The Committee met to be briefed and discuss the recent killing of a suspect in Krugersdorp by members of the SA Police Service (SAPS), the management of breaches of National Key Points and the police response to student protest activities, all of which had attracted widespread media coverage.
The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) began by briefing the Committee on the Krugersdorp incident by outlining a summary of events, its recommendations and outstanding issues in the investigation. Members said they had been appalled to hear about the case. They questioned the disciplinary processes going forward, not only for the members directly responsible, but also for the duty officer and station commander, and whether suspension in such cases should be immediate, and if suspension would be with or without pay. Other questions raised related to the video material being secured and authenticated, what had driven officers to commit such acts and why the incident first had to appear on the cover of a newspaper before action had been taken. They emphasised the role of the cluster commander as a critical link in the management chain for escalating issues. IPID was commended for their swift action in fulfilling their legislative mandate.
The Committee then turned its attention to the recent wave of student “Fees Must Fall” protests countrywide. This was discussed particularly in relation to the breach of security at Parliament as a National Key Point (NKP). IPID briefed the Committee on their investigation into cases related to alleged police action during the protests, covering the background to the issues.
The SAPS then briefed the Committee thoroughly on the protests by looking at the management of breaches of NKPs, specifically focusing on the standing procedures for breaches at NKPs, the existing NKPs at Parliament, overall security arrangements at Parliament and the security challenges there. The presentation also covered the background to the protest actions by students from tertiary institutions of learning, before moving on the specific case of the breach of Parliament’s security on Wednesday, 21 October 2015, in terms of an overview of the incident, post-event action, and stages of intervention. SAPS described its responses to nationwide student protest action, and events at the Union Building on Friday, 23 October, covering damage, injuries and arrests. The presentation then referred to other incidents, the current situation in all the provinces as of 28 October, the operational concept and the way forward.
Some Members said they appreciated the management of the situation by SAPS, while others expressed criticism for what they viewed as the disproportionate use of force. The Committee specifically questioned the role of crime intelligence, to allow for proactive instead of reactive policing, the future plans to protect NKPs, balanced with the idea of a People’s Parliament, what SAPS was doing to address security challenges experienced at Parliament, and also the role of the Department of Public Works in this regard. There was discussion on the charges laid against the protesters, such as high treason, the number of cases brought to the attention of IPID, the handling of future marches and the idea of an external instigator or third force.
Members engaged SAPS senior management present on the use of maximum force, proportionate force on a case by case application, and the application of the National Instruction and relevant legislation. Some concern was expressed at SAPS’s “militaristic and securocratic” approach to the civil unrest, which was felt to be a problematic mindset for the police to hold. Other Members wanted to know whether there were sufficient reserves and contingencies to prevent the SAPS, particularly Public Order Policing (POP), from feeling overwhelmed, leading to panicky and inappropriate responses. They asked if POP equipment and training would be upgraded and curricula reviewed in the light of what had occurred.
Chairperson's introductory comments
The Chairperson said the Committee would first receive a briefing by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) on an incident which had happened in Gauteng two weeks ago and had been widely publicised over the weekend. This related to the alleged killing of a suspect by the SA Police Service (SAPS). The Committee wanted an update on the case and IPID’s progress in dealing with the matter. IPID would then also brief the Committee on complaints received over the last two to three weeks regarding student protests countrywide – the Committee wanted to know the number of cases and the nature thereof. SAPS would then brief the Committee on the management of the countrywide student protests, but more pertinently, the breach of Parliament as a National Key Point. The briefing would look at the handling of the event, the lessons learnt and what could be done to improve the situation moving forward. Thereafter, Mr Z Mbhele (DA), would brief the Committee on his Private Members Bill on Critical Infrastructure, while the Committee would also be briefed by Parliamentary legal advisers on the legislative process.
The Committee secretariat still needed to do some work on the draft report on the Committee’s National Assembly Rule 201 Inquiry, but hopefully it could be dealt with by the Committee next Wednesday. Also next week, the Minister of Police had been invited to brief Members on the work of the reference group.
IPID briefing: Krugersdorp murder case -- CAS 664/10/2015
The Chairperson said the Committee had noted with alarm the incident which went viral and had now been reported worldwide. It was a serious matter of police conduct and the Committee was concerned about the signal it sent – it was important that the oversight bodies responsible also provided the Committee with the necessary feedback. It was also important for SAPS management to take the lead in addressing the matter.
Mr Israel Kgamanyane, IPID Acting Executive Director, said that the responsibility of IPID was to oversee the SAPS and Municipal Police Service (MPS) members. The IPID Act was very clear on its mandate, as contained in section 28, and its reporting obligations in respect of SAPS as contained in Section 29, while Section 30 covered responsibility in terms of IPID recommendations. This particular matter fell within the IPID mandate and it had been duly reported as SAPS was expected to do. There were two versions contained in the report. The first version had been received from SAPS immediately after the situation had happened, and the second version had come about after IPID became aware of the existence of the video footage, which had actually contradicted what had originally been reported.
Mr Robbie Raburabu, IPID Deputy Director: Gauteng, began by the presentation by providing Members with a summary of events in Krugersdorp. It was alleged that on 19 October 2015, at about 13h00, the police responded to a complaint of armed robbery in Krugersdorp. Upon arriving at the scene, it was alleged that the police officers were under fire by a suspected robber. A shootout allegedly ensued, which led to one suspect being fatally shot, another suspect managing to escape, and one suspect being arrested by the police. The murder scene had occurred in front of a private residence that was equipped with a surveillance/camera system. The video footage had been secured on 20 October, after engagement with the owner. The post mortem had been conducted on 22 October, to establish the cause of death.
IPID had to verify the authenticity of the video and its owner. The person who captured the video did initially not want to cooperate, since he had to provide a statement. The IPID investigators had also used the video footage to identify some of the witnesses and managed to locate them and secure statements from them. The suspects had been identified and were attached to the Krugersdorp Police Station, Visible Policing. All four suspects had been arrested on 2 November, at about 10h00, and detained at Krugersdorp Police Station.
In terms of recommendations regarding disciplinary action to be taken in terms of the applicable disciplinary regulations or code, the investigation into the Krugersdorp murder case had uncovered that a police officer had shot and wounded the suspect robber. The investigation had also uncovered sufficient evidence for the IPID to conclude that the member(s) implicated may have committed an act which was in conflict with SAPS Regulation 20:
- Failed to comply with, or contravened an Act, regulation or legal obligation.
(e) Endangered the lives of self or another by disregarding safety rules or regulations.
(f) Prejudiced the administration, discipline or efficiency of a department, office or institution of the state.
- While on duty conducted himself in an improper, disgraceful and unacceptable manner.
- Committed a common law or statutory offence.
In light of the above finding, the IPID recommended that all member(s) be charged departmentally, as cited above.
Mr Raburabu said the crime scene had been processed by the Local Criminal Record Centre and the necessary evidence and exhibits had been collected. The firearms would be sent to the Ballistic Unit to establish the link between the suspects and the firearm(s) that had fatally wounded the suspect. The autopsy report, sketch plan, photo album and ballistic reports were still outstanding. Once the investigation was completed, the case docket would be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a decision.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) wanted to know what had happened to the duty officer who had initially wrongly reported the incident to IPID.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) noted mention had been made of someone who was not willing to speak to IPID during the course of the investigation, and sought clarity on who this individual was. As soon as SAPS had reported the incident to IPID, should those members not have gone on suspension immediately, given the fairly obvious nature of the case, and then a formal investigation could ensue? Was there no such provision under these extreme and harrowing circumstances for immediate preliminary suspension?
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) asked if there were two videos from the CCTV footage from the house. Had the SAPS members been suspended with or without full pay?
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC), on the CCTV footage, wanted to know whether IPID had already taken steps to secure and authenticate this material. Had action been taken to suspend the station commander departmentally?
Mr M Redelinghuys (DA) expressed his disgust again about this incident. It had been a really appalling incident which had taken place, but at the same time he commended IPID for the very swift action taken in fulfilling its legislative mandate. The fact that there were contradictory stories was a very serious issue, but he assumed it would be covered under “defeating the ends of justice”. He was concerned that the incident had first been displayed on the cover of the Sunday Times before any action had been taken by the police in suspending the officers involved. He was interested in what would happen going forward – he understood officers were working in harrowing conditions. with constant threats against their lives. Police killings on duty were often heard of, but the action taken in this incident was completely disproportionate and completely unwarranted. He wanted to know what drove officers to commit such acts – was it a lack of training, knowledge of the law or because of psychological/emotional/traumatic factors? How was this then dealt with in the Service? Was it not worth considering having constant video footage when officers were on duty or attended to a call, either with a camera attached to the car or as a body cam? This could be used to monitor conduct and ensure accountability.
Mr Raburabu, on the issue of wrongful reporting, explained that when the duty officer arrived on the scene, he had relied on information relayed by members already there, as he had not been there himself. If the members had colluded amongst themselves to agree on the story to tell, this was what the duty officer had been told. In this instance, the duty officer had not spoken to members individually. As the accused, the members were probably trying to protect themselves and this explained why they had lied – this would be covered under defeating the ends of justice.
Ms Molebatsi asked if she understood correctly – had the duty officer not verified the information received and simply accepted it at face value?
Mr Raburabu responded that this was exactly what had happened. The duty officer had asked the officers on the scene what had happened, and this had been the story relayed. This story had then also been provided to IPID. The only way to get to the truth was through further investigation and through the post mortem.
The Chairperson asked Members not to go into details, as it might compromise the criminal investigation.
Mr Raburabu continued with the responses, and said that the video operator was the person who had not been willing to cooperate with IPID. It was not certain why this had been the case, but the video had been given to the police themselves and he had eventually agreed to communicate with the IPID members and the statement had then been taken to authenticate the video.
Mr Mbhele asked if the video operator was also the owner of the residence.
Mr Raburabu affirmed this.
He said the issue of immediate suspension would have to be answered by the station itself, because the matter had been reported to them first, and they had viewed the video first before bringing it to IPID. He had spoken to the station yesterday and they had been in the process of serving suspension letters, but he could not confirm whether this had actually taken place or not.
Mr Groenewald was still not clear on whether there were two videos or not.
Mr Raburabu said IPID had only one video from the home surveillance, which had been provided to IPID by the police. The second video actually showed the deceased shooting at the police vehicle, but IPID currently did not have this particular video nor did they know where it had come from. This had been seen on Monday.
Mr Groenewald asked for confirmation that there were two videos. Was the video circulating on YouTube video one or two?
Mr Raburabu was not sure which video was on YouTube, but the video received by IPID was the suspect being shot by the police. IPID did not have the second video showing the deceased moving from the business premises and shooting at the police vehicle. This had been revealed only on Monday.
On the suspension without pay, SAPS were best placed to answer this. At the time of speaking to the Sunday Times journalist, IPID’s investigation had been at an advanced stage.
Mr Kgamanyane added that with the suspension, SAPS regulations were clear. Immediately after a commander became aware of misconduct, departmental steps would immediately be initiated against that particular member. IPID’s relationship with SAPS was very good and IPID had no problem providing SAPS with documentation to begin departmental steps. The issue of suspension was the prerogative of SAPS management. With the number of videos, these matters formed part of the ongoing IPID investigations of this particular case. This included validating the authenticity of the video, which still had to be sent to forensics for analysis. Going forward, there were a number of recommendations which would eventually be made to SAPS.
The Chairperson said that there were matters which could be sent to the consultative forum between the Civilian Secretariat for Police and IPID. According to the report received from IPID today, SAPS became aware of the incident on 20 October, but the officers implicated had been suspended only on Monday, 2 November. He questioned the lapse in this particular process.
Lt Gen Johannes Khomotso Phahlane, Acting National Police Commissioner, said what had been featured in the Sunday Times remained unfortunate. This act committed by SAPS members was against the spirit of the Constitution and went against everything to do with the law. When such actions were brought to attention, action was taken. The intended suspension of the station commissioner had been informed by the fact that he/she would have received the information of the incident much earlier, had access to the video, and yet had done nothing. When the matter had come to the attention of management on 1 November, he had immediately engaged the provincial commissioner to sanction a process to ensure disciplinary steps were taken against those involved, while the criminal investigation was left to IPID. What had been displayed had been viewed as very serious and thus management could not wait for recommendations to be made, so action had been taken. Regulations allowed for a period of time for a person to make a case as to why he/she should not be suspended, and in this case the provincial commissioner had issued the notice of intention of suspension with a provision to get responses within 48 hours.
The Chairperson welcomed the commitment to constitutional conduct by SAPS members and the assurance that there would be consequences. The Committee thought it was important to emphasise the role of the cluster commanders. If such an incident happened, the station commander should at least escalate it to the cluster commander and then the cluster commander should escalate it to the provincial commissioner. This incident again showed the link should be revisited as a matter of priority. In the Committee’s Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report recently adopted by the National Assembly, the Committee had emphasised the role of the cluster commanders as the critical link between stations and provinces. Although the disciplinary steps taken were welcomed, the lapse in time was disappointing and showed there should be closer management of such incidents. It was critical for there to be consequences if station or cluster commanders did not comply.
Mr Groenewald had still not heard whether the suspension was with or without pay. He asked this because in his view, there was a tendency to suspend lower ranks without pay, while senior ranks would be suspended with pay, and he thought this was unfair.
