SAPS Crime Intelligence; SAPS Specialised Training

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28 August 2012
Chairperson: Ms A van Wyk (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting began with a presentation from SAPS on Crime Intelligence and its critical role in achieving SAPS’ mandate. Lapses in vetting of members and vacancies in human resources were identified as major challenges facing Crime Intelligence. Its budget breakdown for first quarter 2012 showed that 20% of its positions were vacant and that the Crime Intelligence member to vehicle ratio was still 4:1, rather than the desired 2:1. Examples where Crime Intelligence had been successful were detailed, the majority of them relating to theft, drugs or poaching. Finally, strategic interventions in the form of a number of measures were discussed, such as the appointment of an Acting Head and the centralising of command and control.

The successes presented were not deemed impressive by the Committee given the R20 million a month budget. Also more Crime Intelligence vehicles were being used at headquarters than in the provinces and the 20% unfilled necessary posts was seen as a management failure. The Acting Head had to admit that his vetting had expired. The query was raised again about vehicles being used to ferry SAPS members home.

The presentation on specialised training and each course offered was discussed in detail along with figures for trainees trained and projected trainees. The Committee requested clarification on the criteria for the selection and allocation of trainees and queried why cyber crime training was not emphasised in this day and age. The length and standard of the training regimes in general were queried, with many member expressing doubts over the efficacy of such short training sessions. The Committee noted that in some courses, expected trainee figures were lower than in the previous year. SAPS explained that these training courses were highly specialised and required expertise in the relevant field in order to qualify. The courses were filled according to the demands of the relevant environment and the figures presented did not reflect the basic training received by all SAPS members.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed the members of the Committee and SAPS, taking the opportunity to note that contrary to media speculation SAPS had not been chased away in the previous week and that there was great scope for further discussion. She also ruled out any discussion on the Marikana incident. However, she did note her disgust regarding the alleged assault at police stations where the miners were held in custody. She emphasised that the official inquiry must be allowed to take its course but that the separate issue of the assaults was absolutely unacceptable. Any police officer found to be guilty of wrongdoing had to be held accountable as SAPS could not compromise its legitimacy. The Committee members criticised the lapsing of security clearance for senior members and it emerged that the Acting Head himself did not have security clearance at that time.

Crime Intelligence presentation
Major-General Chris Ngcobo, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence and Protection and Security Services, began by emphasising that SAPS was a key player in the Intelligence environment with a specific mandate to combat and prevent crime. In aid of this the collective intelligence community would have to be able to leverage qualitative expertise and capability from SAPS. This was authorised by legislation in the National Strategic Intelligence Act, according to which SAPS had to gather, correlate, evaluate and use Crime Intelligence (CI). The vision of SAPS was to utilise an intelligence driven environment to neutralise crime. In essence, Crime Intelligence served to heighten SAPS’ effectiveness. Challenges to this included capacity issues under both human and logical resources; leadership changes; strategies for intervention; communication protocols; corruption; and lack of compliance. Centralised command and control were core operational principles, and there was representation of this in all the provinces. Provincial heads serve as the management structure and in terms of governance and compliance, all head office members sign oaths of secrecy, covert policies were developed, structured reporting is done, communication protocols were followed and engagements with auditing is intensified. All CI members were being re-vetted, even senior members, a process which should be completed by the end of 2012/13. Vetting personnel were going to be deployed within divisions as well. A progress report was presented with a provincial breakdown of the vetting figures.

General Ngcobo discussed the CI budget as comprising two components: covert operations that were reported to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and overt operations which were reported to the public via the Portfolio Committee. The total budget was R240 463 736 split into 32.75% to overt and 62.25% to covert operations. A graph displaying CI employment equity showed: 5 868 Africans, 360 Indians, 813 Coloured and1 596 White adding up to 8 637 total. Resource allocation was shown by province, with 2 102 vehicles distributed in total. He reported that there were 2140 vacancies in CI establishment, which was 20% of total. The member to vehicle ratio was therefore 4.11:1. Personnel were distributed 88% at provincial level with the remainder at head office with 26% of members employed under the Public Service Act and the remaining 74% under the SAPS Act.

Some examples of successful operations were given in the previous two months since General Ngcobo had been appointed as Acting Head: 23 network operations were conducted with R100 million worth of drugs having been seized, two human trafficking operations were busted and 12 rhino horns confiscated. Four bomb suspects with explosives, two rhino poachers, two men in possession of lion and leopard skins as well as elephant tusks and man with bomb equipment were apprehended. The Sandton drug bust worth R100 million was also mentioned.

