Domestic Violence Act; Firearms Control Act; Civilian Secretariat Act: implementation; Civilian Secretariat performance: Mid-Year Review

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05 November 2014
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Civilian Secretariat for Police and South African Police Service (SAPS) briefing on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) looked at specific duties prescribed to SAPS, the level of compliance nationally and per province, availability of Victim Friendly Rooms (VFRs) and non-compliance complaints. The Secretariat also discussed the DVA incidents reported, training, strengthening of oversight and SAPS implementation of the DVA, general challenges and recommendations.

The Committee questioned the statistical basis of the report especially the calculation of the average national level of compliance – it was suggested the Secretariat review these important aspects. Members were concerned about the lack of VFRs when SAPS had the budget and the fact that firearms not being confiscated from SAPS members involved in domestic violence cases. Other matters raised included the withdrawal of cases, outcomes of disciplinary proceedings, updating the DVA register, the standard operating procedure, actions taken against provincial commissioners when provinces were found to not be complying with the legislation, if the Secretariat had enough resources to deal with the DVA currently, cooperation from provinces, protection orders not issued, and counselling of designated service members.

A status report was given on the implementation of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act.

The Committee had urgently requested that it be briefed on the Firearms Control Amendment Draft Bill. The presentation provided the background to the Bill, its main provisions, consultation held, organisational and personnel implications, and the financial cost to implement. The Committee decided to host a dialogue in February 2015 on this important matter to provide a broader holistic assessment on the environment with interested stakeholders. Along with this would be a study on firearm management in the SADC region.

The Secretariat presented its mid-year review on its performance, looking at intersectoral coordination and strategic partnerships, policy development and research, legislation, civilian oversight, monitoring and evaluation, HR management, finance and supply chain management and expenditure.

Members questioned the consultative forums held with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), advertisement of vacant posts and appointments, the nature of civil society partnerships and the relationship between the Secretariat and IPID. Some Members were concerned about unfunded mandates and public hearings on the firearm legislation along with the Bill legislating core processes. The Committee thought that publishing the Bill over the end of year holiday period would not yield optimal public comments.

Meeting report

Chairperson’s Opening Comments
The Chairperson indicated the matter of domestic violence had gripped society for a very long time so it was a very important focus area for the Committee. The 16 Days of Activism Campaign was drawing near so the Committee needed to look at the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) frankly in terms of ensuring that it was implemented and at compliance problems. There were serious concerns in the domestic violence environment especially that there were many SAPS members involved in domestic violence and strong action needed to be taken against these members. The Committee expected that all reports tabled before Parliament were of a high quality and could stand scrutiny. Unfortunately, the DVA Report was not of a good quality – it was littered with spelling and grammatical errors and was shoddy work. He did not think such a Report should be tabled before Parliament. There should be proper quality control in place and he was not happy with the Report. Ideally, there should be a re-tabling of the Report because it looked like a junior official simply copied and pasted. This was unacceptable given the important nature of the topic of domestic violence.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) added there were spelling errors even on the cover page of the Report.

Domestic Violence Act Implementation Reports 3 & 4 (Mar-Sept 2013; Oct 2013-Mar 2014)
In terms of the DVA, specific duties were prescribed to SAPS and other state departments. Amongst the obligations imposed by the DVA on the SAPS included the development of national instructions – which should serve as a guide to members on an effective response to incidents of domestic violence, providing assistance to the complainants through, among other things, assistance to medical and psychological services, ensuring compliance with all the requirements of the DVA and reporting any complaints of non-compliance against SAPS members to the Secretariat. The Secretariat was further mandated by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act (2/2011) to monitor and evaluate the SAPS compliance with the DVA. This was done through station audits and engagements with civil society organisations in both national and provincial spheres. A total of 280 DVA audits were conducted during this 12 month period and the purpose of these audits was to check how the police stations were complying with the DVA and National Instruction 7/1999. The visits were also aimed at identifying challenges with implementation of the DVA by police stations and to equip the police stations with information on how compliance and implementation can be improved by focusing on regulatory compliance, record keeping, services offered to complainants and management of non-compliance complaints. In essence, the scope of the audits focused on looking at both regulatory compliance and the execution of the DVA by police stations.

Looking at the level of compliance, in determining the actual level of compliance indicators for key focus areas, mainly based on regulatory compliance were coded and interpreted into a score out of 100. The compliance levels were distributed in three levels – full compliance which was equivalent to 100%, partial compliance which was equivalent to 60-99% and non-compliance which referred to any station performing below 60%. In principle, when it came to DVA implementation, there should be no room for error and all stations should be complying at 100%.  It should be noted though that, as the level of compliance was based mainly on administrative obligations, it might not necessarily mean a station that had a high level of compliance was providing a good service to the community or the station with a low level of compliance was providing a bad service. With this view in mind, the Secretariat was monitoring the SAPS ability to deliver its administrative obligation, as the first level to oversight and the second level will include random sampling of clients in order to assess the level of satisfaction with services provided by stations. The assumption was that, if the station was able to fully comply with the administrative obligations, the service offered to the community will be of good quality.

The average level of compliance per province for the periods April-September 2013 and October 2013-March 2014 was provided along with the number of stations, average compliance per province and level of compliance. Looking at the figures for the two reporting periods, there was a slight improvement in the compliance level. This can be attributed to the fact that the presentation of reports was done at cluster level by the various provinces which meant stations were able to learn from others. It was however still concerning that during the April-September 2013 period, there was not a single station that received 100% compliance. During the second reporting period, only two stations had achieved 100% in terms of regulatory compliance and both stations were in the Free State province, Kroonstad and Zamdela. 

