The South African Police Service (SAPS) explained that after the UN Security Council identified those who had committed, attempted to commit, or facilitated terrorist and related activity, its Member states had to take actions aimed at combating those activities. In South Africa, the UN listing, particularly for Taliban and Al Qaida supporters would be published in the Government Gazette and must be approved by Parliament. Details of the activities of the listed individuals were provided to the Committee, and were also on the UN website. The Committee resolved to endorse the proclamations.
The SAPS and Civilian Secretariat for Police then gave presentations on gangsterism in the Western Cape. They outlined the multiplicity of economic, social and environmental factors that gave rise to gangsterism and its concentration in the Cape Flats. They also described the changing gang environment, the move to more sophisticated crime, the links with drugs and firearms, the links with the trio crimes, the increasing prevalence of foreign gangs, and the shift to other areas, specifically the townships, more rural towns and coastline towns. Gangs were defined in the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA), but there were different types of gangs in different areas, whilst prison gangs were now extending their reach to communities. Catalysts for gang violence included territorial domination, manipulation by prominent gang leaders, and retaliatory attacks against other members. SAPS outlined its eight pillars to combat gangsterism, which addressed weakening capacity of gangs, including prison gangs, drug markets and the criminal economy, addressing organized crime, mobilising communities, visible policing, and eliminating corruption in SAPS officials. Proactive and reactive strategies were adopted, and there was engagement with other sectors. The Civilian Secretariat emphasised that the differences in organisation and structure between South African and overseas gangs required different approaches. The Secretariat stressed that this problem did not reside with SAPS alone, but had to be tackled holistically within government, and the solution might even require economic interventions. A cooperative approach was needed from government, and community buy-in was essential.
Several Members were critical of the presentations, which they thought offered little new, and which would not lead to eradication of gangsterism. One Member asked if there was really the will and commitment, at top levels, to address the problem. Others questioned the degree to which the factors cited really contributed, and said that the specific issues in South Africa were not yet understood. SAPS responded that its presentation had, of necessity, not included any operational details and it may be that a separate, in camera presentation might be needed. Members asked if POCA was sufficient to deal with gangs. SAPS and the Civilian Secretariat were asked to compile suggestions as to whether POCA must be amended to improve its reach. Members wanted to know more about the approach at and by schools, involvement of community informers, and questioned if the broad principles outlined were sufficient to address the problem. Several cited the insufficiency of crime intelligence, asked what was being done to address this and questioned also whether additional capacity was being deployed. They asked how many gang bosses had been arrested, prosecuted and convicted, and SAPS had to provide this in writing. Members urged that any corrupt SAPS officials must not only be dismissed but also criminally charged. A DA Member questioned why specialised units were not in place, but the Secretariat responded that the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation served as a specialised unit. The “standing” of some kingpins within their own communities was discussed, and the Secretariat conceded that there was a need to address this at local government level as well. Members also asked about the failed 2011 gangster peace accord, compliance of station commanders with drug and firearms destruction orders, whether raids were intelligence driven, the actions taken by SAPS after raids to compensate communities for damage to property and seek their comments, and the need to address more towns with a more specific approach. The Chairperson asked for more focus on the lack of government assistance for rehabilitation of drug users, urged that far better coordination and cooperation be pursued, outside of the JCPS Cluster, and called for a response on how this might be done, within 60 days. She also asked SAPS to provide a strategy for enhancing community involvement,
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that later in the day, there would be a motion of condolence and prayer time around the recent Lonmin situation, but, without preempting that, she thought it would be appropriate for the Committee to show its regret for the South African Police Service (SAPS) officials and miners who had died and been injured.
The Committee rose and observed a minute of silence.
She added that the Committee would be holding a meeting with the SAPS to hear about public order policing. Once the Commission of Inquiry into the Lonmin occurrences had completed its work, the Committee would also re-consider the issues.
General Arno Lamoer Provincial Commissioner, Western Cape, tabled the apologies of the National Commissioner of Police.
South African Police Service presentation on proclamations concerning Taliban and Al Qaida, pursuant to United Nations Security Council resolutions
The Chairperson noted that SAPS had previously briefed the Committee on proclamations made, and she asked that the full presentation not be given, but that more information be given on the progress of matters.
