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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
13 November 2002
ENLISTMENT PROGRAMMES; REGULATIONS TO THE FIREARMS CONTROL ACT; IMPLEMENTATION OF SECTION 49 OF THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ACT: BRIEFING BY SAPS
Chairperson: Mr M George (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Presentation on SAPS Enlistment Programmes 2002-2005
The South African Police Services briefed the Committee on the enlistment programmes within the SAPS. The SAPS also spoke at length about the recent right-wing terrorist activity. They assured the Committee that the police were certain of the identities of the persons involved and they had the expertise to deal with the problem. With respect to Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act, the Govender judgement would be implemented on 14 October 2002. The need to communicate the judgement clearly to the police was highlighted. Regulations to the Firearms Control Act have been published for comment and SAPS are working through the submissions received.
National Commissioner Selebi and his team were present to brief the Committee. The Chair stated that the Committee understood the task faced by the South African police especially in light of the recent right wing terrorist attacks. The police would need all the support it could receive; the police would fail dismally without such support.
Right-wing terrorist attacks
Commissioner Selebi said that the year had been very difficult for the SAPS. The police had spent a great deal of resources, both human and otherwise, in their attempts to curb crime in South Africa. The police faced a new phenomenon in South Africa. Moreover, there was a close connection between organised crime and terrorism. He firmly stated that the police were certain of the identities of the persons involved and they had the expertise to deal with the problem.
Commissioner Selebi pointed out that the objectives of the terrorist group could never be achieved in the manner that they were using. Seventeen persons had been arrested at this stage and this figure would lie between 20 and 30 during the criminal trials in 2003. The worrying fact about the group was that young, educated individuals were involved. Nevertheless, he firmly stated that the police would contain the situation and that they would ensure that South Africa does not experience the desired results.
Recruitment policies within SAPS
Commissioner Stander referred the Committee to the hand-out highlighting the investment programme for 2002 to 2005. She explained that the document had already been distributed to the Committee and her intention would be to indicate the current position faced by the SAPS.
The Chair asked for comment on the suspicions that members of the SAPS and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are involved in the right-wing attacks.
Commissioner Selebi stated that the dangerous issue in South Africa is that people generalise on issues that they know nothing about. He firmly stated that he intimately knows all the details about the terrorist group and he had not come across any evidence pointing to the involvement of any members of the SAPS. The ex-convict, Swanepoel, was continuously sending out incorrect allegations directed at the police, and he had been proven in court to be a liar.
Commissioner Selebi noted that the police had been working very hard. He re-affirmed that the police had not come across any evidence pointing to the involvement of SAPS officials. Any information to the contrary would be released.
With respect to the involvement of the SANDF, Commissioner Selebi explained that a number of officials had been involved and they had all been arrested. Nevertheless, he could not say that the SANDF was generally involved.
Commissioner Selebi said that he was glad that the question had been raised. He explained that it was demoralising for the police because they were not involved.
Adv Swart (DP) assured Commissioner Selebi that the Committee condemned the right-wing activities. Was there was a distinction between civilian officers and the SAPS?
Adv Swart wondered whether civilian officers could be the solution for the problems surrounding insufficient detectives.
Commissioner Stander explained that the establishment included approximately 31 000 civilians; this figure included replacements.
Mr Schippers (NNP) asked if there was a connection between the right-wing group and international right-wingers.
A Member asked to what extent international links existed.
Commissioner Selebi responded that there was clearly a link between right-wingers and persons outside South Africa. The police had been able to pick up on international links. Nevertheless, he explained that he could not release the information in light of the pending court cases.
A Member referred to two cases; the escape by PAGAD member, Ebrahim Jeneker and to the matter of Jurgen Harksen: were they involved?
Commissioner Selebi explained that he could not see a connection in any way. Nevertheless, they were currently investigating the matter. At some point the police would release all the information it had obtained on the escapes. With regards to Harksen, he explained that the sorriest people were the police because he had left the country. Nevertheless, he explained that they were not leaving the matter there because crimes committed in South Africa would have to be dealt with.
Mr Botha (DP) asked at which level the decision to employ civilian employees would be taken. In that regard, he distinguished between the station, regional and local level commands.
