Green Paper on Policing: Civilian Secretariat briefing; Formal vote to appoint Committee Chair

This premium content has been made freely available


23 July 2013
Chairperson: Ms A Van Wyk (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee formally repeated its unanimous acceptance of Ms A van Wyk (ANC) as Chairperson of the Committee. The Chairperson, in her opening remarks, condemned the alleged rape by five different police officers, saying that criminality amongst police officers must be addressed in the Green Paper on Policing (the Green Paper), and that it was completely unacceptable, and damaged the reputation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) irreparably when those supposed to be protecting the vulnerable abused the publics’ trust, and this raised questions about what management was doing to supervise the officers. An audit of criminality had been requested by the Minister.

The Civilian Secretariat for Police gave a briefing on the Green Paper on Policing. It was emphasised that this was meant to serve as a discussion document and was to be regarded as a work in progress. Several areas of concern, either highlighted by the Secretariat itself or raised by the Committee during discussions, would be dealt with in more detail in the White Paper. Key issues emanating from provincial consultations, included the need to define key concepts, the need for clarity on the roles of Community Policing Forums, Community Safety Forums and questions of oversight, location, resources and how the local government needed to assist them. The role of the private security industry was also vital, and there was a call for more formalised partnerships with SAPS, but stricter regulations on cross-sectoral accountability. The need for better alignment of performance measures and indicators and what would be appropriate tools of assessment, were also considered. The results of workshops would be incorporated into the White Paper, and there would be an assessment of what had or had not worked in the South African Police Service (SAPS). The key issues were then summarised. In respect of policing, it was noted that the method of policing was important and that effective implementation of community structures was dependent on strong leadership at local level. The size, quality and training and management of detectives all needed more attention. A more dedicated focus on intelligence-led policing was necessary. It was emphasised that the main intention was to professionalise the police, and ensure fairness, transparency, and accountability. Restructuring would encompass better recruitment that found the right people for the job, training must be of a high standard, and be consistent, current and relevant, and performance assessments must be based on clear frameworks, with a focus on outcomes, not outputs. Addressing corruption formed a major part of this focus. There was a need to more clearly define what “democratic policing” meant. The Paper also dealt with institutional arrangements, emphasised that local government and MECs had a significant role to play.; In order to achieve the National Development Plan goals, it was clear that a well-resourced, professional, and highly skilled police force was needed, and more concrete definitions of “crime prevention” were needed.

Several of the questions raised during the discussion were summarised by the Chairperson in her conclusion, when she noted that the Green Paper should introduce a standard policing and set out clear and current vision and architecture for the police system. The basic structure needed reworking, to ensure that historical background and new policies, and the roles of various players, were clearly demarcated. Policy pronouncements and statements needed to be informed by empirical research, and assumptions clearly supported by evidence and stated very clearly. The policy responses needed to be proactive and not reactive, and tie in with the vision for the future. More detail and value-add was needed to what the National Development Plan had proposed, and far more detail and role-setting was needed, for instance, on the Police Board. Members wanted to see an organogram that not only highlighted what structural changes were being proposed, but that would also ensure that top management was more clearly defined, and the structure could not be bloated at will, without referring back to Parliament. Strong partnerships were needed with relevant stakeholders, such as universities and research organisations, for knowledge transfer. Significant information on training was needed, with a clear approach that no officer should be finally appointed without being properly assessed after completion of a training course (which should recognise the expertise available outside of SAPS), to ensure that only the right people were appointed. Members felt that more consultation was needed on the Paper, and more thought had to be given to uses of military ranks, police brutality, and the creation of a single police service. The Paper should also be strong on accountability, and needed to specify how accountability would be strengthened. Members expanded on this by asking what measures were taken when police officers were accused of misconduct, why they were not immediately suspended, and how decisions were taken, and cited increased incidents of, and apparent unconcern by other officers, about bribes. It was suggested that some of the recommendations were redundant already, and a completely new strategy and clear road-map was needed. Members questioned – but did not receive answers on – the mention of a Police College, which appeared to conflict with the Minister’s mention of a university, and expressed concern that this would be a very costly exercise, that was not even mentioned during the recent budget hearings. More was needed on what proper resourcing would look like, as Members questioned whether the Resource Allocation Guide was relevant at all, and on the roles of other departments in crime prevention and partnerships. The Secretariat was urged to seize the opportunity presented to it to draft new policy fully and precisely, and not simply to “reinvent the wheel”. Many of the criticisms against the Green Paper arose because several important issues were left out, which were more fully enumerated. The Secretariat conceded that this was a first draft, that the comments would be heeded, and that it was aiming to achieve a change in the way the public regarded SAPS.

Meeting report

Official appointment of Chairperson to the Committee
Ms Van Wyk explained that the vote taken for the election of Chairperson during the last meeting had not been correctly done, and therefore would have to be repeated.

The Committee Secretary called upon Members for nominations of Committee Chairperson.

Mr M George (COPE) nominated Ms Van Wyk, Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) seconded that motion, and all Members present voted unanimously in support of Ms A van Wyk’s appointment as Chairperson.

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson conveyed good wishes to Mr G Lekgetho (ANC).

She noted recent reports in the media about five different police officers, three in the Western Cape and two in Gauteng, who had been accused of rape, with some cases even allegedly involving the use of police vehicles. She condemned those acts in the strongest terms, and said that criminality among police must be addressed in the Green Paper on Policing (the Green Paper) which the Committee was to be briefed on that morning. It was utterly unacceptable when those who were supposed to be protecting the vulnerable abused that trust. She asked how it was possible, with tracking systems in police vehicles, that no station commander was able to pick-up on the fact that these vehicles were standing where they should not. Another officer in her constituency had been accused of raping a child, and since then three more children had come forward. It was not enough that any officer accused of criminality was suspended, that person must be fired. She reminded the Committee that the Green Paper was a work in progress, and the Department of Police (SAPS or the Department) was still in the public participation stage, where the Civilian Secretariat for Police (the Secretariat) was meeting with interest groups, and noted that she would like to hear a summary on that. It was important that the Committee got an opportunity to include Members’ input and not just critique the Paper.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) and Ms D Sibiya (ANC) seconded the Chairperson's remarks.

Mr M George (COPE) was also very concerned with police killings.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked how police officers accused of criminal acts were able to get into SAPS to begin with, and what psychometric testing was done to determine whether someone was fit for the police service. Those tests may need to be reviewed, because such persons should have never been admitted into the Police Academy. It was nearly impossible to repair the reputation of SAPS every time crimes like these were committed.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) said he did not see any action taken when it was called for. He kept reading of these atrocities, but the public did not see the results of any reforms. After a meeting with the Minister on the issue of excessive force, and despite many specific suggestions being conveyed to him, no change had been seen. The SAPS had the appearance of being untouchable.

The Chairperson said that Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, had asked for an audit of criminality in the police services, in light of the recent allegations against SAPS members. A statement would be drafted during the break to show the Committee's concern about these criminal acts, and demand proper follow-up and a way forward for the Department.

Other issues
On the issue of police killings, the Chairperson explained that there must be a differentiation between police who were killed on duty, were targeted because they were police, or just killed by circumstance. The issue could only be addressed if there were proper figures.

The Chairperson also announced that after the completion of the Forensic Procedure Amendment Bill (the DNA Bill), the Committee would call SAPS management to brief it on the recent announcement of a university for police and the anti-corruption unit. While she welcomed the idea of professionalising SAPS, she expressed frustration that despite the fact that the Committee had just held the budget meetings and debates, there was no mention there of a university. She said that both the Department and Committee had to act responsibly with tax payer money and there was a need to clarify how and where funds would be used,  how officers would be selected for this training, the financial implications, where the funds would be coming from, and if five months was a realistic time frame. These were all questions that required answers, but were not dealt with during the Annual Performance Plan and budget.

Green Paper on Policing: Briefing by the Civilian Secretariat for Police
Ms Jennifer Qhobosheane, Civilian Secretary for Police, reminded the Committee that the Department was presenting a Green Paper and not a White Paper, and that this meeting was meant for soliciting views and opinions from the Committee in order to structure the report. 

Ms Bilkis Omar, Chief Director: Policy and Research, Civilian Secretariat for Police, presented the key issues emanating from provincial consultations, including:

-The need for clear definitions of key concepts
-The need for clear role clarification for Community Policing Forums (CPFs), as well as Community Safety Forums (CSFs)
-The role of CPFs as an oversight mechanism
-The ideal location or placement of CPFs and issues surrounding resources
-Lack of coordination of CPFs at municipal levels
-The role of the private security industry, which played a vital role in crime fighting and prevention. It was noted that formalised partnerships with SAPS were required
-Emphasis on 'single' must imply commitment to ensuring proper command and control
-Broader issues of safety and security, outlining the need for stricter regulations on cross-sectoral cooperation and accountability
-The need for better alignment of performance measures and indicators
-Performance measurements and the question of whether crime statistics should be the primary tool of assessment.

The Secretariat would be meeting with the reference group at the end of August to conduct a workshop, the results of which would be incorporated into the White Paper. The workshop would assess what had worked and what had not worked within SAPS, and also clarify certain issues, such as the role of the Police Board, the development of an over-arching implementation approach, and making the document more interactive so that SAPS could use it for operations.

Mr Mark Rogers, Director: Policy Development, Civilian Secretariat for Police, opened the presentation by telling the Committee that the Secretariat had good consultations with SAPS, and was still awaiting more public submissions. His presentation touched on several issues, as more fully detailed below. Please also see attached Green Paper for more information.

Policing in South Africa
-Issues receiving focus since 1994 had included organisational transformation, community-oriented policing, clarifying roles and responsibilities in terms of crime prevention. Policing had been carried out in line with democratic principles and respect for human rights, as entrenched in the Bill of Rights. Community-oriented policing had become entrenched through CPFs and CSFs. However, the point was made that the CPFs and CSFs needed to speak to method of policing, not just structure so the result should be effective coordinated partnerships.

Effective implementation was dependent on strong leadership at local level (and improving accountability at station-level). There was also a need for more emphasis on improving the capacity of detectives for improved criminal investigations. The key areas, in this regard, to be addressed, included the size of the detective service, the quality of detectives, improving the training of detectives and managing detectives.

There were two integrated policing approaches: the first on basic service delivery and the second a targeted priority crime approach. Intelligence-led policing formed the basis for collaborative working relations.

He made the point that the Secretariat was not suggesting this had not been applied within SAPS previously, but was calling for a more dedicated focus so that it became a clear cornerstone to policing. The benefits of this approach were immense and could enhance effectiveness and coordinated relationships, and would place SAPS on a better footing to make better decisions and resource allocation

Mainstreaming police professionalism
Mr Rogers noted that he was hoping to emphasise this throughout the report. He said that “professionalism” consisted of fairness, transparency, and accountability.

Police restructuring would take various forms. Firstly, the recruitment must focus on finding the best people, and training must be of a high standard. Training was an important component in developing the 'right type of officer'. It should not only be on-going, but current and of a consistent and high-standard, especially in specialist areas. Crime was constantly changing and officers needed to always be in a position to stay one step ahead of criminals.

Performance measures must be based on clear assessment frameworks – with a focus on outcomes rather than outputs.

Dealing with internal corruption required systems and processes to detect and prevent it. Addressing corruption was closely tied to the goal of building professionalism and entrenching accountability.

He also made the point that command and control was essential for accountable, democratic policing. However, he noted that the Department still needed to tie down what 'democratic policing' meant in the Paper.

Institutional arrangements at provincial level
The institutional arrangements focused on various roles of concerned and involved bodies. The role of MECs was largely related to oversight, building partnerships, and implementing safety strategies. The role of local government included the need to implement CSFs and national safety strategies at local levels, interface with CPFs, and form partnerships with local police. Mr Rogers made the point that the role of local government was a grey area and times difficult to define, but local government did indeed play a significant part in implementing CSFs.

In order to achieve the long-term development goals of the National Development Plan (NDP), South Africa needed a well-resourced, professional, and highly skilled police force. However, the final stages of drafting the Green Paper were completed before the NDP was published. One criticism of the 1998 White Paper was that it blurred the lines between SAPS and other organisations in terms of crime prevention, so the Department wanted to put forward a more concrete definition of what crime prevention was.

Ms Qhobosheane remarked that there had been substantial interest in the Green Paper. The Secretariat's website previously received 300 hits per day, but after the report was published, the website averaged 5 000 hits per day for two weeks.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked if the document could be structured in a manner where all of the stakeholders were grouped together. For example, the CPFs, CSFs, and private security companies should all be placed together; they, and their role, should not be mixed with that of police in the document. He also asked about career-planning, specifically for detectives, and about the duration of training, wanting to know how that training was organised. He asked what core competencies the police officials were expected to have upon completion, and how candidates were scrutinised to determine if they were the right or wrong person for the job.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) noted that she did not see acceptance of a single police service reflected in the Green Paper, and pointed out that the Constitution allowed for metro and municipal police forces. The Green Paper ignored Section 6(2) of the Constitution completely by attempting to centralise all law enforcement agencies under SAPS and remove control of municipal and provincial law enforcement. In her view, the NDP section on policing was exemplary, but the Department disagreed with it. She paraphrased a line from the report that stated it was not necessary to remove apartheid-era ranks. She asked the Secretariat if this body believed that it had  the right to disagree with the NDP, and if so, to explain why.

Mr P Groenwald (FF+) said that the Green Paper sounded good in theory, but there was little in the Paper itself that did not already exist as policy within SAPS, so he asked what new ideas or improvements the Paper had to offer. He also asked which specific metro police chiefs were involved as key stakeholders.

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked how often the performance measures were conducted, after the first year.

Mr M George (COPE) reiterated Mr Groenewald's point that there were many things brought up in the Paper that already existed in SAPS, and asked what the intention of the Paper was if the Department did not have anything new to contribute. The Green Paper was full of general statements and lacked clarity, and his understanding was that it was supposed to go into further details. The grey areas that Mr Rogers alluded to must be clarified. What he wanted to hear from the Department was how the existing policies should be improved to ensure their proper implementation. The report made mention of the growth of the private security industry, but not how the Department planned to deal with the decrease in confidence in the country's police services. Strengthening policies in accountability were also mentioned in passing in the report, but a proper approach had to be developed. He cited the previous day's media reports in the Eastern Cape that police would demand bribes in the presence of other officers, or even senior officers, but due to the culture of corruption and complacency, no one within SAPS bothered to speak up or against these actions. The recommendations in the Green Paper were redundant of the existing policies on accountability. He urged that what was needed in the report was a completely new strategy and way forward.

The Chairperson also expressed a desire to see a road map for moving forward in the Green Paper, and also an assessment of what had been working well, and what had not, including whether the structure of SAPS was an issue. The presentation mentioned the growing size of SAPS and a desire for quality over quantity, but did not give an ideal figure. Likewise, with performance measures, the report mentioned that relying solely on crime statistics was problematic, but did not offer any alternative or additional metrics. The Chairperson also mentioned recruitment as the fundamental stage of ensuring quality police officers. She asked when and how recruitment was conducted, and if it should not rather be done after the training.

The Chairperson was disturbed at the mention of a Police College, after Minister Mthethwa had announced the creation of a university, as the two were seemingly not linked. In her view, it seemed as though the Department staff had been caught by surprise by the announcement.

The Chairperson asked for clarity on how the Department viewed command and control and promotions. She wanted more detail on the process surrounding transfers. She also agreed that the supporting structures (such as CPFs and CSFs) should be mentioned more specifically and asked what needed to change to make these relationships work. 

Concerning training, the Chairperson was concerned that SAPS did not make use of external skills for basic and specialised training, and that the culture of 'nothing for us, without us' needed to be broken. There were people outside of SAPS with specialised skills, and they should be drawn upon for training purposes. The crime-fighting approach needed to be made more explicit and speak clearly on how community policing would work. She also cited an over-emphasis on corruption and organised crime, when it was in fact mostly violent and personal crimes that influenced peoples’ perceptions of the police service. She also asked why Parliament was not a part of the accountability measures.

The Chairperson felt that, in terms of inter-governmental relations, there was too much emphasis on SAPS' responsibilities, and not enough on those of other government departments. For example, when building a new town, the responsible party must provide for adequate street lighting to mitigate crime. SAPS could not, at the moment, even reach some crime scenes because many streets did not have proper signs. She said more thought had to be given to what the responsibilities were of other departments in preventing crime. SAPS and the Secretariat should feel free to address these issues without fear.

The Chairperson also said that there was a need to spell out what proper resourcing would look like and what was the minimum amount of resources needed for a police station.

She urged the Department to seize the opportunity now presented to it, as well as fully adopt its responsibility, to draft policy fully, without worrying about whom it might offend in the process. The Secretariat must be clear and precise.

The Chairperson also shared concerns and criticisms from NGOs and specialists that feel they had not been properly consulted. She asked if the public meetings were adequate, and what type of entities the Department had been working with. 

Ms Qhobosheane said that the public hearing period had already been extended, and would consist of a total of three months of consultations, which was more than enough time. The various reference groups that the Secretariat had met with included the Institute for Security Studies, various academics, and experts from civil society in the areas of crime, safety and policing. The issues raised during those consultations were mostly to do with the structure and process flow within the document.

The document was very clear and set out that officers could not become detectives unless they went through the proper training. This may be expanded in the document, to adopt international best practices, that officers must complete training before applying to become a detective.

She explained the emphasis on corruption was to make the Department's feelings on corruption as explicit as possible, and to leave no doubt in anyone's mind that it was unacceptable. Corruption was not just the result of a few 'bad apples' but stemmed also from culture and leadership. There must be proper systems for accountability and management. The question was whether corruption was any different according to rank, or was it ingrained in culture. There was a need to look at international standards, not just talking about change management structures, but about professionalising the structures.

She reiterated that the Green Paper was simply a discussion document, and not the final policy document.

Answering the concerns of Members that the document did not provide any new insights or strategies, Ms Qhobosheane responded that to some extent, the role of detectives and others issues had not been clearly defined anywhere previously. The point of the Green Paper review was not to re-invent the wheel, but to examine what was working within the SAPS and what was not.

Ms Omar explained that the NDP was very clear on career-planning for detectives, and the two streams of policing, the distinction between commissioned versus non-commissioned officers. The Department had been looking at the recruitment-to-retirement strategy overall, and also specifically for detectives, and found it to be quite clear on this issue, but had now noted the need for more clarity to be expressed in the document.

She explained that the two-year basic training consisted of ten months basic training at the police college, 12 months field training (which consisted of six months in the client service sector and six months in the field), after which the trainee would be sent back to the college for assessment for two months.

In reference to the 'grey areas' that Mr Rogers spoke about, public consultations had revealed that there was no clarification of the role of municipalities, specifically who was attending to safety and who was in charge of CSFs. She agreed on the need for clarity in this area.

The Department's vision for SAPS was to professionalise the police service, making it more community-oriented, with a view to achieving a police force that protected its citizens. The Secretariat recognised that this view was not made clear enough in the Green Paper.

Ms Omar noted, in response to the query on external resources for training, that the Department planned to highlight this issue in the detectives’ policy, and recommend the use of retired detectives to train at police academies.

The Department had begun to draft a White Paper on Safety and Security, but the paper would be re-drafted to better address the role of other Departments and set out inter-governmental responsibilities more clearly, and it was recognised that there was therefore a need to address this in the Green Paper as well.

Ms Omar referred to the Resource Allocation Guide (RAG) for guidance on proper resourcing, and said it was actually a good document with scientific formulas, but the problem was that it was not being implemented at the station-level.

The Chairperson interjected that the document was very old.

Ms Omar responded that the RAG had been revised and was updated annually.

Several members queried whether this was really true, because it was their understanding that the RAG's numbers were based on data from two previous censuses.

Ms Omar said that the Secretariat would look into that issue again.

Mr Rogers addressed the question on performance measures, and answered that the document talked at length about alternative performance measurements, but did not identify them yet. While doing that exercise, there would be a need to look at the multi-dimensional environment and responsibilities of the SAPS. Various responsibilities include visible policing, predictable responses, the need to satisfy people's requests and explain actions and decisions, ability to handle criminals and victims properly, and competence. Frequency of measurement would depend on the specific area of responsibility in question, and could vary from quarterly to annually. Crime statistics should not be the only measure, but alternatives must and would be included in the document.

He also said that the metro chiefs consulted during this process were from Durban, Ekhuruleni, Johannesburg, and Tshwane, as well as the other metros, with the exception of Cape Town.

Ms Qhobosheane explained that the meeting was organised by the metro chiefs themselves, so any absences were not a result of the Secretariat not having inviting them. The chiefs recognised the need to standardise command and control.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said her question on a single police service was not addressed.

The Chairperson felt that the Secretariat had already answered the question. It was not a simple issue but the Secretariat would continue to look into it. The Constitution was quite clear that legislation on metro police could not be drafted at provinces. It must be done by the NCOP. It would be wrong to have provincial legislation, there should only be national legislation.

Ms Qhobosheane acknowledged the need to identify particular areas, such as detective policy, that would be expanded upon in the White Paper, and others that would be developed in policy, otherwise the White Paper would become far too long.

She noted that there was a very firm view now being taken on training, that the 'pass one, pass all' system must stop, and people need to be dismissed if they failed. She agreed that the pass/fail assessment should be done before a formal appointment was made.

The Chairperson asked Ms Qhobosheane to put the documents aside for a moment and, in just three minutes, summarise what the Secretariat and Department vision for the police service was and how it should look in the future. The Committee was having trouble extracting such a vision from the Green Paper.

Ms Qhobosheane explained that the two streams of policing would seriously influence how the police service would look in the future. Individuals would be identified for positions of leadership at the point of recruitment. The closest analogy for this process would be the Westpoint military academy, where there was an understanding that those recruits would go through the ranks, but were officer material, and would form a professional, leadership core. The key priority was basic service delivery, so the focus was on local, professional police stations, and localised areas of policing.

Mr George pointed to a line in the presentation on page 11 that the “application of force must not be left to the unfettered discretion of police officers”, which was a good statement, but if not properly crafted would cause huge confusion in the police service. Section 49(1)(c) of the Criminal Procedure Act caused great confusion to the point that police were afraid to work because they were under the impression that they were not allowed to shoot their weapons. He urged that in the future, policies must be crafted so that they were very explicit and could not create confusion. He wanted to make sure that police were not relying on their own discretion and using maximum force. If this was a discussion document then the issue should be discussed here.

Mr George asked, in relation to recruitment, if the minimum requirements were high enough, and reiterated concerns that not everyone who was currently a police officer perhaps deserved to be. He asked how SAPS would make sure that it was recruiting the best.

Mr George said that the proliferation of weapons and the quantity of arms lost by entities of the state was a growing concern and should also be addressed by the document. Perhaps not all police officers should not be given a weapon.

He urged again that there must also be an improvement of the capacity of police and detectives, especially when it came to crimes involving children and gender-based violence. The Child Justice Act and the Domestic Violence Act were still largely unknown to police officers, so it was difficult for them to properly implement them. Officers often found the safer route was simply not to implement the law, because they were not completely sure of all of its components. Culture and style could not be changed overnight, but a process needed to be put in place to do so incrementally.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that she did not see any reference to specialised units. SAPS went through a disastrous period under previous leadership, when all of the specialised units were shut down. International best practices dictated that these units were the most effective and the NDP had recommended that they be reinstated, but no reference was made to them.

Mr Groenewald supported this enquiry about specialised units.

Ms Kohler-Barnard wondered why the Green Paper was “attempting to re-invent the wheel” when the expertise was already out there. The Green Paper said there would be a review, but the results of the review should be included in the policy. The document touched on crime statistics but she did not see a proposal  for freeing up the system. There needed to be real-time data statistics that individual citizens could have access, by walking into their local precinct.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked how the 'right type' of officer would be identified. She asked how proper background information was collected and how it was dealt with. If someone came forward with information about a potential recruit, she also questioned how that information would be handled.

Mr Groenwald stressed the need to get the process correct. The Green Paper was a basic document where the main principles were discussed and that should be used to formulate a comprehensive policy that would guide the development of the White Paper. The Green Paper was important because it set the course for policy.

The Chairperson said that the paper should have a vision statement that stated clearly that South Africa wants to have a police service that looked like …. – and then set it out. She also disagreed with Ms Qhobosheane that the Green Paper should not have an organogram. SAPS management had a tendency to grow unchecked. The Paper should delineate what type of leadership it would like to see, just at the highest-levels, on a permanent basis, and that should be written into the legislation, so that if SAPS later wanted to make any changes or additions, it would have to come back to Parliament to do so. It should not be up to each new Commissioner to make any changes that he or she preferred.

The Chairperson agreed that the focus on detectives was good but an equal focus on station managers was needed, particularly since there were more than 400 of them that were untrained or only partially trained. She also agreed with having a focus on organised crime and corruption, but agreed also with previous comments that this Green Paper did not have sufficient focus on vulnerable populations of children, refugees, the gay/lesbian community and the elderly. The Paper did not have to go into substantial detail on these issues but should direct SAPS.

The Chairperson pointed out that most of the criticisms directed at the Paper arose because the drafters had failed to deal with many important issues, such as international best practices, alternative performance measurements, and specialised units. The Green Paper should have clearly laid out where the Department would not compromise specific policy mandates, so that policy did not change with management fluctuations. This would not be reviewed for another 20 years.

