The Committee met with the SA Police Service (SAPS) headed by the National Commissioner for thorough engagement on the Committee’s findings following its Mpumalanga oversight visit especially border policing and rhino operations. The Committee felt the findings were critical and it could not wait for the report to the tabled and then be dealt with down the line. Rather the matter had to be addressed immediately. The Committee content advisor first provided an overview on the Mpumalanga visit covering the findings on its visit to the Lebombo border post, the anti-rhino poaching team; the public order policing unit at Hazyview and Nelspruit police station and gave a progress update since the oversight visit.
Members had thorough debate with the National Commissioner and SAPS officials, on financial, personnel and equipment resources needed, and the communication of these needs to the national office. Discussion also centred on intelligence, centralisation of SAPS garages and the housing of SAPS members. Members were concerned about the monitoring of vehicle availability and fleet management where stricter control was clearly needed especially with Nyalas which were central to public order policing.
The Department of Public Works (DPW), in the presence of SAPS, briefed them on the status of facilities at border posts and police stations, in particular, Hazyview and Nelspruit that the Committee had visited. The Committee noted the challenges affecting the daily operations of SAPS and the need for an optimal working environment. Due to time constraints, written reports would be provided on that which could not be covered. Members made their concerns known about the shocking and disgraceful DPW facilities SAPS was paying for where air conditioners were falling apart in ceilings, ablution facilities were not available, there was no scanner at the border, there were no gender-separate holding cells, there was not enough office space, border gates were not working and lifts were not functioning. Members asked about the consultation between officials on the ground and DPW, SAPS occupying SA National Defence Force facilities, backlogs and leasing versus constructing buildings.
An update on the procedure to remove the Head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks), Lt. Gen. Anwar Dramat, was discussed.
Mpumalanga Oversight Visit Status Report
Mr Irvin Kinnes, Committee Content Advisor, noted that the 2-6 February 2015 visit to Mpumalanga province had the purpose of checking the role of the SA Police Service (SAPS) at the Lebombo border post, the role of SAPS in the anti-rhino poaching task team, the police station in Nelspruit, check on the functioning of the Public Order Policing (POP) unit in Hazyview. It also visited the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) and the provincial head office of SAPS. The visits formed part of Parliament’s oversight week.
On this visit, the Committee reached a number of findings in SAPS Mpumalanga, including, provincial garages taking up to three weeks to fix vehicles, the province only had 309 vehicles in service, a provincial discrepancy of 251 vehicles, the province had an official shortage of 193 vehicles and the Nelspruit garage was evicted from the premises awaiting the Department of Public Works (DPW’s) implementation of the R/246. Other findings included the need for provincial accommodation of offices for the unit in the province, SAPS members working in the corridors of buildings, the Resource Allocation Guide (RAG) not taking into account the growth of informal settlements and the shortage of human and material resources.
Findings at the Lebombo border post included no offices provided to the police, policing needs largely being ignored during construction, the borderline not being properly secured, police members exposed to an unhealthy work environment with no adequate shelter with temperature of between 40 and 42 degrees Celsius, no toilets in the immediate vicinity and dust was a major problem because the side of the road was gravel at the border post. Furthermore, when it rained, searching stopped, there was no scanner to check bulk cargo so it went unsearched, there was a shortage of members during the Easter and festive season periods and the proposed one stop border post was not in place due to legal impediments raised by SAPS and it not been properly operationalised. The Lebombo border post required nine dog handlers but there were only three available, a negligible amount of illegal firearms and drugs had been seized, there was a shortage of members (50 were required), the fence was broken and not fixed at certain areas along the 62 km border. There was a lack of visibility of senior managers, the integrity and commitment of staff was a major issue, traffic jams added to backlogs and DPW should assist with infrastructure as the arrivals hall roof was leaking.
Findings on the anti-rhino poaching team noted 827 rhino carcasses were found in the Kruger National Park (KNP) in 2014, the number of poachers was growing, there was a 4% chance of being caught, the estimated poacher force was 5 000 and 179 weapons were recovered in KNP. 174 poachers were arrested, with 77 in Mozambique. Crime syndicates took up to five years to take down, level one types were being arrested and more intelligence was needed. There was a need to clear the KNP from the outside, integrity testing for ranger core proceeding, the majority of arrested poachers were from Mozambique, nothing was happening in levels 4-5 (end-users) and there should be polygraph testing for all staff on the project. There was one helicopter with two crew members (which were not dedicated), assistance of fixed wing aircraft should be considered, police capability should be established outside the KNP and it was not a national key point.
Findings on the public order policing unit (POP) unit in Hazyview were that it served five clusters (Acornhoek, Pienaar, Lyndenberg, Nelspruit and Tonga) with huge challenges with distances. The actual POP had 60 staff members, all 60 trained in crowd management, 13 vehicles, eight Nyalas (seven not serviceable) – with the centralisation of garage management, the parade hall was used for office accommodation, a conference room was required and there were only two members on standby in the operational room after hours (with one information manager). There was a shortage of IT equipment, such as handheld radios, cell phones and a commander’s laptop, radios required earpieces and section leaders required cell phones. It was requested that the old court room be used by the POP unit for accommodation, the unit required 381 members, the POP was last inspected in 2005, there was no accommodation or barracks for members so they were renting in the community and the unit required double-cab bakkies.
Findings on the Nelspruit police station were that there were 237 SAPS Act members, 56 detectives, 40 investigators (16 in the crime office) and 56 Public Service Act members. The station was short of 14 members in terms of the fixed establishment as well as short of vehicles – it had 40 when it was supposed to have 70. There was poor management of the NRTA at the taxi rank, dependence on the DPW since the station was a non-devolved station, accommodation for members was an issue, there were too many events that affected policing and there was conflict between SAPS and the NPA over refusal to prosecute. Other issues such as corruption, certification of documents, the station being used as an overnight place of safety for the homeless, no parking facilities and the blood samples from drunken driving were withdrawn.
The Chairperson said it was important for Members to read the interim report from the provincial commissioner alongside the report given to Members from SAPS. He thanked the new Mpumalanga provincial commissioner, Lt. Gen. Mark Dumisa Magadlela, and his staff for hosting the Committee during the oversight week. The Committee got a good sense of some of matters at play but some, like the rhino-poaching, was complex. The Committee did not only listen to briefings but spoke to a number of members, on and off the record, to get a sense of what was really happening and how the Committee could assist. Member wellness was an important issue, for example, the difficult working conditions and lack of incentives for members with no current special allowances. The Committee felt this really needed attention. Another major concern were resources and equipment. Supply chain management was not assisting members on the ground as it should. The Committee felt the matter was critical, it could not wait for the report to the tabled and then be dealt with down the line. Rather the matter had to be addressed immediately. Another issue was an integrated approach to policing - this was critical. Without an integrated approach and all units working in unison, results would not be seen such as with rhino poaching. The Committee would support steps from national office to ensure there was accountability.
Removal of DPCI/Hawks Head, Lt. Gen. Dramat
The Chairperson reminded Members of the letter written by the Minister of Police requesting the Committee to activate certain procedures in terms of the SA Police Service Act for the removal of the head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks), Lt. Gen. Anwar Dramat. The Committee had then written to the Speaker of the National Assembly (NA) and had received a reply the previous day. This letter stated the statutory functions of the NA in respect of national bodies and institutions and required that a request, such as the one received by the Minister of Police, should be addressed to the Speaker to initiate the necessary procedures. These procedures required the tabling of such a request, for consideration by a plenary sitting, and its referral to the appropriate Committee. The Minister was then to submit his correspondence to the Office of the Speaker for consideration. The Committee would inform the Minister of this procedure.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) said that L. Gen. Dramat was instructed by the court to return to work so what the Minister did was unlawful and this should be discussed. The Minister could not actually write to the Speaker asking to begin proceedings for removing Lt. Gen. Dramat.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) said this would not be discussed now.
The Chairperson clarified the purpose was to inform Members of the Speaker’s reply to the Committee’s letter seeking clarification after receiving the request of the Minister.
Police entering the chamber at the State of the Nation Address (SONA)
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) asked if Members would have an opportunity to ask questions about this incident seeing as the National Commissioner was present.
The Chairperson said the Committee took note of this incident but there were parliamentary processes underway and court challenges in terms of the constitutionality of section 11 of the Powers and Privileges Act. The issue was in the domain of the Speaker and the Committee would not discuss the matter today but perhaps at a later stage.
Mr Groenewald asked if it could be debated why a discussion could not be had today. He could not see how a sub-judice matter could be compromised by questions of clarity.
The Chairperson said the agenda of the meeting had already been decided on but he assured the Member that issues would be discussed at an appropriate time.
Mr Groenewald responded that, although he was a well disciplined man, the agenda could be changed as had happened quite frequently in the past. The Committee could decide on whether the issue should be placed on the agenda.
Ms Molebatsi noted the agenda was jam packed and it should be stuck to.
Ms Kohler Barnard said the invasion of the National Assembly by police was the one issue on the lips of everyone in the country. The DA walked out of SONA because it could not get clarity on whether the armed men, dressed in white shirts and black pants, were police members or parliamentary security. Surely the Committee should be discussing the issue of the day although she understood the importance of everything currently on the agenda. What was done to Parliament by the police was on every front page and on the lips of every foreign investor. The National Commissioner was present and surely she should answer. It was extraordinary that the Committee was going to sit and discuss rhinos, equipment and cars when the police turned a water cannon on a DA MP and beat up four others.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) was of the view that the Committee could find a date if it felt it should discuss this specific matter but for today a meeting was called to deal with a circulated agenda.
The Chairperson said a discussion could be scheduled for an appropriate time but the agenda for today’s meeting had been decided on.
SAPS: Border Policing
The Chairperson mentioned the SA National Parks (SANParks) indicated its appreciation to Lt. Gen. Moonoo, Divisional Commissioner: Detective Services and SAPS for making a big difference and the Committee agreed. He noted the offices on the ground required additional resources and equipment in the long-run such as, additional intervention units, two helicopters with night-sight vision, linking radio communication between units and a full time person dealing with crime intelligence. Furthermore, level 4 and 5 needed to be addressed for progress to be made – more resources from crime intelligence and DPCI needed to be given to this priority. Without this, there would be action on the periphery but cracking the problem would not happen as heard by the members on the ground. He asked how this could be addressed in terms of equipment, resources and manpower.
Ms Molebatsi questioned why Lt. Gen. Moonoo was both head of detectives in SAPS and heading this operation in Mpumalanga.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked why the units working on the ground at KNP were not being given what they wanted to be effective such as intelligence. He felt the units should be given as much intelligence as they wanted. Turning to SAPS garages, he questioned the centralisation of the garages which appeared to be a problem not just in the Mpumalanga garage – why was centralisation used then?
Mr Groenewald sought clarity on the discrepancies about the number of SAPS vehicles available between what the Committee found and what SAPS was presenting.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) observed, during the oversight visit to KNP, that the operational model between all the agencies involved seemed to be sound and coherent. However, he found the operations needed to be scaled up massively with more people, equipment and capacity for implementation. The one element which seemed to be lacking, conceptually, was how to achieve more effective deterrents. The operational focus currently was on rapid response, improving crime scene detection to carry it through to a trial and conviction. It was not good enough to only fight the battle on this front – there needed to be an ecosystem where poaching was made difficult in the first place. What thought was applied to improving deterrents?
Ms Riah Phiyega, SAPS National Commissioner, heard what the Committee was saying on the need for speed and increasing the capacity of the units. SAPS would seriously look into prioritising resources to accelerate capacity in people and equipment. There was also a SAPS station in the KNP itself and attention would be paid to integrated functioning.
Lt. Gen. Gary Kruser, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, explained that with the centralisation of garages, SAPS had paid a consultancy firm to look at the functioning of garages which had collapsed under the provinces. On 1 April 2014, the garages were moved to a centralised model to turn around and make the garages more efficient. The garages were now equipped for internal mechanics to do their jobs. SAPS had a contract with Treasury and Standard Bank to do any outsourced work which had dramatically reduced the level of corruption. Before centralisation, massive sums of money were being lost to corruption around vehicle services. Overall, a difference had been seen and SAPS was trying to maintain a level of 80% of vehicles available. This was being achieved in most provinces. About 10% of the cars coming into the garage were due to accidents and took longer to repair.
The Chairperson noted that on the Committee visit to Hazyview, there was no clear indication of a weekly follow up or inquiring where the Nyalas were – this was a major problem of management. What was the logic in up-scaling these issues to Pretoria? The Committee got the sense there was no sense of control among the officials in the province and matters were left for better days.
Mr Maake asked Lt. Gen. Kruser to take them through the processes in the garage and communicating with provinces through a centralised model.