Commissioner Stander explained that the function was currently decentralised to the provinces. As such, policies would be implemented at the provincial and area levels.
Ms Sosibo (ANC) wanted to know whether the weapons used by the right-wingers were connected to the four trucks that had disappeared in South Africa.
Commissioner Selebi stated that they were not only dealing with stolen trucks; weaponry was also involved. However, he could not say more than this in light of the pending cases. Nevertheless, he noted that the right-wing group had collected its weapons over time.
Ms Sosibo called for a provincial breakdown of the figures pointing to personnel losses.
The Chair added that the figure for losses was too high, and wanted to know whether the losses were through death or leaving the service.
Commissioner Stander responded that the losses were due to resignation, death by natural causes, murder on duty, discharges and retirement.
Commissioner Selebi added that part of the losses were due to the fact that the SAPS could not compete with employment opportunities in the Metropolitan Police, for instance, where police would earn 20% more than in the SAPS. The private sector was another competitive industry.
The Chair assured the Commissioner that the Committee was seriously discussing the matter and he believed that the matter would come to Parliament. The police should be taken out of the public services with a resultant change in salary, and that they should avoid the situation where Municipal Police earn higher salaries than the SAPS.
A Member wanted to know the extent to which HIV/AIDS resulted in losses in the SAPS.
Commissioner Singh explained that they could not compel persons to disclose their HIV status. To date only two persons had disclosed their status. Most deaths were of persons between 25 and 40 years and from these results conclusions could be drawn.
A Member pointed out that the Appropriation Bill did not set aside any specific provision for the training of police officers. This situation could not continue; had the SAPS received money for training?
Commissioner Singh explained that the budget allocation for training had increased. She noted that there had been a reprioritisation of the entire budget.
Commissioner Selebi added that they had reopened the training institution that had been used to train the police in the past. He explained that it had been refurbished and would become a detective training academy.
Mr Gallagher added that there had been a shortage of detective services especially in light of the fact that the SAPS would be robbed of its people. Of the present intake of entry level constables, 30% would be allocated to the detective services. As such, he stated that the working environment was currently not encouraging due to the high workload. Nevertheless, they were engaging in the process.
Commissioner Selebi explained that they had been battling at the level of managers in the SAPS. He felt that the status should be done away with in relation to detectives and explained that experienced persons are promoted to desk jobs. However, these same people would be better placed at the stations. He was currently pushing to avoid making experienced detectives office bound, and stated that this could be balanced by ensuring an appropriate salary. This was a war he was prepared to fight.
Mr Swart asked whether other police personnel would be transferred to detective services.
Mr Gallagher responded that this was the case, and called it the integrated approach.
Ms Sosibo wanted to know whether volunteer police would be trained.
Commissioner Selebi replied that reservists would receive a degree of training. However, the situation would be different for volunteers. They would have to ensure that the volunteers are upright persons that have a basic understanding of the work done by the SAPS. A database of the volunteers would be kept. Nevertheless, volunteers would not receive formal training. The aim was to retain the programme in order to avoid the need to pay wages.
Mr Kgauwe (ANC) referred to the proposal for detective managers and wanted to know whether they would be retrained.
Mr Maziya (ANC) wondered whether the detective managers would be given the option to become functionaries. Would volunteers would be encouraged to apply for reservist status. In that regard, he wondered whether volunteers were included in the yearly intake.
Commissioner Selebi explained that they had issued an advert for 7000 entry level posts, and they had received 200 000 applications. He said that 193 000 persons would obviously be disappointed. Nevertheless, he explained that they would encourage persons to be reservists. Volunteers would also be considered. However, they would be faced with many volunteer and reservist applications.
A Member stated that it did not appear as if the SAPS were clear on HIV/AIDS and its effect. She compared the SAPS with the SANDF and wondered whether the SAPS would develop their programme in the future.
Commissioner Singh highlighted the difference between the SAPS and the SANDF: the SANDF can exclude persons on the basis of their HIV status. Medical Aid in the SANDF is operated through an internal policy; SAPS has an external medical aid scheme. She concluded that there is very active collaboration between SAPS, SANDF, Correctional Services and the Department of Health.
Commissioner Singh expressed surprise at the comment that there was little progress in the SAPS. They had conducted an impact study as early as 1999 and they had been carving out a strategy. With regards to the implementation of policies, she explained that inputs would be given on HIV/AIDS in an AIDS publication on the Department with best practices. Commissioner Selebi had recently begun pushing for voluntary counseling and testing, and a number of meetings have already been held to deal with the institutional mechanisms. She noted that they would not push for the policy to operate on an organizational level, but rather on an individual level. She expressed great disappointment with the fact that the Committee had not called for a submission and with the fact that the Committee had based its information on nothing.
A Member responded that the opinion had been based on the answers that the Committee had received. The Chair added that the opinion was also based on the SAPS report.
Commissioner Selebi stated that the best people to obtain answers from would be the police. He emphasized that the repository of knowledge was the police. Nevertheless, they had a heavy workload and comments to the effect that they are not doing their job were hurtful.
Mr Kgauwe wanted to know the criteria used to allocate police officials to different stations after training as there were continuous complaints of understaffing.
Commissioner Selebi stated that the SAPS were understaffed as a whole. But they would usually allocate a particular figure to the stations.
S49: Criminal Procedure Act, 51 of 1977
Commissioner Selebi explained that the Govender judgement would be implemented on 14 October 2002. He had communicated the implications of the judgement to the SAPS. Nevertheless, he would want to return to the Committee at a later stage in order to make a proposal regarding the Constitutional Court judgement. In order to communicate the judgement clearly to the police, he would need to obtain sufficient assistance.
Commissioner Selebi noted that the Correctional Services Act allowed correctional services officials to prevent escapes by using firearms. However, the SAPS would not possess such powers. He explained that this meant that he would have to explain the scenarios in great detail to the police. He noted that in the event that criminals succeed in escaping, the police should not be criticized, and stated that the police would implement the law as ordered.
The Chair stated that the police should act only as police.
Commissioner Selebi explained that the SAPS used to have an option with regards to functional policing. However, with the introduction of Resolution 7 of 2002, the choice no longer exists.
The Chair explained that the position would have to be communicated to the stations and noted that the interpretation he had received from the station commissioners had been disturbing.
Commissioner Selebi stated that he would deal with the issue.
Firearms Control Act
Commissioner Selebi stated that there were too many firearms in South Africa and that he was hoping to make the state Departments aware of this. Although this should not be their task, the police would seek and destroy as many firearms as quickly as possible.
Mr Geldenhuys explained that a comprehensive presentation on the Act had been made on 7 September 2002. Feedback had been received in that regard and the Regulations had been released. Closing date for comments had been on 8 November 2002 and they were currently dealing with the large numbers of submissions that had been received. The process begun on 3 September 2002 was on track.
Mr Geldenhuys referred to the firearm free zones and explained that sixteen schools had volunteered to be declared as such. However, the problem with the declaration was that all schools had already been declared as dangerous object free zones in terms of the Education Department regulations. There were many practical problems and these would have to be followed up. He proposed that the police should deal with the issue from a functional side and that consultation should be on a general broader basis.
Mr Geldenhuys explained that with regards to the international arena, the Committee had approved the SADC Protocol on Firearms. In addition, the Vienna Protocol had been signed. He pointed out that the Department of Justice would be dealing with other international obligations.
Mr Kgauwe was surprised that the Act had been passed when it had such practical problems.
Mr Nyamezwele explained that they were dealing with work in progress and the Committee should approach it in that manner.
Mr Swart wanted to know whether Mr Geldenhuys had been referring to particular schools.
Commissioner Selebi could not understand what the problem was. He undertook to look into the matter and noted that the only interest of the police would be in the operational capacity to enforce the policy in all the schools. He asked for some time to ascertain the actual position faced by the police.
Mr Bothman added that they had already visited seven provinces and he could foresee the commencement of training programmes within the next three weeks.
The Chair was satisfied but he emphasised that a follow up would be essential.
The Chair did not think that the Committee should debate S 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act. He explained that Commissioner Selebi was currently in the process of carrying out exactly what the Committee had hoped he would. He called for the Committee to allow the implementation of the law to be carried out and then to debate the matter afterwards.
Commissioner Selebi repeated that they would report back to the Committee at a later stage. The Constitutional Court decision was sound but the problem related to the interpretation attached to it.
The meeting was adjourned.
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