Detectives Turnaround Strategy: Back to Basics; Implementation of Festive Season Safety: Success & Challenges: SAPS briefing, with Minister present

This premium content has been made freely available


28 January 2016
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
Share this page:

Meeting Summary

The Committee met with the Minister of Police, the Acting National Commissioner and a large delegation of senior members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) to discuss and follow-up on a number of critical issues the first of which was the national management intervention plan. The Acting National Commissioner took the Committee through the Committee through the thorough presentation beginning with the background and purpose of the intervention, its governance structure and the geographic and spatial distribution of intervention stations. In this section, Members were informed of the specific stations targeted in the national management intervention per province, the distribution of police stations identified nationally and provincially and then a breakdown of the intervention stations. The presentation also provided feedback on the national intervention in terms of the meetings held by the Acting National Commissioner, areas of intervention for the detective services and visible policing in terms of key elements of the turnaround strategy and stations where interventions were conducted nationally and provincially. The presentation then covered the actual conducting of a management intervention, and intervention successes in terms of arrests (including wanted suspects), docket age analysis, forensic investigative leads and compliance with the DNA Act in terms of the taking of buccal swabs. Other issues addressed were the impact of the interventions on key performance areas, namely, the visible policing recovery plan and variance in serious crime, detective services and the sustainability of the interventions.

Members largely welcomed the strides made under the national management intervention but posed a number of pertinent questions relating to consequence management in areas of non-performance, the sustainability of the approaches and intervention and the conviction of wanted suspects after arrest. Questions were particularly raised around deployment for the intervention and financial consequences thereof – Members asked if there was a plan for integrating the intervention into the budget and performance plans of the Department. The concern was that the current reprioritisation of resources would unintentionally compromise other stations. Pocketbooks were still an issue for some Members along with police barracks and the state of some holding cells. Other Members felt the progress presented was too good to be true because the improvement was that drastic – this raised the question around what stations and personnel were actually doing before the intervention commenced. The Committee questioned the expected lifespan of the national and provincial intervention teams, foreign nationals and their DNA testing on the national database and resource planning as a core business of policing.

During the extensive discussion, Members engaged on the capacity of stations to deal with matters on the spot, criteria for identifying underperforming stations and the relationship between SAPS and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU). Other points were raised around the non-reporting of crimes against women and children and the trial-ready and conviction rate of these crimes, progress with the frontline service delivery project and dealing with criminal elements within SAPS itself. Other Members were interested in the training and equipping of members and whether this entailed a change of curriculum, the progress made with the grooming camps and specialised units within the Back to Basics approach. Discussion was also held on the programme to redeploy detectives who had resigned as a means to bolster existing capacity, the role of the inspectorate going forward and how it related to the ongoing intervention and the handling of high profile cases which often became a poster child.

The second presentation from SAPS covered operations over the festive season – the briefing began with a brief background to the festive season operations before delving into details of the festive season in terms of duration, theme, approach and operational focus. The briefing then outlined the five operational phases, the six pillar approach, operational deployment, provincial activities and searches conducted. Detail was provided about the arrests for aggravated robbery, enforcement of firearm control, liquor, Second Hand Goods Act and Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA), crimes against women and children , wanted suspects, road safety enforcement (traffic management) and border control according to the six pillar approach. The presentation then turned to fines issued over the season, confiscation of vehicles, firearms, ammunition, explosives and livestock and crowd management of peaceful and unrest related events. An overview of major events was provided along with a crime overview in the form of a crime comparative analysis and the visible policing recovery plan in terms of variance in serious crime.

The Committee was particularly pleased with the strides made in the national management intervention and noted a number of positive developments of performance of SAPS over the last couple of months – the Minister echoed these sentiments by highlighting that good feedback was provided over the festive season. The Committee was also updated on recent key appointments made in SAPS – Members largely welcomed these developments and were pleased that critical vacancies were filled along with a commitment to transformation. 

Meeting report

Introductory Comments by the Chairperson and Minister of Police

The Chairperson stated that the Committee had observed a number of positive developments regarding the performance of the SA Police Service (SAPS) over the past three months – there was excellent management of the fees must fall protests under very difficult circumstances and over the festive period where there was high visibility and excellent deployment. This was what the Committee wanted and there was positive feedback from the constituencies of Members. In the Western Cape, there was good visibility at the holiday spots – it was important for communities to see the police and for there to be patrols. The Committee thought this was a very good start.

The Committee welcomed the commitment from the Minister last week regarding priorities for 2016 and commitment to the National Development Plan (NDP). This was also in terms of the policy framework and legislative review of SAPS. The Committee was also happy with the appointment of the panel of experts: - this process should be given highest priority and was vital for public order policing and restoring confidence. The Committee was in favour of the interim steps made in reforming public order policing. The Chairperson highlighted that the Minister was a regular attendee at the Committee’s meetings and invited him to make a few introductory comments.

Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, Minister of Police, wished the Committee a happy and fruitful 2016 – he looked forward to working with Members in such a manner that there was intensification and consolidation of efforts to impact the mandate everyone carried to make SA safe for all. There were particular lessons from the festive season but there was excellent feedback in terms of police visibility and deployment. There were interesting developments in the Western Cape and matters were excellently contained. There was an appreciation from communities in the southern suburbs of Cape Town, such as Muizenberg and Grassy Park, seeing visible patrols on the streets regularly – it was noted that this was not seen in a very long time. In Lavender Hill, community members voluntarily supported the work of the police by cooking to keep members motivated and this in itself was quite a positive development.

