Police brutality: Ministerial briefing; SAPS Strategic Plan: input by ISS, South African Police Union & Civilian Secretariat for Police

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26 March 2013
Chairperson: Ms A van Wyk (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Minister of Police briefed the Committee on the recent incidents of police brutality, stressing that the ministry found the behaviour of some individuals in the South African Police Service (SAPS) to be unacceptable, and it should not be assumed that this permeated through the entire institution. Criminal charges would be laid, where appropriate. The Minister noted that the whole disciplinary regime in SAPS was under debate. Although the training curriculum contained a human rights component it was clearly not sufficient, and the human rights culture must be instilled and enforced constantly. He said that possible causes of brutality were being investigated, although it was widely recognised that the SAPS faced enormous stress, coupled with a perception that seeking professional help was a sign of weakness. Recruitment processes were problematic, and there was now a suggestion that names of potential candidates should be published to allow for public comment. The White Paper on Policy would spell out how SAPS would be professionalised. The Code of Conduct needed to be elevated, and the importance of good relationships with the public was emphasised. Members said that the lapses in command and control seemed to indicate that incorrect people were at the helm, and were concerned that police officials seemed to close ranks and protect each other, Recruitment had long been a cause for concern, and they asked how it was intended to improve this, whether the training modules would be improved, what would be done if individuals did not adhere to the Code, and what action had been taken against certain individuals. They questioned uncertainties around promotions and career pathing. Members were highly critical of specific incidents where lack of discipline occurred in senior ranks, and that those found guilty of criminal offences were not dismissed. They asked if re-militarisation of the SAPS would address the lack of discipline and respect, had suggested that a commission of inquiry was needed to address the root causes, wondered if reviews of training for public order would be done.

Three institutions then made oral submissions on the budget and strategic plans of SAPS for 2013/14, and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union would give a written submission. The Institute for Security Studies gave an informative presentation on how police style and actions influenced crime. It was stressed that public acceptance of he police, particularly by high-risk juveniles, was one of the most effective long-term strategies, and that the answer to disciplinary problems apparent in any police force did not lie with removing the few ‘bad apples’ but with ensuring that the whole organisation was fully accountable. Management must be held responsible for changing culture, behaviour and performance at all ranks. There was a public perception that SAPS abused its power. 66% of the population believed that police corruption was widespread, 41% did not trust the police and 35% were scared of them. Very few of the cases that were reported against SAPS resulted in criminal or disciplinary convictions, with only five of the 545 cases in 2011/12 resulting in dismissal, and only 13 in criminal convictions. Thousands of serving SAPS members had criminal convictions, but remained in their posts. ISS was also concerned that SAPS was awarding many “suspended dismissal” findings. Mass recruitment had occurred between 2002 and 2012, to meet a need, but it was badly planned, and failed to ensure correlating improvements for the training colleges and supervisors, with the result that inadequately trained officers were released without proper management and support, which was exacerbated by a breakdown also, at this time, of accountability systems. Graphs were shown comparing personnel and operational trends, and it was explained that although mass arrests were prevalent for petty crime, which actually would not address the problem long-term, there was too little done to address other serious crimes. ISS believed that South Africa had to look to other strategies, but this was not addressed in the APP, which made no mention of strengthening criminal and disciplinary investigations and processes, improving training, appointments, promotions, or rewards and incentives. There was no recognition that crime had not stabilised and that current policing was not yielding the right results. ISS urged that the National Development Plan (NDP) recommendations to “professionalise the SAPS” must be developed into a clear plan of action, and supported the establishment of a multi-disciplinary National Police Board to handle appointments and promotions. Members asked about the reasons for withdrawal of cases, asked if specific reasons for brutality had been isolated, called for suggestions on improving recruitment, asked why the disciplinary structures were not working, and why so few prosecutions succeeded. They questioned the ratios of police to public. They said that the “suspended dismissals” would be interrogated with management. ISS was asked to submit a written memorandum on gaps in the plan, including performance measures and to comment whether money was being correctly spent.

The South African Policing Union (SAPU) agreed with previous presenters on the need for full accountability. It did not believe that a militarised service was appropriate, but welcomed the NDP approach to professionalisation, which would require a mindset change. SAPU was concerned that often young officers were put under severe stress or given poor peer guidance. It stressed the need to fight corruption from within the service and to raise integrity, and called for the resuscitation of the Anti-Corruption Unit, as well as expressing support for the specialised units. Specific comments were made on each of the programme budgets and targets, but it also questioned some apparently inconsistent figures. It expressed particular concern on the state of police stations and barracks, service conditions, including the POLMED medical aid, and ability to access housing finance. The budget for training and development was criticised as too low, particularly for Crime Intelligence and Detective Services and SAPU suggested that more investment was needed in Visible Policing. It recommended that more detectives were needed, to drop the caseload from the current 150 to 200 cases per month, down to 60, and questioned whether the figures for increased numbers of detectives to date were credible and what they included. SAPU was concerned that the disciplinary system was not working, not fair or inconsistent, with particular concerns around suspensions without pay, discrepancies in treatment of senior and junior personnel, the need to strengthen recruitment processes and the need to remove those found guilty of criminal conduct. Members asked if SAPU was involved in setting the budget, or in recruitment, and for comments on suspension without pay, and suspended dismissals. They questioned how the problems of the former Anti-Corruption Unit would be avoided. They felt that some requests to the Committee were not practical, but other points would be pursued with management. They raised questions about the pensions.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police examined the links between the Strategic Plan (SP), the Annual Performance Plan (APP), the NDP and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Delivery agreements. In general, there were sufficient links from SP to APP, and the Cluster indicators were incorporated. However, there were a number of specific concerns on programmes. For Programme 1, the Secretariat questioned the targets for firearms and bullet proof vests, the unchanged ratio of personnel to vehicles, inconsistent capital projects plans and the failure to articulate targets, and over-emphasis on community service centre improvements.. The Visible Policing Programme was seen as problematic because the targets could result in rolling backlogs, and there was no turnaround strategy specified for the Central Firearms Registry. Audited figures on serious crimes for 2009/10 and 2010/11 seemed to have changed. The performance targets for measuring certain indicators were confusing, as some referred to “not exceeding” whilst others allowed for deviations. The SAPS seemed to be trying to “chase” quotas and this was undermining community-centred policing. The use of performance charts was not always reliable. The Secretariat was concerned about the under-targeting for Detective Services and the sudden spike in some targets for case-ready dockets, which seemed to be directly pursuing Cluster targets. New indicators had been included for Crime Intelligence, but were not useful since the information would be classified. There were inconsistencies in use of percentages. The Committee was appreciative of this critical and analytical presentation.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson noted that the Minister of Police had written to the Committee on 14 March 2013, saying that he wished to speak to the Committee around police brutality and negative reports in the media. This was the first occasion when the Committee could give him time to address it.

Minister’s briefing
Hon Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Police, started by reiterating the mandate of the South African Police Services (SAPS) and saying that it must respect the Constitution, and the human rights of citizens. The police must see themselves as enforcers of the law, but not the law itself.

SAPS had been recently under the spotlight through the media reports, and the behaviour of certain police officials that had led up to this was unacceptable. However, it must be recognised that this behaviour did not permeate through the entire institution, which was for the most part made up of dedicated officials. In January 2013 the Minister, cluster and provincial commanders and senior management had met to look at the state of policing in the country, policy and how matters of concern should be addressed. Instances were noted where there had been lapses of command and control, particularly at police stations. Some of the programmes put in place had attended to that. Some officers had attempted to shield others, but the whole disciplinary regime was being considered.