The Chairperson felt that the response to the question on the 24-month training period was not answered adequately. The Committee wanted more detail on what the qualifications would be and beyond the 'pass one, pass all' practice, the Secretariat and SAPS must be more specific and put forth an approach that made more sense. There must be a minimum set of skills that candidates should have when they exited training, and those should be skills that could be used in the private sector as well. Basic training should recognise resources outside of the police force. The Chairperson was also curious to know what the failure rate of the SAPS officials was.

The Chairperson urged the Secretariat again not to be apologetic nor try to appease SAPS or any politician. It was the Secretariat's job to give clear direction and vision for what type of police service South Africa needed. If ,during that process, some people were unhappy, that only meant that the Secretariat had done its job.

Ms Qhobosheane explained that the Department had to grapple with those who wanted to see a thirty page Green Paper because they wished to see the bulk of the detail in the White Paper. The 1998 White Paper, which focused on safety and security more broadly, was much shorter than the current Green Paper. The Secretariat was learning as it moved forward in the process, both from within South Africa and international standards. The drafters would need to develop a process to decide what would go in the White Paper and would go to policy development. She brought up the example put forward by Mr George on use of force, and said that that was an issue that would go to policy development instead of the White Paper, but the Secretariat was also doing an international study on it. It set out very clearly for people what the parameters were, the equipment to be used, and looked into the standards of different countries and the United Nations.

Qualification standards had been benchmarked, and they were comparable with other international examples, but the South African case was unique due to the two-stream approach. The standards existed, but often the criteria were not being adhered to. The Green Paper was not just a matter of re-inventing the wheel but also implementing existing processes. There must also be a shift in the way people viewed and talked about the SAPS. Rather than SAPS being regarded as a place of last employment resort for those who could not get into university, it should be re-cast as a respectable professional stream that those in university should also consider.

She recapped by outlining that the Green Paper was essentially:
- implementing what existed already
- setting out the two-stream approach
- the question of career-pathing candidates at the outset of recruitment (which was creating an interview process where a candidate was assessed and directed accordingly before training) would be discussed in further detail in the White Paper
- specialised units had been addressed in the Green Paper but may need to be emphasised in the White Paper.

Ms Qhobosheane recognised the need for a vision statement that tied everything together and provided a way forward.

She noted that consultations were not only happening at the community-level but at the provincial level as well. The objectives of the consultations were not only to gain feedback from those on the ground, but also to better educate officers on the process. Most SAPS members were not even familiar with the 1998 White Paper. Extensive research on international best practices had been done but perhaps needed to be referred to more explicitly.

Ms Omar reiterated that extensive research on international standards had been conducted, but the drafters  were advised by the advising group not to make that reference, so perhaps the Committee could provide further guidance.

The Chairperson suggested that the finger prints and DNA of an applicant should be run not only against the database of convicted criminals, but of suspects as well. Due to the low conviction rates in South Africa, the background search process was missing applicants that were guilty of crimes.

She also suggested that if any SAPS member was suspected of misconduct, s/he should be suspended pending further investigation, and also emphasised the need for regular audits. She gave an anecdote of a recent site visit, where it was found that an ordinary officer had held three to five vehicles for himself, and questioned why this did not raise suspicions with the station manager. Discipline against police officers guilty of misconduct should be included in the performance measurements of station managers.

The Chairperson also noted that the Green Paper was silent on the organogram, not because it did not belong there, but because it was difficult to construct, but she did not regard that as a valid excuse. She also raised the question of certain classes of commanders, and whether they were really needed. The overall experience had been especially negative. They often carried the rank of general or brigadier, but their purpose had to be thought about. She said more thought was also needed as to the ideal permanent minimum, and the relationship of those commanders with the province and station level.

The Chairperson acknowledged that not everything could be addressed in the Green Paper, but, at minimum, she reiterated that there should be a summary of which issues would be addressed in policy development, so that society and citizens could keep track of the progress and the Department could track what were the outstanding issues.

She pointed out that no one had answered the question about the creation of a university, and she gathered that they were caught by surprise by the announcement. That was something that should not have been announced by management, as it was a major policy shift that apparently came from nowhere. The Green Paper needed to delineate explicitly where policy and operations came from.

Ms Kohler-Barnard pointed out that the Green Paper spoke extensively on corruption and criminality by SAPS members and its effect on public confidence, and how to mitigate it at the recruitment stage, but she did not see concrete steps to address criminality that was already occurring within SAPS. It was said there were thousands of SAPS members with criminal records who had never been suspended. If they were charged with and found guilty of misconduct, they tended to go straight from their jobs to court and even to jail. They were sometimes found using the SAPS vehicles to get themselves to court for their appearances. Police commissioners had admitted to this. If this oxymoron of criminality within the police service persisted, the state would never have the public's confidence. These papers on safety and security were not always reaching everyone they were meant to, so further outreach must be done, especially to provincial Committees. The fact that the Department was unaware of the creation of a university was of great concern, and she wondered if the Minister of Higher Education was even consulted. This had been casually announced in the newspapers but it would be multi-billion rand exercise.

Mr George pointed out that the Committee would soon be dealing with the SAPS Act, so it was important that the Green Paper help position the police and delineate where they stood. The role of MECs was touched upon but in the Constitution, provincial commissioners had more power than MECs, and it would be necessary for the Secretariat to give more thought to the balance between the roles of MECs and provincial commissioners?

Mr Ndlovu also reiterated the need for an organogram and pointed out that the Department of Police had had five deputy ministers in five years. The Committee did not even know where they had come from, how they were recruited or how they became deputies. There must be a linkage between the NDP and the forthcoming organogram, where the top management was agreed upon by Parliament, and could not be changed, otherwise this could lead to the appointment of unqualified candidates. When the Committee was deliberating on the SAPS budget, it had been trying to work with a new Head of Human Resources who had no historical knowledge or familiarity with the subject matter. The previous Head had only been in place for four months and was already on pension before the budget was even finished.

The Chairperson pointed out that the Secretariat had touched on two matters but had not expanded on them. The first was how the Police Board would be appointed and what its functions would be. The second was that the NDP touches on the appointment of national and provincial commissioners, but the Green Paper needed to expand on it. The NDP was adopted by Parliament and must be addressed properly.

Ms Qhobosheane acknowledged the need for more clarity on the Police Board, and a larger discussion about what would go into the Act and what would go into policy.

She responded to Ms Kohler-Barnard that the rules on criminality were clear and the Secretariat could not recommend anything more than implementation. Corruption and criminality could not be properly identified and dealt with if the problem was not dealt with at the leadership-level. The laws were already in place, and this was dealt with in the SAPS Act as well.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for clarification if in fact the right to dismiss officers found guilty of misconduct was in the Act. She had understood one provincial commissioner to have suggested that the SAPS Act said that if the officer was offered an option to take a fine, that officer could not be dismissed.

The Chairperson clarified that the National Commissioner did have discretion in this area, but that was a provision that should be taken out of the Act, and that the Committee could amend the Act tomorrow if need be.

The Chairperson added that the presentation included the phrase 'intelligence driven police', but there currently was no legislation on intelligence, and the Green Paper was also silent. This was an area where the Secretariat could come out more strongly, and say “there needs to be a policy on intelligence...”. She also asked about the international obligations of SAPS, and how far they should be extended. A request must first come to Parliament if SAPS were to be deployed outside of South Africa.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had clearly intimated that the Green Paper should help to introduce a standard policing and set out clear and current architecture for the country's policing system, and not be apologetic about it. It should clearly articulate a vision for police. The Committee also agreed with comments presented previously, that the basic structure of the Paper should be reconsidered to ensure that historical background would be separated from forward-looking policy, in all sections of the Paper, making a clear and visible differentiation so that readers of the Paper would have a clear sense of what was being proposed. Policy pronouncements and statements needed to be informed by empirical research. Assumptions should be supported by evidence and clearly articulated. Policy responses need to be proactive and not reactive. Policies need not to be publicly formulated in reaction to major crises or responses to major decline in public confidence in police, but should instead be articulated in careful consideration of where policing should go in South Africa. The Green Paper should provide more detail and add value to policy proposals contained in the National Development Plan, particularly around the police board, and other innovative proposals. An organogram should be included highlighting structural changes, which were proposed, and the relationship between structures. There was a need to start strong partnerships with relevant stakeholders, such as universities and research organisations, for knowledge transfer. There was a need to develop advanced courses on policing for police management. The consultative process needed more time and space, for broader public participation. There was a need to think deeply and very strategically about uses of military ranks, police brutality, and the creation of a single police service. When finalising the Green Paper, the drafters should take into consideration international best practice, statistical research, and clear demarcation of the roles of specialised units.

The Chairperson expressed optimism and said that the Committee was looking forward to seeing the final product and SAPS Act.

The meeting was adjourned.



No related documents


  • 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: