPS. She agreed that there were several ablution blocks and barracks in appalling condition.

Mr Lekgetho agreed that generally, living quarters that the Committee had visited were in a poor state. He asked whether there was nobody in Mpumalanga who required living quarters.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme noted that there were several media reports about the state of the living quarters. She indicated that residents in barracks would be given three months notice of renovations and were advised to find alternative accommodation until the renovations were completed. SAPS and DPW did not have alternative accommodation to offer, and an option for the future might be for SAPS or DPW to build or lease another “spare” barracks. Pretoria SAPS members had been given notice in October to vacate at the end of January, and the renovations were starting. They were expected to take nine months. Maintenance was the responsibility of the landlord, whilst SAPS was responsible only for consumables, such as replacement of light-bulbs. Maintenance problems would be reported to DPW, who would ask the owner to do repairs.

The Chairperson asked if, in practice, the landlords were dealing with repairs. Most police stations visited by the Committee, in particular the barracks, were not being maintained at all. Honeydew was a prime example. Here, the station had told the Committee that if an extra park home was brought in, more rental was added. SAPS was in practice maintaining the building, because the landlord was not doing so. There was far too much confusion about responsibilities, and too little attention was paid to ensuring that people kept to their responsibilities.

Maj-Gen Mantsi agreed that some buildings were in a poor state. This had been taken up with the DPW, but DPW would not allow SAPS to communicate directly with the landlords. The Divisional Commissioner had threatened to stop payments until the maintenance was done, but it was not known how far DPW had gone in negotiating with the landlord. The two-year leases with non-BEE compliant landlords were problematic, as these landlords were not prepared to do maintenance.

Rev Meshoe noted that SAPS had said that SAPS had the responsibility to do maintenance at Honeydew. He asked for a copy of the lease for that police station, to check the position.

The Chairperson added that if SAPS was paying for something that was not being provided by the landlord, then there was insufficient control over the contract. She understood the challenges if SAPS was not able to approach the landlord directly, but said that on the other side of the coin, the landlord would evict SAPS if it did not pay. She asked why DPW bothered to include clauses on maintenance if it was not being done.

Mr George commented that SAPS, who was paying the lease cost, must surely be entitled to deal directly with the landlord, and believed that this exclusion was prejudicing SAPS.

Maj-Gen Mantsi added that SAPS should not in fact do anything to increase the value of a property that it did not own. SAPS had asked to be included in lease negotiations, but DPW had said that since it bore the responsibility of providing negotiations, it would prefer that there be only two parties, landlord and DPW, involved in discussions. She added that there had been difficulties in getting DPW to meetings. Only a be investing anything in a property it did not own, to increase its value. During a meeting with DWP, SAPS had asked that it be included in the negotiations, but DPW did not wish to enter into tripartite discussions, given the responsibility of DPW to provide accommodation. She also confirmed that it was sometimes difficult to arrange meetings with DPW.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked why SAPS had failed to provide DPW with the immovable asset plan, with the result that month-to-month leases occurred, and who was being held to account. She wondered who had decided not to renew some leases. DPW could not possibly build more than a few buildings a year and better plans were needed.

Mr George said that although the lease process had been clearly set out in the presentation, it seemed that this process was not being followed, as illustrated by the problems in the previous year.

Mr Ramatlakane expressed his reservations as to SAPS apparently taking occupation on the basis of a letter of confirmation. This was not the same as a lease agreement, and this was one of the reasons that SAPS did not appear to know all the details. He questioned how it could only be discovered, after the fact, that a landlord may not be BEE-compliant. He wondered what the status of the letter of confirmation was, and said it was worth little if it did not offer protection to SAPS.

Rev Meshoe said that this also referred back to his question of whether SAPS was provided with copies of any correspondence.

Maj-Gen Mantsi confirmed again that SAPS battled to get information from DPW. Some correspondence had been received but others not. The Head Office of DPW claimed that the information was with its regional office, and SAPS was dealing with all offices to try to get that information.

Mr Ndlovu thought that was indicative of a major problem between the two departments, and this would persist as long as no Memorandum of Understanding dealt with the issues. The DPW seemed to be treating SAPS almost as one of its subsidiaries, but it must be remembered that SAPS was the department paying. He was not sure how this could be solved, and it seemed that it was escalating. He could not understand how SAPS could proceed on the basis of a confirmation letter alone.

Ms P Mocumi (ANC) was sure that there had been evictions in previous years, and enquired what the reasons for those had been, and why nothing had been done to ensure that the situation did not recur. She asked what SAPS did when it realised that money deposited into the account of DPW was not paid and that DPW was not fulfilling its responsibilities.

Mr Lekgetho noted that when the Committee was in Limpopo, it had visited Manguang police station, who were doing a good job in processing the new firearms licence applications and renewals, taking about a week to deal with these, but the national office was apparently taking about eight months to deal with these from its side. It had been suggested that the national office must be strengthened to deal with these applications.

The Chairperson said that responses to this could be given at another meeting.

