Current police matters; Budgetary Review & Recommendations Report (BRRR) follow-up; Rhino-poaching: briefing by Committee staff

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27 January 2016
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The content adviser of the Portfolio Committee on Police briefed Members on a number of matters that need the attention of the Committee in preparation for interaction with the Police, preparations for the coming year, and key issues affecting the work of the Committee as a follow-up to the 2014/15 financial year.

The content adviser briefed the Committee on the following matters:
- Court judgement about the Head of IPID
- Farlam Commission Task Team on the transformation of SAPS
- Professionalisation, demilitarisation and training of SAPS
- Implementation of Rule 201
- Research section of SAPS
- Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) becoming part of Programme 6 within SAPS
- Back 2 Basics Turnaround Strategy for Detective Services

The Committee Content Adviser maintained that there are many issues awaiting the attention of the Committee and there is very little time to see them through. The Committee is also planning an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape. The Committee Strategic Planning session is scheduled for 26 March 2016.

The Committee also received an update from the Committee Researcher on rhino poaching: key facts, the interventions of the Department, and concerns. There had been a slight decrease of 3,3% in poaching and a conviction rate of 88,8% had been announced. The researcher questioned this as only 48 out of 317 arrestees had been convicted of rhino-poaching and associated crimes. Key concerns were identified such as the suspicion that there are internal leakages of information within SAPS about rhino poaching and the Committee was encouraged to follow up on this.

Members asked why the Rule 201 Report had lapsed; what the implications of the court pronouncement that the suspension of the IPID Head had to be rescinded; commented that the development of the IPID Amendment Bill needs to be careful of not falling into the trap of war on terror and "forces fighting a just war"; and remarked that crime prevention, detective services, and crime intelligence were not covered in the Content Adviser's report on current matters.

Meeting report

Mr Irvin Kinnes, Committee Content Adviser, briefed the Members about key policy areas for the attention of the Committee:

▪ On the court judgement about the Head of IPID, he noted that the High Court has given Parliament one year from the date of 4 December 2015 to remedy sections 6(3)(a) and 6(6) of the IPID Act and Regulation 13 of the IPID Regulations which allowed the police minister to suspend and remove the IPID Head which were declared unconstitutional. The court declared the suspension of the Head of IPID unlawful. The decision would need to be validated by the Constitutional Court.

▪ On the Farlam Commission Task Team, he said the Minister has announced the finalisation of the Independent Panel of Experts on Transformation of SAPS. All prescripts relevant to Public Order Policing would be revised and amended. The best practices and measures of the world would be investigated without resorting to the use of weapons capable of automatic fire where Public Order Policing methods are inadequate.

▪ The Transformation Task Force is going to be led by the Deputy Minister. Proposals on aspects of SAPS transformation would be formulated. These include organisational culture change, professionalisation, ICT, Big Data, funding. An integrated plan for SAPS transformation would be prepared, and recommendations from the independent panel of experts would be received and integrated.

▪ On SAPS Training, the Committee has agreed to focus on training of police officers and to call Paarl Police University and look at training programmes provided by SAPS, University of South Africa (UNISA), South African Policing Union (SAPU), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and Institute for Security Studies (ISS). The Committee would examine the syllabi of the training curriculum and its appropriateness, and would also examine foreign training conducted by SAPS and DPCI in particular.

▪ With regard to the Rule 201 Implementation, the Committee adopted its Rule 201 Report on 11 December 2015. The National Commissioner objected to the Report and requested it be rescinded. The request was denied. The National Commissioner was given until 4 December 2015 to respond. In terms of Rule 316 (NA Rules), the Report has lapsed and has now to be revived. A new process for referral must now be started to refer the matter back to the Committee.

▪ On Programme 6 of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), the Committee took a decision that the DPCI should become part of Programme 6 within SAPS budget during its Budget and BRRR hearings. SAPS indicated that National Treasury had not granted them permission to establish a separate programme and indicated that the detective programme adequately provides for DPCI. The Chairperson of the Committee has pledged to meet the Minister of Finance on the matter as it relates to the Constitutional Court judgement.

▪ On SAPS/Secretariat Research Section, the content adviser reported that SAPS has started a research section and the Committee has requested that it provides a report on matters it was researching. The Committee felt this was important because there was a concern that SAPS should work closely with the Civilian Secretariat and the Secretariat should also report on the research it has undertaken.

▪ The Back 2 Basics Detective Turnaround Strategy which SAPS embarked on makes provision for discrepancies in the performance information in the Annual Report. It considers the performance of detectives at provincial level and it develops a Recovery Plan that identifies and addresses under-performance. Management Intervention Teams would be sent to provinces to achieve the desired results.

▪ On professionalising and demilitarising SAPS, the Committee should hold SAPS to account for the professionalising of SAPS as per the directions of the National Development Plan. Professionalisation requires that SAPS addresses organisational ethos, organisational culture, discipline, and not only focus on training as a solution to professionalising the organisation. To date, no direct plan for the demilitarisation of SAPS has been presented.

▪ The Committee must be apprised of the new leadership appointments made as a result of the restructuring process initiated by SAPS. CVs and biographies of all new appointments would be made available to the Committee. The new management team would be introduced to the Committee and a report on the status of previous incumbents would be made to the Committee.

▪ The Committee undertook an oversight visit to the Kruger National Park in 2015. Various undertakings were made in the action plans presented that the number of rhinos poached would be reduced. There has been a slight decrease in the figures for 2014/15 – from 1215 to 1175. The achievement is not notable and the Committee should interrogate the reasons for this.

The content adviser concluded that there are many issues awaiting the attention of the Committee and there is very little time to see them through. The Committee is also planning an oversight visit to the Eastern Cape. The Committee Strategic Planning session is scheduled for 26 March 2016.

Police Back 2 Basics approach of SAPS Detective Services
The content adviser noted that the Back 2 Basics approach was aimed at rejuvenating SAPS in the face of numerous negative media perceptions about the leadership of SAPS and especially the poor performance of the detectives. The document appears to provide an honest assessment of police performance over the period 2013/14 to 2014/15 through a comparison between the two years on performance information.

There have been concerns that the performance information has some discrepancies which have been identified by SAPS and should be noted by the Committee:

- Administration Programme: SAPS set the 2014/15 targets at 3 months to fill vacant posts. The comments noted that the Department of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) set the targets at 6 months. It is still to be known when was this target set by the DPME and if it has changed over the last two years. The number of serious reported crimes decreased from 1 826 967 to 1 820 796 in 2014/15 compared with the same period in 2013/14. There is a 0, 3% decrease. The Annual Report provides that SAPS planned target was to reduce by 2% the number of reported serious crimes to 1 718 191. The target was not met.

- Visible Policing Programme: the percentage of escapees from police custody versus arrested and charged shows that 697 persons escaped from police custody in 2014/15 and this represents 0, 041% of the 1 660 833 persons arrested and charged during 2014/15.

- Detective Services Programme; it is reported that the detection rate for serious crimes planned target was set at 41% for THE 2014/15 period. The actual achievement was set as 37,40%. This programme struggled to achieve its target for the 2014/15 financial year but succeeded in achieving 60% of its targets or 12 out of 20 predetermined performance targets. The overall performance for detectives provincially shows a total performance of only 42%. The provinces were measured against detection rates, trial ready dockets and conviction rates in four crime categories.

The Back 2 Basics document makes provision for a recovery plan for detectives. the plan identifies the areas of under-performance in the Detective Services and provides a provincial breakdown of under-performance. It provides for an analysis of the factors that contribute to under-performance. It provides for a recovery plan for a turnaround in the detective environment and it identifies an operational plan for the priorities and key actions needed for the turnaround. Lastly, it develops a mechanism for monitoring and evaluation of the milestones.

Update on rhino poaching
Ms Nicolette van Zyl-Gous, Committee Researcher: took the Committee through the key facts on poaching, departmental responses, and key concerns. She reported there has been a slight decrease of 3,3% in rhino poaching from 1 215 (827 in Kruger National park) in 2014 to 1 175 (826 in Kruger National Park) at the end of 2015. 317 poachers were arrested in October 2015, of which 202 were arrested in Kruger National Park and 115 in the area adjacent to the Kruger National Park. This is an increase from the 258 arrests in 2014.

The conviction rate is standing at 88,8%. 24 convicted poachers were given prison sentences, 21 were fined and three got suspended sentences. A total of 125 firearms were seized inside the Kruger National Park and 63 adjacent to it. This is a total of 188 compared to the 148 of the previous year. (2014). A total of 400 magistrates and prosecutors have been trained during 2015. A total of 1 047 border enforcement officials have received training in combating rhino poaching. The DPCI arrested 15 high-level members of a poaching syndicate during 2015.

The Department has interventions in place and successes have been achieved with regard to level 4 and 5 crimes. DPCI focuses on national, transnational and international criminal networks and the building of law enforcement capacity and networks to address wildlife crime. The areas of focus include:
- Mutual Legal Assistance: The DPCI is dealing with 4 Mutual Legal Assistance programmes, including the USA (2), Czech Republic and Australia
- Operations with INTERPOL and SARPCCO
- Asian-WEN Operations, specifically Project Cobra 3 which focuses on the transnational and international smuggling of rhino horns, elephant ivory, pangolins, big cats and apes.
- DNA Programme: The DPCI in cooperation with the Faculty of Veterinary Science at Onderstepoort (University of Pretoria) developed a crime scene tool kit for investigators to obtain Rhino DNA samples for investigative purposes in rhino poaching crimes to identify individual rhino DNA
- DPCI is focussing on skills transfer and development through training detectives and SADC training on wild life. This would also benefit the DPCI provincial and national structures dealing with complex matters (level 3 – 5 crimes).
- Vetting: the vetting of personnel is an on-going process.
- SAPS was presented with training by the USA Fish and Wildlife Agency at ILEA, Botswana.
- SAPS indicates they do not have any information on internal leakages to date, but it is suspected there are internal leakages.

The Committee Researcher identified key concerns. The Committee should request the Department to elaborate on the 88,8% conviction rate because only 48 persons arrested out of a total 317 arrestees were convicted of rhino-poaching and associated crimes. The Committee should request that SAPS elaborate on the nature of the Mutual Legal Assistance applications currently dealt with and find out if this would be expanded. Further, it should request the Department to elaborate on the suspicion that there are internal leakages of information within SAPS about rhino poaching. It should enquire from the Department if the anti-rhino poaching team is well resourced in terms of equipment and vehicles in carrying out its functions, find out about the status of Operation Conexus which deals with supply chain personnel who work with syndicates, and address challenges facing K9 capacity so that rummaging operations could be expedited.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked why the Rule 201 Report lapsed and why the request to rescind it was denied because Rule 201 states that the matter would be referred back to the Committee.
The Content Adviser replied that the Report lapsed in terms of Rule 316 of the National Assembly Rules, which states that “all motions and all other business, other than bills, on the Order Paper on the last day of an annual session of the Assembly, lapse at the end of that day". All lapsed business is, therefore, referred back to the Committee for processing and re-tabling before the National Assembly.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) asked what the implications of the pronouncement would be for Mr McBride, the IPID Head.

The Content Adviser indicated that nothing is going to happen yet. Mr McBride has to wait until the Constitutional Court validates the High Court decision before he can return to work. He read out the findings of the court judgment which state that the court has given Parliament one year from the date of 4 December 2015 to remedy sections 6(3)(a) and 6(6) of the IPID Act and Regulation 13 of the IPID Regulations as they are unconstitutional.

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) commented that the development of the  Bill needs to be careful of not falling into the trap of the war on terror and "forces fighting a just war'.

The Content Adviser stated that South Africa is a signatory to many UN treaties and bodies for the protection constitutional democracy and rooting out of terrorism.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) remarked that three areas were not covered in the report. These are: crime prevention, detective services, and crime intelligence. He said all these areas form part of the Back 2 Basics Strategy. The main issue is crime intelligence. He suggested the Committee should include these areas in its strategic plan going forward.

The Chairperson indicated that the concerns of Mr Mbhele would be noted and raised in the upcoming discussions with SAPS leadership because a new Acting National Commissioner has been appointed. The legislative issue raised by Mr Mhlongo would be discussed by the Committee.

Mr Mbhele, on detective performance, remarked that the figures presented to the Committee were not the ones reflected in the Annual Report.

The Content Adviser agreed. The ones presented to the Committee now were the latest figures.

Mr Mhlongo commented that detective services seem to be depleted by various factors. One needed to come up with an attractive mechanism to attract highly skilled people including those who have left the service to come back. The Committee should adopt a strategy that has to be shared with the leadership of the police so as to close the experience gap.

The Chairperson mentioned that further engagements would be held with SAPS leadership when it appears before the Committee for briefings.

Committee Minutes
The Committee adopted the minutes of the 12 and 18 August;  9 September; 13, 20 and 21 October 2015 with amendments.

Meeting adjourned.

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