Independent Police Investigative Directorate: Domestic Violence Act Report 2010

NCOP Women, Children and People with Disabilities

20 June 2012
Chairperson: Ms P Mabe (Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) presented a report on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, covering the period January to December 2010. It was explained that this report had been compiled by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) (the forerunner to IPID), and the final report from ICD on compliance with the Domestic Violence Act would be given shortly, covering the period January 2011 to March 2012. From 1 April 2012 this function had been transferred to the Police Secretariat. It was explained that in addition to the ICD producing six-monthly reports for Parliament, the South African Police Service (SAPS) was also supposed to present its own six-monthly reports on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA).

Section 18 of the DVA stated that failure by a member of the SAPS to comply with an obligation imposed in terms of the DVA or a national instruction would be regarded as misconduct. Any such failure on the part of any police officer should be reported to the ICD, and must comply with the ICD’s recommendations (usually to institute disciplinary proceedings) in respect of this failure to comply. The various types of non-compliance were listed, which included failure to have the Act available at all times at all police stations, failure to dispatch a police vehicle to a scene of domestic violence, failure to arrest an abuser or inform victims of their options and establish whether they were safe. Statistics were given of the number of instances of non-compliance, with a breakdown by province. The presenters explained that the information about non-compliance should come from SAPS itself, but in practice this rarely happened, and instead it sourced the information from direct complaints by members of the public, as well as the station audits that it conducted. Details were given of the matters investigated by ICD during 2010, as well as how the ICD conducted the station audits. From January to June, it had conducted 177 audits and only 12 stations were fully compliant, whereas from July to December only 14 stations of the 132 audited were fully compliant. ICD had found widespread failure to apply to exemptions, a general lack of understanding of the obligations cast by the DVA, poor record-keeping, failure to have the DVA and national instructions readily available, and failure to file copies of protection orders and warrants of arrests. ICD had conducted 290 awareness campaigns and 17 workshops in this period. The major challenges were isolated as lack of commitment from management, especially to take disciplinary steps when matters were reported, and substantial delays if action was taken. There was still lack of understanding of the DVA and the obligations it imposed, and there was a general culture of silence and failure to report domestic violence matters.

Members expressed their dismay at the constant referral to lack of understanding of the Act, and asked what Parliament could do to address this. One Member suggested that the Committee must raise the issues with the Minister of Police. They were also concerned that, despite its workshops, there was a lack of visibility and understanding of the ICD. Members asked how they should deal with complaints from constituents, to whom they should be referred, and whether MPs could and should contact station commanders directly. The Chairperson asked if there was a need to have a specialised unit focusing on domestic violence, but the IPID stressed that every single SAPS member should know and be able to implement the Act.

Meeting report

Independent Police Investigative Directorate: Domestic Violence Act Report 2010
The Chairperson asked the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to explain, when it gave the presentation, how often it updated its information, and when the latest report would be available.

Mr Francois Beukman, Executive Director, IPID, explained that the IPID was created on 1 April 2012. IPID, which had grown from the former Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) would not be dealing with the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) after that date, as this function had been transferred now to the Police Secretariat (the Secretariat). This report, compiled by the ICD, covered the two periods January to June 2010 and July to December 2010. The period from January 2011 to end March 2012 would be covered in the next report, which would be given later in this year. He also explained that the IPID was focusing now on crimes committed by members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), deaths in custody, or as a result of police action, with a particular focus on rape and torture, so it still would be dealing with human rights issues. The Secretariat would be taking over all monitoring of the implementation of the DVA, as well as dealing with other business. He added that in addition to this, the SAPS were obliged to submit six-monthly reports to Parliament on DVA matters.

Mr Matthews Sesoko, Chief Director: Investigations, IPID, indicated that section 18 of the DVA stated that failure by a member of the SAPS to comply with an obligation imposed in terms of the DVA or a national instruction would be regarded as misconduct. For the period under review, there was an obligation to inform the ICD of any such failure recorded by SAPS. Unless the ICD directed otherwise, the SAPS must institute disciplinary proceedings against a SAPS member who failed to comply with the prescripts of the DVA. Every six months, ICD must also submit a report to Parliament on the numbers and particulars of matters, and the recommendations made. He also reiterated that the National Commission of SAPS must, every six months, submit a report to Parliament regarding the steps taken, following recommendations by ICD.

The types of non compliance were listed (see attached document), and this included matters such as failure to dispatch a police vehicle to a scene of domestic violence, failure to arrest an abuser, failure to locate victims and establish whether they were safe, failure to establish whether a person in possession of a firearm had a valid licence for it, failure to inform victims of their options, how to access counselling and how and where to obtain a protection order. There were several sections in the DVA setting out obligations on the part of SAPS.

The ICD would refer non-compliance for investigation to SPAS, and ask it to take disciplinary action. ICD also conducted DVA audits to look at the level of compliance with the Act. It would process applications for exemptions, conduct awareness campaigns, and conduct workshops with SAPS members, where requested to do so, or where a need was isolated.

Mr Sesoko tabled the statistics of the national DVA intake, showing the variations also across the provinces. The highest intake of matters was Western Cape, with 23% of cases. From January to December 2010 there were 113 matters. He also noted the types of non-compliance, listing, for each, the numbers of cases. The most common instances were failure to arrest the transgressor, and to issue a notice against the alleged transgressor to appear in court.

Mr Sesoko explained that the applications for exemption from instituting disciplinary action against SAPS members who had transgressed were quite low for January to December 2010, at only 21. Slide 13 compared intakes against applications for exemption, and also compared these results to the 2009/10 year. It was important to note that only two applications for exemption were received for January to June 2010  compared to the 54 matters reported for the whole period. The other seven cases related to matters prior to that period.

Mr Israel Kgamanyane, Acting Provincial Head: Free State, IPID, set out the details of the matters in each province. He highlighted how many cases had been closed as unsubstantiated, how many were substantiated, and in how many matters a response was still awaited from SAPS. Full details were given for the periods January to June 2010, and for July to December 2010

Mr Kgamanyane then dealt with the matters that ICD would consider when it conducted an audit of stations. ICD had compiled a monitoring tool, which was essentially a list of questions that the ICD must investigate. These included, for instance, whether a copy of the Domestic Violence Act was readily available in the Community Service Centre (CSC), whether there were updated lists of service providers, in each CSC and in all vehicles, whether national instructions were available, whether all reported incidents were recorded in the DVA Register, and whether the responses were recorded on the forms and the Pocket Books of Members. Other questions to be answered included whether the set procedures of the Occurrence Book were maintained, and whether all protection orders were served, with copies filed. Female members were to be assigned on each shift, and a victim friendly care centre was supposed to be readily available. In cases of non-compliance, there must be a record of whether disciplinary proceedings were instituted, whether the SAPS members had applied for exemption, whether recommendations in relation to the disciplinary proceedings were recorded, and whether monthly returns were kept.

A schedule of proactive oversight activities from January to December 2010 was tabled. Up to June 2010, 177 audits were carried out, and 132 were conducted in the following six months. The overall level of compliance in respect of the station audits was then listed. In January to June 2010, 177 station audits were conducted, and 24 stations were listed as non-compliant (having achieved a score of 0% to 49%), 57 were listed as fairly compliant (with a score of 50% to 79%), 84 were regarded as substantially compliant (with an 80% to 99% score), but only 12 were fully compliant, having fulfilled 100% of all prescripts. In the July to December period there were 132 audits. 25 stations were non-compliant, 37 were fairly compliant, 56 were substantially compliant, and 14 stations were fully compliant.

The ICD made certain findings from these audits. It had concluded that, firstly, there was widespread failure to apply for exemption. There was a general lack of understanding of the obligations of the DVA. Record keeping was still of concern, and a breakdown was given of the instances in which record-keeping and form filling remained incomplete. The ICD had repeatedly emphasised the necessity for full completion of all forms properly. The DVA and national instructions were not readily available, contrary to the requirement that whenever a person walked in to a station, the copies must be immediately available to that person. Lists of service providers were not available or updated. Copies of protection orders and warrants of arrest were not filed properly.

ICD had conducted 290 awareness campaigns in the 2010 year, and had also conducted 17 workshops up to June and 16 from July to December. However, not all provinces were covered in each six-monthly period, and Mr Kgamanyane said that where and when workshops were conducted depended on the operational requirements of the Department of Police, requests by SAPS management, as well as the findings from the station audits.

The ICD has isolated five major challenges. Some SAPS management were not taking disciplinary action. SAPS members were not applying for exemptions. The DVA was very clear as to when exemptions were applied for, and the manager, supervisor or commander must give detailed reasons if no disciplinary action was to be taken; the matter could not be ignored. There was general lack of understanding of the DVA by SAPS members. There was still also a culture of silence around domestic violence in the country. Finally, if SAPS members were disciplined, this tended to take far too long.

The Chairperson commented that the ICD had a difficult job. She was concerned about the continuous repetition that there was lack of understanding of the requirements of the DVA, and she asked if there was anything that Parliament could do to try to raise awareness of this act. She also commented that despite visiting a number of police stations, she had never seen any notification or advertising about the existence of the ICD. Although she heard that it conducted awareness campaigns, it was still not generally visible.

She also asked what lines of communication should be followed when DVA complaints were laid by constituents; and whether she should, for instance, approach the station commander, or report them directly to the ICD.

The Chairperson said that it would be useful for similar sessions as this to be held for all MPs, to make them more aware of the work that was being done, and to help them empower their constituents.

Ms A Qikani (ANC, Eastern Cape) said that there were a number of serious challenges, and she was not sure how long it was going to take to address them. She too was concerned that this was too much ignorance about the DVA. Whilst matters such as failing to fill out forms correctly, failure to register complaints and so on may seem technical, they led to further suffering on the part of the victims She wondered if the Minister of Police should be asked to address the Committee.

Mr D Worth (DA, Free State) noted the statistics on page 20, and said that this was only a small sample of police stations. He wondered where they were situated, and whether they were the more remote areas. He also looked forward to receiving updated statistics for the following period.

Mr Beukman reminded Members that because the ICD had ceased to have this function after April, the last two reports, for the full year of 2011, and January to March 2012, would be consolidated. It was very important to see how much priority was being given to domestic violence matters, and the only way in which it would be brought to the fore was if implementation of the DVA was made a part of the strategic targets of organisations (in future, the Police Secretariat). It was also important to include, in SAPS’s own targets, that SAPS management must respond to reports, and that was the reason for ICD’s suggestions for more interaction with SAPS management.

Mr Sesoko commented that the major problem was really in getting a commitment to implementing the DVA properly. ICD had engaged in workshops with SAPS, although this was not actually the function of ICD, because it had been concerned about the low levels of compliance, and was trying to raise this. ICD received reports, or conducted audits, but it must be remembered that SAPS had a duty to report non-compliance with the DVA to the ICD, and there were set time frames and specific requirements about the reporting. Unfortunately, the reporting rarely happened as it should. More often than not, complaints of non-compliance were received from the general public, and the numbers illustrated in the tables did not, in general, reflect the matters that SAPS should have reported to the ICD directly.

Mr Sesoko added that despite the fact that SAPS claimed to have trained its members – and in some cases provincial commissioners even gave lists of who had been trained – it was apparent, on the ground, that most SAPS members still did not know how to implement the DVA. More often than not, a specific person would be assigned, at a station, to deal with domestic violence, and the rest of the SAPS officials would not see that they too had responsibility to familiarise themselves with the Act, and this was one of the main reasons for non-compliance. The ICD wanted to emphasise that DVA implementation was the responsibility of every single member of SAPS.

The Chairperson wondered if a specialised unit focusing on domestic violence would assist, and whether it would be practically possible.

Mr Sesoko said that this was really a policy issue, but he did not think that a specialist unit was needed. The DVA was clear, and SAPS had an obligation to implement that Act. Every SAPS officer, without exception, should know and be able to implement the Act. However, it was vital that there should be full commitment by management. In some forums, the ICD had asked if the DVA implementation was specifically set out in the Performance Agreements, but in most cases that had not been done. He stressed again that SAPS was supposed to report to Parliament, every six months, on the implementation of the Act. ICD had specifically raised with SAPS that when the ICD did a station audit, it compiled and sent reports through to SAPS, and it expected a response to those reports, stating how the challenges outlined would be addressed. Once again, however, there was generally a failure to send through the responses, as seen from the numerous “responses still awaited” notes in the presentation.

Mr Beukman said that since all matters relating to the DVA implementation had now been transferred to the Police Secretariat, it would have to take up and pursue the reports still awaited.

Mr Kgamanyane commented on the issue that the Chairperson raised, since the compliant had emanated from the Free State. He explained that targets were set out in the strategic plan, to hold community awareness campaigns, and during those campaigns, the ICD would explain the mandate, and what was expected of SAPS. Stakeholders were also invited to these sessions. He reminded Members that many of the complaints were received from he community, so that there was some awareness. He told the Chairperson that any person, either a member of the public or an MP, could contact any member of the management at the relevant SAPS station, and although DVA matters now no longer fell under the IPID, it was also possible to report matters to the provincial Police Secretariats.  There was nothing to prevent the Chairperson from phoning the station commander to discuss the matter, and from taking it further.
Mr Kgamanyane responded to Mr Worth that the details of the stations visited, as well as the places where workshops were conducted, were set out in the ICD’s reports to Parliament. On request, copies of these Reports were passed across to Members.

The Chairperson asked from where the information in the ICD Reports was sourced, and whether it was reliable.

Mr Beukman answered that it was certain that there was under-reporting of non-compliance, and under-reporting of domestic violence incidents in general. Again, he stressed that attempting to raise the profile of the Act, and ensuring greater compliance, should be the strategic target of the Secretariat in future.

Mr Sesoko reiterated that most of the information presented came from directly complaints, but some matters were picked up during station audits that showed reports by members of the public. ICD would assess what action had been taken, and whether all the necessary information was captured. The reason why all the requirements were put in place by the legislature in the first place was to ensure that victims could immediately be able to get action on a protection order.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee had recently visited the Eastern Cape, and had visited one small police station, where the station commander was not even able to answer questions about his own staff component (of about 20 people), the areas that he was supposed to cover, let alone anything about domestic violence. She commented that there was still a dire lack of services to those in rural areas.

The meeting was adjourned.


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