Turning to the availability of Victim Friendly Rooms (VFRs), out of the 135 police stations visited during this period, 94 had a functional VFR, 16 stations had the VFR but it was not being utilised for its intended purpose and it was therefore described as not functional. 25 police stations did not have a VFR, mainly because of a lack of space in the station. There was still a challenge with management and resourcing of the VFR. Some rooms could not be accessed, as the keys could not be located. Most stations that were visited did not have the designated Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP) Coordinator as per National Instruction 02 of 2012. This contributed to challenges with regard to the management of the VFR.

With non-compliance in the handling of complaints, numbers were provided for the province, name of the police station, the number of complaints received against members failing to comply with the DVA and the number of disciplinary proceedings instituted for non-compliance. The Western Cape had the highest number of reported cases of non-compliance during the period under review. All the cases reported that disciplinary action against members had been instituted. The main reason for such high numbers in the Western Cape was that all non-compliance matters identified during the station audits were recorded and recommendations were made to institute disciplinary action against all members who had been found to have not fully complied. 

Moving onto the DVA incidents reported against SAPS members, out of 135 stations visited, 37 stations in eight provinces reported that 59 domestic violence cases had been reported against SAPS members. Out of the 59 cases, 28 firearms had been seized, 30 criminal cases were opened and 16 cases were withdrawn by complainants. Out of all the 145 police stations visited, 74 members were found to have been offenders in domestic violence incidents. Out of these reported incidents, 40 criminal cases were opened by complainants. Even though in majority of the incidents, especially where criminal cases had been opened, firearms were seized, it was still concerning to note that there were some stations who did not seize firearms despite a criminal case being opened.

In terms of training, the number of members trained on key legislation that responded to domestic violence kept improving and it should be noted that all members that were joining SAPS were being trained on DVA as part of basic training. What had been noted was that by looking at the actual DVA training programme, it was quite comprehensive but it still did not translate into improved implementation at ground level. As SAPS will be engaging in the impact assessment of training during this financial year (2014/15), it was anticipated that the process will assist in identifying the actual gaps in the training.

Strengthening oversight and SAPS implementation of the DVA was vital. Emanating from the discussions was a number of valuable recommendations that can be summed up in the following categories:
- recommendation directed at the police service on how interaction with communities can be improved,
- recommendations on partnerships, integration and cross-cutting approaches amongst the various government departments, SAPS included,
- recommendations on how the Secretariat can enhance its roles and existence and
- recommendations on the role of communities at large.

The Secretariat, in partnership with SAPS and the Joint Gender Fund (a civil society organisation) hosted a government-civil society dialogue on 22-23 August 2013 in Johannesburg. The purpose of the dialogue was to bring together role-players who worked closely with SAPS in order to strengthen working relationships on how to respond to and prevent Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). Whilst it was acknowledged that there were many aspects to responding and preventing violence, the specific focus of this initiative was on improving police response in relation to VAWG. 

With general challenges, according to the study by Lillian Artz, the other issues that contributed to the difficulty of ascertaining the prevalence of domestic violence were that domestic violence went largely unreported to police, there was a tendency on the part of the police to refer domestic violence cases directly to the Magistrates Court where victims can apply for the protection order and there was generally poor and inconsistent recording of domestic violence cases by the police. Ever since the Secretariat took over the DVA monitoring role, there had been a significant drop in the number of non-compliance complaints against SAPS. This is not necessarily because SAPS was fully complying but can however be attributed to the fact that communities are not aware of who to report to since the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) was not longer in existence.

The recommendations were for the management of SAPS to strictly hold members accountable for poor compliance and failure to adhere to their duties as prescribed by the DVA. Taking action against members, especially those who continually fail to comply can serve as a deterrent to other SAPS members. Station commanders needed to ensure that members within their command were continually trained and internal information sessions on the DVA should form part of the standing agenda items in the station lectures. 

The Chairperson questioned the statistical basis of the Report. This was in specific reference to the average level of compliance per province given that only four stations in some provinces were visited – how could national station compliance be calculated if only four stations were visited? This would not be a true reflection of the actual picture and represented a skew system. He suggested the statistical model should be reviewed to ensure the true picture was reflected of a national average.

Ms Reneva Fourie, Acting Secretary: Civilian Secretariat for Police, thought the Chairperson was absolutely correct that the sampling method had to be reviewed and the Secretariat would be engaging Stats SA on the matter.

Ms Molebatsi asked why the firearms of SAPS members involved in DVA cases were not seized. She also wanted to know why only one person had the keys to the VFRs and what the national instruction said in this regard. Had amendments to the DVA register begun or was it in the pipeline?  She also asked why a slide in the presentation was skipped.

The Chairperson noted some of the questions would need to be answered by the SAPS delegates present.

Ms Millicent Kewuti, CSP Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation, noted the Secretariat could only make recommendations to SAPS. Accountability measures were then put in place to ensure SAPS responded to the recommendations in place – this was what the compliance forum was mainly utilised for. The national instruction was clear in saying a member needed to be dedicated to the VFRs and SAPS needed to ensure the keys were always available. The DVA register was analysed and the recommendations made by the Secretariat were being considered by the compliance forum.

Maj Gen Susan Pienaar, SAPS Visible Policing, added SAPS would need to get case-by-case reports from the Secretariat and provincial Secretariats to follow up on specific cases of why firearms were not seized from SAPS members when they were supposed to be. Each case was different, for example, at times firearms were not issued to a member which explained why the firearm was not seized. Every individual case needed to be followed up with the particular member. The national instruction provided for every station to have a victim empowerment coordinator and for the key to a VFR to be available at a community service centre 24/7. At times the keys were left with the coordinators but reminders had been sent to provinces to ensure systems were in place for the key not to be left with one person but available at all times. When details were received from the Secretariat, SAPS would follow up with Provincial Commissioners. It was important to ensure that VFRs were clean, available and that SAPS members were not abusing it. The national instruction was clear that VFRs were not to be used as an office. Stations that were rented or leased, like in urban areas, simply did not have the space on its grounds for VFRs. An example was Pretoria West police station where there was limited space with not enough space on the grounds or station itself for a VFR. SAPS was working with supply chain management to ensure each station made provision for supporting victims where even an office of a member, like a detective, would be used for that purpose, through a station order or alternative arrangement. Changes to the DVA Register had begun and as part of the national instruction, SAPS was looking at reviewing some of the registers so that there was no duplication of tools based on the recommendations of the Secretariat and SAPS on each of its findings.      

Lt Gen Khela John Sithole, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, said that this was part of command and control standing procedures. SAPS was trying to take immediate action on some issues.  It needed to go to a Secretariat report, for example, when keys to the VFR could not be found or firearms were not seized as a result of misconduct.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked what the Secretariat was doing to drastically reduce the withdrawals of cases. She wanted to know why Limpopo was not included in the average level of compliance presented from October 2013 - March 2014. What steps was the Secretariat going to take in Mpumalanga and North West where both provinces received a non-compliance score? What was being done with the stations with VFRs which were not utilised and why was domestic violence not recorded as such in the official crime statistics?

Ms Kewuti explained these provinces could not undertake compliance visits for that time period and the Department had challenges in terms of resources as it was under the management of Treasury and most activities planned for that period were ceased.

Maj Gen Pienaar explained there were two forms of reporting domestic violence – where a criminal case was opened, it would be defined as common assault but the crime administration system allowed for the common assault to be related to domestic violence. Any type of crime would need to be identified as related to domestic violence or not.

Lt Gen Sithole indicated with the withdrawal of cases, each member of the public had the right to open, withdraw or proceed with a case. Usually this decision was in the control of SAPS. If a trend was noticed, SAPS would engage with the criminal justice system and suggest cases went to prosecution. This was what SAPS was aiming for within the area of domestic violence because the rate of withdrawal was very high. SAPS was calling on all citizens in the country.

Ms L Mabija (ANC) questioned what reasons were provided for some stations not having VFRs. 

Ms Kewuti indicated it was due to a lack of space at the stations visited. 

Ms Molebatsi thought reluctance should also be added to these reasons because this was also a key issue. Some stations put up wendy-houses or came up with other ideas, just so it had a VFR.

Mr D Twala (EFF) was disheartened to hear during the BRRR process that SAPS spent almost 98% of its budget yet facilities like the VFRs did not exist in some stations – where was the money then going? Was this an issue of resources or a lack of will on the part of SAPS to comply? The Department came before the Committee to request an additional R3.3 billion to buy Nyalas yet that which was basic could not be addressed – what was the cause of this?

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) agreed with the Chairperson on the statistical model for calculating national compliance. He noted the total for non-compliance on one of the slides was incorrect – the total was 28 and not 27. He wanted to know what happened to the three cases were no action was taken. What was the outcome of disciplinary actions? He could not understand how after 15 years of the Act being promulgated, the DVA Register additional column for updating information was not done - this was a basic need and was part of management. This proved there was very poor management of the DVA. He asked what the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was referred to and why it had not yet been signed by SAPS. He wanted a specific date for when the matter was referred to management to find out how long it took to obtain a signature. 

Ms Kewuti said some of the disciplinary outcomes were verbal or written warnings and there was an instance where exemption had to be applied for. More feedback needed to be sought for the cases referred to SAPS. The SOP entailed the existence of the compliance forum in the national sphere of government but it could be replicated at a provincial level. The SOP also spoke to how non-compliance complaints were to be received and dealt with at station level, to the cluster, to province and then to national. It also outlined how disciplinary processes should be handled. The exact date for when it was handed to SAPS management for signature would be provided to the Committee. 

Mr Groenewald asked why it took 15 years before the SOP was started.

Ms Kewuti replied that the role of the Secretariat was to identify gaps in the systems of SAPS and the SOP was one of the issues as to why the DVA was not implemented effectively. The SOP was an initiative to set a unified standard from one province to the next where almost the same response could be expected. This was a positive step just needing to be signed off and implemented.

Maj Gen Pienaar added the SOP came as a recommendation from the Secretariat. The draft SOP was circulated to provinces and an updated SOP with changes made was received and SAPS was considering the revised SOP with provincial stakeholders. It was important to ensure the SOP was not contradictory and providing a standard relationship between SAPS and the Secretariat in terms of domestic violence complaints. It did form part of a complex process.  

Lt Gen Sithole spoke to disciplinary outcomes noting it was part of SAPS disciplinary management system which applied to all cases subjected to discipline and where reported to management at all levels. Domestic violence was isolated because it was part of priority reporting and the information was shared immediately between SAPS and the Secretariat through a standing procedure.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked if the cases of non-compliance came from inspections conducted at police stations or if they were complaints from the public to the Secretariat.  

Ms Kewuti stated these were complaints coming to the Secretariat from members of the public. 

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) wanted to know what actions were taken against provincial commissioners when stations in their own provinces were found to be non-compliant because this seemed to be the root of the entire problem – there were never repercussions for treating the DVA with contempt. If firearms were not taken away from the members found to be contravening the Act, then SAPS was breaking the law. A line needed to be drawn in the sand because now the problem was worse than it ever had been.

Ms Kewuti reiterated the Secretariat could only make recommendations to SAPS on disciplinary proceedings and for compliance with the Act.