Asst Commissioner Philip Jacobs, Head: Legal, Crime Support, SAPS, noted that in 1998 there had been two bombings in Africa, in Dar-Es-Salaam and Nairobi. The United Nations (UN) Security Council had directed a committee to undertake a listing of those people suspected of assisting in terrorist activities, specifically Al Qaida and Taliban, in an attempt to identify them, and thus allow banks and other entities to cut off the transfer of money and firearms to them. He explained that there had been some criticism of how that committee had dealt with issues, in particular the delays.
The President of South Africa, by proclamation in the Gazette, must give notice of any such entities or persons that the UN Security Council, in terms of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, had identified as an entity who had committed, attempted to commit, or facilitated terrorist and related activity, and against whom Member states had to take actions specified to combat terrorist related activities. Proclamations must be tabled for Parliament's consideration and decision.
A long list of proclamations tabled was contained in the presentation documents (see attached document) but he did not take the Committee through them. He noted that details of the activities of named individuals had also been provided to the Committee Members, and these were also published on the UN website. He highlighted the listing of Ibrahim Tantush, who was listed by the UN Security Council on 11 January 2002, although his narrative summary was only placed on the website on 28 March 2008. He was the only person who was listed as being in South Africa. He had been sent to South Africa from Singapore, entering South Africa under a false South African passport. He had appealed to the High Court and was presently listed as a refugee. There were two other people with the surname of Dokar and one entity registered as a clothing manufacturer. The South African government had asked the UN Security council for more information and motivation on the latter entities, who were on the UN listing.
Comm Jacobs noted that within SAPS there was a counter-terrorism committee, to which not only SAPS but also the Financial Intelligence Centre, Department of Home Affairs and Intelligence services contributed. As the listings came through from the UN, they were dealt with by this committee. When the terrorist legislation was tabled in South Africa, there was a decision taken that South Africa would not compile its own list, but would be guided by the UN Security Council. He noted that, whilst changes to the list were gazetted in South Africa, the full listing was on the UN Security Council website. He reiterated that banks and financial institutions, as well as arms providers and the like, would have to have recourse to these lists.
The Chairperson said that this Committee had previously asked that it be provided with more than the mere process, and the narratives had been distributed to the Committee. She did not feel that there was a need to summarise each one, and it was now necessary for this Committee to endorse the proclamations published.
Mr D Stubbe (DA) proposed that this be done, seconded by Ms A Molebatsi (ANC).
The Chairperson asked that, in future, the Committee be provided with the proclamations individually, as they arrived, rather than in a large batch, so that they could be addressed more timeously.
Gangsterism, focusing on the Western Cape: SAPS briefing
General Arno Lamoer, Provincial Commissioner: Western Cape, SAPS, emphasised that the violence and gangsterism, which was particularly prevalent in the Western Cape, was not a simple nor a one-dimensional problem. SAPS, although clearly the main interface between the gang activities and the effect on communities, could not solve the problem alone. He indicated that he would give a broad presentation, but there was sensitive operational information that he could not disclose. Should questions be raised on operational issues, he suggested that he should respond in writing and in confidence to the Committee.
General Peter Jacobs, Deputy Provincial Commissioner, SAPS, tabled a chart showing the type of crime and its distribution, highlighting drugs, gangsterism, liquor and firearms, all of which were related, as shown in the next integration model. He highlighted that social fabric crimes were fuelled by substance abuse, whilst firearms were used in the commission of the crime, and this had an impact on social patterns. Crimes of greed, or to fuel further substance abuse, included theft, robberies, and housebreaking, in which both gangs and smaller groups were involved.
A gang was defined in the Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) as “any formal or information ongoing organisation, or group of three or more persons, which has as one of its activities the commission of one or more criminal offences”. There were also many more informal definitions, and although these were generally understood, they were not always appropriate for criminal investigations and prosecutions. Many of the crimes could be addressed by the common law.
Maj-Gen Jacobs outlined the types of gangs. The township-based gangs tended to have a short life span, and consisted of mobile and small groups. The Cape Flats based gangs had identified names, were territory based, and embedded in communities, having a close relationship with communities. There were three main prison gangs (the 26s, 27s and 28s), and although they had historically been based in the prisons only, they were now extending outside. Foreign gangs included those from China (the Triads), East and West Africa (mostly from Nigeria, Congo and Tanzania) and East European gangs which were now also converging in the Western Cape.