Minister Nhleko outlined that the presentation today pointed to measures embarked on, and specific interventions, and their results. One of the failing functions within the police was that of detective services but it was interesting to see the achievements made in this space through interventions. Consolidation and monitoring of ongoing trends was now required to look at ways of improvement. He noted he would only be in attendance for about an hour.

Recent Appointments

Lt. Gen. Khomotso Phahlane, Acting National Commissioner of Police, noted that Lt. Gen. Gary Kruser (Acting Provincial Commissioner: Western Cape over the festive season) would be deployed as a Divisional Commissioner as of 1 February 2016. The Divisional Commissioner for Visible Policing would be Lt. Gen.  Nobesuthu Princess Masiye  – this was the first time in the history of SAPS that an African female would be heading this Division. Maj. Gen. J M Nkomo was appointed as the new Divisional Commissioner: Detective Service as of 1 February 2015. Lt. Gen. Baile Brenda Motswenyane was appointed the new Provincial Commissioner: North West while Lt. Gen. Khombinkosi Elvis Jula was appointed the new Provincial Commissioner: Western Cape as of 1 February 2016.

The Chairperson thought it was good that the vacancies had been filled especially the one of Policing which had been vacant for a very long time – the Committee welcomed this. The Committee also welcomed the new Head of Detectives – both were areas requiring turnaround and he wished the two Commissioners well who now made history as it was the first time in SAPS that the positions were held by women. This indicated the commitment to transformation and it was areas which the Committee would focus on to monitor the turnaround needed. The Committee welcomed the appointment of new Provincial Commissioners – new blood was needed but it was critical for the Committee that experienced members were placed in these positions. He congratulated Lt. Gen. Kruser as a very experienced member with more than 20 years service and his appointment was welcomed at the level of National Divisional Commissioner.

Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) was very excited about the new appointments especially of the two women – the Committee expected a lot from them. Women were capable people and she asked not to be let down.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) was of the opinion that staff restructuring should see an improvement in the performance of senior management through better outcomes and more effectiveness as it was known that SAPS had a history of senior management restructuring that turned out to be less than savoury. He hoped this was the beginning of steps forward and not the rearrangement of deck chairs on the Titanic.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane noted that following the proposed restructuring of the organisation that was presented to the Committee at the end of last year, internal engagement continued and the structure was presented to other groupings. At engagements, one of the groups raised issues with transfers, to posts which already existed, which were already implemented and not associated with the new proposed structure. The group wanted these transfers reversed but the Service found this unfair because those positions were not new and consultation took place with the individuals involved. Nevertheless, the new structure was approved but SAPS was taken to court by Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and three others who were senior managers of the SAPS. The case was dismissed by the labour court on the basis that it was not urgent and the merits thereof. SAPS was now implementing the new structure but remained committed to engaging with POPCRU as a social partner to find a point of convergence.

The Chairperson appreciated the update and said the Committee welcomed the fact that the proper procedures were followed in the process. Members had indicated their support for the new structure last year when it was presented as long as it did not bring top-heavy extra costs. The Committee supported that which enhanced back to basics policing and the new appointments were an indication that SAPS was serious in making this work. The Committee would monitor this and called on all social partners and interest groups to work constructively to ensure implementation was a success. If there were issues it was important that there were bilateral discussions but it was vital for there to be a collective going forward to ensure the new structure was a success.

National Management Interventions

Lt. Gen. Phahlane began the presentation by looking at the background and purpose of the National Management Interventions (NMI) – top management had engaged in strategic planning sessions on 12- 14 November and 2- 3 December 2015 respectively. At these sessions, critical areas of under-performance were identified and management interventions were then initiated. These critical areas were in programme two: Visible Policing (VISPOL):

  • reported crime: serious crimes and crimes against women and children
  • recovery of stolen/lost state-owned firearms
  • recovery of stolen/robbed firearms   
  • volume of liquor confiscated (as a result of police actions)
  • National Crime Awareness Campaigns

Programme three: Detective Service

  • detection rate
  • trial-ready rate
  • conviction rate

The overall purpose of the management interventions were to turnaround areas of under-performance as per the targets set in the 2015/16 Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the Department and to ensure sustainability going forward.

After going through the governance structure of the NMI, the Committee was informed of the geographic and spatial distribution of stations targeted for intervention – these were stations which were identified as having issues relating to under-performance. In total, there were 63 stations. The top 40 stations were identified according to the volume of crime and underperformance of detective indicators, the top 30 stations were identified on the highest volumes of crime reported while the other stations were selected on other issues, for example, related to service delivery. In terms of the distribution of police stations, most of the stations targeted for intervention were located in Gauteng (28).

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then looked at the national and provincial intervention stations in more detail by discussing the recovery plans targeting areas of underperformance – the national intervention teams would deal with top 63 underperforming stations while the provincial interventions teams would deal with the next 212 underperforming stations and 865 stations were the responsibility of station commanders, VISPOL and detective commanders to ensure implementation of recovery plans – this was an overall number of 1 140 stations.