Mr D Stibbe (DA) asked for more details on the station at Tzaneen, including the current annual cost of the lease, the estimated cost of the new building, and the yearly lease pay-back once the building was completed.

Every Member of the Committee expressed serious concerns about the evictions, which reflected very poorly on SAPS.

Mr George asked whether communication was a problem between SAPS and DPW, commenting that it was unfortunate that DPW was not present to respond. He would have expected DPW at least to warn SAPS of pending problems, and not wait until evictions occurred. He asked who was responsible for ensuring that DPW did actually pay over the money paid to it by SAPS, and who was responsible for renewal of leases.

Mr Ndlovu also enquired whether DPW or SAPS was supposed to attend to renewal. He also queried how, with renewals, there could be difficulties about the time period, and asked if any action had been taken against individuals who might have contributed to the problems. He thought that most of the evictions and non-payments arose out of lack of understanding of the agreements. He wondered if the full extent of the problem had been disclosed.
 
The Chairperson asked about the role of provinces in the leasing process, particularly the Provincial Commissioners’ offices, who had supply chain units themselves. She wondered why they had not been able to establish whether the rental was indeed being paid over, prior to the evictions. She also enquired as to the budget implications were of the evictions, and what happened to the money already paid, saying that SAPS was not reporting rollovers. She wanted to know at what stage the occupiers would be informed of the evictions and by whom.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme said that the provincial commissioners would inform Head Office of the need for office accommodation, that the demand section would then look at the needs analysis, and that would be submitted to DPW. Once this was done, the process was effectively taken over by DPW, who would then determine the size of building and arrange the leases. She pointed out that there were leases expiring through the year. In respect of leases that were to expire within the next six months, the divisional or provincial commissioner of the area should be asked for comment whether there was a need to extend the lease. However the commissioners were not in a position to know whether the lease costs had been paid, and would not know, in advance, of the cut-off of services or lock-outs.

Rev Meshoe asked when proof of payment would generally be received, to enable SAPS to ascertain if the money paid was properly used.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme said that previously, DPW would submit a report on all leases on a quarterly basis. However, in the previous year this had been amended so this report was now sent monthly. When it was received, SAPS would reconcile it against its own records, and query as necessary. If it turned out that SAPS had overpaid, it would deduct the overpayment in the following month. She noted that there had been some discrepancies now found.

The Chairperson asked what processes had been followed in relation to the leases presented upon today, whether these had followed the standard process, or something different.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya said that SAPS did not sign any agreements; DPW was the party who signed the agreements, and she could not answer this question.

The Chairperson raised a query as to whether SAPS was satisfied that the rental was market related. She read out, from a summary provided to her, a number of figures in relation to different buildings in different provinces, noting that in East London, rentals of R152 per square metre, and also of R292 were paid. In King Williamstown, R399 per square metre was charged, but in Jeffreys Bay only R123 and R165 per square metre. In Uitenhage, one building was leased at R748 per square metre In Kempton Park some costs were R1625 were reflected per square metre, yet in another building in that area, at R136 per square metre. She also asked who was paying for the accommodation of the Metro Police in Ekurhuleni, where over R1 200 was being paid per square metre. In a rural area, R428 per square metre was being paid to Eskom Enterprises. There was a huge discrepancy in the amounts being paid, and she doubted whether, in some of those instances, proper processes of procurement had been followed and lowest bids had been accepted.
She also wanted to know if these figures were correct.

Gen Mgwenya said that she would try, when giving her responses, not to shift blame to DPW or people who were part of management in the past. She noted that the information read out by the Chairperson had been taken from figures provided by DPW, who was the custodian of the leases. She was not able to confirm that the information was correct.

The Chairperson questioned this response, asking why the figures could not be verified. The money paid came from the budget of SAPS, and the payments must surely be verified prior to being made.

Gen Mofomme explained that these figures came from the information management system of DPW. SAPS would pay, on a monthly basis, against the invoices received, but SAPS itself had not checked all these figures in relation to the leases.

The Chairperson asked she was suggesting that SAPS did not have independent information on the leases, that it could retrieve and compare to the DPW lists.

Mr Ndlovu made the point that some sort of reconciliation system should surely be in place.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya clarified that there was a process of reconciliation and verification that was ongoing. Prior to processing the invoices, there would be verification that SAPS in fact did occupy those premises. She assured Members that there were systems for managing information.

Rev Meshoe asked how long it would take to verify the information in the system, if copies of all leases were held, and if this information could be sent through to the Committee.

The Chairperson, and Mr Lekgetho, asked why SAPS itself had not provided the information, instead of forwarding information from the DPW.

Gen Mgwenya noted that the Committee’s request was only received at about 21h00 the previous evening. SAPS was willing to forward its own figures to the Committee, as well as details on the verification process, and this would be done by 23 February.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that she had been informed that DPW was currently appearing before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, who had discussed whether it would not be appropriate to lay criminal responsibilities against members of DPW for failure to fulfil responsibilities in terms of the PFMA. She thought that much of what had happened with SAPS in the past was indicative of this problem, and she suggested that nobody seemed to know what was going on.

The Chairperson noted this, but stressed that SAPS, as an organisation, could also not be absolved of all responsibility. It was possible that copies of leases could have been obtained, if SAPS had called for them. She pointed out that no audit had been done by SAPS prior to 2010. Those who had failed to follow up properly on matters in the past should be held responsible, as they had been paying out money for leases without bothering to verify the details. At least now SAPS was in a better position to deal with the problems.

The Chairperson also noted that if anyone from the DPW was to be charged, this would have to be done by SAPS. SAPS should surely be super-sensitive as to whether processes were being done within the law.

Gen Mgwenya took note of these comments. She reiterated that whenever SAPS enquired about processes, DPW would state that this process lay with DPW. However, she assured the Committee that if there was any suggestion of corruption SAPS would ensure that criminal steps were followed. 

The Chairperson noted that on a visit to the Head Office in Mpumalanga it was clear that SAPS staff were crowded tightly in premises that were far too small. The Committee had been shown another area, where cabling had apparently been installed already, but where there were disputes as to whether that area was actually included in the lease contract. She asked when the investigations into this would be concluded.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that in Mpumalanga a needs assessment had been done, and accommodation was then provided in line with the requirements. However, after this had been done, additional space became available in the same premises. Because its staff complement had by then risen, Mpumalanga put in another request for more space, and the needs assessment was revised. It then came to light that in addition to the first amount allocated under the first request, another 260 square metres had been included in the first lease, without SAPS’s knowledge. After SAPS raised this with DPW, an addendum to the lease was provided, in November 2011, which had apparently been concluded in March 2011 and for which SAPS had been charged since March. There was no finality on how this had happened, despite SAPS calling for explanations. Cables had been installed by the province when the fact that the space was available was confirmed. However, SAPS, although it was currently paying for the space, had been advised not to occupy it until the matter was sorted out, to avoid ratifying the actions of DPW.

The Chairperson pointed out that if SAPS had been paying, since April 2011, for space that it was not using, this was fruitless expenditure. She asked how the money would be recovered.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that SAPS had indicated that it was only prepared to pay for this space from the date of occupation, under a second properly authorised contract. It would be stopping payment in the meantime, until finalisation of the issues, on the basis that it had not authorised DPW to include that space in the first contract. This was another matter that came to light during the audit process.

The Chairperson asked when the contract matter would be finalised, and whether SAPS would await the finalisation of the criminal process against the official concerned.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that SAPS was discussing, with the Chief Financial Officer, how the matter would proceed.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya promised to provide further feedback on this.

The Chairperson also noted that a businessman in Mpumalanga was prepared to give a donation, and had indicated that this could be renewed annually, for renovation of police stations, yet this offer had not been taken up because approval was apparently required from Head Office. She asked for a status report.

Maj-Gen Mantsi said that approval must be obtained from National Treasury to accept that donation and this took time. The police stations identified for those donations were not devolved, so it was necessary to go through DPW. Her own office had done some assessments, and one police station would require the breaking down of walls, to create the Community Service Centre. Parallel processes would be run whilst awaiting approvals.

The Chairperson asked that definite answers should be obtained from National Treasury. Further information must be provided to the Committee.

The Chairperson enquired if SAPS was willing to take over the leasing function from DPW.

Lieut-Gen Mofomme said SAPS did not want to take over the leasing function, because DPW was the owner of government facilities, and because SAPS lacked this capacity. However, it had proposed that SAPS should take over the direct payment of municipal accounts, and had requested and received confirmation from DPW that this would be piloted in Limpopo. SAPS would then receive the billing directly, and monthly, allowing it to reconcile accounts directly with municipalities, and this should reduce the problems of services being cut for non-payment.

The Chairperson asked if SAPS ever turned down offers to lease state-owned buildings in favour of privately-owned premises.

This question was not answered.

Mr George noted the introductory comment that a meeting would be held on the following day with the regions to debate sick leave. This had been a recurrent problem in SAPS for some time, without being resolved. Another issue that was criticised, year after year, was the state of detective services, where once again promises had been made, but nothing improved. He urged that commitment be given to sorting out these problems.

Mr Ramatlakane also commented that he was pleased that measures were being taken to address sick leave, but asked what specifically had been the findings arising from the figures on sick leave, and what SAPS’s own findings were in relation to those who repeatedly took sick-leave.

Lieut-Gen Mgwenya thanked the Committee for its oversight and guidance, which assisted SAPS to improve its services. She assured Members that SAPS would continue to evaluate its processes and systems continuously, to ensure that leases were being managed and where investigations were needed, this would be done, as SAPS was striving for continuous improvement.

The Chairperson thanked the delegation. When this Committee had met with SAPS in 2010, SAPS had indicated that the position on the leases was not known. At least SAPS now had a better idea of its lease arrangements, and she hoped that still further improvements would be seen when this was next discussed. The Committee wanted to see the number of leases being reduced as the lease charges could profitably be used elsewhere. She stressed that SAPS should try to purchase, particularly when leases were not under SAPS’s direct control.

The meeting was adjourned.