The Committee heard briefings from the Committee content advisor and researcher, as well as the Department of Police, on Public Order Policing (POP). The Department then briefed the Committee on its action plans regarding the Central Firearms Registry. This was followed by a briefing by retired Judge Essa Moosa on the role and functions of the Office of the Judge.
The National Police Commissioner said the expansion of POP had been prioritised, based on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of 2013. The country was experiencing an upsurge in violent incidents which required urgent additional interventions from the SAPS. It was anticipated that this upsurge against state authority would not decline in the foreseeable future. Violent protests countrywide had increased, while the POP numbers had declined.
The Department detailed the state of current POP equipment, the criteria determining the crowd management weight factor of each POP unit, the roll out strategy and units per province and the operational support required. The total cost of the 70% re-capacitation over four years would be R3.3bn, and would include purpose-built POP vehicles, accommodation for new units, a new joint operations command and control centre, and the refurbishment of the Thabazimbi training facility. Defiance of state authority could not be tolerated and the rule of law had to prevail, especially with local government elections set for 2016.
The Commissioner said the Department could not wait for additions to its baseline funds, so it had reorganised its funds and done R45m of work on POP matters. It had submitted requests to Treasury for its consideration in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for a graduated, phased increase of funds.
Members asked when negotiations with Treasury for the R3.3bn had started. Was integrated policing operational, or did it still need to be enacted? Members asked about the vehicles being boarded and whether the blue band shotgun rounds used by POP units were deadly. Was crowd management a part of the police training? Members asked how many violent protests there were per province per six month period. Since when were metro officers involved in crowd control, as their mandate was to implement the bylaws?
Members said that POP units were supposed to be part of multi-sectoral teams, but it was clear that they were not currently there. When would these teams be in place and rolled out? The POP information gatherers were located in police stations, so it would not make sense for POP to have their own gatherers. Did each police station have its own intelligence officer? Was the Thabazimbi training facility specifically for POP or for police training in general? It appeared that video recording of incidents by officers agitated the crowds further. What were the police doing to improve stakeholder relations? Members asked what informed the distribution of the POP units. Had there been any analysis on the use of drones?
Members asked what had happened to the police officers involved in the crowd management incident which had resulted in the death of 15 people. They said chest cameras on POP members would provide less obtrusive video coverage and moderate POP members’ behaviour. They asked what doctrine the police were following -- whether it was modelled on some country, or whether it was a South African model.
The Department was asked how many females there were in the POP units. What were the cost implications of maintaining a reserve unit? Members said that SAPS needed to find another channel for dealing with the problem; otherwise South Africa would end up being a police state. A Member said he had read a report that the Johannesburg POP had only five working vehicles and that the commander had been transferred and not been replaced. Members asked if ill-equipped, untrained and unsupervised officers were deployed.
Dealing with the Central Firearms Register (CFR), the Department gave a detailed action plan on service delivery, corporate governance, performance reporting, human resources, infrastructure, IT and communicating with stake holders. Members raised the matter of when the leadership post would be filled, as it had been indicated that it would be filled by 1 September. Was the brigadier still in an acting capacity? A Member wanted an update on the disciplinary steps taken against the previous management.
Judge Essa Moosa briefed the Committee on the role and function of the Office of the Judge. The briefing highlighted the differences in the roles and functions of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the Office of the Judge. The Office investigated complaints from the public against the Hawks, and complaints from the Hawks themselves, with respect to investigations they were doing. The Office could not investigate matters falling under the jurisdiction of the Inspector General of Intelligence, however, nor could the Judge usurp the functions of IPID. The Budget for the Office was R5.3m for 2014/15.
Members asked how many complaints and appeals involving IPID the office was dealing with. What types of complaints were lodged? Was the office sufficiently staffed and resourced? Did they need more resources? Had any cases been referred to any institutions? Were any cases reported to the Minister? Did the Office deal with Hawks cases only? Were its resources sufficient, especially with regard to the new premises it was going to.