In terms of feedback on national interventions, 5 661 station commanders were reached across the provinces. These were due to outreach meetings between the commanders by top management of SAPS lead by the Acting National Commissioner to personally communicate the essence of the “Back to Basics” approach and boost the morale of employees.

With the detective service, the following areas were targeted for intervention:

  • enforcing Back to Basics approach
  • performance and accountability (including consequence management)
  • wanted suspects: tracing and arrest
  • DNA Act: compliance and utilisation of forensic leads
  • crime scene management
  • analysis: long outstanding case dockets and undetected/withdrawn cases

Key elements of the detective service turnaround strategy included:

-improve and measure the management of case dockets by focusing on the correct application of the basics principles investigation of crime and case docket management such as the thorough inspection of case dockets and the management of the performance and productivity of investigating officers as part of the Back to Basics approach

  • conduct audits of the Crime Administration System versus case dockets to continuously update and capture actual performance thereby avoiding an annual spike in performance information.
  • analyse all outstanding dockets, focusing on long-outstanding serious crimes, to ensure that cases are properly investigated.
  • improve case docket allocation methodology to ensure the matching of investigation complexity with detective experience/expertise.-  improve the integrity of the wanted suspects database and trace and arrest confirmed wanted suspects.
  • analyze case dockets closed as undetected and withdrawn to ensure that all cases have been properly investigated.
  • determine timelines for investigating categories of crime to introduce standard resolution rates per crime type, thereby enhancing the performance management of detectives.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then took Members through the areas of intervention for visible policing namely:

  • partnership policing: addressing the desire/motive to commit crime through an integrated approach
  • enforcing command and control at all levels
  • crime prevention including crime awareness campaigns
  • enhancing police visibility in hotspot areas
  • intelligence-based operations targeting drugs, liquor, wanted suspects, firearms and gangs
  • police response to crime reports from the community

With the stations where national and provincial interventions were conducted, national interventions were completed in 18 stations, provincial interventions in 55 stations, which meant a total of 73 stations were completed. In conducting management interventions and what happened when a team reached a station, there would first be a briefing session with cluster and station management to look at the purpose of the intervention and the its method. Parades would then be conducted with detectives and visible policing members including shifts to check appointment certificates, pocketbooks/diaries, the validity of drivers licenses and firearm competency certificates. Thereafter came a thorough “camp inspection” to identify and resolve infrastructure and resource allocation deficiencies, checking of the neatness and cleanliness of the station and that redeployment of resources, including vehicles, were facilitated before the intervention team left. The individual working teams (national, provincial, cluster and station) collaboratively address recovery plans and there was joint identification non-compliance and performance problems and their correction in emphasising “Back to Basics”. Such an intervention spanned an average of five days.

In terms of intervention successes, specifically arrests including wanted suspects, there were a total of 466 arrests solely due to the work of the management intervention. Other successes were seen with the docket age analysis from November 2015 to January 2016 – as of the 2 November 2015, the baseline of 603  178 aged dockets: this decreased to 517  489 in December 2015 and 480  753 in January 2016 which represented a decrease of 20.3% over the provinces. There was also improvement in forensic investigative leads, of the number of outstanding known and unknown offenders on the DNA database linked to different cases. This also applied to the taking of buccal samples in compliance with the DNA Act across all provinces.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then turned to the impact of the interventions on key performance areas beginning with programme two: VISPOL before moving to programme three: detective service in terms of performance indicators across the provinces.

On the sustainability of interventions, this would be achieved through:

  • continuous follow-up visits conducted by the national intervention teams
  • provincial, cluster and station members forming an integral part of the interventions
  • in-service training, mentoring and coaching
  • identified challenges would be escalated to the appropriate level for swift resolution in the areas of accommodation/facilities, filling of critical operational posts (station commanders, detective commanders etc), training, particularly of detectives and resourcing of stations to support operations
  • inspectorate division being a focus for 2016/17 – compliance inspections were carried on 275 identified management intervention stations
  • consequence management where compliance and accountability had been compromised after interventions

In conclusion, the focus of the recovery plan was to reclaim and restore public confidence through tangible improvements in performance before the end of the 2015/16 financial year without compromising the quality of service delivery.


The Chairperson thought certain sections of the presentation validated the Committee’s observations about the quality of leadership, in some instances, at the cluster and station level. In the interactions of the intervention teams, did they identify clusters and stations where changes were needed in terms of the staff? From the perspective of the Committee, a station worked well if there was an excellent commander – as with all institutions where government or private, it was about the jockey. Under the new approach he assumed there would be consequence management for there to be a change in areas of non-performance – was there methodology to deal with this problem? On the topic of sustainability, would police be seen again in next few months in shopping centres, at the beach, at schools or on patrol in the communities or would there be a wait until December? He sought the commitment from the National Commissioner on this because deployment under the approach had financial implications – was there a plan for the budget in this regard? Or was there the necessary back up?

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said resource challenges at particular stations was an area of focus both from a capacity perspective and from the perspective that the station was doing what it was supposed to do. If there was incorrect deployment or a mismatch between what was expected from an individual against what was actually happening, redeployment would occur. Redeployment was not the only focus – one also needed to look at development which explained why mentorship and coaching was part of the plan led by experienced individuals. This also explained why the management intervention teams spent five days at stations identified as under-performing. It was hoped that this would go a long way in sustaining efforts to improve performance and service delivery. Sustainability of visibility was a must – policing was not an event during certain times. As Back to Basics was being advanced, it was said that visibility was key. Even with patrols this did not only apply to vehicles but also to foot patrols, bicycle patrols and patrols on horseback. A decision was taken that visible policing was the way to go for the experience over the festive season to continue. Over the festive season a decision was taken to use trainees in order to maximise potential and the trainees on patrol did a good job. When the trainees were at a point at which they could be deployed, this would be done. There was also collaboration with the metros in the various cities etc. There were several policing campaigns targeting schools which would be re-intensified going forward. The aim was to identify what was key in getting Back to Basics and work progressively on the areas.

Ms Molebatsi noted that the issue of pocketbooks was still a problem. Another problem was that of police barracks and the fact that some officers had to rent in the township where the very criminals were located and the officers were forced to be friendly with the criminals for their safety. She also noted the bad state of some holding cells where suspects often went into them healthy but came out sick. With the taking of buccal swabs, she asked if this was done by a designated officer or if any member could do it.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane replied that pocketbooks were an issue which was why they were targeted in the interventions. The mere conducting of a parade was not just for compliance but to ensure members were operationally combat ready in terms of uniform and firearms which were serviceable etc – these formed part of the Back to Basics. The police barracks fell under infrastructure and was a matter which could not be solved overnight but it would receive the necessary attention and be escalated to the level of where it was supposed to be dealt with because there were still dependencies on the Department of Public Works (DPW). It was an issue because sometimes members were placed in a compromised situation as to whether they could carry a firearm; if for example, they were renting a shack in a squatter camp. The issue would continue to be dealt with until there was some resolution. The police holding cells were also an issue but these infrastructural issues were not lost sight of. Detectives, first respondents and designated persons were being trained to take buccal swabs by medical practitioners so there was compliance with the Act in this regard.

Mr P Groenewald (FF+) thought the presentation sounded too good to be true in a sense – looking at the figures, he asked how it was possible to already have this improvement. Did it mean that the members of SAPS were not doing their jobs and that now suddenly after the intervention there were results? He questioned the enormous improvement in the docket analysis and asked if this was due to a change in the attitude of members. What were these members doing before that after the intervention there was such a drastic change? Was there analysis as to what led to this drastic improvement? He however liked what he heard about the national management intervention and hoped it restored confidence in SAPS again by the public. He asked how old the dockets were in reference to the docket age analysis.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said he was happy with the progress being made with the detective service programme – it may seem like a quick turnaround but it had to happen. He could not say if officials were previously not doing what they supposed to but there was a lack of command and control as a basic activity. The emphasis of the intervention was to concentrate on basic activities like 24-hour docket inspection. Attitude had been an issue and a lot had been written about the morale of SAPS – the aim was now to just go back to what training had taught. With the docket age analysis, this applied to dockets older than ten years, five years and one year. The analysis was to establish why dockets should remain open for that long – the analysis found, for instance, there were shop lifting cases still open after ten years while shockingly, there was a general theft case which dated back to 1978. The analysis would be looking at what was not done correctly for cases to still be open after so long and for those things to be corrected. Yesterday, he had received a call from a member of the public who thanked him after a long outstanding case was attended to. It was critical for SAPS to investigate cases after they had been reported and to remain in regular contact with the public concerned.

Mr Groenewald asked, when referring to improvement, if this applied to the dockets overall or to a specific age of docket.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane replied that it was an overall improvement. Management could provide a breakdown of the different ages to look at progress made.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) thanked the Acting National Commissioner for his hard work over this season with the team. She asked why the Northern Cape had zero national intervention stations. She also questioned the conviction of wanted suspects after they were arrested.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said no stations in the Northern Cape fell under the top 30 or 40 non-performing stations but this did not mean there were no interventions there. On the issue of convictions, he indicated it was too early to be looking at conviction in these cases – the arrests had occurred recently so the cases were still going through the court process.

Mr Mbhele asked what was considered to be the start date of the Back to Basics approach and implementation of the recovery plans– media releases were conducted in mid-December but the data trends in the presentation reported as of the beginning of this financial year. He was confused about this and sought clarity on data in respect of the timeframe. He wanted to know what the budgetary and performance plans were of the Back to Basics approach and if it was being integrated into the budget planning and Annual Performance Plan (APP) drafting of the Department heading into the next financial year. He could say with great confidence, given previous experience of government that, if any intention or plan was not explicitly catered for in the budget or rooted in the APP in terms of performance indicators, targets and timeframes to be tracked, monitored and evaluated, it could just dissolve into the course of day-to-day urgencies and other things that came up – such plans had to be explicitly and concretely integrated into the systemic planning and management of the whole Service – was this the case? In terms of the intervention teams, what was the expected life span of both the national and provincial intervention teams? Would they be a permanent feature of managing the whole system for the foreseeable and if so, would this imply that command and control and consequence management in the daily running of the SAPS would be weak?

Lt. Gen. Phahlane replied to the issue of timelines by explaining that the recovery plan was developed on 2 November 2015 noting the bad performance in the detectives programme. Between 12 and 14 November, there was a strategic planning session where all the provincial, divisional and deputy national commissioners were brought together where the recovery plan was adopted, signed off and subsequently implemented. Details of the particular plan were presented to the Committee and the first performance review session had already taken place on 9 December 2015 to monitor what was being done in this regard and take stock of implementation. A second review took place in January 2016 to look at the progress being made and implementation was well on track. The plan included long-term activities to be carried out on day to day basis to ensure that performance was realised and cases were investigated accordingly. Data trends were shown from the beginning of quarter one of the financial year to show Members what the situation was like before the intervention was implemented for comparative analysis. The intervention plans were implemented from the end of November and by December, improvements were already displayed. He instructed that detectives did not take leave over this festive period to ensure everyone focused on their cases. This meant additional capacity was not borrowed from elsewhere but existing resources were utilised. Unfortunately government was not giving more funds – the Department needed to manage with what was already there. This involved prioritisation and redirecting resources to manage with the current funding. 

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) welcomed the presentation which he found encouraging. There were particular stations of concern in KZN, such as Umlazi and Phoenix, and he was pleased to see them included in the intervention. He thought the presentation was professional and aided in restoring public confidence in SAPS. Noting that police officials were not alone in ensuring convictions, what mechanism was there to avoid frustrations with detectives by other components of the criminal justice system like, for example, the National Director of Public Prosecutions? There needed to be a commitment on the side of the police to do its work effectively to make the criminal justice system work. He asked what the action plan would now be with under-performing stations – it was good these stations were identified, but what would happen now to turnaround these stations? SA now seemed to be free for all country with the amount of dangerous syndicates attracted to the country with some entering without the correct documentation. When DNA testing was done, how would the police be able to deal with such people who do not necessarily appear on the national database?

Lt. Gen. Phahlane answered that SAPS would continuously engage with the NDPP to cover some ground.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) welcomed the presentation and thought it was really refreshing to see what improvement had been achieved in going Back to Basics. Consequence management would always be supported by the Committee. With the availability of resources, particularly human resources, when crime was committed and a detective was needed, one was unavailable to attend to the scene. Surely management should plan for resources in areas where crime was high and times of the day where more crime was committed. On the station level, what was found about the capacity to deal with particular issues on the spot?  This was also related to the availability and deployment of resources for crime scene management. Doing what they were supposed to and being visible was part of the core business of the police – would the intervention assist with visibility of the police as a part of core business and also to ensure sustainability? He was impressed with the improvement made on aged dockets and saw it as light at the end of the tunnel.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane indicated that consequence management would become a reality – there was progressive discipline within the confines of the regime of the Department. Management of resources enjoyed the necessary attention. Part of the Back to Basics approach was for everyone who did play a role in crime scene management to do so. There was a crime scene management policy which outlined clearly who was to play what role and this must be complied with. The crime scene was the most important place as it was where the investigation of the crime began. Compromising the scene meant the case was compromised. Core business hinged on investigation of crime, prevention of crime and crime intelligence.  

Mr J Maake (ANC) questioned the under-performing stations – in unpacking this, what exactly was meant by an underperforming station? Was SAPS on par with capturing of data at this point as it was an issue before? With POPCRU, he did not see the good relationship between the Union and management based on what he read in the papers. If there was a good relationship, why did the Union take SAPS to court?

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said the laws of SA provided for the interests of employees to be represented. The relationship between SAPS and POPCRU could not be solely attributed to the issue of the restructuring where there were different views – there was collaboration between the two on a number of different areas. He respected the role POPCRU and any union played and the fact that they may not be on the same page as far as the restructuring was concerned, could not be taken as bad relations. It was out of his hands that POPCRU decided to go to court – he respected their constitutional right to do so. Engagement continued to find common ground.

Mr M Redelinghuis (DA) saw a change in the tone, quality and substance of leadership and its relationship with the public. As an MP and a citizen, this made him look to the police with a little more pride than he had in recent years – for this he thanked the Acting National Commissioner and senior management of SAPS. There was a visible improvement in how SAPS related to the public especially from senior management and this was encouraging. The fact that the Acting National Commissioner engaged personally with over 5000 commanders to directly communicate the essence of Back to Basics, was such a break from the past and a welcome. He saw a significant improvement in the detection rate of crimes against women and children but with these crimes, it was often an issue of non-reporting of the crime and less so an issue of detection. He was still concerned with the trial-ready and conviction rate – what specific interventions were management looking at in terms of these crimes as the issue was more about reporting and less detection. He hoped his colleagues who had the ear of the President, spoke highly of the Acting National Commissioner when it came to permanent appointment. 

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said crime against women and children continued to receive attention.

Lt. Gen. B C Mgwenya, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner, said a lot had gone wrong but now there was a compass and all results were because of good leadership received from the Acting National Commissioner. SAPS was a united front after relooking at themselves and reclaiming space by doing nothing else but what was mandated by the Constitution hence the good results seen. Subsequent to the recovery plan being introduced by the Acting National Commissioner, the national intervention team went to four provinces to look at the stations with the highest reported incidents of crime. Implementation of the recovery plan formed part of Back to Basics as the only way to reclaim the streets of SA and give it back to the lawful inhabitants of the country. Commanders were being to account on the implementation of the recovery plan. There were five national intervention teams consisting of 30 members each from the environments of detective services, the inspectorate and visible policing. These teams spent at the most five days at the 30 top non-performing police stations – every province had its own top 30. She was grateful for the leadership received from the Acting National Commissioner and it was believed members of the SAPS were not reclaiming themselves.

Lt. Gen. Kruser added that in his experience in the Western Cape, the critical thing was around control and accountability – if this was in place at the right levels, he thought results would be seen. Without this control and accountability, there were long meetings but where this pressure was placed, results were seen. This was the principle to apply.

Ms Molebatsi expressed her excitement at the new developments. During the festive season, she met a high ranking officer in her area who was very demoralised and wanted to leave the Service. Now he was very excited to stay in the Service – this showed the Acting National Commissioner and his team were really doing wonderful work. This made her question how many other members there were who wanted to leave but now saw the light at the end of the tunnel. She wanted to know what training and equipping the members entailed – did it mean a change of curriculum? On the grooming camps as part of the recruitment framework, she questioned the progress made with these camps so far.  She asked about the progress regarding the frontline service delivery project.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane answered that efforts were intensified around training to ensure that members were trained and equipped to do their work – he was grateful that Lt. Gen. Makhwanzi, who was one of the most highly trained officers in SAPS, agreed to lead the human resource development environment. It was believed that with his skills and competencies, it would go a long way in ensuring people were trained operationally to be able to do their work. The content of the curriculum would not be tampered too much with. Currently for the basic training programme, trainees dealt solely with theory for the first 12 months in the college and then, after a recess, there was field training for 10 months before returning to the college for two months. From engagement with training institutions etc, this was not necessarily providing the quality required – there was a need for more integrated and balanced training between theory and practice. The content of the curriculum would be beefed up here and there based on the challenges on the ground but it was more of having the best approach to guarantee a better qualified person when they left the college to be able to do work. The grooming camps were an area of concern – too much money was spent and at the end of the camp, only half proceeded with the training. Instead of the grooming camp provided preparation, the observation was that it was more about finalising recruitment. The new approach might scale down big time on the grooming camps to save money and use these funds more effectively. He did not find the space yet to go and interrogate this particular frontline service project but it was still alive.

Mr Mhlongo questioned the influx of foreign nationals into SA and how the DNA identification system would be utilised in these cases. Other arms of state should be mobilised against this threat. As a Member of Parliament and law abiding citizen, he hated receiving messages about winning competitions and when one called, it was a foreigner. This made him question where these people obtained his details – this was a breach of privacy.

The Chairperson noted that some of these questions were directed toward priority crimes and the Committee would tomorrow be meeting with the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) so more detailed responses could be provided.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane responded that there could not be a country within a country – those that found themselves in SA must be in the country legally so and SAPS would serve them as they served South Africans. Those that were not law abiding would be dealt with accordingly to the laws of SA. In terms of DNA, it was immaterial whether the arrestee was a foreign national – the law stated that being arrested for a Schedule Eight offence, a buccal swab would be taken. This also applied to fingerprints etc. If the person attempted to leave the country, at the port of the entry, the person would be stopped as wanted for a crime. SAPS continued to collaborate with structures like Interpol and in the spirit of the regulatory framework to deal with people from other countries.

Mr Groenewald said it appeared as if a huge number of station commanders did not do their jobs but now they were suddenly as part of normal, basic policing work – this was the perspective in which he asked his previous question as to why there was suddenly a change. The Back to Basics approach was good but there were a lot of criminals within SAPS – what would the Acting National Commissioner do as far as these criminals were concerned within SAPS?

Lt. Gen. Phahlane maintained that after his 30 years experience in the police, one of the most difficult jobs was that of station commander – that was why in the Back to Basics approach it was emphasised that provincial management and cluster commanders were to respect station commanders and give them the space to be able to manage the station. At the same time, station commanders were informed that the personnel at his station were his responsibility. There could not be a situation where the station commander had no insight into the number of dockets opened at the station or allocated to a specific detective. There could not be a situation where the station commander made no input to the docket as the intervention found. This explained the emphasis on accountability in the Back to Basics approach. As implementation moved on, it was hoped that some of these chronic illnesses could be addressed particularly at station level. He asked to be given the time to go into the issue of criminal records within SAPS itself because sometimes it was presented in a manner that it did not speak to reality. He could then return to the Committee on the matter to present an updated status.

