Domestic Violence Act implementation: six-month report by Secretariat on Police and SAPS

This premium content has been made freely available


13 May 2013
Chairperson: Ms A Van Wyk (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Secretariat on Police presentation looked at the implementation challenges of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA). The presentation looked at the following topics: initiatives, challenges with non-compliance, victim friendly rooms and recommendations, recording of domestic violence cases, cases against SAPS members, implementation challenges, understanding of the DVA, and the withdrawal of cases, command and control, legislative gaps and plans to strengthen oversight. The Secretariat performed an audit of 145 police stations in 2012/13. The challenges with non-compliance were that the document files that should be kept at the Client Service Centres (CSC) and in the patrol vehicles were not available in most stations, poor or incorrect completion of SAPS 508a (incident form) and SAPS 508b (Domestic violence register), elements of the DVA incidents were sometimes recorded differently in the DV register and on the SAPS 508a form even though the incident was the same, the non-compliance register/form (SAPS 508) in which the Station Commander should be recording complaints against SAPS members for failing to comply with the DVA was non-existent in almost all the stations visited and there were challenges with the management and availability of Victim Friendly Rooms (VFRs). In this financial year, the Secretariat would look into the standardisation of the VFRs. In the audit of 145 stations, 24% did not have VFRs (forwarded to the SAPS for further attention), 62% were resourced and functional and 14% were not functional.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) presentation looked at disciplinary proceedings for non-compliance between 1 July 2011 - 31 March 2012 and 1 April 2012 - 30 September 2012, monitoring of non-compliance at station level, the DVA review process, remedial action steps taken, the DVA compliance forum and the work session with the Inspectorate.

The Chairperson found the presentations to be informative and she welcomed the large NGO presence at the meeting. Members asked questions about non-compliance, training, the serving of protection orders, SAPS members as perpetrators, implementation of the DVA, screening processes, determining serious / non-serious disciplinary cases, the involvement of other departments, flexibility of the CAS system and cases withdrawn/not accepted. The fundamental problem was that there were no consequences as non-compliance was not taken seriously.

Meeting report

The Chairperson was unhappy that the Department did not adhere to its deadline and had submitted documents late. This made the oversight work of the Committee almost impossible. She would not accept late submissions again and would cancel the meeting if this occurred.

She noted that as the Department had missed another submission deadline it had set for itself, the Committee would have to work in the first week of constituency week to finish the DNA legislation. However, she hoped it would not come to this and the Bill  could be dealt with prior to this. It was an important Bill as it impacted on the Criminal Procedure Act and the Committee would be working jointly with the Justice Committee on this matter.

The Chairperson said she would respond in writing to the letter from Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) about the allegation of Al-Qaeda training camps in the country, information which was in the public’s domain. This was an intelligence operational issue so it needed to go to the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence. If the DA felt strongly about this issue, they should place a request for the Joint Standing Committee to look at it.

Domestic Violence Act: Implementation Challenges: A Civilian Oversight Perspective
Ms Millicent Kewati, Chief Director: Monitoring Evaluation and Reporting, said the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) conducted 145 Domestic Violence Act (DVA) audits during the 2012/13 financial year to identify gaps in the implementation and develop recommendations for improved implementation. Other initiatives had been conducted jointly with the South African Police (SAPS) and these included a national and provincial work sessions on legislation, DVA Compliance Forum meetings and Reference Group quarterly meetings with a number of NGOs. From all these engagements, some common key challenges had been identified that impact negatively on the implementation of the DVA resulting in low compliance levels.

The challenges with non-compliance were that the files with documents that should be kept at the Client Service Centres (CSC) and in the patrol vehicles were not available in most stations (out of the 145 stations visited), poor or incorrect completion of SAPS 508a (incident form) and SAPS 508b (Domestic violence register), elements of the DVA incidents were sometimes recorded differently in the DV register and on the SAPS 508a form even though the incident was the same, the non-compliance register/form (SAPS 508) in which the Station Commander should be recording complaints against SAPS members for failing to comply with the DVA was non-existent in almost all the stations visited and there were challenges with the management and availability of Victim Friendly Rooms (VFRs). In this financial year, the Secretariat would look into the standardisation of the VFRs.

In the audit of 145 stations, 24% did not have VFRs (forwarded to the SAPS for further attention), 62% were resourced and functional and 14% were not functional.

Ms Kewati outlined the Secretariat's recommendations:
▪ A process flow chart on how to provide practical assistance to DVA victims should be developed and posted in the CSC and the VFR for easy reference,
▪ The DVA register (SAPS 508b) needed to be reviewed and updated. There should be additional columns for updating information. This would assist in ensuring that there was no communication breakdown during shift changes and also between the detectives and the CSC when there was a need to follow up on cases.
▪ The SAPS 508a form could be redesigned into a checklist format, whereby SAPS members would use it to check if they had followed all the proper procedures in assisting the victim of domestic violence.
▪ The non-compliance form (SAPS 508) should be re-issued to all stations as most Station Commanders indicated no knowledge of the form. The form should also be updated to substitute 'ICD' with 'Secretariat'.
▪ Management of the VFR should be strengthened, for example, in stations where there was a CSO operating, or active Community Policing Forum (CPF) involvement, an MOU with the Station should be drawn up. This should clearly define the role of SAPS, CPF, the CSO and the volunteers.
▪ The SAPS should develop a volunteer management policy which would cover screening and management of volunteers at the station.

Recording of domestic violence cases
Ms Kewati said, according to the SAPS’ Crime Administration System (CAS), DVA contravention was not interpreted as a criminal offence on its own. This posed a challenge as it became difficult to assess how many arrests were made as a result of the Protection Order contravention. The system also did not capture DVA incidents reported as they appear in the register, there was no standard system of handling cases where SAPS members were perpetrators of domestic violence. The SAPS disciplinary regulations and DVA National Instructions also did not explicitly indicate how these cases should be dealt with and what should be the consequences. In some provinces, these cases were referred to the Provincial Commissioner and some were dealt with at Cluster level.

Cases against SAPS members as perpetrators/ alleged perpetrators
Out of the 145 stations audited, 88 members had DVA cases against them and in 65 of these cases, the firearm had been seized which was positive. This was not a picture of the entire SAPS but just represented the 145 stations audited.

▪ CAS should be reviewed so as to recognise DVA as a criminal offence not attached to other crimes.
▪ The system should also be able to capture incidents reported so as to make it easy to draw comparisons between incidents reported, cases opened, arrest made and cases withdrawn.
▪ The Employee Health and Wellness Programme division should conduct regular information session with employees at station level so that they could easily identify and intervene with SAPS members that were in crisis or at risk as members who committed acts of domestic violence were in direct contradiction of the SAPS commitment to protect women and children.
▪ The SAPS disciplinary regulations should therefore have a specific clause on how to deal with members that were perpetrators of DVA.
▪ The National Instructions should also include a paragraph on reporting and record keeping of the data of members who were involved in domestic violence either as perpetrators or victims. This would help to ensure that members were properly placed (pending outcome) where they could neither be a danger to complainants, respondents or themselves.
▪ All cases involving members as perpetrators should be referred to the Provincial Inspectorate for investigation and reports be forwarded to the Secretariat to monitor progress.
A protocol with regard to time frames for investigation of these cases should be developed as the time taken had implications on the member’s ability to perform duties, e.g. seizure of firearm and placement of the member.

Implementation challenges, in terms of training, of the 11 850 officers in the 145 stations audited, only 4 308 were trained. This might not be a true reflection, and  could actually be higher, as some members had attended training but it was not recorded in the registers. These numbers would then be checked against the training register at national office to ensure it was a true reflection.

Understanding of DVA
Even though there was some improvement in the number of members trained, this did not translate into improved implementation. Some of the key areas that displayed lack of knowledge were:
- Form 1 (notice that explained remedies available to the complainant) – generally members do not know what this form was and what purpose it served.
- Arresting the perpetrator on contravention of the Protection Order.
- Sending members that were not directly involved in responding to domestic violence cases for refresher training.
- There were not enough practical scenarios presented during training which could allow members to identify with what happened outside the classroom. This was also shown on the research report by Combrinck H, et al, (2009).
- Participants reported that training methodologies predominantly consisted of lecture-style presentations, rather than taking the form of group work and being based on practical examples.

The CSP would conduct a joint visit with SAPS to some of the basic training institutions in order to observe the methodology of training and make informed recommendations.
Station Commanders should be obliged to discuss DVA as a standing item during the station lectures, discussion should be based on areas identified by the Commanders as in need of attention.
The National Instruction could be simplified and sub-divided into small handy information notes of about one A4 page per section for discussion during parade sessions, these information notes could also be used during station lectures.
Clear and simplified legal interpretation on the issues of arrest after contravention of the order should be done. The role of SAPS and how the discretion to or not to arrest must be applied should come out clearly during training, station lectures and in the station orders.
Copies of Form 1 and Form 11 should be added to the documents that must be in the patrol vehicles, these must be captured in the relevant section of the National Instruction.
Form 1 needed to be simplified, with user friendly language (less legal jargon) and a space for signature by the complainant and the issuing SAPS member.
Evaluation of the DVA training and impact assessment study should be conducted by the SAPS jointly with the CSP.
A mentorship and coaching programme at police station level for all new recruits should be considered.

Withdrawal of cases
Ms Kewati looked at the withdrawal of cases, noting that of the 145 stations audited, 72% of the stations visited experienced high numbers of withdrawal of cases by the complainants. There were a number of reasons for this such as non-availability of social services and should be seen in the context of socio-economic issues in the country.

The recommendations were that stringent measures on the withdrawal of cases needed to be included on DVA and National Instructions. SAPS and the CSP should engage civil society and academia in exploring various ways of policing domestic violence taking into consideration the social and economic context of our country. A study to explore regional and international practices should be undertaken.

Command and control
Paragraph 3(6) of the National Instruction stated that as part of his/her responsibilities in implementing the DVA, the Station Commander must “taking into account the unique circumstances prevailing in his / her specific station area, available resources, etc., issue station orders…”. Most Station Commanders did not adhere to this prescript and what had been identified was that station orders, where available, were either a copy of the Provincial Order, or an outdated copy that was not relevant when one considered that particular station’s current circumstances. DVA registers and files were mostly inspected by CSC Commanders and by Station Commanders on a weekly basis according to information obtained from the audits, however, this appeared to only be a matter of putting signatures and it did not fulfill the intended purpose of inspecting the registers. Station managers (including Station Commanders, Visible Police (VISPOL) Commanders and Shift Commanders) were also not well conversant with the DVA, as picked up during the de-briefing sessions and as a result were unable to provide proper guidance to the subordinates.

Inspection of registers was done on a weekly basis but there was no thorough checking.

Legislative gaps
- Poor coordination among all the role players that dealt with domestic violence was a serious challenge.
- The provision of shelters, counselling services and places of safety fell within the Department of Social Development mandate. Lack of these psycho social services, especially in rural areas, made it difficult for both the SAPS and the Courts to refer complainants, however the Department of Social Development was not obliged by the DVA to ensure that these services were accessible in all policing precincts.
- According to the DVA a complainant could apply for a protection order any time and on any day, however this was not fulfilled in implementation as the courts only operated during working hours and the SAPS cannot get hold of NPA personnel on standby as suggested in the DVA regulations.
- The management of protection orders between the court and the police stations was also a challenge, e.g. in cases where a complainant goes directly to court without going to the police station.
- The responsibility and manner of serving the order together with the resource implications was also not specific in the DVA which resulted in SAPS and the NPA pointing fingers at each other. In some instances the complainants found themselves in a position whereby they were told to serve the order themselves.
- There was no clear time frame with regard to the service of protection orders as well as the provision of proof of service, except to say they must be served without delay and, as a result, both the regulations and the National Instructions used the same terminology.
- The Act should oblige both SAPS and NPA to provide clear time frames in their Regulations / Instructions.
- Budget allocation for the implementation of the DVA did not come out clearly in the SAPS Annual Performance Plan and this affected the amount of resources allocated. All the departments that had a role to play in DVA implementation should be obliged to allocate budget so as to ensure effective implementation.
-  The SAPS DVA National Instructions needed to be reviewed and all the functions relating to the Investigative Complaints Directorate (ICD) should be rewritten to read as the Secretariat. This delay in changing the Instruction was affecting the working relationship at Provincial Level.
- It was observed during the oversight visits that some of the mistakes in the completion of registers were as a result of conflicting information given by different oversight structures that visited stations (including the SAPS). This conflicting information could be due to the different ways in which these different structures interpreted the DVA and the National Instructions.

The DVA should enforce that a Multilateral Agreement be developed between all the government departments that contribute to implementation of the DVA. This agreement should clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each department, resources required for effective implementation of the DVA and define the kind of partnership that will exist amongst these departments.The DVA should also oblige all the relevant departments to report on their implementation of the DVA annually.

Responsibility and resource requirements for service of protection orders should be clearly defined. In order to avoid glitches, the legislation should designate one department, i.e. either Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJ&CD) or SAPS to be responsible for this service. Both the SAPS and DoJ&CD should be obliged to develop a service level protocol that will clearly define the process of receiving and serving the order.

The CSP should coordinate a workshop on DVA interpretation for all SAPS oversight bodies so that a common and standardized understanding of DVA can be developed. 

Plans to strengthen oversight
Dialogue on improving SAPS response to violence against women and children which had to be postponed due to this meeting. This initiative would be done in partnership with the CSO and the Joint Gender Fund. It would involve government and civil society organisations. There was also the National Compliance Forum work session on 14 June 2013 where all provinces (SAPS and Secretariat) would meet to clearly define reporting, application for exemptions, standardizing recording in the registers and plan for community awareness campaigns while the main objective of this work session was to institutionalize the Compliance Forum. Other strengthening measures were a public awareness campaign to cover the following areas: marketing of the Secretariat’s role in monitoring DVA, educating communities on DVA to be carried out at Provincial level in partnership with the SAPS, CPF and the NPA. The engagements with other stakeholders had made it clear to the Secretariat that the best response to domestic violence would be broad policing that was inclusive of community members, faith based organisations and any other community based organisation. In order to come up with a model on how this could be achieved, the CSP would explore, regionally and internationally, best practices with regard to policing of DVA and other laws aimed at addressing violence against women and children.

The Chairperson noted that nothing that was said about the challenges was new but were what the Committee had encountered for the past 14 or 15 years. However, she congratulated the Secretariat for the audit as this was what had been lacking from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and SAPS. She said this was taking things forward and showed what needed to be changed.

SAPS report in terms of Section 18(5)(d) of the Domestic Violence Act 1998
Lt Gen Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, Deputy National Commissioner: Operational Services, apologised for the absence of the National Commissioner, Ms Riah Phiyega and Maj. Gen. Yvonne Botsheleng, Head: Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences, Detective Services, who were tied up in labour issues. The Chairperson said she would like apologies delivered in writing to her and given before the meeting. This was the practice and she would appreciate this was adhered to. Lt Gen Masemola took note of this.

Disciplinary proceedings against police officials
Maj. Gen. Susan Pienaar, Head: Crime Prevention, Visible Policing, began by looking at the number and nature of 221 disciplinary proceedings against police officials reported for non-compliance from 1 July 2011 to 31 March 2012 (9 months): One matter was closed as the member was deceased, 18 cases were unfounded, six cases where no disciplinary steps were taken as the reservist was not trained, 102 cases of remedial steps taken after the initial interview as the matter was not serious, 20 cases of verbal warnings after the initial interview as the case was not serious, 46 written warnings in cases not serious, six final written warnings, 13 cases under investigation, three cases still on trial, four cases were awaiting a decision and two cases of recommended disciplinary steps.

For the period 1 April 2012 to 30 September 2012, 59 cases of non-compliance were recorded: in 10 cases no disciplinary steps were taken as these were not serious, minor errors rectified immediately, one case where no disciplinary steps were taken as the member was wrongfully arrested, 29 cases of remedial steps taken after the initial interview as the matter was not serious, five cases of verbal warnings after the initial interview as the matter was not serious, six cases of non-serious written warnings and eight cases under investigation. 

Monitoring of non-compliance at station level
As part of the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, Senior Officers at police stations were required to conduct regular inspections of the relevant registers and forms to monitor compliance. For the visible policing division, it also conducted compliance visits to monitor the same. Where serious cases of non-compliance had been identified, the station commander was obligated in terms of Section 18 of the DVA to report this to the Secretariat for Police and take the necessary disciplinary steps in this regard. Minor incidents of non-compliance were rectified immediately and members were encouraged during station lectures and on/off duty parades to ensure compliance. While the Visible Policing Division strove to ensure that all Provinces were consistent when monitoring and reporting on non-compliance, the Western Cape had adopted a zero tolerance approach to addressing non-compliance. This had resulted in better confidence by the public to report domestic violence cases and complaints. Hence the higher figures for reporting incidents of DV as well as the higher non-compliance identified and addressed.

Remedial steps in 2012/13: Domestic Violence Act review process
Maj. Gen. Pienaar noted that it was as a result of the Portfolio Committee’s request to SAPS to indicate whether there should be changes to the DVA and the National Instructions (NI) 7/1999, that a national review session was convened in November 2012 with provincial, cluster and station level representatives working with the domestic violence cases and with practical experience of the challenges of implementing the National Instructions. Delegates from the relevant National Divisions and the Civilian Secretariat for Police were also included. A report outlining recommendations to draft proposed changes to the legislation in terms of SAPS obligations and the SAPS NI was submitted to the Office of the Executive Legal Officer and was currently being considered.

A 10 Point Checklist was developed during the review session. This was being finalised for implementation during 2013/2014. The checklist asked: (1) was the complainant interviewed/a statement taken? (2) did you issue FORM 1 and explain its contents? (3) did the complainant have an existing protection order? (a) if not, was he/she advised to get one? (4) did the complainant get proper information regarding items that may require seizure? (5) was the complainant offered assistance to (a) obtain medical assistance? (b) find shelter or temporary accommodation? (c) protection or care of children? (6) did you as a member (a) register a case docket? (b) complete a 508(a)? (c) complete a 508(b)? (d) make an OB entry? (e) make an entry in your Pocket Book? (7) did you (a) effect an arrest? (b) If not, why not? 8) did you give feedback to the complainant about the progress of the case? (9) did you advise the complainant about who to consult with or to get support from (for instance, a social worker, a lawyer or any NGO or agency on your list of agencies at the station)? (10) did you check and review that the above was complete (quality assurance)?

