Senior management of the South African Police Service explained to Members how the appointment of the new head of internal audit had been conducted. There had been accusations of personal bias in the selection panel process. While members of a panel should declare a relationship with any candidate, there was no requirement for such panellists to recuse themselves. While scores were compiled on candidates based on a number of written and practical assessments, the final appointment might not necessarily go to the candidate with the highest score.
The Provincial Commissioner of the Western Cape listed the appointments made since his appointment by race and gender. Members had received many complaints of promotions being made without following equity principles. At the same time, persons promoted into senior positions must have the skills to do the job. An in-depth discussion was needed on promotions within the South African Police Service as there seemed to be much resentment.
The Auditor General monitored police spending by a programme of planned and surprise visits to police stations and units. Control was improving compared to previous years, but there were still problems with control of supporting documents. There were also instances where incidents and occurrences reported to the police were not being captured on the CAS system. The Auditor General also looked at tenders. Only ten tenders had been awarded in the current financial year, none of them for building construction and maintenance.
Members were amazed to be told that full records were kept for lease payments as there had been some confusion over this issue at previous briefings. Unofficial funds were being maintained particularly at training units which were not reported.
The Institute for Security Studies had developed the Crime and Justice Hub as a tool to analyse the instances of crime throughout the country. While there had been a decrease in most categories of crime, more should still be done. The number of South African Police Service members was declining after peaking in recent years, but increased numbers of policemen did not necessarily increase the quality of police work.
Members asked if there was any correlation between effective management and success in crime-fighting. Members also felt that more resources should be employed in the training and mentoring of detectives as this branch had been neglected recently.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union called for the establishment of a Police Academy. They were concerned with the structure of the South African Police Service. Top management at national and provincial level was bloated and more resources should be channelled to the stations. Trainers were often inexperienced. Housing and the maintenance of working and living quarters were being neglected. The union called for all police and private security companies to be brought under a single command structure.
The South African Police Union called for equal treatment for both junior and senior members in the event of disciplinary action and criminal proceedings. As many police members were not found to be competent to handle firearms, policemen should also be issued with non-lethal weapons. The detective service needed to be supported. Action was needed against corruption within the ranks of the police. Government did not seem to care for police members given the state of housing and office accommodation. The medical aid situation needed major reform.
Members raised questions over the promotion policy. In some cases, deceased and retired members had been included into the re-established ranks of Lieutenant and Major. The possibility of creating villages or suburbs for police members was raised. Members suggested that a form of management training be included at all levels of training.
The Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre noted that although there was a decrease in the overall number of sexual offences, there was an increase in the number of race cases. The number of women being murdered also increased despite a general downward tendency. The Centre felt that the statistics were misleading. The majority of reported offences did not result in charges being brought. The conviction rate for sexual offence cases was very low. Very few police officers were trained in the legal aspects of sexual offences and domestic violence. More support was needed for the forensic services and for counselling both of victims and officers dealing with often traumatic cases. While some victim empowerment centres were being run well, others were being abused.
The Civil Society Prison Reform Initiative had not seen any mention of human rights in the budget. There were many violent interactions between the Police and the public. Detective services needed to be boosted to investigate cases of torture. South Africa was a signatory to the United Nations convention on torture, and this body was looking forward to the introduction of South Africa's Combating of Torture Bill.
Members were pleased that their interpretations of the statistics was shared with another body. They suggested that the public be educated on the consequences of the withdrawal of charges in sexual offences and domestic violence cases. Often victims did not so much want to press charges as to be given a chance to air their stories and obtain mediation. The attitude of the Police was questioned, and Members felt the need for more emphasis to be placed on this category of crime during training. It seemed current training did not leave a lasting impression on Police members.
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