Mr Ramatlakane wanted to know if the centralisation model was something new to improve turnaround. His experience was that garages were always under central control even though most of them were in provinces. For him, the issue was not the model used but the outputs produced in terms of capacity and vehicle turnaround – the model needed to deliver this quick turnaround.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega explained SAPS national forum took a decision in August 2013 to centralise the garages from under the leadership of provincial commissioners. Under the provinces there were unequal standards, a mismatch of process flows and cars not being repaired. A specialist was brought in to review the environment and the proposal was a turnaround approach. Members were now seeing the implementation of this turnaround strategy. The focus was now on leadership in the garages, getting well-trained artisans in each of the garages who understood what needed to be done, reducing the vehicle models to ensure unified maintenance, dealing with aged models and a mixed model for the repair of vehicles by buying cars with service contracts to ease the burden on garages to focus on the cars without service contracts. It was early days but there was now method in the madness and the turnaround strategy was already yielding results. SAPS was focused on consistency and standardisation so there could be a common standard.
Lt. Gen. Kruser added that a lot of resistance was met because now no one had control over where cars went but it was going much better. Turning to the Nyalas, he indicated these were very aged vehicles but SAPS was in the process of developing a new two-carrier and the specs were finalised. It was hoped the pilot model would be produced in the coming financial year. The matter was urgent as the Nyalas were over 20 years old. There were currently 500 Nyalas and POP needed, at any given time, 200 functional Nyalas. Presently, 338 were available which moved around according to need. 90 Nyalas were in repair although the SAPS garages did not have the technical expertise for these repairs. For example, in Mpumalanga, there was no company which could repair the Nyalas so it would have to be towed to the closest repair company which was in Pretoria and then it would be towed back. It was believed mechanical services could keep 300+ Nyalas available at any given time for POP although they only needed 200. The bid committee had approved the Nyala manufacturer to be the sole supplier so SAPS could go the supplier directly without a tender to speed up the process. The other challenge was that, given the nature of the Nyala, the vehicle could not stand too long before the seals etc broke.
Ms Molebatsi asked if the approximately 200 Nyalas in repairs were included in the 300+ figure referred to and did this include the Mpumalanga province?
Lt. Gen. Kruser indicated this was correct.
The Chairperson wanted to know who was responsible at national level for managing and ensuring that, on any given day, provinces had the necessary strength? This was the concern of the Committee after the oversight visit to Mpumalanga.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega indicated there were POP units allocated with resources including people, vehicles and Nyalas. At any given time a province might be experiencing problems and the POP unit was under pressure, At any time the unit could allocate resources or speak to another province to borrow resources through neighbouring units. She made it clear there was a base allocation for each of the units.
The Chairperson said the problem the Committee observed was that this base allocation was not there – the Nyalas were all in for repair. Proactive strategic management of these resources were paramount.
Nat. Comm. Phiyega indicated POP dealt with this management and to scan and support the basic needs of provinces in terms of people, cars etc. it was important to make a distinction between not having Nyalas and having the resource but it being in for repair.
The Chairperson agreed but in order to deal with the issues on the ground, a certain strength was needed which the Committee did not see. The reality was that someone at head office or in the province was not doing their job.
Ms Molebatsi referred to the strange arrangement in Hazyview were it was not clear who was responsible for taking vehicles in for repair – what happened there? Was SAPS aware that SAPS members in Mpumalanga had to use Quantum bakkies in dangerous areas?
Nat. Comm. Phiyega said the type of vehicles being purchased was done with the priority of decreasing variances in models for operational requirements to ensure there was a specialised fleet.
Lt. Gen. Stefan Schutte, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Resource Management, stated the matter of vehicle models was significantly debated in the environment. The fact of the matter was vehicles were purchased with certain maintenance contracts just as anyone would purchase a vehicle. There might also be SAPS internal garages servicing vehicles or SAPS garages outsourcing maintenance. For example, the gear box on a Nyala was a major problem. In essence with centralisation vis-à-vis decentralisation, there were pros and cons for each model. Management of allocation was being enhanced, as visible from the vehicle availability numbers as of 15 February 2015, through availability thresholds and reports from vehicle fleet managers.
The Chairperson said he was referring to Nyalas and not vehicles in general.
Lt. Gen. Schutte noted that the principle remained the same – vehicle fleet managers also managed Nyalas through important monitoring of available data.
Mr Maake commented that the SAPS presentation focused on overall vehicles instead of Nyalas specifically which was not helpful as Nyalas were central to crowd control.
Lt. Gen. Schutte explained this was a specific item of the fleet management report.
The Chairperson said the problem was that the province could not provide the Committee with the relevant information – this was surely a problem of management.
Lt. Gen. Kruser said fleet managers were at provincial, unit and station level. Success was beginning to be seen around mechanical services but fleet management needed to be upped to pick up on repairs and availability. Without proper fleet management, the garages would not cope.
Lt. Gen. Schutte added monitoring and evaluation was vital but the system did carry comprehensive information. SAPS had a ratio which it worked on and this was transferred to the provinces. SAPS was trying to increase the ratio in Free State and Mpumalanga. In general, the ratio was adequate both in national and provinces but there were some provinces which were worse off but the Service was aiming for equitability. The kind of vehicles purchased also played a role – the more expensive a vehicle was, the higher the unit cost. This was a methodology on its own.
Mr Groenewald asked what the national ratio was.
Lt. Gen. Schutte answered that it was 1:4.51.
Lt Gen Kruser said with Mpumalanga, Nelspruit did not have a garage because of the lease not being renewed. A new building had since been acquired where new installation was occurring. The building would be handed over to SAPS on 1 April as a fully functional garage in the province. In the meantime, mainly outsourcing was done in Nelspruit.
Nat Comm Phiyega, wrapping up the issue of resources, saying the Nyalas were very old, over 20 years old, and they were a very expensive commodity.
Lt Gen Schutte added Nyalas cost in the vicinity of R32.8 million. It was also important to remember these vehicles had worked very hard in the past two years.
Nat Comm Phiyega asked the Committee to appreciate the challenges before the Service. Resources would really need to be looked at along with other matters such as the replacement of the air wing fleet and helicopters, which was in the pipeline, along with looking at maritime capital needs. SAPS would need to look at a process to keep business going because there was no way government could provide extra resources for this heavy acquisition. SAPS had signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSR) to look at locally manufactured equipment such as second generation Nyalas. She acknowledged issues of management and communication raised by the Committee and already there was a national garage management conference planned for changes in management to begin occurring within garages.
The Chairperson said the Committee needed the assurance of operational managers with stricter control. He was not clear whether there was weekly monitoring from POP management on the issues raised.
Maj. Gen C Annandale, SAPS Component Head: Specialised Operations, responded that the systems were there but there was no daily monitoring as the Committee had witnessed in Hazyview. Currently, a province would send vehicles in for service and repairs understanding it might be returned in a few days which was not necessarily the case. If the Nyala was then needed, like in the case of a big community protest, they would be dispatched through POPs from a specific request. The process should actually be that vehicles were constantly monitored so mobilisation could begin as soon as the number available fell beneath a certain threshold until such time as the vehicles came back from the garages. This was definitely something which needed to be improved in the division.
Ms Molebatsi found this lack of monitoring was very worrying – why were there no structures in place for monitoring?
Nat Comm Phiyega replied that there was monitoring of resources but the issue at hand was economies of scale and national surveillance. There was not a complete void of monitoring but the point was SAPS could do more than just responding to requests.
Lt Gen Elias Mawela, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Operational Response Service (ORS), added that SAPS responded to requests when resources were running low but more could be done to ensure there was proactive daily monitoring instead of relying on requests from local commanders.
Mr Mbhele, while on the oversight visit to Hazyview police station, asked if the local commanders raised concerns to national management, for example, if a particular vehicle was breaking down too often. The response was that needs assessments and monitoring was done but when it was escalated to be taken into account for the following year’s budgeting, the local commanders were told there were insufficient funds in provisioning for the following financial year. The member sought a response on this from the national delegation present.
Nat Comm Phiyega answered that the fact that jails were full showed that criminals did not walk to prisons – SAPS members arrested around 1.7 million criminals each year so the resources given were being put to good use. She repeated that a national garage managers meeting would be held and she would engage members on these matters. She took it upon herself to engage members on the issues raised and observed by the Committee. Budget allocation was not an arbitrary process but was in response to needs through scientific and structured allocation of resources. SAPS had established a finance committee, which did not exist two years ago, to deal with this very process.
Lt Gen Schutte added that the budget was determined through a long bottom-up process which then led to the Annual Performance Plan, Strategic Plan and Estimates of National Expenditure, but what needed to be kept in mind was economic scarcity which was a principle underlining any economic system. There were not unlimited needs because there were limited funds available. Many documents informed the budget procedurally such as the medium term strategic framework, state of the nation address, medium term budget policy statement, seven point plans of the cluster, departmental functions etc. Within this process, not all needs were met. He recommended Members, in future station visits, be provided with the relevant reports to ascertain, for example, vehicle availability, for themselves. Although SAPS had a big budget, it was highly decentralised and not everyone could be given what they want.
Lt Gen Khehla Sithole, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, highlighted the national crime combating forum where all public violence hotspots in the country were identified and all local role-players’ readiness were assessed including resources. SAPS would fully integrate what the Committee was saying. There was also a resource matrix to indentify gaps immediately.
Nat Comm Phiyega responded to the matter of the KNP, noting there were internal SAPS intervention responses where one would find multiple SAPS role-players. At the top of the list was DPCI dealing with levels four and five. With issues of rhino, there were supply and demand dimensions – the demand spoke to the end of the value chain or who consumed the horns and this formed part of level four/five. The supply side dealt with levels two to three or the runners who did the actual killing. DCPCI was then playing at this high end space. Detectives looked at the supply side while crime intelligence supported both demand and supply. There was a station on the Park which dealt with crime prevention and the station was monitored as others were in Mpumalanga. There were also specialised units, a bilateral arrangement with the Department of Environment and non-government organisations, close cooperation with the courts and external partnerships which brought all the relevant departments together. The emphasis was to be more proactive as opposed to reactive.
Lt Gen Vineshkumar Moonoo, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Detective Services, said the initial plan was to focus only inside the Park but the task team had been established to look at all solutions including outside the Park. When the task team was first established, it was not thought that the problem was that great. Reactive processes had been successful but focus had now shifted to proactive processes outside the Park. Proactive functions including looking at disarming people outside the Park and increasing outside capacity. In March, there would be an audit to see what other resources were needed with the aim of, after one year, establishing enough capacity in the Park like in KZN and North West. Initially there were difficulties with resources having to come from detectives nationally. Now, however, four land cruisers had been procured along with bikes which allowed for faster access in the Park. If one walked to a crime scene it would take two to three hours but with the bike, it took half an hour. Other resources had also been procured which would be delivered for proactive functions. There was capacity at the forensic science laboratory to look at linking cases in and outside the Park. Focus now also needed to be paid to crime intelligence.
Maj. Gen. Berning Ntlemeza, Acting DPCI National Head, agreed with Lt Gen Moonoo that DPCI members were included in the intervention unit to work together. He hoped to see more results. His focus was on level four and five and he would send a dedicated member from DPCI national to the KNP.
Lt Gen Mawela said the current operational model was based on the fragmentation observed - fragmentation and solo approaches within the Department and with partners operating in the environment. The province had started mimicking the NATJOINTS operation in the Park. The Park was policed by Mpumalanga and Limpopo but there was no sharing of information which was why the coordinating structure was implemented and was based in Secunda. Intelligence was one of the biggest issues in KNP and the need to channel this intelligence to one location. Members were also being rotated on a regular three months basis.
Maj. Gen. Annandale added the priority had been to stabilise and then withdraw. SAPS had come to the conclusion they were not stabilising and the effects had been seen in the number of incursions and carcasses. There was limitation in the capability of the task team in the national intervention unit and there was a huge demand on members in various interventions. In terms of tactical intervention, there were disruption tactics, observation posts, incursions to follow spoor, and reaction and response teams. Specific resources had now been dedicated including four Land Cruisers, thermal imagining systems and night-sight systems. The long-term approach was for a permanent deployment of SAPS members on duty stints a few times a year. Communication was a huge challenge due to the vastness of the area and the problem this presented with radio systems. Pilots were also rotated as part of dispatched duties. There was also a demand on aircraft in general but the resource was supplemented through the Nelspruit unit.
The Chairperson asked if the approach in dealing with neighbouring countries would be sharpened.
Nat Comm Phiyega assured the Committee work was being done in this regard but more could be done and she would prioritise a discussion on this matter. It took time to see issues from a common vantage point but this would be strengthened through Interpol, for example. Communication processes around would also be strengthened.
Mr B Joseph (EFF) thought intelligence was an indication of the trust relationship between the police and community in the particular area. He asked how relevant the data integrity was about rhino poaching and how would this trust be built in future between SAPS and the community. It would assist if there were regular meetings with the Community Police Forums (CPFs) and other stakeholders. While on the floor, the Member noted that the wife of an police officer from Woodstock (Western Cape) station had been raped in his home in his presence and SAPS had done nothing about it.
The Chairperson asked that protocol be followed and the information provided to the National Commissioner.
Mr Mbhele questioned the three-month deployment period as possibly being too short. This was a very specialised environment and gaining experiential knowledge was a key part of success so three months might be short for a SAPS member to begin getting familiar even just with the environment and then having to leave. He asked if a 12 to 18 month deployment would be more effective to allow the personnel to gain the knowledge.
Ms N Mente-Nqweniso (EFF) was worried about the rate of accidents with SAPS vehicles and that the ratio of cars to a community was not always true. Were the accidents monitored? Manpower was the most important aspect of resources so how were these personnel taken care of in terms of the conduciveness of the working environment?
The Chairperson clarified these were Programme One: Administration issues which were already dealt with.
Ms Molebatsi asked about Lt Gen Moonoo remaining as head of detectives.
Nat Comm Phiyega clarified that Lt Gen Moonoo remained the head of detectives but the special Kruger National Park Unit would always require his guidance in its shaping just as he worked with other specialised teams.
Mr Maake asked, generally, how the members of POPs were housed.
Nat Comm Phiyega said Members should take into account that there were standing POPs units which were located in particular areas just as a station would be. There was a differentiation between standing units which housed members from the area and other accommodation made for deployed members (for example, three months at a time) before they returned to their families. This accommodation could be hotels or a university accommodation – SAPS was responsible for their accommodation and that their needs were taken care of. There was a balance between the two.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked if SAPS members had been arrested for corruption in KNP.
The Chairperson noted there was a lack of time so it was not necessary to address the wellness issues and CPFs because the Committee recently received full briefings on these matters.
Lt Gen MD Magadlela, SAPS Provincial Commissioner: Mpumalanga, noted there were many interventions from national office where the provinces did not always play its part in implementation. He visited all areas of concern as the Committee raised such as the border post, KNP and the POP unit. Each and every rhino killed in KNP did not paint a good picture. He was currently engaging all crime intelligence sectors.
Department of Public Works on Status of Facilities at Border Posts and Police Stations
The Chairperson provided a short introduction to this briefing which stemmed from the Committee’s oversight visit to the Nelspruit police station and one of the lifts was not working. The brigadier at the station informed the Committee the lift had been broken for three months noting the origin of the problem was Public Works in Mpumalanga. The Committee also visited the Lebombo border post and the briefing now was to get a sense of the current proactive plans of DPW for stations and other problem areas affecting day-to-day functioning.
Nat Comm Phiyega indicated the discussion should be put in context of the establishment of a border management agency which was at an advanced stage. Everyone was involved and technical committees had been set up and were chaired by various participating departments and migration processes were already taking effect. When Home Affairs heard of the Committee’s oversight visit, they wrote to her to request the Chairperson’s invitation to the Committee to present the philosophy behind border management and the progress made. She was officially relaying this request from the Home Affairs Director General.
The Chairperson noted this but he thought part of the problem, as seen in a 2011 Portfolio Committee on Public Works report, was that some of the issues raised were not addressed in terms of wellness and facilities at Lebombo. Current issues affecting SAPS functioning was uppermost in the Committee’s mind.
Mr Mziwonke Dlabantu, DPW Director General, noted that because of the large size of the portfolio, he would not be able to do justice to everything but would seek to address the issues raised by the Committee in the context of a Public Works trying to turn itself around. SAPS was also PW’s biggest portfolio with a collective value of just over R2 billion, combining leases and capital. There was constant engagement between SAPS and DPW to ensure both sides were on the same page.
Mr Mandla Mabuza, DPW Deputy Director General: Special Projects, began the briefing by explaining the Hazyview police station was a new police station and was still in good condition. However, the Public Order Police (POP) unit was currently occupying the old police station. SAPS had confirmed with DPW that alternative accommodation for POPs was required. This accommodation requirement was included in the 2016/17 financial year plans. SAPS will advise DPW on the future use of the current POP occupied offices.
In Nelspruit a project was registered based on maintenance of the entire facility. For the approved maintenance programme 2015-17, there were no new projects registered due to the large number of maintenance related projects already committed for execution. Consequently, all other maintenance-related projects had been shifted to outer years. It was for this reason that the financial tender date for the afore-mentioned condition-based maintenance project was August 2021.
The Chairperson noted there was only a short time left for discussion so Members should stick to questions on broad operational matters. Time could be arranged for further engagement at a later date.
Ms Molebatsi was very surprised given the recommendations made by the Public Works Portfolio Committee in September 2011 following an oversight visit there. Water and ablution facilities should be included in the small structure at the Lebombo border post to stop the situation of officials walking a distance of 200m to a building which had water and ablution facilities. That had been in 2011 but these conditions were still there. She asked when DPW had last visited the Hazyview POP because it was in a shocking state. Further, how on earth could it expected that there should be border control with broken fences? On TV terrible scenes were seen of officials having to relieve themselves in the bushes or getting locked out of buildings because of leases not being paid.
Mr Dlabantu confessed he had not been to the border post although he had been to a nearby region. He would provide written responses on anything he did not have enough time to cover and he would not want to mislead the Committee on certain operational issues.
Mr Tshitshonga (AGANG) asked what was cause of the problem of maintenance not occurring when there was a budget for it.
Ms Kohler Barnard said the Committee had been present in these areas and air conditioners were falling out of the ceiling – this could kill someone. People were queuing in a building in 40 degree weather with no air con. Each one was installed in a faulty manner. There were problems with pipes in the ceilings as well. The shoddy contractors should be blacklisted and never used again because to use people who did not know what they were doing was absolutely appalling. The gate which divided Mozambique from SA could not be closed for months because the electric motor was too small to close the gate. She noted the DPW officials looked puzzled probably because they had never been to these problem areas. Members were told by SAPS in Mpumalanga that there was insufficient consultation with DPW and one of the buildings was built in the wrong place. Why would one leave the building of toilets to the second phase? She found the situation a disgrace – one expected Mozambique to look that way and not South Africa.
Mr Mabuza, on consultation, said the people working on the border were represented by different people working at different head offices. These officials then consulted amongst themselves presenting on different department priorities. There needed to be signing off of requirements so that not all officials could just make requirements without having acquisition authority. Otherwise, there would be overspending.
The Chairperson asked about the status of SAPS occupying the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) facilities. Lebombo needed assistance and maybe feedback could be provided in writing on what would be done about ablution facilities – there were over 200 SAPS members at this post with no facilities since 2011 and they really needed to be helped. An overhead shelter was needed along with gender-separate holding cells, office space and a dedicated scanner at the border post – these issues were critical. The working environment of SAPS needed to be optimum.
Mr Dlabantu said Lebombo had been frustrating DPW for some time.
Ms Molebatsi asked what would work better, be faster and be more cost effective for DPW – leasing or constructing a building.
Mr Dlabantu responded that deciding whether to lease or build depended on the purpose. Leasing was ideal in the short-term because construction took longer but leasing forever was not ideal for SAPS as it amounted to financing an asset.
Ms Mmola asked if DPW had any backlogs and what caused them? When would SAPS be vacating the facilities supposed to be for the SANDF?
Mr Dlabantu indicated that, unfortunately, DPW had too many backlogs given its huge portfolio.
The Chairperson indicated the day-to-day matters, such as the non-functional lift and border gate, was unacceptable and there needed to be an operational plan to deal with this.
Nat Comm Phiyega said the picture was not desirable as SAPS was a consumer of DPW services for facility maintenance but the decision was to engage with DPW and a workshop was scheduled for March/April. The areas covered and priorities would be discussed then. SAPS was paying money but some of the buildings were too dilapidated and not conducive to work in. She knew DPW was working on a massive turnaround strategy and SAPS had massive demands not only in Nelspruit.
Chairperson closing comments
The Chairperson noted it was important to get an updated SAPS report in due course on the Kruger project as a vital and national one. The Committee wanted to ensure SAPS had the necessary resources and capabilities to deal with the challenge. This would be monitored closely.
The Committee was positive about the situation in Mpumalanga, mentioning that Members had met very good SAPS members on the oversight visit who should continue with the good work. The Committee would continue monitoring provinces and stations to ensure there is a police service trusted by the community.
He appreciated the input from DPW and waited on the written reports stemming from the meeting. Time would be needed for SAPS response on DPW issues and current problems for strategic engagement.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) who was replacing Ms D Mathebe (ANC).
The meeting was adjourned.
- Attendance List
- epartment of Public Works presentation - part 2
- Department of Public Works presentation - part 1
- Portfolio Committee on Police Visit to Mpumalanga Division: Supply Chain Management Feedback
- Operation Rhino presentation
- Border Policing presentation
- Mpumalanga Oversight VisitStatus Report presentation
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