SAPS Provincial Commissioners on media statement supporting National Commissioner; Domestic Violence Act implementation: civil society input

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12 August 2015
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met the Deputy Minister of Police and nine SAPS provincial commissioners to follow-up on a statement issued by the Board of Commissioners (BOC) entitled “the SAPS Board of Commissioners fully supports General Riah Phiyega”. The Committee wanted to hear from the provincial commissioners, SAPS senior management and the head of communications in the Office of the National Commissioner as to why the overtly political statement was issued. Given there were processes underway by the President following the Farlam Commission report on the Marikana massacre and questions around the fitness of the National Commissioner to hold office, the Committee found the statement completely unacceptable and an inappropriate attempt to influence an official process.

The Committee interrogated senior SAPS management on who gave the instruction to issue the statement, who was party to the discussion, who called the meeting, the meeting’s agenda and who ultimately signed off on the statement. Members requested the agenda and minutes of the meeting. The Committee spoke with a unified voice saying it was bizarre for senior management and provincial commissioners to come out in support in this way and found it shameful to do so before the process had run its course. It raised questions of leadership, accountability and command and control.

Each of the provincial commissioners and management, except for the KZN Provincial Commissioner who was on leave, were afforded an opportunity to provide input. After various rounds of discussion and dialogue, the Committee agreed that all management and provincial commissioners retract the statement, apologise to the country, the President and Committee and undertake that such an incident never happens again.

The Committee heard submissions from two civil society organisations on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. The Legal Resources Centre spoke to SAPS responsibilities in terms of the National Instruction, non-compliance (misconduct), findings from the training, client experiences and recommendations. The Women’s Legal Centre made a submission on the Report of the Civilian Secretariat for Police: Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. It discussed its concerns, contributions to persistent, entrenched problems and legislative and policy developments before concluding with recommendations. This agenda item will continue the following week.

Meeting report

The Chairperson noted the Committee was meeting with SAPS management and all provincial commissioners regarding the media statement they had issued.

The Committee would also, if there was enough time, hear from SAPS provincial commissioners, Civilian Secretariat of Police (CSP), Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Legal Resources Centre and the Women’s Legal Centre on the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) implementation. It was Women’s Month and there were many issues concerning the DVA which needed to be focused on. The last item for the Committee to consider was the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) implementation of its policy guidelines.

South African Police Service (SAPS) (including Provincial Commissioners) on media statement
Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Maggie Sotyu, noted that as Cabinet was convening today, the Minister would not be present. She commented that the Ministry was never consulted about the media statement in question or about any radio or media interviews about who supported whom. This was not the first time a commission was established involving a national commissioner but never before had the police made such statements. Before the statement was released, the Ministry was not aware of it and found out about it in the media as the Committee did. She was happy to be able to engage the Committee on the matter in the presence of the nine provincial commissioners who formed the Board.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked where the KZN Provincial Commissioner was because there was an acting Commissioner in her place.

Lt Gen KJ Sitole, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, noted the Commissioner was on study leave but she was represented by the Deputy Provincial Commissioner for Operations.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) found this unacceptable. The Committee explicitly requested the provincial commissioners who signed the statement to be present even if the person was on leave.

The Chairperson said the Committee would not interact with the KZN Deputy Provincial Commissioner– the accounting officer was the Provincial Commissioner and it was she who signed the letter. The Committee would deal with the matter at a later stage.

Deputy Minister Sotyu advised that the Committee invite the KZN Provincial Commissioner next week to explain herself.

The Chairperson said the Committee would definitely follow up on the matter.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked how many of the provincial commissioners were in an acting capacity.
The Chairperson answered that it was KZN and North West.

Mr Groenewald asked if the acting provincial commissioners present also supported the statement.

The Chairperson indicated the provincial commissioners present would be given an opportunity to speak for themselves. He asked on whose instruction the statement was issued – he wanted to hear from the provincial commissioners themselves.

Lt Gen Solomon Makgale, SAPS: Head of Communications, said that he was requested to compile a statement and he was then given the content. It was circulated to members of the Board of Commissioners (BOC), corrections were made and the statement was eventually approved.

The Chairperson noted that, last week, the Committee resolved to call the provincial board of commissioners. When the President released the report of the Farlam Commission, the Committee released a statement where, inter alia, it emphasised it would await the outcomes of the processes announced by the President. Subsequently, statements were issued by the National Spokesperson of SAPS and provincial commissioners. The issue was discussed by the Committee where a Committee statement was released. The report of the Farlam Commission made specific findings about the role of the National Management Board and the National Commissioner. The Farlam Commission recommended the President consider the appointment of a Section 9 Commission in terms of the SAPS Act. This section spoke to loss of confidence in the national commissioner by Cabinet where the President could establish a board of inquiry consisting of a judge of the Supreme Court as chairperson and two other suitable persons to inquire into the circumstances which led to loss of confidence, compile a report and make recommendations. The representations by the National Commissioner were to be submitted to the President before Friday 7 August 2015 - the statement issued by the relevant SAPS members was issued just a day after this deadline. He asked on whose instruction the statement was issued. He wanted to know if the provincial commissioners acted on their own or if they were instructed to issue the specific statement. Where was the specific meeting held where it was decided the statement would be issued? When did this meeting take place?

Ms Molebatsi asked that the Committee be provided with the minutes of the particular meeting.

Lt Gen  Makgale replied that there was a meeting of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) where, during the meeting, he was requested to prepare a statement. He was provided with the content for the statement and subsequently circulated the statement to the members of the BOC, corrections were made and the statement was eventually approved.

The Chairperson asked who instructed that the statement be issued – this was the material question and it was not being answered.

Lt Gen Makgale responded that when he was invited to the meeting of the BOC there was general discussion by all members of the BOC. In that discussion, all members indicated a statement should be issued to correct some issues raised in the media with regard to the leadership of SAPS.

Lt Gen Mothiba, SAPS Provincial Commissioner: Gauteng, proceeded to refer to newspaper headlines from 26 July 2015.

The Chairperson interjected – the Committee was not interested in media reports. The material issue at hand today was the statement issued which undermined the process initiated by the President. The Committee wanted to know who was party to the discussion to release the statement, where the meeting took place and who gave the instruction to issue the statement.

Lt Gen Mothiba said the Gauteng SAPS management released a statement on 26 July 2015 in response to media headlines that there was mutiny in the SAPS, to state that there was no such mutiny.

The Chairperson found this a very big problem because in terms of SAPS protocol, only Lt Gen Makgale could issue statements. Was the statement discussed by Gauteng management?

Lt Gen Mothiba indicated that it was discussed.

The Chairperson asked on which date this discussion took place and requested the minutes be provided to the Committee as soon as possible.

Lt Gen Mbekela, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Corporate Services Management, indicated that no instruction came from a specific person to issue a statement. Members of the BOC found it necessary, as the SAPS leadership, because of persistent negativity, to maintain stability in SAPS by ensuring it communicated and indicated to members that there was stability. This was purely administrative.

Ms Molebatsi asked to whom the statement was directed.

Lt Gen Mbekela responded that the statement was issued for SAPS and other clientele outside. There were public statements indicating that there was a mutiny in SAPS so management had to allay the fears of SAPS members.

Ms Molebatsi asked if SAPS communicated to its members through the media.

Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) asked Lt Gen Makgale who initiated the meeting and who invited him to the meeting of the BOC. He asked if Lt Gen Makgale could confirm if all the provincial commissioners present were in fact present at the meeting. Did the Gauteng SAPS management believe it had the authority to issue a statement in response to media reports knowing the protocol that existed? What instability were these media reports creating in the province? Why was this premature route taken when the President had processes in place?

Ms L Mabija (ANC) wanted to understand how on earth the BOC agreed to go public with the statement without consulting the political heads of SAPS, namely, the Minister and Deputy Minister.

Ms Mmola asked who called for the meeting. What was the agenda of the meeting? How did SAPS communicate such matters? She had a problem with this communication which was getting out of hand.

Mr Groenewald noted that there were different accounts - where Lt Gen Makgale said he was called to the meeting and instructed while Lt Gen Mbekela said nobody gave an instruction – whose account was correct? Everyone knew the SAPS protocol where communication to SAPS members was not done through the media – he wanted an explicit explanation as to why this particular statement was issued through the media.

Mr R Mavunda (ANC) thought what was missing were protocol procedures without which there would be a lot of contradictions as was currently the case. In a mass meeting with many participants, it could not be said nobody issued an instruction. Out of solidarity for the wrong things that had happened, no one was saying who instructed the statement be issued. He felt someone should stand up and take responsibility.

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) found it very awkward to refer to Mr Makgale as Lt Gen as it was a rank which did not exist – what should the Committee refer to him as? On 1 April 2010, ranks were created and Lt Gen was not one of them. As communications head, Lt Gen Makgale had a line manager and she wanted to know who this individual was as this would be the person who instructed him to attend the meeting, signed off on the statement and where the buck should stop. She found it curious that the statement mentioned none of the SAPS management structures had taken a resolution not to support the submission made at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry – to include this was a subliminal threat that the management structure could support the submission if it wanted to. The way the provincial commissioners came out in support of the National Commissioner was as though they were the national commissioner’s union and she found this absolutely bizarre. To come out in support of a national commissioner who was part of a process which would run its course was shameful. It was known the majority of provincial commissioners owned their jobs to the current national commissioner. She did not see anyone understanding the severity of what had happened and that they had clearly stepped into the realms of politics. The whole country was looking at the provincial commissioners. She commended the Chairperson for raising this issue. She, and the Democratic Alliance, were horrified by what had happened and the legality of the action needed to be looked into. On 14 November 2013, Lt Gen Makgale, who had at the time just three months’ experience in SAPS, issued a statement titled “SAPS Board of Commissioners Reassures Communities of Police Commitment to Fighting Crime”. The statement was in retaliation for the process followed after the National Commissioner tipped off the Provincial Commissioner of the Western Cape and it stated that the provincial commissioners had full confidence in the National Commissioner – this was in a similar vein and totally out of line - so such an incident had happened before.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) questioned the context which resulted in the statement being issued. He sought clarity on who chaired the BOC meetings – was it the National Commissioner? If so, what was her role or influence in the general discussion, which resulted in the statement being issued? He understood so far, from the inputs received, the rationale behind the statement was to maintain stability in SAPS as a response to negative media reports about the status of SAPS and to allay fears by stating the rumours were false. If the intention was inwardly focused, why was it issued through the media as opposed to an internal circular? As a former media officer in the Western Cape government, he was quite familiar with having read SAPS statements. Previous statements seemed very factual and objective but much of the content of this statement seemed subjective and influential – this did not tie in with allaying the fears of SAPS members.