Lt Gen Sithole said officers were still instructed to police even in areas where there were no roads or no infrastructure even if it meant the members had to park the vehicle and walk on foot. Any refusal to go was taken as serious misconduct and the issue was taken very seriously and would be followed up.  

Ms Kohler Barnard was extremely uncomfortable with the answer given for the 74 SAPS members who were found to be accused of domestic violence and that SAPS was waiting on details of the cases from the Secretariat. She could not believe there was not a system where stations with convicted abusers were not dealt with at a high level. Surely there had to be situation where information was received at a high level.

The Chairperson agreed and said it had been raised before in questioning the role of the cluster commanders and provincial commissioners. It was believed SAPS should take the initiative and lead by example. The appropriate close relationship was a serious concern of the Committee. 

Lt Gen Sithole said that provincial commissioners were held accountable to the National Commissioner and appeared before the National Commissioner for performance evaluation. Domestic violence formed part of this performance evaluation with the National Commissioner taking action where necessary. Inspections included the combined quality assurance with domestic violence and other high priorities. These inspections became explicit in terms of the findings and recommendations and relevant action/corrective measures were taken from the inspection reports. There was also a national implementation framework on domestic violence which was aligned to the plan of the Secretariat in terms of monitoring work. SAPS was also trying to make optimal use of the compliance forum.  

The Chairperson asked if the Secretariat had enough resources to deal with the DVA currently and if there was cooperation from the various provinces.

Ms Kohler Barnard talked about protection orders not recorded in the domestic violence registers with women frequently being told to go to the Magistrate’s Office. There had been cases where SAPS members refused to issue protection orders in informal settlements with the outcome being that the abuser would beat the victim to death in front of her children. There was no such thing as no-go areas and she was extremely concerned about this being the situation.

Mr Mbhele wanted to know if there was an element of checking if designated service members received counselling/debriefings in the inspections of the Secretariat. If it was found this was not being done, what measures did SAPS take to ensure this was being done, given the human element involved and needing to be nurtured.

Mr Groenewald asked how the Secretariat made a decision to do an inspection at a specific station. If an operational member needed a firearm and the firearm was seized, would the member be reissued with a firearm in order to do the work? Was there any case were a firearm was not seized and there was further violence or even used for a murder?

Mr Twala found his initial question was sidestepped - why was there ineptitude to implement the DVA given that 98% of SAPS budget was spent? He questioned the theme, central thrust and outcome of the dialogues held by SAPS with the Secretariat and civil society because domestic violence was an issue which derived from a number of variables.

Lt Gen Sithole explained there were two categories of police stations being built with the priority of there being VFRs. The two categories were the devolved and non-devolved groups. The devolved group of stations were budgeted for by SAPS with the budget transferred from the Department of Public Works and managed by SAPS – this was the budget where 98% was utilised. A number of stations were still outstanding under the Public Works Building Programme and the VFRs were included in this backlog. The issue had been taken up by the National Commissioner and DG of Public Works and the situation was being worked on. 

Ms Mabija thought a lot of the problems around VFRs could be solved if there were competent management at all levels. This gave her the impression that work was not being done. She asked why police stations could not deal with the issues. Most of the victims of domestic violence were women and most of the men at leadership positions at SAPS were male and showed men did not care about women when it was the women who had brought them into the world. Men were not caring for or protecting women and the reports presented and answers given did not match what was happening on the ground and communities. Domestic violence was only becoming worse and the Committee was just providing the Department with a greater budget. SAPS needed to implement what the Committee expected the Department to implement.

Ms Fourie emphasised she took the comments from the Committee very seriously and she appreciated the guidance from Members in the creation of an oversight mechanism to support SAPS in the execution of its responsibilities. She was fearful to draw such conclusions just on the basis of the Report. As indicated earlier, the sampling methodology was not necessarily the best. The issue of domestic violence was very serious and mechanisms of tightening compliance needed to be sought in terms of the DVA. 

Lt Gen Sithole apologised for SAPS maybe failing the masses but the Service also received acknowledgements and appreciation from the masses and there were instances where expectations were exceeded.

Ms Mmola asked the Secretariat if SAPS had specific programmes in employee health and wellness to deal with aggression and not take it out on partners. Why were few stations visited in the bigger provinces, like KZN, to determine the national level of compliance?

Ms Fourie indicated that SAPS did have an employee wellness programme.

Ms Kewuti said a minimum of four stations had to be audited in each province per quarter. Information was received from the Secretariat of poor performing stations, in general performance and the DVA in particular, and this was utilised to ensure these stations were audited in order to improve their compliance levels.

Ms Molebatsi asked if the review would include SAPS 508 forms. Why were no disciplinary proceedings instituted for the Mmakau police station in North West when there were two complaints received against SAPS members for failing to comply with the DVA? She asked the Secretariat if all the road shows and awareness campaigns were yielding results. Could a SAPS member whose firearm was seized, get it back at some stage?

Ms Fourie noted that because the road show programmes had not been rolled out yet it was very difficult to assess the impact. The approach of the Secretariat to awareness was very comprehensive in engagements with community-based organisations and drawing on the support of community policing forums, grassroots community newspapers and community radio stations. Maybe after six months the impact could be assessed. 

Ms Kewuti added the dialogue would provide a platform for different stakeholders to come together to ensure there was integration from the highest to lowest sphere of government to coordinate efforts systemically. A manifesto was drafted and launched two months ago in the Northern Cape on how to improve police response at a local level to domestic violence. Copies of the manifesto would be circulated to Members.

Lt Gen Sithole explained that if a firearm was seized in a function where the firearm was required, for example an investigator, the member would immediately be redeployed – this was the first step. Other steps led to a board of fitness to assess whether the member could still continue serving SAPS. Firearms were not allowed to be returned to members unless the matter was disposed of/concluded in court. 

The Chairperson noted the next DVA Report was due for the April – September 2014 period and he wanted to know when it would be tabled. It was important that the provincial commissioners be invited to the next engagement to get a sense of what was going on. The research division of Parliament would be asked to look at the DVA in terms of recommendations and amendments to strengthen the Act. It was critical this legislation be executed in the proper way and he was pleased to see the cooperation between SAPS and the Secretariat which was good going forward. It was quite critical for the National Development Plan (NDP) to be implemented as soon as possible as perpetrators of violent crime were not needed in SAPS and the NDP made provision for a new code of conduct. This was part of the process going forward to ensure the women and children of SA were properly serviced and that complaints were properly listened to. The Committee would be monitoring closely how provinces and cluster commanders dealt with this. The community needed to trust the police service. He asked that SAPS provide a status report on an incident of misconduct in Limpopo before next Tuesday.     

Status report on Implementation of Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act (2011)
The Chairperson noted there were aspects of the Act which still needed to be implemented as outlined during a previous interaction between the Committee and Secretariat. It was important for the Committee, in terms of oversight, to know what was on the table and what needed still needed to be done.

Ms Fourie noted that the Act were put into operation, with the exception of sections 4(2), 4(3) and 14, on 1 December 2011. Amendment of Schedule 1 of the Public Service Act was gazetted on 8 July 2014. The Secretariat engaged with Treasury on the budget programme structure which was reviewed and aligned accordingly. With finance and IT, funds, assets, IT systems, etc related to the transfer of functions were identified. The internal IT system and MOU was developed for shared services with SAPS. The electronic accounting system was activated in September 2014 and internal HR policies were developed in line with Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) policies with supported organisational review and creation of the new structure currently underway. 

Section 6 dealt with the functions of the Secretariat and establishment of competencies and capabilities with the dedicated core units established in Secretariat and ensured execution of functions. The Policy and Research unit, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit, Partnership Unit and Legislation Unit were set up. Strategic Plans and Annual Performance Plans were developed and the Annual Performance Plan was finalised and presented to Parliament. Staff signed Performance Agreements and the performance review was underway in line with DPSA requirements. Capacity and systems for monitoring and evaluating compliance with the Domestic Violence Act and engagement with IPID were prepared. Organisational monitoring and evaluation provided DVA compliance reports to Parliament while capacity and systems were assessed along with the monitoring of SAPS ability to receive and deal with complaints. Internal business processes were developed to deal with some complaints and discussions were underway with the Presidency, SAPS, IPID and Provinces for uniform business process around service delivery complaints. 

Ms Fourie turned to sections 7 and 12 which catered for the appointment of the Secretary noting she as the Acting Secretary was appointed on 1 September 2014 and the post for Secretary was advertised with 31 October 2014. The appointment processes to formally appoint a new Secretary will be finalised by the Minister in accordance with the Public Service Act and the appointment would be made after consultation with Cabinet by the Ministry as the Secretariat was not involved. The implementation of section 10 was lagging as the delegations would only be finalised by the end of November 2014 pending the appointment of the Secretary. With sections 13 and 34 (7), the Secretary was to submit quarterly reports to the Minister and Parliamentary Committee. The reporting structure was designed along with a template for quarterly reports to the Minister and Parliamentary Committees were developed and submitted soothe Secretariat was complying in this regard.

Section 15 provided for the Secretary to prepare and submit annual reports to the Minister within five months after the end of the financial year. With sections 14, 17, 18, 19 and 22 and the constituting of Provincial Secretariats, Provincial Secretariats were being constituted in all provinces, but not all were at the same level of implementation. Provincial plans were aligned with regard to Customised Indicators, Provincial Budgets and Programme Structures were reviewed and approved and the appointed Heads of Provincial Secretariat were performing their duties and execute their functions but the Secretariat was in consultation with the provinces and Ministry to expedite the process. 

Turning to sections 23 and 25, the Secretary and heads of provincial departments were to meet at least on a quarterly basis and the next meeting was scheduled for late November. With section 27, the MinMec was established and functional with the next meeting taking place on 5 December. Sections 31 and 32 and cooperation with IPID was addressed in the draft regulations. An oversight workshop was conducted 24 October 2014 and a task team was established to craft an MOU between SAPS and the Secretariat. Preparations were underway for a consultative meeting between IPID and the Secretariat to be held next week as emphasised by the Chairperson in the last engagement with the Committee.  With the transitional provisions of section 34, the Secretary received regular progress reports on the establishment of provincial secretaries at the quarterly HOD forum.

Mid-Year Review on the performance of Civilian Secretariat for Police 
Ms Fourie noted the purpose of the briefing was appraise the Committee of the programmatic performance of the Secretariat for the periods April 2014 to September 2014, it was prudent to provide the Committee with a cursory indication of the programmatic priorities for the period October 2014 to December 2014 and to present a report on expenditure for the first two quarters of the 2014/15 financial year.

Mr Willem Basson, CSP Director, took the Committee through intersectoral coordination and strategic partnerships looking at intergovernmental, civil society and public-private partnerships and community outreach highlighting targets and its achievement.

Ms Bilkis Omar, CSP Chief Director: Policy and Research, outlined policy development and research noting the White Paper on Policing which would be advertised for public comment in December and would be finalised in January. There were also the trend reports on the anti-gang diagnostic assessment and report on drug trafficking.

Ms Dawn Bell, CSP Chief Director: Legal, highlighted the Secretariat had met its target for the Animal Movement and Produce Bill to repeal the Stock Theft Act and the comments would be factored into the draft Amendment Bill to be prepared to be sent to Cabinet at the end of January 2015for approval before it was introduced to Parliament at the end of February 2015. The Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorists and Related Activities Amendment Bill was almost complete and the Secretariat held a number of engagements on this Bill with stakeholders. The Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act was not yet put into operation. The draft regulations were to be published in the Gazette for public comments before the Act was put into operation. 

Ms Kewuti briefed the Committee on civilian oversight, monitoring and evaluation noting the Secretariat overachieved it target of the number of oversight visits to police stations conducted per year, was on target with the number of service delivery trend analysis reports and the number of SAPS budget programme performance assessment reports. The Secretariat also met its target of one report on SAPS implementation of IPID recommendations while because of a lack of capacity, the Secretariat contracted out the collection of data for its interesting study on public order policing.   

An official from the Secretariat noted that with human resource management, the Secretariat had 121 funded posts, 107 posts filled, 88& of personnel in the approved establishment, 14 vacant posts which was a 12% vacancy rate. The critical posts not filled included the director of IT, director of fraud and the Secretary. The reasons for posts not being filled included disputes, declining of offers and promotion from within which represented the “leaking basket” analogy. These posts however would be filled by 31 December 2014.

Mr Kibiti Lephoto, CSP CFO, outlined the Secretariat was in the process of finalising the appointment of an audit committee, the process of short listing and interviewing prospective candidates was taking place for an independent person to chair the risk management commit was underway. The three-year internal audit plan was finalised and was awaiting approval by the audit committee while two audit reports had been completed. The risk manager was appointed in July 2014. 

With finance and supply chain management, the mid-term budget review was performed, the demand management plans were submitted to Treasury, asset verification was conducted and the ICT application system was developed in consultation with Treasury and State Information Technology Agency (SITA) where the infrastructure roll out was still awaited. 

Expenditure was up at 34.4% excluding commitments. If the commitments and outstanding payments were taken into consideration, the expenditure would be at 37.4%.  On a straight line projection, the ideal spending percentage would have been around 50% which made the Department under spending with more than 15.6% which was about R15.6% which was about R15.6 million. Looking at the second quarter breakdown of expenditure per economic classification, it was explained there was accounting on the basis of modified cash flow and not accrual basis so the expenditure recorded was actual cash-flow and was brought into sharp focus seeing as Secretariat was in transition to becoming designated department. There were costs incurred because funds had not yet been spent on. An example was the ICT infrastructure where the cost was currently carried by SAPS and once all functions were transferred to the Secretariat, SAPS would need to be refunded. SITA estimated the ICT infrastructure and support would cost R17 million which far exceeded the Secretariat’s under spending in this regard. There were other overheads which SAPS was getting on behalf of the Secretariat.  Compensation of employees was at 37.1% spending overall and the main reason was the 24 vacant posts in the Department and the outstanding notches and merits for 2013/14. Although the administration programme was overspending due to the small allocated budget on goods and services (which would be corrected in the Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure). The legislation, policy and monitoring and evaluation programmes were only at about 26% average spending on goods and services. During the AENE process, a  re-evaluation of the good and services budget was done in order to relief the pressure on administration as the move towards a designed department was bringing expenditure not taking into account during the previous budget cycle processes.

The Chairperson thought it was important that for the first time the Secretariat was complying with Section 13 of its own Act in submitting this Report and the Committee applauded this compliance.

Ms Molebatsi wanted to be provided with the number of consultative forums held with IPID to date. Why did the Secretariat fail to table quarterly reports as mandated through Section 13 of the Act?

Ms Fourie indicated the Secretariat failed to get verification from the former Secretary because she was a bit tied but going forward, these forums would be happening regularly with the first one for this period scheduled for next week.

Ms Mmola asked if the vacant posts were being advertised and if so, when would the appointments be made.

Ms Fourie said the closing date for applications for the position of Secretary was 31 October but there had been concern that people might have been disadvantaged because of the Post Office strike. Nevertheless she had no knowledge that this was a problem and a significant number of applications had been received and the process would now be handed over to the Ministry.   

Mr Mbhele was concerned about unfunded mandates in that some provincial secretaries were not appointed and this was reflected in the uneven outputs seen in the last presentation. In the foreseeable future, as the Secretariat moved to be being a designated Department, was there any sort of funding or subsidisation going to the provincial secretariats in the short term? Which service provider was contracted for the collection of data for the public order police survey?

Mr Basson explained the process of appointing provincial secretariats were underway and the positions of provincial secretaries were advertised. All provinces were aligned with the new budget and programming structure.

Ms Kewuti said the service provider contracted to collect data on the public order policing study was Limtech. 

Ms Kohler Barnard had an issue with public hearings not done on the firearm legislation – when would the public hearing process be done? She was a bit concerned that the Bill was legislating core processes. 

Ms Fourie noted legislation was just one of the pillars used in order to alleviate the challenges with the firearm registry and the legislation was not being used as a scapegoat.

Mr Amichand Soman, CSP Director: Legal Services, added the transitional provision in the amendment Bill dealt with providing a period a period of two years for the licences issued in terms of the Repealed Arms and Ammunition Act to be renewed without any fear of prosecution. This arose out of a court challenge and interim order and the Chief State Law Advisor indicated this was a constitutional provision. The idea behind the amendment was to have one legal regime to regulate the control and management of firearms.  The Repealed Arms and Ammunition Act made no provision for a competence certificate as a prerequisite to own a firearm while the new legal framework made this provision to prevent firearms from getting in the hand of “irresponsible” users.

The Chairperson asked when the Secretariat would submit the reports required. He was concerned about December/January, as a holiday period, for the advertisement of comments on the White Paper and when would this matter come before the Committee?

Ms Fourie replied that the Secretariat was conscious of the fact that the December period was a quiet one and optimal feedback might not be received. The White Paper on Policing and the Firearms Control Amendment Bill would then be taken to the last Cabinet meeting and the Secretariat was hoping to piggy-back on the parliamentary process of public hearings. A preliminarily consultative meeting was held on the White Paper on 28 and 29 October and then it would be gazetted and both sets of comments would be considered. 

Ms Molebatsi asked why the Secretariat did not present anything since its 2012/13 analysis of SAPS budget in March – why was this? She wanted a breakdown of all civil society partnerships entered into and the nature of these partnerships.

Mr Basson said the definition of civil society did not include NGOs but only applied to organised aspects of the public like trade unions and churches. The Secretariat had a relationship with a number of trade unions and traditional leaders. 

Ms Kewuti said this presentation was requested by the Committee but the reports had since been compiled on a six-monthly basis. It needed to be clarified whether the Committee expected these reports to be tabled as well. Direction needed to be sought from the Committee in this regard. On civil society partnerships, the Secretariat established a reference group on all issues related to gender-based violence. It found the group was too huge so working groups were established with one on DVA, one on child justice and others. This information was previously forwarded to the Committee.

Mr Twala questioned the relationship between IPID and the Secretariat – were meetings happening between the two and if not, why not? How was the Secretariat able to verify information received by IPID on SAPS?

Ms Kewuti explained the Secretariat was chairing a technical committee which fed into the consultative forum with IPID. Monthly meetings were held. Verification was needed from IPID in terms of the actual cases and this would be forwarded to SAPS where the cases would be scrutinised. A report was then sent to the Minister to this effect.

The Chairperson highlighted the Committee still required the trend analysis report and visit of stations report.

Firearms Control Amendment Bill, 2014
Mr Soman provided some background to the Firearms Control Amendment Bill which sought to strengthen the Firearms Control Act, 2000 (“the principal Act”) by addressing identified gaps and weaknesses, in addition to inserting new clauses. The Bill was drafted by a joint drafting team consisting of legal officials of the Civilian Secretariat and SAPS. The Bill was presented to the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Development Committee on the 29 September 2014 and approval was given for the Bill to be submitted to the JCPS Directors General Committee. Some of the gaps and weakness in the principal Act emanated from the report and recommendations of a Task Team appointed by the previous Minister of Police to enquire into the functioning of the Central Firearms Register. In addition, some deficiencies in the Firearms Control Amendment Act, 2006 (Act No. 28 of 2006) were also identified and addressed in the Bill. Whilst consultations were held with some identified stakeholders, the Bill was not published in the Gazette for public comments as originally intended. The visit of the Portfolio Committee to the Central Firearm Registry in SAPS on the 23 September 2014 resulted in the Committee requesting the Civilian Secretariat for Police to urgently submit the Bill to Parliament during October 2014. The Bill had already been submitted to the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser for preliminary certification. The Bill was submitted to the JCPS Cabinet Committee meeting on 30 October 2014.

Turning to the main provision, Mr Soman said the Bill dealt with mainly technical amendments. The following key amendments were, however, highlighted –

Clause 2 provided for accredited associations in respect of sports shooting, hunting, including professional hunting, as well as firearms collectors to verify applications for possession of firearms and ammunition made by members of the association, the suitability of the firearm applied for and the motivation for the application.

Clause 4 amended section 10 of the Act by seeking to make all competency certificates issued in terms of this section valid for 10 years from the date of issue, thereby providing for a uniform period of validity. The amendment also sought to make a competency certificate to possess a firearm as a private collector to be also valid for an application to possess a firearm for self-defence, occasional hunting or occasional sports shooting purposes. A competency certificate was a prerequisite for issuing a firearm licence.

Clause 6 amended section 15 of the principal Act by providing that a fifth licence relating to a cap-and-ball firearm may be issued to a person who already held the maximum licences permitted under both section 13 and 15 of the principal Act. Section 13 provided that no person may hold more than one licence for self-defence purposes and section 15 provided that, where a person already held a self defence licence, such person may not hold more than three licences issued under section 15 (a handgun, or a rifle or shotgun which was not a restricted firearm).

Clause 9 placed an obligation on owners of firearms licensed for private security business purposes to have their firearms ballistically sampled in accordance with a programme published by the Minister in the Gazette. It also provided that whenever a firearms licence in the possession of a private security service provider was renewed or there was a change of ownership, the original owner must ensure that the firearm was submitted to the Designated Firearms Officer (DFO) for ballistic sampling before the renewal or before the ownership was transferred

Clause 21 provided for the ballistic testing of firearms in possession of official institutions and for the results of ballistic sampling to be placed on the Integrated Ballistic Identification System (IBIS) for purposes of investigating crimes committed with firearms. It also provided for the Minister, by notice in the Gazette, to determine the date by which firearms in the possession of an official institution must be ballistically sampled.

Clause 22 provided for a Designated Firearms Officer to be designated at each police station to improve control over firearms in possession of the police and other official institutions and private security service providers. The clause made the DFO responsible solely for matters relating to the Act and placed clear duties that the DFO must perform. These duties included –
- processing of applications for competency certificates, licences and authorisations;
- ensuring compliance by police members  regarding the possession and use of  official firearms, as well as ensuring that official firearms were issued to a member who had undergone the prescribed competency test  and  had been issued with a permit to possess such firearm;
- conducting inspections at official institutions and business premises of private security service providers;
- ensuring that all firearms and ammunition destined for destruction were inspected  by the SA Heritage Resources Agency as well as submitted to the Forensic Science Laboratory for ballistic tests.

Clause 23 placed duties on commanders and station commissioners with regard to firearms kept at police stations; disciplinary steps to be taken against members who had lost firearms; the reporting of losses of official firearms and ammunition and the investigation of such losses; the regular and random inspections of official registers.

Clause 24 provided for the Minister to appoint at least five members of the Appeal Board, instead of a maximum of five members, to take into account the workload of the Board or other exceptional circumstances. In addition, the clause clearly delineated the functions of the Board.

Clause 28 provided for a transitional provision in respect of the licensing of percussion/cap-and-ball firearms by providing a period of 18 months to license percussion/cap-and-ball firearms without fear of prosecution.  The clause also provided that all official institutions must within one year comply with Chapter 11 of the Act that related to the possession and use of firearms by official institutions and the keeping of Registers. The clause provided that firearms licences issued under the repealed Arms and Ammunition Act, 1969 will remain valid for a period of two years from the coming into operation of the Firearms Control Amendment Act. This transitional provision sought to address the High Court interim order that recognized the validity of licences issued under the Arms and Ammunition Act.  The matter cannot be resolved other than by means of an amendment to the principal Act as the transitional period of the re-licensing had expired. The transitional provision in the Bill provided for the period within which all licences issued under the Arms and Ammunition Act must be renewed, but that the number of firearms that will be re-licensed will be restricted to the number in the principal Act.

Mr Soman noted that the Secretariat had consulted with interested groups including dealers, collectors and trainers. These groups included –
- International Firearms Training Academy (IFTA)
- Professional Hunters Association (PHASA)
- SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association
- SA Gun Owners Association
- SA Wing Shooters Association
- SA Sports Shooting Federation.

The provisions relating to percussion/cap-and-ball firearms were inserted following representations by the National Association of Arms and Ammunition Collectors of South Africa (NAACSA).

With organisational and personnel implications, the appointment of Designated Firearms Officers at each police station and the training of DFOs will spread the workload and improve the application process as well as access by the public to services. The appointment of additional members to the Appeal Board will enhance the capacity of the Board to deal with appeals more effectively and speedily and the Central Firearms Registry (CFR) in SAPS was developing a turn-around strategy to improve the functioning of the CFR and the implementation of the Act.

On the Bill’s financial implications for the state, the additional costs such as the appointment of additional members to the Appeal Board, will be provided for in the budget of the Civilian Secretariat for Police; the costs for the appointment and training of Designated Firearm Officers for each police station will be borne by SAPS; the costs relating to ballistic sampling of firearms will be borne by the licence holder and, where applicable, official institutions. In terms of parliamentary process, the Bill should be dealt with in terms of the procedure established by section 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996, since it contained no provision to which the procedure set out in section 74 or 76 of the Constitution applied. Importantly, the draft Bill had already been submitted the Office of the Chief State Law Adviser for certification. The Chief State Law Adviser had indicated that certification was being given priority attention.

The Chairperson thought the briefing was very valuable. He suggested the Committee have a dialogue on this matter in February 2015 because there was debate in communities about guns. It was a new Committee and perhaps a study could be compiled by the Parliamentary Researchers and Secretariat on what the current firearm regime was in the SADC countries and one or other jurisdictions as well and the current state of firearm management in these countries. Broader, holistic issues of education, alcohol outlets in communities and the impact on firearms also needed to be looked at. Interested parties from all role-players could be invited to such a dialogue. The Committee needed to assess the environment – was it happy with the current Act, the gaps in the firearm registry and SAPS capacity and budget provisions to enforce gaps in the Act. Currently, 18 000 firearms were lost by private individuals so what was the role of ensuring individuals kept firearms safe? Members could invite organisations for a holistic and thorough walk-through of the environment for a day in February 2015.  

Ms Fourie, Acting Secretary: Civilian Secretariat for Police, thought this was a fundamental recommendation and was highly welcomed but she thought one day would be too little.

Ms Molebatsi asked for the view of the Secretariat on a firearm amnesty and voluntary handing in of firearms.

Mr Soman said the Act provided for the amnesty on firearms. There had been previous processes in this regard. Part of the problem was firearms handed in for destruction were landing in the hands of the wrong people so the provisions needed to be stronger here. 

The Chairperson noted this would be discussed in February because it was a contested notion.

Mr Groenewald asked if the Bill would be published in the Gazette because if it was not this was big mistake. The Bill must be published and there must be an opportunity for people to respond to these amendments. He agreed on a balanced view and he would like SAPS to come forward with more statistics on firearms involved in violent crime. For example, how many violent crimes had been committed by legal owners? Without these statistics, sweeping statements were made.

Ms Fourie said the Bill would definitely be gazetted. Cabinet had referred the technical amendments back for more substance given the challenges currently facing South Africa. Once the Bill went back to Cabinet, it would be gazetted for public comment. Unfortunately this gazetting would take place in December/January for 30 days. The process could however be extended to mid-February for comments to be maximised.   

Mr Groenewald asked for an extension for the gazetting of the Bill because having the process over the holiday season would mean the public would say it was not fair. It should be handled fairly from the beginning.

Ms Kohler Barnard said no one with an illegal firearm would queue up to get a competency certificate and then apply for a firearm licence. The Act was then dealing with legal firearm owners and technical amendments were welcomed where necessary for tweaking processes. She wanted to know what the cost implications would be, for example, ballistics tests on private security industries. It might be difficult to pass something which placed a massive onus on firms because the law currently said a firearm may only be tested if suspected it was used in criminal activity.

Closing comments
The Chairperson noted that the Committee would be meeting with IPID next week. Today was an important engagement and it was critical to look at firearms control and management in February. A date would be decided on at a later stage.

The meeting was adjourned.

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