Specifically on the Cape Flats, there were dynamic links between gangs and drugs. He tabled the sources of those drugs. The drugs were not totally controlled by the gangs, and the Cape Flats gangs were also involved in other gang activities. There was a nexus between trio crimes (business robberies, hijacking and house robberies), drug dealing and possession and gang activities of murder, attempted murder and abalone poaching. The gangs were becoming increasingly involved in trio crimes, to resource their drug activities, and to obtain firearms. Gangs also often acted as the protective barrier for the drug lords, and would protect their own turf against new entrants, as well as “fronting” through legal businesses.
The catalysts for gang violence included territorial domination, manipulation by prominent gang leaders, and retaliatory attacks against other members. There was intimidation of witnesses and opposing gang members. Maj-Gen Jacobs outlined the “crossing” of gangs across police station clusters, and noted that as they moved from one area to another, this would spark outbreaks of violence.
SAPS strategy to combat the gangs was based on the following eight pillars:
-To dislodge and weaken the capacity of gangs to operate in the selected territories
-To disorganize and disable the criminal economy
-To construct prosecution-ready criminal case dockets
-To construct a series of POCA Act cases against the 15 main gangs
-To disable the prison gang influence on the communities beyond prison
-To eliminate the propensity of gangs to corrupt police officials
-To mobilize and organise communities against gangs and their criminal activities
-To ensure that visible policing was deployed in a manner that prevented gangs from flourishing
This involved both proactive and reactive steps, which included visible policing, intelligence gathering and getting a clearer understanding of crimes and linkages. Operational issues were dealt with separately from visible deployment. Section 252A of the Criminal Procedure Act was used for investigation, and asset forfeiture, confiscation, closing of drug outlets and factories were also used. SAPS adopted a partnership approach, including social crime prevention, community awareness programmes, alternative social development programmes to youth, searches at schools, engagements with the Department of Basic Education, Social Development, Arts and Culture, Sports and Health. There were also engagements with the City of Cape Town, because most gangsters occupied rental housing stock properties. There were also interactions with the South African Revenue Services, who would do lifestyle audits of major gang leaders. The situational prevention work, which included human settlement issues, included addressing gang hotspots, improving street lighting and street layout, including pedestrian traffic, and reducing the areas where the gangs could battle. Community mobilisation included community police forums, whose membership included NGOs, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) and the business sector, who had a vested interest in preventing crime, and who were able, for instance, to put up CCTV cameras. Inter-governmental cooperation was important, and there was a need to align plans across different sectors of government.
The combating and prevention of corruption within the SAPS included regular updating of the risk register, provincial anti-corruption strategies, focused investigation and compliance inspection and evaluation. SAPS was also trying to speed up the destruction of illegal firearms and drugs
Gangsterism in the Cape Flats: Civilian Secretariat for Police briefing
Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, Secretary of Police, introduced the research team from the Policy and Research Unit of the Civilian Secretariat of Police (the Secretariat).
Mr Mark Rogers, Director: Policy and Research Unit, Civilian Secretariat of Police, reported that a research exercise had been conducted into the gangsterism situation in the Western Cape, specifically on the Cape Flats. Gangsterism had a specific history and pathology in Western Cape, which was contributed to by the depressed social, economic and environmental conditions, mainly resulting from forced removals to the Cape Flats. Over the years, it had evolved into something more organised, sophisticated and violent. The primary drivers of gang conflict were, as SAPS had outlined, attempts to gain control of turf and increase the market share, particularly in drugs. Gangsterism had also evolved from small scale activities to larger crimes.
He briefly outlined the history of the gangs (see attached presentation for details) but stressed that there were differences in organisation and structure between the South African gangs and those in United States, and that informed the different approaches to the hierarchical structures and enforcement. Gangsterism was now also shifting to Nyanga and Khayelitsha, and these communities were finding it difficult to grapple with the concepts and find solutions. Various strategies and initiatives were implemented, which had resulted in some successes.
There were 70 588 drug related crimes recorded in the Western Cape alone in 2010/11, which was more than half of the total drug-related crimes in the country. Recent escalations in gang-related crime had been driven by competition over “tik”, which had become increasingly easier to manufacture, leading to undercutting of prices and fights over market share. Strong responses were being proposed by a broad range of stakeholders. SAPS was focusing on addressing the interrelated factors, such as the relationships between firearms and drugs, and attempting to track down sources.
The Civilian Secretariat put forward some specific recommendations. The main challenge was to find lasting solutions to the plethora of issues, and the complex nature of gangsterism meant that a range of activities and coordination was required. A coherent criminal justice response was needed. The inextricable links of gangs with activities such as illegal firearms, illicit drugs, abalone and prostitution reinforced the need for a coordinated criminal justice response.
A credible policing approach by SAPS would be the starting point for a clear and long term response. Effort must be put to destabilising criminal networks and enterprises, and this should be led by intelligence gathering for better decision making. Linkage analysis could be strengthened. Effective crime scene management would enhance overall processes. There must be continuous training of detectives on, and ongoing support for the investigation of complex organised crime.
Finally, the Civilian Secretariat felt a long-term investment was required by government to deal with the social, economic and environmental factors, as well as deeper understanding of the causes of gangsterism. It stressed the need for a cooperative approach, both within and outside government, and the need to secure the buy in from communities that would generate a critical change of mindset towards gangsters. Often, the state needed to provide recreational services, which were currently being handled by NGOs.
The Chairperson noted that there were errors in the hard copies handed out. She reminded the Civilian Secretariat of Police again of the need to submit presentations on time. She warned that if the documents arrived late again, the Secretariat would not be permitted to deliver its briefings.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) said that he had found the presentations disappointing, particularly on the strategy, which, in his view, did not show anything that would lead to eradication of gangsterism. Gangsterism and drugs were having a devastating impact and more action was needed. He wondered whether there was a real will to eradicate gangsterism. He noted the comment that it was “entrenched”, saying that this suggested that it should be merely accepted as part of daily life. He questioned the degree to which economic factors played a part, pointing out that in some countries, such as Lesotho, there was far more poverty but less of a problem with gangs.
Rev Meshoe noted allegations that one of the reasons that police could not eradicate the drug proliferation was that police themselves were on the payroll of drug dealers. A few weeks ago, in Krugersdorp, he had been informed that a member of the public who was holding an affable conversation with police was in fact a drug dealer who was paying “protection money” to the same police officials. In this area, children as young as nine years old were already addicts, and this was therefore of particular concern. A few years ago he had also been told that CCTV cameras were not effective, and he had then asked what other methods – such as using dog teams – were being used, yet no mention was made of these kinds of interventions.
Gen Lamoer reiterated, at the outset, that whilst he had given a high-level presentation, many of the finer details were operational information that could not be discussed in an open forum. He said that the whole strategy could be presented in camera on another occasion. He stressed that whilst it was acknowledged that there were corrupt elements within SAPS, corruption was certainly not tolerated; for instance, a SAPS member recently attempting to smuggle drugs into a police cell was disciplined, and would be dismissed. Corruption was dealt with as soon as there was evidence to do so. He thought that the will to succeed in the fight against gangsterism was in place. He stressed again, however, that whilst SAPS dealt with the law enforcement aspects of fighting drugs and gangsterism, there were many other aspects that fell outside its control. Addiction, and the supply and demand for drugs, would have to be addressed by others. Every week, SAPS visited and searched suspected drug houses and there had been an increase in confiscation over the last two years. Cooperation with community structures was continuously strengthening. In the last week, over 35 illegal firearms had been confiscated. He reiterated that there was a detailed strategy, and that there was commitment in SAPS to fight drugs and gangsterism.
Rev Meshoe asked if the Civilian Secretariat had any policy making membership of gangs illegal.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said that whilst the Civilian Secretariat was struggling to find a total strategy, there was no magic wand. She noted the comment on Lesotho, but said that it was not only economic problems that led to the situation. She noted that she had recently attended a conference at which over 20 countries were represented, and all had said that they had substantial problems with drugs. A range of different tactics was needed, to address the issues of consumption, improvements to the criminal justice system, the gangs themselves, the organised crime aspects, markets and trafficking routes.
Mr Rogers said that POCA did make substantial provisions for gang activities and those probably needed to be better enforced. SAPS had also alluded to increasing enforcement.