The Minister stressed that human rights was part of the training curriculum, but clearly that alone was not sufficient. SAPS was engaging with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), and was intending to run programmes to ensure that the respect for human rights was stressed on an ongoing basis, and was not limited to training sessions only. The Ministry and Department of Police was looking into some of the possible causes. Whilst it recognised that the stress levels that SAPS officials encountered were not an excuse to engage in brutality, it was nonetheless important to recognise the impact that stress could have. Many officials still did not participate in the voluntary psychological programmes, because there was a widespread perception that this was a sign of weakness, or they may be passed over for promotion. However, the Minister had stressed that this should not be seen as anything other than a necessary process, intended to help people overcome the way they reacted to pressures. There was a deep sense of anger in many quarters of the SAPS which could only be addressed with professional help.

Minister Mthethwa said that there was a clear timetable for inspections, and whilst reactive actions were still needed, SAPS also needed to try to adopt a more proactive stance. Technology could be used to monitor police officers.

As he had outlined previously, one of the problems was that the recruitment officers in provinces had substantial powers, and in some instances this had been abused. Two years ago, the Ministry had already said that the whole question of recruitment must be strengthened, to prevent recruitment of a person who, although not having a criminal record, was nonetheless not suited to being a police officer. It was intended now that once people were being considered for a post, and prior to training, their names should be published so that the public would have a chance to notify the recruitment office of any potential problems. Only if no adverse comments were given, would SAPS accept that the people into the training programmes.

Mr Mthethwa outlined how policy related to the challenges experienced during times of public protest. In 2011, a new public order policing policy was introduced, which clearly set out how SAPS was expected to react and act during public protests. The White Paper on Policy was being finalised, and it spelt out what a professional police institution must address. It would be cascaded down to police station level. Interaction with police stations had to be institutionalised and ongoing. Station commanders had been prepared for the changes.

There was a Code of Conduct, but it needed to be elevated, and management was trying to do this all the time. The SAPS were trying to establish a public presence in communities, to ensure that people became part of the policy, and during public engagements the Code would be promoted. However, he accepted that there was a difference between a SAPS official being able to recite what was in the Code, and translating this to behaviour, and he pointed out that it was very difficult to regulate human behaviour. All the right policies and prescripts could be in place, but individuals may well act in a contrary fashion. Those recent incidents of brutality had happened at police station level. The policing precinct and stations were only as good as the station commander, and SAPS had both good and poor managers. The Ministry intended to introduce a new approach, to professionalise the police and provide long and lasting solutions to police brutality and criminality. He reiterated that the recent incidents must be seen as individual incidents, and could not be conflated with the institution. There would be criminal charges laid where appropriate.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) noted the Minister’s statement that there had been a lapse of command and control and said this was serious because it meant that the wrong people were at the helm. He asked how they would be removed.

Mr Ndlovu noted the reference to the culture of human rights within the training programmes. He asked if there was any intention to change the training modules. Currently, SAPS officials were trained for two years, but he asked what was done if they failed. The impression was rife that SAPS simply did not care about human rights.

Mr Ndlovu asked what would be done if a SAPS official did not adhere to the Code. He asked if the Department would prosecute that individual and if s/he would be fired. He made the point that when claims were laid, the official, even if found criminally liable or negligent, would not end up paying damages, particularly if they claimed to have been fired and therefore unable to pay, and there was no possibility of attaching their pension.

Mr M George (COPE) said that there was an unfortunate perception that the attitude of the SAPS now was no better than it had been during the apartheid era. Post-1994, there had been improvements but all that ground had been lost because of poor behaviour. He wondered how this would be dealt with. The way that the police defended each other was another problem, as it gave the impression that they simply did not recognise incorrect actions.

Mr George said that the recruitment had been a long-standing concern. Whilst no recruitment system would even be foolproof, there was a distinct impression was just anyone was allowed to enter the SAPS. The ethos of the police had disappeared, and this was apparent at the time even of entering some stations. He stressed that SAPS members should behave properly all day, every day.

Mr George welcomed the gains made in the past where the public and SAPS had managed to move closer to more constructive relationships, but said that there was now again a gap between the public and police. It was vital to close that for without the cooperation of the public, policing could not succeed

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) accepted that not every police official was behaving badly. He cited prompt responses in Mafikeng which had been well received by the victim and family, but asked what had happened to the individual police officer involved in the brutality there.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) also agreed that not all SAPS officials were bad, and saluted those who were willing to sacrifice their lives to fight crime. The Minister had not said anything this morning that had not previously been raised. The Minister had previously referred to station commanders as the backbone of the service, but he had this morning agreed that there was a problem with that very level. However, he pointed out that it was necessary to lead by example. There was a serious problem with discipline in the highest ranks as well, and if discipline was not maintained, the SAPS would not succeed. He cited the case where the Head of the Forensics Division committed fraud in relation to sick leave, yet after being first expelled; she was reinstated, while the investigation was still pending. That sent out a poor message. He noted that several station commanders who had been found guilty of criminal offences were still in their positions.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) added that there were also instances of abuse of sick leave.

Mr Groenewald and Ms Molebatsi both welcomed the initiative to publish names of intended recruits, so that communities could make input and so that the right person for the job could be found.

Mr Groenewald added, however, that the same strict actions should apply throughout, to those already serving. If the country was serious, it must get rid of the bad elements in SAPS – and he thought the starting point must be to remove every member of SAPS with a criminal record. People had lost trust in, and in many cases actually feared SAPS, not wanting to approach the station to report incidents. He cited another example of a woman who visited a station to report abuse by her partner. Not only was she herself later arrested and charged with assault, but she was subjected to multiple rapes while being held at the police station. Such incidents must be fearlessly addressed.

Mr Groenewald also noted that senior management of SAPS had failed to attend a meeting with the Committee, and this was illustrative not only of lack of discipline, but also lack of respect. If senior managers did not have that respect, then it would not filter down to the ranks. The attitude seemed to be prevalent that once a person had a uniform, he could act exactly as he wished. He wanted the Minister to tell this Committee exactly what would be done to enforce discipline.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) also asked the Minister to detail exactly what was meant by “improving command and control”. The re-militarisation of the SAPS was intended to improve command and control, but it did not seem that this had happened. Generally, citizens seemed to be fearful of SAPS. She noted also that the National Development Plan (NDP) called for immediate demilitarisation of SAPS, and she asked if the Minister intended to comply with those dictates. She asked if there would be an assessment of the effects of the initial militarization, the de-militarisation and the subsequent re-militarisation, and of the serious crisis in top management.

Ms Kohler-Barnard was not sure if the President had sought the advice of Minister Mthethwa in relation to launching a commission of inquiry to try to get to the bottom of the brutalities. She asked what the Minister would do to address the brutal police force, not the service. The Minister had suggested that these were isolated incidents. However, she was concerned that incidents seemed to be happening all the time yet nothing was done unless someone actually filmed them and made that footage public. If the Masiya case had not been captured on film, it would have been another incident where the police officers involved covered up for each other. Several incidents had been witnesses, although not necessarily filmed, where police officers displayed serious brutality. If these were dealt with as isolated incidents rather than prevalent trends, nothing would be done to address the root causes..

Ms Kohler-Barnard raised her concerns that many of those within SAPS who committed serious crimes that would land another civilian in jail, were never punished, merely transferred. The Committee had asked if members were suspended, and were told that they had not been, yet had subsequently discovered that the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) had made recommendations for suspension that were simply ignored. The IPID, like its predecessor Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) was simply not being taken seriously. Over five thousand criminal acts were recorded by IPID, but often the police officials would support each other, destroy files or simply not take matters further as they were worried that they themselves would be threatened. This was a massive problem and she pleaded that it be taken seriously.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked the Minister if there was a possibility of a review of public order training. It was clear that there was a serious problem there.

Ms Molebatsi questioned who would refer SAPS members for trauma debriefing, and what would be done if no debriefing sessions were held.

The Chairperson said that the Minister had spoken about a whole process of recruitment, training, command and control and promotions (which the Committee believed was completely skewed). The Committee was also concerned that a person with a criminal record could still be promoted. Police officers did not have clearly defined career pathing, and she pointed out that this should be discussed at an early stage with human resource development units, so that careers were planned according to capabilities and interest, with people given other alternatives if they failed their course. They should know when they should apply for promotions.

The Chairperson noted the frustrations of both the Committee and the public about the perceived lack of consequences. Sometimes, the SAPS officials may appear in court but, as with Daveton, were given special treatment in the cells. In Northern Cape the Committee had seen a list of fraud cases but internal police processes resulted in nominal fines only being imposed and the personnel retaining their jobs.

The Chairperson referred to the matter cited by Mr Groenewald and said this was one of the most shocking police stations the Committee had visited. In the last weekend a female officer at that station had witnessed her colleagues assaulting someone, and had called on them to stop. The person who was assaulted was released without charges being laid. She had suggested that he lay a charge at another station, and was then later herself subjected to threats.

The Chairperson, like other Members, did believe that the majority of police officers were honest, and dedicated. However, when the ill discipline of a few was not addressed, the public would start to perceive the police in a negative way and would not be able to distinguish between those who were upstanding or not.

A Member made the point that some criminal elements no doubt joined the SAPS either because they believed it would confer special status, or because they perceived this as a way to commit criminal acts themselves, and the recruitment processes were failing to detect this.

The Minister said that he would deal with the answers in three broad areas of discipline, perceptions and the whole value chain from recruitment to retirement.

He noted that the issue of respect for human rights had been raised at command and control level. Some of the matters had nothing to do with the capacity to command and control, and he said that some members of the SAPS may deliberately choose not to enforce, because of competing interests or threats from the colleagues who had done something wrong; there was an unfortunate, but old culture, of SAPS protecting itself. He said that in order to counter this, the human rights culture had to receive more emphasis. It would also assist if officials were recruited whose honesty and integrity was beyond question. He did not necessarily agree with the perception that it was the young recruits who were ill-disciplined. They would always be supervised, and it was important also to look into peer pressure. There were instances where new recruits were told, when they questioned something that this was how things were done. There were also other instances where an official had behaved badly in full view of the superior officers, who had failed to intervene, and he expressed his concern that only the one behaving brutally would be taken to task, as it was equally necessary to take action against the superior officer who had condoned the action. However, he must concede that that there were instances of young recruits being involved in crime, such as cash-in–transit heists.

He noted that many people had searched for employment elsewhere and saw SAPS as a last resort for employment. When there were defects in the recruitment process, this would lead to serious consequences.

The Minister stressed again that if somebody was trained on human rights, and passed the course, this did not necessarily mean that that person would internalise the training to apply all the right principles. The Ministry and Department were determined to follow a better training path, and to continuously follow up with other programmes. Whether this would answer the problems remained to be seen.

The Minister agreed with Members that perceptions were very important, and the best way to address them was to confront them and attempt to correct the things that were wrong. Negative perceptions would undermine the positive. He agreed that many of the SAPS successes were achieved only with input from the public and he said that anything that resulted in conflict between the public and the police meant that SAPS had “lost the plot”. If this relationship was not properly serviced, the country would never win the fight against crime and corruption. A good relationship with the public was the key to achieving safety and security. Public awareness of police actions was quite widespread and people would be more willing to report crime if they felt involved. There were currently 1 127 police stations and only a few were not also supported with a Community Police Forum (CPF), as their function was recognised as vital.

The Minister responded to questions about actions taken by individuals. In Mafikeng, the Captain was arrested and the internal disciplinary processes and court case were proceeding. He conceded, in answer to Mr Groenewald’s examples, that the disciplinary regime left much to be desired, and this was a particular areas of focus at the meetings in January. An audit had been started of the employees in SAPS after the Minister was alerted to problems two years ago, as it was recognised that some of the officials simply should not be in the system. Some had been fired, but the process was still ongoing. The issue was not so much that nothing was being done, as the fact that the disciplinary matters were very protracted. Station commanders should be dealing with discipline shortcomings at the lower levels, but it was accepted that this could be problematic, as also instances where the station commander was a problem.

The Minister said that the prevalent culture was very important. He noted that SAPS was still “the Service, and not the Force” but no matter what it was named, and whether it was militarised or not, it was the culture that was important. He suggested that it would not assist to set up a commission of inquiry as that would essentially absolve SAPS from confronting the issues itself. There were various matters that the oversight structures had to confront. Internally, a proper and thorough job must be done. If IPID made recommendations, they should be followed, to avoid officials being arrested and no corrective action being taken.

Mr Molebatsi reminded Members that in 2010 there was a review of public order policing, to face challenges that then existed around massive public protests. In 2011, SAPS amended the legislation to try to ensure that a more humane approach was adopted during protests.  He would not say that public order policing was yet fully in order, but there was training being done and the public viewpoints had been taken into account. Now, the SAPS tried to negotiate with the parties (which was an internationally-accepted approach), and equipment was being secured that pursued the more humane approach, but that was not yet enough, and the review would continue because training circumstances and situations would change.

The Minister referred to comments about the abuse of sick-leave but said that he may not be aware of all the details. It was something that management would need to look into. Career-pathing, and other human resource issues, were being addressed, and this must also address retirement as there were some who applied for deferment, and it was also necessary to look at whether it might be beneficial to retain some people to impart their skills.  There was a policy that a SAPS official should not serve for more than seven years without being promoted, but in practice that was not always happening. It was necessarily to look at all the issues in a more comprehensive way. Issues of discipline were part and parcel of that process too. The disciplinary regime was being changed as it was currently too easy for officials’ misconduct to be glossed over. He had noted the comment that some people may join SAPS for the wrong reasons, or because they saw it as a last resort. It was important that the right building blocks be put in place so that it was not so easy for anyone to abuse the system.

The Chairperson said that the Committee condemned every act of police brutality. It was, however, cognisant that this was not a problem unique to South Africa; the international day against police brutality had started in Montreal. It was necessary for South Africa to benchmark itself against the best, and not the worst and the criteria now given to management of SAPS would help the Committee with its oversight.

Institute for Security Studies submission
Mr Gareth Newham: Head: Governance, Crime and Justice Division, Institute for Security Studies, outlined that the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) was an independent Africa policy research institute that aimed to contribute to a stable and peaceful society with respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights.

The ISS presentation recognised the fact that police faced a “double demand” that they must not only police effectively and strongly to protect the public, but also treat everyone fairly. This brought the correct police conduct under the spotlight. Modest, but consistent, scientific evidence suggested that the less respectful that police were towards suspects and citizens, the less people would comply with the law. Changing police “style” may thus be as important as changing the “substance”. If the police service was seen as more legitimate by the public, particularly by high-risk juveniles, this may be one of the most effective long-term police strategies.

