SAPS Strategic and Annual Performance Plan 2013: Programme 3: Detectives

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18 April 2013
Chairperson: Ms A Van Wyk (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

SAPS continued to present its 2013 strategic plans to the Committee, focusing in this session on Programme 3: Detective Services. presented the committee with a breakdown of budget allocation per sub-programme. This was accompanied by various performance target indicators, the majority of which were set to maintain or see increased success. Nearly all the increases were by a maximum of 2%, but the existing percentage success rates varied, with percentage of trial ready case dockets for serious crimes targeted for 37%, whilst the detection rate for serious crimes was expected to be 55%. The total budget for this programme was R14.3 billion, an increase from the R13.5 billion of the previous year. It was noted that the Criminal Justice System (CJS) Revamp initiatives would strongly promote capacity enhancement at Forensics, Criminal Record Centre and in IT. Detectives were to receive a specialised training focus, as was illustrated in Programme 1. The Stock Theft Units were being strengthened as well. Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units would be further resourced and the tracking capacity for wanted persons would be expanded. Performance indicators were given for effective investigation and detection of serious crimes, contact crimes, crimes against women and children and property-related crimes, as also for organised crime, commercial crime and corruption. In the Forensic Science Laboratory Sub-Programme, SAPS aimed to have 92% of case exhibits processed within 28 working days.

The Committee criticised SAPS for failing to properly categorise crimes, and noted also that their performance indicators were not particularly ambitious, and did not necessarily seem to relate to the performance in the previous years. Many areas of supposed emphasis, such as stock theft, had not even been accompanied by performance indicators. SAPS defended its projections, saying that they were based on previous year realities, and in some cases it had not been possible to establish longer trends, although SAPS recognised that the ideal would be to strive to achieve 100% success rates.  It was noted that a backlog in forensic processing had been reduced but not yet cleared. In cases where performance indicators appeared to have decreased it was argued that there were resource constraints and that these were relatively new measurements. The committee rejected these arguments in light of the recent ‘Year of the Detective’ and its increased resource allocation to the Programme.

The committee identified a key problem as being management at all levels, a problem made worse by inconsistency in figure gathering. Nobody present was able to state with certainty how many detectives there actually were in SAPS. This was reiterated when it was discussed that many assets such as laptops and vehicles were not being properly rolled out at station level and that consumables such as DNA kits were being ruined, at great expense. It was agreed that the discretionary power of allocating assets needed to be reviewed and that consumables needed to be serialised and kept track of on a database. The delegation was asked about the status of the e-docket programme but was unable to give satisfactory answers as to its status or expected deadline. When SAPS requested permission to give a report at a later stage, the Chairperson refused, saying that the system was meant to be fully functional, and rejected the implication that none of the senior official present was familiar with the current status of the project. She noted that the obfuscation of the past was no  longer acceptable and insisted that a report be presented by the following morning. In general she noted that the Committee felt frustrated at the low quality of service in the Detective programme, despite intensive investment into it.

Meeting report

Department of Police / South African Police Services 2013 Strategic Plans: Programme 3: Detective Services
Lt-Gen Stefan Schutte, Chief Financial Officer, South African Police Services, noted that Programme3: Detective Services was one of the main arteries of the SAPS and had received some emphasis in recent years. The programme contained four sub-programmes, which were outlined, along with their budget allocation for 2013/14. Crime Investigations would receive R9.4 billion, Criminal Record Centre would receive R1.8 billion, Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) would receive R1.7 billion and Specialised Investigations would receive R1.3 billion. Overall, Programme 3 would be allocated R14.3 billion, an increase from R13.5 in 2012/13. The purpose of this programme was to facilitate the investigative work of SAPS, including providing support to investigations in terms of forensic evidence and criminal records.

The Criminal Justice System (CJS) Revamp initiatives would strongly promote capacity enhancement at Forensics, Criminal Record Centre and in IT. Detectives were to receive a specialised training focus, as was illustrated in Programme 1. The Stock Theft Units were being strengthened as well. Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units would be further resourced and the tracking capacity for wanted persons would be expanded.

Maj-Gen M Menziwa, of Strategic Management at SAPS, discussed the various performance indicators and strategic priorities. The first strategic priority was the effective investigation and detection of serious crimes, contact related crimes, crimes against women and children and property related crimes. The detection rate for serious crimes was targeted to increase by 2%, to 55%. The percentage of trial-ready case dockets was to increase by 3%, to 36.84%. Conviction rates were to increase by 0.30% to 88.5%. The detection rate for contact crimes was to be maintained at 60%. Percentage of trial ready case dockets for contact crimes would increase by 2%, to 37.24%. Conviction rate for contact crimes would increase by 1% to 75.34%. Detection rate, trial ready percentage and conviction rates for “trio” crimes were expected to increase by 5%, 3% and 0.5% respectively. The same categories for crimes against women would increase by 0.8%, 2% and 0.5% respectively. The same categories for crimes against children would be maintained at 77.42%, increased by 1% and increased by 0.5% respectively.

He turned attention to the investigation of organised crime, commercial crime and corruption. The estimated percentage of trial ready dockets for fraud and corruption was 38.4%. The detection rate and percentage of trial ready case dockets for crime related charges would be 50% and 30% respectively. The percentage of registered serious organised crime project investigations was to be 31%. The number of serious commercial crime related trial ready cases was expected to be 25. The value of amounts seized in procurement fraud and corruption cases was expected to be R125 million.

In the Criminal Record Centre sub-programme, the percentage of original previous conviction reports generated within 20 days was estimated to be 80%, down from 2011/12 but consistent with 2010/11. The number was expected to increase to 90% within 15 days in the following three years. In the Forensic Science Laboratory Sub-Programme, SAPS aimed to have 92% of case exhibits processed within 28 working days, also an improvement from 2011/12, but consistent with the overall trend.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked what the distinction was between court-ready dockets and trial ready dockets. She asked also why there was an omission of the performance indicators for the number of serious commercial crimes in which officials were involved in fraudulent procurement.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) observed that the targets appeared to be quite low for many performance indicators. She said that in the medium term there did not appear to be any hope of decreasing serious crimes. In some categories there were very high short term targets, then very low medium term targets, and she asked if this was because the current rate was so low. She wanted to know why there were no targets for 100% success. She asked if the Department was trying to keep expectations low so as to avoid failure, and said that this was not an acceptable approach.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked how the improved percentage estimates had been arrived at.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) observed that more than 40% of serious crimes were not being detected and that this appeared to be within expectations. He then saw an even higher rate of non-detection for trio crimes, and asked why this was so, and why the two were separated.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked what the situation was regarding backlogs in the Forensic Laboratories.

The Chairperson highlighted the contradictions between Detective Services and Visible Policing in categorising crimes. Serious crimes and trio crimes were sometimes conflated and sometimes not, making it very difficult to assess progress. There needed to be standardisation between the programmes. She noted that the emphasis on areas such as stock theft was good, and that it was encouraging to hear that there was an increased budget allocated to such areas, but added that this should then be accompanied by targets.

Lt-Gen Vineshkumar Moonoo, Divisional Commissioner, Detective Services, SAPS, explained that court ready cases were those in which the docket had been cleared by the Public Prosecutor. However, those dockets were only ready for trial once the prosecution had gathered all the necessary statements and papers for a trial to actually begin. On the matter of small increases in success rates, he said that baselines were always taken from previous years and their success rates in light of their expected success rates. He agreed that having a 100% conviction rate was always desirable but that it depended to a large extent on various other departments, including the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). He asked that SAPS rather be judged on the percentage of trial-ready dockets, although he acknowledged SAPS’ role in effective prosecution.

Lt-Gen Anwar Dramat, Deputy National Commissioner, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), indicated that an implementation task team had been set up, comprising a partnership between Detective Services and DPCI. This was in the process of restructuring the performance indicators and he apologised for the inclusion of trial ready dockets for serious commercial crimes within the JCPS Cluster, without noting the corresponding conviction rate.

The Chairperson pointed out flaws on slide 61 of the presentation, where the detection rate for crimes against women was claimed to have increased by 0.8% to 72%, but later it said that this was then expected to be ‘maintained at 75%.’

Lt-Gen Dramat discussed the 2% increases in a number of performance indicators, saying that they were improvements on the previous baseline percentages.

Lt-Gen Moonoo said that the issue with trio crimes was that the majority of them were violent in nature, and that victims were often too traumatized to identify suspects. There was therefore a heavy reliance on forensic crime, but that unfortunately meant that success rates were lower than SAPS would have liked. Realistic performance targets were therefore also low.

Lt-Gen Johannes Phahlane, Divisional Commissioner, Forensic Services, SAPS, discussed the backlogs in forensic services, saying that during the course of October and November it had been indicated that the backlogs from the previous year had increased. Between that period and the end of the financial year this had been reduced by 32%. The final backlog was therefore 20 612. He gave the figures for the various environments, and concluded by saying that there had been challenges in the form of personnel leaving, but that there was definite progress being made.

Lt-Gen Dramat returned to the omission of the figure for convictions on serious commercial crimes involving member fraud. He said that a target had been given to the Department of 100 convictions for 2014. He said that this target could only be met once all the cases were trial-ready and that this was the stage at which the Department found itself.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that according to the Department’s targets, the failures in previous years served to lower expectations for subsequent years rather than maintaining expectations and improving actual performance. She asked also how many staff had been lost from the Department, and what their exit interviews had shown, in terms of what could be done to retain capacity.

Mr Groenewald said that the breakdown of performance indicators from detection, to case ready dockets, to trial ready dockets made it appear that there were acceptable levels of policing, but in reality only 17.5% of serious crimes were being taken to trial. He said that this was absolutely unacceptable.

Mr Ndlovu returned to slide 54, and pointed out that although there were increases predicted for the future, these followed decreases from previous years and therefore did not really represent progress. He also wanted to know what retention strategies existed for skilled positions, such as in forensics.

The Chairperson returned to the issue of conviction of commercial crimes being omitted. She accepted that there was a target of 100 convictions that would only be met in 2014, but she said that this was not a once- off target and that the report needed to be clearer on the medium term goals. She said that addressing corruption was a huge priority. She added that there needed to be a figure for cases closed undetected, as this would speak to the management of dockets at a state level and the ability of a state commissioner or branch commander to manage.

Lt-Gen Moonoo said that Detective targets and DCPI targets were set according to different standards and that there would reasonably be discrepancies.

Lt-Gen Dramat said that many of the indicators on slide 64 had been new indicators and therefore that previous changes in the target performance could not be taken as a trend. He said that discrepancies between 2010/11 figures and 2011/12 figures for detection rate were due to the previous use of cases rather than charges and that the multiplicity of charges in some cases led to a higher rate of detection overall. He said that the two previous years of above 60% success rate were not enough to establish a baseline that high, and defended the current baseline of 50%.

Mr Ndlovu said that he was confused by the explanation that a success rate claimed for two previous consecutive years was all of a sudden no longer a feasible target.

Lt-Gen Dramat said that this was a relatively new indicator, and that there were resources constraints on the Department that made them reluctant to set too ambitious targets. He said that it would take longer to establish a credible target.

The Chairperson rejected his argument and the performance indicator as a whole.

Lt-Gen Phahlane said that the backlog issue needed to be viewed in light of an increased workload. He accepted that the backlog was of concern, but said that the situation was steadily improving and he believed it would be resolved in due course. He said that the investment in this particular area was beginning to yield fruit. He explained the attrition of analysts, noting that many had been dismissed, based on incompetence or corruption.

Lt-Gen Moonoo addressed the question of only 17% of cases resulting in convictions, and the fact that there were many cases not included in the target indicators. He said that this was due to outstanding cases still being investigated, and that they therefore could not be considered as failures.

The Chairperson said that the Detective Programme had received resources above and beyond other programmes over the past number of years, and failures would no longer be tolerated. She said that there were clear problems at branch management level. She requested an indication of the number of branch managers in the country and how many of them were fully qualified, with every single training module having been completed. She asked how many would reach this level over the next two years. She asked the same question about how many detectives there were in SAPS, and how many of them were fully trained, with no outstanding courses. She asked how many were at each level of training required to be proper detectives.

Ms Molebatsi asked who was responsible for selecting detectives and what criteria were used for this purpose. She asked if there were specific skills identified, or if it was simply a matter of application.

Ms Kohler-Barnard wanted to know whether the number of trial-ready dockets for crimes against women was low because victims were afraid to give evidence, or if the forensic services were inadequate. She said that the situation with detectives was frequently that they were separated from stations and that this caused time delays and inefficiencies.

Mr Groenewald asked what steps were taken to keep detectives up to date with new legislation. He said that there were often cases where basic legislative steps were not being followed.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked if it was true that some SAPS members were assisting stock theft dealers. She also asked why there was a decrease in the target for detection of crime against children.

Mr Ndlovu wanted to know how many officials were known to be involved in corruption at all levels of government, and what happened to them in the course of the investigations into their activities. He asked at what stage those investigations were. He also asked if all members of a specialised environment were vetted and, if not, how many were excluded from this.

Mr G Lekgetho (ANC) observed that detectives often came from communities and were recruited. He asked how many detectives had retired back into their communities and to what extent they were being utilised after employment.

Ms Molebatsi asked about the huge decrease in the targets for serious crimes and the increases in number of assets expected to be seized.

Lt-Gen Moonoo said that there were 1 131 detective branch commanders. This excluded Forensic Crime Services and Stock Theft commanders. He did not have figures on training, but would acquire them shortly. There were approximately 22 247 detectives as at 31 December 2012.

He said that the low figures for trial ready dockets for crimes against women were due to IT problems with capturing dockets. This had been solved and he was confident that the targets would be met by year end. He stated that as far as possible SAPS encouraged detectives to be based at stations. However, there were a number of problems, such as with accommodation, that made this not always feasible. All new legislation, including policies, was circulated to the stations. Detectives were to be subjected to weekly training sessions around new legislation. Quarterly reviews were held for these training services. A forensic fact file was implemented at stations to facilitate these lectures. The targets for stock theft were in fact not included and he took note of the Committee’s requests for this. He said that there would be specific targets provided in the future.

Lt-Gen Dramat responded that there were investigations into corruption at various levels of corruption. He said that he did not have the exact statistic for the number of officials under investigation. He said that the process put in place for corruption investigations would continue beyond 2014. Vetting was done for all members of the DCPI, in line with the legislation. The vetting was done by the Crime Intelligence Division. All officials at DCPI had been given a certain level of clearance, but some of which were yet to receive their certificates.

Lt-Gen Moonoo admitted to not having the figures for retired detectives, and said that this would be included in the written submissions at a later date. He went on to discuss the detection rate for serious crimes, saying that the targets for 2011/12 were an improvement on the previous targets and should therefore be seen as a success.

The Chairperson said that success should not be measured relative to previous years but rather relative to the amount of resources allocated.

Lt-Gen Dramat responded to the issue of seized assets, saying that there had been a change in the way that seized assets were calculated.

Ms Kohler-Barnard pointed out that there had been three separate figures given the past for the number of detectives, none of which were the same as the one presented. She queried the accuracy of the figure, and asked if the ideal figure was still approximately 25 000.

Ms Molebatsi asked whether officials under investigation for corruption were suspended,  or if they were allowed to continue working.

Mr Ndlovu asked how many suspended officials were still given full pay. He further asked at what stage of an investigation arrests would be made.

The Chairperson also made reference to the contradicting figures for the number of detectives, saying that with the so-called ‘year of the detectives’ there was no reason for decreasing numbers. She wondered if part of the problem was that there was no differentiation being made between the positions that people held in the system. She said that it should not be necessary to hold a head count; these statistics should be clearly available in the personnel and financial systems.

Lt-Gen Moonoo said that the number of detectives he had given were those on ground level throughout the nine provinces. He said that this was as a result of a head count, as done on a quarterly basis. He conceded that there were problems in the system, such that even deceased members were sometimes still listed as active.

Lt-Gen Schutte indicated that the system was capable of providing figures and that although there would be errors it was important to rely on that system. He agreed that the nature of the system meant that it was not infallible.

The Chairperson gave a ruling that the figures needed to be signed off on and standardised. Even taking into account errors, where a figure had been included in an annual report, the Department would be held to the figures.

Lt-Gen Phahlane said that he appreciated the need for standardisation of figures. He said that a headcount was not always reliable because not all members would be present on any given day. He said that the IT system was better, because this was consistent and could provide a breakdown according to categories of members. He said that it would be best to use these figures but also take into account the possibility of loopholes, such as deceased members whose papers had not yet been properly processed.

Maj-Gen Johnson said that eventually all commissioned officers would be trained according to the detective commanders’ training programme. There were still 450 members to be trained in the current year. The mobility in the environment was a challenge. as there was constant turnover of members.

Ms Molebatsi asked about the duration of the basic detective training modules were.

The Chairperson asked if they were accredited, and if they had been completed by all the Detectives.

Maj-Gen Johnson said that the training was accredited and it was not only the SAPS who were entitled to use the training material involved, as many private institutions used it as well. All those who had attended the training courses had completed the modules, but he was not in a position to give figures as to percentage of them had been declared competent. He promised to provide this figure later.

Lt-Gen Dramat said that in the context of DPCI, arrests would be made in collaboration with prosecutors according to the weight of evidence behind allegations of criminal activity.

Maj-Gen Johnson added that a certain degree of prima facie evidence was required in order to detain a SAPS member, and that this would differ from case to case. There was provision in the Criminal Procedure Act for an officer to make an arrest when a crime had been committed in his or her presence.

The Chairperson said that the headcount did not explain a decrease in numbers and that this decrease would need to be explained.

Lt-Gen Dramat said that the continued employment of arrested members would frequently impact on investigations and that in such events they should not be retained.

Ms Kohler-Barnard questioned the forensic team on health chemical laboratories. She said that in her experience this struggled to function and had extremely long delays on standard procedures. She asked if this could be improved if SAPS were to take control of areas such as post mortems. She also asked about what had been done following the disappearance of a large amount of cocaine from the Pretoria Forensic Laboratory.

The Chairperson said that in the previous year there had been many laptops and computers bought for detectives. She asked if they had been distributed properly. She also wanted to know what the ratio was of vehicles to detectives and how this was be progressing towards the goal of 2:1.

Lt-Gen Phahlane explained that health chemical laboratories were accepted as being under the authority of the Department of Health, as the legislation stated. SAPS had nevertheless expressed a need for some functions to be reviewed in light of their importance to the CJS. One of the main areas of concern was blood alcohol testing. He said that the case of the cocaine missing from OR Tambo had led to the arrest of a colonel and some captains, but did not feel equipped with sufficient facts to discuss it further at this stage.

Lt-Gen Moonoo answered the question on the laptops procured for detectives, saying that in Gauteng they were still being rolled out, but that in all other province this had already been done. He said that one of the issues involved was the large number of laptops. He admitted that he had not given a deadline.

The Chairperson said that there were clearly problems with assets being supplied to detectives, and that this was due to poor management. Failing to enforce deadlines for rollout was symptomatic of this. She requested that a deadline be issued, and reported on.

Lt-Gen Moonoo said that there was a shortage of 107 vehicles before SAPS would reach the intended ratio.

Lt-Gen Schutte said that this had already been budgeted for, and added that there had been many vehicles purchased for detectives in the previous year as well.

Lt-Gen Gary Kruse, Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, SAPS, added that the figure of 107 outstanding was from December 2012, and that in the last quarter there had been some more vehicles purchased. He said that once assets were procured, the present policy allowed for provincial and divisional commissioners to reallocate them where deemed necessary. There were a number of investigations and audits being undertaken into instances of commissioners abusing this authority.

Mr Lekgetho asked if there was an issue with discretionary powers and, if so, why the system allowed for them.

The Chairperson added that the discretionary power could not be completely revoked, but that when it was exercised, motivations should be given. Reasons should be required before vehicles and other assets were allowed to be physically moved.

Lt-Gen Kruse said that this was similar to the proposal being considered by SAPS to ensure proper supply of assets, and the outcome would be made available to the Committee.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked how many suggestions from the Detective Dialogues had been implemented, such as having crime scene kits in every vehicle.

The Chairperson asked after the e-docket situation and its status. She also asked if SAPS members at stations could not be given testing kits to be able to test basic substances in order to conduct immediate arrests, rather than sending samples to laboratories. She asked about new laboratories being built. She said that there had been DNA kit shortages reported in the media and that there were two issues at play. Firstly, the upper management should be ensuring that there was a standing contract for these kits and secondly, the station management needed to refill the orders when necessary. She asked if the newer, cheaper kits were not compromising quality. She also asked what was happening to the old kits.

Lt-Gen Phahlane said that testing being done at station level was a consideration, and there had been instruments procured for such testing. He was not sure of the numbers that had been purchased or of the impacts that they had had so far. He agreed that there was a need for a laboratory in Pretoria and said that this was in the process of, hopefully, being fast tracked. He said that a rental space had been secured for a laboratory in Pinetown, in Kwa-Zulu Natal. He agreed that the shortage of DNA kits was a concern and that there had been some provinces over-supplied by mistake as well. Following the audit, redistribution had been done. He stressed that cost-saving was not compromising on quality, and in fact was resulting in a better product. The new kit was more simple and effective. He made reference to a case reported, where an office had been unable to take fingerprints, and said that a single printer had run out of toner and that the incident was not as serious as reported. He said that there were proceedings being instituted against the responsible officer for negligence.

Lt-Gen Kruser said that asset distribution was going to be centralised in a single system and that this would apply to consumables as well as firearms. There were ongoing discussions as to the best scanner to use.

Lt-Gen Schutte said that planning of laboratory construction would be subject to a feasibility process. Once that had been concluded, the Committee would be briefed on the project. He said it had already been discussed, and there was concern that medium term priorities should not change. He said that the DNA kits were of vital importance and he acknowledged the need to serialise the kits. Although that this would result in high turnover, it was not unheard of, and would probably be necessary for such a priority area.

Lt-Gen Kruser said that the kits were already serialised manually.

The Chairperson said that the method of management was up to SAPS, but that the potential risk of losing millions of rands worth of assets was unacceptable.

Maj-Gen Johnson asked that the Committee give SAPS permission to obtain a report on the e-dockets.

The Chairperson refused, saying that the system was meant to be fully functional by the end of 2014, and she rejected the implication that, out of the senior members present, none were familiar with the status of the project. There had been a great deal of obfuscation in the past and this was no longer acceptable. She insisted that a full report be given by the TMS department on the following morning.

The Chairperson noted that in general, the Committee felt frustrated at the low quality of service in the Detective programme, despite the intensive investment into the programme. She noted that investigations and questions would be continued the following day.

The meeting was adjourned.


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