Strategic Interventions were discussed as including the enhancement of CI leadership by appointment of the Acting Head, sensitizing members to security of information, centralizing of command and control and review of the appointment process for vacant positions. Also a continuous training strategy was developed, a dedicated media representative was assigned for all CI matters and a training academy was created.

The Chairperson asked for the presentation to be made available to members as there was no sensitive information within it.

Rev K Meshoe (ANC) observed that it appeared from the presentation that there were more vehicles being used at headquarters than in the provinces and queried the rationale for this, especially whether or not headquarter staff were also tasked with helping to solve crimes. His second question was about the vehicle ratio and whether it related to the provinces only or also to head quarters.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked if it was not the failure of SAPS management not to have filled the 20% unfilled necessary posts. She said that this was surely a big factor in the lack of crime intelligence for operations. Her second question was about how any members of CI were under suspension and facing criminal charges at the time. The so-called successes so far were for a budget of about R20 million a month, over two months. These successes were seen as minor and were not reflective of the overall budget at all.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked about the Z204 forms used for vetting, and if they had all been received back or if there was a deadline in which this had to happen. Also, the budget for head office seemed high and required an explanation. Finally, she queried why vehicles were being used to ferry SAPS members home.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) criticised the presentation as being unprofessional, saying that the spelling mistakes and small errors did not reflect well on the SAPS. The presentation was not received in time. He then noted that the capacity issues faced by the CI unit were of critical importance, and asked what was being done to make it more professional. Finally what was the CI unit doing to aid in the fight against gangs, where intelligence was notably lacking?

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) stated that the vacancies in the division spoke to capacity and that this was a concern, given the ANC commitment to reducing unemployment. The frequent leadership changes should not be happening and a retention policy was required.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) noted that although it seemed there were vetting challenges it was unclear exactly what they were. He asked if there were people in Head Office who were not yet vetted and how sure SAPS could be that they were keeping secrets they were entrusted with.

The Chairperson went through the list of successes over the past two months, many of which related to drugs, theft or poaching. The question arose again over vetting, which expires and must be renewed. There was no clarity given over the exact process, but it was clear that some vetting had expired although they continued to perform in their CI functions. She asked why this delay was occurring. The vacancies in CI were confusing as there was another figure given for additional required personnel that may or may not have been included the vacancies that still had to be filled. The vehicle to member ratio needed to be put into perspective of what was seen as ideal.

General Mangwashi Phiyega, SAPS National Commissioner, said that in total there were 2 102 cars, 203 of which were at head office. The provinces could use an additional 50 but this was considered a work in progress. The target ratio was two members to each vehicle.

General Ngcobo added that progress was already being seen, with vehicle usage being monitored and streamlined.

General Phiyega emphasised that the listed successes had to be seen in the context of the period since the appointment of General Ngcobo, over only two months. The cost benefits had to be constantly examined but there was light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. The issue of positions was also a matter of concern and as many new positions had been created not all the vacancies indicated staff turnover. The Z204 vetting process was not what it should be. It was outlined as one of the weak areas in CI and for this reason a focus had been put on it, with restructuring ongoing. Those members whose vetting had lapsed were guilty of non-compliance with regulations verging on insubordination and there was a disciplinary process for such cases.

General Ngcobo agreed that steps would indeed be taken regarding lapsing of vetting and non-compliance. Human resources challenges were a contributing factor for this.

General Phiyega voiced her opinion that the non-professionalism displayed in the presentation was regrettable but noted that to err is human. Sincere apologies were tendered in that regard. Capacity issues were known to the CI unit and this presentation was intended to notify the Committee on such areas where there were concerns within SAPS and which the Acting Head was aiming to address. Many reporting and accountability policies were being streamlined for this purpose. Reputation and image was seen as important to the CI and communication protocols had been centralised as a result.

General Ngcobo went on to address the utilisation of vehicles for personal use. SAPS members were entitled to this to an extent but it may be abused. In terms of vetting the processes in place needed to be complied with. For those not meeting the vetting requirements steps were taken but these were not disclosed.

General Phiyega stated that integrity management was going to be implemented in CI and next time the Committee would hear from the delegation, there would be progress in this.

Mr D Stubbe (DA) asked if the successes discussed included both overt and covert operations and how the figures related to comparative statistics from other units and time frames.

Ms Kohler-Barnard queried whether or not General Ngcobo himself was in possession of security clearance. Previously, senior members apparently did not and this fact should be on record. When vetting lapsed for members she wanted to know if they faced with suspension or not. She also asked if any arrests had been made over the alleged wholesale looting of the slush fund.

Mr Groenewald asked if intelligence on gangsterism was being utilised.

Mr Lekgetho pointed out that timeframes for halving unemployment had been identified and asked how this would apply to the vacancies. He also asked if there was a retention strategy for leadership changes.

General Phiyega pointed out that the benefits of CI were both direct and indirect. They often supported all other SAPS services. The successes named were the tip of the iceberg, but these were the areas where CI directly had had success in aiding SAPS processes. Employment had been prioritised in leadership positions and it was hoped that at the time of the next report, the number of vacancies would have dwindled. However, it was not an easy area to target.

General Ngcobo admitted to the Committee that he did not in fact have security clearance. He revealed that his original clearance had expired before it could be renewed and that since his appointment he had taken steps for it to be done outside of CI.

The Chairperson identified the need to acknowledge that the briefing was higher than the standard previously set but that it was still not ideal. The changes to date seemed positive but the Committee would return to the issues outlined. General Phiyega would have to inform the Committee when clearance for the General Ngcobo would be completed. The question of criminal charges for members had not been addressed but would have to be soon.

Mr Groenewald asked if all members had been vetted or if those without clearance had merely lapsed, to which General Ngcobo responded that all SAPS members were given basic clearance initially.

Specialised Training presentation
General Christabel Mbekela, Divisional Commissioner of Human Resources Development, began by saying that the presentation would be dealing with the training in a number of specialised areas, examples being cyber crime, sexual offences and family violence. Such specialised training in SAPS was over and above basic training given to all members.

Public order policing training related to crowd management. The overview of the curriculum included principles of operation, special equipment and techniques as well as use of vehicles and firearms. The policies and legislation involved were listed, with Section 17 of the Constitution (right to protest) and Section 13 of the SAPS Act (Use of force) included. A breakdown of course participants was also given, the highest numbers occurred from 2008/09 to 2010/11 due to the World Cup.

Crime Scene expert training was aimed at ensuring proper gathering of evidence at the scene of a crime. The curriculum included fingerprint and photography analysis and videography. Within this training area there were specific courses such as the
Local Criminal Record Centre (LCRC) Forensic Fingerprint Laboratory Course. The advanced crime scene course aimed to train learners to correctly and thoroughly process crime scene information to aid in investigations. Other courses included the Forensic Training Programme for LCRC personnel, DNA Evidence Recovery for Crime Scene Examination and CRIM (Criminal Investigation Management) Scene LCRC Adjudication.

A breakdown of trainees in each course per year since 2010/11 was given with no trainees trained in Advanced LCRC Forensic Fingerprint Laboratory Course and only 20 trainees planned. The other courses showed a general decreasing trend in trainees trained. However, 811 trainees were planned for 2012/13.

In Training Related to Family Violence, Child Protection, Sexual Offences and Child Justice, it was noted that protecting society’s most vulnerable was a priority for SAPS. The course included awareness campaigns in the form of workshops followed by foundational training in all the relevant pieces of legislation. The course was intended to empower members to effectively deal with incidents. Training statistics in this course were 251, 248 and 100 for the two previous years and the current year respectively with 250 more planned for 2012/13.

Domestic Violence training incorporated three courses that aimed to capacitate learners to deal with victims and bring perpetrators to book. Similarly, Sexual Offences Act training was directed at preventing and resolving incidents. It was essentially an introductory programme for the Family Violence Course and included preparation of children for court, fundamental rights and medical examination. The First Responder to Sexual Offenders Learning Programme was aimed at applying and understanding the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2007. Numbers of trainees in the programmes were displayed. Child Justice Act training was conducted to ensure compliance with the Constitution and to raise awareness. It included courses in Children and Youth at Risk and National Victim Empowerment Training Programme. An annual breakdown of trainees in all the courses was once again displayed.

Fraud training was also conducted, covering a number of white-collar situations such as cheque and card fraud, banking systems and corruption. The Commercial Crime Forensic Learning Programme was available on three levels of increasing advancement. Statistics for Forensic Science Laboratory Training were shown, divided into Biology, Ballistics, Fire Scenes, Chemistry, Trace Evidence, Toxicology, Document Examination, Electrophoresis, Short Tandem Repeats, DNA Isolation, Analysis Training and Physical Identification as well as others.

The Cyber Crime Training programme was noted to be in its infancy but global trends were necessitating its increasing relevance. A course had been created aimed at equipping investigators with sufficient knowledge. The course dealt with software, cyber terrorism and hacking as well as other areas. As it is a new programme there were so far only 30 planned trainees but no actual trainees trained.

National Intervention Unit Training was divided into three phases: firearm, rural and urban. There were four courses in this training that aimed to capacitate members to deal with medium to high risk situations. Statistics in this area appeared to have decreased from 2010/11 to 2011/12.

The Chairperson cautioned SAPS against using a Committee directive as grounds for limiting the scope of a presentation. She stated her belief that SAPS should go beyond what is asked of them when providing data.

Ms Molebatsi queried how effective training for Cyber Crime was and from what level trainees were recruited. Secondly, she observed that the duration of domestic violence training was worryingly low, one or two days did not seem sufficient to train in those areas.

Mr Ndlovu asked why the number of trainees for DNA training had not been given even though there was relevant legislation pending. He warned that legislation would only be passed if Parliament was assured it would be effective. Secondly, he asked what it meant if a person has been trained for one day. Were they simply given instructions or were they comprehensively trained. Finally, he noted that the document was not particularly professional. Simple errors could easily lead to gross misunderstanding by the public.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked whether or not every SAPS member received training on crime scene management and at what stage the basics in this area were imparted to them. Only 130 had been trained so far but over a thousand were planned and this target seemed unrealistic. The Advanced Crime Scene Course and many others showed that the number of planned trainees was lower than the previous years’ completed trainees and clarification was sought on this.

Mr Lekgetho asked if members who completed advanced forensic courses received certificates.

Ms Molebatsi queried why the introduction of IT was only done at a specialised level and not at basic training.

The Chairperson asked how trainees were selected for specialised training. Cyber crime had been a problem for over a decade but training had not been happening. She asked if SAPS had a plan to deal with cyber crimes beyond mere training. A police officer could not be trained to combat cyber crime at such an advanced level, and specialists would be required.

On the matter of National Intervention Unit training, level two weapon phase showed no planned trainees but some already completed. Public Order Policing showed that there were no plans to train members. Given the growing number of challenges in this area, there should be additional efforts made, not less effort. Detectives had previously stated that they did not feel capacitated following courses undergone by them. The Chairperson expressed concern over whether training was achieving anything. Training could only be measured by changes in crime prevention on the ground and there did not seem to be such changes. She asked how the Firearms Act was being implemented seeing as there were still weapons being found dating back to the amnesty period.

General Mbekela replied that Cyber Crime training had been nonexistent until then but that there was a process in place to change that. Training needs were identified by respective environments so it was common to find that needs fluctuated year to year. Numbers may well have decreased from previous years.

General Phiyega noted that it was important to contextualise the statistics. Specialist training was over and above the two to three years of training SAPS members received. They also needed years of experience in the workplace before qualifying for the areas of training discussed so far. This was top up training that ensured diversification in terms of skills.

General Mbekela agreed that the training discussed was very advanced and therefore even introductory courses were still above and beyond what was generally expected of SAPS members in the course of their service. The duration of training was divided into a one-day workshop and subsequent two-day, three-day or one-week training. Impact assessments were being carried out to determine how effective these sessions were. Often application of training did not reflect proper knowledge transfer. Also, competence certificates were awarded according to outcomes for LCRC participants.

General Mbekela emphasised that basic training in crime scene management was given to all SAPS members as part of their core training. The public order policing training target was high but reachable. The courses were developed in conjunction with experts in that environment. Introductory courses should be done first and advanced courses only afterwards. She took note of the criticisms given by the Committee. In terms of training, the specific needs of each environment were being collated and this guided the planning process for the respective training programmes.

General Phiyega wrapped up by saying that she would like to return to the Committee with training and strategy dimensions. She requested permission to compile a new presentation that was more comprehensive than the current presentation on specialised training.

The Chairperson summarised by saying that the commissioner was entitled to return with an improved presentation but that the Committee was fully aware of training procedures and outcomes. Detectives were sent to advanced detective courses before they were even detectives. The Committee’s questions were not based on a lack of knowledge of SAPS training but were rather aimed at accountability and effective implementation. Part of the problem was that SAPS did not do career pathing. She reiterated her belief that there was a lack of an overall plan for human resource development.

Meeting adjourned.


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