Officials from the South African Police Services (SAPS), and a number of other stakeholders from other departments and civil society, participated in a dialogue around detective services in SAPS. Several presentations outlined their role, career pathing, training, modernisation of the services, institutional and equipment challenges, and their role in domestic violence and women-and child-centred crimes, as well as the challenges in the Forensic Services Laboratories. Overall challenges to detective services included language barriers, lack of interpreters, high degree of corruption, inadequate expertise and supervision and inadequate resources. The presenters recommended introduction of language courses, more courses on crime scene management (raised several times during the debates), and proper prioritisation of cases with defined systems. The Public Service Commission agreed that detective numbers were inadequate, both in comparison to other countries and in light of the high crime rates, with the result that not enough attention could be given to each case. The existing detectives were often not properly trained in advanced areas such as crime scene management or information technology. It urged SAPS to ensure proper training and resources, to conduct an audit to determine why there were disparities and to link its IT with other departments. The National Prosecuting Authority also commented that in many areas, the training given to detectives was insufficient. Further problems around the training were highlighted by SAPS as lack of independent assessment of training, as well as a failure to look at the outcomes, and the fact that many detectives would take promotion opportunities out of Detective Services for higher salaries, so it was recommended that improved career pathing and salary progression must be developed, with better incentives and identification of new recruits. The Committee commented that the allocation of resources was inadequate and management problems meant that the correct resources were not posted to where they were needed, or members were not trained on the new equipment purchased. The Institute for Security Studies recommended a mentorship programme, using retired and experienced former detectives, to boost competence, together with an increase in numbers, and more tiers to be created in the system so that detectives could be recruited directly from basic training, and a uniformed investigation branch for less serious crimes be created, with stricter requirements also for passing of set courses. The Committee had expressed concerns in the past that there was no standard qualification for detectives. The Police Secretariat suggested that specialist training stations should be established in provinces, and practical experience be emphasised. Recruitment to the Services should also be based solely on competency. Career pathing and salary advancements must be matched to those for detectives in the private sector.
In another presentation on modernisation, it was emphasised that the nature of crime in South Africa was progressing but at the moment the SAPS expertise was not keeping pace. Specialised training had to be pursued vigorously, but in addition to this, SAPS should partner with the private sector, such as banks, who may be able to provide their own investigators for certain types of crime. Although expenditure within SAPS on laptops, phones and other electronic equipment had increased, the Committee was concerned that some may have been misplaced and felt that SAPS itself was not sufficiently expert to gauge the best resources, and therefore encouraged the employment of outside specialists for resourcing. SAPS should acknowledge its own weakness in this area. It was also suggested that it make more use of websites to call for public support. Another presentation outlined the role of detectives in family and child support, and emphasised that more focus had to be put on specialist training, to avoid so many of the cases not proceeding to prosecution. The problems of repeat sexual offenders were outlined, including the fact that they frequently were granted bail, and that the links between their various offences were not being made. It was emphasised that older persons were often victims of sexual and other abuse. In relation to this aspects, and in a separate presentation on the Forensic Science Laboratories, the weaknesses were acknowledged frankly, including delays, inadequate training, and tampering with evidence, and there was dialogue over the increased need for advanced forensics, such as DNA testing, but it was also stressed that higher levels of expertise were needed, and that DNA was not the only important component. It was suggested that part of the problem lay in the non-accreditation of forensic laboratories, but the point was also made that there was shortage of university training, and even accreditation would not persuade the courts to accept that evidence if superior evidence was produced during the hearings.
The lesson learned from this dialogue would be carefully considered by SAPS, and incorporated into policy, strategic plans, the White Paper or legislation, as appropriate. It was emphasised again that the challenges included the lack of retention of skills, over-burdening of the current detectives that may compromise quality, lack of incentives for new recruits and inadequate resources. A specific solution was needed that would address South Africa’s unique situation. A mentorship programme, technology development and public engagement would be considered. The Chairperson summarised the recommendations that would be included in the Committee’s report, including the need for corrected statistics, and a comparison against the ideal, interpretation facilities, training on crime scene management, partnerships, a legislated promotions policy, and proper resource allocation. Above all, clear and specialised training strategies were needed.
Detective Services in the South African Police Service
The Chairperson noted apologies for the Minister, Deputy Minister and the National Commissioner of Police.
In her opening remarks, she noted a shared commitment by many stakeholders to detective services in South Africa. Investigation, the primary purpose of the detective services, was central to the prevention of crime. Some of the challenges included the shortage of detectives, outdated equipment and scarcity of equipment, and the need for proper training. The committee had been concerned that at many stations even senior officers had not themselves training. It should never be allowed that quantity of personnel take preference over quality, and a proper balance in both had to be found. This meeting aimed to highlight and clarify the problems, and to begin developing a road map to success for detectives in the South African Police Service (SAPS). In order to do this, stakeholder engagement was vital, so she urged those present to participate freely in the dialogue.
Presentation: A Day as a Detective
Detective Warrant Officer Gladstone Kasper began the background presentation on what a detective’s work entailed on a day-to-day basis by reiterating the importance of structure for a detective’s schedule with his/her partner. Detectives had to have detailed knowledge of the Bill of Rights, Criminal Procedure Act and other national and provincial instructions. Twice a year they were subjected to a written performance assessment, with the group commander. He opined that a good detective would be dedicated, loyal, have a well balanced lifestyle, and be well mannered. Detectives served the community unconditionally and must stay in touch with them. Daily activities included morning parade, production of dockets for inspection by the commander, prioritisation of investigations, attending of crime scenes, interviewing of possible suspects and witnesses, and making arrests where appropriate, as well as informing the complainant of the outcome of a case under investigation.