SAPS inputs in the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DoJCD) DV Act Review Process where the DoJCD instituted a review process of the Domestic Violence in 2012. Inputs for changes to the Act were submitted in response to a call for inputs by the Office of the SAPS Executive Legal Officer (ELO). Inputs were informed by practical challenges experiences by SAPS members at all levels as raised during training and work session, station visits and inspections and requests for assistance to the ELO’s office.
▪ The power to declare a person unfit to possess a firearm as contemplated in section 102 of the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (Act No. 60 of 2000) should be delegated to the level of station commander and not the National Commissioner as previously stated.
▪ In the past the submission of the documentation from all magistrates’ courts across the country to the office of the National Commissioner in Pretoria who would only forward it to the station commander at the relevant police station, seriously delayed the consideration of the fitness of the respondent to possess a firearm and had adverse consequences for the complainant. The relevant police station was most likely to be in close proximity to the magistrate court that issued the protection order.
▪ Members of the Police were often confronted by different protection orders obtained by different parties to a domestic relationship that was in direct conflict with one another. This placed the police official in an untenable position as it was impossible for the police official to enforce the orders. According to section 18(4)(a) of the Act, disciplinary proceedings may be instituted against a member for failing to enforce a protection order.
▪ In order to prevent this, the Regulations containing the application form for a protection order should be amended to require the applicant to disclose whether any protection order (by or against the applicant or respondent) had previously been issued and if so, at which court. This would enable the presiding officer to consider the terms of any existing order before a new protection order was issued.

Remedial steps in 2012/13: Provincial Capacity Building Work Sessions
A series of capacity building work sessions convened in all nine provinces to address concerns in regard to compliance with legislation and directives in regard to policing crimes and violence against women and children. The objectives of provincial capacity building work sessions were:
- to identify solutions and address challenges experienced in the implementation of the legislation including the Domestic Violence Act, 1998,
- to provide feedback on common findings in respect of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998 and other legislation, during station compliance visits and discussed required responses and
- to capacitate the provinces in terms of the role of and inter-departmental co-operation with the Civilian Secretariat in respect to monitoring the implementation of legislation including the DV Act.
Delegates attending the capacity building work session included Cluster Commanders, one station commander per Cluster, provincial representatives (Crime Prevention Co-ordinators, Provincial Head: Crime Prevention, Provincial HRD, Provincial Discipline Management), national and provincial Secretariats for Police and the Visible Policing Division.

Remedial steps in 2012/13: Domestic Violence Compliance Forum
A forum established between the Civilian Secretariat and the SAPS with the purpose of monitoring and improving the SAPS implementation of the DVA. Meetings were held during May 2012, July 2012, August 2012 and March 2013. The Compliance Forum consisted of all respective Divisions within SAPS that had a role to play in the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, 1998. A specific focus on the domestic violence that involved SAPS members and employees was identified as an important area of collaboration.

Remedial steps in 2012/13: Work session with Inspectorate May/June 2013
As part of the SAPS monitoring and evaluation function the Visible Policing Division would engage with the National and Provincial Inspectorate in a work session to assist them in monitoring compliance based also on the audit tools jointly developed with the Division Visible Policing.

Remedial steps in 2012/13: National work session to share good practices (by November 2013)
A work session was planned to share the good practices identified by Visible Policing, other Divisions, Provinces and Secretariats with implementers in SAPS. This session would also serve as an opportunity to provide feedback on the review process for the Act and NI.

In his concluding remarks, Maj. Gen. Pienaar said that compliance and consistency remained a challenge. Training was not the only answer but must continue to reinforce the knowledge and skills required to act correctly in response to domestic violence. Management at all levels must be held accountable and lead by example.

The Chairperson welcomed the fact that the SAPS presentation was more informative and less “denialist”. She said acknowledgment of the problem was most important and it was just a pity it took 15 years to acknowledge there was a problem. She welcomed the presence of numerous non-government organisations and the Committee would ensure that there would be a meeting in the third term for the Department and the Secretariat to report on progress over and above the report and include input from NGOs on this.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked the Secretariat about the cases of non-compliance in terms of the 508 form and asked if the numbers reflected were then not a true reflection on what was happening on the ground. She found there was a complete paradox with what SAPS was saying about the form and what the Secretariat was saying. She asked SAPS why non-compliance was not registered on CAS as an offence. She felt they were not taking this seriously.

The Chairperson said acknowledgment should be given to SAPS as they were acknowledging the question so Members should be fair about that even though Ms Kohler-Barnard was right.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) was concerned about how the stations  could implement the Act when the commanders were not even familiar with it. She asked how many station commanders understood it at the stations audited by the Secretariat.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) questioned screening and what the Secretariat would be looking for in this screening. She asked SAPS who was supposed to serve the protection orders against the perpetrators. She had found stacks of protection orders in files.

Mr M George (COPE) asked if this Act was ready to be implemented and noted this question was already asked in 1998 and it was now 15 years down the line. He wanted the Department to tell the Committee what the problem really was as it  could not just be because of "problems of filling in a form". He said people were withdrawing cases because of the attitude of the police and the fact that they laughed at or ridiculed the victims. He wanted to know what was going to be done to sort this out. He also questioned non-compliance.
Ms P Mocumi (ANC) asked SAPS who was tasked with determining whether cases of non-compliance were considered serious or not serious and what criteria were used for determining this as most cases were deemed non-serious.

The Chairperson asked the Secretariat if the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities (DWCPD) was involved in their work and, if not, would they include them or not. For SAPS she asked how flexible the CAS system was in recording crimes and how long it would take for the CAS system to be adjusted to record DV as a crime in itself. She had visited a station in the Western Cape, with a Member, and all the things the Secretariat had reported on she had found. And these station officers did not even know about non-compliance. She noted the training of officers in the DVA conducted in 2005, where millions was spent on training and it was reported on to Parliament. Clearly nothing had come of this. She would provide them with the name of the station after the meeting. She was shocked that the officer responsible for domestic violence cases at this station had only received a few hours of training on the DVA.

Mr D Stubbe (DA) asked if there were statistics on cases not accepted at the station level and if these stats were produced would they see a huge increase in the number of cases not being reported.

Ms Kewati said the Secretariat found that no 508 forms were completed in any of the stations they audited. There was a need to stream-line the reporting of non-compliance and a meeting with all the provincial secretariats would be held to attend to this issue.

Maj. Gen. Pienaar said CAS was only for criminal matters while non-compliance was a disciplinary matter which was why it was reported in a register and not CAS. This was in line with the instructions.

Ms Kewati said on the question of screening of volunteers, they wanted this year to have a project looking at the standarisation on the use of volunteers. They would look items such as funding constraints, gate keeping, the referral system in place, the screening of volunteers (as some of them were perpetrators themselves) so a standard for screening of volunteers was needed, secondary victimisation, the legislation governing volunteers, and how to differentiate between a volunteer and a member at station level (by a difference in uniform or tag). This was a key project to undertake with the reference group in this financial year.

Maj. Gen. Pienaar explained protection orders were issued by the police if there was a threat of violence, otherwise it was usually issued by the sheriff of the court. Police stations kept copies of protection orders on file in case that protection order was needed in cases of transgression.

Maj Gen Masemola said cases were sometimes withdrawn by victims but the police  could still send the matter to court. He noted the problem of police attitude and they would embark on combined quality assurance to look at stations not performing. A road-show was underway with station and cluster commanders and provincial management to deal with this matter and other repeated mistakes. After a certain period after the road show, if the problems persisted, the station commanders responsible would be targeted.

Maj Gen Pienaar said the categories used about non-compliance being serious or not serious for disciplinary purposes, were categories defined in the National Instruction. The criteria that the station commander would determine whether it was serious or not serious in line with the SAPS disciplinary regulations which define what is a serious or not serious offence/misconduct.

She turned to the question on the flexibility of CAS in recording crime and how long it would take to change CAS. This was a two-fold issue. (1) Can CAS accommodate those changes and (2) Shall one not capture the common law crime as there was a distinction between how serious the criminal charges for DV were (such as common assault, crimen injuria, attempted murder) so not all DV cases were the same. There might be charges for a number of offences (taking into consideration counting rules) as they capture the principal offence. This was a complex issue. There may be a way to take this forward with CAS specialists. There was a project underway to enhance CAS. If the cases were not recorded, it was hard to measure cases withdrawn. One can currently list all criminal offences and statutory offences (such as a violation of the protection order) related to domestic violence. However, incidents recorded in the register that are not recorded  as criminal offences are not included on the system. So SAPs cannot give a figure for these so this difference cannot be shown. It might be that victims are not being advised properly by the police

Ms Kewati spoke about the possible inclusion of the DWCPD noting the reference group was currently made up of NGOs and of SAPS senior managers. This was looked at further to include the missing element of government departments so a dialogue was planned which would include Social Development, Heath and Justice – those involved in monitoring violence against women and children. All Departments would be invited to future reference groups and terms of reference would be revised to include other departments. She hoped all work they were doing would fit into the ministerial work on violence against women and children.

Ms Molebatsi questioned the protection orders. She asked if there was a distinction between first and second protection orders being issued.

Ms Kohler-Barnard was still trying to process that less than 50% of SAPS members were trained 15 years down the line. She knew they had a big budget for training and asked if problem was quality of training or if it was simply a box-ticking exercise and people were not actually tested on what they learnt. She asked if victims were allowed to serve their own protection orders. This was a massive failing if it was happening at certain police stations. She was outraged that this was thought to be acceptable.

Mr George said his question was simple: what made it difficult to implement this Act?

The Chairperson said restrictive criteria needed to be checked as it  could be a bad thing when looking at volunteer support, especially in stations in rural areas where stations were not able to provide that service. Some flexibility was needed instead of not having the service provided at all. She found in her constituency, which was a rural one not far from the Western Cape, that volunteers were useful and needed. SAPS needed to change its culture if it wished to be considered professional. She felt they concentrated on what should be, an ideal, instead of focusing on the reality of the situation and this needed to be part of the change of SAPS culture. Parliament could not support SAPS with funds unless they were completely honest. She reiterated she had experience of where victims were made to serve the protection orders themselves.

Maj Gen Pienaar completely agreed that victims  could not serve their own protection orders and this should be classified as non-compliance. It was the same protection order – both were court orders and the court gave a different instruction on how they should be served. They all go to the police stations for keeping.

The Chairperson asked if distinction  could be made between copies of the protection order and the original and if so, how.

Maj Gen Pienaar said one should be able to distinguish between a copy and an original and the officer should report that they had served the protection order and if not, this should be treated as non- compliance. In terms of training, not all station commanders had completed all the modules and the Department needed to verify the exact training statistics (of less than 50% of members being trained). Standards of criteria were noted and she would respond on this in more detail. She noted there were different modules for the training of station commanders.

The Chairperson said the reality was that only 884 station commanders were fully trained. From her visit to a police station on last week, the newly gradated constable had informed her that the training was a few hours at basic level. Her comment on flexibility was more related to the Secretariat than SAPS.

Ms Molebatsi asked what happened in the event that a SAPS member himself was involved in domestic abuse. She provided a personal account of this issue.

Ms Sibiya asked if there was no clause on how to deal with these members.

The Chairperson felt Employee Wellness was not working well and needed to be used more effectively. There should be a process for obligatory psychological de-briefing for members after gruesome and violent events. Currently it was the choice of the member which did not help given the culture of SAPS to label such members “sissies”. This provided an explanation for the high rate of domestic violence involving SAPS and why they sometimes acted outside of the law when making arrests. Wellness within SAPS needed to be looked at. She asked why investigations into SAPS members accused of domestic violence was not looked at by members outside of the cluster from which the accused came so that there was no protection of one another. This would increase the credibility of SAPS. She asked if this possibility was being looked at. She questioned if there was a process being embarked on to show the DVA was not an administrative burden but was actually a crime prevention tool.

Mr George highlighted the statement recently made by the Minister and asked if it was possible for the Secretariat to investigate cases involving SAPS members in light of the fact that they protect each other.

The Chairperson asked how SAPS was involving Social Development in making available social development practitioners for after hours and over weekends. This was one of the reasons why police officers did tend to arrest children involved in crime over the weekend as there was no one to deal with it.

Lt Gen Masemola explained that when a SAPS member was involved in domestic abuse, the firearm was seized and processes were followed. An inquiry into the member would then ensue which would determine whether the member was deemed fit to possess a firearm or not. The victim would be informed of the processes.

The Chairperson said this was what should be happening but was not a reality, except for Gauteng and the North West, where there was a 100% rate of firearm removal while the other provinces were not doing it.

Lt Gen Masemola said he took note of this and they were concerned about non-compliance.

The Chairperson said she was not talking about non-compliance. She corrected herself and said that it was  North-West, the Northern Cape and Gauteng where the firearm was removed 100% of the time.

Lt Gen Masemola said they would take the necessary steps about non-compliance in the other provinces.

The Chairperson showed him the slide of the Secretariat’s report to get clarity. She emphasised she was not talking about non-compliance but about the fact that the process of removing the firearm not being followed.

Lt Gen Masemola said he was aware of this and would follow up these cases for reporting on next time.

The Chairperson said he was missing the point and the sample in the Secretariat’s report  could not always be relied on. She wanted to know what they were going to do to ensure that where the police officer was the accused in a domestic violence case, that the firearm would be confiscated until an investigation was completed, bottom-line.

Lt Gen Masemola outlined that there were road-shows informing the provincial and national managers about these mistakes and steps would be taken to take domestic violence seriously within provincial and national targets.

The Chairperson wanted a report within a month that outlined the disciplinary action taken against police officers with firearms not being confiscated. She did not want the politically correct answer.

Maj Gen Pienaar said the disciplinary processes were not written up specifically in the context of domestic violence but was generally placed under misconduct. The case should be dealt with as a domestic violence case then issues of discipline and looking into the offender should be conducted. A specific set of requirements was being developed.

Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane, Secretary of Police, highlighted the inter-ministerial committee. She felt it should be made clear that the Secretariat did not have powers of investigation and a discussion was needed with SAPS and IPID on how best to investigate SAPS members. The reference group was not just a DVA one but dealt with a number of overlapping issues with DVA such as the Child Justice Act and the Sexual Offences Act with specialist groups reporting on the specific issues which would be reinforced by involving the DWCPD. The non-seizure of firearms was essentially an issue of non-compliance as defined by the Firearms Control Act. The Secretariat’s compliance office outlined that it needed to be followed up, with SAPS, why the firearms were not seized. Where weapons were seized, were the formal processes followed to ensure the firearm was not returned?

The Chairperson said investigating SAPS members needed to be looked at broadly as well as the seizure of firearms. If a member was deemed unfit to possess a firearm, were they of use to SAPS any longer? She accepted not everyone was guilty and got the firearm back.

Mr George asked if they had to re-apply for a competency certificate or did they just get the firearm back?

The Chairperson said sometimes the firearm was confiscated but they were given a shift firearm when on duty. This became problematic if the firearm was used and then needed to be traced to a bunch of firearms. She asked if this was communicated to the rest of the station.

Ms Kohler-Barnard felt that when a SAPS member was found guilty, that member should be removed completely. This was not even be considered as an option. The Secretariat had a good idea but fancy regulations were never carried out and the Act would not be found in any of the vehicles. So it was a lovely idea but it would not work. The figures were a drop in the ocean compared to the reality of the situation. The fundamental problem was that there were no consequences as non-compliance was not taken seriously.

The Chairperson thought there were problems with the Act and a problem was that SAPS sent the legal people but not the functional/operational staff present when dealing with legislation. She asked if it was necessary to have non-compliance in the legislation as it was a form of exception. She raised this as another matter for discussion so that consequences for non-compliance were faced.

Mr George asked when the Secretariat would look at the Domestic Violence Act like when looking at the abuse of protection orders.

The Chairperson said one glaring gap was that males were not seen as victims of domestic violence.

Ms Irish-Qhobosheane said there was no clear answer on compliance. She thanked the Committee for the time given to them. She noted the Committee felt strongly about training. The selection of these 145 police stations was due to specific reasons and the Committee was asked not to take the sample as an overall picture although they were indicative of a trend. The impact of training needed to be looked at further.

Maj Gen Pienaar said the indications from the 145 stations and the withdrawal of firearms were not telling the whole story. Disciplinary procedures were carried out which had implications on the member’s career and operational deployment as a career management issue. There were processes for all cases which they would be going through.

Lt Gen Masemola said the report on firearms would be sent to the Committee. He agreed that there appeared to be something wrong with the training and this would be looked at, to involve NGOS and see how to better the training. He felt results would be got out of quality assurance.

The Chairperson thanked everyone. She made it clear that when they returned for the second report, they would start off by looking at the progress report on what was said today. This was the first year issues were raised by a government structure and not the Committee but these were all issues previously raised by the Committee and NGOs and had been known to the Department for past 15 years. She wanted the report on the 88 cases noted in the Secretariat’s report of firearms seized by 14 June 2013. She did not just want to see figures but information on how to move forward. She did not want to deal with the issue in a piece-meal fashion. The time had come where the focus on implementation had to see results and impacts had to be seen in police stations.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
DA Shadow Minister on Police, Diane Kohler Barnard, media statement: May 2013
Despite regular claims that violence against women is a priority, the DA can today reveal that the South African Police Service (SAPS) has failed to submit its biannual reports on the Domestic Violence Act for nearly three years. This means we have no way of monitoring whether or not the SAPS is ensuring that their members who fail domestic violence victims are disciplined.

The failure of SAPS to submit these reports in the midst of an unprecedented sexual violence and rape crisis in South Africa is equally inexplicable and inexcusable, and an insult to every victim of crime in South Africa. How are South Africans expected to have confidence in the government’s fight against crime if they are unable to implement key legislation?

Tomorrow, I will ask the Civilian Secretariat for Police when they appear before the Police Portfolio Committee to explain how they intend on monitoring SAPS management’s compliance with the legislation.

If the most senior members of the police are not doing their duty to protect women then it is understandable why victims of domestic violence are so frequently treated dismissively at station level.

According to the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), the National Police Commissioner must submit a biannual report in Parliament on the following:
•    the number and particulars of complaints received against its members in respect of any failure to comply;
•    the disciplinary proceedings instituted and the decisions from these proceedings; and
•    steps taken as a result of recommendations made by the Civilian Secretariat for Police.
There is no record in Parliament of these reports for at least the last three years, apart from a presentation to the Portfolio Committee in 2011.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) has done a noteworthy job in improving monitoring of the DVA but this is of no use if SAPS management does not ensure compliance with the recommendations and monitor its own progress.

The latest report by the CSP is clear that “most of the non-compliance findings are due to lack of inspection and follow up by the Station Management”. The police handle domestic violence cases, not the CSP, and they need to show that they take these recommendations seriously.

Police officers who fail to deal with domestic violence cases put women at risk and management should not be turning a blind eye to this behaviour. SAPS management must buck up and ensure that they take the CSP’s recommendations seriously.

Surely our women deserve nothing less?


  • We don't have attendance info for this committee meeting

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: