Seminar on Risk Factors for Policing, with Deputy Minister present

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17 February 2016
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee hosted a Seminar on risk factors for policing where the SA Police Service (SAPS, led by the Deputy Minister of Police, and a number of civil society organisations, researches and academics presented on the risk factors to policing – a key area of concern for the Committee. Members heard from the University of Cape Town's Centre for Criminology on risk, police and policing. The presentation covered risk and its diversity, observations regarding risk gleaned from questionnaires completed by police officials who attended the Provincial Crime Combating Forum (2015) and risk according to these police respondents. The presentation also covered possible interventions according to these police respondents and the feelings of the police in the aftermath of police murders or serious injuries.  SAPS then presented comprehensively on risk management strategies to reduce police deaths where Members were informed of the risk management approach of the Service in terms of risk response strategies and mitigation of strategic risks through controls. There was also a presentation on the situational analysis in terms of the external environment (working conditions) and a host of figures relating to unnatural police deaths from 2012/13 – 2014/15 both on and off duty and per category of unnatural death. The presentation concluded by looking at enhancing police safety through an integrated approach to improve police safety, management interventions and additional focus areas. The Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) then presented on its public respondent study conducted on Public Order Policing (POP). Key findings were outlined in relation to expectations during protests, knowledge of legislation, awareness of complaints avenues, the role of community-based structures, the role of Community Policing Forums (CPFs) and the role of Community Safety Forums (CSFs). Findings were also presented on public perceptions regarding police response, vandalism during protests and community-police relations.

Key concerns were raised around the high number of police members killed off duty and Members questioned the causes thereof and the exact definition of when off and on duty began. Another area of concern for the Committee was the high percentage of SAPS members on the HIV/AIDS antiretroviral programme as well as the high percentage of members depressed – questions were raised about the effectiveness of the SAPS Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) programme and if this impacted on members carrying out their duties. The Committee raised the question of whether killing of police officers should be considered a crime against the state so that the crime was not simply treated as any other murder. Other issues discussed were the findings of the study of the CSP regarding the fear of police during protests and the right time for officers to use live ammunition.

Further presentations were heard from an independent researcher, Mr David Bruce, on improving the data on the killings of police. The presentation looked at basic facts relating to the non-natural deaths of police, provincial variations in the percentage of killings of police off duty from 2010/11 – 2014/15 and the provincial share of the national total of killings of police on duty during the same time period. The researcher also provided observations on a SAPS presentation delivered to the Committee on 28 August 2015 before concluding with a proposal for data collection in SA. The Compensation Fund, from the Department of Labour, then briefly presented an overview and objectives of the Fund before looking at the profile of SAPS claims, challenges and mitigating factors thereof.

SAPS presented on its EHW programme beginning with the key departmental, objectives, vision and missions of the programme before moving onto on EHW focus areas and health risks and wellness matters. Other areas presented on were mental health issues, HIV, suicides, homicides and femicides. The presentation also covered lifestyle diseases faced by SAPS members, operational risk factors, operational exposure, external risk factors and EHW interventions. The Minimum Force Institute then presented on the challenges within SAPS before moving on to discuss the force model and its force options/levels. Emphasis was placed on the need for proper training and equipment, conditioned responses, reality based training and resources.

Members, SAPS and civil society engaged in further discussions on a range of issues. The Union representatives present felt that urgency needed to be created especially to minimise factors everyone knew presented a risk to police members such as that of transport. It was also for the law makers to assist in moving the matter forward to declare police killings as high treason. Civil society raised the point that there needed to be greater integration between the pockets of research and that research questions needed to framed more definitively. Further questions were raised around the large increase in the percentage of police killed off duty in the decade as of 2004 compared to the previous decade. Other interest groups noted that it was important to understand the circumstances under which members were being killed by (1) understanding weapons being used and (2) the loss and theft of firearms in the on and off duty killings. Emphasis was placed on the potential solution of regulating the types of weapons members carried, under which circumstances and which officers carried which weapons. Members of the Committee found that many of the risks discussed today pointed toward the payment of police and felt that the more dangerous the occupation and environment one worked in, compensation should be proportionate. The Committee emphasised it was important to look into the issue of improving wages and salaries of service members to address specific vulnerability issues. Furthermore wages/salaries were linked to the professionlisation of SAPS and merit-based career-pathing to provide incentives and lift and sustain morale. The Committee also raised points around non-availability of accommodation and the extent to which it contributed to police killings, compensation of families after officers were killed and the need to raise the profile of the Community Safety Forums (CSFs) as a key mechanism of effective policing. Other Members questioned the use of lethal force and that for the police to be feared and respected, the needed to meet the brutality of the criminals – this was also linked to addressing the fact that the law was on the side of the criminals which made policing difficult. Other points of discussions were around members make use of personal cellphones on duty and if this obscured awareness and if this was in itself a risk, solutions to attract the right people to the Service to promote integrity and proactive measures to prevent potentially violent community protests in conjunction with local authorities.  

Meeting report

Chairperson Opening Remarks

The Chairperson indicated that, from the side of the Committee, the killing of police officers during the 2014/15 financial year had thrown the focus of Parliament on the reason these officers were being killed. The matter was of great concern to the Committee and during 2015, two sessions were scheduled with the management of SAPS with regard to this matter. Subsequently, the Committee scheduled this seminar today to further explore the risk factors for police officers in the line of duty. This included looking at employee health and wellness programmes, post traumatic stress disorder and other conditions along with the safety of officers on the job. During the State of the Nation Address last week, the President also highlighted the importance of this matter and expressed his sadness about the loss of 57 police officers murdered to date during the 2015/16 financial year. These acts were condemned by the President and he urged the police to protect themselves when attacked within the confines of the law.

SAPS briefed the Committee previously on 28 August 2015 on measures implemented to ensure the safety of officers and prevent unnatural deaths. The Back to Basics campaign was the new intervention on the table and the aim of today’s summit was to look at what was done since those interactions with the Committee last year and to look at the impact of the Back to Basics approach on these processes. It was also important to hear the input from civil society and the risk factors for which solutions were needed. Over the past weekend, a detective was killed in the Free State and a metro police officer in Cape Town and this was of deep concern. All role players needed to address the matter as one of national priority.  

Key Note Address: Deputy Minister of Police

Ms Maggie Sotyu, Deputy Minister of Police, said she was proud to be leading the SAPS collective present. The Minister was unable to attend due to a Cabinet meeting for which he could not be excused. As she stood in front of the Committee this morning, she vividly recalled her lamentations made during a programme she attended at the SAPS Paarl University in August 2014. The previous day, she had attended a Symposium on “the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB in the workplace targeting the Senior Management” in Pretoria. Unfortunately, none of the top SAPS Management attended as they all attended a non-eventful training workshop at Paarl University.

She told the now suspended National Commissioner that, the symposium they missed could have benefitted the SAPS members more if the intended audience (Senior Management of the SAPS) had committed itself to attend, because, as decision-makers, they would have been obligated to take note of all those expert and scientific inputs and deliberations from different invited role-players and would have been obligated to mainstream those recommendations to review policies for the strengthening of the SAPS Employee Health and Wellness. 

Deputy Minister Sotyu went on to indicate to the Top Management that, they must not allow themselves to be oblivious to the fact that the employee health and wellness of the entire career of an active police officer, from recruitment, retention to retirement, was of utmost if not of fundamental importance for the survival of this organisation (the SAPS). Whilst SAPS seemed bent on focusing on developmental strategies for the Senior Management, it must not forget that the survival and efficiency of SAPS solely depended on lower-ranked police officers operating from the police stations, which were front lines of service delivery to communities.

She emphasised that every strategy developed to improve policing, (whether educational, societal, spiritual), must be intrinsically linked to the holistic health and wellness of active police officers. She dwelled on this previous experience of 2014, because she did not want the same mistakes to happen again. In fact, her mind went into a panic state when she saw the programme of this Seminar. She anguished to the fact that, in 2011, there was a summit on Police Killings, in 2013 there was a summit on police suicide and, as she just alluded to, in 2014, there was “the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS, STIs and TB in the workplace targeting the Senior Management”.

In spite of all that she had just mentioned, she was very happy that this Summit had been called by Parliament itself. Because, the experience she had with the Summit this same Committee hosted in 2015 on Firearms, and its deliberations and implementation thereof, had completely dispelled any notion that no action will flow from this Seminar. She could say with pride that from that National Firearms Summit, many tangible developments emerged. Most importantly, the SAPS took the Firearms Registry as a critical priority, and many strides had been made since then. A tangible report was made available, and deliberations were being followed up, and some were being immediately implemented, such as beefing up the resources in the Firearms Registry.

Deputy Minister Sotyu thus pleaded for all present in the room to ensure that there will be a fortunate parallel emerging to that of last year’s Summit so that it was not just a talk shop but that SAPS management took it seriously. She urged that this Seminar be yet another gathering of committed and compassionate stakeholders who will come up with concrete time-framed deliberations that will improve policing in SA.   The Ministry of Police regarded these deliberations as very important, because the lives of our police officers were dependent on them, especially, now that one had been given yet another bleak picture on the state of wellness of police officers by the SAPS Top Management. For instance, in the POLICE MEDICAL SCHEME (POLMED) Programme, there were 27 246 police officers and their dependants enrolled in this programme. The Ministry of Police were informed that, 88% of this total number (27 246), was enrolled for the Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) for HIV/AIDS in the Financial Year 2014/2015, and the highest affected age group was between 34 and 44 years. 89% of active police officers and their dependants enrolled in this programme were also depressed.

Vehicle accidents were the highest cause of unnatural deaths of active officers. And, to cap it all, in less than 12 months, 88 active officers were already lost to murder/ambush in 2015. If this was not bleak, then it was a catastrophic state of affairs, and all needed to act faster, together. Fortunately, already in 2014, in the Budget Vote Speech, it was mentioned that, during the Governance Term 2014-2019, the wellness of the police officer in its entirety should be prioritised. There was a request that the Committee assist the Department to lead the restructuring of various outdated policies of the SAPS – a matter she also emphasized during the budget vote debates. She reiterated this request to the Committee more than ever now, to, in earnest, ensure that there was a concerted collective focus to improve the functioning, the operations, and the image of the SAPS. In this instance, the SAPS Executive adopted the theme for the Financial Year 2016/2017 as: “Back to Basics: Towards a Safer Tomorrow”.

In addition, the Minister of Police had appointed the Farlam Commission Committee of Experts to implement the recommendations made in the Commissioner’s Report to professionalise the SAPS. Complementing this work of the Farlam Committee, was the soon to be established Transformation and Institutional Task Team of Experts, which will be led and chaired by  herself as the Deputy Minister of Police. This Task Team would be the epitome of inroads to transform the police officer health and wellness in its entirety. The Transformation and Institutional Reform Task Team would be tasked to review some of the draconian policies that detriment and negated the police officers’ work environment, their living conditions, their career progression and their dependants’ livelihood when they retired or passed on.

She thus invited Members of the Committee to support this endeavour, by supporting the Ministry of Police with the following concrete activities:

  1. Recommend names of experts in Organizational Development that can form part of the Transformation and Institutional Reform Task Team of Experts.
  2. Support the Ministry of Police in identifying all national policies/prescripts/instructions/orders within the SAPS that needed urgent review/repeal to transform the SAPS and enhance the wellness of the police officer
  3. Guide the Ministry of Police in aligning the SAPS Employee Health and Wellness Programme with the National Framework of Employee Health and Wellness.
  4. And, help the Ministry of Police with comprehensive research work in the benchmarking of best practices in BRICS countries, and with other progressive country allies such as Botswana, Kenya, Senegal, Sweden and Canada.

Deputy Minister Sotyu said the SAPS Leadership was fearlessly focusing to transform the SAPS into a professional, service delivery oriented Department, a vision also envisaged in the National Development Plan (NDP).SAPS was committed to supporting the Acting National Commissioner in his quest to turn around areas of under-performance through the National Management Interventions Approach. The Committee was requested to provide the Legislative and Oversight might of Parliament, by ensuring that all blue prints of Transformation and Institutional Development were in line with our Constitution and in alignment with our people’s aspirations for a safe and stable SA.

In conclusion, the Ministry of Police would never rest until the men and women in blue were given the support they deserved in order for them to be able to fight crime and corruption effectively. It could not be expected that police officers were to be productive if we did not look at their wellness and their families’ wellness. The Task Team she would chair will deal with the issues of boosting morale in looking into areas of promotion policies, housing policies, transport policies and pension processes to actively support the families when they have retired or passed on. “Let us take the stress away from our police officers so that they can focus on fighting crime”.

The Chairperson welcomed the establishment of the task team to look at those issues and looked forward to further discussions in the coming months.

Thinking about Risk, Police and Policing: Centre for Criminology

Professor Elrena van der Spuy, noted that much of what was contained in her presentation had a international comparative relevance. In terms of current research, a literature review was important to understand what was occurring globally and how debates, polices and interventions could be placed in an international context. Much of today’s observations stem from in-depth participant observations made at police stations in Cape Town to bring an on the ground qualitative dimension to discussions on risk. Docket analysis was also being conducted on police homicides in the Western Cape and police funerals were attended to explore rituals and the discourse which were interesting to reflect on as it presented the mood of police officers in the aftermath of injury and death. During a provincial debate on safety and security, questionnaires were completed by 140 police officials in attendance on the issue of safety.

Police occupational risk was a critical issue which deserved to be debated and subjected to substantive research – the Seminar today was indicative of this. This was an under researched area as well as under-conceptualised – there were questions around whether risk should be conceptualised narrowly or broad and all-embracing. There was a tendency to dramatise or sensational risk such as homicide but there were other, everyday, routine and mundane risk that did not necessarily yield a dead body. There needed to be an examination of the inter-linkages between different types of risk such as physical, social and psychological. There was also a need to acknowledge, in studies of risk and policing, the critical importance of both internal and external factors and the interplay between inside and outside factors. The study of risk also needed to explore the relevance of occupational (cultural) issues in the SAPS i.e. of morale and integrity as perceived, experienced and enacted by the police.

J S Parsons (2004), in an essay on Occupational Health and Safety Issues of Police Officers in Canada, the United States and Europe, conceptualised of various types of risk and its diversity where there were:

  • physical hazards: homicides, assault, cardiovascular disease and fatigue
  • chemical hazards: pollution, cancer
  • biological hazards: communicable diseases, HIV/AIDS
  • ergonomic hazards: for example, back problems
  • psychosocial hazards: stress (internal and external)

Prof Van der Spuy then presented some observations from questionnaires concerning risk completed by Western Cape police officials who attended the Provincial Crime Combating Forum in 2015 – it was important to interpret the results with some caution given the size of the sample and geographic locality:

  • 55% of respondents indicated safety had gotten ‘much worse’ over the past years
  • What about morale? 48% said morale was very low within the police organisation
  • 38% of respondents said they had ‘colleagues’ killed over the past five years

According to police respondents, risk was a function of the following key factors:

  • Lack of resources and proper equipment
  • Corruption within the police
  • The sophistication of organised crime
  • Insufficient training
  • Community issues: hostility towards police and lack of trust
  • Dysfunctionalities within the criminal justice system

According to police respondents, possible interventions could be:

  • More/better training
  • Vetting, security clearance and ongoing integrity testing of police
  • Restoring trust in police
  • Improving police community relations
  • Strengthening of criminal justice system
  • Some thought harsher punishment of perpetrators of violence against police

When asked to describe their feelings in the aftermath of police murders or serious injuries, the following words were used:

  • sad and sorrowful
  • furious and mad
  • devastated and helpless
  • traumatised and disheartened
  • full of hate and revengeful

Prof Van der Spuy concluded by noting that issues relating to risk and safety of police officials required thorough research, good analysis, critical debate and pragmatic policies. This was an issue to which a range of actors/constituencies can contribute. The goal should be a nuanced and critical engagement with issues of risk in all its complexity so as to address contributing factors and mitigate impact on police members. 

SAPS Risk Management Strategies to Reduce Police Deaths

Brig Craig Mitchell, SAPS: Strategic Management, began by noting the NDP had a vision for building safer communities:The police service is well-resourced and professional, staffed by highly skilled officers who value their work, serve the community, safeguard lives and property without discrimination, protect the peaceful against violence, and respect the rights to equality and justice”. The SAPS ’Mandate as per Section 205 (3) implied a high degree of risk. Unnatural deaths of SAPS members impacted directly on its ability to give full effect to its mandate. Murder of SAPS members in particular impacted negatively on:

  • Communities perceptions of safety and security
  • Morale of SAPS members
  • Loss of valuable, skilled human resources

The Minister’s 10 Point Plan to address Attacks and Murders (July 2011) was an important resource along with the fact that the murder of police officers was a priority for Cabinet and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster. Unnatural deaths were a feature of strategic risks for the organisation in terms of:

  • Murder of police officers (on and off duty)
  • Unnatural deaths of SAPS members (road accidents and operational incidents)
  • Suicides by SAPS members

Brig.Mitchell took the Committee through the risk management approach particularly the risk response strategies. Part of the response included:

  • avoid the risk: stop all activities that could lead to the risk happening thereby avoiding the risk
  • share the risk: transfer a portion of the risk to another through a contractual agreement
  • accept the risk: take no further or additional measures to address the risk, usually as the risk was being effectively managed with the focus on maintaining existing controls
  • Reduce/treat the risk: implement specific measures (Control measures) to prevent the risk occurring or to reduce the impact and the likelihood of the risk. Given the SAPS mandate and the incidence of impact of unnatural deaths, specifically the murder of police officers, SAPS must reduce/treat the risk

There was also the mitigation of strategic risks through controls such as:

  • preventive controls: controls that prevent loss or harm (risk) from occurring
  • corrective controls: controls that restore or correct a situation back to the intended state
  • detective controls: controls that may be used to find out or detect whether or not procedure had not been followed (risk)

Brig Mitchell then turned to the situational analysis by looking at the external environment in terms of working conditions - SAPS was required to police an increasingly violent society:

–The 2014/15 Victims of Crime Survey found that:

•Perceptions that levels of violent and non-violent crime in the country have increased, with specific concerns regarding house breaking, house robbery and theft out of motor vehicles

–Increasing incidence of unrest-related public disorder:

•In 2014/15, 14 740 crowd-related incidents were managed, comprising 2 289 unrest-related and1 2451 peaceful incidents

•In the first semester of 2015/16, 7 306 incidents were managed, including 1 386 unrest-related incidents and 5 920 peaceful incidents

With unnatural police deaths, there were four categories of unnatural deaths, namely:

  1. Murders
  2. Vehicle accidents
  3. Other incidents
  4. Suicides

Environmental issues contributing to unnatural deaths included:

  • High-risk nature of policing
  • Policing was not performed in a vacuum, implying the constant likelihood of risk emanating from sources external to the SAPS, which were largely beyond its control, e.g. criminality targeting SAPS members
  • External dependencies in relation to certain operational and support processes
  • Stressful effects associated with policing impacting on employees
  • Non-compliance with organisational directives and internal criminality

Brig Mitchell then took the Committee through the numbers of unnatural deaths from 2012/13 to 2014/15 according to the four categories outlined above. Members were also informed of the percentage of unnatural deaths of the fixed establishment per financial year (2012/13 – 2014/15) according to the four categories of unnatural deaths. A comparative analysis was also provided of unnatural deaths per quarter for 2014/15 vs. 2015/16 for the four categories. Looking at the total percentage of unnatural deaths per category from 2012/13 to 31 December 2015/16, the largest percentage of unnatural deaths were due to vehicle accidents (42%) which was followed by murders (28%), suicide (25%) and other incidents (5%). Numbers were then presented for the four categories of unnatural deaths from 2012/13 to 31 December 2015/16 of SAPS members on and off duty. This was followed by a comparative analysis over the years 2012/13 to 2015/16 on and off duty, a comparative analysis for vehicle accidents over the same period on and off duty and the circumstances under which members were murdered on duty.

In terms of enhancing police safety and the integrated approach to improving public safety, this involved community mobilisation - enhancing cooperation between the police and communities to encourage community involvement through operational Community Police Forums (CPFs) to identify threats to police safety and tracing of perpetrators from their point of view. Community mobilisation could also be enhanced through awareness campaigns and responsible reporting by the media as media reporting had an impact on perceptions. Inter-departmental cooperation was also important for coordinated inter-departmental response to police murders (e.g. expedited court processes). Cooperation with the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and the Magistrate’s Commission could also ensure harsher sentences for perpetrators (in the case of police murders). There should also be a policy or law reform to define the murder of a non-duty police officer as a crime against the State.

There were also proactive management interventions to:

  • Ensure firearm competency (initial competency and maintenance)
  • Inspection of personal safes at residences, members issued with 108 firearms
  • Standardisation of operational equipment (including holsters)

•Implementation of firearm retention cords as a basic requirement to prevent the snatching of firearms

  • On-and off-duty Parades to ensure operational readiness of members -(equipment and firearm serviceability)
  • Coordinated deployment of personnel (communications / numbers)
  • Wearing of protective equipment (bullet resistant vests) and review of directives
  • Driving of marked vehicles implementation of directives regarding use by “non-operational” personnel
  • Internal police safety awareness campaigns

Brig. Mitchell outlined that there were also reactive management interventions for:

  • Coordinated investigation of police murders through:

•Rapid, coordinated incident response

•Integrated Tactical Response: multi-disciplinary teams, nationally and provincially, including the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), Crime Scene Management, Crime Intelligence, Tracking Teams, Specialised Units (Tactical Response Teams, National Intervention Unit and Special Task Force)

  • Incident analysis to inform improved prevention, reaction and investigation
  • Targeted compliance inspections
  • Management interventions to correct identified areas of non-compliance (stations) 
  • Application of consequence management

Additional focus areas were in the fields of:


  • Profile of police officers: disciplined, physically and mentally fit, clean record
  • Community participation in recruitment
  • Screening of candidates (criminal records, fingerprints, DNA samples, references and testimonials)


  • ensure operational readiness
  • In-service training to address risk factors: e.g. advanced/defensive driving, domestic violence, financial management, discipline
  • No deployment without requisite training

-Informed Deployment of Operationally Ready Members:

  • Information / intelligence-driven deployment and awareness of risk factors
  • On-going monitoring of operational readiness by Commanders to enforce the “do’s and don'ts”
  • Ensure compliance with prescripts
  • Development of Standard Operating Procedures for responding to scenes and complaints
  • Members situationally informed and aware in responding to every complaint
  • Availability of information when responding to complaints (Command Centres, radio communication)
  • Correct placement of members
  • Improved support through high visibility
  • Rapid, coordinated mobilisation of support

-Maintenance and transfer of skills:

  • Continuous refresher courses to ensure operational readiness focusing on high risk areas
  • Development of a well-defined policy for managing firearm competency in SAPS (also in respect of career management)
  • Improve vehicle driving competencies
  • Rejuvenate operational mentorship and coaching
  • Improve awareness of operational requirements and safety risks, e.g. station lectures, on and off duty parades
  • Use of medium and high risk capacity to assist with tactical mentoring and coaching (National Intervention Unit, Special Task Force) to improve station operational readiness and skills

-Employee Health and Wellness (EHW):

  • Debriefing of members exposed to stressful incidents
  • Identification and addressing of factors that cause stress and depression
  • Assessment of organisational culture (attitude and morale of members)
  • Referral to EHW professionals (personal or professional crisis)
  • Compliance with Occupational Health and Wellness requirements

-Managing conduct:

  • Popularising and enforcing of the Code of Conduct
  • Compliance with official directives, e.g. tactical operational procedures
  • Focus on improving morale and attitude
  • Application of consequence management
  • Combating internal corruption and fraud

-Resourcing (uniform, safety equipment, physical resources):

  • Members equipped with appropriate and adequate resources
  • Serviceability of equipment (timeous maintenance and procurement)
  • Focused deployment of resources to first responders
  • Research into latest technology and equipment for police safety
  • Availability and quality of official accommodation for SAPS members

-Use of technology:

  • Introduction of body and vehicle dashboard cameras
  • Forensic leads in support of investigations
  • Updating of criminal records and database
  • Technology to enhance training (e.g. simulation training)
  • Safety measures at police stations, (panic buttons, perimeter fences, access control)

Civilian Secretariat for Police: Seminar on Risk Factors for Policing: Study Conducted by the CSP on Public Order Policing (POP)

Mr Alvin Rapea, Acting Secretary of Police, noted the presentation from the CSP would be in the form of findings from research done into POP. The research explored how education and awareness played a role in reduction of violence during protests. He was alarmed by the findings relating to the attitude of protesters during protests like vandalising of property – this affirmed that the POP environment played a role in stress on police officers

Ms Ayanda Xongwana, CSP Deputy Director, then began the presentation by noting that two sampling methods were employed, i.e. a purposive sampling and availability sampling. Five provinces were selected (Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West and the Western Cape) and in each province two communities that had experienced service delivery protest or labour unrests were selected. In each community 25 gender balanced respondents within the 18-60 age categories were selected. A total of 50 respondents were identified in each province. In addition, focus group interviews were conducted with Community Based Structures, e.g. CPFs; Traditional Leaders and organised community groups.

Public protests had a long history and had been organised differently throughout the different historical moments. During the Apartheid regime, protests formed an important vehicle in the fight against the system.  In post-apartheid SA, public protests had re-emerged with a different purpose, which was service delivery focused.  Even though the focus was different during the democratic dispensation in comparison to the apartheid era, the nature of public protests was still taking the same method. The trends created during the struggle for liberation were still evident in the nature of protests today. 

Members were then informed of key findings of the study in relation to expectations during public protests. With the key findings of the knowledge of legislation, the Regulation of Gatherings Act placed considerable emphasis and obligations on organisers and conveners of a gathering to comply with all sections of the Act and to take responsible steps to ensure the gathering occurs in an orderly and peaceful manner. This also implied that the organisers should make the participants aware of what was expected from them during a protest. The findings indicated the limited knowledge that communities had in understanding of the Gatherings Act. Additionally there was generally a lack of understanding and public knowledge on the provisions of the legislation that regulated carrying of dangerous weapons during a protest. With the key findings for the awareness of complaints avenues, most respondents (82%) did not know of any other option to get government’s attention except protesting – the findings raise a serious alarm concerning local government’s complaints systems and mechanisms.

Ms Xongwana discussed the findings with relation to the role of CPFs – there was a great need to strengthen community policing through CPFs as the findings indicate that only about 56% of respondents knew the existence of a CPF in their community while 44% did not know if there was a CPF in their community. This study further found that, out of the 56% of the communities that were aware of the existence of CPF in their communities, 59% of them reported that there was generally good community relations with the CPF. From these responses there also appeared to be a gap in proper awareness with regard to the roles and responsibilities of the CPF. For example most respondents seemed to be convinced that CPF’s should arrest perpetrators within the communities. Community Safety Forums (CSFs) were based on the premise that increased co-operation and interaction would improve the functioning and deliberations within the local criminal justice system and the delivery of crime prevention projects. This resulted in the CSF concept evolving as a replicable structure for integrated problem solving at local level, destined to provide means for sharing information and coordinating an inter-disciplinary approach to crime prevention. However this structure was not known at the community level, for example the majority (96%) of provinces visited did not know the structure and its role in the community.

The Committee was informed of the key findings relating to public perceptions of police response – the study revealed some considerable positive perception of the police. For instance, 62%of the people interviewed revealed that they were not fearful of the police during protests and only 30% reported that they were fearful of the police. The participants further reported that in order to protect themselves against the police they carried weapons, which was also viewed to be the course of the clashes that existed between the police and the community during protests.  However the people interviewed viewed the role of the police during protests as:

  • To maintain order;
  • To protect the community;
  • To ensure that the protests did not turn violent;
  • To stop the community from protesting; and
  • Only 6% of the people viewed the police role as to fight the community

Ms Xongwana looked at another contributing factor to violence during protests could be the fact that only 52% of the participants considered vandalism during protests a criminal offence. On exploring this issue further, the respondents gave the following reasons for their views that vandalism during protest was not a criminal offence:

  • It cannot be a crime to vandalise public property as they were also tax payers;
  • They considered vandalism as just damaging infrastructure and not as committing a crime;
  • Getting the government’s attention;
  • One of the interviewees said  “vandalism yields positive results”
  • People vandalise when they did not get a response.

In terms of the findings for public perceptions of community-police relations, majority of respondents (42%) interviewed indicated that relations with the police during protests were poor. The participants that viewed community relations with the police as poor or average had the following reasons:

  • Police were abusive and unprofessional ;
  • Tribal nature of police especially in the Limpopo province;
  • Delayed response during protests;
  • Dangerous and that they killed protesters;
  • Their actions resembled apartheid police behaviour; 
  • They generally took too long to resolve issues

Findings for community based structures were then presented - the study further revealed the following eight overarching themes across the seven focus group that were interviewed:

  • Poor relations – between the police and the community based structures and within the various structures; 
  • Protest as constitutional right and not a crime; 
  • Persistent or collective advocacy – protests as means of getting needs met;
  • Improvement in police response - will as a deterrent to violent protests ;
  • Disarming the police – use of shields and batons, water cannons seen as less aggressive;
  • Poor communication between the protesting group and authorities and lack of Joint Awareness campaigns;
  • Lack of well defined and clear existence of the CSFs; 
  • Well-functioning CPF with FBO: Emzinoni Case Study that led a peaceful protest

The findings discussed in this report highlight the following key areas that needed urgent attention:

  • Improvement in public awareness and knowledge management with the communities.
  • A policing strategy that was able to keep up with the challenging and evolving nature of protests
  • The role of community based structures in enhancing good communication between the community and the authorities to prevent violence during protests

It had been widely noted throughout the study that the problem mostly was frustrations experienced by the protesting groups coupled with lack of knowledge and unavailability of platforms to complain. These can be addressed by strengthening the capacity of CPFs and CSFs to work closely with the communities, SAPS and other government departments at local level.


Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) noted that the figures for police members killed off duty was higher than for members killed on duty – what caused this? Were the off duty members more vulnerable? She thought it would be vice versa as the on duty members were more visible and attended more dangerous scenes.

Lt. Gen. Khomotso Phahlane, Acting National Commissioner of Police, responded that it was part of criminality within society but at times officers were killed for not being ordinary citizens but for being part of crime combating operations. Much more research was needed to understand why more officers were being killed off duty but he could not give conclusive evidence as to why this was the case

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) found it quite staggering to hear that 88% of both Public Service and SAPS Act employees in the Service were on ARVs and had HIV. Granted that it was a treatable condition, he found this to be an organisation in crisis. It was apparent that EHW was simply not working if close to 90% of members were on ARVs and 89% of the members were depressed – this meant in terms of physical and mental wellbeing, the structural and systemic  measures in place to address and alleviate this, were utterly failing. He sought explanation on this as he found the figures spoke to a catastrophe.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane clarified that 88% was to be read in a context of 27 246 members enrolled on the POLMED HIV ARV programme. Furthermore of the 27 246, 14 799 were female and 12 447 were male. These were not necessarily SAPS members but members of POLMED which also included dependents. 69.72% of the enrolees were principal members. With the cases of depression, 19 097 cases were received for psychiatric conditions of which depression was one. Of the 19 097 cases, 89% of active service members were treated with / diagnosed with depression. 

Ms M Mmola (ANC) noted problems of illegal protests in specific areas which had carried on for a month. The protesters were burning tyres and throwing stones at cars but when she phoned the police, the help was not effective. The community was suffering as a result and petrol bombs were thrown at houses but no help was received. She appealed for help.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane said he would be in contact with the Member with regard to this specific incident but he was well aware of it and was in contact with the Provincial Commissioner of Mpumalanga. 

Mr J Maake (ANC) thought the killing of police should be a crime against the state perhaps in the form of treason. If such a person was convicted they should be in separate prisons, have different food and wear different clothes so that it was not just like any other murder. There should be draft legislation in this regard because there was continuous talk about it with no action.

Deputy Minister Sotyu felt such legislation should come from the politicians perhaps in the cluster after which the necessary processes would be followed.

Mr G Michalakis (DA) questioned the study by the CSP – 62% of respondents indicated they were not fearful of the police during protests however, later findings state that 42% of people interviewed said relations with the police during protests were poor while the reasons given for these poor relations incited fear. He asked for an explanation for this difference.

Mr Rapea clarified that the 42% applied to the time of the protest itself and when the police had to act while the 62% related to non-protest time.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) was surprised by the quite high number of police killed off duty – he was not sure if this was related to the policy in anyway and the fact that many officers travelled to their stations on foot. This made him question exactly from what time “on duty” began in terms of the policy. It could mean that the policy was problematic and if the police was addressed, this issue would be more clearly dealt with. 

Prof Van der Spuy said it was important to look at the contexts in which off duty police members were being killed. These questions and questions around when on duty officially began and illustrated the importance of concepts and social context at play when police were fatally injured.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane responded that on duty was categorised as the time a police member left his/her place of residence en route to his/her official place of work, police, station, unit or branch to perform duties as determined in Section 205 of the Constitution. This was a very clear policy position to stipulate when on duty began. When a policy member was off duty but put him/herself on duty in his/her official capacity in order to uphold and enforce the law in the interest of the Service, that person was considered on duty. An example was if a police officer was at a shopping mall on the weekend while off duty but crime was being committed in his/her present. That member placed him/herself on duty by executing his/her mandate as a police person within the confines of the law at that particular moment. 

Deputy Minister Sotyu added that such policies needed to be reviewed in terms of transport. These were some of the areas the transformation committee would need to deal with but the assistance of the Committee was needed.

Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) was concerned about the safety and wellness of the SAPS members for example when they wore Buller Resistant Vests but were shot in the head. High rates of corruption also caused police deaths where the criminal often knew exactly who would be on a scene, for how long and how they got there etc. This might point to the fact that police members were not financially secure. He wanted to know when the Committee could hear that plans were being fully implemented so that Members could go to stations to ensure that officers were in better conditions.    

Ms T Mokwele (North West, EFF) wanted to know when the right time was for police officers to use live ammunition. She also asked about the HIV/AIDS statistics within the Service and whether the health status of members contributed positively or negatively toward the carrying out of their duties to SA. 

Lt. Gen. Phahlane explained if a situation so demanded that live ammunition be used, it would be but not recklessly and within the framework of the law to ensure the proportional use of force in the execution of the SAPS mandate. There were other measures to use before live ammunition like the water cannon, teargas, rubber bullets etc. Measures escalated depending on the situation confronted with. 

Improving Data on Killings of Police

Mr David Bruce, independent researcher, began the presentation by noting that the overall concern was with the understanding of “risks” to the police including physical safety (violence, vehicle accidents and suicide) and physical and mental health. 

Looking at the basic facts of non-natural deaths of police, vehicle accidents were the cause of the largest number of deaths – there were 102 accidents in 2014/15 which represented a steep decline from 165 in 2012/13. In terms of suicides, a figure of 115 was provided for 2012/13.the killing of police fluctuated in the last five years between 77 (2013/14) and 93 (2010/11) while there were 86 killings in 2014/15. Majority of the killings also occurred off duty – 59% in 2014/15 and 60% in the five years between 2010/111 and 2014/15. There were 52 other incidents which led to police death over the last three years (an average of 14 per annum).

Over the five year period between 2010/11 – 2014/15, there were provincial variations in the killing of off duty police:

  • Gauteng: 50% (57 out of 113)
  • Western Cape: 57% (26 out of 46) and 70% of 20 on duty deaths in the last two years
  • KZN: 62% (55 out of 89)
  • Eastern Cape: 62% (39 out of 63)
  • Mpumalanga: 64% (16 out of 25)
  • North West: 69% (9 out of 13)
  • Free State: 70% (21 out of 30)
  • Northern Cape: 75% (3 out of 4)
  • Limpopo: 75% (15 out of 20)
  • Head Office: 72% (13 out of 18)

Looking at the provincial share of the national total (over a five year period) of killings of police on duty, the picture stood as follows:

Of 100% (167) police killed whilst on duty:

  • Gauteng: 34% (56)
  • KZN: 20% (34)
  • Eastern Cape: 14% (24)
  • Western Cape: 12% (20) (of whom 14 were killed in the last two years)
  • Free State and Mpumalanga: 5% (9 each)
  • Limpopo and Head Office: 3% (5 each)
  • Northern Cape: 2% (3)

Mr Bruce then discussed a SAPS presentation to the Committee from 28 August 2015 where SAPS outlined the situational analysis to, inter alia, “determine modus operandi of perpetrators”, identification and analysis of risks, implementation of an “information management framework” and the tactical response plan for on site assessment and analysis of incidents and conducting of docket analysis of all reported cases. From the presentation, analysis of incidents indicated that “most members were killed n duty when responding to complaints or performing typical policing functions such as searches and arrests (evading arrests and retaliations)”. This type of limited analysis had been a consistent pattern – though killings of SAPS had been identified as a key concern since the late 1990s, SAPS did not have detailed information on situations where police were at risk.

In terms of observations, though it was aware that the majority of police were killed off duty, SAPS continued to focus on killings of police as if it was primarily an “on duty problem”. Gauteng was the main exception with 50% of killings take place on duty (the province accounted for 34% of on duty killings nationally in a five year period). There was a shift in the Western Cape from the where the majority of killings were off duty (16 out of 22) in three years (2010-2013) to where the majority of killings were on duty (14 out of 24) in two years (2013-15). Apart from Gauteng, and in the last couple of years the Western Cape, the general pattern was that over 60% of killings in provinces were off duty. SAPS was committed to an “analysis of risks” and “information management” but did not have detailed data enabling it to properly analyse and understand these killings.

SAPS said that “most members killed off duty were victims of crime” – even if this statement were correct, it still begged many questions and it could hardly be regarded as explaining the off duty killing phenomenon. It was know n that the majority of homicides in SA were in “disputes” or arguments often between two male protagonists. A 1998 report on killings of police found that off duty killings included “arguments” in 29% of cases and “love triangles” in 6% of cases. In August, SAPS reported four out of five police were killed by their romantic partners. Another type of “risk” situation was the intervention by a police officer in crime in progress while off duty – if police were in fact killed during “crimes”, were they intervening or resisting? Armed intervention or resistance may increase the risk of a fatal outcome. Statistical information from the FBI LEOKA (Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted) on police “feloniously killed in the line of duty” showed that:

  • nearly 18 000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily report data in killings of police
  • annual reports were published
  • the reporting system also included publication of narrative reports dealing with each death
  • there was separate data also provided on “accidently killed”, “assaulted” and “assaulted and injured”.

In terms of a proposal for data collection in SA, Mr Bruce said it was a relatively simple process as it was SAPS and metro police rather than 18 000 agencies. The categories would be modified and would make use of SA terminology where appropriate. The data should include and differentiate between “on”, off duty and “in the line of duty” or not – deaths that took place “on duty” were not necessarily “in the line of duty” and the death may be linked to, for instance, a personal argument or love triangle. Not all deaths were easy to classify because there may be uncertainty as to the motive or exact circumstances. Analysis of data also required care because the numbers did not always “speak for themselves”. Data collection could also facilitate analysis relative to, for example, province, weapon, time of the day etc. The system should be relatively simple and easy to maintain and there could be a pilot system to iron out issues with classification.

In conclusion, killings of police were not the largest category of “non-natural death” but it was the category of deaths that tended to be the focus of most concern. Better information on killings of police would enable police much better to understand situations where they were at risk. This was a question of recording and publishing including data on circumstances of deaths on duty – this would promote much better knowledge and understanding in a far more nuanced way. It would also strengthen the capacity of police to understand the issue of “risk”. 

Department of Labour Compensation Fund: Risk Factors for Police

The official from the Compensation Fund began by outlining that the Compensation Fund was a public entity of the Department of Labour. The Fund administered the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act. The main objective of the Fund was to provide compensation for disablement caused by occupational injuries or diseases sustained or contracted by employees, or for death resulting from such injuries or diseases, and provide for matters connected therewith. Looking at the profile of the SAPS climas, the following injuries were reported:

  • PTSD (41%)
  • Fatalities (11%)
  • Occupational Diseases (7%)
  • Injuries on duty (8%)
  • Depression and anxiety (30%)
  • Amputation (3%)

Challenges were observed with the SAPS claims relating to the nature of reporting, or non-reporting, of injury on duty for SAPS members, reservists in relation to injuries on duty, other associated mental disorders in members and there was an observed trend in the increased risk exposure for both the Compensation Fund and SAPS in relation to lodged claims for PTSD. To mitigate these factors there was improved communication between SAPS and the Compensation Fund in claims reporting and establishment of the PTSD panel by the Fund to develop a policy on PTSD.

SAPS Employee Health and Wellness (EHW)

Maj. Gen. B P Buthelezi, SAPS Head: EHW, began the presentation by noting that the objective of EHW in the Department was to ensure a healthy a productive workforce through development and implementation of health and wellness programmes, strategies and interventions. The vision of EHW then was healthy, dedicated responsive and productive SAPS members. The mission of EHW was to build and maintain a healthy workforce by mainstreaming EHW activities and plans within SAPS core activities in order to enhance productivity and excellent service delivery for the benefit of employees and their immediate families. 

EHW was focused on serving the human being in totality through a number of key areas, namely, occupation, emotionally, physically, psycho-socially, financially and intellectuality. Other focus areas of the EHW were HIV/AIDS and TB management, health and productivity management, SHERW management and wellness management.

Looking particularly at health risks and wellness matters, the five most recurring (year on year) mental health challenges for SAPS Act members in order of prevalence were:

  • Depression
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Stress Disorders
  • Substance abuse
  • Attempted suicides

19 097 cases were received for psychiatric conditions. 89% of the treated/ diagnosed cases were of active in service members that had depression. 22% were suffering from PTSD. 5% members suffered from substance abuse (not much different from the 2013/2014 financial year). The Free State reported the highest incidence of psychiatric conditions at 14%, followed by KZN at 13% and the Northern Cape at 12%.

Maj. Gen. Buthelezi then looked at HIV noting that the total number enrolled on the POLMED HIV programme for 2014/2015 was 27 246 (females 14 799 and 12 447 males). 88% of these 27 246 were enrolled on antiretroviral treatment (ART) while 10% were too early to treat and 2% were defaulters. 69.72% of enrolees were principal (main) members. The highest affected age group was between 34 - 44 years, a slight increase in age from the 2013/2014 financial year which ranged between the 25- 35 age group. KZN, Gauteng and Eastern Cape were the provinces with highest number of programme participants.

In terms of suicides, suicide trends were for the whole SAPS establishment. It was derived from provinces and reported through the SAPS EHW. The SAPS group most susceptible to suicide were between 30- 34 years old with 30 claims from a POLMED report. There was a slight decrease in the suicide cases within the three year period. The most common causes of suicides included:

  • Relationship Challenges (private and workplace relationships)
  • Finances
  • Disciplinary Issues in the workplace
  • Psychiatric conditions
  • Substance Abuse

Homicides and femicides were defined as SAPS members attacking, killing their intimate partners/families, colleagues, spouses partners and or children. There were 18 cases of members recorded for homicides and 14 cases of suicide attempts were recorded. Causes included:

  • Relationship Challenges (at work and in private life)
  • Mood Disorders
  • ​Finances
  • Substance Abuse
  • Sexual harassment

Maj. Gen. Buthelezi outlined the lifestyle diseases affecting SAPS members included:

  1. High blood pressure
  2. Diabetes
  3. Hypertension
  4. High cholesterol
  5. Obesity
  6. Substance abuse

Personal/private matters affecting the Service related to:

  1. Strained relations private and workplace
  2. Finances (over indebtedness)
  3. Parenting issues (Custody)
  4. Peer pressure (in terms of Constables and Warrant Officers)
  5. Physical fitness (Obesity)
  6. Divorce/ separation / legal matters
  7. Religion/ cultural issues
  8. Domestic violence

Operational risk factors included:

  1. Violent and aggressive nature of crime
  2. Continuous exposure to traumatic events and scenes
  3. Unpredictability of the nature of work to be handled
  4. Witnessing colleagues being killed or attacked- high levels of anxiety and PTSD.
  5. Challenges of regulating emotions (confusion: victim turn perpetrator)
  6. Limited recovery time for employees leading to compassion fatigue
  7. Fear of retaliation by criminals when executing duties
  8. Fear of attacks on self and family by local criminals
  9. Fear of being killed
  10. Personal safety at risk on a daily basis
  11. Motor vehicle accidents leading to incapacity or even death
  12. Human Resources (HR) matters related to pay progressions, promotions, transfers, discipline
  13. Taking decisions under pressure, sometimes compromising personal safety
  14. Absenteeism

Maj. Gen. Buthelezi outlined that SAPS members also faced a number of occupational exposure risks, especially in specialised environments, such as exposure to hazardous material (e.g. in laboratories), exposure to occupational diseases and injuries (e.g. at ports of entry), exposure to gruesome crime scenes and poor infection control mechanisms. There were also external risk factors such as:

  1. Negative media coverage of police activities
  2. Violent nature of service delivery protests
  3. Public perceptions on the how law should be enforced (damned if you do and damned if you don’t)
  4. Public pressure when executing duties (perceived police heavy handedness)
  5. Confusion on how to react to criminals (use of force)
  6. Criminal justice slow on finalising cases leading to victimisation and killing of investigators

EHW interventions included:

  • Targeted programmes and interventions
  • EHW services were directed to individual, groups, teams, families and to the organisation.
  • EHW programmes were offered through an integrated multi- disciplinary approach by psychologists, chaplains, social workers and occupational health practitioners

Minimum Force Institute: Risk Factors for Police Back to Basics Force Model for Police and Public Safety

Mr Don Gold, Minimum Force Institute, began by noting the information presented was obtained from media, observation and opinion and at best a perception of the situation. He encountered pockets of excellence/initiative in the SAPS. The Minimum Force Institute (MFI) had been engaging with the CSP since 2010. In terms of challenges, police causalities were high, morale and public image was low and the solution was Back to Basics. 


Looking at the force model it was designed to handle difficult people, allowed for the graduated selection of force options and to generate compliance with dignity and safety. Levels in the model included presence, words, hands, pepper, baton and lethal force. These levels were then discussed in further detail.

In terms of lethal force and observations thereof, apart from pockets of excellence, training ranged from abysmal to mediocre with some training occurring as little as once a year. Methods were inappropriate for the real world and having so called “competency” was not training. Officers learned to shoot but not to fight while there were many good instructors out there. It was the responsibility of government to regularly provide only the best training available. However, the current situation fell seriously short of international standards. Furthermore agencies with such glaring training deficiencies exposed themselves to the high cost of litigation. 

Mr Gold added that officers’ force toolboxes were ill-equipped and failed to provide confidence when confronting volatile situations. Training was grossly inadequate and almost totally inappropriate for reality on the streets – the SAPS members were being failed yet they were expected to cope. Without proper training and equipment officers will not respond professionally and they will react with primal instincts. If people were nasty they would be nasty back, of they were sworn at, they would swear back, if people got physical, they would get physical back all in a kneejerk chaotic way. This would occur because we (society) had not equipped them with the tools and conditioned responses they needed to do the job. More can be expected from reality based training.

Conditioned responses were designed to avoid, resolve, manage and make use of all six levels of the force model with carefully selected methods which were compatible with human capabilities during the fight or flight response requiring less perishable skills and less frequent training. The need for reality based training was critical – training could not happen in isolation without the due attention to the human factors which concerned officers and citizens alike. Training needed to be constantly infused with ethics, a regard for citizen dignity and a deep reverence for human life. SA had all the resources it needed to go back to basics and to remedy the situation. Perhaps it was time for the unions to get involved in training – all that was needed was the will.

In conclusion, the risk factors for police were multifaceted and complex and this presentation had dealt with only one basic issue but it was chosen because it touched on so many others.


An official from the Police and Prisons Civil Union (POPCRU), who was grateful to be part of the Summit, emphasised that a sense of urgency needed to be created around the matter such as minimising the transport of members to and from work. It would be correct for the law makers to declare police killings as high treason and for killers not to get bail – this would assist in the matter moving forward.

Mr Johan Burger, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), observed very little integration between the various pockets of research. By listening to the presentations this morning, it was puzzling that in the first decade after 1994, there was a decrease in the number of killings of police officers – close to 70%. But in the second decade, more or less since 2004, there was only a 9% decrease. This made him question the wide difference in numbers and what happened since 2004 which was so different compared to just after 1994. He also questioned increased police brutality and that this could be linked to the increase militarisation of the Service which was less about rank changes and more about attitude. There was also the issue of violence against the police and how it related to decreased respect or fear of the police and, on the other hand, the contribution this had made to the more aggressive type of policing being seen. One needed to be more definitive in how the research questions were posed and to find a way to integrate research more than was currently occurring.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane noted that the presentation delivered today covered unnatural deaths both in terms of off duty and on duty police members over three financial years. The only information not presented was mortality figures because that included both unnatural and natural deaths. The four categories of unnatural deaths were murders, vehicle accidents, other incidents and suicides. SAPS members could not afford to be spectators while crime was being committed and they were off duty – if crime was being committed, a member would take action no matter the cost as this was part and parcel of training. In the instance of a member placing him/herself on duty, this was defined as being on duty. He agreed on the need to find each other in research and this was why SAPS established the research division to collaborate with institutions and set the agenda as far as research was concerned. 

Ms Adele Kirsten, Gun Free SA, noted that the issue of missing information was raised by several speakers and one of the things which would be useful in completing the picture of the circumstances under which police officers were being killed was by (1) understanding what weapon was being used in the killing of the officers – was it majority firearms or were other sharp or blunt force objects being used? And (2) understanding the loss and theft of firearms in the on and off duty killings – in the case of off duty officers, did the member carry his/her Service pistol on them? There was also the scenario of members being off duty, technically, but were then confronted with a crime scene and if they carried their SAPS official sidearm or did they have a personal sidearm? More comprehensive information was needed about the role firearms played in the killing of police officers. A potential solution was to try and apply a global standard – the Zimring standard called for the regulation of the type of weapon that the officer had, which officers could carry weapons and the circumstances under which weapons were carried i.e. who carried what weapon for which purpose. This could be applied to SAPS members – was every SAPS member required to carry a firearm? Did admin clerks need a weapon? It was also important to regulate what kind of weapon was needed in what kind of situation. 

Lt. Gen. Phahlane responded that in 62% of police members killed, a firearm was used while in 14% of killings, a knife was used. Members employed in terms of the Public Service Act were not issued with firearms – there was no reason for clerk, pushing pen and paper, to be carrying a firearm. Firearms were issued to trained members of SAPS to do their work.

Ms Molebatsi noted that when police officers did not have accommodation, they were forced to rent sometimes in informal settlements and for their own safety, they were forced to be friendly to the very criminals they were supposed to be policing. In this friendliness, the SAPS member could end up telling the criminals who arrested them and why. She asked Mr Bruce to what extent this issue of non-availability of accommodation contributed to police killings. Mr Gold spoke of inadequate training – what, in his view, would adequate training consist of?

Mr Gold responded that it was his perception, and that of others, that training was done very quietly somewhere on a shooting range where a gun was aimed at the target and a number of rounds were fired in a given time. The time was also quite long compared to life measured in seconds and these trainees were then deemed to be competent. He did not dispute that this training was necessary to know where the load the firearm, where to put the ammunition etc. This also applied to all force training but his opinion was that training was lacking that took into consideration the high heart rate that a police officer had just by thinking he/she was going to die. This heart rate caused vaso-restriction so it stopped blood going to the brain and the brain switched off. Most members were trained in a method where they had access to all their faculties but in most critical incidents faced by men and women in blue, the training did not prepare one for the real world. During fight or flight stage, most people were not capable of using their fine motor skills which meant the training was not adequate. Incidents against the police were so violent so such training was required. Such training could occur through simulation, scenario training and visualisation to actually raise the heart rates of the trainees.  

Lt. Gen. Phahlane noted that there was a lot of investment made in members by training them – in the 2014/15 financial year, as Members were previously informed, SAPS managed 14 740 public order unrest incidents. In just the first semester of the 2015/16 financial year, SAPS managed 7 360 incidents. This would not be possible if the police members were not trained. He was not saying the training offered was fully sufficient or adequate because there was room for improvement. Lt. Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi was appointed to head training – he was one of the most highly trained members in SAPS and a member of the special task force. He did not want to create the impression that the SAPS were not being trained because facts dictated otherwise. He agreed there were challenges in the country and in SAPS but not everyone could be painted with the same brush.

Lt. Gen. Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, SAPS: Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Development (HRD), added that tactical training was part of the SAPS curriculum and it covered a variety of issues such as observations, interviewing techniques, stop and search of suspects etc along with combat shooting. Reviewing training programmes was a ongoing process taking into account incidents experienced by members off and on duty and to adjust curriculum from there. This had been occurring for a long time also to include technology to improve training methods. An impact study was also being conducted on incidents. SAPS had 24 academies for training of which 10 provided for basic policing while the remaining was for advanced training of members already in the Service. This included firearm techniques. SAPS was doing its level best to constantly adjust the skills of members for improvement to deal with threats.

Mr Mbhele felt many of the issues spoken about such as transport, corruption, non-availability of accommodation and various other risk factors pointed toward the payment of police. Looking at the risks faced by many operational, on the ground members, he thought of the concept of danger pay – the more dangerous the occupation and environment one worked in, the compensation should be proportionate. In his ideal world, the three top paid civil occupations would be health care workers, the police and educators because these were the key investments to make, from a public sector perspective, for long term benefits in safety, health and education. SA faced economic hardships both in terms of growth and a decreased public sector wage bill – at the respective levels and jurisdictions, could the various actors look at how to improve wages and salaries for the Service members to address specific vulnerability issues he raised earlier? Last year he saw the payslip of a retired constable and he was shocked. He asked that the CSP really look at this issue to lay out a conceptual framework and blueprint to move into the right direction. This also spoke to the professionalisation of SAPS and the need for merit-based career-pathing to provide incentives and lift and sustain morale – pay was a big part of this.

Deputy Minister Sotyu was pleased this issue was raised and said it was precisely why the Transformation Committee was needed. One of the mandates of the Committee, which she would be chairing, was to look into the issue of SAPS entry-level salaries, promotion, retirement and accommodation. She emphasised that with the issue of accommodation, when she visited the barracks in the Western Cape, she did not sleep that night when she saw the conditions members of SAPS were being accommodated under especially those officers who did not sit in an office but were operational on the streets. Issues of accommodation did negatively affect the members when it came to crime fighting. Other members were staying in shacks. She had bought an old house and decided to renovate the house. She then had the zinc roofs replaced and a police officer came to her to request the zincs to extend his shack. Issues of accommodation were her number one priority. Other times members were informed they would be redeployed to other provinces and would simply have to find their own accommodation and transfer their children to different schools all on their own even when they had never been to that province before. The shacks police stayed in did not have numbers or street lights – even when police were called to attend to a scene in the shacks, it turned out to be an ambush because there were no decent streets or street lights. It was important that local government and municipalities also addressed the issue to fight crime effectively. It was important to transform areas to make policing easier and better the lives of police officers to defend South Africans.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane added that there was a definitive link between the killing of police members and their living conditions in terms of risks. It was an issue which would be addressed going forward.

Mr Maake was interested in the use of lethal force and that Mr Gold stated that SAPS members were being trained to shoot and not fight - in SA, criminals were very violent. When dealing with criminals, should a police member talk to them or go very harsh on them to understand? Criminals needed to know that the police were not playing. It was said that police should wait until fire stopped to attend to a scene when instead they should be in there when criminals were shooting – for this, the police needed to know how to fight. If it was up to him, he would allow the Acting National Commissioner to use lethal force in operational areas otherwise there would be movement in circles. Many people had personal experience of these brutal criminals – it was important that they were afraid of the police in order to respect the police. He agreed that police needed to fight and not only to shoot but he would give the go ahead for the brutalisation of criminals.

Mr Ramatlakane questioned the reality of compensating the families of police members who were killed – the presentation by the Compensation Fund did not speak to this. There was a need for some authority on the discussion of declaring the killing of police officers as a crime against the state – currently he did not know of one such authority legislatively. Perhaps there should be more research on this aspect especially from a constitutional point of view. He also raised the issue of members making use of personal cellphones while on duty and how this obscured awareness – was SAPS dealing with this as a potential dimension of risk? He was surprised to hear, from the study conducted by the CSP, that CSFs were not widely known across the provinces especially as it was an old strategy to assist in combating crime. This raising of awareness and profile should be a priority as the community was key to effective policing and work with the police instead of having a hostile environment.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane outlined that cellphones remained a tool of communication but the Directive was that cellphones were not to compromise or impede on the work done by the SAPS. Its use was also to be within the confines of the law to facilitate communication.

Mr Shaik Emam noted that some stage during Committee discussions, there was talk of recruitment starting at school age to incorporate policing into the school curriculum – was this part of the solution to attract the right people to the police force? He was disappointed that all a criminal could do was to face their back toward the police officer and the officer could then do nothing – he would wait for the officer to get right next to him before he shot. In essence, the law was on the side of the criminal and not to protect the police officer and this made life very difficult for the police. Unless this was addressed with Justice, it would continue and there then would be serious challenges. He was concerned about the issue of health and that at any given time, more than 20% of members were infected with HIV/AIDS or had psychological issues etc and this was quite an alarming number. It also placed pressure on the rest of the Service to perform their duties. He was also concerned about the figures for the communities which did not trust the police along with the fact that there were corrupt officers in the Service. It was important that communities knew police officers were there to protect and there was no need to fear them. This could not succeed without weeding out the elements of corruption in the Service – this was where the issue of integrity came in and the need to attract the right kind of people. There were also concerns of health as a risk which needed to be addressed holistically. On the issue of compensation, it was said that when a police officer died, the family was left destitute for a long period of time before there was real compensation – he appealed that officers be cared for while alive and even after they had passed for their families to be cared for as that officer served each and every South African.

Lt. Gen. Phahlane agreed that there needed to be progression in looking at police killings as a crime against the state in terms of the law. With recruitment and issues of curriculum at schools, there was work in progress. At Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, there was a curriculum for students to acquire a qualification that allowed them to move into the police. There continued to be elaboration with tertiary institutions in terms of programmes which could contribute toward creating a better pool from which to recruit. Corruption was unwelcomed in the organisation and where it manifested, it was dealt with. 

Mr M Mncwango (IFP) thought there was one aspect from discussion which did not seem to be coming through – this was the issue of some proactive measures in relation to potentially violent community protests. Were there any proactive measures for the police to take in conjunction with local authorities? In most cases, communities were protesting against lack of service delivery but was there anything the police could actually do to prevent such potentially violent protests? His point was to link policing with local authorities in terms of being proactive in preventing potentially violent protests. The police often came in as fire-fighters when the issue was already at its peak.  

Lt. Gen. Phahlane took the point and said it formed part of SAPS community engagements and engagement with CPFs at local government level.

Closing Comments

In closing, the Chairperson thanked everyone for their contributions into this complex discussion and issue. The Committee subscribed to the principles in Chapter 12 of the NDP. The Committee also appreciated the excellent work done by SAPS last Thursday at the 2016 SONA – there were various volatile incidents around the city centre but the feedback received by the Committee was that the situation was handled well – this was excellent and showed the current police management was doing good work. Since the term had started, the police were on the right track and this was very good to see.

There was an increase in the killings of crime in an increasingly violent environment which showed there were issues of society to confront. The Committee would be keenly observant on what was being done at a community level through CPFs and CSFs to make the community part of the effort – there would not be success in fighting crime if communities were not on board. The question of research was quite vital along with the research priorities of the CSP and the SAPS research institute – many of the issues were in correctly identifying the concepts because the implementation of the NDP was non-negotiable. The issue of suicides was also a big concern and needed attention – this was where the role of the station commander was quite vital in terms of the Back to Basics Approach for early warning systems to manage members effectively. The Chairperson commended the Service on the excellent EHW presentation. Overall more focus needed to be paid to the programme for mental health and wellness – the issues would be addressed again when the Committee dealt with the budget. One of the issues not really dealt with today was the issue of technology – it was important to address how technology could be used to assist visible policing members. He emphasised that projects must be piloted despite the resistance because there was benefit to the elimination of police killings as seen in case studies in other jurisdictions. Recommendations on the issues discussed today would be developed in March. 

The meeting was adjourned.



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