Rule 201 inquiry: committee deliberations

This premium content has been made freely available


21 October 2015
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

Documents Handed Out:
Committee meeting transcript: 12 August 2015
Committee meeting transcript: 18 August 2015
Committee meeting transcript: 28 August 2015 

The Committee met to begin deliberations into its rule 201 inquiry into statements by SAPS senior management regarding their support for the National Commissioner in the wake of the findings by the Farlam Commission. However, before the deliberations commenced, the Chairperson commented on the university student protests against the increase in fees which had recently gripped the country. He emphasised the importance of all role players adhering to legal requirements, to create an atmosphere conducive to open and democratic debate, and that the police should intervene only where it was absolutely required.

In terms of the rule 201 inquiry, the Committee began considering the relevant documents to:

  • establish whether the relevant officers had been truthful in the lead up to the issuing of the statements under scrutiny;
  • consider whether the documents reflected what had been said in the Committee meeting and in compliance with National Instruction 156 on communications;
  • establish whether their conduct had embarrassed or discredited the SA Police Service (SAPS) or aimed to influence processes instituted by the President in response to the report of the Farlam Commission

The Committee began by considering the transcript of the Committee meeting on 12 August 2015, which had been the initial engagement after the issuing of the first statement. Members discussed possible conflicting testimonies between the decision to issue the statement being taken at the meeting of the Board of Commissioners (BOC) or during an informal lunch break, the need to identify unidentified officials and the processes conflicting with the National Instruction on communications. Emphasis was placed on testing the testimony that there had been consensus in the discussion, against the minutes of the BOC meeting at Magoebaskloof. Another significant finding was the scheduling of BOC meetings, with one not scheduled for July. Members also discussed lines of accountability, testimony that the National Commissioner had not beenpart of discussions, whether the discussion had arisen from an additional item on the agenda, and the fact that the National Commissioner had been “conflicted”.

Attention was then turned to the Committee transcript of the meeting of 18 August 2015. This meeting had been held after a subsequent statement had been issued on the Committee’s engagement on 12 August. Members discussed protocols around the signing off on the statement in question. The Committee then considered the transcript of the Committee meeting on 28 August 2015, which had been an engagement with Lt Gen Solomon Makgale (Head of SAPS Communication) on this subsequent statement. The Committee agreed the subsequent statement contradicted the one that the Committee had initially requested, and nullified the apologies offered by those present at the 12 August meeting. There was discussion on the disagreement expressed by the Free State Provincial Commissioner with the issuing of the statement, and it was important for the Committee to establish the timeline around events on the day leading up to the issuing of the statement. His disagreement had undermined the collective consensus claimed. Inferences were drawn from the fact that the Committee still had not received information requested during this meeting.

There was further discussion on the involvement of the National Commissioner on the issuing of the second statement, the fact that only two of the three deputy national commissioners had signed off on the statement, and whether officials had been pressurised into issuing the statement. Members felt it was important to test the repeated idea of a “mutiny” and negative media reports, which had necessitated the need for the statement. Additionally, the fact that Lt Gen Makgale would not reveal who had instructed him to release the statement showed he was hiding someone.

The Committee then considered the agenda, attendance list and minutes of the BOC’s Magoebaskloof meeting on 15 and 16 July, where the decision to issue the initial statement had been taken. There had been an item on the agenda on the Farlam Commission’s report under the name of the National Commissioner, who had also been listed as the chairperson of the meeting. When BOC officials had been asked by Members whether this was an agenda item on the Farlam Commission, they had said they could not remember and that the discussion had arisen as an additional agenda item. This showed the officials had misled the Committee.

Some Members doubted if the minutes were genuine and found that they were too brief to be a true reflection of the meeting. They also highlighted the fact that the discussion had occurred during lunch, which was not a good reflection of sound governance and also countered the point that the issue was so important for members on the ground, because if it was, it would have been discussed in a formal forum where a resolution would have been taken. Others said the choice to meet during lunch was to ensure dissent was not recorded.

Deliberations into the inquiry would continue next week. 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s comments on student protests against university fee increases
The Chairperson, in reference to the protest against fee increases at university campuses around the country, thought it was critical that all role players should at all times adhere to legal requirements and the law. It was incumbent on all role players, including vice-chancellors, student leaders and authorities to create an environment conducive to democratic debate. It was important that the police intervened only when it was really required – the police should not play the role of campus private security. In terms of command and control, it was important that the relevant prescripts were taken on board. There should be sufficient discussion between the relevant authorities to ensure there was a conducive atmosphere for free and open debate and protest. Police management should ensure at all times that there were no incidents of police misconduct and brutality so that the right to protest was respected at all times. All role players had a role to play in ensuring there was relative calm on the campuses. 

Chairperson’s comments on Section 201 inquiry into statements by SAPS senior management
In today’s meeting, the Committee would go through all the relevant documents to consider and establish whether the relevant SA Police Service (SAPS) officers had been truthful in their testimony of the facts leading up to the issuing of the statements. The Committee would also need to consider whether the documents reflected what had been said in the committee meetings, establish whether the statements made were in compliance with National Instruction 156, and establish and consider whether the relevant conduct by the officers had been in line with good governance principles. The Committee also needed to establish whether the conduct had embarrassed or discredited the SAPS and establish and consider whether the said statements had been aimed at influencing the processes of the President in response to the recommendations by the Farlam Commission in relation to the National Police Commissioner.

Transcript of Committee Meeting: 12 August 2015
The Committee went through the transcript page by page. At the meeting, the Deputy Minister of Police had said that there had never been consultation with the Ministry on the statement issued.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) highlighted the opening comments by Lt Gen Solomon Makgale (SAPS: Head of Communications), in that he had said the decision to compile the statement had been taken during the Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting. This was in contrast to subsequent testimony that the collective discussion that resulted in the consensus to issue the statement had come about during an informal setting like a lunch break and that was why there had been no minutes of the meeting that had resulted in the decision. This appeared to be a discrepancy of the accounts.

The Chairperson knew the process was cumbersome, but Members needed to go page by page to flag any issues to develop a comparison for discussions next week.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) wanted to know who the unidentified official was in the transcript.

Mr Irvin Kinnes, Committee Content Adviser, explained that the transcribers did not know who the officials were, so the Committee staff would have to go back and physically look at the tapes.

Mr Groenewald urged that identities be provided.

The Chairperson agreed this was critical and suggested the staff also look at the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG) minutes.

In the transcript, it had been highlighted that SAPS management in Gauteng had also released a statement and that the Committee had then requested the minutes of the meeting where the decision to release the Gauteng statement had been taken. In a letter to the Committee dated 7 September 2015, Lt Gen Lesetja Mothiba (Gauteng SAPS Provincial Commissioner) had written that the discussion had been informal and as a result, no minutes had been recorded or taken. This was an issue which needed to be flagged for discussion, as it raised problems with the issuing of statements.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) thought the explanation provided, presumably by Lt Gen Mothiba, possibly also contradicted what had been said about the Magoebaskloof meeting, and this should be flagged for further discussion.

The Chairperson agreed – at the Magoebaskloof meeting, it appeared that there had been a strong call on members to “speak up”.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) added the Committee should also consider how this infringed the Standing Order.

The Chairperson said a number of statements had been given to the Committee in this transcript which needed to be compared to the transcript of the Magoebaskloof meeting.

Ms Molebatsi questioned the matter of a mass instruction, as raised by Lt Gen Makgale.  

The Chairperson found the context difficult to assess as such, but the secretariat could come back to Members with more clarity on this. He highlighted that Lt Gen Makgale had made repeated reference to the fact that there had been general discussion and from this discussion the decision to release the statement had arisen. The Committee needed to check this against the Magoebaskloof transcript.

Mr Ramatlakane said it was also important to look at the lines of accountability.

The Chairperson said this was also an issue to be flagged

Ms Molebatsi repeated this should be considered in light of the Standing Order.