Mr Mbhele, in response to incidents of media interference in crime scenes alluded to by the Acting National Commissioner, said it actually spoke directly to sufficient detective capacity where if this capacity was sufficient, it would negate media arriving at crime scenes before SAPS. This point reinforced the need to effectively implement getting Back to Basics to get the basics right. If SAPS arrived quickly and set the quarantine timeously, it set the bounds for which the media could not cross. It reinforced the notion that if the basics were right and there was quick and responsive detective dispatch, the media could never get there before the SAPS did and have a negative consequence – this should be used as a reason to continue with improvements and not impede on the media in anyway because they also had work to do. There could never be a reason for impeding the media from doing its work in service of the public interest to write stories, find out information and do their own investigations to keep the public well informed and act as a public accountability mechanism. On the issue of budget, the Acting National Commissioner said there would be readjustments within the current budget. He understood the constraints and need for rationalisation of the resources – on its oversight visit to the Free State, the Committee saw there was a lot of oversupply especially with personnel resources in many stations which indicated that someone was not tracking or monitoring deployment in relation to real-time, on the ground needs when other areas were suffering. In implementing this needed rationalisation, how could the Acting National Commissioner and his team guarantee that redeployment did not unintentionally become a case of “robbing Sizwe to pay Sandile” where there was the unintended consequence of compromising other stations through redeployment to fix the top 40 underperforming stations. He sought assurance of how redeployment and rationalisation of resources happened in a comprehensive way to improve the overall system and did not just shift things around with negative consequences. He asked about the space and role and if there was taking into account of the importance of specialised units within Back to Basics particularly in combating serious and localised crime threats, drug trafficking, gang violence, illegal guns – specialised units were required to bolster and strengthen the intelligence led policing approach.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane indicated that together with the Minister of Police and management, certain types of crime would continue to be prioritised based on the incidents thereof. For example, the issue around farm attacks were worrying and it needed priority attention. Farmers and farm workers were being killed and to SAPS, this was an area which needed to be dealt with focused energy and resources ans similarly, with the issue of drugs and taxi violence. The approach looked at what capacity was needed to deal with these specific issues which made communities uncomfortable. He respected the role of the media and respected the role they placed in keeping the public informed but he urged the media to respect the role of the police. One could not afford to have a crime scene compromised just to take pictures – the next moment a body of someone was splashed all over the papers without any respect to the deceased or their families. One needed to subscribe to the notion of moral regeneration, to respect the dead and to allow the police the space to do a thorough investigation so that they could contribute to bringing closure to that particular family. The police would never intrude into the space of the rights and role of the media but the police needed to be respected to be able to do their work on a particular crime scene. A crime scene started when a call was made to say something had happened and until it was processed, it remained a crime scene. A detective became the crime scene manager and was responsible for activating all other experts – these experts were not located at each and every police station. Back to Basics also said that the space of other role-players must be respected whether it was the media, the community etc. and provide information to the public when the need arose. Other stations would not be compromised through the intervention – “Peter could not be robbed to pay Paul”. 

Mr Ramatlakane flagged the need for discussion on transformation of the criminal justice cluster and the role of the police in this partnership. He asked about the three managers who took the SAPS to court on the organisation restructuring as POPCRU did – who were these three others? 

Mr Maake, from what he saw from Back to Basics, said everything seemed to be moving smoothly and very fast and this was very impressive. He asked about a programme to redeploy detectives who had retired or resigned. He met some detectives who had resigned because they had complaints. How did such people qualify to come back? Such experience could bolster existing capacity. 

Lt. Gen. Phahlane explained that SAPS would embark on reenlistment processes – about 584 people had already been reenlisted. When the reenlistment posts were advertised, a decision was taken to say there could only be reenlistment of those who had resigned i.e. those who did not reach retirement age. There also could not be reenlistment if someone was medically boarded or took a severance package. The decision was taken that if the person met all the requirements, he/she would be reenlisted as a Colonel – this provided the space to take back those who had the skills, competencies and experience in terms of policing. Resignations were also discussed in the reference group set up by the Minister so now this was being reviewed. 

The Chairperson questioned the role of the inspectorate going forward and how it related to ongoing intervention? Detection rate was critical but high profile cases often become a poster child – there could be success with 80% or 90% of cases but if high profile cases were out there and, for instance, not properly communicated and dealt with, it added to negative perceptions around the police. This was discussed with previous management but would high profile cases be dealt with differently now or was it too early to say? It was very important because one or two bad incidents could reflect very badly on the police – this needed to changed so that there could also be confidence by the people toward the police.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane responded that the inspectorate was absorbed into the management intervention environment. While not wanting to divulge details, high profile cases enjoyed the necessary attention.

Mr Groenewald congratulated and thanked the Acting National Commissioner specifically when it came to his approach to farm murders and that it would receive the necessary attention – this was specifically what those on farms and in the rural areas wanted to hear about their safety. It was important to note the perception that farm murders were about white people – statistics show, for instance for the Free State last year, of 22 murders that took place on farmers, 15 people were black and only 7 were white people. The year was started on a very good note.

Operation Festive Season

Lt. Gen. Phahlane began the presentation by noting the background to the Operation – the operation was born from:

  • increased volumes along major transportation routes and through ports of entry from local and international tourism and migrant workers returning to their homes
  • increased activities at entertainment and shopping venues
  • seasonal and major events
  • resultant increases in opportunities to commit serious crime and targeting of vulnerable areas

The Operation Festive Season would be combated through an integrated, multidisciplinary approach coordinated through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) and concomitant Provincial Structures (PROVJOINTS). The operation lasted from 1 October 2015 to 31 January 2016 under the theme “all people in SA are and feel safe”. The approach was to implement extraordinary safety and security measures to eliminate the opportunities for crime during the festive season. The operational focus was the combating of all serious and violent crimes especially crimes against women, children and vulnerable groups. The five operational phases included:

  1. Pre-holiday season (1 October 2015 – 30 November 2015)
  2. Start of holiday season (1 December 2015 – 15 December 2015)
  3. Holiday season (16 December 2015 – 2 January 2016)
  4. End of holiday season (3 January 2016 – 16 January 2016)
  5. Post holiday season (17 January – 31 January 2016)

The six pillar approach covered:

  1.  Aggravated robberies
  2. Enforcement of Firearms Control Act, Liquor Act, Second Hand Goods Act and Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act (SASREA)
  3. Crimes against women, children and persons with disabilities
  4. Wanted suspects
  5. Road Safety Enforcement (Traffic Management)
  6. Border Security

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said that in terms of operational deployment, a daily average of 2 0940 police members were deployed nationally. Police entry-level students were deployed nationally from the 17th to 23rd December 2015 at identified malls and shopping centres. Out of nine provinces, only four had students deployed as the remaining provinces did not have police training institutions.

Looking at provincial activities, a total of 4 721 071 operation specific activities were performed in the 2015/16 financial year. The primary focus was on patrols executed in identified high crime areas. The leading province with regard to activities in 2015/16 was in KZN with 1 889 250 activities followed by Gauteng with 1 162 466 activities and the Western Cape with 635 632 activities.

A total of 5 964 572 searches were conducted in the period under review. The searches included persons, vehicles and premises. The leading search category was persons searched, with Gauteng leading with 994 089, followed by KwaZulu-Natal with 632 179 and the Free State with 601 200. In general, Gauteng was the leading province with 1 464 564 searches, followed by KZN with 932 577 searches and the Free State with 776 703 searches.

Looking at arrests, particularly in the category of aggravated robbery, a total of 6 754 arrests were made in this category including 1 968 arrests for robbery with a weapon other than firearm and 1 362 arrests for business robberies. The highest number of arrests was effected in Gauteng followed by KZN and the Western Cape.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then informed Members of arrests made in the category of enforcement of firearm control, liquor, Second Hand Goods Act and SASREA noting that, a total of 112 989 arrests were made in this category including 62 095 arrests for drug related crime, 29 077 arrests for public drunkenness and 12 059 for drinking in a public place. The highest number of arrests was effected in the Western Cape followed by Gauteng and KZN.

With arrests for crimes against women and children, a total of 6 782 arrests were made in this category including 4 774 arrests for rape, 645 arrests for sexual assault and 521 arrests for kidnapping. The highest number of arrests was effected in Gauteng followed by KZN and the Eastern Cape.

After looking at the arrest of wanted suspects across the provinces, the presentation turned to arrests in the category of road safety enforcement (traffic management) - a total of 19 588 arrests were made in this category including 19 426 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs/liquor and 162 arrests for culpable homicide. The highest number of arrests was effected in Gauteng followed by KZN and the Western Cape.

LT. Gen. Phahlane then discussed arrests for border control, fines issued, confiscation of vehicles, firearms, ammunition and explosives, livestock and crowd management of peaceful and unrest related incidents.

Cabinet approved major events that took place during the Festive Season:

-Forum of China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC): 04-05 December 2015 at Sandton Convention Centre

  • The South African Government through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) hosted the FOCAC summit in Gauteng.
  • Total of 56 Heads of States/Government including spouses and 111 Ministers attended.
  • Successfully policed through the NATJOINTS Structure.

-National Reconciliation Day Celebrations: 16 December 2015 at VISTA University Campus in Port Elizabeth

  • The Department of Arts and Culture hosted the National Day of Reconciliation Celebration at VISTA University, Port Elizabeth.
  • The President of South Africa, Minister of Arts and Culture, Premier of Eastern Cape, MEC’s, Councillors, Ambassadors and other government officials attended the event.
  • Successfully policed- no negative incidents reported.
  • January 8th Statement: 09 January 2016 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg

–The African National Congress hosted the January 8th Statement event at Rustenburg, Royal Bafokeng Stadium on the 9th of January 2016.

–The President of South Africa, Deputy President, 49 Ministers, 7 Premiers, 40 members of the National Executive Council and the attendance at about 47 822.

–Event was successful and no negative incidents were reported.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then took the Committee through a crime comparative analysis - 

a comparison of the broad crime categories, provided insights into the levels of serious crime, including crimes that had a significant impact on feelings of safety and security. A preliminary comparative analysis of serious crime reported in December 2015 indicated a reduction in reported crime in five of the nine provinces compared to the same periods in 2014/2015:

–three of the four provinces where an increase in crime was recorded, recorded an increase ranging from 0.28% to 1.47%.

Highest recorded increase in Limpopo -8.6%.

A similar preliminary comparative analysis of serious crime reported in the period April 2015 to December 2015 (nine months):

Decrease in reported serious crime in seven of the nine provinces.

Increase of 0.27% recorded in Northern Cape

Highest increase recorded in Limpopo - 4.6%.

Continuing with the crime comparative analysis, there was decrease in property related crime recorded in eight of the nine provinces (December2015)

–Increase – KZN

–Intensified police visibility during festive season.

In terms of a longer – term (April to December 2015) comparative analysis of reported property related crime:

-Decrease in six of the nine provinces.

-Increased – Northern Cape, Limpopo and KZN

Lt. Gen. Phahlane then looked at the VISPOL recovery plan and the variance in serious crime in April – December 2015 and December specifically across the provinces.

The Chairperson thanked members of SAPS and senior management.

The meeting was adjourned.

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: