Police Criminality Audit; Police University

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Police

13 August 2013
Chairperson: Ms A van Wyk
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Meeting Summary

The Committee noted with disappointment that the SAPS National Commissioner would be unable to attend the meeting, given that many important issues were to be discussed and Members had changed their schedules to attend.

The first briefing was on the establishment of a SAPS University, deemed necessary because it would cater to the needs of SAPS and end their reliance on other educational institutes for the professional and academic training of SAPS members. The structure of the SAPS University had been established via the study of other educational institutes focused on public security as well as international benchmarking. The need for the professionalisation of SAPS was a priority of the University and would provide a cost effective method of developing the police force. Students at the University would be required to pay their tuition but were entitled to continue to receive their SAPS salary. The doors to the University were to open in 2014 with an initial class of 120 students. Renovations to the campus in Paarl had begun in 2011 and were almost complete; the campus was renovated to ensure accessibility for those with disabilities. The vision of the SAPS University was for it to become an internationally acclaimed management and leadership academy through innovative research and top quality instructors. A Memorandum of Understanding between SAPS and the University was to be signed by the end of 2013 in order to commence courses in 2014.

The Committee had many questions including why preparatory work was almost completed yet a MoU had not yet been signed. Members felt as though SAPS had operated behind the Committee's back with this project as it did not know of its formation. Members wanted to know where the finances were coming from to support this project.

SAPS noted that they were in negotiations to sign the MoU in collaboration with the University of South Africa and that the funds for the refurbishment of the campus came from a semi-official fund from the Department of Public Works. This semi-official fund was met with a great deal of scepticism from the Members as it was unaudited and could be used for anything. The fact that the fund was great enough to fund the renovation of a campus was concerning. SAPS noted that they would have a financial breakdown of the project in the near future. This was met with frustration from the Committee as that was one of the reasons this meeting. The Committee was very concerned with the lack of public records on the University and requested a multi-year budget to demonstrate the costs. The Committee agreed that providing answers tomorrow for the questions they had today would get them nowhere. SAPS was instructed to provide budget information by the 23 August as well as copies of the research done, the practical and academic curriculum, a list of lecturers and their qualifications as well as a complete outline of the budget and where the funds were coming from.

The second presentation on the Status of the Criminal Audit was made without the senior officials who were supposed to present, leaving Members to wonder whether the presentation and subsequent answers would be sufficiently adequate. The Criminal Audit was done to examine the presence of working members of SAPS who had been convicted of a crime. The audit focused on serious crimes and had three different categories: convictions resulting in sentences of less than three years, convictions for serious offences (murder, attempted murder, rape, corruption and theft) and members with multiple offences. It was found that there were 1 448 members of SAPS who had been convicted of a criminal offence. A Board of Fitness was to be formed to deal with the cases and they would be dealt with in batches of 150. Guidelines were being drawn up for the board in order to ensure the standardisation of the process.

These numbers were met with shock from those present, who were concerned that the situation had been allowed to reach such a dire point. Members asked how many SAPS employees had a criminal record prior to entering the force and how many had multiple offences? It was these 1 448 members who had created the lack of trust for SAPS amongst the population. It was revealed that 306 members managed to get into SAPS, despite not having a clean criminal record which was a requirement upon application. They did this by submitting fraudulent fingerprints. Fraudulent fingerprints were submitted by sending another person without a record to give the fingerprints as the application was already submitted. SAPS noted that this problem had since been alleviated but Members could not understand why these SAPS members had not been dismissed as they had a criminal record and had committed fraud. Frustration mounted for Members when they requested a breakdown of the ranks and provinces of those with criminal records. 1 Major General, 10 Brigadiers, 21 Colonels, 10 Majors, 43 Lt - Colonel, 163 Captains, 84 Lieutenants, 716 Warrant Officers, 267 Sergeants, 129 Constables, 8 Personnel Officers. These statistics were met with a great deal of shock by the Committee. They noted that many were at management level. SAPS conceded that their previous system was weak and that many changes were to be made. The Committee did not take kindly to this as Members found it ridiculous that it took an audit for SAPS to come to this realisation. SAPS declared that they did not have a solid date on when the process of reviewing these 1448 cases would be complete but gave a temporary date of June 2014. Members stated that it was concerning that convicted criminals would still be working for SAPS and being paid with taxpayer money. The Committee noted the their despair arising from this meeting and again demanded that SAPS provide them with information about costs of the University as well as a detailed breakdown of the Criminality Audit.

The presentation on the SAPS Internal Anti-Corruption Unit could not be presented as SAPS said the the unit had not yet been established.
 

Meeting report

The Chairperson commenced the meeting by reading a notice she had received late the previous night from the SAPS National Commissioner which stated that she would be unable to attend the meeting. This was unfortunate as many important items were to be addressed during the meeting and some of the projects that SAPS was briefing the Committee on were unaccounted for in the budget.

Mr M George (COPE) was not impressed with SAPS and noted his belief that the management of SAPS carried themselves with an aura of arrogance.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) stated that the Committee would not be able to raise questions in regard to their primary concerns as the delegation present did not have the authority and answers they sought. The meeting would be a waste of time.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) stated that Members had changed their schedules to be present because of the importance of the issues at hand and for SAPS management not to be present, was of great disappointment.

The Chairperson once more noted her dissatisfaction with the actions of SAPS management and told the delegation present that they would be expected to answer all Committee questions regardless.

Establishment of SAPS University at Paarl Training Academy
Ms Nobubele Mbekela, Divisional Commissioner for Human Resource Development, noted that the concept of a SAPS University was born out of the need for a University that would cater to the training and development of SAPS officials. The previous method of sending SAPS officials to other universities was proving to be quite costly and by establishing their own university SAPS would be able to upgrade and develop their officials on their own. The 10 Point Plan of the Minster of Police stated that the need for the professionalisation of SAPS and the university was a tool for addressing this. SAPS had studied other universities involved with public security as well as Military Schools such as the Turkish International Academy and gained knowledge on how to implement effective training methods. An important aspect of the SAPS University was to enable a cost effective method of developing the police force.

Ms Mbekela stated that by forming the University as a SAPS project they could ensure that police issues were at the forefront of what was being taught. The University would have an academic leg as well as professional leg which would aim to ensure that the ongoing erosion of the discipline and culture of the police force would stop. The academic leg would aid in developing succession and was to be used as a tool for talent management. The importance of police members obtaining a university education was important because it increased situational understanding and actions as well as understanding of the outcomes of situations as they occur.

Ms Mbekela then went directly to the slides related to the funding model for the project. A task team was established consisting of representatives from SAPS, HRD, SCM, personnel management, finance and administration to study funding models and look into how similar institutions were financially structured. The learners were to pay for tuition, however they would still be on salary from SAPS while studying. The doors were to open in 2014 and there would be an initial class of 120 learners focusing on the academic side who would be following this payment method. After the initial phase of 120 students, phase two was to commence which entailed distance learning.

SAPS/University Partnership
Renovations in Paarl had commenced prior to 2011 in order to bring the campus to an acceptable level. There were three campuses in Paarl, the main campus, the executive campus and the operational campus. Photos of the campus were shown to demonstrate the renovations made as well as to note that renovations were done with care to cater for those with disabilities. The vision for the SAPS Academy was to become an internationally acclaimed management and leadership academy. SAPS had already begun participation in a trilateral agreement with Norway and Sudan to train their personnel.

The mission plan was to provide SAPS with an accredited management and leadership programme and to facilitate the provision of tertiary and international management and leadership programmes. The university would ensure that management and leadership programmes would be lead by qualified professional ETD practitioners. Emphasis would be placed on knowledge management through innovative research and ensuring that ETD quality standards were being maintained and improved. The educational upgrading of trainers was noted as bursaries were to be awarded to trainers in order for them to obtain Masters and PhD qualifications. Work had been done with the Public Administration Leadership and Management Academy (PALAMA) to provide master programmes with a focus on general management. The next big step was to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SAPS and the University which would encompass IT, library support and lines of communication. The signing of the MoU was to occur by the end of 2013 with the intent of the first intake of students commencing in 2014.

Discussion
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked why work had started when the MoU had yet to be signed, what members of SAPS would be selected to attend the University and how would they be selected or was it an open opportunity?

Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that apparently the Minister of Higher Education knew of the launch of the University but the Committee did not, the Members had learned of this major expenditure through the newspapers. Why had it been done behind their backs and how had SAPS been operating a tri-lateral agreement for two years without the Committee knowing, what was the cost?

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) stated that university degrees were not a new thing in the police force. If SAPS intended a MoU in the near future there were very few details presented to suggest it. Who would it be with? What would be the cost? The University of South Africa had a course on policing and was consultation with them considered?

Mr George asked if research had been done on the financial feasibility of a university as many universities were struggling. He noted that despite the presentation speaking the language of cost effectiveness they had not presented any actual monetary figures.

The Chairperson expressed her support for an academy or university for the police but her concern lay in the way in which SAPS had gone about this project. SAPS had been in front of the Committee multiple times in the recent past but the Members had not heard a word about it. The Members were to ensure accountability for the spending of taxes of the people and SAPS was ignoring this factor. She asked what the financial implications of the project were and what had been spent on the refurbishment of the campus? There were police stations close to Paarl that were far more undersized and outdated that could have used refurbishing in lieu of the campus. How could the first intake of the University occur in 2014 when the lecturers were not yet accredited?

Ms Mbekela stated that the MoU had not yet been signed and that it was to be signed with a university. They were in negotiations with the University of South Africa (UNISA) and once signed they would spell out the terms of cooperation. SAPS members would be selected to go to the university via a selection process based upon who meets the criteria. The criteria included a merit exemption and disciplinary records were taken into account. The tri-lateral agreement in question had been approved and signed by the President and the training was funded by Norway. The courses offered at UNISA had been considered and it was determined that they were not comprehensive enough. SAPS would provide the Committee with a document demonstrating the financial implications of the University. Funds used for renovations and refurbishment were provided by the semi-official fund as part of the Department of Public Works.

The Chairperson interjected and stated that this fund was a concern of the Committee as it was unaudited and "used for anything and everything". The fact that the fund could cover the cost of renovating the campus was very concerning.

Ms Mbekela stated that SAPS would provide them with a financial breakdown.

The Chairperson quite heatedly responded that this meeting had been their opportunity to do so.

Ms Mbekela reconfirmed that they would have a cost breakdown for them. She then moved on to the question of accreditation by noting that she had never said the lecturers were not accredited rather it was the management and leadership programs that were not yet accredited. This was an issue that they were in the process of sorting out.

Mr D Stubbe (DA) asked SAPS for a multi-year budget and asked whether student fees would be subsidised as he believed that SAPS officers would not be willing to pay from their own salaries.

Mr Ndlovu noted that the lack of a public record of the launch of the university was unacceptable and that the presentation did not provide adequate answers. Providing answers tomorrow did not help the Committee today. It was agreed that the education of SAPS officials was important but why were they starting a new university when other facilities exist elsewhere?

Ms Molebatsi stated that SAPS was facing a manpower shortage and questioned what would happen when even more SAPS officers would be off the streets because they were attending university. She added that to produce professionals, professional trainers were needed.

Mr Groenewald stated that it was unacceptable that SAPS sent officials to the meeting who could not provide the details requested by the Committee. Some trainers were doing there honours degree without having previously attained their regular degrees, how was this possible? He expressed concern with people leaving their families to attend university, it could upset social life. UNISA had correspondence courses which enable people to study after hours at home, could this be considered for the new university?

Ms Kohler-Barnard mirrored the sentiment of other Members about the lack of financial figures. She asked whether the semi-official fund was being used so that they could be sneaky? Had SAPS followed the legislative requirements set out for starting a university?

Mr George felt deceived by SAPS. Current universities were going through a difficult period - should not these issues have been addressed before the establishment of a new university?

The Chairperson gave SAPS five minutes to answer the questions posed as they still had many more. The Committee was to receive a copy of the MoU by the 23 August whether it was signed or not as well as copies of the research done, practical and academic curriculum, a list of lecturers and their qualifications as well as a complete outline of the budget and where the funds were coming from.

Mr George wondered if the research accounted for the poaching of trained officials from other countries or organisations as it had been a previous issue during military training.

At the suggestion of Ms Kohler-Barnard, the Chairperson asked for a budget that began with the first cent spent and continued through until 2016. She reaffirmed the deadline for SAPS to present them this information and stated that if they did not have it they would be asked to leave.

Ms Mbekela replied on people doing honours programs without having an initial degree. Past experience was taken into account when giving exemptions to allow people to partake in an honours programme. These exemptions were subject to the discretion of the university in question. She requested that she be given more time to meet the requests of the Committee as many of them had prior commitments for the following week.

The Chairperson responded that there would be no extensions or exceptions as SAPS was not built around individuals. The frustration of the Committee was clear.

[Short break]

SAPS Internal Anti-Corruption Unit presentation (cancelled)
Upon resumption, the Committee noted its disappointment about the previous presentation. The Chairperson said she had received a letter the previous day stating that the SAPS Internal Anti-Corruption Unit presentation could not be presented today as the unit had not yet been established. Yet an internal group had begun anti-corruption work. This was frustrating for the Committee because media reports had been published which spoke of an anti-corruption unit. Was the SAPS delegation present able to provide the Committee with any insight as to what was actually going on?

Mr Nkrumah Mazibuko, Acting Deputy National Commissioner for Human Resource Development Management, said he had been under the impression that there was going to be a presentation from the Anti-Corruption unit as well. The working group mentioned in the letter sent to the Chairperson was comprised of various sections within SAPS and would begin the development of teams to tackle specific topics and initiatives. All provinces would be represented in this group. The objective of their work was to develop an institutional framework to manage corruption within SAPS.

The Chairperson expressed her frustration and stated that there was no point in continuing this portion of the meeting agenda as the proper officials and information was not available. What was the deadline for forming this group and when would their work be completed?

Mr Mazibuko replied that they were to begin meeting in September on a monthly basis and the end date for their work was undetermined.

The Chairperson noted that there was no sense commenting as even Mr Mazibuko had been under the impression that someone else would be presenting.

Police Criminality Audit briefing
Mr Nkrumah Mazibuko, Acting Deputy National Commissioner for Human Resource Development Management, spoke on the audit which identified police officers who had been convicted of a criminal offence. The review process dealt with information received on officers prior to January 2010 when the audit process began. There was to be reports throughout the year as the audit was ongoing. The audit focused on serious offences and not petty offences such as traffic violations. The audit discovered that there were 1 448 officers with criminal convictions. Lawyers were consulted to determine how to deal with these people and it was suggested that SAPS invoke systems available to deal with them while taking into account the uniqueness of each case. The files were subsequently sorted into three different categories:
- Convictions resulting in sentences of less than three years;
- Convictions for serious offences (murder, attempted murder, rape, corruption and theft);
- Members with multiple offences.

A Board of Fitness was to be formed in order to deal with cases and they would be dealt with in batches of 150. Guidelines were being drawn up for the board in order to ensure standardisation of the process. The Board of Fitness was to begin work in mid-late August 2013. The department was in the process of reviewing their discipline management regime and its capacity. The vetting of all SAPS employees was to be done and the reporting of any employee arrest had to be done within 24 hours. The main goal of this process was to ensure that all criminality within SAPS was uncovered and dealt with.

The Chairperson stated that the fact that this situation has even developed was concerning as she was under the impression that not having a criminal record was a prerequisite when applying to enter SAPS.

Mr Groenewald noted that if they had looked at management and turnaround strategies did that mean that SAPS had already failed the people of South Africa?

Ms Molebatsi asked of the 1 448 officers with criminal records, if SAPS had a record of those with multiple offences?

According to Ms Kohler-Barnard, SAPS had been running a parallel internal justice system. Issues such as this were why 83% of South Africans believe that SAPS was corrupt. Who was taking the blame for this, how was this stage reached? How come vetting was not done properly on those entering the SAPS system?

Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked if SAPS was going to take action and institute automatic suspensions and expungement.

Mr George noted that those who were convicted prior to 2010 were still in service, how would SAPS deal with this as they had been in service after their conviction for over three years. This was a problem of legality.

The Chairperson noted that SAPS was a large organisation and that the 1 448 officers in question were the ones who had created the lack of trust in SAPS and the negative public perception. Officers involved in crime endangered the lives of the honest police officers who were not. SAPS had displayed no urgency in ridding the system of these people and there was no one to blame for this, except for SAPS management.

Mr Mazibuko noted that the vetting process was not a complete vetting process, but it involved reference checks and relied on the outcome of fingerprinting. One problem SAPS had was members tampering with the system which had led to the present situation. In terms of discipline for convicted officers, in the past nothing had happened. In a disciplinary hearing, if the presiding officer reached a decision that no action would be taken, then none was even if this outcome seemed unexpected.

This statement was met with scepticism and frustration by all Members.

He continued by conceding that the SAPS disciplinary system was not efficient and need much work. In terms of serious offences, these included: 54 for murder; 116 for attempted murder; 37 for rape; 33 for attempted rape; and 917 for assault. The list also included homicide, aiding an escapee, breaking and entering, drug trafficking, kidnapping, robbery. Of the 1 448 convicted members, 306 had entered SAPS with criminal records.

The Chairperson said despite this admission, there was still nothing presented which demonstrated what SAPS would do going forward. She asked why SAPS believed that someone could be determined guilty by the regular courts but not guilty in the SAPS court? If only 306 entered SAPS with a record, why were the rest allowed to continue to work when they had been convicted as a SAPS employee? The Chairperson felt that this was a deliberate attempt by SAPS to mask the extent of the problem.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked how the 306 members with prior convictions managed to get into SAPS in the first place?

The Chairperson noted that this was explained in the presentation as due to tampering, which meant that these members provided fraudulent fingerprints. Those who had done so should have already been fired, yet they were still being paid with taxpayers' money?

Mr Groenewald was confused by this as he questioned what 'fraudulent fingerprints' meant.

Mr George expressed shock that many of the crimes committed by SAPS members were Schedule 1 offences. The current method of suspensions was not an effective deterrent and this was obvious. The problem had long been identified. Why were positive steps not being taken to prevent this?

Mr Ndlovu asked how someone who looks the other way when a SAPS officer breaks the law was supposed to enforce the law.

Ms Kohler-Barnard suggested that this problem was far bigger then SAPS was suggesting.

The Chairperson asked the SAPS delegation why it had taken them, as members of the human resource department, so long to start doing their jobs. It was ridiculous that it had taken an audit for such grave matters to come to light.

Mr Groenewald asked for a provincial breakdown of the 1 448 people convicted and the Chairperson added that the ranks of the people convicted as well as the type of crime should be noted.

Mr Mazibuko then gave the Committee a breakdown of the ranks of those convicted which included 1 Major General, 10 Brigadiers, 21 Colonels, 10 Majors, 43 Lt - Colonel, 163 Captains, 84 Lieutenants, 716 Warrant Officers, 267 Sergeants, 129 Constables, 8 Personnel Officers.

These figures were met with shock from the Committee.

The provincial breakdown was: Eastern Coast 275, Free State 141, Gauteng 325, KwaZulu Natal 173, Limpopo 150, Mpumalanga 73, North West 85, Northern Cape 49, Western Cape 140 and Head Office 64.

The Chairperson noted that the problem seemed to lie with management as the majority of those convicted were in that category.

Mr Mazibuko noted that in most cases when someone was convicted, they appealed and during this period, they were reinstated. This had proven to be a weakness in how SAPS had dealt with the problem in the past - as those who appealed for reduced sentences, then applied for reinstatement and were able to continue working for SAPS. Fraudulent fingerprints was when someone applied they had to complete the proper forms and then go to the station to have their fingerprints checked, but those with criminal records would avoid this by sending someone else. This was how people with prior convictions had got into SAPS in the first place. However this problem had been solved as more identification was required when someone presented themselves for fingerprints. The turnaround strategy had been prepared and had been taken to the Minister for approval. In this strategy, "suspended dismissal" would be removed from the list of sanctions.

The Chairperson expressed her impatience with the indirect answers of SAPS and asked if someone was found guilty in a court of law, would they still be allowed to stay on the force? She requested a simple yes or no answer.

Mr Mazibuko responded yes, but with new regulations.

The Chairperson stated that they were still looking for clarity and she believed that suspensions had proved ineffective and automatic dismissal, if found guilty, should be implemented.

Ms George noted that if one cannot have a criminal record when applying to join SAPS, then why should someone who obtains a criminal record be able to remain employed? The extent of their guilt was irrelevant, the fact was they had been proven guilty was enough to be dismissed.

The Chairperson stated that the problem with the fingerprint forgery issue lay with the recruitment officers who help people do this, this adds to the problems of legitimacy within SAPS.

Brigadier Senzo Khumalo, SAPS Employee Relations, noted that the vetting process of SAPS was to have fingerprint records of all employees on file so that they could form a cohesive database to ensure that no members were committing crimes in other provinces and not getting caught.

The Chairperson expressed further frustration and asked SAPS to provide the documentation for SAPS members with convictions in terms of their province, rank and type of crimes to the Committee Secretary. She addressed the Committee and noted that they were the ones who must take action using the SAPS Act as SAPS management had failed them. The changes should have started internally and there was no reason why SAPS should have waited until an audit occurred. If they knew of these problems why had they not brought them forth and suggested amendments to the SAPS Act? The Committee was holding management at all levels accountable to bring about change as they were being paid to do so. It was the 1 448 SAPS members with criminal records who ultimately determine the public perception of SAPS. By when were the cases of these members to be solved?

Mr Mazibuko said they did not know.

The Chairperson claimed that SAPS never had deadlines, not with this issue nor the University issue. With no deadline, there was no urgency. She questioned why the Committee was required to give SAPS officials the motivation to their jobs.

Mr Mazibuko noted that it was a long a process as sometimes members brought their own legal representation and the capacity of SAPS was a challenge. He offered a temporary date of June 2014 for the process to be complete.

The Chairperson said with disdain that the deadline stated would ensure that the criminals on the force would remain so for a year. She asked the Members for a mandate to write to the Minister in order to obtain a solid deadline.

The Members adamantly agreed.

With this, the Chairperson commented on the feeling of despair that this meeting had evoked. They could no longer sit back and pay identified criminals with taxpayers' money. The management of SAPS needed to speed up this process and strive for accountability.

Meeting adjourned.
 

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