The Chairperson agreed also, because later on in the transcript Lt Gen Makgale had said the National Commissioner had not signed off on the statement. This raised issues of reporting lines and governance. The Committee should also flag the testimony by Lt Gen Christabel Mbekela (SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Corporate Services Management) that the National Commissioner had not been a participant in the discussion at the meeting around the issuing of the statement. Later, when the Chairperson, reminding Lt. Gen. Mbekela that she was before Parliament, had asked if she was saying the National Commissioner was not party to the discussion at all, Lt Gen Mbekela had responded that “the National Commissioner did not even issue an instruction”.

Mr Mbhele agreed this was a very material point, and it linked to the testimony from Lt Gen Makgale and organisational management and procedures of the organisation. When Lt Gen KJ Sithole (SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing) made mention of the fact that the discussion of the statement had come up during additional matters on the agenda, this should be checked.

The Chairperson, not wanting to pre-empt matters, found it interesting that when looking at the agenda, the Farlam Commission and its recommendations was contained in the agenda. SAPS officials had made reference to the fact that the National Commissioner was “conflicted” in the meeting on the discussion of the statement, but there had been no further information or context, so this could be a selective use of the quote.

Ms Molebatsi added that although the National Commissioner had indicated she was conflicted, she had still asked the BOC officials why they had cowered under tables.

Mr Ramatlakane said the statement by Lt Gen Sithole that the statement was not intended to have the effect that it did, should be investigated.

Mr Groenewald agreed.

The Chairperson highlighted the fact that Lt Gen Sithole had said that if matters escalated to the political level, the National Commissioner would approach the Ministry. While there had been acknowledgment of this protocol, it had not been followed.

Ms L Mabija (ANC) pointed to the testimony by Lt Gen Sehlahle Masemola (Provincial Commissioner: Limpopo), that the BOC meeting rotated around this province and in this case had been held in Magoebaskloof, Limpopo. In terms of the scheduled meetings, there had been no BOC scheduled for July – there had been a national management forum meeting. The Committee had asked for the list of scheduled meetings to ensure that there had indeed been a BOC. In the list of scheduled meetings received by the Committee, there had been no BOC scheduled for July.

The Chairperson found this to be a significant finding – in terms of the list of meetings received by the Committee, there was not a scheduled BOC. This would be flagged as an issue to pursue. The Committee would need to know if the meeting was one of the BOC, or if a national management forum meeting had been converted into a BOC.

Mr Groenewald noted the links between Lt Gen Mothiba’s testimony to the Committee that the statement was needed to give direction, and then National Commissioner Phiyega at the Magoebaskloof meeting, that the commissioners had been silent.

Ms Molebatsi thought the transcripts should refer to the officials by their rankings and titles, instead of Mr or Ms.

The Chairperson said the emphasis of Lt Gen Mothiba that the issuing of the statement was reactive and not proactive, would have to be tested as to whether this was correct.

Ms Molebatsi asked at what point the Committee would consider the tone of the responses by Lt Gen Mothiba.

The Chairperson replied that this was difficult and subjective, but the Committee could come back to look at it and see what could be made from the tone from an overall assessment.

Mr Ramatlakane said that Lt Gen Makgale’s apology had also been conducted in a tone where he regretted what had occurred, but had not apologised outright. This should be compared to the apologies of the other commissioners.

The Chairperson agreed and said it would be flagged.

Committee Meeting Transcript: 18 August 2015
The Chairperson began by refreshing the memory of Members by reading the statement issued by Lt Gen Makgale subsequent to the meeting with the Committee on 12 August 2015.

The Committee then went through the transcript. The Chairperson noted the testimony by Lt Gen Mothiba, that he aligned himself to the apology statement which had conflicted with his apology to the Committee in the meeting of 12 August. This also applied to the other provincial commissioners – by aligning themselves to the statement issued by Lt Gen Makgale, it actually nullified their retraction committed to the Committee on 12 August.

Ms Mmola again commented that there were unidentified officials in the transcript.

The Chairperson said the staff should run this by the PMG minutes which were usually efficient, because it was important to reflect the identities in the transcript. He said the testimony by Lt Gen Lineo Ntshiea (Divisional Commissioner for Human Resources Management) that perhaps Lt Gen Makgale had not signed off on the statement for personal reasons, should be flagged.

