The Committee engaged in a robust discussion with the Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, on the recent suspension of the head of the Directorate for Priority Crimes (DPCI/Hawks), Lt Gen Anwa Dramat. The Minister first provided a briefing on the matter and noted how in October 2014 he formed a reference group to look at alleged misconduct, corruption and atrocities within the South African Police Force. He described the illegal arrest and deportation of two Zimbabwean nationals by DPCI and who were subsequently murdered allegedly by the Zimbabwean police. He was reminded of the brutal apartheid cross border raids. Thereafter he spoke about the grounds for suspension of the DPCI head on 23 December 2014 as laid out by the Public Service Act and the labour relations framework which encompassed employer-employee relations. This was challenged in court by the Helen Suzman Foundation. The Minister then defended the suspension, stating that this was not an instance of political partisanship but the defence of human rights and the obligation to prevent dehumanisation of blacks and Africans in particular. He sketched SA’s painful colonial racial background and asserted that there would have been more of an outcry if the victims had been white. Human rights could not be trumped by institutional arrangements and political partisanship forwarded by neo-colonial apologists and their media sympathisers.
The Committee engaged the Minister on concerns about leadership stability to ensure good governance and management and the possible negative effect the developments carried. Members asked if cases would be moved or planned to be moved from the DPCI and if the institution's mandate was to be interrupted at all. Some Members were disappointed that race was brought into the debate and questioned the legal advice the Minister had received which would ultimately cost the taxpayer due to lost cases. Consensus was reached that further and full engagement was needed with the Minister for Members to be informed of what information the Minister was using as his basis for action. Some Members stated that they were shocked the country had come to a standstill because of Zimbabwean nationals who were often complicit in crime in SA. Other Members commented that smoke and mirrors were at play. It was suggested that the Minister was creating a false dichotomy between human rights and issues of institutional leadership – the issues were part of a continuum and not exclusive of each other. Strong, independent institutions were needed to counter abuse of power and strengthen accountability in defence of human rights. The Minister faced many questions. These included whether the President was involved, if he had had talks with the President’s lawyer, if the Minister had pressured Lt Gen Dramat to step aside, if he was aware of death threats against Lt Gen Dramat and his family, if the Minister needed the Committee’s protection against executive pressure, who gave the acting head of the Hawks the power to make sweeping changes if he was just a 60-day gate keeper, as well as querying the protection of key witnesses in the case.
The Committee decided to give its Members time to consult before it decided on the request by the Minister for the Committee to institute processes in the suspension of Lt Gen Dramat, as contained in a letter to the Chairperson.
The Committee was then briefed by the SA Police Service (SAPS) National Commissioner, Ms Riah Phiyega, on progress in the implementation of Committee recommendations as contained in the Committee's 2014 Budgetary Review & Recommendations Report (BRRR). The Department was the first to begin this process within government of reporting back to its parliamentary committee. The National Commissioner outlined which recommendations were still in progress across the programmes of Administration, Detective Services, Crime Intelligence and Visible Policing.
Members engaged on how discipline of police members would be addressed. This was linked to discussion on the demilitarisation and professionalization of the service as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP). This was seen as key as many within SAPS had a defence force mentality where the public was seen as the enemy. Eradicating apartheid era ranks was critical to this process. Members were concerned about the ownership of illegal firearms by foreign nationals in SA, defective police vehicles and their abuse; and if the financial status of SAPS members could be considered as part of employee health and wellness given the escalating corruption in the service. Other talking points included the introduction of policing in the school curriculum, results in the training of cluster commanders and detectives and the performance of SAPS in high profile cases. Attention needed to be paid to filling the CFO vacancy, consultation with DPCI, sexual offence convictions, and advancing SMS notifications beyond when cases were opened at stations but to actually communicating progress in these cases.
Chairperson’s Introductory Remarks
The Chairperson outlined the Committee’s programme for the next ten days, starting that day with the departmental response to the Committee’s Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), including its entities, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP). Tomorrow, the Committee would look at a combined presentation on disciplinary recommendations. Committee oversight would take place from 31 January to 6 February, focusing on border management, public order policing and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) team involved with rhino poaching.
The Chairperson highlighted two issues which came to the fore recently, including the Constitutional Court judgement which had been distributed to Members. The parliamentary legal advisors could discuss this with Members in a few weeks' time. There were also the recent attacks in townships and the ensuing allegations against SAPS. The Committee called on SAPS management to take strong steps against any members involved and the Committee welcomed the arrest of errant SAPS members in the Northern Cape. A number of members were also killed during the holiday season and the Committee sympathised with their families. He complimented the police on work carried out during the festive season. The opening of Parliament was also an important matter and the Committee was hoping for an update from the National Commissioner in the next few days on this.
The Chairperson noted that during December 2014, the head of the DPCI (also known as the Hawks) was suspended by the Minister after which the Committee sought interaction with the Minister on the matter. The Chairperson then wrote to the Minister inviting him to brief the Committee on these matters. Since the start of the fifth term of Parliament, there had been a range of interactions with the DPCI with meetings on 17 September and 15 October 2014 as well as the interaction with the Inspecting Judge. The Committee adopted four resolutions with regard to the Hawks covering independence, budget allocation etc. No one could disagree that an effective organised crime fighting entity was crucial along with leadership stability. It was the role of the Committee to ascertain the matter and decide on the steps moving forward to ensure stability and that priority crimes receive the necessary attention. The Chairperson received a letter from the Minister last night which would be made available to Members for discussion.
Minister of Police on recent developments in Directorate for Priority Crimes (DPCI) leadership
Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko, explained his presentation would cover three broad areas: what happened (processes; legal issues), what to make of this development and circumstance and what needed to be done. Upon assuming duty, the Minister was inundated with files of alleged misconduct, corruption and atrocities within SAPS. As the Minister of Police, and with his oversight role over SAPS and the DPCI derived from the Constitution, he felt duty bound to not ignore the allegations. In October 2014, he established the reference group to look into these allegations and to provide him with a report that would enable him to act from an informed base. The reference group provided him with a first draft report in December 2014. Amongst the issues brought before him were the allegations of the renditions or illegal arrest and unlawful deportation of Zimbabwean nationals which had occurred in November 2010. Two Zimbabwean nationals who were unlawfully handed over were subsequently murdered allegedly by the Zimbabwean police. He was worried if the allegations were true, members of the DPCI were involved in “smuggling out” from RSA, human beings, whether South Africans or not, in order for them to be tortured and killed outside SA, with the country’s constitution democracy was in danger and the rule of law subverted. He was reminded of the apartheid era cross border raids in which freedom fighters were abducted, kidnapped and killed without a trace. Allegations made in witness statements in the IPID report as well as other documents, which cannot at this stage be disclosed, place members of the DPCI and its head at the centre of this alleged illegal rendition. A return of the vile past would sadly be doomsday for our constitutional democracy and the rule of law, especially if perpetrated by members of an agency such as the DPCI which was established by statute, specifically to uphold the Constitution and protect our freedom.
In order to further assess the merits of the allegations, particularly against the head of the DPCI, the Minister needed to conduct preliminary enquiries to consider whether the allegations were substantive enough to bring the matter before Parliament whose powers should only be invoked if the intention was to remove. Such enquiries needed to be conducted given the IPID report that had been referred to the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP). Such enquiries needed to be conducted given the IPID report that had been referred to the NDPP for further investigation. Clarity also needed to be attained as to why the DPCI did not deem it necessary to place such a priority crime at the top of its investigation list taking into account the SA government’s standing and obligation and role of the SADC protocol. Whereas there was no extradition treaty between Zimbabwe and SA, an application could have been made in accordance with the statutory law of Zimbabwe. This was not done hence it was illegal. Additionally SA was party to a number of international instruments.
The Minister regarded accountability as a hallmark of a constitutional democracy especially from a high office such as the DPCI. He was further compelled, in terms of accountability within the parameters of his statutory powers, to act against such heinous crimes. It did not matter that the victims were Zimbabwean. Life was life and must be valued equally irrespective of social status, origin, colour, sex or creed. For these reasons, he deemed it important that the allegations be examined further and he proceeded to suspend Lt Gen Anwa Dramat with full pay and benefits on 23 December 2014. In terms of section 3 of the Public Service Act (PSA), the Minister was the employer in the Public Servant within the Department and executive authority. Lt Gen Dramat was a senior management employee and the SMS handbook was applicable unless excluded by legislation. The Labour Relations Act did not exclude Lt Gen Dramat from its application. As an ordinary employee, he was subjected to the ordinary discipline that an employer was entitled to mete-out on an employee subject to the safeguards the Constitutional Court had already alluded to in its judgement of 27 November 2014. The Ministers right to suspend Lt Gen Dramat was challenged by the Helen Suzman Foundation (HSF) on 9 January 2015 and the matter was currently before court.
The Minister outlined that a certain angle had developed on this story where political partisanship were the real motivation behind the steps taken. Another angle was that the Minister was in contempt of court. He assured the Members this was not true. He raised the point that there was a dehumanisation of blacks in general and Africans in general. The 1910 Act of the Union established the principle of racism as the founding basis of SA law. Three years later this was accompanied by the Native Land Act of 1913 placing the seal of the state and law on the military conquest and dispossession of our people. Over 200 years of wars of conquest destroyed African societies, building in their place, a thriving capitalist system based on mining, commercial farming and secondary industry, controlled and dominated by a class drawn from white minority. The state institutions at the time, laws and apartheid practices were simply devices developed to ensure capital accumulation through the exploitation of the black majority as a source of cheap labour. Through this process, Africans lost their freedom, land, means of livelihood, skills and dignity. In the eyes of some among the coloniser, the African became so less human, they would shoot and state they saw a baboon. That was how deep the scorn of the hatred and prejudice against the African can be. Given this history, the Minister was convinced that because the lives of black people were at stake, all the erstwhile colonial forces could do was prop-up the debate about institutional arrangements of the Hawks. Had the lives of white people be involved, the debate and headlines would have been about human rights. The Minister believed Helen Suzman herself would have spoken on the side of the victims and upheld the observance of fundamental human rights regardless of the victim’s skin colour. It was no accident that when the issue of fundamental human rights was raised, neo-colonialist apologists and some of their media sympathisers elect to frame the matter as if it was about institutional arrangements and political partisanships. They had no history of real commitment to human rights. Their racial prejudices and partisanship blinded them from comprehending and appreciating the essence of the processes, leaving them only to see the appearance of phenomena. They benefitted from crimes against humanity and for that they would not apologise. They were not ashamed of having been beneficiaries of a deeply shameful past. Their lack of participation in real efforts aimed at eradicating the legacy of oppression and exploitation, coupled with their half-hearted commitment to building a better future for all, deformed their perspective.
In 1989, the ANC produced a document “Constitutional Guidelines for a Democratic SA” stating that the “Constitution must give firm protection to the fundamental human rights of all citizens”. Despite all the political and legal obstacles, the truth shall be uncovered. He was certain that none were fooled by the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The Minister concluded it was important that as South Africans we should begin to confront many of our ills in society. Society was confronted by a bastion, well resourced and well educated in colonial cultures and values. A culture deeply rooted in exclusivism, clothed in the so-called protection of minority interests. A bastion hell bent to undermine the will of the people to protect its ill gotten immense wealth. He noted there were certain disturbing developments that had occurred including that some of the critical witnesses that had filed sworn statements in regard to this incident had since died under questionable circumstances. The question then was how many people had to die before he took action? For this reason the Minister requested the Committee to initiate proceedings for the removal of the head of the DPCI as contemplated in section 17DA (3) (4) read with section 17DA (5) of the SAPS Act (1995) as amended.
The Chairperson noted copies of the letter by the Minister would be made available for Members to study and for a decision to be made on the way forward. He thought stability of leadership, especially in the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster was important and wanted to know if Lt Gen Dramat was in an acting position before his suspension. Was the process underway to fill this vacancy? Could the Minister assure the Committee that there was appropriate financial and managerial control with the acting head of the DPCI to ensure good governance in the institution.
Minister Nhleko responded he had a duty to resuscitate the process of filling the vacancy. What had not been said, was that the current acting Hawks head, Maj. Gen. Berning Ntlemeza, had many years of experience and was quite a seasoned police official. He was also not new to the DPCI environment. Before the Minister appointed him as acting Hawks head, Maj. Gen. Ntlemeza was the Deputy Provincial Commissioner in Limpopo. Maj. Gen. Ntlemeza was well exposed to management issues given that he came from the management core in Limpopo so this should not be a problem.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) thanked the Minister for shedding some light and wanted to know if there were any treaties flouted in this process. She commented on the apparent change of heart as the HSF was one of the organisations challenging the establishment of the DPCI including the election of its head – was there an agenda bringing about this change of heart?
Minister Nhleko said the SA 1967 Extradition Act was flouted along with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) protocols on extradition. The 1964 United Nations (UN) Convention against Torture was also flouted – a number of legal instruments and regional and international protocols were flouted in this regard. It was difficult for him to comment on the change of heart of the HSF because he did not know the organisation and had only heard about it a year or two ago. He would not know if there was ever a heart or if there was, if it had been changed. He pointed out that the impression created was that Lt Gen Dramat was part of the HSF action against SAPS and this was not true. Lt Gen Dramat did not file any supporting affidavit of the HSF and had not stated his support of the HSF pursuing a case in his name and on his behalf. The Foundation also made it clear it was not advancing a case for Lt Gen Dramat but this had subsequently changed because this was the person the Foundation was representing yet Lt Gen Dramat had himself not said that he consented to this or instructed this representation. This was a strange matter in itself.
Mr J Maake (ANC) found it very interesting listening to the Minister and thought he was hoodwinked by not thinking about the people illegally deported and subsequently killed. He only thought about what the newspapers were reporting on the illegal removal of the head of the DPCI. No one talked about the Zimbabweans who died including the HSF – he found this very interesting. He now saw things in a different perspective and more attention needed to be paid to this including in the media. The fact that a person was removed from his position was a technical matter while the core of the matter was human rights.
Minister Nhleko agreed the issue was about human rights and their violations conducted in the name of SAPS and the state. The reasoning that placed the processes of institutions above that of life was devoid of compassion. The children of Witness Ndeya and others deserved justice. Shepard Tshuma and Gordon Dube were real human beings deserving justice and to be spoken about, not institutional arrangements. People should be concerning themselves with if this matter occurred and if it did, were all instruments and protocols properly followed. Furthermore, were the people involved treated properly and adequately as human beings? All South Africans should be highly concerned about this matter.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) thanked the Minister for providing the Committee with good information. She asked if the head of the DPCI submitted any affidavit before the court to clarify his position. Was the DPCI affected negatively by the removal of Lt Gen Dramat – if yes, in what way? What measures had been put in place to ensure the DPCI continued with its mandate uninterrupted? Had any cases migrated from DPCI to detective services – if so, why? If not, were there any plans for this in the future?
The Chairperson reminded Members of the briefing they received 17 September 2014 which pertained to the last question the Member asked.
Minister Nhleko noted DPCI was an institution and was not one person therefore it continued to work on investigations on a day to day basis. In this week, public announcements had been made on the progress the Directorate was making on a number of cases. There was a tendency to associate a person, as a human individual, with an institution and this in itself bedevilled governance in a way, for example, SAPS would continue with or without the Minister.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) noted the conduct of the police in conducting crime was mentioned in the presentation where it was found the members themselves were found to be the culprits. This was a serious issue no one could disagree with and such conduct could not be condoned or supported. Corrective actions must be supported. He did not quite understand what the statement of IPID in relation to this matter suggested because the media also reported conflicted accounts. For clarity, it would be appropriate the Minister explained this to the Committee.
Minister Nhleko noted the Member had not seen what the Minister had seen with the statements ad serious allegations implicating a number of operatives as contained in the IPID report. The report had been sent to the National Director of Public Prosecutions and had been sitting there for some time. Whether prosecution would ensue or not was a different matter all together. Reports of institutions such as IPID were not to make judgements or findings because due process first needed to take place. Such reports made recommendations. The issue would become clearer once the Committee adopted a resolution and a process was started which would compel the Minister to release reports to the jurisdiction of the Committee. Members could then make their own conclusions on the IPID report. Everyone should be concerned with police conduct and spoke to the need to confront the core issue of the extent to which the culture and manner of doing things within policing had been transformed. Transformation was not an event but a process. When the Minister was looking into this occurrence, it transpired that this was probably not the first time it had happened. He would also follow up on another situation which had transpired of a man that was just plucked out of Zimbabwe, made to stand trial was serving a sentence in SA. The allegation was that the same sort of modus operandi had been used and the necessary procedures were not followed with regard to deportation. There would be a problem if this issue kept repeating itself.
Ms L Mabija (ANC) thanked the Minister for a cogent presentation.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) was quite frank and told the Minister it was quite clear his advisers and civil servants worked hard in creating smoke and mirrors. The argument of the Minister was that (1) he did not use deleted sections of the SAPS Act but that he used the Public Service Act and (2) there was an obligation on the Minister to ensure there was no violation of human rights. He found it disappointing that the Minister brought race into the matter by saying that if white people had been killed there would be an outcry. He thought SA should move on as it was 2015. He supported the Minister to ensure no human rights were violated in SA as was the Ministers duty to act accordingly but he was astounded that the Minister was legally advised to use the PSA. SA was a constitutional democracy and there was a clear finding by the Constitutional Court that the head of the DPCI could not be suspended or removed without the following of the procedures spelled out in the finding involving the Committee. A first year law student would say the Con. Court finding was applicable to all legislation in SA. The Minister, following his legal advice, was wasting tax payer’s money and all his legal advisers should be fired. How did the Minister’s legal advisers justify using the PSA in light of the Con. Court finding? Why did the Minister not follow the correct procedure of coming to the Committee outlining the problem? Such a meeting could even be a closed one if needs be. He asked the Minister to stop further action because he would lose and waste taxpayer’s money. If the Minister lost, would he personally pay for the legal costs?
Minister Nhleko noted the Con. Court judgement developed a lacuna on the need for a trigger or something which informed particular action. Members would have no way of knowing what was contained in various reports like the IPID one without the Minister. The matter had now gone to a different court because he believed a different court was likely to arrive at a different conclusion. He did not know why the police and the DPCI was not viewed as part of the SA civil service where the PSA was applicable as if the only law that existed was the SAPS Act – this was absolutely not true. There were very few pieces of legislation in SA which had specific exclusions.
On the issue of race, the Minister did not elect to bring it into the issue but it was a factual matter that the narrative would have been fundamental different if the people involved indeed were white where human rights would be central issue. The Minister would then be questioned about what was being done about these violations. It was easy to turn a blind eye precisely because the people involved were not white but black and particularly, African. Not a single word was said in contempt of these allegations – this was a very strange coincidence. There were many proponents of democracy and constitutionalism yet human rights were fundamental to this but not one word was said about it – why? The Minister quoted what was said by Ms Kohler Barnard on 30 May 2008: “we do not have a border. The rest of Africa strolls in and out as they like. They use our hospitals, schools, settle here, eat our food and then we wonder about our budgets”. Was this not a matter of race? A matter of attitude? In light of this, he did not expect the Member to be up in arms about human rights given this kind of attitude. If these prejudices were not addressed amongst ourselves, this country would not be built in the manner it should. A blind eye could not afford to be turned. Race was fact in this matter along with the differentiated attitudes in society. It would also be completely wrong and inhumane to say that that which defined human life was black and African. Why did an NGO not take SAPS to court on allegations of illegal renditions? One should begin to think of the circumstances around this. A debate to confront such particular matters could not be avoided.
Mr L Twala (EFF) found the Ministers story to be primary underpinned by the issue of human rights and the need to act on these rights being violated. Members sat on the Committee and interfaced with the police in relation to issues of crime and how the Zimbabwean community was complicit in crime in SA – this was an issue beyond debate. He was shocked the country could almost come to a standstill because of police action taken against Zimbabweans. He appreciated and found the history and background behind human rights plausible but he was not convinced the Minister was acting because of human rights. It was imperative that Members interacted with the Minister through Committee where information could be divulged. He would love to see the IPID report which Members could interact with as he presumed the Minister acted in the manner in which he did based on this report. He did not think renditions were not a new thing in SA and no one got fired – why this time? Juxtaposing SAs history on these matters and the speed and zeal with which Lt Gen Dramat was handled, one began to wonder if the situation was as it was really presented. He urged the Minister to wait in implementing a decision which needed the Committee’s blessing. With renditions, there was always a story within a story and against this background, he proposed the Minister defer this matter until he engaged with Members in confidence and certain things could be divulged because Members knew things too. He requested the Minister and his team allowed for this space for engagement.
Minister Nhleko responded that the factual or statistical involvement of Zimbabweans in crime did not give the SAPS the right to act illegally. The law allowed for certain issues to be addressed through lawful processes. He could not turn a blind eye to Zimbabweans being handled in any kind of manner justified by the fact they were complicit in some crimes – this could not even be suggested for one second. Because some people were viewed negatively did not mean they had no rights and could be handled by state institutions in a way that negated the fact they were human beings. He appreciated what brought the Member to this view because everyone saw a conspiracy theory somewhere or scapegoat of sorts. This could not be done with issues of governance and constitutionality. Once the Committee moved forward with the process as the Minister requested, Members could become appraised with the reports and information the Minister was privy to. This could also help in erasing some of the doubts Members had.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) warned against the false dichotomy emerging during this session which Members should not be hoodwinked by. The Minister spoke about the importance of protecting human rights but this was exactly why strong, independent institutions were needed to strengthen accountability and counter power abuse. There was no false dichotomy between one or the other – the protection of human rights was not mutually exclusive from raising questions about organisational management and legal compliance in order to protect the independence of state institutions in order to counter power abuse. One key element of this architecture was the Hawks which had the power to investigate misconduct by those who were in power themselves. The best defence of human rights were strong independent institutions. These issues were part of the same continuum and not separate from each other. What was the purpose of the Minister requesting a Committee resolution if he believed the suspension he affected was fully lawful in and of itself based on the Labour Relations Act and the PSA – what would now be achieved by consulting Parliament and the Committee taking a resolution? Did the Minister believe the IPID findings in the report carried no weight and had no legal input? He wanted to gain clarity on how the Minister viewed IPID reports and recommendations.
Minister Nhleko found an interesting balance in the argument of the Member but noted the Member would find the debate in SA up until now, was not about human rights violations. He did not want to get into an analysis of the court judgements because the matter was in a way sub-judice but there would be an opportunity at a later stage to come back to these matters and a very wonderful debate could be had with the Member.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) was in Pretoria to hear the Ministers decision was invalid, unlawful and should be set aside as widely reported in the media. Despite having provided no evidence against Lt Gen Dramat at all at this stage, within hours there was a leave to appeal filed by the Minister. This matter was not about human rights or what may or may not have happened in terms of the Zimbabweans, the history of SA or Lt Gen Dramat. The issue was about what seemed to be the gross flouting of the Con. Court and legislation by a member of the executive. This was exactly why the DA and many others fought against the closure of the Scorpions to prevent this sort of political interference by a politician. This was why many entities were fighting to get the Hawks some semblance of independence out of the thumb of politicians. To her knowledge, the IPID report cleared Lt Gen Dramat and exonerated him totally. It was refreshing that a member of the executive admitted the Zimbabwean police did murder people at will and it was indeed a police state with no rule of law as we knew it. The decision taken by the Minister to suspend Lt Gen Dramat might well leave the Committee with a Police Minister who committed two legal acts. She asked the Minister if he would tender his resignation if this was the case because she could not see how a Minister of Police could conduct two illegal acts yet continued to fight for the right to do so. She was sure the Minister knew his actions were illegal because of the Con. Court judgement of 27 November 2014. Did the Minister inform the President’s lawyer, Mr Hulley, that this could not be done? Did Mr Hulley come back and instruct the Minister to do it anyway? What legal advice did the Minister take and from who? This was quite the most extraordinary legal advice anyone could have received. Was the President involved in any way? Was someone leaning on the Minister? Did the Minister need the protection of the Committee? Why did the, in her opinion, illegally appointed, acting head of the Hawks, Maj. Gen. Ntlemeza, feel he had the right to make permanent and fundamental changes to the Hawks if he was only a gate-keeper for 60 days? Who gave the permission for this close friend of Richard Mdluli to demand the provinces hand over various case files and sensitive dockets? Had the Minister at any stage pressure Lt Gen Dramat to step aside and leave the Hawks to a man who was illegally appointed as a care taker? Did the Minister know of any death threats to Lt Gen Dramat’s life or that of his family? Had the Minister ever asked to meet with Lt Gen Dramat without his lawyer?
Minister Nhleko could tell by the manner the Member framed her questions that she had a journalistic background. When he assumed office as Minister he was confronted by many investigative reports on this matter and needed to decide on how to move forward. It was an anomaly that IPID reports cleared people. He certainly did not ask Lt Gen Dramat to step down. He had absolutely no preoccupation with someone who had to leave – his preoccupation was with how and what happened and everyone should be concerned about this. From there, it should be decided what needed to be fixed or loopholes closed. He agreed that the issue was not about Lt Gen Dramat but about the allegations and the issue of the violation of human rights.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) was concerned that many witnesses in this matter had died – why were they not put in the witness protection programme? Were the remaining witnesses under witness protection? It was important for the Committee to access the reports the Minister was privy to and informed some of the decisions he took as this would provide a clearer picture. One must be cognisant that processes must be followed otherwise it affected the case as a whole. Given the serious nature of the allegations against Lt Gen Dramat, when could a speedy conclusion to the matter be expected to ensure that SA’s relations with the other SADC countries and public opinion could be reinstated because right now it was at a low as people believed there was political interference?
Minister Nhleko noted the suspension letter itself to Lt Gen Dramat, in terms of the PSA and SMS handbook, spoke to a 60-day period. He also clarified that not many witnesses had died – he was aware of two witnesses thus far.
Mr M Booi (ANC) proceeded to pose his question.
Ms Kohler Barnard interrupted the Member as she noted he was not part of the Committee and so could not participate.
Mr Maake said the rules of Parliament stated Members could participate in all meetings except closed Committees. He urged that Members spoke through the Chairperson.
Mr Booi thought the Minister was on course and doing a tremendous job. He had due respect for the Con. Court but noted it was not without questioning. He thought the acting head of the Hawks was doing a very good job and the battle against crime was on course. Everyone was still waiting for Lt Gen Dramat to come forward and present his case. Suddenly Members were investigators – if Ms Kohler Barnard was an expert on Maj. Gen. Ntlemeza, what was she doing as a Member of Parliament? This should be a matter of concern. The ANC was convinced there was a case here as the Minister was a member of the party and the Minister had an obligation to ensure that all lives were being protected.
Minister Nhleko thanked the Member for his reflections on the matter. Some people knew the pain of having a relative simply disappear or killed without any explanation but they had accepted this and lived with the pain. It was because of knowing this kind of pain that it was vowed such action shall lever occur again. Insensitivity continued to be shown regardless of this painful past.
Mr Maake understood the request of the Minister for an investigation into these allegations. He did not think anyone was guilty as of now but these were serious allegations. No one was saying Lt Gen Dramat was guilty but that the allegations should be investigated and no one could be against this. Lt Gen Dramat needed to clear himself and he thought the outcome of the process would be recommendation that the issue went to court. He did not see any reason why the Committee should not do what the Minister was asking as serious allegations were involved. The Committee was obligated to do so. He did not think it was the intention of the Committee to remove anyone but to investigate although he was not a legal person.
Mr Shaik Emam sought clarity from the Minister to ensure the safety of remaining witnesses in order not to weaken the case.
The Minister noted he had not yet made an assessment on the issue of safety so he could not satisfactorily answer the Member’s question. A process of assessment and evaluation of witness safety needed to be conducted.
Mr Groenewald asked if the Con. Court found the extradition/rendition of the Zimbabweans unconstitutional.
Ms Kohler Barnard knew Lt Gen Dramat had not been arrested, charged, appeared in court or found guilty of anything to do with the Zimbabwean issue yet the Minister, in his letter, asked the Committee to kick Lt Gen Dramat out on grounds of misconduct and not being fit and proper to hold office. The Minister was predetermining an issue which had never come before the courts. The Minister was essentially asking the Committee to fire Lt Gen Dramat after he had illegally suspended him when there was not a shred of evidence. The Committee was not a court of law to determine whether Lt Gen Dramat was guilty or innocent – a judge needed to make such a decision. She found the letter of the Minister extremely offensive.
Minister Nhleko noted that this was how the matter was framed by the Con. Court on the basis of the judgement delivered 27 November 2014. The judgement created a lacuna in a sense. Removal was not a predetermination on the side of the Minister – his main focus was on establishing what actually happened. He urged the Member to read the Con. Court judgement as it framed his letter to the Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his attendance and Members for their interaction. Engagement on the matter was critical as the Committee carried out oversight over the police. Section 42 (3) of the Constitution mandated this oversight. The allegations involved were quite serious and he thought it appropriate Members be given until lunch to study the Minister’s letter. The legislative amendments affected by the Con. Court would also be copied for Members. He thought it appropriate that any action to be taken by the Committee be conducted in the public domain. He noted many proposals by the Members for the Committee to formally consider the issue. The decision would be taken after lunch. Surety about the leadership of the Hawks was important.
SAPS, IPID and Civilian Secretariat for Police on BRRR resolutions and recommendations
The Chairperson noted the Committee was the first one attending the responses to the BRRRs adopted in November 2014. He was pleased with and it showed commitment from the Departments.
SAPS Progress Report on the 2014 BRRR
Ms Riah Phiyega, SAPS National Commissioner, noted the presentation was also colour coordinated – yellow for the recommendations in progress and green for the recommendations which were implemented. The presentation would focus on the recommendations in progress. 24 recommendations were finalised and 19 were a work in progress. Turning to programme one: administration, the Nat. Comm. Noted that the Committee recommended that SAPS proceed with the demilitarisation process and timelines for the demilitarisation of SAPS. As this was a nebulous concept, part o SAPS’s implementation plan included holding conversations too ensure common comprehension of “demilitarisation”. In this regard, the first SAPS research colloquium in attendance with academics and subject matter experts, was held in Pretoria on 20-21 November 2014 to address the theme of demilitarisation and policing in a violent society. A follow up session with the SAPS tertiary forum will be held in March 2015. Other facets of demilitarisation as highlighted in the National Development Plan (NDP) were encapsulated in the SAPS strategic and annual performance plans. With the disciplinary code recommendation, the matter would be auctioned subsequently to the approval of the code by the Minster during the first quarter of 2015/16. In terms of the prioritisation of specialised units, in particular organised crimes and anti-corruption units, SAPS would provide updates on this progress through quarterly reports at the end of March 2015. The post of CFO was under consideration for filling and the outstanding reports from the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) into various contracts was still under investigation and the Committee would be notified of its finalisation. Another Committee recommendation under administration was for the crime stats to be incorporated into the SAPS annual report and tabled as a separate annexure. The stats should also be briefed to the Committee separately. The Nat. Comm. Ensured this would be done. A progress report on the IT governance framework would be submitted to the Committee in March 2015 with implementation of the maters raised by the Auditor-General. The criminality audit would be finalised in May 2015 and then made available to the Committee.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega turned to programme two: visible policing noting the Committee recommended that SAPS implemented the recommendations of the AG with respect to leadership at station and cluster level when it came to managing performance information on reaction times. The role of clusters was to ensure performance and compliance oversight on the stations was being enhanced through the implementation of the revised and refined cluster concept. The Committee recommended all recommendations made by the police inspectorate were compulsory and implemented by all SAPS members without delay. There should be no discretion on any of the recommendations of the inspectorate and the Committee was of the opinion that the Department must issue a national instruction in this regard before the end of the financial year. The Nat. Comm. Ensured the inspectorate and internal audit recommendations formed part of the combined assurance redial action plan implementation process. Additionally, the inspectorate reports had been presented in management platforms and were prioritised for implementation. The Committee would also be provided with a full report which covered measures at border posts to ensure effectiveness for the 2014/15 financial year and updated stats would be provided to the Committee during April 20015. Government, through the Department of Home Affairs, was establishing the border management agency as an integrated model through an integrated interdepartmental working team.
Programme three: detective services, a work session had been requested with the Minister and all other role players on the need or SAPS to clarify the migration f function and mandates of the organised crime and the commercial crime units from the DPCI. The Department would report on how it intended to maximise intra-organisational cooperation by end November 2014. SAPS was also recommended to look at outstanding feedback to be delivered on cases through SMS technology without delay. The inclusive technological capability had been scheduled for completion during the 2015/16 financial year with user requirement specifications finalised end of 2014/15.
In terms of programme four: crime intelligence, feedback would be provided to the Committee on all outstanding leadership vacancies and the vetting process. With the protection and security service, the inclusive recruitment strategy was being addressed for the policy of rotating VIP protection officers at national key points for health and wellness to be prioritised. This also applied to the retention strategy for VIP protection unit members. This also applied to clear career-pathing for members of the VIP protection unit which dealt with static security.
The Chairperson noted the occurrences in Soweto and other townships and the actions of some ill-disciplined police members. He welcomed the action taken so far but this dealt with discipline – what was being done to address this to ensure the protection of all people and SA. What was being done when this was not adhered to? What also came to the fore in the recent events was the ownership of illegal firearms by foreign nationals. It was quite important for there to be a national operation to look at the proliferation of firearms in this sector. The Chairperson, in January, visited the Paarl East police station in his constituency. Here, 12 out of the 19 visible policing vehicles were defective. This issue needed to be tackled if visible policing were to be successful. The issue was a big one and not just limited to this station. Perhaps the Committee could be briefed on this but action was needed.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega noted SAPS employed close to 200 000 members and in this environment one would find those errant members. She was truly appreciative of the community reports received. Policing was a highly regulated environment. Over the past financial year, 700 members were arrested for misconduct and ill-discipline. This was how seriously the matter was dealt with. The public was encouraged to come forward as it assisted with evidence against the errant member. It was a journey but she was committed to dealing with it.
She was bothered by the issue of illegal firearms with the issue coming from different angles including from within the country and those crossing the border illegally but the issue was flagged in the JCPS cluster.
Mr Shaik Emam asked, in light of the high unemployment rate, if policing could be introduced into the school curriculum for those pupils which had an interest from grade 10. This would ensure people went into an employment field of choice instead of just because employment was needed. He also wanted to know if financial status could be considered as part of health and wellness given the escalating corruption in the service. He echoed the sentiments of the Chairperson with the problem of road-worthy vehicles. Added to this was the abuse of state vehicles for private use. Perhaps there should be an awareness campaign for the community to counter this. He thought the SMS system for opening of cases worked very well but this was where the communication tended to stop. He had personal experience of this where officers did not communicate progress on cases.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega indicated the issue of vehicles was top of the agenda. This included restructured maintenance as the achievement of goals depended on this. Garages had been centralised as part of the turnaround strategy. A fleet of more than 50 000 cars was being managed through a mixed model – cars were now purchased with service contracts. Treasury had assisted with a tender in this regard. Artisans had also been trained in the garages along with garage commander training because at some stage, members not wanted were dumped in the garages. Vehicles were crucial in policing. A model and formulae had also been developed for the distribution of new vehicles where replacement occurred first – this was a crucial part of maintenance before new, pressing needs were looked at. There was also a focus on the responsible use of vehicles looking at the nature of accidents occurring, who was involved and recouping where there was negligence. Currently, around R10 million had been recouped from about 400 employees. This ensured responsible use of vehicles. The public was urged to be the eyes and ears if they witnessed cars being abused through tracking the registration number.
It was important to look at how the heart and love of policing could be introduced to students. There was a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Basic Education through school safety programmes. Schools, through the programme, were linked to stations with members adopting at least four schools to address safety issues. Part of this was addressing how to become a SAPS member and the other positions involved in SAPS. There were also open days to discuss careers in policing. There was a need to balance the aging side of the establishment and the incoming side. Graduates dealing with criminology and the related sciences were also be targeted to explore whether they could be recruited after some training.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega indicated financial wellbeing was crucial as many members were indebted as were other public servants, but more could be done. Institutions were provided assistance where it was needed.
With the SMSs, the platform was already there so it needed to be built on. The Committee could be briefed on this.
Ms Kohler Barnard thought the team was addressing the NDP point on the need to professionalise SAPS through extensive training and education – this was a very good start. However, the presentation did not make reference to the apartheid era ranks. Bheki Cele drove the process of the militarisation of SAPS and still insists on being called General. She believed the professionalization of the police was being addressed through education but the public perception of police also needed to be changed for it to be seen as a service to the community. Every single day, cops felt superior to civilians and she had spoken with the police who had seen civilians as the enemy – this was defence force speak and she was concerned there was no determination to change the ranks to deal with inspectors and commissioners.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega indicated civilians could never be seen as the enemy – this was a dreaded problem and could not be afforded. Citizens needed to be seen as the consumers of the service. Some positive responses was being seen through community engagement and awareness.
Mr Mbhele asked the Nat. Comm. to clarify what the presentation was referring to when it said “revision of the SAPS Training Curriculum to enhance local flavour and relevance towards producing the type of police South Africa wanted.
Mr Twala noted his passion with policing had always been with the capability of detectives. Would the Nat. Comm. say value for money was received for the funding allocated to training and requiring the detectives with skills with the aim of providing a better quality service? What was the experience coming from such courses in relation to outputs? Would there be a similar item in the next budget?
Nat. Comm. Phiyega noted the detective training remained on course. Some semblance of returns was seen in the fact that 1.7 million were arrested and the jails were full owing to investigation and prosecution. Detectives would continually be trained looking at new dynamics like cyber crime through refresher training.
Mr Groenewald sought a list of the outside academic institutions and research units which SAPS worked with on the tertiary forum. Were there any follow ups on how many times the revised community based recruitment strategies were published in newspapers? Would the criminality audit of the SAPS be publicised or made available to the public? He thought its finalisation should be speeded up for there to be a debate on criminality in SAPS.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega stated police criminality was a reportable matter where there were arrests. This was reported and collated on a weekly basis so that there would not be a backlog and for it to be worked into disciplinary matters. The numbers of the audit would be shared but the rights of the employees must be respected. Some of the information was already shared with the public.
Ms Mabija asked why the Cape Town metro did not attend the leadership training.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega noted the training was around equipping the metro who were often first on the scene and for the standardisation of skills. She did not know why the Cape metro did not join even though they were part of the association. They would be encouraged with the next round of training as everyone stood to benefit.
Mr Ramatlakane noted the demilitarisation of the police was important and the training was good but in dealing with 200 000 people, it was a tinkering in the mindset of transforming the police. Communication at senior management and leadership needed to lead the process and would be part of a complimentary plan. This would help in ensuring the process was not just a mechanical one.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega agreed with coupling training with change management. Leadership was a game changer and could drive and inspire the masses. Communication was crucial and resources had been allocated in this regard.
Ms Molebatsi listened to the SAPS spokesperson in December speaking on police members who committed crime being between the ages of 20 and 25 – did SAPS have a way of addressing and reducing this as it was very worrying. The country had recently had the high profile cases of Oscar Pistorius and Shrien Dewani. One of the shortcomings mentioned was the way witnesses were prepared- was there a way to address this? She asked if the implementation of the training of cluster commanders was being followed up. The DNA legislation came into being at the end of the month. According to the legislation, a board had to be established a month before the Act commenced but this had not yet occurred.
Nat. Comm. replied that she thought SAPS did well in the Pistorius case especially the performance of one of the majors. The DPCI handled the Dewani case and there were many lessons to be learnt in this regard. She was sure the DPCI was looking into these issues for engagement in the JCPS. There were many cases were SAPS performed well and she received letters of appreciation for the handling of cases. The performance was a mixed bag and complacency should not be settled for.
The training of cluster commanders was important for localised management and could yield many gains especially at a station level. Resources were allocated to this area for the pushing of parameters in terms of responses.
The Board for the DNA legislation was appointed by the Secretariat and the Minister. She hoped they were on course with this as the implementation plan of SAPS had already been finalised. She would check on the progress with the Secretariat on the appointment of the board.
Mr Maake thought the demilitarisation was more than the changing of ranks, although it was part of the process. He was not interested in what a police member was called – his main concern was dealing with crime. According to him, if a criminal had a gun he should be shot – there was no negotiation. How was the concept of demilitarisation being approached? Although demilitarisation was mentioned in the NDP, it was not unpacked except for changing the ranks.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega said the issue of demilitarisation was a wide one depending on what one believed. Other police agencies in the world had ranks in one way or another because it described the journey travelled in the service and what had been achieved. It also spoke to conduct and professionalization but it was important for a balance to be found. It was a fact that policing was occurring in a violent society and SAPS could only act after the fact apart from awareness and education which could occur pre-crimes. More needed to be done to deal with the violent nature of society and how it contributed to crime. Research into this would inform policing in such a violent society
Mr Ramatlakane saw reports this morning about a go-slow in the Northern Cape from what he understood, because of conflict between management and lower ranking officials between white and black. The report stated the grievances were taken to a provincial and national level but nothing had happened which resulted in a go-slow. Serious attention needed to be paid to this as it communicated a bad message and was distasteful. It also formed part of the transformation debate.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega explained SAPS was an essential service and there was no striking allowed. She would deal with this matter because discipline was critical in policing. There would be no negotiation on this.
Mr Shaik Emam thought that in terms of the Sexual Offences Act, it would appear there was a very low conviction rate. Were there any measures in place to try to address this serious challenge?
Nat. Comm. Phiyega said SAPS did very well in the area of sexual offences convictions last year. Last year alone there were 645 convictions with 1832 life sentences so a lot of work was going into this space.
The Chairperson urged that attention needed to be paid to the appointment of the CFO with clear time commitments. Consultation with the DPCI also needed to occur. All outstanding issues would be dealt with at the end of March.
The Chairperson noted the apologies of Ms D Mathebe (ANC) and Mr M Tshishonga (AGANG)
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