Lt Gen Phahlane replied that disciplinary regulations provided for a member to be given notice of intention to suspend without benefits. The member was then allowed to make a representation which would be considered, and thereafter a decision would be taken whether the suspension was with or without pay. The disciplinary regulations were not selective, but applied across the board. Issues considered included the seriousness of the incident and surrounding circumstances, and this also determined whether the suspension was with or without pay. He would be pre-empting the situation if he said the members had been suspended with or without pay. Due process would be followed and would determine the action taken. All managers on all levels were obliged to enforce discipline and command and control – thus the inaction on the part of the station commander in this incident had been very serious. It was also important that at all levels, people were held accountable for their actions.
Mr Mbhele was pleased to hear there would be follow up action against the local station commissioner for his/her failure to act according to regulations. He agreed this spoke to weaknesses in the link between the local level to cluster level, and further. There was also a dynamic of management competency on the part of the station commander. He found this failure either as a result of wilful contravention of the regulations, if they knew what had to be done, or ignorance -- which then spoke to inadequate training. Would the disciplinary process going forward also look into and investigate the exact reason this had happened so that corrective measures could be put in place so as not to have the same failure? Could it be determined whether, across the board, there was adequate training on this kind of issue so it did not repeat itself in other environments?
Lt Gen Phahlane responded that the saying “no stone would be left unturned” applied in this case, and the matter would be looked at from all levels, which included looking at the actions of the station commissioner and the other officers implicated in terms of misconduct.
Mr Redelinghuys said it was evident that there had been a breakdown in communication between the station and provincial commissioner’s office. Such an incident posed a serious risk to the reputation and credibility of SAPS, and it should be compulsory to report an incident of such a grave nature to the provincial commissioner to ensure it did not first appear in the Sunday Times, with the notice to suspend coming only thereafter.
Lt Gen Phahlane answered that if a suspect was shot and killed by the police, the incident would be reported immediately, but in this case what had not been visible was the cover up. It was only when the video had surfaced that it was revealed that what had been reported was not truthful. The incident literally boiled down to execution, which was provided for nowhere in the prescripts of SAPS. This breach would be dealt with accordingly.
Ms Molebatsi felt the action of the duty officer who had wrongly reported the incident should also be followed up on. It was important to find out the intention behind this incorrect reporting.
Lt Gen Phahlane responded that departmental action would be limited only to the four members and station commander. It was important to look at the entire chain to deal with where the lapse had occurred.
The Chairperson closed the discussion by saying the role of IPID was crucial in terms of criminal conduct on the side of SAPS members, and that it was being brought to the courts in terms of the constitutional dispensation so that the matter could be handled. It was important for SAPS management to deal with disciplinary steps and deal with the weakness in the links between stations, clusters and provinces. The management of Visible Policing (VISPOL) was also critical, especially in terms of the pocketbooks. If there had been four officers on the scene, had the incident been reflected in the pocketbooks? Had it been reported by the inspectorate coming off duty? All such linkages were critical. The Committee would be monitoring VISPOL closely, because most of the incidents reported in the IPID Annual Report were from VISPOL, as the programme was in the forefront of fighting crime. It was, however, important to ensure members were adequately trained and counselled, along with special attention to be paid to the command and control of the smaller units, so that younger or junior members did not act illegally and extra-judicially.
Management of student protests and breach of Parliament's security as a National Key Point
As indicated last week, the Committee would focus on the management of the countrywide student protests and the issue of the breach of Parliament as a National Key Point (KNP). According to the SAPS Annual Report for 2014/15, there was only one breach in 2014 countrywide. The briefing now would look at processes, lessons learnt and what would be done going forward to ensure there was proper management. IPID would also inform the Committee of all complaints received against members of SAPS related to the student protests and investigations in this regard, to get a picture of the situation.
Even before the protest happened outside Parliament, the Committee had highlighted the importance of management of student unrest at universities, which was actually the task of the universities’ vice chancellors and councils. Even with service delivery protests, the police became the first responder, when this was not supposed to be the case. The first responder depended on where the incident happened. For example, in a municipality the municipal manager or councillor should deal with it and then maybe the province could come in. In many situations, the police were almost forced into being the first responder.
The Committee had called on all role players to ensure there was constitutional conduct within the prescripts of the law, proper consultation and restraint from the side of all parties. The departure point was that SA was a constitutional democracy and people should be allowed to protest peacefully within the law and its prescripts. The police should be the last resort. At universities, there should be mechanisms to deal with conflict, either through private security or other role players, while the police should be the last resort. There had been incidents where two universities had obtained court interdicts which had obliged the police to act in terms of the law, but in the end the interdicts had had to be withdrawn. This had then put the police in a very difficult position, which would be reflected in the presentations.
IPID on investigation of alleged police actions during 2015 student protests on “fees must fall”
Mr Kgamanyane began by providing the background to the matter, saying it was alleged that the student protest on “Fees Must Fall” had started at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg on 14 October 2015. The students had protested against the planned increase of their study fees by the management of the university. The protests were reported to have spread to all provinces which had tertiary institutions. As a result, SAPS had to manage and control the crowds for public order and safety. In terms of section 29 of the IPID Act No.1 of 2011, the station commander or any member of SAPS or Municipal Police Service (MPS) had an obligation to report to IPID any matters regarding the types of cases investigated by IPID in terms of Section 28 of the said Act. A total of 17 cases had been brought to the attention of IPID for investigation – four in the Eastern Cape, eight in North West , one each in the Free State and Gauteng, and three in the Western Cape. The cases involved assault (grievous bodily harm), assault, common assault and discharge of an official firearm.
Members were informed of the status of IPID’s investigation of cases of police action during the student protests per province in terms of the university where the incident had taken place, the alleged incident and date, arrest/s, reported cases at police stations and the status of IPID’s investigation.
IPID would thoroughly investigate all reported cases and send recommendations to SAPS and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). SAPS’s approach to crowd management and control had been commendable.
SAPS on management of breaches of National Key Points and responses to recent student protests
Lt Gen Phahlane, by way of introduction, said that when the students had embarked on #feesmustfall, SAPS had embarked on #maximumrestraint. He was grateful that after two weeks of being under siege, it could safely be said that there had been no fatalities. There would have been cases reported related to assault etc, but if these were considered in relation to the attacks, the members should be applauded on how they had Fmanaged the situation.
Maj Gen Charl Annandale, SAPS Component Head: Specialised Operations: Division Operational Response Services (ORS), began the presentation by looking at the management of breaches of National Key Points (NKPs) by discussing standing procedures for NKP breaches. With the invoking of S28 of the NKP Directive, when an incident occurred at a NKP, the owner must notify the protecting unit and the Secretariat by telephone without delay, investigate the incident, and submit a written report to the Protecting Authority and the Secretariat. The Joint Planning Committee (JPC) should meet without delay to discuss the incident and issue an order to investigate, report and improve safeguarding if necessary. In addition to reporting the incident to the protecting authority (SAPS), the NKP Secretariat must be notified immediately. An initial report must be submitted to the Secretariat as soon as possible thereafter and a complete report must be followed up within 14 days thereafter.
In terms of Parliament, existing National Key Points included:
1. National Key Point 00019: Parliament Chamber / House
2. National Key Point 00020: 120 Plein Street building
3. National Key Point 0134300: Tuynhuys
Existing Joint Planning Committees (JPCs) in accordance with the NKP Act included the Presidency (including the Presidential residences), the 120 Plein Street building (Chair: Department of Public Works’ Regional Manager) and to be re-established, Parliament (Chair: Security Head).
Members were informed of the overall security arrangements at Parliament, beginning first with the standard security plan/arrangements. The Protection and Security Services (PSS) were responsible for the precinct in terms of access control measures, X-ray machines and metal detectors, patrolling of the precinct, CCTV monitoring, Chamber protection and the inner perimeter, as per the approved security policy.
Public Order Policing (POP) was responsible for the outer perimeter, or outer precinct, in terms of the:
- Gatherings Act 205 of 1993;
- Crowd Management National Instruction 4/2014 (2)(e) -- “crowd management” means the policing of assemblies, demonstrations and all gatherings, as defined in the Act, whether recreational, peaceful or of an unrest nature.
It was responsible for inside the precinct, upon request from the PSS
Maj Gen Annandale then discussed current security challenges at Parliament, which had been made known to the Department of Public Works (DPW). These included:
- Poor or almost no access control system at vehicle and pedestrian entrances.
- Lack of shelters at vehicle entrances - poor working conditions to guard against inclement weather.
- Inadequate perimeter fence.
- No designated security check point for delivery vehicles and trucks.
- Inadequate infrastructure to cater for buses and heavy duty vehicles.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether this letter had been sent within the first week of 2014.
Maj Gen Annandale responded that it had been dated 12 December 2013.
The Chairperson asked if SAPS had received any feedback from the Department of Public Works (DPW).
Maj Gen Annandale said that in his consultation with the representative from PSS, he had indicated the status quo was still the same. There were meetings taking place with regard to the total upgrade of the parliamentary precinct, but they had not at this stage addressed any of these specific concerns.
The Chairperson said this was a serious matter. It was clear SAPS had done their work.
Maj Gen Annandale then turned to the protest actions by students from tertiary learning institutions, beginning with the background to the student protests. On Monday 19 October 2015, the Council of the University of the Witwatersrand had told students that it would communicate its decision on fees for the next academic year in November, angering protestors on campus. Student leaders had responded with defiance, insisting that the students would shut down the university. The students had vowed that the university would remain closed until their grievances were heard. Major roads surrounding the main university campus in Braamfontein and Parktown had been blockaded. The stability situation within the Republic was a cause for concern. The protest actions by tertiary students had also included technikons and other places of tertiary education (colleges).
Members were then taken through an exposition of the incident at Parliament on Wednesday, 21 October 2015. In terms of the overview:
- Students had started gathering at 07h00 from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape, burning tyres and cardboard boxes and blocking roads with dustbins.
- At 12h00, students had arrived at Roeland St in buses. The POP had deployed 32 members outside Parliament and all gates to Parliament had been closed.
- At 14h40, a splinter group had forced their way through the Parliament St entrance.
- Another group had forced their way through the Plein Street gate by forcing an entrance through the gates.
- Students had been stopped from entering the National Assembly main entrance by the POP and PSS.
- POP had pushed back students to outside the Parliamentary precinct, but minimum force had been applied through through verbal warnings, pushback with shields and tonfa batons, and the use of 21 stun grenades, two smoke grenades and three pepper spray canisters.
Maj Gen Annandale then turned to the post-event, noting that:
- Six arrests had been made within the Parliamentary precinct.
- Students had re-gathered in Roeland Street, where additional POP, VISPOL, Operation Combat, Metro police and traffic police had been deployed in the CBD.
- Pushback had occurred to buses and railway stations.
- 23 additional arrests had then been made.
- Stun grenades were utilised.
- There had been no use of teargas or rubber bullets.
- All the accused had appeared in court and been released on warning, with various charges being investigated.
- Another application was before the Cape Town High Court for an interdict against the SAPS.
- No force had been used against the protesting students.
- Judgment had been given to the protesters to comply with legal requirements and for SAPS to comply with legal requirements.
Members were then taken through the stages of intervention from pre-incident (11h35 to 14h50), incident (14h50 to 15h30) and post-incident (15h30 to 19h30).
With the nationwide response to the student protest actions, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) had convened for an urgent meeting at 17h00, where the situation had been reviewed and operational instructions were issued. There had been daily meetings of NATJOINTS and Provincial Joint Operations (PROVJOINTS) to monitor all higher learning institutions, while the PROVJOCCOM was to meet twice daily. There had also been liaison with Provincial Higher Education Departments. Police visibility was to be maintained pro-actively at all hot-spots, and the Provincial Intelligence Coordinating Committees were to increase ground coverage.
Maj Gen Annandale then took Members through the events at the Union Buildings (UB) on Friday, 23 October. Beginning with an overview of the incident, he noted the students embarked on a “#Feesmustfall” protest march to the UB. About 15 000 students had gathered. The fence at the south lawns had been broken and students had thrown stones and other objects at SAPS members, and portable toilets had been burned. Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo, had tried to address the students but had had to withdraw due to stones/objects being thrown at him, at SAPS members and the stage where President Zuma was supposed to have addressed them. SAPS members had used pepper spray, stun grenades, tear gas and rubber rounds to do dispersal. Students had overturned a SAPS vehicle, set alight two vehicles, damaged vehicles (SAPS and private) and vandalised shops.
Maj Gen Annandale reported on the known and recorded damage, injuries and arrests. The damage had included multiple portable plastic toilets being burned, a SAPS Garsfontein vehicle being overturned, SAPS vehicles burnt out, various SAPS and other vehicles damaged, a Coca Cola delivery truck being looted, and roads being blocked. 17 students and 13 SAPS members had received minor injuries. There had been 15 arrests in two incidents for public violence.
In the Eastern Cape, the current situation as at 28 October had been:
- Classes at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) had resumed.
- In Mthatha, Walter Sisulu University (Nelson Mandela Drive and Zamukulungisa campuses) had had a meeting 27 October, and decided to resume classes on 29 October.
- In Butterworth, Walter Sisulu University (Ibika Campus) classes had not yet resumed.
- Fort Hare University (East London Campus) and the East London campus of Walter Sisulu University were still closed.
- In East London, at Walter Sisulu University on 27 October, a meeting between WSU Management and SRC leaders had been held at 17h50 and had concluded peacefully. It had been agreed that classes would resume on Thursday 29 October. SRC members had given feedback to the students, who had accepted the agreement.
- At Alice and East London, on 27 October a meeting was held between Fort Hare University management and SRC leaders from the Alice and East London campuses. It was agreed that both campuses would resume classes 28 October.
- In Grahamstown, at Rhodes University, the situation was quiet and no further actions had been reported. Classes resumed on 27 October.
In the Free State:
- A march had taken place at the University of the Free State (UFS). A memorandum had been handed over to the Rector and classes had continued.
- During the night, two cars had been set alight on the Wits campus. The motive was not yet known. Video footage was being studied to identify suspects. The Wits students were divided into two groups -- one was attending lectures, while others were busy protesting around the burnt vehicles.
- Classes at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) were resuming on 28 October. The march to the Reserve Bank on 27 October had not been well supported and no incidents had been reported.
- KwaZulu-Natal Province had been quiet since 27 August. No incidents had been reported.
- The University of Limpopo (Mahwelereng campus) had not yet resumed classes. Classes at the University of Venda (UNIVEN) were continuing. Madzivhandila College of Agriculture in Polokwane would be closed for the week.
- North West University’s Mahikeng campus had been closed and would reopen on 2 November.
- In Ikageng, a group of students calling themselves "Reform Puk Movement" intended to hold a meeting on 29 October at 17h00 at Govan Mbeki Hall regarding transformation at NWU’s Potchefstroom campus. No disruptions were anticipated.
- No incidents of violence or protest were reported on 28 October.
- 21 students who had participated in the student protest last week were appearing before the Wynberg Magistrate Court today in Rondebosch -- CAS 140/10/2015 -- on charges in terms of the Gatherings Act, as well as contempt of court (for actions contradicting a court order obtained by UCT). The University had earlier indicated that they intended to withdraw the charge(s) insofar as it depended on them. Approximately 300 students had gathered outside the court in a peaceful and calm manner this morning. The situation was being monitored by visible policing units. It had since been confirmed that the mentioned case had in fact been withdrawn against the students in question in court.
- On 27 October, students had met at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) Cape Town campus, where they had been addressed by the Crisis Committee. They had been informed that the strike would continue, but they would be informed on 30 October on the way forward. Threats of students going to Parliament to protest had not materialised.
- At UCT, classes had been suspended until 30 October. Contract workers demanding permanent employment intended to continue with protests on 28 October.
- Although no incidents were reported, classes had also not resumed at UWC.
- The Ses’khona Peoples Rights Movement had been granted permission to embark on a march regarding service delivery in Cape Town from Kaizersgracht to Wale Street on 28 October, from 09h00.
- Update: The threat of the SA Students’ Congress (SASCO) mobilising students to take part in the protest had not materialised. By 12h00 approximately 200 protesters had gathered outside the Western Cape Provincial Legislature.
In terms of the operational concept, police would maintain public order at all times. POP units would be mobilised across the country, with deployment to hotspots. They would be instructed to utilise established crowd-control methodologies against protesting students while recognising the constitutional right to strike. The concept of minimum force had been strongly emphasised. Flexibility and discretion within the law would be utilised by commanders. No sharp ammunition was to be utilised. The preferred option was to monitor peaceful actions by students and channel them accordingly. Protection of life and property would continue. POP resources were constantly being reviewed, and additional deployments would be made to hotspots where required.
Looking ahead, NATJOC and PROVJOCS would closely be monitoring all hotspots. There would be pre-deployments, close cooperation with Departments of Basic and Higher Education, all National Key Points would be monitored, with contingency planning for any gatherings, increased capacity and information gathering capabilities, a focus on student mobilisation, and Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)-led communication.
Ms Molebatsi was very grateful to SAPS for the manner in which they had handled #feesmustfall and their response of #maximumrestraint. She was very proud of the Service for averting another Marikana of some kind. She asked IPID if they had picked up evidence of provocation before incidents had happened. Also, how was the issue of toy guns being dealt with? The role of SAPS crime intelligence was very questionable – on the day of the breach of security at Parliament, the Committee had met and as Members had left it was clear the number of protesters was swelling, but the preparation of SAPS had not been up to standard. What was the role of SAPS crime intelligence?
Mr Kgamanyane responded that it was very difficult to pick up on provocation, because IPID usually played its part after a matter had been reported. The issue of the toy gun was under investigation.
Mr R Mavunda (ANC), looking at the current SAPS delegation, was disappointed that the team was all male – perhaps #genderinequality should fall. Now that SAPS learnt that protestors did not respect NKPs, what were future plans to protect all NKPs?
Lt Gen Phahlane said the delegation was in no way a reflection on the gender picture within the Department. The delegation present was a cost containment measure, and they were officials who, in one way or another, who would have taken a lead in managing recent situations. On a lighter note, the two weeks of marches had ended with a march by the ANC Women’s League to the Union Buildings, and his directive had been to see that this march was managed by women. Indeed, the deployment of the managing team had been comprised of more women, and he believed in their competence to handle situations of that nature. The result was an incident-free march.
Intelligence suggested the “fees must fall” protest would return towards the end of January/February so it remained an issue. SAPS would use the lessons learnt from recent incidents to ensure there was proper planning which would prevent poor performance. SAPS unfortunately came in when conflict had escalated and were not always kept up to date with the escalation of issues. Emotions were then high and this was when spontaneous activities took place. Nowhere in a march would protesters make it known that they would burn vehicles or destroy things, and if this happened, SAPS was forced to take action.
The Constitution of SA provided for a policing organisation with clear functions as enshrined in section 205. SAPS would execute its mandate as per the Constitution, while respecting constitutional rights to also protest, march and make their issues known. The Constitution did not allow for violence while marching or raising issues, however. This was supposed to be peaceful, but unfortunately the situation on the ground had escalated to the level of SAPS have to exercise its powers. He was grateful for the restraint exercised. This showed in the fact that there had been no casualties and only 17 students injured.
Lt Gen Khehla Sithole, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, said there was a plan for security and policing of NKPs. It was an integrated plan where the PSS took responsibility for protection and ORS backed this up. The local police station also had the responsibility for policing of that particular NKP, but the whole process was intelligence-led.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) appreciated the role SAPS had played in #feesmustfall. She asked for the exact number of cases brought to the attention of IPID for investigation. To SAPS, she asked about the charges brought against the protestors arrested in the Parliamentary precinct.
Mr Kgamanyane said the correct and exact number of cases brought to the attention of SAPS was 17.
Mr Ramatlakane echoed the sentiments of other Members -- the SAPS had dealt with the issue effectively in the face of high provocation. It was clear #maximumrestraint worked. When the presentation had made reference to discharge of an official firearm, he imagined this had been in reference to a stun grenade, and perhaps the presentation should make this clear for others reading it. He had initially questioned why SAPS would inform the Committee of security challenges at Parliament, as if the Service did not have the capabilities or authority to do anything about it. Now he understood that there had been a non-response from the side of the DPW, but he still questioned why SAPS was not doing more as an authority of the state to ensure safety. Such challenges could not go on for five or ten years. Action should be taken to fix the problems. He was not trying to say Parliament should be built as a fortress, but simple security breaches and lapses could be addressed within the authority of SAPS. Could the Committee be assured that something would be done, especially around the simple things highlighted as challenges in breaches to security?
He was concerned that the police were flying blindly – some of the protest action indicated some degree of planning by the students, and this made him question why SAPS had not known about such planning. Was it a problem of the lack of a footprint to neutralise issues before they happened? What was going to be done to correct this and prevent another such incident tomorrow, as it was a very serious weakness? It was known through social media that the students were planning “the mother of all marches” once exams were over, so there needed to be police planning before this happened.
Lt Gen Phahlane answered that SAPS had an obligation to be transparent with Members about what the issues confronting the Service were. This was not to say it was not doing anything about these challenges, but they had been included in the presentation to explain the situation SAPS found itself in. It was matter which could not be handled only through letters, but required engagement and so on. There was an assurance from the side of SAPS that something would be done and there would be engagement with those responsible to come to the party to provide assistance. He agreed the police could not fly blindly, but reality dictated that there should also be deployment in the areas where some students stayed behind so that they did not take advantage of the focus at Parliament and thus cause damage. This also came back to the question of intelligence. After the protest outside Parliament, SAPS had continued to receive intelligence that the protestors would return but en route plans had been changed, probably due to insufficient support. These were matters over which SAPS did not have control, and thus resources had to change to take care of the situation. He was not suggesting that SAPS had more than it required to respond to each and every situation, but it could reasonably be said that there was capacity to deal with any eventuality.
Mr Kgamanyane said the IPID timeframe for investigation was usually three months. Preliminary investigations could be done within a day or a week. With the discharge of an official firearm, in future IPID would indicate the type of firearm used.
Mr J Maake (ANC) found it strange how the precinct was not part of the parliamentary NKP, and only the buildings themselves within the precinct itself were. He wanted to understand the use of maximum force by the police – if the lives of members were threatened, did it mean they could use maximum force? In terms of protecting a NKP, when did SAPS have to use maximum force? Would it be used to prevent trespassers?
With maximum force he was referring to shooting. Did this mean restraint was a relative concept, depending on what was being done or how threatened a member felt? If a person violated a NKP, what did SAPS do?
Lt Gen Phahlane replied that maximum force was described by some as brutal force.
Lt Gen Elias Mawela, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Operational Response Services (ORS), said the Bill of Rights was supreme. In this regard, human life was a priority and would be protected, and property came later. The lives of the students were a priority and the police would ensure life was preserved while property was secondary – operations were balanced in this way. Human life was priority as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
Maj Gen Sello Kwena, SAPS Acting Divisional Commissioner: Protection and Security Services (PSS), added the Section 3 (1) National Key Point Act also made provision that the owner of the NKP was also responsible for ensuring the safety and security at that particular key point.
Mr Groenewald brought to the attention of Members a media report where, after the incident at Parliament, the ANC and the DA had both condemned the police’s heavy hand in quelling student protests in the Parliamentary precinct. He found politics interesting, because it clearly suited parties to criticise police action at a certain time when it was popular to do so. He felt SAPS had done a good job on that day and congratulated all the members for a job well done. It was important to be fair to the SAPS – it was not their job to create buildings and put up fences etc. He appealed for Members to be fair. Perhaps the SAPS should provide an explanation as to what a stun grenade was, because some people had an incorrect perception of what it really was – its sound was more than its bite. Had there been a follow up to the letter addressed to DPW? He thought the Committee should call the DPW to come and explain how they would act on this letter. As far as crime and national intelligence was concerned, did SAPS determine who was behind this whole issue? He was not convinced a student had started a hashtag and then a spontaneous situation had ensued. Who had paid for the buses for the students to get to the places of protest? Who had sat behind all the protests from an intelligence point of view?
Lt Gen Phahlane said that whoever was behind the protests was subject to further investigation and he could not reveal more details about this. Looking at what had happened at Parliament, people had taken advantage of the situation – T-shirts had been distributed, and these had not come from the students themselves. It was clear the issue was about more than “fees must fall”. At the Union Buildings, people were seen whose identities were very questionable and this was being followed up on in terms of their role and possible agenda. Even after the President had announced the zero per cent increase in fees, there had still been calls for the President to come outside – what more could the President say after the public announcement had been made? How could a state president be allowed to come into a situation where stones were being pelted and where the feeling was volatile and unsafe? The fact that even the student leaders had been pelted with stones also raised questions. One day these questions would be answered through the investigations.
Mr Mbhele was pleased to learn that in fact there had been no breach of a NKP, because this was how it had been framed in much of the coverage -- that the SAPS action had been in response to the unauthorised entry of the precinct. On the one hand, there was the clear and undisputed mandate of the POP, while on the other there were concerns about the case by case application of degrees of force and whether or not those were appropriate and proportionate in different cases. No one was saying SAPS should not act in crowd management, but it was the how and underlying approach that raised the questions. He thought the situation portrayed strands of a militaristic and securocratic approach to what, in his opinion, was civil action. He had heard strands of this also displayed in the presentation through the use of language such as the country “being under siege” – only enemies held the state under siege, and not citizens exercising their rights. Students were the subject here, and not paramilitaries storming the gates of Parliament. He thought this militaristic mindset was highly problematic.
In terms of compliance with the regulations and prescripts in such situations, looking at the 2012 National Instruction on POP, section 13 spoke to the management of crowds in a peaceful way and the need for a reserve. Was there a reserve to the POP contingent stationed at Parliament? Effective crowd management occurred through numbers – the operational officers needed the numbers for an effective push back. Not having sufficient numbers, such as provided in a reserve, led to officers feeling overwhelmed and panicky, leading them to jump straight to other measures he felt were disproportionate. Was the POP contingency in Parliament in a position to swell their numbers if needed, to contain and act without deploying measures such as pepper spray and stun grenades? There was nothing wrong with managing crowds, but the issue was how it was done -- the approach and underpinning mindset. Section 14 of the National Instruction spoke to measures when life and property were in danger, and he was not quite convinced the protest at Parliament had reached this critical level. Was the situation at a point of conflict when the clearing operation happened? Although he was not witness to it, the information he had received was that once the protesters were on the precinct, they had sat down. This was not indicative of a point of conflict. Initially the students arrested on the precinct had been charged with high treason, along with two other charges. Although the charge of high treason had been withdrawn, how on earth had this happened? It again displayed the militaristic and securocratic mindset, quickly arriving at the point of high escalation. He wanted an explanation for this charge. From information he had received from lawyers, apparently there had been an instruction from high up to make an example, which itself was very worrying.
Lt Gen Phahlane pointed out that at the Union Buildings, there were no stones or bricks lying on the ground. However, these had been pelted at the police, so surely someone had come carrying them. This was provocation in the extreme. He did not think “under siege” had a military connotation to it, because it referred to a form of attack or assault waged, and SAPS had not at all responded in a manner which was a military response. There had been the application of proportionate, minimum force as characterised by #maximumrestraint. For this,he continued to applaud SAPS members because it made them know it was possible to deliver these results without having to go to the extreme of live ammunition.
Not a single person had been charged with high treason. If these students had been charged with high treason, they would still be behind bars today. It was unfortunate that internal processes had been used to serve selfish agendas somewhere. People had been arrested in the heat of the moment. At the time of arrest, investigations had not been concluded, so a 14A notice would have been served to the arrestees. This notice outlined the areas the arrestee may be charged with, which included public violence, trespassing and high treason. These charges would be dependent on an investigation, but not a single protestor had been charged with high treason. This also explained why those arrested had been released the day after being detained.
He did not agree there had been a militaristic response. Somewhere the police should be allowed to do their work as provided for in the Constitution. The laws of the country needed to be applied and it could not be that there was action only when lives were lost. He agreed that there should be proactiveness, which explained why the bulk of the budget was spent in programme two (VISPOL), because if crime could be prevented and a situation could be prevented from escalating, wonders would be achieved. SAPS was resolved to make proactive policing a reality, but the laws would be applied accordingly if a situation escalated and required reactive policing. If one of these laws required the proportional use of force, this would be done to bring peace and stability to ensure the people of SA were safe and felt safe.
Lt Gen Mawela explained that the National Instruction was relevant for the planned gatherings and marches. In these cases, the planning officer would put aside the reserve group but when there was a spontaneous gathering, it was difficult to plan a reserve group. Based on this, he was satisfied the operational commanders had done their level best to move resources around to ensure the situation was dealt with as it unfolded on the ground. Operational commanders had come up with the operational plans on the ground and had applied measures and tactics deemed fit, based on the situation.
Mr Redelinghuys stated that from the outset, the DA unequivocally condemned criminal activity, destruction of property, assault etc. He would try to legitimise what the students had done and that any violation of the law should be condemned. However, the excessive use of force by the police disproportionately and prematurely was condemned, not negating the need for the police to have acted in the first place. In his opinion, the entire matter could have been avoided. The entire situation had escalated because of a number of failures in the run-up to the so-called “storming of the Bastille”. In the first instance, the police were the first responders on the scene when the people that should have shown up should have been the Minister of Higher Education and the Minister of Finance, as requested by the students. Instead, they had been met with an executive arm of the state which dealt with enforcement rather than negotiating with their concerns. Secondly, there was a clear failure on the part of crime intelligence to adequately respond to, detect and deal with the issue. The entire #feesmustfall across the country was an organic response facilitated by social media, which made for easy mobilisation. As seen on Twitter, NGOs had become involved with legal assistance, and it was unfair to create the impression that there was some ring-leader funding the operation to destabilise the country, which was exactly what the ANC was trying to imply. Because it was an organic movement, it became difficult to negotiate or diffuse the threat if there were no clear leaders, and here he empathised with the SAPS. Had a proper crime threat assessment been done and if so, what had it indicated? When he had engaged with an officer at Parliament on social media claims to storm Parliament, he had dismissed it as an unlikely event. This had also been reflected in the lack of numbers of SAPS personnel on the precinct. He found it disturbing that there not even a meeting of the JPC had been convened to discuss this, which pointed to a clear failure of crime intelligence. Who had been the commanding officer in charge of deployment at Parliament on the day? He had an idea of who it was, because there had been a similar incident in February which had been related to the inconsistent application of the law – the Regulations of Gatherings Act defined a zone around Parliament around which gatherings were prohibited from taking place without the permission of the Chief Magistrate of Cape Town. When he had been arrested in Cape Town ahead of the State of the Nation Address, this had been the reason provided. Why was this then not consistently being applied? He sought a breakdown of events at the Union Buildings as had been prepared for Parliament, and a breakdown of the cases opened.
Mr Ramatlakane asked Members to refrain from pointing fingers at others as a form of cheap politicking. It was easy to do this, but would not achieve much.
Mr Groenewald said he was a Member of Parliament, and would not be restricted in his speech by anybody.
The Chairperson noted the tradition of the Committee was to depoliticise issues and stick to the main business and deal with the merits. It was important to stick to this tradition, because if Members were going to adopt the unproductive approach, the Committee would not reach consensus. Members should bear this in mind.
Mr Redelinghuys pointed out that he was present to represent a political party and the views of the party. He was not using this as an opportunity to attack the ANC, but was stating a fact. The facts were out there and Members were welcomed to challenge these facts.
Ms Molebatsi thought the matter was getting out of hand. All Members were representing political parties but the tradition of the Committee was to come together and deal with matters of national importance instead of politicking. Members should stick to this tradition.
Mr Maake added the Committee was here to get answers from the SAPS present. If Members had problems with the ANC, the right place to discuss it was in the House, because the police could not answer for the ANC. Time should not be wasted.
Lt Gen Phahlane, answering the issue of case by case application of the law and proportionate action, said there had definitely been proportionate action. He had been present at the Union Buildings and at Parliament and it was certain that what had happened could not be allowed. He was grateful for the SAPS members pushing the students back out the precinct. He repeated there had been no loss of life in the process, and the SAPS had instead acted responsibly by protecting the right to protest but not allowing anarchy. The National Commissioner of Police had directed people on the ground in accordance with the Constitution to execute the policing mandate. The instruction to all levels was to apply maximum restraint – there had been no instruction which had come from anyone else. Members on the ground had also assessed the situation to act accordingly. He was grateful this action had not been irresponsible at all. At the Union Buildings, the charges had been related to public violence and damage to property.
Maj Gen Thembisile Patekile, Acting Provincial Commissioner: Western Cape, said he had been the overall Operational Commander on the day of the incident at Parliament. Technically, on the ground, there had been other officers, like Lt Gen Lucas. He indicated there had been an investigation into this matter by the police ombudsman, but there had been compliance with the regulations and what was supposed to have been done at the time.
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) wanted to find out, from the level of crime intelligence, if any information had been picked up on the student protest to Parliament. Had there been any pick up of an external instigator, or had the students been united in their diverse political formations confronting one issue? Often the police were first responders on matters, sometimes outside of their scope. Were there any proactive moves from the side of the Civilian Secretariat for Police in terms of advice on the side of SAPS and political leadership? It was easy to point fingers when at the end of the day the police were expected to toe only one line – protecting the sovereignty of the country and all that belonged to it, in a professional manner. He believed the police had been left with no option at the end of the day, given the circumstances. If they did not protect the NKPs, blame would come to them.
Lt Gen Phahlane acknowledged the concern Members had with crime intelligence. It was an area to be included in the review. Crime intelligence would engage in a strategic session and he would meet with them where discussion would focus on upping the game to allow the members on the ground to operate effectively and efficiently to be proactive. It was a situation which required attention to turn the picture around. There must be proper planning to prevent poor performance, proactive policing in the main, earlier deployment and intelligence at the fingertips of SAPS members.
Mr M Mncwango (IFP) expressed his discontent with the role of intelligence in this particular matter. If intelligence was conducted in this manner, the country had a serious problem. Where was the intelligence report dealing with the pre-situation which would actually have been used to guide resources and deployment and guard against any eventuality against the law? In the absence of forewarning, how would police know about resource allocation and quantities of deployment? If he was a commander, he would have no idea of sufficient resources and deployment without intelligence forewarning. What was the contingency plan for the future? What lessons had been learnt from what had happened in terms of preparation? What was the normal response of SAPS in the event of a NKP area being attacked -- whether by students, a group of lunatics or mentally deranged people? Would there be negotiation? What did the law expect SAPS to do? When Members first came to Parliament in 1994, it had rightly been declared as the People’s Parliament – this meant the gates were literally open for people to rejoice with Members triumphantly in celebrating the demise of apartheid. How was this then balanced against the stringent security measures required of an NKP?
Lt Gen Phahlane said that the issue of intelligence was continually raised internally to enable proactive policing and to not get caught up in reactive policing, especially because reactive policing was more expensive. Intelligence was a prioritised area, always under review to check effectiveness and efficiency. Over the course of the protests, there had been useful intelligence shared with SAPS to enable planning of operations. It could not be said that this was adequate because many of the activities would have been unplanned. This was seen even in the number of protesters and the information provided by the organisers. The issue did not affect only students, but also involved parents and others who had joined in. In Pretoria, a number of 12 000 had been provided, but the SAPS had ended up dealing with 15 000. Information had been provided on the number of buses and where they were coming from, but these buses had not arrived simultaneously and this, along with inefficiency on the side of organisers, had also affected planning and deployment. It often meant that resources should be split. All in all, there had been intelligence which had enabled SAPS to plan and deploy, but the situation on the day had dictated otherwise. However, It could not be said the intelligence machinery was effective and efficient. It was a commitment on the part of SAPS to continuously look at intelligence to make proactive policing a reality. Intelligence of State Security also played a role in feeding SAPS with information, which assisted in verifying information received from other sources. He was satisfied with the management of the situation with what had been at the disposal of SAPS, but there was room for improvement. The institution remained the People’s Parliament, but when converging on a People’s Parliament there must be order. He did not know if SAPS would be commended if it had allowed students to invade the Chamber. The situation would have been chaotic and this had to be avoided at all costs. The situation had been managed and there had been no casualties.
Lt Gen Sithole added that all People’s Parliaments around the world were governed by laws which the police enforced.
The Chairperson referred to the SAPS Annual Report, and said there was the issue of upgrading POP equipment. In his opinion of what had happened at Parliament, there had been equipment lapses. For example, two of the Ministers had wanted to address the students outside post-event, but the loudspeakers had been insufficient and ineffective. Did the Annual Report speak to the resources necessary for the POP units countrywide, especially the one here at Parliament? In the light of what had happened, would POP training be increased and would there perhaps be a change in the curricula? In the Annual Report, reference had been made to the development of a new POP official’s course between POP and crime intelligence – had the course been implemented?
Lt Gen Phahlane responded that equipment was an issue he had raised with colleagues to ensure SAPS utilised what was at its disposal. Loud hailers had not only been required at the end point, but also as the march had progressed to enable communication with participants and with fellow members. It was important that equipment was utilised.
Ms Mmola questioned the possible discrepancy in the number of cases reported to IPID in the presentation.
Mr Kgamanyane clarified the incident omitted had been the Wits matter which was supposed to have been added to make the total number of cases 17.
Mr Redelinghuys questioned enforcement and procedure under Section 9 of the Regulations and Gatherings Act. He believed the incident could have been prevented if a number of other things had occurred. In terms of Section 9, once it became apparent to the commanding officer that the situation could not be controlled while still outside the gates of Parliament, he/she should have given the protesters a notice of dispersal, and after a specified timeframe they would be cleared out. He did not see Section 9 being specifically followed by the POP at both Parliament and the Union Buildings. Why had this not taken place before the students had even been allowed to breach the precinct? A risk assessment must have been done by the commanding officer, realised that tempers were flaring and then made use of Section 9. He was in awe of the extreme discipline displayed by the police at the Union Buildings, and having seen public incidents go awry, he had been very impressed with the discipline maintained by the officers. How had the chaos then unfolded when Section 9 should have been enforced?
Lt Gen Phahlane said the Act had been applied to the letter according to the phasing of the situation on the ground. He could not say the matter should go un-reviewed – after everything, there would be some introspection in terms of future responses.
Mr Mbhele pointed to the fact that there were resourcing challenges which still needed to be speedily addressed. Even in incidents of spontaneous or unplanned public demonstrations, there still needed to be an adequate SAPS response. The key point was that the police should never find themselves in a situation where they were overwhelmed and got panicky, because this was when a situation such as Marikana occurred. There should be as much prevention as possible to manage things in a controlled, staggered way without having to lash out. This was something for the Committee to look at going forward.
Lt Gen Phahlane responded that SAPS had gone to the extent of activating other members to complement the deployment. It may be that in mobilising, some got to the point quicker than others, but he was satisfied the situation would have been managed if it had escalated to a different level.
In closing, the Chairperson remarked with the issue of Krugersdorp, proper procedures had been followed in the investigation and the Committee awaited the management processes to be followed by SAPS. It was important to ensure that at all times, the police acted within the law – this was the message to project.
With the “fees must fall” protest, maximum restraint had been critical in a constitutional democracy. Maximum space should be allowed when dealing with a protest, and there was also an obligation on the tertiary institutions to create situations where people could converse and interact if there were problems. The council and vice-chancellors should be the first responders, and not the SAPS.
In the task team to be headed by the Deputy Minister of Police, crime intelligence was an issue which required serious attention. The Committee wanted to see fresh leadership in this division to ensure matters were dealt with effectively going forward. He agreed with the integrated approach, but more work needed to be done with equipment and technology. R2.1 billion had been spent on POP, so it was important to see technology and equipment coming through, especially at high level events.
On the issue of liaison, SAPS should communicate with institutions of higher learning to ensure there was good and constant communication and liaison to deal with any eventualities moving forward. Lessons had been learnt, but there should be action plans for Parliament and the Union Buildings in the short term. Other factors to consider were adequate reserves and communication etc. The Committee would continue monitoring these areas.
Because the Committee did not have the time to get through its complete agenda for the day, the Committee would be briefed on the Private Member’s Bill of Mr Mbhele on Friday, along with the adoption of minutes and reports.
The meeting was adjourned.
- IPID Briefing: Krugersdorp Murder Case: CAS 664/10/2015
- Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) on investigation of alleged police actions during 2015 student protests on “fees must fall”
- Attendance List 04 November 2015
- SAPS: Management of Breaches of National Key Points and Responses to Recent Student Protests recent events which had attracted wide coverage
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