Ms Molebatsi found SAPS needed to be reminded, at this time, of its core mandate which was to protect the citizens of SA and not to get entangled in politics.

Mr Groenewald, referring to the statement, highlighted the sentence stating “none of the SAPS management structures had taken a resolution not to support the submission made at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry”. This meant the management supported the submissions made at the Commission of Inquiry. The Commission found the National Commissioner of Police to be not honest and that she did not make a full disclosure of what was happening. Thus the statement supported the findings of dishonesty and non-full disclosure. If the intention of the statement was to aid in saving the image of SAPS, how on earth could the statement confirm that the crime intelligence unit was “in ICU”? This just did not make sense.

The Chairperson said it was also important that the Committee knew the date the meeting took place and whether this item was on the minutes. It seemed from the version of Lt Gen Mbekela that the issue just arose and there was a general feeling that such a statement should be issued.

Lt Gen Makgale said he was not a member of the BOC, as this was constitutional structure, but he was invited to regular meetings. All the provincial commissioners were present at this meeting along with Maj Gen Zulu (Acting Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence), Lt Gen Mbekela and Lt Gen Sitole. There was discussion amongst BOC members and from that discussion there was agreement that such a statement should be issued. Regarding his rank and who he reported to, he was appointed with effect from 1 June 2013 as Lt Gen heading communications in SAPS. His appointment was in the Office of the National Commissioner therefore he reported to the National Commissioner.

Mr Groenewald felt this could not continue. Somebody must have instructed the statement be issued and he wanted the name of this human being.

Lt Gen Makgale explained that no person came to him to instruct him to issue the statement – there was discussion in the BOC and the members of the BOC took a decision that a statement must be issued.

Mr Shaik Emam said the question was not being answered. The Committee wanted to know when and where the meeting took place, who invited Lt Gen Makgale to the meeting, what were the names of the various people who instructed the statement be issued and what was the agenda for the meeting – was it primarily for this matter or were there other issues? Lt Gen Makgale needed to elaborate so the Committee had a clear picture.

Ms Mabija asked if it was a spontaneous decision to release the statement. She did not understand because in a meeting there might be discussion but there was one person who gave the final decision from the discussion. If no one individual took this decision then Lt Gen Makgale took the instruction upon himself.

Ms Mmola agreed and said Lt Gen Makgale could not beat around the bush. Someone must have given him the instruction. In the Committee, the Chairperson made the decisions and gave instructions. She pleaded for officials to be fair and honest.

Ms Molebatsi asked if the members of the BOC were all in unison like a choir in reaching this decision. Who was chairing the meeting?

Mr Mavunda felt that Lt Gen Makgale should accept the statement came from his own decision because he failed to indicate to the Committee who provided the instruction. It was like a soccer match where the spectators did not decide when a player should be replaced – the decision came from the coach. The coach would then take the blame or credit for the decisions he took at the end of the game. If Lt Gen Makgale could accept that he took the decision, the Committee could see what to do thereafter.

Ms Kohler Barnard wanted direct, straight, yes or no answers to the following questions – was the National Commissioner present at the meeting? Did she instruct Lt Gen Makgale to be there? Did she, as his direct line manager and accounting officer of SAPS, sign off on this statement? The Committee should not be spun.

Mr Mbhele understood, and based on his experience, that a media officer was the functionary of a principal – a statement was never issued without the sign off of the principal and if this was done it was literally grounds for dismissal because it was not how the job worked. If the National Commissioner was present at the BOC meeting, was she chairing? If so, what was her role in the discussion and decision? He believed the National Commissioner had to sign off on the statement if Lt Gen Makgale was the media officer in the National Commissioner’s office as the line function operated that way.

Lt Gen Makgale said the National Commissioner was present at the meeting. Invitations to the meeting were sent from the Office of the National Commissioner. When the invitation to the regular meeting of the BOC went out to the provincial commissioners, he was included. During the meeting there was discussion, the statement was drafted and then circulated to all provincial commissioners to provide feedback and this was done.

The Chairperson asked if the decision was, in effect, a centrally coordinated effort and not an individual process.

Lt Gen Makgale affirmed this.

Ms Kohler Barnard said the question was – did the National Commissioner sign off on the statement? Yes or no?

Lt Gen Makgale responded that the National Commissioner did not sign off on this particular statement.

The Chairperson found this strange because it raised a bigger issue – the National Development Plan (NDP) and White Paper called for a professional police service. This event was not acceptable. Accountability started at the top for command and control at all levels. An evaluation of this morning’s responses indicated there was a free for all.

Ms Molebatsi was shocked – the National Commissioner was in the meeting, sitting in front of the provincial commissioners – how on earth could it be expected that the officials said they did not support her when they were seated right next to her. She found this weird.

Mr Groenewald sought clarity because he did not understand why the statement was circulated to provincial commissioners when they were all present in the meeting. Why was it circulated? Why was the feedback not provided in the meeting?

Mr Shaik Emam wanted to know if the National Commissioner asked Lt Gen Makgale to draft the statement. Did the National Commissioner ask him to directly attend this meeting? He could not understand why the minutes and resolution of the BOC meeting was not brought along as it would be the first piece of evidence. It appeared to him that Lt Gen Makgale was protecting somebody. Were the BOC meetings scheduled for particular time periods, for example, once a month or once every six months? Was this particular meeting a specially called one? When was the BOC meeting prior to that one? He wanted to establish if the purpose of the meeting was specifically to draft this statement.

Ms Mmola also asked if the BOC meeting was scheduled or a specially called one. It seemed as if it was an urgent meeting.

Lt Gen Mbekela clarified that the BOC was a statutory meeting established in terms of the SAPS Act – the BOC was one of the governing structures of SAPS along with other committees. Thus the meetings of the BOC were scheduled and appeared on the calendar of SAPS. At these meetings the provincial commissioners met, together with identified members of top management who had a direct role to play. The particular meeting in question was a normal one which took place in Limpopo – it usually rotated amongst the provinces to afford an opportunity for the deputy provincial commissioners to also attend and understand the issues of crime under discussion. These meetings were chaired by the National Commissioner but the National Commissioner was not a participant in the discussion of the meeting in question around the issuing of the statement.

The Chairperson asked if she was referring to the Magoebaskloof meeting.

Lt Gen Mbekela confirmed this.

Reminding her that she was before Parliament and that the minutes of the meeting were requested, the Chairperson asked if she was saying that the National Commissioner was not party to the discussion at all regarding the media statement.

Lt Gen Mbekela replied that the National Commissioner did not even issue an instruction. It was a general discussion of the members. The National Commissioner was not a participant in the discussion around the statement although she chaired the meetings. There was an agenda for this meeting.
The Chairperson asked if the approved minutes were available.

Lt Gen Mbekela said minutes were always taken for the meetings so they were there. She could not however confirm if the discussion on the issuing of the media statement was captured in the minutes.

Ms Kohler Barnard could not believe what was being said. Every effort was made to not inform the Committee that the National Commissioner was present at the meeting while every other person was detailed. Now that it was confessed, the Committee had heard that the National Commissioner sat there in the chair while her praise singers worked out how to make her life better. She was sure that if the National Commissioner spoke on the matter, it had been expunged from the minutes. The Committee would not accept this – it was outrageous.

Ms Mmola pleaded for the officials to respect the Committee to whom they were accountable. The Committee wanted to know the truth of what transpired in the discussion and to be given the minutes and agenda. She also wanted the dates for when all the BOC meetings were scheduled and the date of this particular meeting at Magoebaskloof.

Ms Mabija, now on her feet, said what was witnessed was precisely what happened on the ground at grass-root police stations. Police ganged up against community members as was happening in this meeting. The Committee was being tossed from pillar to post and Members were confused by dribbling strategies. She pleaded for the SAPS management to stop playing games.

Mr Shaik Emam was very shocked by what he had heard and he fully agreed with Ms Mabija – police protected police at the expense of community members and this was shameful. He was confused by ‘direct and non-direct participation’ and was of the opinion that all participation was the same. If the National Commissioner was not a participant to the discussion on the media statement, who chaired the meeting at that particular time?

Mr Groenewald felt the matter could be discussed all day but he was insulted by what Lt Gen Mbekela was saying – she was insulting the Committee and, in fact, insulting SAPS. She carried a rank which was supposed to be respected by SAPS members but she was insulting them. He asked if Lt Gen Mbekela thought the Members were idiots to think that the National Commissioner could be a chair of the meeting, did not say anything and believe she had nothing to do with it? He now understood the Farlam Commission and thought Lt Gen Mbekela learnt well from the National Commissioner not to be honest and thus he questioned her integrity. She was an insult to SAPS.

Ms Molebatsi was reminded of the previous National Commissioner, Jackie Selebi, where the provincial commissioners did exactly the same. But to show this had no bearing, Mr Selebi was still sentenced to 15 years. It showed this was just an exercise in futility.

Ms Kohler Barnard asked that whoever took the minutes of the meeting in question be brought to the Committee because any minutes sent would be carefully sanitised and any mention of the National Commissioner would be whisked out so the Committee needed to speak to the person who personally took the minutes to ask if they were instructed to remove certain items out of the minutes. From what she heard today, she did not think the Committee would get anything close to the truth.

Mr Mbhele thought that, based on what the Committee was told, the National Commissioner failed to chair the meeting properly because if the discussion on the issuing of the statement ensued, she should have either excused herself or have the discussion at a separate forum where she was not present. This in itself spoke to the leadership of the National Commissioner. It was also apparent, based on accounts today, that a statement was issued from the Office of the National Commissioner without the sign off of the principal and this went against every known media and communication protocol that he could think of. This in itself also spoke to managerial and procedural failings. He asked why the media statement became a subjective lobbying exercise for the National Commissioner instead of sticking to the objective facts.

The Chairperson asked if, at the meeting, any other action was discussed collectively apart from the media statement. SAPS management and provincial commissioners were welcome to make representations to his office in their individual capacity if they wished, because he knew they could not do so here.

Lt Gen Sitole confirmed the meeting took place on 15 and 16 July 2015. These were scheduled dates in terms of the calendar for BOC meetings. The meetings of the BOC and national management forum took place on designated calendar dates which formed part and parcel of the governance framework. The BOC was a constitutional structure to look at crime in the country and produce a crime report. Issues at the top of the agenda were Operational Fiela and the total crime pattern analysis in the country. Resources and support related matters which spoke to policing interventions which sought to improve policing in the country were also discussed. Before the meeting, an agenda would be circulated but additional matters could arise and this was how the subject of the statement was discussed. He quoted a statement by the National Commissioner from the meeting when the matter was proposed: “I am conflicted by this particular subject and for that reason I am not going to participate in the discussion”. The minutes of the meeting were available and he did not think it a problem to make them available. The calendar for the governance framework was also available.

The Chairperson interjected to get confirmation about whether the meeting discussed any other collective action apart from the media statement in question – yes or no?

Lt Gen Sitole affirmed that there were other matters on the agenda.

Mr Groenewald asked if the National Commissioner remained chairing and in the meeting even though she said she was conflicted.

Lt Gen Sitole said the National Commissioner was still in the meeting but she indicated she was conflicted.

Ms Molebatsi asked for assurance that nothing was removed from the minutes.

Mr Shaik Emam said it was evident the Committee would not get a true reflection of what happened. He was sure that if the Committee spoke to the provincial commissioners individually a better picture would be revealed. He asked if the National Commissioner chaired the meeting from the beginning to the end as normally happened.

Ms Kohler Barnard sought an answer on who took the minutes.

Lt Gen Sitole replied that other matters were discussed at the meeting which were on the agenda. The BOC and National Management Forum were collective decision making structures of SAPS and they were all chaired by the National Commissioner which was the accounting officer. These structures carved the strategic direction of SAPS. The minutes were taken by the permanent secretariat of the BOC.

Ms Kohler Barnard asked if the meetings were recorded, and if so, actual transcripts were to be provided to the Committee.

Ms Mabija thought the minutes must be present in this very meeting because one could not come to such a meeting, without minutes. She proposed that before the Committee left, the original minutes and original schedule for meetings of the BOC be provided to Members. She emphasised the need for originals because she had lost faith in SAPS.

Lt Gen Sitole indicated that the secretariat usually kept manual records and at times there were also recordings – if this was the case this could be made available to the Committee. SAPS respected the Committee and had no intention to mislead Members. He was trying to tell the truth in terms of what had happened. He was not saying he was beyond 100% correct. Although there are minutes, when the invitation to engage the Committee was sent out, some of the officials were already on their way, but it could be arranged for the minutes of the meeting to be availed. The BOC and National Management Forum dealt with strategic direction related to SAPS. Any big events, such as Marikana, called for top management to discuss the matter in line with the strategic direction. There was also political direction to follow which was driven by the Ministry. For purposes of getting the strategic direction right, it was felt the Service Charter should be addressed. Media statements about mutiny etc usually instilled trauma into members on the ground and management was responsible for clearing this up to encourage members and boost morale. At times proactive action was taken to respond to and clarify operational and policing issues.

The Chairperson provide an hypothetical instance of a station commander who was under investigation and part of ongoing processes – if all the members of the station issued a statement to say “hands off”, what kind of message did this send out in terms of demand and control? He asked if Lt Gen Sitole agreed.

Lt Gen Sitole replied, in terms of protocol, stations could not issue a media statement – the issue must be escalated to the level of the province and then the provincial commissioner would consult with the national commissioner.

The Chairperson was referring the principle of the matter – in a command driven organisation that was supposed to keep law and order in the country, it could not be accepted. He asked if Lt Gen Sitole agreed.

Lt Gen Sitole did not disagree – if the matter was still within the strategic direction as mandated by the constitutional structures it would be dealt with but if it was at a political level, the National Commissioner would be approached to engage the Ministry.

The Chairperson noted that the unanimous decision of the Committee was that the BOC overstepped the line and this could not occur in a constitutional state. During apartheid, SAPS was involved in politics as part of the State Security Council and ensuring the apartheid state kept political control. Post 1994, SAPS was under civilian control and this was the principle. He thought the incident of the issuing of this media statement was a blot on SAPS management since 1994 and it could not happen again – the Committee wanted this commitment.

Lt Gen Mbekela reiterated that the issuing of the statement was intended to actually ensure that management corrected the misinformation that was out there which spoke to disfunctionality in SAPS which had been running in the media. The statement was intended to inform SAPS members that SAPS remained stable and committed.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had heard this already and did not agree with it. He asked for the next speaker.

Lt Gen Sehlahle Masemola, Provincial Commissioner: Limpopo, indicated that he was present at this regular meeting of the BOC which rotated around the provinces and was held in Limpopo this particular time. The issuing of the statement was not intended in any way to disrespect the processes or disrespect the President. The statement was intended to alleviate the fears on the ground as SAPS membership was asking a lot of questions. The statement encouraged members on the ground to do their work.

Lt Gen Cynthia Binta, Provincial Commissioner: Eastern Cape, confirmed that she was part of the meeting and confirmed the subject came as a response to wide allegations and accusations made in the media about the morale of the SAPS members as a result of all the issues levelled against SAPS leadership and provincial commissioners. Management and provincial commissioners led members who looked up to them to provide clarity and guidance on certain issues. The issuing of the statement emerged from discussions.

Lt Gen Thabethe Mpembe, Provincial Commissioner: Free State, indicated the meeting took place on 15 and 16 July 2015 in Limpopo. He understood that the statement was not intended to undermine any process that was supposed to take place.

Lt Gen Janet Basson, Provincial Commissioner: Northern Cape, said that she was in attendance at the meeting. Discussion took place and she believed the intention was never to undermine any processes following the recommendations by the Farlam Commission. The broad statement was in regard to discussion which took place in the meeting.

Lt Gen Mark Dumisa Magadlela, Provincial Commissioner: Mpumalanga, confirmed his attendance at the meeting on 15 and 16 July. He reiterated that contributions were within the legal constraints. Top management had to give advice and direction to SAPS in general and the intention was not to distort or undermine legal processes.

Maj Gen Thembisile Patekile, Acting Provincial Commissioner: Western Cape, confirmed his attendance at the meeting on 15 and 16 July in Limpopo. The intention was never to undermine anybody and it was regrettable that it was perceived that way. The Committee was respected.

Maj Gen Jacob Tsumane, Acting Provincial Commissioner: North West, confirmed his attendance at the meeting. He emphasised that the statement was received unfortunately as if it had disrespected government and particularly the President. He appreciated the interventions by the Committee which allowed all a chance to explain themselves.

Lt Gen Mothiba emphasised that the media statement was reactive and not proactive. The statement was issued in response to media statements about mutiny. The media statement emphasised that members were fully behind the National Commissioner and work continued – the statement set the record straight regarding negative media reports. He was part of the meeting and subscribed to the media statement. If the statement had any other purpose it was regrettable.

The Chairperson outlined that to say the statement was to “set the record straight” was the understatement of the morning.

The Way Forward
The Chairperson opened the floor to proposals from Members on the way forward.

Ms Molebatsi, on behalf of the ANC, demanded a withdrawal of the statement and an apology to the President.

Ms Kohler Barnard, on behalf of the DA,  believed the provincial heads had been led by the presence of their superior rank and boss – the National Commissioner. She sensed there were some provincial commissioners who did not wish to sign the statement but had done as ordered by the National Commissioner - there was no question in her mind about this. Huge efforts were made to hide the fact from the Committee that the National Commissioner was present at that meeting but she oversaw the entire process. The Committee could call on the powers that be to suspend the heads that had flouted their oath, entered a political realm which they swore not to or the Committee could call for the suspension of the National Commissioner as accounting officer – she was the source of this entire issue. The provincial commissioners were obeying orders and she had used this method to prop up her position and there was no guarantee she would not use this method again and all others at her R72 billion disposal. The DA called for the suspension of the National Commissioner pending the outcome of a full investigation into this unsavoury matter and the determination by the President as a result of the findings of the Farlam Commission on Marikana. She believed the National Commissioner used the provincial commissioners as a trade union to justify her keeping her position. She must be removed from the position of influence so this sort of behaviour did not continue before her fitness to hold office was declared.

Mr Groenewald, on behalf of the FF+, supported the proposal by the ANC to withdraw the media statement. He believed the provincial commissioners were put in a position where they were actually conflicted because they were appointed by the National Commissioner. The Committee Report on this issue should be sent to the President for inclusion in the process should he act further and appoint a commission to investigate the fitness of the National Commissioner to hold office. He felt Lt Gen Mbekela intended to mislead the Committee and further steps should be taken.

Ms Mmola felt as if the provincial commissioners were reciting a poem as they all said the same thing. She wanted the provincial commissioners and SAPS management to apologise to the media, the public and the Committee. They had undermined the President. She asked that the media statement be withdrawn. Each of the provincial commissioners were not prioritising their work but prioritising an individual – how would this make South Africans feel safe? The way the provincial commissioners responded made her suspect a meeting was held yesterday where they were instructed on what to say. She asked that they apologise.

Ms Mabija also thought all the provincial commissioners were reciting a poem and this made her believe it was an orchestrated response where there was no truth and things were being cooked up. The Committee wanted the original minutes and schedule of the BOC meetings.

Mr Mavunda felt the positive side of this discussion should be highlighted – it took a mature and wise person to accept mistakes committed during the call of duty. He supported what was proposed by the ANC. SAPS members were not elected representatives and so they should not use political agendas. They should move away from politics and stick to being professional. It was a mistake to respond to the media and break protocol. Those involved should withdraw themselves from politics and unconditionally apologise to the President. He felt the media statement was released because of emotions.

Mr Mbhele provided some advice to the police service: in future, it should defend the institution and not individual, defend performance and not people. This way such a mess would be avoided in the future.

Ms Mabija thought the provincial commissioners should apologise to the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POCRU) for actually stepping on their toes and into their territory.

Mr Groenewald did not agree with this as he felt it further politicised the issue.

Deputy Minister Sotyu apologised on behalf of the Ministry and leadership of SAPS that all these things happened under their stewardship. She was sure there would not be another time when something like this happens in SAPS. She spoke to management to suggest that communication should be improved. The timing of the statement was also problematic and she agreed the President and nation should be apologised to because the statement pre-empted the President. It was not known which route the President would take. She asked for the forgiveness of the Committee for the wrong committed although it was not the intention. The statement should have been short and not include unnecessary matters.

The Chairperson highlighted the need for the implementation of the recommendations of the NDP as soon as possible in terms of the renewal of SAPS – this was critical as was the leadership of SAPS and appointment process. Going into the process of the new White Paper and SAPS Act, a leadership was needed which understood the distinction between the executive and civilian authority. He highlighted what was outlined in the Constitutional Assembly on 15 June 1995 where the ANC said the final responsibility for security should be taken out of the hands of the security apparatus – final responsibility for security should be placed squarely in the jurisdiction of the democratically elected Parliament and Executive. Security services were to be bound explicitly. Civilian control over the security services at ministerial level, and through other mechanisms, should be constitutionally enshrined. The right of the public to access information must be provided for constitutionally with limitations in the interest of national security. Security institutions should not act on their own authority but under the guidance of Parliament and the Executive. He thought these principles still stood and there should not be a blurring of roles. It was important for the KZN provincial commissioner to appear before the Committee. SAPS was bigger than its people – people came and went. The founding principles were those contained in the Constitution and SAPS Act. The focus must remain on core business and not becoming engulfed in internal battles. This core business was the fighting of crime. Armed robbery had increased and there was the recent tragic killing of police officers – these were some of the issues relating to core business to address and where the energy should be focused. Due processes instituted by the President must be followed. If a Director General in government was attacked, the spokesperson should respond and that was that. If the Director General was suspended one would not hear of the Deputy Directors General or provincial Directors General backing the individual or saying “hands off”. This was what was expected from a university campus or high school but not a professional organisation. To achieve the goals of the White Paper, the police service needed to be professional and trusted by the community. We should go back to basics, do the job and leave politics for the politicians. The process announced by the President should be respected and there should be no comment on that. It would not be procedurally correct for the Committee at this stage to ask for suspension. It was best to wait for processes to play themselves out and give the Presidency an opportunity to look at the representations of the National Commissioner and receive legal advice. The Committee however wanted all SAPS members to retract the media statement, apologise to the Committee and the President and also undertake to never have a repeat of such a process. SAPS was also to release a statement today based on these proceedings.

Lt Gen Sitole noted that the Deputy Minister had summarised everything that had been spoken to. He took note of the directions of the Committee and these were respected.

Lt Gen Mbekela regretted that the media statement did what it was not intended to and it would never happen again.

All the provincial commissioners then apologised, withdrew themselves from the media statement and noted that it would never happen again.

Lt Gen Makgale said the statement as issued, responded to issues in the public domain. The statement resulted in a huge misunderstanding as evident from the discussion today. From this perspective, it was regrettable that such a statement was issued.

Ms Mabija found this apology unacceptable. He should delete the first part of his explanation and apologise correctly.

Lt Gen Makgale deleted the first part of his explanation.

The Chairperson appreciated the apologies and noted a police service was needed which ascribed to the Constitution, was subject to civilian control and did not undermine any processes undertaken by the President. It was time to focus on the core work of preventing crime. Next week the Committee would be briefed by SAPS on two projects including Operation Fiela. He thanked the Deputy Minister for her presence. The presentation by the DPCI would be postponed to next week due to a lack of time.

Legal Resources Centre (LRC) Briefing on the Implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA)
Ms Charlene May, Attorney at the LRC, began by noting the Act required from the SAPS National Commissioner to issue a National Instruction in terms of the Act to ensure compliance. There were also reporting requirements – currently the Civilian Secretariat for Police reported on the number and particulars of domestic violence matters reported to it and the recommendations made in such matters.

Responsibilities in terms of National Instruction included:

  • without delay ensure that a police vehicle was dispatched to attend to a complaint;
  • Members must inform complainants on their right and remedies – hand complainant a notice and explain its content
  • Where a complainant wanted to lay criminal charges they must be assisted to do so.
  • Members must assist the complainant to obtain treatment and suitable shelter
  • Members may accompany the complainant to collect personal belongings
  • Once an interim order had been obtained, SAPS must serve this interim order on the respondent without delay as it was only valid once served.

Non-compliance (misconduct) included:
• Failure to arrest the abuser of an offence of violence had been committed
• Failure to arrest in cases where a warrant to arrest had been issued
• Failure to dispatch a vehicle to a domestic violence incident
• Failure to inform victims of counseling, medical or shelter services
• Failure to keep record of Protection Orders (POs) on file
• Failure to note incidents in the Domestic Violence (DV) register
• Failure to take witness statements
• Failure to open a docket and refer the matter for prosecution
• Failure to provide J88 (medical form) in cases of physical injury
• Failure to act in cases where there was no interim protection order (IPO)
• Incorrect advice given to complainant.

Ms May then discussed their findings from training where participation in training over the past two years during Women’s Month allowed for unique engagement with SAPS members who were required to implement the Act. Findings included that there were no clear lines of communication between the police on the one hand and other relevant government departments on the other: Clerks at the Court did not know what the roles of SAPS were under the Act, SAPS members had no engagement with the Department of Social Development so they did not know to where to refer clients in cases requiring counseling and shelters. Survivors of domestic violence were stereotyped based on members own personal perceptions and prejudice. Some members did not have a basic understanding of when domestic violence constituted a crime and thought it was only once there was a protection order in place. Members did not receive training on nor  appreciated the cycle of gender based violence or the psyche of a victim of domestic violence and so expressed frustration and reluctance to assist as women did not see cases through and conceded that this frustrates them on a personal level. Members identified prejudice against asylum seekers and refugees and the general notion that “they” were illegal and conceded that they had difficulty with assisting victims of DV in cases where people did not have valid documentation. SAPS members did not feel that it was their duty to serve documents for court purposes – this could be why it was often not done on time or in a timely manner. Members raised the issue that domestic violence officers within stations were normally either female or of lower rank – this impacted on their ability to hold senior members accountable in cases of misconduct. Access to vehicles was sometimes a problem in areas that had high rates of serious / violent crimes and domestic violence was moved down the priority list.

On the experience of their clients, the LRC provided legal representation in cases where women had experienced difficulty in obtaining protection orders. These were some of the experiences in respect of SAPS:
• Clients were advised that until they obtain a PO police cannot accept charges against perpetrators;
• Even when PO was in place members will attend a scene and mediate a resolution very often subjecting the complainant to secondary victimization;
• Delay in serving the IPO on the respondent puts the complainant in a vulnerable position;
• IPOs were served in the middle of the night which disrupted households and once again left the complainant open to further abuse.

Recommendations included:
• Review on whether the National Instruction should be improved upon – since inception there had been implementation challenges. Perhaps we need to review the National Instruction and see where it can be improved upon;
• Improved training on understanding and how to engage with victims of domestic violence;
• Language and cultural barriers existed and training addressing cultural barriers should address this as well as resource allocation;
• Need to rebuild trust relationships with women in communities so that they felt members will protect them;
• Development of flow charts within jurisdictions so that the line of communication, roles and responsibilities of role players were clear to everyone not just to SAPS members;
• Ensure that there were safe spaces at all police stations so that women had a safe environment and that areas were staffed with qualified counselors;
• More DV officers needed to be appointed so that when someone was off duty or on leave the DV matters can be dealt with adequately;
• Senior members should be appointed as DV Officers so that it can be dealt with as a serious crime and hold members accountable;
• Better support from Station Commanders for DV matters.

Women's Legal Centre (WLCE) Submission on the CSP report: Implementation of the DVA of 1998
Ms Sonja Bornman, Attorney at the WCLE, said there were concerns in terms of legal and policy processes with reference to the Civilian Secretariat of Police, the statutory reporting obligations of the National Police Commissioner and noted that the CSP report found only one station 100% compliant with its obligations. Further concerns included ongoing litigation showing police failure, 147 cases of domestic violence perpetrated by SAPS members reported at 74 stations, transparency and accountability in respect of disciplinary processes and the shooting by Constable Ronnie Masie of four people, including his wife, at Alexandra police station on 3 June 2015. It underscored the need to pay particular attention to the use and control of firearms by the general public and SAPS members.

Ms Lisa Vetten then discussed what was contributing to these persistent, entrenched problems. Statutory reporting obligations included section 18(5)(d) of the Domestic Violence Act:
- The number and particulars of complaints received against SAPS members in respect of any failure contemplated in subsection (4)(a);
- The disciplinary proceedings instituted as a result thereof and the decisions which emanated from such proceedings; and
- Steps taken as a result of recommendations made by the Secretariat.

The intention of the legislature was noted:
- The legislature accorded great importance and priority to proper implementation. This was evident from the institutional and operational arrangements;
- The legislature intended to make practical arrangements that also made a policy statement about its stance on domestic violence: that it was to be dealt with seriously, methodically, and at the highest levels of government.

The National Police Commissioner had ostensibly failed to submit DV reports since 2013 – despite a 2013 circular.

In the shift from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) to the CSP, legal and policy references to the CSP did not appear to have been effected in all documents (e.g. the National Instruction). The shift resulted in the loss of the independent complaints mechanism. In the first year of its new role, the CSP received 22 complaints from three provinces which was a 77% decline in the number (94) recorded by the ICD in its final 12 month reporting period. From 1 April 2012 - 30 September 2012, 49 complaints were collated by the national office of the CSP. A SAPS presentation to the Committee (13 May 2013) showed that from 1 July 2011 to 30 September 2012, 280 DVA-related cases of misconduct came to the attention of SAPS disciplinary fora.

Ms Vetten discussed the challenges of monitoring where the purpose of oversight was not solely to provide inventories of police inadequacy. Adherence to prescripts of the DVA was not routinely treated as a key measure of performance. She also looked at numbers pertaining to provincial monitoring.

In terms of the legislative and policy developments, the CSP policy on GBV indicated a move away from quantity towards quality. There were questions about whether the Firearms Control Amendment Bill sufficiently considered DV and if the current approach was working, and if not, why not?

Recommendations included:
• Establishment of an independent panel to review homicides involving a protection order – one in 20 women killed by their intimate male partners in 2009 were in possession of a protection order at the time
• Note CSP policy – approach to quality of services and experience of victims
• Empower the CSP:
- Quality of services
- Identify good practices
- Khayelitsha Commission
- Investigated DVA compliance
- Heard evidence
- Recommendations yet to be considered, one year on
• Include/call for Section 18 reporting as a standing item on the Committee agenda
• Civil society participation: call for comments on Section 18 reports

The Chairperson said this session would continue on Tuesday at 10h00 as SAPS, IPID and the CSP also had substantive presentations. Members could then discuss all of them. It was important to ensure the weight of responsibility was not only on the CSP and SAPS - other role players and government departments also needed to come to the party. He commented on the LRC and WLCE briefings, saying there were many positive proposals which could be used.

The meeting was adjourned.


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