SAPS Budget Briefing

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08 May 2002
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

8 May 2002

Documents handed out
Budget Estimates (document awaited)
Strategic Plan

Chairperson: Mr M George

The Committee paid tribute to the late Minister Steve Tshwete who had masterfully steered SAPS to greater levels of performance which decreased crime levels in the country substantially.

The Committee lauded SAPS management for lowering crime levels despite the limited resources at their disposal.

Tribute to Minister Steve Tshwete
The Chair said that it was the first Committee session since the demise of the late Minister Steve Tshwete. He requested members to observe a moment's silence in the late Minister's honour.

The Chair said that the death of the Minister was a big loss to the Committee. He asked representatives of parties who wished to say something in this regard to do so.

Mr Clelland speaking for the DA said that his party had already sent a personal message of condolences to the family of the late Tshwete and to the ANC for this understandably tragic loss. The late Minister was not only a political leader but also a hard core criminal fighter. The late Minister had managed to instil high levels of morale and transformation in the SAPS.

Mr Ferreira spoke for the IFP stating that the late Minister would be particularly missed for having a lasting effect on the officers throughout the ranks to the very junior one in the force.

Mr Gaum delivered the NNP's message in Afrikaans.

Mr Meshoe spoke for the ACDP. He said that the late Minister had proven to be the right man for this daunting job, which he carried out with unquestionable distinction.

Mr Pheko said PAC joined other leaders in mourning the death of a dedicated servant who had left the country at the time when the country was getting rid of crime. He added that the late Minister had indeed shown that the country could get out of the debilitating crime situation. He expressed his condolences to the family of the late Minister.

Mr Dyani for ANC said the late Minister's death was a huge loss to the party, parliament and the country. The party had lost a great leader who was not only inspirational but also a dynamic grassroots player. However, it was important to look to the future and he welcomed the new Minister whom he said had the requisite capacity to pick up and continue from where the late Tshwete had left.

Commissioner Selebi said that over 100,000 SAPS members felt lost without the guidance of a father figure, who was so close and caring. SAPS had lost the very strong and determined support they had in the late Minister. He added that the late Minister was a larger than life team leader who had set a sound foundation to achieve national safety goals.

The Commissioner continued that the late Minister's memory has been crowned by the considerable reduction in the crime levels in the country.

The Chair said he had lost a personal friend and team leader. He said he had worked with the late Minister for a very long time and knew him to be a down to earth, reliable personality.

Briefing by Commissioner Selebi
Commissioner Selebi informed the Committee that it was essential for SAPS to provide a service that met the needs of the community while at the same time moved with Government policy.

The Commissioner emphasised that it was crucial that SAPS indicated the strategic direction it intended to take and then linked the proposed expenditure of funds in this strategic direction. He assured the Committee that SAPS had extensively interacted with other key departments in the development of its Strategic Plan.

The Strategic Plan did not involve a major change in the direction for SAPS but was an extension of the SAPS Strategic Focus 2000/2003. This was within the guidelines set by the PFMA.

The Commission concluded his opening remarks by stating that the Plan would require the unwavering commitment from all members of SAPS as proper implementation was crucial to the success of any planning process.

Briefing by Commissioner Andrea Pruis
Commissioner Pruis informed the Committee that a National Security Policy (NSP) was developed in order for SAPS to fulfil its mandate as described by the Constitution. The policy was aimed at integrating crime prevention and crime combating activities with social-economic upliftment.

Commissioner Pruis said that the NSP was being co-ordinated by the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster. The main objective of the JCPS was to focus their endeavours and resources jointly in addressing the incidence of crime, public disorder, inefficiency in the justice system, and all aspects of society that impact negatively on development.

Linked to NSP, SAPS had developed key strategic priorities to address the high levels of crime and violence. The Department had set four key operational priorities for the medium term and that the first of these was to combat organised crime focusing on crime related to drugs, fire-arms trafficking, vehicle theft and hijacking, corrupt officials and organised commercial crimes.

The second priority area revolved around South Africa's unacceptably high levels of serious and violent crimes. The Department had developed strategies to counter the proliferation of firearms, improve safety and security in high crime areas, combat specific crime generators such as taxi and gang violence, and faction fighting and maintenance of security at major public events.

The third priority focused on developing strategies to reduce the incidence of crime against women and children, whilst improving the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. The last priority in this strategy was to improve service delivery at local level.

The Department also identified two key organisational priorities for the medium term. The first priority was budget and resource management, which focused on optimising the balance between personal and operational expenditure as well as optimising the application of physical resources.

The second priority area was human resource management that would focus on various items foremost being optimising the utilisation of personnel and developing and implementing policies concerning human resourcea.

Commissioner Pruis assured the Committee that all crimes had stabilised and they were on a downward trend. He pointed out that cell-phone robbery contributed greatly to the theft percentage.

Sector policing would have great impact on crime reduction levels noting that only a few crime areas create the wrong perception on the general levels of crime in the country.

The Commissioner revealed that murder had decreased by 34.19% and that it had shown signs of decreasing further. He added that the crime of assault and common assault was going down as well. Alcohol and drug abuse significantly contributed to the upward surge of crime levels.

Commissioner Selebi cautioned that it was expected that the incidence of burglary and house breaking would rise as the world cup event approached. The theft of decoders and television sets would increase to supply the expected high demand for these items during this period.

Commissioner Pruis concluded by noting that the Strategic Plan (2002-2005) provided the direction, content and framework for the Department's Medium-Term Expenditure Framework. The Plan indicated the Department's priorities and strategies in terms of which funds were allocated and directed for the purpose of addressing crime more effectively and improving service delivery.

He pointed out that the Plan ensured alignment of the organisation and its members in support of strategic priorities and core functions of SAPS. The Commissioner informed the Committee that the Plan indicated the involvement of key role players in other departments and society to combat crime and a linkage to relevant departments and society to ensure an integrated multi-disciplinary approach with a view to long-term socio-economic growth and development.

Mr Clelland (DA) commended the Commissioner and his team for work well done. He said though the levels of crime in the country were still unacceptably high, it was important to register the appreciation for the achievement that SAPS had made so far.

Mr Clelland noted however, that the Department seemed to lack mechanisms to effectively communicate the crime situation to the public. He added that though levels of crime had gone down significantly, the general public did not share this view.

He said that his party supported the budget fully because it recognised the fact that SAPS needed every available resource to combat the crime in the country.

Mr Pheko (PAC) asked for a clarification on the issue of SAPS hiring computer services.

Commissioner Elloff replied that there was no hiring of computer services. He clarified that the SAPS run a computer programme in conjunction with SITA but that it was merely a partnership programme not one for hire.

Mr Vadi (ANC) said that SAPS genuinely deserve commendation for the effort they had put into the difficult task of fighting crime. He observed that it was good to see a substantial increase in the number of personnel, which he said was a positive development for safety and security. He asked if SAPS were replacing their fleet of vehicles or new ones were being added.

Commissioner Schutte replied that SAPS purchased a huge fleet of vehicles recently hence the fleet was renewed each year.

Mr Naidoo (UDM) lauded SAPS for the commendable job they had done in bringing the crime levels down. What role, if any did the police play in the withdrawal of cases from courts - a development which was rampant and most worrisome.

Commissioner Pruis said that the issue of withdrawal of cases concerned SAPS as well. There have been several meetings with the Justice Department and the office of the Public Prosecutor to determine what exactly was the cause of the problem

Mr Zondo (ANC) also commended SAPS performance. Communities were visibly upbeat about the war against crime and that went for the good policing mechanism that had been put in place. Did SAPS receive any funding from donors and if so why was this not reflected anywhere in the budget?

Commissioner Elloff said that SAPS received donor funding especially capital donations like motor vehicles. He said that the donations had not been reflected in the budget but the particulars could be made available to the Committee.

The Chair asked if donor funds were accounted for?

Commissioner Elloff replied in the affirmative. The auditor-General was always involved where such funds are concerned.

Commissioner Schutte stated that donor funds were not reflected in the budget because the funds were not included in the national expenditure.

The Chair said that the Auditor-General always raised these issues and it was expedient for the Committee to be fully briefed in advance.

Mr Booi (ANC) noted that crime levels had significantly decreased since the democratic elections in 1994 which was directly attributable to the SAPS good management. Was enlistment of personnel done on the basis of the needs of the people? He asked the Commissioner to state his position on the rumours doing the rounds that former officers were bring re-enlisted in the force.

Commissioner Selebi replied that it was true that there was such a plan to re-enlist former officers but that he personally intervened to put a stop to it. He explained that the reason he did this was because most of the former officers were applying for senior positions which were not currently a priority area for SAPS.

The Commissioner said that SAPS was in need of foot soldiers and therefore enlistment would only concentrate on those enrolling for entry point requirements. Another reason for putting a stop to the process was the issue of training cost. There was no reason to retrain officers who would only saturate ranks that were well supplied while there was an acute need in other areas.

Mr Maziya (ANC) asked what SAPS planned for the land and buildings it owned some of which were unoccupied.

Commissioner Elloff replied that the properties in question belonged to the Department of Public Works and not SAPS. SAPS only managed the properties on behalf of the Department. He said that where property belonged to SAPS funds were normally made available to renovate dilapidated buildings.

Mr Maziya (ANC) asked if police reservists were paid a motivational fee or stipend for their service to the public.

Commissioner Pruis said that a reservist's work is highly valued by the police but that it remained essentially voluntary. He, however, pointed out that whenever reservists were off duty and SAPS called them up, they might be paid for the cost they might have incurred in pursuance of such an operation. He added that reservists are also paid for expenses whenever they attend court.

Mr Kgauwe (ANC) asked the SAPS to confirm or deny the rumour that about 7000 SANDF members were to be demobilised and co-opted into SAPS.

The Chair said that it was not a rumour but that he had heard it from the Minister of Defence himself. He said that when he asked why this was so, the Minister replied that it was because the SANDF members were much older and that they wanted to replace them with younger people.

Commissioner Selebi confirmed that it was true there are on-going negotiations to co-opt 7000 SANDF members but denied the allegation that the reason they were being demobilised was due to old age.

The Commissioner said that the reason for wanting to co-opt the SANDF members was to release SAPS personnel from static duties like guiding airports, the Union Building and other important installations. Such static duties would be taken over by the 7000 SANDF members who would be co-opted while the police personnel would be released to police in the communities where their services were most needed.

The Commissioner clarified that those to be co-opted must, however, meet the basic entry requirement. He said, for instance, those with criminal record would not be co-opted.

The Chair noted that the area of capital works had been a real problem in the SAPS. He asked if SAPS capital works was a successful programme.

Commissioner Selebi pointed out that the allocation for capital works was far from adequate. He said that there was need for more money to develop houses for officers especially the single hostels, which were not appropriate living conditions for officers in these modern times. He added that such manner of living made police look like they were not members of the community, which they served.

Mr Botha (DP) said that whenever the Committee visited the Provinces, there were complaints about shortages of service vehicles. Most vehicles sent to the provinces were unable to navigate the hard terrain in these areas. He asked for the Commissioner's take on these twin issues.

The Chair concurred with Mr Botha that lack of transport or inappropriate transport had been a big problem whenever the Committee visited provinces. He said that when asked why they had acquired unsuitable vehicles the province always shifted the blame to the national office. Could areas of responsibility be clarified?

Commissioner Selebi admitted that transport had been a problem in some areas but he pointed out that most provinces had extra vehicles only that misuse was a big problem. He said he was appalled to see the number of damaged vehicles in the Eastern Cape.

He denied the allegation by provinces that the National office was responsible for the specifications of the kind of vehicles to be purchased. The contrary, he said, was the truth and that was that the provinces were asked to send orders to the National office for the kind of vehicle they required. He explained further that once the National office received the orders from the province money was allocated accordingly.

The Commissioner lamented that the Department spent a total of R40 million on panel beating to damaged vehicles and that Gauteng alone spent R5 million to this effect. He said that his office had held many meetings with Provincial Commissioners and that measures had been put in place to reprimand reckless officers.


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