Domestic Violence report: Civilian Secretariat for Police, Minister & Department on Second Quarter 2013 performance

Women in The Presidency

05 November 2013
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC, Gauteng)
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Meeting Summary

The Civilian Secretariat for Police Services (the Secretariat) presented its first report on compliance with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) to the two committees, sitting jointly. It reported that it had visited, in total, 300 police stations and covered over 11 000 South Africa Police Service (SAPS) members in their studies, to try to identify gaps in implementation and develop improvements. In addition, it had joint initiatives with the SAPS itself, the DVA Forum and NGOs an academics. Some challenges were identified in regard to the incorrect keeping, completion and filing of the necessary forms and registers at police stations. There were not victim friendly rooms in all stations, and where they did exist, a large number were used for other purposes or were not functioning with the right privacy or equipment.  the Secretariat made recommendations that a process flow chart must be drawn, to help SAPS members to provide practical assistance, as well as suggestions on the re-design of the register, forms and victim rooms. Memorandums of Understanding were needed where there were community policing forums or other service providers or volunteers, to clarify roles. Noting that another challenge was the recording f the DVA cases, the Secretariat recommended that new systems must be put in place to allow DVA non-compliance as a stand-alone offence, and to immediate highlight cases where SAPS members themselves were perpetrators. Incidents needed to be captured even if they did not translate into cases (because many complaints were withdrawn). SAPS regulations must cover SAPS perpetrators. The Secretariat also made recommendations of a general nature that the National Instructions should include a specific section, in plain language, detailing how the DVA matters must be handled, and there should be a standard procedure for referring cases to the Provincial Inspectorate and the Secretariat.

Training was highlighted as another challenge, as less than half of the SAPS members interviewed had been trained, they lacked basic knowledge on the remedies to complainants set out in Form 1, and those trained reported that the training was academic with no practical examples. Nobody seemed to know how to deal with perpetrators in contravention of protection orders. The Secretariat recommended that it should be allowed to monitor training, that there should be a standing instruction to Station Commanders to constantly reinforce DVA matters during lectures, meetings and parades, and a clear legal interpretation was required on arrests and responses when a protection order was contravened. Forms 1 and 11 must be carried in all vehicles. Another problem which still persisted was the high rate of withdrawal of cases because victims were often financially dependent on abusers. The Secretariat felt more stringent requirements around withdrawal were needed, and best practice methods of policing should be sought from other countries.  Several legislative gaps were identified, which led to poor coordination and cooperation, and because Department of Social Development (DSD) was not actually obliged by the DVA to provide shelter, and its counselling services in rural areas were severely lacking, women ended up without real assistance. There was uncertainty over who must serve protection orders, and victims often ended up having to do so themselves. No time frames for service were set out in the DVA. The Secretariat suggested several legislative changes, said that all departments must have specific budgets for DVA, and should be enjoined in the legislation to report annually. Because differing oversight structures were giving conflicting information, agreements had to be drawn up between departments and partnerships formed.  

Members asked why the same problems were raised time and again without anything being done, and criticised the lack of mention of specific time frames within which SAPS should deal with these matters, suggesting that perhaps stronger efforts were needed by the Secretariat. One Member also questioned the reference to the Secretariat being under the direction of the Minister, emphasising that it should be independent. The Secretariat pointed out that it had only recently taken over this function, that the information may have been noted by its predecessor, but it had to be reported on as it resulted from the Secretariat’s own research. It was doing its utmost to strengthen oversight and was intending to visit provinces, with SAPS, showing the highest and lowest compliance.

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, in the presence of the Minister, presented the report on performance in the 2nd quarter, although Members did not engage with it and would not adopt it until the new year. The report showed a substantial increase in both spending and achievement of targets from the previous quarter although only one programme had achieved all targets. Selected indicators and achievements were also outlined. It was noted that the Women Empowerment And Gender Equality Act had been passed and would be taken to the women and NGOs in the provinces. The Minister noted that the Department still faced some problems with accommodation, negative perceptions and lack of budget and sought assistance from the Committee. The Committee Chairperson expressed her appreciation for the work done, particularly the turnaround strategy under the direction of the Minister.
 

Meeting report

Civilian Secretariat of Police Services report on domestic violence implementation: April to September 2013
Ms Millicent Kewuti, Chief Director\: Monitoring and Evaluation, Civilian Secretariat for Police Services, noted that the presentation she would give was the same as that also given to the Portfolio Committee on Police and the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development.

She noted, by way of background, that the Civilian Secretariat for Police Services (the Secretariat) was established in terms of section 208 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and that its main responsibility was to exercise oversight over the South African Police Service. It operated under the direction of the Minister of Police.

The Chairperson asked which documents she was using, and Ms Tikewuti noted that what she was giving was merely an introduction which was not in the presentation document.

Ms Ayanda Xongwana, Deputy Director, Civilian Secretariat for Police Services, outlined the challenges to the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (the DVA). The Act had been promulgated in 1999 in an attempt to provide victims with an accessible legal tool to stop domestic violence. The definitions of “domestic violence” and “domestic relations” were quite far-reaching but the implementation was negatively affected still by several challenges.

The Secretariat conducted 145 visits to police stations to check on how the DVA was being implemented during the period covered by the report she was presenting, but had done another 155 visits between October 2012 and March 2013. The DVA audits aimed to identify the gaps in the implementation and to develop recommendations for improved implementation. In addition to the visits and audits, other initiatives that were conducted jointly with the South African Police Service (SAPS), such as national and provincial web sessions on legislation, and the joint DVA Forum to discuss challenges highlighted during visits. There were also reference groups meetings to meet with different NGOs and academics to discuss challenges and to chart ways forward.

From all these engagements, Ms Xongwana noted there were some common key challenges that had been identified and these challenges impacted negatively on the implementation of the DVA, resulting in law compliance levels by SAPS)APS.

Some of the non compliance challenges included the following:

- The Secretariat discovered that certain documents which were kept by the SAPS did not have logos in most Police Stations.
- There was also poor or incorrect filling in of the forms, including the incident forms, which were used to report all incidents at Police Stations, and the domestic violence register.
- Elements of DVA incidents were found to be recorded differently at times in the registers, even though the incidents were the same

She added that SAPS stations should hold and fill out a non-compliance register, noting all incidences of non-compliance with the DVA by SAPS members. In most stations, there was no such register.

SAPS is supposed to have victim friendly rooms with private interviewing space for victims who came in to report DVA crimes. However there were numerous cases found where they simply did not exist.
Where they did, they were often not being used for their original purpose. In some cases, it was discovered that these rooms had been turned into offices, due to lack of space in the station. She indicated that her presentation included a graph showing the percentage of stations that had victim friendly rooms that were resourced and functional. This showed that 62% of stations were compliant on this aspect, that 24% did not have victim friendly rooms at all, and 14% had rooms, but they were not functional, for the reasons set out.

The Civilian Secretariat made certain recommendations to try and assist the SAPS in addressing issues of non compliance. These included:

- A process flow chart must be developed that would help SAPS members on how to provide practical assistance to victims of DVA.
- The DVA register should be updated and reviewed, and have additional columns that would cover most of the details that were missing when the Civilian Secretariat for Police visited Police Stations and reviewed SAPS documents.
- The Incident Form should be re-designed, as it was said to be complex and confusing for the SAPS
- Management of the victim friendly rooms should also be strengthened.

The Civilian Secretariat suggested further that in stations where there was a service station organisation operating or an active Community Policing Forum (CPF) involvement, Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) should be drawn. The roles of SAPS, CPFs and the Service Organisation and also volunteers (where applicable) should be clearly defined in those Memorandums.

There was other challenges with recording of the DVA cases. A contravention of the DVA was not, according to the Crime Administration System of SAPS, regarded as a stand-alone criminal offence. This made it difficult to assess how many arrests were made as a result of the contravention of the protection order. The system that SAPS used furthermore did not capture incidents reported and link them directly to cases opened.

Another challenge was that there was no standard way of recording members of the SAPS who, themselves, were perpetrators of domestic violence, to identify these cases immediately, and disciplinary regulations of the SAPS and the national instructions did not explicitly state how these cases should be dealt with.

Ms Xongwana then referred to a graph which showed the breakdown of cases from the stations that the Civilian Secretariat for Police visited, which involved SAPS members who were themselves perpetrators of domestic violence. In total, there were 88 cases, broken down into:
-Eastern Cape : 7
-Freestate: 10
-Gauteng : 29
-Kwazulu-Natal: 5
-Mpumalanga: 9
-North West: 12
-Northern Cape: 5
-Western Cape: 11

The Civilian Secretariat had since made some recommendations in relation to the problems highlighted, as follows:
- The CAS must be reviewed, so as to recognise DVA as a criminal offence on its own, not attached to any other crimes, which would immediately make it easier to identify DVA cases and make the statistics easier to work with
- The system should be able to capture the incidents that were reported, even if there was no criminal offence or case opened.
- The Employer Health and Wellness Programme division should conduct regular information sessions with employees at station level, so that they could easily identify and take steps to help staff members who were in crisis or at risk of either being perpetrators or were victims of domestic violence themselves.
-Members who committed acts of domestic violence were in direct contradiction with SAPS commitments on protecting women and children, therefore the SAPS regulations should have a specific clause on how to deal with members that were perpetrators.

Other recommendations, of a more general nature, included the following:
- the National Instructions, which was the internal policy of the SAPS, must have a specific section detailing how to report and keep records on members who were involved in domestic violence cases, as perpetrators or victims
- All cases involving SAPS perpetrators should be referred to the Provincial Inspectorate for investigation, which would ensure objectivity
- Reports should then also be forwarded to the Civilian Secretariat for it to monitor progress.
- A protocol regarding time frames for investigation of these cases must be developed, as the time taken had implications on the member’s ability to perform duties – for instance, if a firearm was confiscated pending the finalisation of an investigation, that SAPS member may be unable to perform certain duties.

There were still also continuing challenges with the training of members. There were 11 850 members in the stations that the Civilian Secretariat for Police visited, but less than half – only 4 308 members - had received any training on the Domestic Violence Act. Some of the key areas in which members of the SAPS displayed lack of knowledge included the contents of Form 1, which set out the remedies available to complainants – and some did not even know what the form was, or what purpose it served.

There was also some serious issues around arresting perpetrators who were in  contravention of protection orders. SAPS Members tended to feel unsure about this because the DVA protection warrant of arrest was the only warrant of arrest that did not compel police officers to arrest perpetrators, but instead left them with a discretion, although there were guidelines as to the issues they had to consider. SAPS members tended to be confused as to when and how that discretion should be used.

Members of the SAPS who had been trained had complained that even though the training methods were comprehensive, the manner in which training was delivered lacked practical scenarios and this made it difficult for them to implement the knowledge at station level. The training methodology predominantly used slide presentations, not group work or practical examples.

In this regard, the Civilian Secretariat recommended that the following changes be made:
- The Civilian Secretariat of Police should join forces with SAPS in 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 the DVA standing items during station lectures, meetings and parades sessions
- The National Instructions could be subdivided into small/handy information packs, easier to refer to, when checking how SAPS members should respond to issues of domestic violence
- There must be a clear and simplified legal interpretation given on arrest after a protection order was contravened. The role of the SAPS, and how the discretion whether to arrest should be applied, must be covered clearly during the training, station lectures and also in the station orders.
- Copies of Form 1 and Form 11 must be added to the documents that must be in patrol vehicles.
- Form 1 should be simplified and set out in a user friendly language that would make it easier for officers to explain to the complainants, and there should be a place for complainants to sign
- Evaluation of DVA training and impact assessment studies should be conducted by the SAPS, jointly with the Civilian Secretariat for Police.

SAPS members themselves had raised the high rate of withdrawal of cases. This impacted, in turn on the response of the SAPS members, who became de-motivated. It was noted that numerous cases would be lodged on Friday, only to be withdrawn by Monday. 72% of the members interviewed stated that the withdrawal of cases was one of the biggest challenges they were facing

The Secretariat recommended that there should be more stringent measures around the withdrawal of cases, which should be included in the DVA and in the Sub-National Instructions.

Meantime, the SAPS and the Civilian Secretariat should engage with civil society and academia to explore various ways of policing domestic violence, taking into consideration the social and economic context, and also explore regional or international practical studies, in order to reach new recommendations.

Command and control of SAPS was another problem. SAPS had several policies to stipulate how the commanders or the management of SAPS at station level should be inspecting registers and providing guidance to station members. The Civilian Secretariat found that, at station level, there was lack of adherence to these policies because they were mostly outdated and not relevant.

The registers were supposed to be inspected by Commanders on a weekly basis. However, it seemed to be that they simply put their signatures to them rather than actually inspecting, as the problems persisted and there were no changes in the way the registers were being completed.

The Civilian Secretariat also identified legislative gaps. There seemed to be a poor coordination and cooperation among all the role players that dealt with domestic violence, and this posed a serious challenge. To take but one example, the provision of shelter and counselling services and places of safety fell within the mandate of the Department of Social Development (DSD) but lack of sufficient DSD services, especially in rural areas, made it difficult for the SAPS and courts to work efficiently. One particular legislative gap was that the DSD was not actually obliged to ensure that the services mentioned were accessible to complainants.

Another legislative gap concerned the application of a protection order. According the DVA, a complainant may apply for a protection order any time or any day. However, in practice, courts operated only during working hours, and SAPS was apparently unable to get the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) or court personnel on stand-by, so often complainants had to wait until a Monday.

The physical management of protection orders, between the police stations and the courts, also remained a challenge. Where the complainant went directly to court without going to the police station, there was uncertainty as to who must serve the protection order. The DVA spoke of the Sheriff serving and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development bearing the cost, but communities were not aware of that, and believed that the police should be serving the order. This was not specifically set out so that SAPS and the NPA tended to blame each other, and complainants often ended up serving the protection order themselves.

The Act also failed to set out any clear time frame on service of protection orders and proof of service, mentioning that they should be served “without delay”. The regulations of the NPA and the National Instructions of SAPS copied this wording, without being more specific. The Civilian Secretariat recommended that clear time frames should be set out in the NPA regulations and SAPS National Instructions.

A further practical problem was that there were no clear budget allocations for DVA implementation in the SAPS Annual Performance Plan, and this affected the amounts allocated. The Civilian Secretariat suggested that all departments having any role in the implementation should be obliged to allocate specific budgets, to ensure more effective implementation.

Ms Xongwana reiterated that the SAPS National Instructions need to be reviewed. All the references to the Independent Complaints Directorate (which was previously responsible for monitoring DVA implementation) should be updated to refer to the Civilian Secretariat. The police stations were surprised to hear that ICD was no longer doing station audits.

It was further noted, during the visits by the Secretariat, that some mistakes in the completion of registers resulted from conflicting information given by different oversight structures visiting stations, perhaps because of differing interpretations of the DVA and National Instructions. To clear up this point, the Secretariat recommended that multi-lateral agreements be drawn between all departments playing a role in the DVA implementation. This should, again, define clearly the roles and responsibilities of each department, set out the resources required for effective implementation of the Act, and define the kind of partnerships between departments. This should be done at national level and then cascaded down to local level. Finally, all relevant departments should be obliged to report annually on their implementation of the DVA, by way of a specific section in the DVA itself. One department – either SAPS or the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ&CD)– should take the lead. In addition to that, she recommended that both the SAPS and the DOJ&CD should be obliged to develop a service level protocol that would clearly define the processes of receiving and serving the order.

Finally, she noted that a Secretariat coordinated workshop should be held on DVA interpretation for all SAPS bodies, to develop common understanding.

The last part of her presentation outlined the plans of the Secretariat to strengthen oversight. This included broader policing, inclusive of community members, faith based organisations and other community based organisations. The Secretariat wanted to engage in a joint fact finding visit, with the SAPS, focusing on provinces that reported the highest and lowest numbers of incidents. Finally, it recommended that more public awareness campaigns were needed.

Discussion
The Chairperson stated that she was not happy that some of the recommendations that were now being restated had first been made as far back as 2009. There appeared to be no sense of urgency. She noted that no time lines for implementation of the recommendations had been given.

The Chairperson also was not pleased to hear that the Civilian Secretariat apparently still needed to coordinate workshops on interpretation of the DVA, to develop a common and standardised understanding of the Act. These should have been conducted already, not still be in the process of coordination. She was not getting any sense of real commitment from the Secretariat.

Mr D Worth ( Free state, DA)  stated that all the problems had been highlighted by the Chairperson. He too had been concerned about the lack of time frames for implementing the recommendations. Some problems were administrative, like the register, but others were training problems. All the shortcomings could clearly be seen, and now something positive was needed to address them.

Mr Worth was concerned to hear about the problems around provision of shelter, counselling services and places of safety. These fell under the Department of Social Development but there had to be proper coordination. A complainant should not be sent back to a house where domestic violence would recur.  

Mr G Mokgoro (Northern Cape, ANC) was not sure whether he had heard the Chief Director properly when she said that monitoring and evaluation of the police was being done “under the direction of the Minister”. He said that surely monitoring and evaluation should be independent, so that there was no restriction on information being sought.

Ms P Peterson-Maduna (ANC) stated that she shared the same concerns that the same problems had been cited, year after year, and no visible improvements were apparent. She asked what the Secretariat planned to do about the workshops on capacity building in remaining provinces. She noted that people with disabilities had not been mentioned in the presentation

Ms G Tseke (ANC) asked why there were so many withdrawals of cases.

A Member stated that at least the report given had been honest. She said, however, that women, especially in the rural areas, were not protected, and this showed a lack of commitment to really assisting these women. She wondered if the Civilian Secretariat followed up on its recommendations, knew what the outcomes of the recommendations were, and wanted also to know more about the public awareness campaigns. She asked if it was properly monitoring what had been observed. She urged it to be serious. She was happy to see that the presenters were women, who were in a better position to understand the issues.

Prince M Zulu (Kwazulu-Natal, IFP) asked how many police stations there were in the country, and suggested there should at the least be 277, to cover every municipality.

The Chief Director confirmed that the main problem was that there was still lack of cooperation by both politicians and officials in the implementation of the DVA. Furthermore, she admitted that the statistics did not display a true reflection of what was happening.

Ms Xongwana answered the remaining questions. A general explanation of the role of the Secretariat was necessary for clarification. The Civilian Secretariat for Police had essentially assumed the DVA functions when the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) changed into the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), taking over the DVA functions from April 2012. This was done because the Portfolio Committee on Police had decided that the ICD was not making any progress in monitoring SAPS’s implementation of the Act.

The Secretariat itself was established in December 2011 through the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act. This was therefore its first report on the DVA. She fully appreciated that some of these recommendations may have been made by the Secretariat’s predecessor. However, the Secretariat had to conduct its own research and make recommendations in accordance with its own findings. These findings were based on oversight visits to a total of 145 police stations.

She agreed that most of the issues the Secretariat had identified were not new. However, as part of its monitoring and oversight function, it had to make sure that they went out and gathered the data themselves, so that it could make sense of what the problems were. This report would also have to be presented to the Minister of Police, who would give instructions to the National Commissioner to address the gaps identified by the Civilian Secretariat for Police.

Ms Xongwana stated that Civilian Secretariat for Police needed to establish a working relationship with the SAPS, in view of the perception that it was policing the police, rather than trying to assist it. It was in the process of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with the SAPS.

She heard the remarks about the time frames but said that this had been quite a challenge. The Civilian Secretariat would normally make recommendations, and then specify to the SAPS that it would need a response by a certain date, so the SAPS would give a progress report. The time lines for this were still being negotiated.

She commented that capacity building sessions were conducted jointly between the Civilian Secretariat and the SAPS because the Civilian Secretariat had realised, when it went to the provinces, that SAPS members were not familiar with the content of the Act, nor even with their own National Instructions. The question was how they could implement if they were unaware even of their internal policies.

The Civilian Secretariat was trying to build the capacity of SAPS members on the ground in all provinces, who were charged with ensuring that the DVA is implemented properly. This was necessary. It had been more than a decade since DV Act was promulgated yet the same problems were still there, which was why there had to be joint efforts and interventions with SAPS, to discover exactly what the problems were, and to rectify them. The Secretariat would continue, visiting all the outstanding provinces.

She also wanted to emphasise that, at this stage, the Secretariat only has powers to make recommendations.

Minister of Women Children and People with Disabilities Second Quarter 2013 performance report
The Committee discussed, in the absence of the Minister, whether it would permit her to present her report, and decided that she should be so permitted, but the report would not be adopted until next year.

Ms Lulu Xingwana, Minister of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, thanked the Committee but handed over to the Director General to present the information.

Ms Veliswa Baduza, Director-General, Department of  Women, Children and People with Disabilities, noted that she would not present on the vision and mission, but left this for Members to read through. She noted that the mandate of the Department (DPWCD or the Department) was to promote, facilitate, co-ordinate and monitor the realisation of the rights of women, children and people with disabilities.

She then stated that for the 2nd quarter performance, the Department achieved 69% of its set target. Twenty-four targets were achieved out of the set 35. Only 11 were not achieved. This showed an improvement on the first quarter, where 50% of targets were achieved.

She outlined the financial performance (see attached presentation for details) and said that the Department had, between  April to September, spent 89% of budget.

She then presented the programmes and their specific targets. Programme 1, which provided strategic management and administrative support to the department, had achieved 54% of the set targets were achieved, or seven out of the thirteen targets. In the first quarter, it had achieved only 22% of targets, which had more than doubled in the second quarter.

 The department had 13 targets and it achieved 7.  The remaining targets (6), which amounts to 46% were not achieved.

Comparisons of Programme 1 of 1st and 2nd  quarter also revealed that there were improvements. This is because in the first quarter, only 22% of the set targets were reached.  In the 2nd term however, a whipping 54% of targets was reached. It spent 85% of budget in this quarter.

The main achievements included the successful coordination of campaigns such as Orange Days, International Rural Women’s Day, Women’s Day, Bill of Responsibilities and three Older Persons Events. There was increased departmental visibility through media coverage of the Minister and the Deputy Minister. The research on Violence Against Children was presented to the FOSAD Forum and the Social Cluster. It conducted brand awareness research and a staff satisfaction survey. It also revised the Violence against Children Research to address shortcomings that were identified.

Programme 2: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE) aimed to facilitate and report comprehensively on the transition of national and international commitments into empowerment and socio-economic development programmes towards the realisation of women’s rights and the progressive realisation of equality. This programme had achieved 100% of targets for the quarter, a major improvement from the first term. It spent 99% of the budget for this quarter. The main achievements included a consultative meeting with the Social Committee of the National House of Traditional Leaders (NHTL) in Eastern Cape on 24 July, a presentation of the Women In Disability Sector Tributes on the integrated  mainstreaming framework, and the draft integrated advocacy strategy and a presentation on the WEGE Bill. It had also collated provincial advocacy mainstreaming reports. The United Nations 2013 Reports had been presented to the Social Cluster, the Cabinet Committee and Cabinet. The Department also finalised the report on the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, with inputs from Community organisations and the South African Human Rights Commission. The AU reporting guidelines had been aligned and submitted to the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development. Finally it had drafted a report, and submitted it to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, on the implementation of the Heads of States Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa.

Programme 3 dealt with Children’s Rights and Responsibilities (CRR) and aimed to promote, advocate and monitor the realisation of children’s rights through government’s policies and programmes. In this quarter, 75% of planned targets were achieved, a drop from the 78% achieved in the first quarter. It spent 79% of budget. The main achievements included the approval of the UNCRC/ ACRWC and Optional Protocol on Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography by the Cabinet Committee. It participated in a workshop on the amendments to the Children’s Act organised by the Child Law Centre at the University of Pretoria in August 2013. It approved reports on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

Programme 4: Rights of People with Disabilities aimed to facilitate and report comprehensively on the translation of national and international obligations into empowerment and socio-economic development programmes, to realise rights of people with disabilities and equalisation of opportunities. It achieved 50% of targets, but this was an increase on the 33% achievement in the first quarter. The programme spent 61% of budget. The major achievements were that the concept document for Disability Rights Awareness Month was finalised and presented to the Government Communication Information System (GCIS). It engaged with the Gauteng Provincial Executive Council on progress made in the province to realising the rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Minister’s general comments
The Minister asked for the opportunity to give her farewell speech for the year. She stated that this year was marked by working on the turnaround strategy, and described the fact that the Department started with “all red” indicators but she was now happy to say that it had “turned green”, and she was hoping this trend would continue and improve.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was proud of the work done, despite criticisms that the Department should no longer exist. She was pleased that President Zuma had recognised the importance of a ministry to focus on vulnerable groups of the disabled, women and children. Members were very grateful for the fact that the Minister had intervened, and revived the Department to the point where it could survive. This was something to be emphasised during the elections.

The Minister mentioned that in her province, some Members had expressed that they had problems. The Ministry had been constantly asking the Department of Public Works for proper accommodation and parking. Her staff were finding their cars ticketed frequently outside the building. The building leaked, the lifts broke down at least once a month and security was a problem. She wondered if the Committee could intervene to assist. She also noted the particular lack of funding for addressing gender based violence, despite her pleas to National Treasury.

She noted that the Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill was approved by Parliament on 23 October. The Department would be visiting the provinces to talk to women and NGOs about the implications of this Bill, which focused on the economic empowerment of women.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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