Mr G Mluleki (COPE) was also disappointed in the SAPS presentation. The same issues had been presented for several years. He commented that former Commissioner of Police, Jackie Selebi, had stated at one stage that gang leaders were regarded as role-models in their communities, and nothing seemed to have changed community perceptions, nor the fighting between gang bosses over turf. He asked if SAPS was really winning the battle. He, like Rev Meshoe, commented that there were many places, including Eastern Cape, that showed greater poverty than the gang-ridden areas, and he did not believe that one racial grouping showed more propensity to gangs than another. He was worried that no specific strategy had yet been presented.
The Chairperson interrupted at this point, and said that if the Committee wanted to have a detailed presentation on strategy, in a closed meeting, then it should take that decision.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked if the principals at schools in Mitchells Plain, where schoolchildren were allegedly involved in gangs, were giving cooperation.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked to what extent learners might be involved in gangsterism, and the impact of this. She suggested that stakeholders should include student movements. On the previous day, there had been instances of gangsterism in her constituency, in Gauteng, which were alerted to SAPS by the student union.
Ms Sibiya noted the prevalence of gangsterism in traditionally “coloured” areas in the past, but noted her concern that it was spreading to other areas too, which made her wonder if SAPS was winning the fight.
Gen Lamoer agreed that the shifting of gangsterism to other communities was of concern. Many of those involved in the township gangs were young boys, and this included also those who were attending school outside the townships. They were, however, being identified, with cooperation from communities. His later response on school interactions answered some of the other concerns, but he said at this point that there was a problem if children were not attending school, although it was not within the remit of SAPS to enforce their attendance.
Ms D Sibiya asked about involvement of Neighbourhood Watch and similar groupings.
Gen Lamoer responded that information was brought in continuously from the streets. He stressed, however, that whilst SAPS was responsible for making arrests, doing investigations and taking matters to court, it had no control over what happened in court, or whether convicted gangsters were released from correctional service facilities, and would then reclaim their gang space.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) said that it appeared that the Civilian Secretariat’s presentation was suggesting that in fact SAPS was losing its war against gangsterism. If the broad principles that SAPS formulated were not correct, then it was impossible to have effective operational plans. The Civilian Secretariat – and SAPS itself – had said that there was not enough crime intelligence. It was vital to have excellent intelligence to ensure success. He noted the comment about social problems, and said that in fact any criminal activity pointed to social problems. The community clearly lacked confidence in SAPS, as evidenced by the recent spate of necklacings in Khayelitsha, where the community dealt with alleged offenders in their own way. He wanted to know specifically what was to be done to improve the intelligence services. Without that, there would never be a solution.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said that the two presentations were not contradictory. The team from the Civilian Secretariat that was looking at drugs and gangs was working closely with the SAPS. She agreed that there was indeed a need to strengthen areas, like intelligence and detective services, but she stressed that the two presentations were in no way contradictory. As a general comment, she thought it would be useful for this Committee to have sight of the UN report on gangsterism and drugs, which clearly indicated that this was not a problem unique to South Africa. It also pointed to some of the initiatives that had been outlined to this Committee. The recent Small Arms Survey had looked at the excessive number of weapons in the hands of gangs internationally. She stressed again that the gang problem had to be seen holistically, and said both the international and organised crime perspectives were being addressed also by Interpol. There was also a need to look at consumption of drugs, as a coordinated approach across all departments. Gangs were not unique to the Western Cape, and she clarified that they had not only spread to Khayelisha and Nyanga, but were becoming increasingly evident along the whole coastline, fuelled also with the international increases in drugs. Research in some areas showed that some of the gangs had acquired a status on a par with local government, and it was necessary therefore also to address them at that level.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) noted that 2012 was declared the Year of Detectives, and clearly dedicated capacity was required. Western Cape detectives were sometimes dealing with more than five times the national norm of dockets. She wanted to know whether additional capacity had been put to dealing with this issue, and, if so, how many had been added to deal with gangsterism alone. She asked how many detectives were focusing only on gangs and drugs, or whether they were also dealing with other crimes.
Gen Lamoer stressed, in answer to all questions around crime intelligence, that SAPS was dealing with crime intelligence at a national level, and this must be seen as an ongoing process.
Ms Kohler Barnard wanted to know how many gang bosses were arrested, prosecuted and convicted.
Gen Lamoer assured her that there was a long list of charges against gang bosses.
Ms Kohler Barnard noted the comment that corrupt police officials would be dismissed. She urged that they should also be criminally charged.
The Chairperson agreed that involvement of police in corrupt activities was a vital point and also stressed that criminal charges against wrongdoer SAPS officials must be pursued.
Gen Lamoer said that he had only isolated one incident of corruption as an example, but he could provide more, with details of what was done. He said that Mr Mluleki had previously raised a point that some police officials were posted at one police station for far too long, becoming too well known in their community. Part of the SAPS initiatives to address risk of corruption was to rotate staff, and SAPS was presently busy with “Project 23”, which was investigating the position at the 23 police stations in whose jurisdiction 50% of crime was committed in the Western Cape.
Ms Kohler Barnard wondered if there were any instances where the dockets for organized crime went “missing” in these types of cases.
Ms Kohler Barnard commented that the Western Cape government’s call for specialised units to be reintroduced had been refused, and that the President had also refused the Premier of the Western Cape’s request that the army be permitted to go in to gang-stricken areas, and the gang violence was continuing, and appeared to have reached crisis level. Whilst extra police had been brought in, she had no doubt that the gangs would re-emerge as soon as they left. Ms Kohler Barnard asked why the suggestion of specialised units was rejected. The fact that this had previously been refused by former Commissioner Jackie Selebi was no reason to continue to refuse it. Everywhere else in the world, specialised units were created to address specific situations, because they allowed for a holistic approach to the issues.
The Chairperson said that she personally was not so much in favour of specialised units to address gangsterism, as research elsewhere showed that gangs saw these units as yet another type of gang. If the community failed to trust them, they were far easier to corrupt. However, it was an important point to answer.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said that within the SAPS, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) functioned as a specialist unit, as it had a specific mandate to focus on corruption and organised crime. The organised nature of gangster-crime, such as abalone poaching, drug trafficking, and the arrest of kingpins, all fell within the DPCI. If there was a need to capacitate the DPCI further, that could be done. She believed that SAPS did have the capacity to deal with organized crime, but she stressed again that it needed to be addressed in a coordinated, inter-governmental level.
Gen Lamoer corrected Ms Kohler-Barnard, saying that there was not a suggestion that there should be continuous deployment of the Defence Force but there was a call for this during the Festive Season. The deployment of extra resources did not mean re-direction from any other Province or Head office, but Western Cape SAPS personnel were merely re-directed, after an analysis, to where they were needed. This was a continuous process, bearing in mind also the need to have the stations operate with full station strength and to keep units like Visible Policing at strength.
Ms Kohler Barnard stressed that it was quality of service, not quantity of personnel, that counted. She did not feel that the numbers of arrests were relevant; there was a need to address the gangsterism at source – namely with the gang bosses. She accepted that there was no quick fix to the problems around crime intelligence, but urged a more specific focus.
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) agreed with the comment that gangsterism was a societal problem. In the context of the call for defence deployment, he thought that something was going wrong and there was a perception that the SAPS was unable to deal with the problem. He asked what SAPS believed was going wrong, and how the problem had escalated so far.
Gen Lamoer said that detective capacity was also being used in the provinces to deal with some of the issues. It was true that in some instances detectives may not be doing their jobs properly, but this would be addressed by the Deputy Provincial Commissioner, on an ongoing basis.
Ms Molebatsi agreed that arresting members of the gang, but not the gang bosses, was ineffective, because it would not stop the “high flyers” or kingpins, and she too asked how many of these had been arrested.
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) asked there was tangible identification of the high-flyers.
Gen Lamoer responded that DPCI played a critical role in identifying the high flyers. About six weeks previously, there had been arrests and confiscation of R20 million of hydroponically-grown dagga. The provincial command centre was a critical point in linking the cases with each other, allowing for linkages to be established between crimes, and arrests of main perpetrators.
Mr Mluleki asked again whether SAPS was addressing the issue that the community held gang bosses in high regard, saying that in some townships, people would actually look to the crime bosses to assistance.
Gen Lamoer said that SAPS, unlike the crime syndicates, would never pay out grants, or assist people with debt. In Manenberg, in the 1990s, a religious leader was asked to keep drugs in his house, was arrested, but was too afraid to tell SAPS to whom the drugs belonged, preferring instead to take the full responsibility. He said that SAPS and government tried to encourage sportspeople and community leaders to have interaction with the communities to change their perceptions.
Mr Mluleki asked again if SAPS could say with confidence that it was succeeding in the fight against gangsterism. He wondered if the numbers of police involved in criminal activities were really being reduced.
Ms Irish-Qhobosheane stressed again that it was not only SAPS who had to solve the problems. Economic interventions may be needed from provincial and local government, because SAPS would never be able to make payouts in communities. About four or five years previously, researchers had said that some of the drug lords were setting themselves up as an alternative to government and it was necessary to have the resources to deal with that. Alternative economics were needed. It could not just be SAPS who was responsible for winning the hearts and minds of communities.
She said that one example illustrating the multiplicity of factors was the prevalence of tik. Whilst the attempts to sign a peace accord in 2011 had failed, one of the many complex reasons was that at about this time, there was a drop in the price of manufacturing tik, meaning that individual gangs started to undercut each other and gain turf from each other. It was necessary to unpack and understand all the issues, and not merely to say that the police were not apparently abiding by their responsibilities.
The Chairperson asked whether the POCA was adequate or needed to be improved. It did not deal with gangs per se, although gangs were a part of organized crime.
Mr Rogers noted that POCA, in Chapter 4, made provision for gang-related activities. Penalties were also provided. There was a need to look at this more carefully, and perhaps to strengthen the provisions, because there was more of a focus on organised crime.
Commissioner Jacobs, Legal Services, added that the provisions around gangs were inserted at the request of the Western Cape, after a study tour to the United Kingdom. He noted, however, that SAPS did not have powers over the proceeds of crime, and had to work with the National Prosecuting Authority on this, unlike other jurisdictions such as Australia. The SAPS was following up with the Asset Forfeiture Unit a suggestion that SAPS should have stronger powers over the proceeds of crime, and not only over the exhibits.
The Chairperson noted that despite the “peace accords” in the Western Cape signed earlier in the year, with the crime bosses, there had been an increase in gang violence in the Western Cape. She noted also that the gang violence had tended in the past to be more seasonal, yet this year there had been flare-ups even during winter, usually relatively quiet.
Mr Rogers noted that in October or November 2011, former gang members in the Western Cape had signed a “peace treaty” to try to halt the shootings that were so prevalent at the tie. However, that was criticised on several fronts. Firstly, there was a danger that open negotiations with gangs in a public arena raised implications around their legitimacy. There had been flare-ups again about seven months later, and that raised questions about how legitimate the signatories had been in the whole process. He noted that since they were mostly former gang members, they no longer had “street cred” amongst others, and that created additional tensions and destabilization, which triggered other violence. A fundamental point was that peace agreements were brokered with people whom SAPS should really arrest; some members claimed to have reformed, but there were counter-allegations that they were still involved in criminal activities at the time. A further perception was created that SAPS would not take any action during the peace negotiations, and that of course could not be allowed. SAPS had a duty and responsibility to police the situation and apprehend suspects involved in criminality. There was doubt also as to whether those treaties were enforceable.
Gen Lamoer wanted to stress that SAPS was not involved in any peace talks with gangsters, as this would have run counter to its clear policy to arrest those involved in criminal activities.
The Chairperson noted the comments about the need for a cross-departmental approach but thought that the coordination efforts had to be improved. She asked how often every department would be brought together in a meeting to discuss the very specific topic of gangsterism, and, if so, who was chairing these meetings, and what the results had been. It was not even known whether the Drug Master Plan was working.
Gen Lamoer said that this process had started but would be given more priority, but there was inter-governmental cooperation particularly at the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) level, where a provincial SAPS official would be included. There were other structures that interacted with other departments, including the Safety at Schools initiative. He amplified on this to answer questions also from Ms Molebatsi, to note that there was interactions with school principals, and sometimes principals themselves would request raids. Some clusters were running a Truancy Project, rounding up learners who were at malls and on the streets during school hours. There was a concern that learners not attending school could become involved in crime, and there was huge intimidation against children who were drawn into gangs and then wanted to leave. However, it was also the responsibility of parents to ensure that their children would not get involved.
The Chairperson noted the comment on firearms and agreed that destruction of illegal firearms was a vital point. In Western Cape, the Committee had discovered, during oversight, that drugs were still being held in the SAPS stores after due date. She asked if the Provincial Commissioner was ensuring that compliance formed part of the performance agreements signed with the station commanders. Proper handling would happen only if there was proper management and command at cluster level.
Gen Lamoer responded that branch commanders were asked to account for performance at station level precisely because it had been found that the reports to the provincial level were not always accurate. The performance on the ground must be monitored, and that was happening in the Western Cape. Part of this would involve a check on whether exhibits were held properly, or destroyed where necessary, and it was a continuous process.
The Chairperson asked if police raids, for instance to find and seize drugs, were intelligence-driven. She said that it clearly did happen that in many cases excessive force was used, property might be destroyed and there were several civil claims lodged against SAPS every year. The very nature of surprise raids would affect innocent people. However, she wondered if SAPS had ever gone back to communities immediately after raids, explaining how and why things had happened, and inviting comments, and claims for restitution of property damaged during the raid, rather than simply sitting back and waiting for the long civil process for compensation.
Gen Lamoer said that visible policing members (who were always first on the scene) were trained to secure crime scenes. He confirmed that most raids were intelligence-driven and said that SAPS members had their own informers and contacts in the community. Some operations were not intelligence-driven and he cited an example of a normal stop-and-search operation in Beaufort West that had resulted in R50 million of drugs being confiscated from buses. He also said that SAPS members had to record everything that happened during an operation and it was possible to improve the management after the event. It was not necessary for SAPS to wait for all civil claims, as they could actively invite those affected to ask for restitution immediately.
The Chairperson said that some time ago the Committee had visited Beaufort West and had urged that this town be looked at not as a rural station, but as a major smuggling route. If 24 hour searches were needed, and regular stop-and-search of all vehicles, then that must be done. She wondered if there were strategies to strengthen stations in the areas where the gangs’ routes were growing, to provide more deterrents around organised crime.
Gen Lamoer said that Beaufort-West had been upgraded. He noted that at this checkpoint, a bus had actually been confiscated, after a bus company had failed to tag every piece of luggage, despite a specific request from SAPS that this be done, and the bus company had accepted the need to follow up on this. Whilst it was true that the traditional gang areas such as Lavender Hill and Hanover Park had been dealt with in the past, it was also noted that some of the gangs were moving to rural areas, such as Vredendal, and coastal areas.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee would be meeting on the turnaround strategy for Crime Intelligence. However, she thought that not enough was said about sources and community involvement. Detectives had very few registered sources, and paid out little to them. She wondered what was being done to improve the situation, so that more people were involved in the fight against crime.
Gen Lamoer said that there was room for improvement in relation to informers. The Flying Squad had informers.
The Chairperson isolated some other issues of concern. She noted that many parents whose children were addicted to drugs were unable to afford to send them to the private rehabilitation clinics, whilst insufficient government facilities existed, and this was clearly an issue that government needed to address.
She asked that the OECD report be provided to the Committee in the next week. Gen Lamoer was asked to provide the statistics on police officers’ involvement in corruption, what was being done and the numbers of high flyer arrests. The Secretariat and SAPS were asked to examine POCA in more detail, and to provide comment in writing on those sections that required improvement, so that this Committee could address them with the Portfolio Committee on Justice.
The Chairperson asked the Secretariat to provide the Committee, within the next 60 days, with a strategy on how better to coordinate government to deal with the gang issues. Any government interaction at present seemed to be limited to the JCPS Cluster, but a wider approach, involving education, health and social development sectors, was needed, so that holistic and multi-dimensional approaches could be adopted. The most obvious shortcoming was the failure to address the problems at the moment through proper cooperative initiatives. If this was addressed, then gangsterism could be given proper priority within government, and not seen as something that should be left to SAPS, but should be addressed by all departments.
The Chairperson asked SAPS to inform the Committee how it would make better use of the community and she particularly wanted to know about involvement of NGOs, churches and community leaders. She accepted that this must be work in progress.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Security Council Committee: Individuals associated with Taliban
- SAPS presentation on gangsterism
- SAPS presentation on Committees dealing with Taliban and Al Qaida
- Civilian Secretariat of Police presentation on gangsterism in the Cape Flats
- Parliamentary Research Unit: Gang Violence in the Western Cape
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