Public Order Policing
Mr Ivan Kinnes, Content Advisor, briefed the Committee on public order policing (POP). His presentation gave a brief historical background, noted the mandate of POP and gave a snapshot of POP currently. There were 28 POP units nationally, comprising 4 563 members. In 2012/13 there were 12 399 crowd-related incidents, of which 1 882 were violent. The presentation also gave key policing statistics related to POP, POP policy and identified key issues, such as the increased levels of violent protest, national command and control, interference with commanders, the role of councillors and mayors, the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) judgement, the way in which the role of the police was being politicised, the use of POP in crime prevention and the equipment of POP.
Mr Thembani Mbadlanyana, researcher, gave an analysis of the POP units. He gave a brief historical background, covered the legislative framework and regulatory instruments related to POP, the current size, scope and role of POP. He listed personnel shortages, training, cultural factors, demilitarisation, crowd management and command and control as being key issues, and ended off with a list of questions the Committee could ask.
The National Police Commissioner, Riah Piyega, said the expansion of POP had been prioritised. In 1995, POP comprised 42 units with 11 000 members, and by 2006 this had been reduced to half the units, with a total of 2 500 members. However, the Department had come to realise that POP would remain a key activity for any police service. SAPS was on a journey to recapitalise POP, in line with the State of the Nation Address (SONA) of 2013.
Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, Divisional Commissioner of POP, briefed the Committee on the state of POP and the plans to enhance it to mitigate current and future crowd management and protest actions. The country was experiencing an upsurge in violent incidents which required urgent additional interventions from SAPS. It was anticipated that this upsurge against state authority would not decline in the foreseeable future. The expansion plans also arose from the 2013 SONA, to ensure that violent protests were acted upon, investigated and prosecuted.
In 2007/8, there were 812 violent protests countrywide, while in 2013/14 it had grown to 1 907 violent protests. Simultaneously, the number of POP units had been decreasing. Currently their members numbered just 4 721. He detailed the current POP equipment, the criteria determining the crowd management weight factor of each POP unit, the roll out strategy and units per province and the operational support required. Human resources accounted for R7.7m of the budget, while the armoured fleet would total R15m. Other physical resources were pyrotechnics, surveillance equipment, water cannons and video cameras.
The total cost of the 70% re-capacitation over four years would be R3.3bn, and would include purpose-built POP vehicles, accommodation for new units, a new joint operations command and control centre, and the refurbishment of the Thabazimbi training facility.
He concluded by noting that defiance of state authority could not be tolerated and the rule of law had to prevail, especially with local government elections set for 2016.
Commissioner Piyega said the Department could not wait for additions to its baseline funds, so had reorganised its funds and done R45m of work on POP matters. It had submitted requests to Treasury for its consideration in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for a graduated, phased increase of funds.
The Chairperson said the current baseline for visible policing was R37bn, of which R2.7bn was for POP. Was the R3.3bn requested in addition to the R2.7bn, or could one reorganise the funds to get the money from the R37bn? When did negotiations with Treasury for the R3.3bn start? On an oversight visit to a police station, it had been clear that there were problems of co-ordination. Was integrated policing operational or did it still need to be enacted?
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked about the vehicles being boarded, and whether the blue band shotgun rounds used by POP units were deadly. She said the presentation indicated zero investigators. Was crowd management a part of police training? Who were the designers of the Casspirs? Who would build the accommodation units?
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) asked how many violent protests there were per province per six month period. Since when had metro officers been involved in crowd control, as their mandate was to implement the bylaws? In 2011/12, there had been a budget issue regarding irregular expenditure on Nyalas. Treasury had cleared the police, but it meant that refurbishment was already taking place. What happened to the refurbished Nyalas in 2011-13?
Commissioner Piyega said that the budget had been reorganised so that the R45m used to date came from within the existing budget. This had had a serious impact on SAPS work.
She acknowledged that the Department had been in discussions with Treasury over the R3.3bn which needed to be added to the baseline and which could be disbursed progressively.
The average age of the armoured vehicles was more than 20 years. These vehicles could not be bought off the shelf. They had been refurbished for the World Cup and had given the Department some space to create a new generation of Nyalas.
The Department worked on the integration of its work with relevant ministries by bringing them in when addressing public order issues.
Basic training included crowd management.
The Department had a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The metro police needed to have crowd control skills, as they were normally the first responders.
The irregular expenditure matter had been cleared up, and the expenditure was found not to have been fruitless.
The POP units were seeking to have dedicated lawyers and detectives in the future, to follow up on cases which arose during operations.
The Chairperson said that POPs were supposed to be part of multi-sectoral teams, but it was clear that they were not currently there. When would these teams be in place and rolled out?
Lt General Mawela said the current setup regarding information and intelligence gathering was that each POP had information gatherers. Intelligence officers collected information, and the information was centralised and issued daily to unit commanders. The Department wanted to recruit more information gatherers.
Chairperson said this contradicted the slide detailing information gatherers as being a total of zero.
Lt General Mawela said the mistake was on their part. He would provide the number of current information gatherers.
The Chairperson said it was a serious mistake in the presentation, as the Committee needed the information to be accurate in order to make an informed decision.
Lt General Mawela said the accommodation units were done by the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the design of the vehicle by the CSIR. Metro police were mostly first on the scene, so they had to be empowered to deal with spontaneous incidents. They were also needed for control of peaceful marches.
Commissioner Piyega said they did not want to wait for money to be disbursed, so they were using detectives who were doing their normal duty, and were doing POP work in addition. What had been presented was what was required.
Mr J Maake (ANC) said the POP information gatherers were located in police stations. It would not make sense for POP to have its own information gatherers. Did each police station have its own intelligence officer? Was the Thabazimbi training facility specifically for POP or for police training in general?
Mr B Joseph (EFF) asked how the Department was going to reach its target of 9 522 POP members when it did not take people leaving the units into account. It appeared that video recording of incidents by officers agitated the crowd further. What were the police doing to improve stakeholder relations?
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked what informed the distribution of the POP units. Had there been any analysis on the use of drones? Could the Department elaborate on the unit models described in the presentation? Was the current financial year the first year of the turnaround strategy?
Ms Molebatsi asked what happened to the police officers involved in the crowd management incident which resulted in the death of 15 people.
Ms Kohler Barnard said chest cameras on POP members would provide less obtrusive video coverage and moderate POP members’ behaviour.
Commissioner Piyega said all police stations had a crime intelligence analysis centre which had intelligence officers and crime intelligence gatherers. The zeros indicated in the slide referred to intelligence officers in each POP unit. Going forward, the POP unit needed intelligence gatherers for the areas where they were located.
The Department wanted detectives dedicated specifically for the POP units when an operation was under way. Similarly they wanted legal resources that would be dedicated to support POP teams.
The Thabazimbi training facility dealt with all tactical training.
Staff attrition was “a given”, and the Department would cater for it as it occurred, as it was not something that could be pre-empted.
Regarding video recordings agitating a crowd further, she said that the recording was a matter of protocol to gather evidence for prosecution purposes.
The distribution of units would be done according to a weighting of factors, incident rates and Statistics SA data.
Drones and mounted cameras would be looked into. The CSIR did the evaluations. She noted that the water cannons also had a recording capability.
She hoped that the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) would provide some finance, but was looking at 2015/16 as being year one.
Lt General Mawela said they had co-opted the primary departments and some other relevant departments to sit on the National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) when generating the stability reports.
He said the reduced rounds were less lethal when used correctly, but could be lethal when used incorrectly.
Regarding the deaths of 15 people, Commissioner Piyega said the Department would look into it and respond in writing.
The Chairperson asked what doctrine the police were following -- whether it was modelled on some country, or whether it was a South African model. Were there MOUs in place for the Department’s research agreements? Regarding the R3.3bn rollout of the upgrade to POP which was intended for the 2015/16 financial year, he asked what the minimum needed by the Department was for year 1, as the Committee would be going though the Budget Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) process in October.
Ms Molebatsi noted that there was only one target in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) on POP units. How many females were in the POP units? What was the cost implication of maintaining a reserve unit?
A Member of the Committee said that even if SAPS had a trillion rand budget, it would not help. SAPS needed to find another channel of dealing with the problem, otherwise South Africa would end up being a police state.
Ms M MMola, (ANC) asked who trained the service providers.
Mr Maake said the presentation did not make clear whether the increase in unrest and protests were because of an increase in population and new squatter camps.
On the question of doctrine, Commissioner Piyega said the Department was busy with a South African approach.
There were formal MOUs with the CSIR, which had been chosen because it was a government entity.
She said the budget request for more finance would be reworked in more detail.
She said there was a need to skill the video cameramen in objective information gathering.
The percentage of females in the POP units was 20%, which was below the norm of 34%.
The cost implication of centralising the NATJOC unit would be that the Department would be able to support other provinces without draining them.
Lt General Mawela said that the POP units currently had ten water cannons, and they wanted at least one for every unit.
Regarding the training provider, SAPS did its training in-house.
In response to Mr Maake’s question, she said factors such as population growth were not taken into account.
The Chairperson said that he had read a report that the Johannesburg POP had only five working vehicles and that the commander had been transferred and not been replaced. What was the relationship between national command and provincial units?
Mr Mbhele asked what the time frame for the next round of refresher training was for the 2 275 members of the POP units who still needed to be trained.
Mr Maake spoke about a newspaper article and picture depicting a policeman being brutalised by the community. He asked what criteria were used to determine police brutality.
Ms Molebatsi asked if ill-equipped, untrained and unsupervised officers were deployed.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked if the R3.3bn included all the other billions, for example, for accommodation. She said the R3.3bn was noted to be 70% of the total budget requested. What was the other 30% for?
Regarding command and control, Lt General Mawela said that the day to day command was the authority of the provincial commissioner.
On the number of vehicles operational in Johannesburg, he said the vehicle status would be checked and a response would be provided in writing.
Commissioner Piyega said the health and well-being of the police was important because of the traumatising nature of the job. The employee health and wellbeing programme was in the process of being remodelled. Trained psychologists, social workers and chaplains were available for the staff.
There was continuous refresher training for all, and the 2 275 would be coming in for training. They were identifying police from the visible policing units per police station for refresher training.
She said the picture of a brutalised policeman had been in The Citizen newspaper. She said the police could not afford to be at loggerheads with the people they were tasked with serving and protecting, and more voices need to articulate the responsibilities and rights of citizens.
Regarding Ms Kohler Barnard’s question, she said that they would be looking for an extra 30% above the R3.3bn.
She stated categorically that the units were not ill-equipped, untrained or unsupervised.
The Chairperson said that the Committee needed to do an oversight visit in Mpumalanga and Johannesburg, and would visit a POP unit. The Committee would require a detailed breakdown of the R3.3bn if the Department wanted the Committee’s support during the BRRR process.
Central Firearms Register (CFR)
Commissioner Piyega said they were there to present a detailed action plan on service delivery, corporate governance, performance reporting, human resources, infrastructure, IT and communicating with stake holders.
Major General B Luke, Acting Divisional Commissioner for Visible Policing, detailed the action plans for service delivery, corporate governance, performance management, human capital management, facility infrastructure, IT and communication.
The Chairperson raised the matter of when the leadership post would be filled, as it had been indicated that it would be filled by 1 September. Was the brigadier still in an acting capacity? Were the task teams continuing with their work, or was there an end date for the task teams? He wanted an update of the disciplinary steps taken against the previous management.
Ms Molebatsi asked how the categorisation of data would happen.
Mr Maake said they had done an oversight visit to Philippi police station where there was a records clerk whose job was not done while she was on leave, and that this was not acceptable. He said he did not understand the phrase ‘categorisation of data in terms of ratio’.
Mr Mbhele asked what the acronym SHE stood for.
Commissioner Piyega said the absence of a leader was creating impatience. The post had not been filled because an appeal had been lodged by the official who had been dismissed, and protocol meant it could not be filled in the meantime.
There had been a number of disciplinary issues which had been submitted in writing.
She said the Department hoped to have completed a feasibility analysis on the fixed establishment by October.
General Luke said the task team had been formed when the head of the CFR had been suspended, and in his absence they were performing the tasks the head would have done.
On the question around the categorisation of data, General Shezi said it referred to issues in an earlier meeting on whether hybrid systems would be maintained and kept as two separate systems, or whether they would be fused into one system. The categorisation of data referred to how data would be generated. The existing system would be updated to give the number of firearms in circulation and determine against which category, individual or a business, it was issued.
SHE stood for the Safety, Health and Environment aspects of a building. In this particular case, it referred to a safe, or strong room, for firearms.
Commissioner Piyega raised the issue of a moratorium on the destruction of documents, because the Department was so inundated with records. Parliament had to give guidelines on what could be destroyed, as it was having an impact on record keeping.
There was no allowance on leave, but those remaining must be able to do the job of the person on leave.
Mr M Tshishonga (AGANG SA) said the police had to record information that was brought to their attention by the community.
Ms Kohler Barnard wanted a clear answer on whether there was a backlog from those who applied for a licence, or who had applied for a license renewal previously.
Commissioner Piyega said she took note of what Mr Tshishonga had said, and would take the matter further.
General Luke said there was no backlog of licence applications, although licences might still be sitting at police stations unclaimed.
The Chairperson said the Committee would visit the Pretoria facility.
Office of the Judge
Mr Essa Moosa briefed the Committee on the role and function of the Office of the Judge within the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), more commonly known as The Hawks. This unit was initially known as the Scorpions, operating out of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). Parliament had then transferred the unit to the SAPS, with the addition of measures aimed at giving them independence in the form of a complaints mechanism, headed by a retired judge.
The briefing also highlighted the differences in the roles and functions of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the Office of the Judge. It investigated complaints from the public against the Hawks and complaints from the Hawks themselves with respect to investigations they were doing. The Office could not investigate matters falling under the jurisdiction of the Inspector General of Intelligence, however, nor could the Judge usurp the functions of IPID. The Judge could refer matters to various stakeholders. The powers of the Judge were outlined, as was the procedure of lodging a complaint. The Office reported outcomes of investigations to the Minister of Police and reported annually to Parliament. The Budget for the Office was R5.3m for 2014/15.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked how many complaints and appeals the office was dealing with regarding IPID. What types of complaints were lodged? Was the office sufficiently staffed and resourced? Did they need more resources?
Mr Moosa said he had been appointed in September 2013, with no staff. The Office of the Judge Act indicated that the Office had to go on road shows to publicise its existence. It had not gone to the public yet because there had been no office infrastructure to receive complaints, but it had gone to all the offices of The Hawks.
Mr Edward Rasiwela, an investigator in the Office, said they had received nine complaints, of which four cases had been finalised and five were under investigation.
Mr Tshishonga said he had been sceptical and cynical regarding the disbanding of the Scorpions and the establishment of the Hawks. Was the establishment of the Hawks a good thing?
Mr Moosa said there had been a lot of conflict arising from competition in the past between the Scorpions and the SAPS. As a result, Parliament had transferred the Scorpions to the SAPS. There had been a concern about guaranteeing the independence of the Hawks. This question of independence had been challenged. The Constitutional Court had found that it had no objection, but had safeguarded the unit’s independence through the establishment of the Office of the Judge.
Ms Molebatsi asked if any cases had been referred to any institutions. Were any cases reported to the Minister?
Mr Mbhele asked what category the nine cases were, and what the nature of the allegations was.
Mr Rasiwela said the nature of the cases was abuse of power, intimidation, improper influence, interference, unprofessional conduct, service delivery and were both category A and category B cases..
Mr Maake asked if the Office dealt with Hawks cases only.
Mr Moosa said that it had a narrow focus, dealing only with cases related to the Hawks.
The Chairperson asked if their resources were sufficient, especially with the regard to the new premises it was going to.
Mr Moosa said that the Office of the Judge should receive more complaints once the road shows for the public started. He would give a more detailed report when required.
It was currently operating within the budget allocation and would look to employ more investigative staff. It was currently employing one investigator.
The meeting was adjourned.
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