Historically, blame for instances of police abuse had been laid with the few “bad apples” in the service. However, since the 1970s it was increasingly accepted that this was too simplistic. Every police agency would have some bad individuals, because this was an occupational hazard involved in giving people a degree of power. The largest cohort in any police service were found at the lower ranks, who were generally the least well trained, with the least experience, who were dealing with the most difficult situations and there was a risk that they overstepped the mark. This must, however, be dealt with not by removing individuals but by looking at the organisation as a whole. There were no instances where removing the bad elements only would result in success. Senior police management had to take full responsibility and be held directly accountable for changing the culture, behaviour and performance of all ranks of the police. In South Africa there were many highly competent and highly-trained professionals in the force.

The question was whether SAPS had a problem with abuse of power. The public perception was that it did. In 2001/02 the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) recorded, against SAPS, 416 brutality-related criminal cases, but by 2011/12 this had increased to 1 722 cases, an average of five cases each day. The police themselves investigated cases. IPID had said that of the 720 deaths in custody or deaths as a result of police action, there was little evidence of criminality. However, SAPS charged 1 050 members for corruption in 2011/12 and, in total, around 8 000 criminal charges were opened against SAPS officials last year.

The population seemed to be quite mistrustful of SAPS, with 66% of the adult population believing that police corruption was widespread, whilst 41% said they did not trust the police, and 35% admitted to being scared of the police, according to a Human Sciences Research Council study. These perceptions were not all based on personal studies. ISS had also done some studies which were less empirical but sought to speak to those who had had personal experiences. At least 50 cases had been identified where serious misconduct had been shown, but people said that either they not aware that they could report, or did not bother to report it because they believed that nothing would be done. People tended to remember bad experiences rather than good ones.

ISS also looked at whether there was any effect of laying criminal charges against SAPS members. In 2011/12 there had been 1 050 police charged with corruption, a 120% increase on the previous year. However, only 8% of those investigated were suspended, compared to 55% suspended in the previous year. The reasons for this were not clear. In 2011/12 the IPID referred 545 cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but only five officers were dismissed and 13 were convicted of those crimes. However, it was an improvement on the figures for 2008/09, when 912 deaths of suspects, at the hands of police, were reported, but just three officers were dismissed. Thousands of SAPS officials had been criminally convicted but had not been dismissed.

Mr Newham tabled statistics and graphs of the misconduct and disciplinary hearings finalised between 2007 and 2012. If the criminal justice system was not the solution, the question was whether the SAPS disciplinary system could be the solution. There had been 59% more disciplinary hearings over the last five years, but the number of hearings ending in a dismissal actually decreased to 9.6%. It was worrying that over one in three of the hearings ended with no sanction being imposed at all, and over 2 049 cases were withdrawn or ended in a not-guilty verdict. He stressed that the investigations only happened after a resource-intensive process had been followed, so many cases probably never even got that far. It must also be recognised that a certain number of charges could be unwarranted or result from false charges laid by colleagues. However, the statistics would undoubtedly send out a message to SAPS that it was unlikely that anyone facing a disciplinary charge would be found guilty.

ISS was further concerned about the high numbers of “suspended dismissal” findings, where the conduct was so serious that it would warrant a dismissal, yet this ultimate sanction was not imposed, and instead would be watered down by a suspension for a period of time.

There was evidence that the SAPS disciplinary system allowed criminally violent officers to remain within the SAPS. He cited a case of a Vaalwater policeman, who had been filmed beating a teenager. He was convicted and given a suspended sentence by the court, with an option of a R2 000 fine. The internal disciplinary hearing, however, resulted in a fine of R500. In another case, where an off-duty official had raped a 13 year old girl, it was found that not only was he guilty of this, but had a number of other previous assault convictions, yet was not dismissed.

Mr Newham noted that SAPS grew rapidly in size between 2002 and 2012, at around a 51% growth rate. There had been studies on the dangers of mass recruitment which resulted in the whole police system being put under stress, including vetting, training and supervision. The large recruitment caused backlogs in the colleges, so training was cut to one year, resulting in inadequately trained officers being released, and then not being properly managed and supported. Police misconduct and abuses increased. SAPS mass recruitment was concurrent with the weakening and breakdown of internal accountability systems, such as area offices closing, disbandment of the Anti-Corruption Units, and weakening of the National Inspectorate.

Mr Newham then tabled graphs of the personnel trends, and trends for operations such as roadblocks, searches and patrols. Operations showed trends completely different to the personnel growth, with large spikes and drops. For road-blocks, the numbers had not risen in line with appointments, perhaps because these operations required senior staff to be on the ground. However, there was an increase in the numbers of people searched. That indicated substantial police engagement with the population, as the figures showed that of the total population, about 66% had been searched. The arrest figures increased from those operations (an increase of about 32% over the four years) but the majority of the arrests were for less serious crimes, such as shoplifting or petty offences. The dangers of mass arrests were also well-documented, as although this may reduce crime in the short-term, it could lead to increased crime long-term because it compounded the feelings of alienation and distrust from the public, and did not act as a deterrent, since petty crime was often linked to unemployment and poor social attitudes. Business robberies had also increased dramatically, despite the increased numbers of police, and the additional personnel and operations did not appear to have the desired effect on crime reduction.

ISS recommended that South Africa therefore had to look at other strategies. The SAPS would see the best gains from having well-trained officials. Although the arrests were high, he also pointed out that the number of eventual convictions by the court were dropping, so the forceful front-end action was not having the right end-results.

ISS noted its concerns that the Annual Performance Plan (APP) did not address these issues. It ignored the evidence and public perceptions about police abuse. There was no mention of strengthening criminal and disciplinary investigations and processes, improving training, appointments, promotions, or rewards and incentives. There was no recognition that crime had not stabilised and that current policing was not yielding the right results. There should be a national structure to help people report good and bad policing, in a safe way.

The ISS urged that the recommendations of the National Development Plan (NDP) to “professionalise the SAPS” must be developed into a clear plan of action. This should start with the establishment of a multi-disciplinary National Police Board, to set objective standards for appointing and promoting police officers. All officers should be assessed against these criteria, and where they failed to meet the standards, they must be removed from positions of authority. The posts should be filled through a transparent and competitive process. Once a new SAPS senior leadership was in place, then a clear five-year plan of action was needed to professionalise SAPS, by using the Code of Conduct. In addition, all systems must be geared to promoting ethical policing, including training and promotions, and to enhancing accountability.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked if the cases were withdrawn by victims, or for lack of evidence.

Mr Newham said that this was not clear from the SAPS report. They could be withdrawn for lack of evidence, or where the witnesses would not come forward. There needed to be a thorough assessment by SAPS, working with other agencies, of the police system, in order to answer those questions.

Ms Sibiya asked what a transparent way would be to recruit police and whether there was a problem with mass recruitment.

Mr Ndlovu asked if the problem with mass recruitment lay with the personnel doing the recruiting, or with the recruits themselves. There was clearly something wrong with the system.

Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked for the view of the ISS on whether there was a good police to public  ratio, or whether the numbers recruited were inappropriate.

Mr Lekgetho noted that unemployment, poverty and inequality were serious challenges. He asked why so many people were recruited, and whether it was really necessary.

Mr Newham said that the reason for mass recruitments was understood, because crime had risen hugely in the years up to 2002, when a decision was taken to hire more police officials, and to introducing visible policing (VP). He was not suggesting that it had been unnecessary to recruit more SAPS officials, but was trying to stress that if recruitment had been properly planned, the consequences for other structures also would have been more carefully considered. There were knock-on effects, as outlined, on the training colleges, the period of training, and front-line commanders. In 2005/06 a restructuring process was done, and although the intentions were good, once again the challenges were not properly assessed. For instance, one provincial office had moved from managing seven area offices to suddenly supervising 134 police stations, and the proper resources were not put in place.

Mr Newham noted, in relation the numbers of officials that UN-approved ratio was one police officer to every 400 population, and in South Africa this ratio was around one to 265, but the problem lay in the behaviour. Even if only a small percentage behaved badly, they would tarnish the system, and it was necessary to remove this. Restructuring had also led to the closure of the anti-corruption unit. Whilst that was not the only cause of the problem, the whole capacity of the police was weakened at the time that more staff were being hired, and there was not an overall assessment of all systems and procedures.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if any research had been done on the causes of police abuse, and the reasons why SAPS members were showing such brutality to the public. Whilst she had believed that mandatory psychological debriefing should happen, she wondered now if the SAPS attitudes had gone too far for that to be effective. She questioned where the country had gone wrong, where the turning point was, whether it might have perhaps been the “shoot to kill” mandate, and when more brutality became evident.

Ms Molebatsi also asked if the ISS research had isolated any specific reasons for the misconduct, ill-discipline and brutality in SAPS.

Mr Newham said that there were a number of interesting answers suggested as to why SAPS behaved badly, ranging from psychological stress, the fact that those were intrinsically violent may join the SAPS in order to abuse others, or a lack of the proper work ethos. He stressed that most of those in SAPS wanted to do the right thing, so it must not be assumed that poor recruits were flooding in. However, if a person was, in the first instance, not properly assessed, then not properly trained, and if the frontline supervisor was overwhelmed, and not able to support and guide, then a person who suddenly came face-to-face with the worst of humanity on the street could find their own moral compass thrown into confusion, through trauma or shock. More than this, they would tend not to be surprised thereafter by crimes that were less serious or shocking, so their own perceptions would change. There was no one answer, nor was there an ideal model to address everything. The very nature of policing was traumatic, and the messy and difficult environment was known to affect officials. There was a problem when a code of silence grew up where one colleague would attempt to hide violent actions or inappropriate responses by another. If a certain level of behaviour and standard was set and followed it could be positive, but if that was not in place then matters could deteriorate. He also pointed out that a new constable could be exposed to bad behaviour by his superiors and a culture of mistreatment could easily grow up if SAPS officials believed that they would not be taken to task. In some communities, police used violence because they themselves were scared of the communities and believed that they must be shown to be tough, but this led to violence becoming the norm. This had been seen in all cultures. The reasons were specific to South Africa, but the actions were in fact not that far out of line with what also happened elsewhere in the world.

A Member asked if ISS had managed to obtain any clarity on the reasons for suspended dismissals.

Mr Newham said it had not, but ISS had noted that this was quite common. ISS remained of the view that if an offence was so serious as to warrant a dismissal, the dismissal should be effected outright.

Mr Oscar Skommere, Secretary General, South African Police Union, agreed that this was a problem and the union was not sure what informed this either. SAPS members ought to be given clear directives. He said that this finding was often handed down for senior levels, as more junior staff tended to be dismissed outright.

The Chairperson said that the Committee must interrogate this with management. She accepted Mr George’s comment that suspended sentences were competent in law, but said that it was still necessary to find out why there were so many, and the apparent discrepancy in the ranks.

Mr George was worried about some of the conclusions that ISS reached. It had suggested that civilian oversight agencies did not provide the answer, but this posed the question where the answer did lie. SAPS seemed to be becoming a law unto itself.

Mr Newham clarified that the civilian oversight structures were in place to assess what the police and civilians were doing, and the value, for instance, of the IPID investigations, to ensure that there were no cover-ups, was undisputed. However, he thought that only in very few cases would the public approach IPID, and he felt that the oversight structures should complement, and not be a substitute for, internal police investigations.

Mr George noted the number and high value of civilian claims against SAPS and asked how this could be reduced, as the amount paid in damages could be put to far better use.

Mr Newham said that the amounts budgeted were not necessarily those that would eventually be paid, and the amounts were a contingent liability. The increased claims could result from poorer behaviour, or more people having recourse to the courts.

Mr George was also worried about the implication that the disciplinary systems had failed, particularly in view of the emphasis that the Minister placed on this earlier. He pointed out that the Defence Force was a similar structure yet its disciplinary systems seemed to be working.

Mr Newham said that sometimes the presiding officer at the inquiry may feel sorry for a colleague, and be unwilling to dismiss, although his concern was that the Codes did not appear to be applied consistently and fairly.

Mr George asked what options were suggested for recruitment. The NDP comment on the need for professionalisation was not something new.

Mr Newham agreed that better recruitment was a vital element, but there was a need to ensure that all systems, from the top, could encourage good policing, and that the incorrect elements were removed, because those had the biggest impact.

Mr Ndlovu asked what suggestions had been made for the staffing of the Board dealing with recruitment and promotions.

Mr Newham responded that the NDP did not specify how large that Board should be and that would still need further consideration. Its role would be to set good standards and it would clearly need to be staffed with HR experts.

Mr Ndlovu said that a number of cases were not successfully prosecuted and wondered if this indicated a breakdown, or even a deliberate move not to prosecute, in the SAPS and National Prosecuting Authority processes.

Mr Newham said that ISS had not researched this, other than to note that many charges against police officials were not successfully proved.

Ms Mocumi noted that Mr Newham had referred to 50 people being interviewed on their experiences but only one had “tried to report the case” and asked for clarity what exactly had happened there.

Mr Newham said that this one person was chased away from the police station. He stressed that this example was given not to state that one in fifty complaints were pursued, but rather to test how people’s experiences had coloured their perception. This was not a huge survey, but only a survey of a small focus group, but it showed that people did not report, and were not aware that they could do so.

The Chairperson noted that the presentation had made some very interesting points in general but she wanted some more specifics on ISS’s comment on the Annual Performance Plan (APP). She agreed that the Minister’s statement and the APP did not address the same issues. She asked ISS to submit a written memorandum on what it thought was missing from the APP, specifically in relation to the recruitment and disciplinary processes. This Committee must ensure that SAPS was implementing the Minister’s plan.

Mr Newham said that he would indeed expand on this, but, briefly, ISS would like to see more assessments being done. Although statistical performance plans were set out there was no indication that the reasons for matters such as cases being withdrawn were ever actually investigated and understood. It was difficult, for instance, to put targets on disciplinary hearings, but many were probably taken to this stage because the supervisors did not want to take action themselves. Most commanders wanted to show solidarity with their staff, and may not want to make a decision against them. More assessments were needed. There was training, but its impact was not being assessed. The mass recruitment had been a number-counting exercise, with people being “pushed through” the system simply to get the numbers up.

The Chairperson noted the comment that the country was sticking with the same crime fighting policy, even though it was not showing success. She asked ISS also to give its opinion of whether the money was being spent in the right programmes. She also asked ISS for written suggestions on performance measures that it thought were missing

Mr Newham said that ISS would not want to reduce the budget, but get more people addressing the crimes effectively. Armed robberies, for instance, had to be better addressed. Crime intelligence had to be improved, so that the nature and occurrence of crime was better understood, and money had to be put to strengthening the systems, so that the best people were recruited and the best managers were promoted.

South African Policing Union: submission
Mr Mpho Kwinika, President, South African Policing Union, was interested to hear the comments from the Minister, which addressed many of the issues that the Union (SAPU) had raised in the past, and said that if SAPU’s advice had been taken then, he believed the SAPS would be counting gains instead of losses.

He noted that 2012 had been a difficult year for the country and SAPS. He had hoped that SAPS would rise to the occasion and regain confidence, but the Marikana incident, coupled with instances of brutality and excessive force, had changed the situation and SAPS had lost ground in its quest to build a community–centred service. SAPU did not believe that the current approach was acceptable and said that those in power needed to be held fully accountable for state of policing in the country. It believed that a militarised police organisation was not compatible with policing in a democracy. The police should not be responsible for addressing social problems, and although it recognised that it had a role to play, it could not alter the problems of unemployment, lack of housing and dissatisfaction on services that perpetuated the problems.

SAPU welcomed the NDP comments on SAPS. The “professionalisation”  (rather than militarisation) of SAPS would require a paradigm shift that would have to address salaries, conditions of service, training and a return to the community policing approach. Police officers must be adequately equipped and provided with appropriate gear. SAPU welcomed the NDP focus on building a safer society.

SAPU commented that young officers had been forced by senior commanders to open fire on violent demonstrators and they were suffering serious post-traumatic stress. They were not convinced that the NDP goals would be achieved with a militaristic approach. From his own 25-year long experiences, Mr Kwinika was sickened and disheartened by the recent incidents where a Mozambiquan national was dragged behind a police vehicle. Some atrocities similar to this did not take place in front of the media, and SAPU was insistent that all senior commanders be held accountable.

SAPU also welcomed the NDP recommendations for the fight against corruption, from within the service. Integrity and credibility of the SAPS must be raised. SAPU called for the resuscitation of the Anti Corruption Unit to intensify the fight.

Turning to the budget and strategic plans, in respect of Programme 1, SAPU welcomes the decisions on personnel numbers, but said that these did not seem to add up and the figures were inconsistent. There was lack of clarity on exactly how many personnel were in the administration programme. Whilst it also welcomed the budget figures, it maintained that it was impossible to professionalise the police service whilst the current poor infrastructure remained. He noted that many police stations lacked the most basic services, such as toilets, chairs to sit on, and security. SAPU asked the Committee to ensure that the infrastructure budget would be used to address the most basic needs, and that, for instance, air conditioners should not be installed rather than toilets.

Linked to this was the state of police barracks, which had been ignored for years, and the current situation where the Department of Public Works (DPW) was held responsible could not continue. It was ironic that many police officers were being asked to police service delivery protests, when the service delivery in the barracks was so appalling. Many of the barracks, along with recreational infrastructure so necessary to allow SAPS officials to de-stress, had not been refurbished in the last twenty years and it was doubtful if the buildings were still viable.

In relation to training and development, SAPU again questioned the budget figures, which did not seem to add up (see attached presentation for full details). There was no budget allocation for the Crime Intelligence, and Protection and Security Service programmes. 80% of the budget was allocated to administration, yet only 15% to Detective Services, and far more investment was needed in the VP programme, which was also critical. Complaints against the police often were lodged against VP divisions, because of their interaction with the community. Visible Policing was divided into crime prevention, border security and specialised interventions, and the budget was not in line with the number of personnel. Until more was provided, the problems would continue.

SAPU welcomed the budget for victim friendly facilities, but held the view that every station should be victim-friendly, and reiterated that if there were no chairs, this was clearly not possible.

SAPU stressed that the Detective Service Units were vital, being the main way through which victims could achieve justice. The crime problem was overwhelming, as these units were under-staffed and that impacted on the quality of their investigations. One investigator currently had 150 to 200 cases per month. SAPU did not believe that fast-tracking was the solution, but believed that capacity was also needed to investigate minor crimes. It was disheartening when cases were dismissed for lack of investigation or evidence. All dockets ended up in the Detective Service programme, but there were challenges in understanding and the less serious crimes tended not be investigated, which in turn led to the public not bothering to report them. Problems of vigilantism and increases of private security firms also indicated low confidence in SAPS and this must be overcome. Finally, SAPU questioned the figures for detectives, since there appeared to be an increase, in one year, of 3 000 detectives, which may not have been possible.

SAPU noted that although the number of staff was quoted for the Forensic Science Laboratories, many specimens were left unattended to because of the lack of capacity.

It was not clear whether the figures included those from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI).

Mr Kwinika had previously touched on the fact that there was no budget for training in Crime Intelligence, and he pointed out that the last time that such a budget was given was in 2009/10, when R3 000 was allocated. He urged that SAPS should not ignore this unit, as there were several thousand personnel responsible for intelligence. Both the budgets for Detective Services and Crime Intelligence needed to be increased. Drugs and organised crime syndicates were a major problem, and strong Intelligence services were necessary to address this.

In relation to Programme 5: Protection and Security Services, SAPU was happy with the budget and the 6 315 personnel, but was concerned about the proposed merger of this unit with Crime Intelligence, since the latter should be focusing on fighting crime, not looking after dignitaries.

Mr Kwinika raised a number of other issues of concern. In relation to disciplinary matters, he said that suspensions without pay continued to occur, despite the agreement with management that this practice would cease. Usually, it affected junior members, and there should not be any disparity in treatment according to rank. The Union battled to get information from senior management.

SAPU believed that recruitment and professionalisation of the SAPS were intrinsically linked. It would welcome better pre-screening and recruitment that aimed to get the best candidates. Often the recruits arrived at SAPS de-motivated and disappointed in not securing other jobs. There was an urgent need to change the image of policing. SAPU was concerned that 27 000 police officers were considered unfit to carry a firearm, and 1 000 were facing a variety of criminal charges, which meant that the SAPS could not earn public respect. There was a need to invest more money into training and support.

SAPU was concerned that POLMED, the Police Medical Aid scheme, was poor, and often exhausted after a few months. The Committee had not responded to the SAPU’s requests in the previous year, and SAPU was intending to pursue its concerns through the courts. The CEO of POLMED had just had a 200% salary increase, although the scheme was struggling. The problem was that it was a monopoly and failed to meet expectations. There were furthermore concerns that many SAPS members did not qualify for bonds through banks, yet earned too much to qualify for RDP houses.

SAPU believed that specialised units should never be undermined, and that opportunities were lost when the specialised units were disbanded, which it would take time to regain. The units must get the right budget and personnel. The Family and Child Service (FCS) unit was expected to work without the proper kits and equipment, which put the quality of evidence in question and resulted in victims not being given proper access to justice.

SAPU concluded that it was grateful for the support that the Committee showed, but urged the Committee to continue its oversight visits to verify the issues raised and try to spur greater improvement. It was encouraged by the energy shown by the Committee. It believed that SAPS was in a position to deliver quality service, as evidenced during the African Cup of Nations, but public confidence and trust was lacking.

Mr Ndlovu asked if SAPU represented members during internal or external hearings, and what its attitude was when they were found guilty.

Ms Molebatsi said that some station commanders had complained about backlash from unions when SAPS members were to be disciplined, and stressed that union membership should not be misused.

Mr Kwinika responded that SAPU did represent its members, as this was one of the union’s responsibilities, because it must ensure that the process was fair. The officials were presumed innocent until found guilty. SAPU would not condone the crimes for which they had been charged but would ensure that the process was strictly and fairly followed. SAPU would also assist them, where necessary, in taking matters on appeal and to the Labour Court.

Mr Ndlovu noted the comments on lack of, or inadequate budget, and asked if SAPU had been involved in the planning and budgeting.

Mr Kwinika said that SAPU was particularly concerned about the fact that the discussions had been held about Crime Intelligence and PSS merging, and it appeared that this was actually already being done with a batch of recruits. If the merger happened, SAPU believed that it would fly in the face of the budget and was concerned if there was synergy between the budget figures and what was happening on the ground.

Mr Ndlovu asked what SAPU believed the ideal caseload would be, and if it was suggesting that there was a need for more detectives, who would then each handle less dockets.

Ms Molebatsi also asked what the recommendations were for capacity of detectives.

Mr Kwinika said that general investigations included all crimes, but obviously the more complex crimes, such as murder or commercial crime, needed more time and more comprehensive work. Ideally, he suggested that each detective should handle around 60 dockets per month, as opposed to the current figure of 150 to 200. They were clearly over-worked, and there was a need for more detectives. This point had already been raised some years previously. SAPU also reiterated its question whether the figures for the increases were correct, and reiterated that the figures for specialised investigations might include the DPCI. Only three of the four programmes were also covered in the budget breakdown.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for more details about suspension without pay. This seemed to happen to whistle-blowers and she wanted more clarity if it was used as a “pay-back”, and why it was still going on.

Mr Kwinika said that this was applied when a police officer, suspected of misconduct, was required to show cause, within a certain timeframe, of why s/he should not be suspended without pay. SAPU had previously pointed out that not only was this contrary to the labour laws, it would impact negatively on the officer’s family, and this was compounded by the cases often dragging on for years, including reviews by SAPS management, and sometimes management would claim that it could then only afford to pay a certain amount of back-pay.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said the ISS had also referred to the suspended dismissals, which were bizarre, and to the thousands of officials who, despite criminal convictions, remained in their SAPS posts.

Mr Kwinika agreed that the system of discipline was wrong, and said that the problem often lay at commander level. Many senior police officers lacked inter-personal skills. One Brigadier was subject to a suspended dismissal. The case ran for twelve months, and when the investigation was completed, and that sentence was given, it was not publicised until after the suspension had lapsed. SAPS officials tended to be moved if complaints were laid, rather than properly disciplined. He could give the Committee several instances. The Committee was not sure if “payback” was an issue, but did believe that there was arrogance of managers. There were new systems in place, and discipline was not supposed to be used so much as a punitive, but rather a corrective measure, yet rehabilitation was not always followed up in cases of incapacity.

Mr Kwinika added that this was also linked to problems of capacity building. He questioned why the SAPS had done away with the Junior Commander’s course, which had taught people how to deal with staff. There should be command and control, and SAPS really had to return to basics.

Mr George commented that some of SAPU’s requests to the Committee were not practical – for instance, this Committee could not dictate how the infrastructure budget must be spent, and the Committee could only pay visits to a certain number of stations per year. He wondered why the unions themselves, via their members who were working at those stations, were not pushing harder for improvements. The same applied to the call to change Detective Services.

Mr Kwinika reiterated that better infrastructure was needed. SAPU had visited several stations, had taken video clips, and noted instances where suspects had managed to escape through broken ceilings. He said that although the Committee only played an oversight role, it must be quite specific about what it wanted. Overall it should also insist that within the SAPS, inspections needed to improve, as many stations would not be visited from one year to the next.

The Chairperson noted Mr Kwinika’s call to bring back the internal anti-corruption unit but said that it was fraught with complaints about abuse when it previously was running. She asked if SAPU was looking to have something similar, in which case she asked how it would ensure no recurrence of the past problems. She noted that the unit would be regarded as unpopular.

Mr Kwinika said that it was illegal for SAPS to trap or entice the commitment of an offence, which was a problem in the past. However, it was clear that an internal unit was needed. IPID played an external role, but if this was coupled with internal mechanisms, there would be far more compliance because it would be a real deterrent.

The Chairperson requested more information on the POLMED. Last year, this Committee had asked why SAPS members could not belong to the Government Employee Medical Scheme (GEMS). She noted the Minister’s remarks about creating a conducive environment for SAPS officials, and this was part of that environment. She herself had received a number of complaints from retired police officials, that the medical aid was not living up to expectations. SAPS was not adhering to a court ruling, and the retired officers may well take the Minister to Court. Police officers may feel more comfortable approaching private, rather than police psychologists, yet were not covered to do this. More concrete examples would enable the Committee to engage with SAPS management.

Mr Kwinika said that the facts would be compiled and passed to the Committee in a report. When the concerns were raised at the Annual General Meeting, employer representatives did not answer those questions but invited the members to take their concerns to the court.

The Chairperson said that although the Committee had requested a list of police stations and capital works projects, and had also asked for investigations into the barracks, SAPS had failed to make provision for that on the strategic plan. The Committee may need to get this list after the budget discussions. Again this was linked to the ideal of a healthy environment for SAPS officials.

The Chairperson was not sure that SAPU’s queries and calculations on the numbers were entirely correct, but the Committee would follow up on the apparent contradictions.

The Chairperson said that promotions within SAPS were a major challenge, and this was well-known. When the Committee had visited police stations, many of the officials there asked for the Merit Boards to be brought back. She asked how SAPU believed that the problems around promotions would be addressed.

Mr Kwinika agreed that promotions were a serious problem. Many officers regarded their work as a calling, but also wanted to be able to progress in line with their abilities. The current system was not transparent, as some were brought in, from outside, into high ranks without considering the experience of internal candidates, some posts were not advertised internally, and often those brought in lacked experience to do the job. Arrogance was probably one cause of the problem.

A Member asked for clarity on the comment that many SAPS members could not qualify for a bond, and noted that there were other grants for which they could apply.

Mr Kwinika answered that most police did not qualify for the RDP houses, and there was a problem with banks because they were not considered credit-worthy.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that, although it was not covered in the document, she wanted to question the SAPS pensions. The Office of the Public Protector had a division to deal with pensions not paid out, and this had found that sometimes it could take up to three years for any payments to be made, by which time the retirees had had their assets attached.

Mr Kwinika confirmed that delays in paying retirement funds were a problem, and SAPS often claimed that they could not trace the retiree. They would call in tracing agents, who would then charge a commission to the individual. SAPS was continuing to depend on a database, for pensions and promotions, that it knew to be incredibly poor. There were other options, such as earlier notification to the pension funds of the intended retirement.

Mr Ndlovu asked if SAPU was involved in recruitment and human resources.

Mr Kwinika said that this was a management prerogative and the unions were not involved. The Union was an employee representative and had nothing to do with recruitment. Previously, SAPU had had difficulty even getting documentation and although it was now provided, no explanations were given on the reasons for recruitment or budgets.

The Chairperson told Members that the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) had been invited also to make a presentation but had been unable to attend on this day. It had been asked to submit written submissions to the Committee.

Civilian Secretariat for Police submission
The Chairperson reminded Members that the Civilian Secretariat for Police (the Secretariat) had been asked to give a critical presentation on the budget and strategic plan of SAPS.

Ms Florence Mathoma, Director: Police Performance, Civilian Secretariat for Police, said that her presentation would examine the links between the Strategic Plan (SP), the Annual Performance Plan (APP), the NDP and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster Delivery agreements.

She outlined the mandate and functions of the Secretariat, noting that section 6(1) of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act gave the Secretariat a mandate to monitor the use of the budget of SAPS, which was to ensure compliance to police directives and any other instructions of the Minister. It must also ensure that the SAPS complied with the Treasury regulations and relevant legislation.

The mandate of SAPS was also outlined, and its SP gave direction to the Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF). The Minister had referred to upholding the law, and this was equally applicable to citizens and to the SAPS members themselves.

The Secretariat was satisfied with the links from the SP to the APP, where specific indicators were developed to achieve the objectives. The predetermined Cluster performance indicators were also incorporated into the APP.

However, the Secretariat said that the SP did not indicate how the SAPS intended to implement the provisions of the rural safety strategy, although this was mentioned in the Foreword by the Minister. The SP also did not make specific reference to the NDP, although many of its recommendations had already been incorporated into police priorities. The APP had incorporated the NDP recommendations on sustainable community safety structures involved in the fight against crime. The SP and APP did make reference to all focus areas of the ten policy priorities of the SAPS, but there were insufficient performance indicators, other than for capital infrastructure and Criminal Justice System (CJS) projects.

The expenditure trends appeared to focus on the overall capacitation of the SAPS, maintaining personnel numbers at 199 936, on capital infrastructure, skills development and ICT. The largest driver was VP, despite how SAPU seemed to interpret the budget, to which 46% was allocated. Personnel budget increases from R46.8 billion to R50.8 billion were intended for stabilisation and normalisation. However there was a need for SAPS to specify how it would conduct VP.

Spending on consultancy services was set to decrease in 2013/4 but would rise again in 2015/16. The impact of the Auditor-General’s findings may not show immediately. Other key spending priorities included increasing access points to improve response time, procurement of specialised equipment and training, implementation of the Integrated Justice System Programme (IJS) and specific legislation, investing in capital equipment and resourcing of the FCS Units and capacitation of the DPCI. The APP had also included other priorities although the budget did not specifically link into these, such as networks and hosting upgrades, basic services at police stations (including electricity and water) ramps for disabled at stations.

The Secretariat was concerned about the increase of spending on consultants, and the high increase in infrastructure. There was a decrease in level 3 services. SAPS should be asked to provide more details on what exactly the increases implied, the impact, and what measures were put in place to ensure that consultants were held accountable, and the possibility of building internal capacity. SAPS must also explain whether capital spending would address issues raised earlier.

Ms Mathoma then gave a comparative analysis of the 2012/13 and 2013/14 budgets, by programme. There was some incremental target-setting done by SAPS, and there were some new indicators to measure spending trends. However, although SAPS suggested 100% spending on capital works, it also suggested a possible 20% variance so it was not clear what was the final target.

The workforce was intended to remain unchanged, but the Secretariat was concerned because the baseline was at 99% and this should have informed the next target. Similar comments applied to personnel, and she suggested that SAPS must explain the ratio for operational and non-operational members.

The Secretariat commended the SAPS for reintroducing performance targets to measure learners on driving training, bursaries and scarce skills training, and for intakes to learnerships, which answered the Committee’s comments last year and which promoted skills. However, the budget for scarce skills was reduced by 4%.

It was encouraging to see that the numbers of personnel would be retained, but it was necessary that SAPS put in place the necessary systems to manage leave and other staff issues. There should also be reconciliations of the sometimes contradictory numbers quoted.

In Programme 2: Visible Policing, several targets remained unchanged (see attached presentation). The Secretariat noted the new indicator – in line with the Committee’s recommendations last year – for implementation of sector policies on human and physical resources. It welcomed the reintroduction of indicators for victim friendly services and illicit drugs and liquor confiscated, but thought minimum standards were required for victim-friendly rooms, and questioned how SAPS would improve its targets for drugs and liquor, which had actually been reduced after failing to meet them last year.

The Secretariat said that the performance targets for measuring the number of firearms applications processed remained unchanged, but was concerned that since this target was only at 90% it implied that there could be a backlog of 10% building up each year. SAPS should clarify how it intended to turn around the Central Firearms Registry.

SAPS had failed to include three indicators for this programme: for the number of reported serious crimes in the rural environment, the number of illegal premises, and the target for awareness campaigns, despite the fact that these were recommended by the Committee.

For Programme 3: Detective Services, most performance targets were constant. There were percentage inconsistencies in terms of trial –ready case dockets for contact, trio and serious crimes. The percentage of trial-ready dockets for crimes against women was projected to increase up to 30% in 2013/14, but then to reduce again, and Ms Mathoma said that this seemed to indicate that SAPS had written these only to fall in line with the JCPS Cluster targets, thereafter to improve only marginally each year.

The Chairperson asked for, and was told that the Cluster Agreement was reached in 2010/11, and expressed concern that nothing had been done to address it until now, when there was a sudden increase.

Ms Mathoma also noted that the performance management indicators for risk management did not speak to the principle of “zero corruption”. She suggested that SAPS should be asked to explain when a docket was “trial ready” and to explain the fluctuation in the indicators.

Ms Mathoma moved on to the Programme for Crime Intelligence, where the targets were unchanged. The Secretariat welcomed, in principle, new indicators to measure covert intelligence, hostile operations, information security breaches, strategic intelligence reports and security threat assessments, but pointed out that in practice many of these would be classified. No indicator was given for  measuring crime intelligence strategic and operation analysis reports.

Under Programme 5: Protection and Security Services, the indicators had not changed. The Secretariat noted that the SAPS would need evaluation reports.

The Capital Projects ring-fenced budget allocation to upgrade police stations was to be increased, and SAPS indicated that it was intending to undertake 36 projects, but the Secretariat believed that complete details were needed. It was also concerned about the underspending in previous years (see attached presentation) and thought the targets were over-ambitious, particularly given challenges within the Department of Public Works (DPW). SAPS should be asked to explain exactly how it planned to spend, how it would achieve targets, and what specific facilities would be addressed with the money.

The Secretariat noted that the allocations for both the Criminal Justice System (CJS) revamp and Integrated Justice System (IJS) programmes were raised, but spending on both projects in the previous years had been poor (only 52% and 40.8% by the end of the third quarter, respectively), whilst amounts were rolled over that effectively increased the budget. It was suggested that SAPS must specify exactly how this could improve and ensure that its internal systems were compatible with other departments in the Cluster.

The ICT Plan listed a number of projects (see attached presentation),but it was not clear whether the Request for Service Solution was to be added to the 2012/13 sites. There had been challenges identified in the third quarter reports, so the targets for that year might not be achieved. The Secretariat felt that more breakdown was required, including the names of the stations to which the project would be delivered.

Six risks had been identified, but the Secretariat wanted to comment on three. The indicator for adequate security measures for SAPS members was too low and SAPS should be asked how far it was in implementing the plan to address police deaths. The indicator to reduce corruption and fraud by 3% was considered too low, in light of the focus on this issue. Criminal conduct by SAPS members was targeted to reduce by only 5%, and this seemed to indicate an acceptance that police officers would indulge in crime.

Ms Mathoma concluded by again summarising the recommendations of the Secretariat on the various projects. She recommended that SAPS should ensure that the Secretariat must be involved in the planning process, in order to provide input on the policy directives of the Minister and ensure that concerns raised by the Secretariat and other oversight bodies were properly addressed.

The Chairperson congratulated the Secretariat on this critical and analytical presentation, and asked that the Secretariat should be present during the budget presentations, to remind the Committee of any salient points, to pick up on any concerns of the Committee, and report back to the Minister. She was particularly interested to hear the concerns about the sudden increases in some targets and agreed that SAPS appeared to be “chasing targets” of the Cluster.

The Chairperson asked the Secretary for Police to emphasise to SAPS that it should not, by telephone, tell the Committee that there were mistakes in the Annual Report, and the report on children in conflict with the law. The Minister must table corrections with the Speaker formally.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if the Secretariat was saying it had not been involved in the budget.

Ms Jennifer Irish-Qhobosheane, Secretary of Police, said that the Secretariat had received the report too late to make input, and would like to become part of the planning process, which had started in July yet was not referred to the Secretariat until much later. It was one thing to look at figures for targets, but if professionalism was not addressed, this was merely chasing statistics.

Mr Ndlovu asked that the second document with more details also should be distributed

The Chairperson noted that the session had been very valuable, and suggested that perhaps, in future, these comments should be made in the presence of SAPS, so that the Secretariat’s clear evaluation of how it saw the APP was put up front.

The meeting was adjourned.



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