SAPS 2014 Annual Performance Plan: Programme 2: Visible Policing & Programme 3: Detective Services

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03 July 2014
Chairperson: Mr Francois Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South African Police Service, led by National Commissioner Riah Phiyega, presented on Programme 2: Visible Policing and Programme 3: Detective Services. The Committee asked questions about SAPS University, Jackie Selebi's legal costs, the mental wellbeing of SAPS members, corruption and criminality in SAPS, the effectiveness of public order policing units, the meaning behind different performance indicators, rural versus urban response, specialised detection and training units, victim support, and compliance with IPID.

Meeting report

The meeting began with the Chairperson opening the floor for questions for the National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega, and the SAPS delegation on the Strategic Plan presentation given on 2 July.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) asked under which category SAPS University is budgeted, and what the amount is allotted for the University. He also asked when the National Commissioner is going to make a decision on Jackie Selebi’s legal costs.

National Commissioner Riah Phiyega stated that the total police budget, including the SAPS University, is R1.87 billion, but that some students are paying a portion of their own training. She stated that this shows how committed they are. SAPS pays for their accommodation and meals. She reiterated that the police budget they received is R1.87 billion. To answer the question on Jackie Selebi, they are attending to but have not concluded the matter. She is working with National Treasury and the lawyers, and has not concluded the matter but it is a work-in-progress.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) commented on the statistics showing an increase in SAPS suicides, and stated that she was concerned about who prepares officers for the trauma associated with their professions. She said that when she visits the police stations she finds very big police stations, and that only one person had received psychological assistance. She asked who conducts follow-up to make sure they have received trauma counselling.

National Commissioner Phiyega replied that the statistics the Committee Members are given are the statistics they get from SAPS. She said that they held a suicide conference to look at the matter and how they will deal with the consequences.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) stated that there is a parallel criminal justice system that runs within SAPS, referring to the criminality of some members of SAPS, and asked what SAPS will do if the courts find that one of its members is not culpable. She asked about the 1 148 criminals within SAPS employ, and why it has been difficult to kick them out of SAPS.

National Commissioner Phiyega replied that they were challenged by the unions not to continue with the process, and so at this point their processes have been barred by legal processes. She stated that they have serious law-abiding citizens of this country, but that this was a matter brought against the police by the unions.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked about the modernising and quickening of the processes involving officers who engage in misconduct and abuse of power.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that by design internal processes and criminal processes should not be looking at each other, and that in general internal processes should never wait for a criminal process: they are parallel processes. On the matter of modernising the disciplinary processes to ensure there is quality of the hearings, they are establishing trial units. They are looking for people with the knowledge, skill, and ability to look at how they run their internal processes. They are working on standardisation of sanctions – their discipline is highly negotiated, and coordinated with labour, and that issues with discipline are management-related.

Mr M Tshishonga (AGANG) commented that with corruption rampant in SAPS, whistleblowers are not treated well, and that it seems as if the police are not acquainted with the Protected Disclosures Act. He stated that the police need to be trained in this regard to curb corruption.

National Commissioner Phiyega responded that she will take the advice and embrace it.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for clarity on the answer from the Commissioner regarding the 1148 criminals in SAPS. She said that everyone is horrified that SAPS has criminals working for it, and that perhaps they were misled by the legal team because it was ruled in the courts that it was illegal and inappropriate the way they handled it. She reiterated that she is very concerned because the 1148 criminals are still working for SAPS.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that they have a right to deal with it, and they will be back in the courts.

Programme 2: Visible Policing
The meeting continued with National Commissioner Phiyega presenting on Programme 2: Visible Policing (see document). The purpose of Visible Policing is to enable police stations to institute and preserve safety and security, and to provide for specialised interventions and the policing of South Africa’s borders. The strategic objective is to discourage all crimes by providing a proactive and responsive policing service that will reduce the levels of priority crimes. The Visible Policing Programme is comprised of three subprogrammes: crime prevention, border security, and specialised interventions. Programme 2 is the largest programme of the South African Police Service, comprising 51.1% of the budget.

Mr Beukman referred to public order policing, asking if SAPS has a plan to deal with the slow response times effectively, and if they have the manpower to justify the R1.87 billion budget, considering they are understaffed by about 6,000 police officers.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that Cabinet has approved an accelerated capacity programme for public order policing. In 2004 the sense was that it was the age of "crime intervention" policing and that public order policing could be put on the backburner. They later realised that public order policing is a very important aspect of policing, and that there is a need for focusing on public order interventions. She said that this had to be coupled with a recapacitation in terms of numbers of public order police. There is no new money coming in, which is why SAPS only has 4000 public order police members. From a policing point of view, they would like to increase that by 2015/16 to about 9000 members. This requires new money. When you add people you need to add resources, like cars and equipment. In addition to public order police members there must be a legal team. Lawyers must be on site so that the terms of reference of the Section 4 Agreement are clear and straightforward. They need members of the team to focus on communication and crime intelligence. It is important for all of these integrated offerings to work together.

Mr Mbhele asked about targets in percentage reduction and increase in different performance indicators. He was worried about placing quotas on crime reduction because it can influence the way in which law enforcement is handled. He asked about specialised intervention structures, referring to threatened public unrest in Cape Town last year, where a unit was brought in to prevent and contain the violence. He asked if that was the national intervention unit or a public order policing unit.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that they are taking the issue of perverse incentives into consideration, and proceeding with caution. In issues such as drug use, they are able to provide an average that they will never plan on dropping below when recovering drugs. This number changes regionally, for example, Durban has many drug busts. But it is important to monitor opportunistic policing. In regards to centralisation, SAPS is a metrics organisation: a national department with a delivery footprint in the provinces. some departments require a national capacity, like public order policing. She continued that there must be first responder training, and so they had a massive training of visible police officers. all of their entry-level police officers receive training in public order policing.

Mr D Twala (EFF) asked about how local police react to a situation that requires public order policing units, and said that they need to ensure that within the public order policing units there is intelligence in order to respond in real-time.

National Commissioner Phiyega replied that they are busy with the process of refining their rural strategy, and that they are making sure that they do not use the same mechanisms as with the urban strategy. She commented that what works for Soweto will not work for a rural village.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) commended the department for including the targets of rural safety, the fight against vulnerable groups including women, children, and the elderly, and asked what happens after a vehicle is boarded.

National Commissioner Phiyega discussed border security, saying Cabinet has approved the establishment of the Border Management Agency, and that they do not have the capacity to devote exclusively to border security. There are many agencies dealing with. In regards to boarding vehicles, there is a host of criteria. The first priority is to replace the equipment. Then they need to get additional resources and allocation.

Mr Groenewald stated that it is unacceptable that half of the police stations in rural areas do not have the same requirements as in urban areas. He asked what is being done to handle brutality in visible policing. He asked why the target for firearms is only 90% and not 98%-100%, and how many firearms have been lost and how many have been recovered. Finally, he asked about the cost of the shooting range contract, and why all members cannot utilise one shooting range at the same time to avoid the R181 million contract.

National Commissioner Phiyega responded that brutality in visible policing is one of those “big words” that can be interpreted in different ways. She asked that Honourable Groenewald please rephrase the question so that she can respond in a more specific manner.

Mr Groenewald stated that brutality is brutality as the Commissioner has just mentioned. He referred to cases in the media where people are being towed behind the vehicle and that kind of thing. He receives complaints from the public where the police have been brutal against them, in terms of unlawful arrests. He asked how they are addressing the issue, and stated that some members of the police think they are above the law and will use brutal force if you do not listen to them. He then said that he thinks he knows the answer but wanted to hear it from the Commissioner.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that when she opened her presentation this morning, and when she spoke yesterday, in terms of their own internal processes they have already dismissed eight members that were involved in the dragging-behind-the car incident in Cape Town. Even after their internal process there is a pending criminal case, and that when that incident took place in Cape Town they took action immediately – those members are no longer in the Service. In an average year, there are not more than 10 cases, and for each case, they handle it on an internal basis and a criminal basis. She reiterated that they do intervene when those things happen. This is why she spoke about their heightened and accelerated processes. If anyone does something outside of their prescripts, they do not hesitate to act. She commented on the issue of firearm applications, saying that there cannot be an absolute indicator and so that is why the target is 90%. If you are corrupt, and not doing things as they should be done, then they intervene. She said they will deal with you, discipline you, and get you out.

Mr Groenewald asked how many.

National Commissioner Phiyega responded that they will see that in their Annual Report on their performance.

Mr Groenewald stated that he finds it unacceptable to hear in committee meetings that they have to wait for the Annual Report to receive statistics. If this is the norm then they do not have to bother asking any questions. If he asks a specific question in this committee, it is because he has a reason for asking it.

National Commissioner Phiyega responded that she is sure they can get those type of numbers but the committee needs to note that these will not be the audited outcomes. When the audited outcomes come, we have to correct the errors. But she said she can give the non-audited numbers.

Mr Groenewald replied that he would like to receive the non-audited numbers.

National Commissioner Phiyega said that in 2012/13 there was 840, and in 2013/14 there were 773. This shows that it progressively decreases. But these were not the audited numbers.

Lt General Stefan Schutte, Deputy National Commissioner: Physical Resources, replied about the shooting range, saying they had problems in previous years to get people to the shooting ranges. They need to get them to shoot, and they need to do maintenance shooting each year otherwise their permit expires. This is a priority issue, and they struggle significantly to get proper facilities where they can train their people, especially on contentious matters such as permits. Officials must comply with the Firearms Control Act.

Ms L Mabija (ANC) commented that things are a mess concerning the Department of Police, and asked if the Commissioner can really show her that the budget is going to make changes.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that in her opinion the money they are being given is achieving positive results. She is grateful that the government is making these resources available to them. When she was growing up, it was difficult to see a member of the police driving in a car in the village that she was living in; the police would either be walking or on a bicycle. Now, a car comes. They are talking about an allocation of vehicles that was slightly above four policemen per vehicle; there is more mobility, and more visibility by police. She added that the citizen to police ratio is one policeman for every 317 citizens, and that in America the ratio is one per every 297 citizens. This is an indicator of the great strides by this government to increase their citizen-to-police ratio, and this is due to the investments in the police. Due to this budget, they are able to improve their curriculum training capacity. They are now training for two years, and that the professionalisation of the police is on par with teachers, nurses, etc. In terms of statistics, they are starting to see a decline in crimes. The UN came out with a report that says that certain crimes in South Africa have continuously decreased, and that the International Homicide Statistics (HIS) produced the same result. This shows that something positive is happening with the resources they are being given.

Mr J Maake (ANC) stated that the use of acronyms is not friendly to new Members of Parliament. In terms of public order policing, he does not believe it makes sense for them to be centralised, because if they are centralised in Pretoria, and something happens in Cape Town, they might as well remain in Pretoria because it will take too long for them to be deployed to Cape Town. He asked what they do on a daily basis while stationed in Pretoria. It says a strategic priority is enhancing visible policing, and that a performance indicator is the number of reported serious crimes, which gives him the impression that enhancing visible policing is just sensitising people to come and report crimes. He asked what "number of reported crimes" actually means in practice.

Lt General Makgale (Head: Corporate Communications) stated that they have twenty-seven public order units in different provinces, and that they currently have one national mobile unit based in Pretoria. They use the national unit to complement the units in different provinces when they are overstretched. They intend to increase units from twenty-seven to fifty-two. In response to what they do during the day, the public order police unit has two functions: the primary function is crowd management, and the second function is crime prevention. Members are deployed to crime prevention activities, as well as to support detectives during an arrest. In regards to performance indicators, the goal is to reduce the number of reported crimes.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if the National Police Commissioner referred to the Border Management Agency. There was the Border Control Committee, but it has been defunct. She asked if there is a new agency. She asked for clarity around drug confiscation numbers, stating that the report indicates an increase in confiscation, but that the numbers are actually less than in previous years.

Lt General Makgale replied that they are currently in the process of establishing the Border Management Agency, and that it will be strengthened by an omnibus administration, which will give it the mandates. It is currently being put together by Home Affairs. On drug numbers, he answered that they have estimated performance, and they have medium targets.

Ms Molebatsi asked why rural and urban stations are combined in the measurement of reaction times.

Lt General Makgale answered that they currently use a national average, but they are busy doing a diagnostic process to ensure that we separate the rural and the urban targets.

Programme 3: Detective Services
The meeting continued with National Commissioner Phiyega presenting Programme 3: Detective Services (see document). The purpose of Detective Services is to enable the investigative work of SAPS, including providing support to investigators in terms of forensic evidence and the Criminal Record Centre. The strategic objective is to contribute to the successful prosecution of crime, by investigating, gathering, and analysing evidence, thereby increasing the detection rate of priority crime. The Detective Service Programme is comprised of Crime Investigations, Specialised Investigations, Criminal Record Centre, and Forensic Science Laboratory.

Ms Kohler-Barnard said that she gets frustrated by the arrest numbers. There are a large number of arrests that do not lead to conviction because evidence goes missing or cases are not court ready, and so despite the 88% conviction rate the statistics are difficult to buy. She asked what the arrest versus conviction rate is.

National Commissioner Phiyega replied that they feed into the courts. How the court performs to reach a conviction is another story. If the court says to them that the docket is ready, the performance of the prosecutor is outside their realm. Their responsibility is to make sure the dockets are acceptable to the prosecutor. The issue of conviction is one of those that is highly debatable.

Mr Mbhele congratulated SAPS on their pockets of excellence, specifically within Detective Services. He asked about the budget drop in forensic services.

Lt General Schutte replied that the increase in forensic science sub programme spending in 2012/13 was due to the allocation of additional funding of the Criminal Justice System programme. This explains additional growth in computer equipment and things of that nature.

Ms Molebatsi asked for the number of detectives trained in specialised areas, and about the situation regarding forensic testing backlogs.

Lt General Makgale replied that as of April the backlogs stood at 9 357. At the commencement of the previous financial year the backlog was 20 212. The backlog was reduced by about 45%. There are environments with zero backlogs, for example the Eastern Cape Forensic Laboratory and Kwazulu-Natal. The backlogs are in the chemistry environment, dealing with drugs.

Mr Groenewald asked how many detectives there are now. As far as criminal records are concerned, the Committee had passed legislation for the merger between Home Affairs and fingerprinting. He asked why it takes so long to get lab results.

Lt General Makgale replied that he is unable to answer on why lab results take so long. There is deployment of their people within Home Affairs to be able to access the records. In as far as integration, the process is underway. They have engaged the Department of Home Affairs, and they have a cost estimate.

Mr Groenewald asked when they will finalise this. The Act was passed in 2012, and it is long overdue. He asked if they can get the finalisation date.

Lt General Makgale stated that it is a process that they wanted to see finalised in this financial year, and that in their engagement with the Department of Home Affairs they wanted to get the actual cost, they wanted it to become a seamless approach. They hope to have covered ground by the end of this fiscal year.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that the whole coordination of IJS/CJS and cluster initiatives are cross-cutting, and that the Department of Justice is now leading that, with Treasury and others. There are mutual benefits, and she hopes that these will receive priority treatment.

Lt General Schutte stated that at the end of March 2014 there were 2 571 SAPS Members in Detective Services. On specialised training, specifically organised crime, they have detectives that were trained previously. Since organised crime and commercial crime went over to the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), those cases are specific to the DPCI. He has liaised with DPCI that they need these cases in the Detective environment. In this financial year, they will have trained 525 SAPS members as detectives.

Mr Beukman asked if all the arrangements are in place in terms of the budget for DPCI. He asked about the urban versus rural bias. In terms of resources, is there the same urgency for rural areas that there is for urban areas, and what is happening in the rural areas?

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that processes are underway. They have a migration project, and that Lt General Schutte touched on how some of the organised crime matters are now being migrated back to Detective Services. For whatever reason, detection is detection is detection. They must find ways of connecting the dots. Otherwise, they must find other ways of leveraging the units. They are looking at multiple solutions for dealing with rural crime. For example, mobile and local infrastructure. They are working with companies such as Transnet. Rural access issues that have an historic nature need to get resolved.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked about what SAPS is doing to assist survivors of rape. She asked if they are in negotiation with the Department of Health for lab work. since DOH is not getting them the lab results. SAPS should run its own labs. She noted that Jackie Selebi had shut down the specialised units, and asked if something is being done to bring them back.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that there have been discussions about the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit, and about improving victim-friendly facilities. Even in stations where there is not a victim-friendly facility, they have services where they can let the victims know that they can give them attention. They want a service where they can train specific people to work with victims. In regards to the Department of Health, some mandates are above them, and require people with better power and capacity to assist them. She does not think they have the power to change those mandates. The Police Act gives the National Commissioner the authority to establish specialised units, based on presenting challenges. They do not need to re-establish the closed specialised units, but only as the needs present, and they see a need to do certain things. They are informed by operational needs, then the leaders will look into those issues and respond accordingly.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked again about the number of arrests versus the number of convictions.

Lt General Schutte stated that arrest versus conviction rates will not give an accurate measure of performance.

To conclude the meeting, Mr Beukman asked the National Commissioner to give her closing remarks, and asked if the different programmes are making a difference, as well as about compliance with IPID and about policy development.

National Commissioner Phiyega stated that the Inspectorate is growing in responsibility and success. In regards to IPID, any country that looks at ensuring that their police carry out their duties with integrity and respect from citizens, must ensure that they have a strong focus on the police. They respect the role that is being played by IPID. It is crucial. It has to be as strong a focus as possible. In terms of compliance, the target they have been given is 80% response to IPID recommendations. They submit a quarterly report through the Minister to go to IPID. To smooth the engagement they have created liaison points in all the provinces.

On anti-corruption efforts, there is an anti-corruption working group with stakeholders, and that they are very advanced in ensuring that the three legs that it will stand on get processed: internal investigation, detection, and prosecution.

On legislative capability, SAPS is one of the unique departments that does not develop its own legislation. The Police Secretariat develops the legislation. In each of the processes they are involved in, SAPS participates and gives operational experience, which informs policy development. But they take full responsibility for developing regulations for the legislation that is passed, as well as developing their own operational policies.

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