The challenges faced by a detective on a daily basis included language barriers, poor statement taking, possible intimidation of witnesses, the fact that eyewitnesses might leave the witness protection programme, and corruption within ranks. DWO Kasper suggested that all Vispol (uniform branch) members should be undergoing basic language courses as well as crime scene management. They should all be fully vetted and classified with a secret level clearance so as to combat corruption. Dockets received back from court must be updated on the CAS system, then filed in the archives. When closed, those dockets should be given either undetected or unfounded classifications, as required. When working on various dockets in different courts, detectives should have to prioritise properly.
Presentation on Inspection of Detective Services
Ms Phumelele Nzimande, Commissioner, Public Service Commission, said that the Public Service Commission (PSC) was mandated to promote Section 195 of the Constitution, and its work was related to the inspection of government departments and other organisational components of the public service. The aim of inspections was, in relation to SAPS, to evaluate the role of detective services in the fight against crime, and to assess the quality of service rendered to the public. Inspections were conducted at the national Head Office and 33 selected police stations throughout the country. Follow up inspections were also conducted at the Forensic Science Laboratories (FSLs).
Themes such as personnel training, availability of resources, operational duties and stakeholder liaison were used for collecting data.
In relation to personnel training, it was found that while most Detective Officers (DOs) were trained in the Basic Detective Learning Programme, some were not. 4 845 out of the 25 000 personnel had not had this training. In 11 stations, DOs were not adequately trained on computers, partly due to the fact that only one DO from a station could attend courses in a three month cycle.
In relation to availability of resources, it was found that a Resource Allocation Guide (RAG) was used, but there were budgetary constraints on this. 70% of stations did not have sufficient Dos, and lack of career progression led to DOs moving to pursue careers in other units of SAPS. 48.5% of stations did not have sufficient computers, failing to meet the ideal ratio of 1:3, whilst in other stations computers had been provided, but were either sitting in their boxes, unused, or were not linked to the mainframe. 24% of stations did not have sufficient vehicles, and this meant delays in arriving at crime scenes. The SAPS government garage was also shown to be in a poor state. This disparity of resources was not properly reflected in the records at the National Head Office. RAG in some instances recommended additional resources where they were not needed.
In relation to the operational duties of Dos, there was a common understanding on managing crime scenes, despite reports of non-adherence. Docket management was problematic and often not done properly. Whilst measures were prescribed around protection of evidence, but a few stations did not have fridges for holding blood samples. A lack of coordination with the Criminal Justice Cluster was observed.
Ms Irene Mathenjwa, Chief Director, PSC, reported, in relation to stakeholder liaison, that there was often little cooperation between DOs and the local Criminal Record Centre (CRC), as well as between DOs and prosecutors. In relation to monitoring and evaluation, there was a disparity between the number of charges laid and those cases that reached court, with a number of complaints being closed as “undetected”. The FSL presented certain challenges, including the fact that DOs took too long to submit analysis requests, failed to submit reference material, or reports were not collected for submission to court or were lost by DOs. The Police FSL had implemented a turnaround strategy. The Health Forensic Service Laboratories had shortages in human resources and vacant posts, untrained staff, outdated equipment, lack of vehicles and lack of storage. This was prohibiting effective police work.
Ms Mathenjwa recommended that SAPS must ensure proper training in all areas, must also ensure adequate resources, conduct of an audit to determine reasons for disparities in records, and take steps to ensure linking of IT to other departments such as Home Affairs, Health and Correctional Services.
Presentation on Role of Detectives in the Fight against Crime
Major General Charles Johnson, Detective Services, SAPS, noted that the Detective Services (DS) mandate derived from the SAPS Act, No 68 of 1995 and the Constitution, and this unit was to contribute to the fight against crime. Targets for performance indicators were discussed in detail for 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13. The targets had been maintained and in some cases exceeded. The targets were set using the previous year’s performance as a baseline, with marginal increases. In some instances, such as detection rates, the performance had been maintained but had not increased.
The Detective Service structure was displayed in an organogram (see attached presentation), and it was pointed out that the post for Section Head for Legal Support was vacant.
Major General Johnson discussed the role of detectives in relation to the criminal justice system (CJS) as a whole, including specific challenges. Protocols were in place to sustain cooperation within the CJS Cluster Departments, including procedures for maximum incarceration periods, as well as the referral of terminally ill detainees to court, release of detainees in custody of the police, and foreign nationals. He also noted the existence of a bail protocol, pre-trial protocol, regional court screening roll, mental observation protocol and post-mortems and toxicology analysis.
Detective Services Centres were established at 338 stations for round-the-clock service to the community. 338 vehicles were purchased for these centres. Challenges included the volume of cases, withdrawals of cases, delays in legislation, backlog of forensic analysis, a heavy workload and shortage of resources.
Criminal Justice System Challenges
Advocate Pieter du Randt, Deputy Director General: Court Services, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, highlighted some challenges identified within the CJS, such as disparate legislative and policy frameworks, the lack of an integrated national criminal justice system, lack of coordinated management information systems and no formal structures on a sub-national level. A new approach, as proposed in 2007, was centred on the establishment of an orderly, integrated and cumulative system that would lead to a new, modernised, efficient and transformed CJS. There was emphasis on practical solutions and elimination of dependencies.
In the early stages, the CJS intervention focussed on the alignment of stakeholder objectives and facilitated the approval of a CJS Overall Vision, signed off by the Cluster Director-Generals and Ministers. It also looked at the development of a Crime Scene Management Manual and Investigation Manual. Component areas of CJS that required urgent attention were budgeted for specifically, with an R1.8 billion in 2011. These funds helped to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of FSLs and had capacitated the CRCs. The current budget of R1.9 billion would be used to further achieve these goals.
Advocate Bradley Smith, Prosecutor, National Prosecuting Authority, listed the protocols that were being finalised and implemented, as well as those in progress. Change 4 in the strategic plan aimed to implement proposed key priorities for the component parts of the CJS, such as increases in the numbers of detectives, increases in standards of facilities and equipment, retention of skill and experience, reduction of caseloads, and specialised career-pathing. Change 5 aimed to establish an integrated and seamless national CJS IT database, to aid data exchange. He briefly discussed the five areas in which this programme had been re-prioritised (see attached presentation for details).
Adv Smith also emphasised that increased training was required, especially in areas such as dealing with juveniles, the drafting of affidavits, and knowledge of constitutional evidentiary procedure, bail proceedings and asset forfeiture. In reality, the capacity problems meant that detectives were over worked, and when they were carrying too many dockets, they were unable to focus properly on each one. The shortage of motor vehicles also impacted heavily on investigations and there were often not enough branch commanders to give direction to individuals. Premature arrests were a problem, and whilst the numbers of arrests often were quoted as a measure of success, it put too much pressure on officers and compromised efficiency. Many of the matters were withdrawn because, although there was work to be done on outstanding investigations, the officers would file them away. Another problem was that cases were not always assigned appropriately, or on the basis of experience.
Adv Smith stated, however, that there were some successes, including greater national leadership, improvements in investigation, which led to fewer withdrawals, improvements in the monitoring of cases and proper screening where protocol had been implemented.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) noted that the challenges identified so far were consistent with previous findings by this Committee. Flouting of crime scene procedures or lack of relevant training seemed rife, and this was severely hampering the effectiveness of SAPS and Detective Services. She asked how the Marikana incident should have been dealt with, saying that it was impossible to determine the fault, due to ineptitude at the scene.
Ms M Molebatsi raised a point of order, and requested that the Marikana matter not be discussed.
The facilitator for the meeting, Mr Irvin Kinnes, of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, agreed.
Major General Johnson responded that in general there were rules relating to major crime scenes. Those who were first to respond should cordon off the scene and protect it, only going on to that scene if there were injured people who must be attended to. However, he conceded that human beings were fallible, and mistakes may be made. There were specific measures in place, and those should be honoured.
The Chairperson questioned the numbers of detectives in SAPS. She said that previous reports gave different figures on how many detectives there were and how many more were specifically required. She was concerned at contradictions in these figures between reports. She added that, according to SAPS, only 20 stations were planned to have rolled out the e-docket system but one of the presentations gave this number as 99 instead.
Maj Gen Johnson agreed that discrepancies in figures had been noted by the Divisional Commissioner, and instructions had been issued for physical head counts and inventories on a quarterly basis. The figures presented were as at 31 March 2012. In order for a deceased officer to be removed from the system there were a number of administrative steps that would need to be taken and this took time. Detainees should not be in cells for more than seven days. In certain provinces this was exceeded but it was illegal and would be dealt with.
Ms Molebatsi asked DWO Kasper who would decide when investigators should attend further training. Ms Molebatsi recounted an incident where an investigating constable was not competent in IT despite the fact that this formed the whole basis for the case.
Maj Gen Johnson answered that the decision whether a detective should undergo training was done according to a skills profile. In the past, courses were scarce and limited, so officers often went years without additional training. There was therefore a prevailing view that training was unnecessary to gain qualifications, where experience served just as well. Head office and command stations collaborated to determine training schedules.
Ms Molebatsi asked why the RAG was not always suited to individual stations, and what action was taken when reports were lost by officers, including whether they would be disciplined.
Maj Gen Johnson responded that RAGs were drawn up taking into consideration a number of factors such as distance from courts, location, size and so forth. When officers lost reports they would be investigated for misconduct and steps to address the situation were implemented. An electronic system for informing officers of availability of reports was being pursued. Monitoring of cases should begin at the station where the docket was registered. They should be screened on a monthly basis and reasons for outstanding cases must be tendered.
Ms Molebatsi noted that cyber-crime was very serious, and was becoming increasingly sophisticated.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked if there was coordination between departments, and why the families of individuals in court were not informed of proceedings.
Mr Ndlovu asked which department was in charge of screening protocols.
Maj Gen Johnson assured Members that each department had a specific mandate for protocols. There were certain functions and responsibilities and when protocols were signed, they must thereafter be enforced.
Adv L Max (DA) asked General Johnson why vehicles were limited to repairs at specific places, since the fact that, for instance, punctures were not supposed to be fixed anywhere, but brought to a specific place, caused delays.
Maj Gen Johnson said that the limitations of SAPS garages were governed by the supply chain management environment, but there should be outsourcing of many garage functions.
Adv Max noted that detectives appearing in court were not properly attired and were often hard to identify. He asked the delegations how respect for the Criminal Justice System could be re-instilled in officers. He also asked what the criteria were for detectives, as they were not always viewed with respect.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) said that there were complaints of complainants not receiving feedback on cases from detectives.
Maj Gen Johnson said that discipline over officers who failed to appear properly was met with a zero tolerance approach. Quarterly reports were requested from all provinces on such matters. The criteria for detectives were set but it was often difficult to attract officers. Often the requirements must be relaxed in order to meet capacity. When complainants did not receive feedback there was clearly a serious problem and there had been many instances of this. However, the SMS system assisted with this, as complainants were given case numbers and investigating officer details.
Adv Jacques du Preez, Operational Officer, FW de Klerk Foundation, wanted more details about the language barrier issue, and specifically why only English and Afrikaans were being used. He said that when giving a statement, witnesses should always be entitled to use their first language. He suggested the use of sworn interpreters at stations to assist with this.
Maj Gen Johnson said that at most stations there were people able to communicate in the languages that were mostly spoken in that precinct. Officers were assigned to take statements according to their language fluency and, if necessary, interpreters were made available, although they were expensive.
Mr M George (ANC) interrupted, saying that the excuses for challenges faced were known to the committee, and that the purpose of the dialogue was ostensibly to achieve change through new measures.
The Chairperson agreed completely and said that the matters raised by participants needed to be addressed in new ways, as the old methods had obviously not been working.
Mr Kinnes suggested that those present speak discuss matters openly, leaving aside the fact that they were representing one organisation or another, to assist in more constructive discourse.
Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobesheane, Civilian Secretary for Police, suggested that perhaps questions could be posed in a more discursive manner and less interrogative manner.
Presentation on Detective Training and Career Development.
Dr Johan Burger, Senior Researcher, Institute for Security Studies, noted that SAPS comprised of approximately 155 000 sworn officers and 40 000 civilian or support staff. He noted that training should equip both recruits and senior staff with a better understanding of their responsibilities and the required competence. The National Development Plan emphasised the need for professionalising of the police service, and the importance of training, especially for detectives. Detective numbers increased by 11% between in the 2009 and 2010 financial years, and constituted 14.6% of the total number of sworn officers, compared to the international norm of between 15% and 20%. However, this figure was not appropriate for South Africa, where there were high levels of crime. Each investigator carried approximately 100 case dockets at any given time. Such heavy case loads created time and other pressures, and dockets were often carried over to subsequent years by reason of court delays, compounded by incompetence and lack of management.
The budget for Detectives and Training was tabled, and it was noted that the DS budget comprised 16%, 17% and 21% of the overall SAPS budget over the last three years respectively. Documentation from Human Resources stated that training material for detectives and the curriculum in general were comparable to international standards. The basic learning programme was considered equal to a first year university qualification. Basic training included generic competence, as well as specific areas such as stock theft, family violence and commercial crime. Although the content of training appeared to be adequate, an independent assessment was recommended for determining the quality of the training and whether or not it resulted in competent graduates. The assessment criteria themselves could be examined in light of the repercussions of a passing grade. It was not clear what happened to those trainees found to be not competent. In the Short Interventions – Support Skills Course, for example, 137 of 4 625 trainees were found to be “not yet competent”.
Career development for detectives was still largely integrated with career opportunities within SAPS. Salary levels were linked to rank, and this led detectives to seek promotion after gaining enough experience. Although this benefitted other departments, DS within SAPS often suffered. It was seen as very important to SAPS to retain the skills and experience that were being lost to promotion.
Dr Burger recommended that the number of detectives should be increased to at least 20% of the total sworn officers, so as to decrease each detective’s average workload. In addition, the practice of recruiting prospective detectives directly from police training should be reconsidered, and a uniformed investigation branch for the investigation of less serious crimes should be established, so as to provide tiered detective services and to relieve pressure on senior detectives. Career paths that provided salary promotion without rank promotion should be considered, as well as a two-stream career approach where candidates who failed to complete detective training should not be promoted beyond the level of their last successful course. Their fitness to remain in the course should also be evaluated.
Major General Johnson explained that there was interaction between the Human Resource Department and Detective Services to prioritise training of detectives. Following a review of the training, an additional R40 million was allocated t. 18 detectives were also sent to China to be trained in Cyber-crime and Fraud prevention. 20 were trained in the USA on drug related investigations. There was also an emphasis placed on computer literacy, via a partnership with Microsoft. There were long distance courses on Resolving Crime, which could be completed from home. This was an attempt to reduce training back logs. 2 161 trainees were expected to graduate in 2012.
Further details were presented on the Resolving Crime training conducted at Graaff-Reinet. Phase 1 took ten months and occurred at the SAPS academy, Phase 2 took two months at a designated Police Station, Phase 3 took six months, Phase 4 took five months at a designated Field Police Department and Phase 5 was a final month of integrated assessment at the Academy.
Detective training and career development figures were given, based on a physical head count. There was a total of 23 539 detectives. 11 549 detectives were trained in 11/12, 2 161 were planned for 2012/13 and 1 135 were planned for 2013/14. There were classroom shortages at the SAPS Academy at Hammanskraal, which needed eight classrooms, two computer rooms and two role-play centres. The provinces were also short of classrooms. 35 trainers were in place at Hammanskraal, but 17 more were needed. Eight trainers were needed in Pretoria and four more trainers in each province were needed. The challenges included the limited capacity of trainers and facilities, the consideration of continuity of work while training was taking place, and limited access to technology.
Ms Kohler-Barnard observed that these presentations essentially showed that detectives were not being trained, resources were not being allocated and statistics were not being properly monitored. Holding the rank of Detective should be promoted as an aspiration for many SAPS members, but many detectives did not have the necessary qualifications necessary for their status. Candidates should not become detectives until they attended and passed the courses, otherwise they should not hold this title.
Mr Sam Waterhouse, Parliamentary Programme Coordinator, Community Law Centre, said that the quality of management seemed to be a greater problem that lack of resources. Management was a key element to the success of improving a sector of civil society.
Mr George emphasised that engagement with stakeholders was necessary on the issues of detectives. He noted that the failure to retain skills was of concern, and that a solution was required urgently. The training of detectives would not be relevant if those trained were not retained. He asked whether SAPS was genuinely content with the quality of training and the way it was implemented.
Mr George asked how court delays could be eliminated effectively.
Mr George queried why habitual criminals would often be released on bail despite police protestations.
Commissioner Nzimande noted that failure to retain skills was a problem common to all public service departments. She also said that a mentorship programme was an effective mode of development. Retired detectives who were still in good health should be employed in a mentorship role. She asked to what extent training interfaced with independent institutions.
Adv Max supported the views of Dr Burger with regards to recruitment from uniformed investigators. He urged SAPS to consider this, as well as the mentorship programme, saying that existing mentors were often overloaded and could not perform adequately. In relation to salaries, he proposed that members should be given promotion opportunities or alternatively accept salary increases on their current ranks. He also proposed detective allowances for overtime.
Dr Mafokeng, Tshwane University of Technology, asked at what level mentorship would be applied. He also asked if skill sets were taken into account when making management appointments, and if individuals were assigned to positions where they had particular skills.
The Chairperson provided some recommendations. Firstly, legislation could be introduced to address certain problems identified. For example, ranking should be held separate from the Detective Services environment, so that a promotion was not synonymous with departure from that division. Pre-qualification for promotion to and within Detective Services should always precede the promotion itself. She also asked how necessary it was to use classrooms for training, pointing out that much of the training should be on a practical level, so that it could be possible to find independent facilities, such as banks for fraud training or cyber training.
Mr Kinnes asked for consideration to be given to a system whereby specialist training stations could be established in provinces, and then experts were employed, such as professors from universities. The added benefits of this were that the trainees would gain practical experience.
Adv Smith stressed that recruitment should be based on competency rather than volunteership. Uniformed Services investigating less serious crimes could provide opportunities to show the competence of those personnel. The basic Detective course must be passed before progression to the advanced courses was allowed. Those people who demonstrated skills or competency for specialised training should be identified, trained and housed in special units. Career pathing and salary advancement should be linked to the value for specially trained detectives to the private sector, to avoid them being “poached” elsewhere. He emphasised the importance of basic Detective training, especially in relation to crime scene treatment.
Mr Neil Nel, Section Manager: Information Services, Parliament, said that plans required budgets, and that SAPS’s capacity to do cost-benefit analyses should be strengthened. If arguments in favour of changes were not supported by evidence of the likely success to be achieved, the budgets would not be granted.
Major General Johnson expressed his appreciation for the positive suggestions tendered. He stated that he believed their implementation could improve the quality of detective services.
Dr Burger stated his belief that the improvement of conditions under which detectives worked would go a long way to attracting and retaining detectives, as well as helping their performance. He agreed that the number of retired and highly experienced detectives could make it possible for a good mentorship programme, and believed that many would be willing to contribute their expertise on a regular basis, and this proposal should be given serious consideration.
Presentation on Modernisation and Resourcing of the Detective Services
Ms Kalyani Pillay, Chief Executive Officer, South African Banking Risk Information Council (SABRIC), gave some background to Integrated Justice System (IJS) initiatives and the Criminal Justice System Review. She acknowledged the challenges noted in previous presentations, such as inadequate resources, inappropriate training and accountability. She emphasised the need for flexibility and adaptability of SAPS, as well as a tightened focus on areas where improvements could be made.
She discussed the nature of cyber crime as a growing concern, saying that it was faceless and border-less, which presented numerous complications for investigating detectives. The only way forward was to learn from syndicates and employ multi-disciplinary teams. She recommended the use of specialised fields of research, access to the Department of Home Affairs HANIS system, and the Online Fingerprint Verification System. Reaction teams or Intelligence Collection units should be provided for each crime desk. She added that multi-disciplinary teams were of vital importance and gave the example of ATM bombings, saying that in Australia, in order to combat this, special task teams were set up, with forensic auditors and other experts, and these diverse teams were able to combat these specialised, organised crimes such as the ATM bombings more effectively. Computer literacy was also vital. There was no reason why a case should not be reported electronically. SAPS had to keep up with criminals in terms of technology and information, even if it meant using social media like Facebook and Twitter.
Major General Johnson outlined the national and provincial distribution of detectives, as well as details of computer literacy rates. He stated that, in the interests of intensifying modernisation, 21 900 laptops had been purchased and were being distributed to detectives. This would aid in taking of statements and completion of dockets. 518 vehicles had been procured for use by detectives in the last financial year. SAPS was also n the process of procuring 338 more vehicles, 10 500 steel cabinets, 810 fridges, 45 chest freezers and 473 digital cameras. He gave a brief overview of the e-docket rollout, saying that it was being piloted in certain stations.
Ms Pillay added that she recommended the development of a comprehensive website that would enable people to become familiar with outstanding suspects or persons of interest, so as to engage public support for policing. For crime scene management, detective services should call on private bodies when necessary. Banks, for example, had their own investigators and as they were more familiar with that environment there was no reason why their assistance should not be welcomed.
The Chairperson urged that a joint meeting be arranged to examine the expenditure on the CJS cluster. The re-vamping of the system was costing an enormous amount, but SAPS had not fully embraced it, having underspent on the budget in this area for both previous quarters. She pointed out that the presentation indicated that separate digital cameras and phones were being purchased, rather than hybrid technology. If SAPS did not have capacity to make the right decisions on technology, then outside consultants must be used.
Ms Kohler-Barnard noted that even the current technological objectives fell short of ideal, particularly when compared to the levels of technology employed by criminal syndicates.
Mr Trevor Budhram, Senior Lecturer, Department of Police Practice, UNISA, commented that, in regard to investigations, the training programmes provided should lead to the setting up of specialised units, to which case-files should be specifically assigned.
Adv Smith commented that other areas that had not been mentioned in this presentation included the need for network access, within SAPS, to the records of previous convictions and other data, as well as sensitisation of SAPS members to the e-docket system. It would be a valuable improvement if it were to be properly used, but at the moment the majority of SAPS members were not able to type as quickly as they could write, because they were not fully trained. Modernisation was only as useful as the person behind the keyboard, and far more development of skills had to happen before real progress would be seen.
Ms Pillay stated that one of the suggestions was training in the technology for taking of fingerprints. In relation to cell phones, she reiterated the importance of cell phone triangulation, but said that the cost meant that they could not be made available to all members on a personal basis, so that specialised laboratories with this equipment should be established. When using CCTV footage, the correct software was not always available, and this should also be addressed.
The Chairperson observed that there were often off-the-shelf solutions available. It was of concern that to date, SAPS had often taken an approach that was not in line with its skills, such as implementing advanced fingerprinting systems, without considering the lack of competency of officers to use these systems. SAPS needed to acknowledge its own weaknesses and abilities, and develop a plan suited to them, rather than trying to appear more competent than it really was.
Ms Molebatsi said that although the rollout of the e-docket system had started some time ago, its implementation had been particularly slow.
The Chairperson said that there was a common theme of SAPS falling behind the times. She reiterated that it should not be seen as a weakness to seek help from external sources.
Lieutenant General Anwar Dramat, Head, HAWKS, noted that cyber crime was an ever-present global threat. He indicated that SAPS had some capacity to deal with it, although its capacity was limited and found only in the specialist units.
Presentation on the Role of Detectives in Family and Child Support
Ms Lisa Vetton, Child Justice Specialist, began by discussing responses to the problem of Family and Child support internationally. The “Women’s Police Station” was gaining strength in Latin America and India. Specialist units and individuals were being encouraged in a number of countries, with a view to increasing reporting of cases and case outcomes. This area of law enforcement was specialised, but also simple, in that it boiled down to work ethic and attention to detail rather than tertiary information. South Africa’s position had changed over the years. Child Protection Units were established in 1986, and Family and Child Support (FCS) units were created in 1995. However, in 2006 the FCS Units were effectively broken up, and were only restored in 2011. In the current financial year, 2 155 FCS detectives had been placed at 176 policing clusters in the country, with a combined budget of R49.5 million. The FCS detectives were achieving a 52.4% arrest rate, but 42% of cases were withdrawn by police, 49% were withdrawn by prosecutors, 19% were referred to trial and 36.5% of that figure resulted in guilty verdicts. All of these statistics compared favourably to general detectives’ work.
In general, it was shown that arrests and trials relating to adult women’s matters were less successful than those for children’s matters. The reason for this was unclear, but it was speculated that, in the case of children, the suspects were more often known and that more effort was put into their cases. She highlighted the difference between known and unknown perpetrators, saying that stranger rapes required more effort from police, that detectives did not always take statements from all eye witnesses, that crime scenes were not always visited frequently enough, and that DNA sampling for suspects was not always conducted. A case study from Mpumalanga was cited, where 13 men were identified as having been involved in an estimated 37 rapes over three years, with one possibly involved in a total of 11 rapes from 2001 to 2007. The same individuals appeared in court time after time, sometimes no more than a month apart, but they were still awarded bail. The fact that there were successive cases did not result in additional vigilance or effort from SAPS members.
Ms Vetton recommended that under-reporting needed to be addressed, and policies put in place to address it. The distinction between child and adult victims’ cases had to be examined. Fragmented responses such as taking statements must be addressed. The quality of investigations had to be monitored. The creation of a women’s police station was not feasible in South Africa, but Victim Empowerment Centres could be made more women-and child-friendly.
Major General Botsheleng, SAPS, discussed the role of detectives in FCS, saying that the FCS units had been established according to the cluster model. It was a specialised environment that used awareness campaigns to sensitise the community. The purpose of Forensic Social Workers was to focus on the interface between the legal system and the human resource system. There were 2 207 detectives and support staff in FCS units. She provided a provincial breakdown of the 176 cluster stations. Improvement should be seen through prioritising of training, inclusion of FCS units as an employee category, better professionalism and service delivery, support for victims of crimes against women and children, and providing support at crime scenes, including social workers.
In terms of National Instruction 18 of 1998, she noted that there was a debriefing procedure for traumatised members, including psychological and spiritual services as well as private consultations. The FCS Detective Learning Programme (DLP) included presentations and debriefing of members every six months. The numbers trained were set out, and it was noted that there were five courses scheduled for the 2012/13 year.
The relationship of the units at station level was good, but accommodation for FCS was problematic. Many were housed in park homes and old buildings. Unit commanders were inexperienced and management was therefore a problem. Not all allocated vehicles were appropriate for the terrain. In general, it was noted that office accommodation remained a national challenge, as well as withdrawal of cases by complainants, delays in finalisation of cases and the lack of a clear career path for FCS investigators. Nevertheless, more than 300 life sentences had been handed down by the courts, and more than 10 000 other sentences. The success of the unit was ongoing.
Mr J Jeffery (ANC) noted that he was concerned about the lack of cohesion between figures, with conflicting reports as to the number of detectives in the units. In addition, the comparisons between general detectives and FCS detectives did not add up, and it was not clear what the percentages reflected – for instance, the figure of 7.9% for guilty findings presumably was 7.9% of the cases that were finally referred to trial, although this was not clear.
Dr Caroline Hancock, Director: DNA Project, stated that it should be accepted that rape was often committed by previous offenders. There was pending legislation on the expanded use of DNA for crimes, but as the figures currently stood, South Africa had a shocking record of re-offenders. More emphasis should be placed on this fact when seeking solutions.
Ms Naeemah Abrahams, Deputy Director: Gender and Health Research Group, stated that FCS crimes tended to be gender-related, as men most often perpetrated crimes against women, and most of the women murdered were victims of their intimate partner. Child homicides were not often recognised and she suggested that there should be a child homicide review at police clusters, where experts involved reviewed cases to ensure they had been investigated properly. Finally, she voiced her support for gun control legislation and the role that the reporting of dangerous firearms in the hands of dangerous domestic partners would play, in reducing the likelihood of domestic violence.
Mr Roedolf Kay, National Coordinator, South African Older Persons’ Forum , noted that no reference had been made, in these discussions, to the older persons segment of society. Sexual violence against older persons was a sad reality, as well as social persecution. He asked if abuse of older persons was properly regulated, in the same way that FCS was regulated.
Ms Irish-Qhobesheane reiterated that quality detective work was the most important aspect of addressing crimes against vulnerable groups of society, as well as increased reliance on efficient techniques like DNA testing.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the Committee was on the brink of effectively putting huge amounts of money into developing the DNA database. For this reason, the reports that SAPS members were not taking blood were of grave concern. Similarly, the months of work on passing fingerprint legislation also appeared to be wasted if there was incompetence. She feared that there would be an expensive disconnect between empowering SAPS, through technology and legislation, and their capacity to actually implement the measures.
The Chairperson asked whether the creation of specialised units should be included in pending legislation, to ensure that the units, once created, could not be disbanded by management, who could not always be trusted to do the right things.
Adv Max said that interaction between departments was absolutely necessary, and that across many communities the Departments of Justice, Correctional Services and Police often faced the same problems. There had to be constant public engagement, and frustrations must be aired, from all sides.
Colonel Sonja Harri, FCS Coordinator, SAPS, responded to the issue of fragmented attention to cases. She said that uniformity was not always possible to achieve, due to geographical limitations. Where a decision was taken to withdraw a case, this was not made unilaterally by police officials. Relationships with prosecutors had been formed, but it was also necessary to note the effect of the high turnover of prosecutors. Most investigating officers and social workers attended training sessions on DNA, that took place every third month.
Adv du Randt wanted to emphasise the role of the existing Care Centres, which had to be emulated elsewhere. The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development had put a task team together to deal with sexual offences.
Ms Vetton expanded that where police withdrew cases, this would result in closure of the dockets. Another problem not yet highlighted was that in the specialised sexual offences courts, the correct criteria for appointing personnel were not always used, so that these courts often had lower conviction rates than normal courts. There needed to be a model for minimum levels of competency for detectives, so that access to justice was not concentrated in selected areas. Rape survivors in the rural areas were often discriminated against in effect, and the quality of services should not be derivative of location.
General Botsheleng voiced her appreciation for all of this feedback.
Presentation on Effective use of Evidence – CRC/FSC/CSI
Dr David Klatzow, Independent Forensic Scientist, noted that often, SAPS was “its own worst enemy” as the Service did not properly facilitate its own use of forensic evidence. In the Brett Kebble murder enquiry, the crime scene had been almost completely destroyed within the first 24 hours, with people being allowed to walk around the crime scene, and one of the main pieces of evidence being released into the custody of the prime suspect. In another case, there were bloodstained footprints in the apartment, which may or may not have been caused by the investigating officers. At the Drummond crime scene, when the deceased was alleged to have fallen from a balcony, such evidence as the deceased’s computer went missing. Dr Klatzow pointed out that it was generally an ordinary police official who was the first to arrive on the scene, and many of the problems could easily be solved by providing every policeman with a crime scene kit that would include gloves and other equipment.
Another problem was that laboratory analysis of evidence was not adequate, but the laboratory was vital in maintaining the credibility of the evidence and the prospects of success of the ensuing case. Forensic science appeared to be learnt in a sort of “apprenticeship” by police officers, as there were no specialised forensic courses offered at universities. The new Forensics Laboratory in Cape Town only addressed part of the problem. Employees there were demoralised as they were not accredited, senior staff members had been found guilty of criminal offences, and many staff members were under-qualified. He stressed that when appointing employees to a forensics position, the only criterion that should be considered was ability, but this was not happening. There was a crisis in the Health laboratory, where there was a five or six year wait for toxicology results. This had huge implications not only for criminal prosecutions but also for general policing.
Dr Klatzow’s overall impression of the laboratories was that results could easily be negated by legal teams, since they did not hold up well under scrutiny. There was also another problem, in getting the evidence from the scene of the crime to the forensic laboratory, as this evidence was frequently misplaced or contaminated. In one shooting incident, the weapon vanished, making any conclusion virtually impossible. There needed to be a partnership between the police and other interested parties. For example, British American Tobacco could use access to a forensic laboratory. There was no space for bureaucracy in such a matter and quality could not be compromised on any grounds.
Major General Adeline Shezi, Head: Quality, Forensic Division, SAPS, summarised the organogram of the Forensic Services division, with a breakdown of personnel by demographics and other classifications. There was an overall improvement in employment equity from June 2010 to June 2012. The forensic business profile was also presented, and a summary was given of the Forensic Science Laboratories. For criminal record and crime scene management, all aspects of forensics, not just DNA, were important. Maj-Gen Shezi conceded that there were challenges in the training of police officers, as well as in trying to minimise the current delays in forensic reports. The role of explosive control and bomb disposal capacity in SAPS was raised, as well as investigative psychology, a new addition to the SAPS arsenal, which had helped to deal with psychologically motivated crimes and subsequent cases. She discussed biological evidence gathering, including blood spatter analysis and facial reconstruction, as well as chemical evidence gathering, but noted limitations in toxicology capacity. Scientific analysis included the analysis of soils, glass, and related materials. The Victim Identification Centre facilitated in ante-mortem data collection, the post-mortem processing of remains, and other areas.
A graph was tabled to illustrate annual performance changes in criminal record and crime scene management. Performance had increased since 2009/10, to 94%, 14% higher than expectations/targets. However the Forensic Science Laboratories had decreased in performance since 2010/11 and were below the target of 92%.
Ms Kohler-Barnard noted that although there was a demographic breakdown of the staff, none of their qualifications were shown. She noted that no university degree courses were available, but opined that surely at least a degree in science would be required. She asked if the evidence provided by the police experts was being successfully challenged in court by superior forensic experts, and, if so, why this was the case.
Ms Hancock stated that the DNA project had worked with the NPA to develop courses in forensic biology or forensic science. She did not believe that this could be accepted as an explanation for the problems. She agreed that forensic kits should be mandatory in every police vehicle. She asked Major General Shezi about accreditation of laboratory work, saying that if this were done, defence lawyers would not be able to question their competence.
Dr Mafokeng said that those officers who were first responders at the scene of a crime should have been trained comprehensively in crime scene procedure, to avoid doubt on the validity of the evidence. He said that in low profile cases, members of community would not have a voice, so this was incredibly important.
Dr Klatzow agreed that a forensic course had recently been created at UCT, but this course did not extend to all areas of forensics, such as ballistics, fire damage and many others. Although DNA was being covered, it was only one aspect and there should not be a focus on this, disproportionate to other areas. He reiterated the importance of the chain of evidence. He said that there needed to be consultation between state and private forensic personnel. The courts should not be burdened with cases that were destined to fail due to mismanagement of evidence.
Major General Shezi agreed that it was important to involve all stakeholders in creating qualifications. There were minimum qualifications required for employment as a forensic scientist, and she said that no cases had been withdrawn because the forensic employee was not properly qualified. Crime scene kits were already supplied to officers, and that whilst all vehicles would ideally be equipped with one, this could not be done in the short term. However, she emphasised that until officers were properly trained in the use of these kits, there was no point in making them available. Although evidence was always placed in bags that should clearly show if there had been any interference, forensic laboratories did not always recognise when there had been tampering with that evidence. Accreditation should be done, but should also be seen in light of the facts. The courts could still challenge results, even if the laboratories were accredited. Furthermore, accreditation should not be implemented unless it would be in the interests of the laboratory itself. If the laboratory was not up to a proper standard it would not help to make that status public, and it would be better to improve it first.
Dr Klatzow expressed his opinion that there was nothing worse than denial. He commended Major General Shezi for admitting that problems existed. He suggested that the Council which registered forensic scientists should be approached also to register forensic laboratory employees. He believed it would go a long way to improving the reputation of the laboratory.
Presentation on Lessons Learned
Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya, Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, SAPS, firstly expressed his appreciation to the Committee for organising this dialogue. The challenges identified were ongoing and touched on a number of environments across SAPS. The detective environment was not designed to retain skills, and this was resulting in a heavy workload that may encourage shortcuts at the cost of quality. There were few incentives for new recruits and there were insufficient resources in communication, transportation and accommodation. As matters stood, quality and quantity were inversely related. He agreed that areas such as forensic ability and computer literacy should be emphasised in training and capacity building.
Ms Irish-Qhobesheane noted that any conclusions reached had to be incorporated either into policy, strategy or into the White Paper and legislation. Human capacity had to be accurately measured so that corrective measures could be taken. It was not particularly useful to compare the statistics with other countries, since a scientific analysis of South Africa’s own position was needed. The criteria for recruitment of detectives and means of attracting potential recruits had to be examined. Training had to be considered, both for the existing and for future detectives. The mentorship programme incorporating retired detectives should be implemented. The next area of interest was modernisation of detective work, and she stated that a higher level of equipment and expertise was vital. Technology issues had to be driven by specific objectives, and be targeted. Public engagement should be encouraged including the creation of websites and other measures.
Ms Molebatsi thanked the delegation on behalf of the Committee.
The Chairperson added her own thanks and acknowledged that SAPS members operated under difficult conditions. Arising from these discussions, a final report would be drawn, with certain recommendations. The correct number of detective personnel was needed, as well as a comparison of what the ideal number would be, based on a scientific analysis, and a plan must be drawn as to how that would be reached. It was clear that proper training on crime scene management should be rolled out to all members who had already undergone training. SAPS should consider partnerships with private bodies and other government departments. The policy around promotions should be legislated. Resource allocation should be done, together with detectives, in order to bring this in line with current challenges. Detectives were not seen as being properly resourced and solutions must be found outside of SAPS. Clear specialised training strategies must be developed. The principle of ‘first qualification, then appointment’ had to be implemented, as well as a zero tolerance for corruption. A workable solution for language barriers had to be developed, including a central language interpretation call centre.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Support to the Investigation of Crime Division: Forensic Services
- Detective Dialogue: Effective use of Evidence- CRC/FSC/CSI
- Public Service Commission
- Detective Training & Career Development
- Modernisation and Resourcing of the Detective Services
- The SAPS response to sexual offences
- Detective Dialogue: “Role of detectives in the fight against crime”
- South African Police Services
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