Committee Meeting Transcript: 28 August 2015
The Chairperson refreshed the memory of Members by noting that the engagement with Lt Gen Makgale in this meeting had been in relation to the issuing of the second statement after the meeting with the Committee on 12 August.

Mr Mbhele highlighted Lt Gen Makgale saying that he understood it to be a requirement of the Committee that a statement of some kind be issued. There had been absolutely no indication for a statement to be issued by the Chairperson or the Committee. Their instructions had been clear – retract the statement, apologise to the Committee and the President and undertake for the issue not to occur again.

The Chairperson said this was very serious and needed to be flagged. The Committee should also flag the fact that the Free State Provincial Commissioner had not been in agreement with the statement.

Mr Groenewald noted that the National Commissioner had clearly been part of the process to issue the statement.

The Chairperson felt there could no uncertainly from the side of the National Commissioner about what exactly the Committee required. As accounting officer, she would have been aware of the directive. According to the Standing Order on Communication, responsibility of signing off on statements rested with the National Commissioner. He said the emails the Committee had requested at this meeting had never been received even though they had been formally requested, and there was only one inference to draw from this.

Ms Molebatsi pointed out that Lt Gen Makgale had kept emphasising the fact that he needed to run the statement by provincial commissioners, but had never mentioned the National Commissioner as being the one who needed to sign off on the statement.

Mr Ramatlakane highlighted that Lt Gen Makgale kept referring to the meeting as the BOC, when he previously had said it was an informal meeting. This was another issue for the Committee to look at.

Mr Mbhele asked what time on 13 August this second statement had been issued.

The Chairperson presumed it had been early evening on 13 August.

Mr Mbhele wanted to know exactly when the discussion had taken place following the Committee meeting. There had been some timeframe confusion over the expression of discomfort from Lt Gen Mpebe and whether the statement had been issued before or after notice of the discomfort had been received.

The Chairperson thought this was a vital point, and perhaps the Committee staff needed to put together a timeline.

Ms Molebatsi noted that fact that Lt Gen Makgale had tried at all costs not to reveal that the National Commissioner was part of the meeting and even when it had been revealed, he had tried to downplay her participation.

Mr Ramatlakane thought Lt Gen Makgale’s informing the Committee that he was under no pressure, needed to be flagged and tested against the context of what had happened at Magoebaskloof.

Ms Molebatsi said Lt Gen Makgale had deliberately brought in his credentials and how long he had been in the SAPS to cover up what had already been done, and this was not right.

The Chairperson found it interesting that only two of the three Deputy National Commissioners (DNCs) had signed off on the statement. The Committee should note this.

Mr Mbhele thought the notion of collective consensus in reaching a decision had been undermined by the dissatisfaction of Lt Gen Mpembe with the issuing of the second statement. Additionally, by the time the statement had been released -- if his timeline was correct -- Lt Gen Mpembe had made this dissatisfaction known via SMS to Lt Gen Makgale. The Committee would need to investigate how Lt Gen Makgale had issued a statement on behalf of the BOC under auspices of a collective decision while knowing that one of the Provincial Commissioners was not happy with the statement. This raised the question whether Lt Gen Makgale had had the green light or go ahead from his principal, to override this one objection.

The Chairperson said the first statement had been issued 14 days after the Magoebaskloof meeting – the same evening the National Commissioner had given her presentation to the President. The attendance list of Magoebaskloof had been restricted to not only the nine provincial commissioners – there had been a vast array of divisional commissioners at the meeting, but they had not signed the statement. An argument could be made that these divisional commissioners knew the statement had overstepped the line. This was significant.

Mr Ramatlakane added that this pointed to the fact that the Magoebaskloof meeting was probably not a BOC meeting. This explained why all these other people who were at the meeting were not supposed to be present in terms of the BOC. To give the meeting legitimacy, it had been described as a meeting of the BOC.

Ms Mabija thought such actions were pathetic from people Members trusted to protect the public of SA. Going through all the documentation, Members were only scraping the surface of what had been happening. This was disappointing and pathetic. It made her question whether there were genuine people protecting South Africans. What had transpired showed it was difficult to trust the SAPS, especially as the subordinates were just copying what their seniors were doing. Even though she had no tangible evidence, she was sure officials had been pressurised to support the statements to keep their jobs, and the National Commissioner had been applying this pressure. Something was cooking in the SAPS pot, making people say things which were not true.

The Chairperson found the 14-day delay between the Magobeaskloof meeting and the issuing of the statement interesting. In a more positive light, senior divisional commissioners and one Deputy National Commissioner (DNC) had not signed the statement, and this was quite good. Experienced officials who knew SAPS, knew the rules and Standing Orders, knew the notion of civilian oversight and when the line was being crossed, had not signed the statement and this was a positive indication. It showed there were many women and men who knew the rules of the game, and this was positive.

Mr Ramatlakane said the point which had been most repeated to the Committee was the issue of alleged mutiny which had necessitated the issuing of a statement. However, the statement had not even been issued at the end of the Magoebaskloof meeting, and instead had been issued only 14 days later to coincide with the presentation of the National Commissioner to the President. This confirmed that the issue of mutiny was a mere scapegoat.

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) agreed with the observations of the Chairperson, but he felt numb. It was a crisis for the country if a top structure like the BOC was concerning itself with cheap politicking. Each big decision-making structure of SAPS, like the BOC, had a secretariat so if the meeting had been recorded, it showed it was an important meeting of the highest level. The fact that throughout engagements with the Committee, Lt Gen Makgale would not reveal who had instructed him to issue the statement, showed he was protecting someone. He expected the BOC to being talking about high level crimes and policing strategies, but the transcripts Members had seen showed the meeting was a joke, with no managerial responsibility. It was further proof the security of the country was in crisis. The meeting showed a club of children who were without brains.

Ms Molebatsi thought the use of the word “mutiny” had been meant to divert Members.

Mr Ramatlakane said the close relationship between the National Commissioner and Lt Gen Makgale as someone who advised the Minister on communication issues, should be flagged when considering the signing off on the statement.

Mr Mbhele thought the Committee should flag possible contradictions by Lt Gen Makgale, saying he had taken care to ensure each and every member of the BOC was pleased with the statement, but the dissatisfaction of Lt Gen Mpembe had already been communicated on the evening of 12 August by email.

Ms Mmola highlighted Lt Gen Makgale as saying he was invited to meetings of the BOC, as indicated to the Committee at the prior engagement, yet for this meeting on 12 August, he could not remember how he knew about the meeting of the BOC. This was misleading. He also could not give an answer on the time of the meeting.

Mr Ramatlakane thought there had been selective memories and actions that Lt Gen Makgale had elected to share with the Committee.

The Chairperson added the assumption was that Lt Gen Makgale usually attended the meetings of the BOC as part of his normal duties, looking at the attendance register of the Magoebaskloof meeting.

Ms Mmola highlighted the fact that Lt Gen Makgale had said there was no meeting of the BOC on 12 August, yet he had awaited confirmation of the BOC for the statement. What BOC had he been referring to then?

Mr Ramatlakane asked staff to help Members understand the correct use of BOC - was it in reference to a formal meeting of these officials, or a loose name for certain individuals? He understood the BOC to be a structure which sat formally, took decisions and had an agenda. This clarity was needed to make proper determinations.

Official Minutes of BOC Meeting, 15 & 16 July: Magoebaskloof, Limpopo
The Chairperson noted that Members had the minutes, agenda and attendance list for the Magoebaskloof meeting. In the agenda, there had been an item on the Farlam Commission Report under the name of the National Commissioner and Lt Gen Elias Mawela (SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Operational Response Services). The National Commissioner was also listed as the chairperson for the meeting. It was also indicated that there was a secretariat for the BOC.

Ms Mmola said that when the BOC officials were before the Committee, Members had asked if there had been an agenda item on the Farlam Commission. All of the officials could not remember, and said the statement had just come out of general discussion. Now Members saw there was in fact an agenda item on the Farlam Commission, which meant the officials were lying to the Committee in a bid to protect someone.

Ms Mabija, thinking of everything that transpired thus far, even doubted if these were genuine or original minutes – everything seemed to be untrue.

The Chairperson took note of this. He then turned the attention of Members to the attendance list, which covered only 16 July, when the meeting had actually occurred over two days, 15 and 16 July, so there was no indication of who had attended the meeting on 15 July. In official meetings, even in Parliament, if a meeting was held over more than one day, there would be attendance lists for each day highlighting who attended the meeting. There was no indication of an attendance list for 15 July, and Members should take note of this. On the attendance list, all DNCs had been present, along with Divisional Commissioners, Component Heads and Provincial Commissioners.

The Committee then turned to the minutes of the meeting and the specific parts covering the matters relevant to the Committee's inquiry.

The Chairperson noted the official minutes had said: “after lengthy deliberation on the negativity of the media reports, the provincial commissioners indicated a need to support members who were involved as well as to deal with some of the negative media communication that appeared in the media”. The minutes had also noted the National Commissioner’s issues of conflict, with discussion on the matter. The minutes had also said the provincial commissioners had agreed to meet during lunch to discuss the matter further, as well as to engage corporate communications to assist.

Mr Ramatlakane said the lengthy discussion was not mentioned in the minutes. This suggested that in the discussion there had been some disagreement as to how the matter should be handled. The issue of the National Commissioner’s conflict had also not been explained. “Negative media reports” also seemed to be the catch phrase, but the Committee should look at these reports and establish whether they were indeed negative and would have given rise to the issuing of a statement. This should be flagged for future discussion.

Ms Molebatsi thought the choice had been made to meet during lunch because they did not want to be recorded, knowing there were dissenting views. The emphasis had been on coming out as a collective in unity when they knew this was not the truth, and this explained why the lunch break had been used for the engagement.

Mr Mhlongo observed that the agenda for the meeting had been very long, but going to the so-called minutes, this was a misrepresentation of facts. He was of the view that someone just crafted these minutes after the first engagement with the Committee because they had not touched on each item on the agenda. The minutes could not even be used by the BOC to refresh the minds of officials about what had occurred in the meeting because it was that incomprehensive. In his view, this was nothing but criminality. These were not true minutes, but had been crafted to make the Committee look like fools.  

The Chairperson noted the Committee secretariat would write to the acting National Commissioner to request the attendance register for 15 July 2015 and an electronic footprint of the computer on which these minutes had been written before Friday.

Ms Mabija felt the issue was getting deeper, and was confusing some of the Members. She felt the scripture used to open the meaning ("I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing – John 15: 5) had been used to convey another meaning, as many people used the Bible for subjective means. The intelligence of the Committee was being undermined by the SAPS leadership. Money was the root of all evil and maybe because they earned more than Members, they thought they could undermine Members and mistreat them psychologically. This was bad.

The Chairperson, reading the minutes closely, found that if the issue was to be believed to be one of governance relating to members on the ground, the matter would not have been discussed during lunch but during the meeting, where resolutions would have been taken and they would have been reflected in the minutes.

Mr Ramatlakane asked if the minutes had been accepted by those who had participated in the meeting as a true reflection of what had been discussed, or were these draft minutes still to be adopted at a later meeting of the BOC. This was important to establish.

The Chairperson would ask the acting National Commissioner to provide confirmation whether these were the true minutes.

Mr J Maake (ANC) wanted clarity on the type of sanctions the Committee could effect, arising from the inquiry. What could happen if it was found an official had lied?

The Chairperson clarified that the process was in terms of Rule 201 of the National Assembly. In the end, the Committee would make findings and recommendations. The Committee could not institute sanctions, but could make recommendations to the executive authority. There was also the Powers and Privileges Act, but the Committee would need to be advised on this process. Ultimately, the Committee would make recommendations to the House.

Deliberations would resume on Wednesday 28 October 2015 at 09h00. It was important that the Committee establish the identities of the unidentified speakers and get the additional information required from the Acting National Commissioner.

Ms Molebatsi asked that the Committee also follow up on who was involved in the lunch discussion.

The Chairperson said this was something to consider, but the emphasis was on corporate governance. An important issue at national level must be discussed in a formal forum, with formal resolutions taken.

The meeting was adjourned.


No related documents

Download as PDF

You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.

See detailed instructions for your browser here.

Share this page: