South African Police Service Programme 5; Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation : 2016 Annual Performance Plans

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08 April 2016
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The South African Police Service (SAPS) presented its Programme 5: Protection and Security Services plans to the Committee. The main strategic objective in this environment was addressing serious corruption, and cases where officials were involved in procurement fraud. The performance indicators were set out, and related to percentage of case ready dockets in the Cluster and detection rates.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) noted that it had a total budget of R1.4 billion which is 1% of the total SAPS budget, by far the smallest amount of other divisions. There were increases of 5.4% in the current financial year on goods and services as well as employee compensation, and there would be year-on-year increases of 5.6% and then 6% for the outer years. The DPCI will conduct community awareness campaigns to educate the community about corruption activities. The local government election scheduled for 2016 will demand more operational costs for personnel to perform their task, in order to adhere to the directorate’s objectives. The travelling and subsistence expenses are regarded as the major driver in this case. There was an emphasis on cyber-crime in the current year.

Members firstly asked SAPS what it would regard as its highest priorities if it had to choose between programmes, in order to ensure that the time of SAPS personnel was used to best advantage. The current allocation to the DPCI was only a very small percentage and it handled a lot of the high profile cases, so Members asked what it would ideally need in terms of staffing and budget. Some Members questioned its impartiality in investigations and asked whether it felt itself free of political influence, and who exactly it would report to if there was an attempt at political interference. They wanted more detail on the community programmes, provincial projections, and fixed costs at operation level. The Acting National Commissioner reported that money in Programme 3 was ring-fenced, and money was to be found in Programme 1 for IT and training, and there were details available on what the IT support was giving in terms of benefit to each of the sections. He emphasised that a specific decision was taken to keep to the mandate on serious organised crimes and serious corruption. The National Head of the DPCI said that the DPCI would ideally like to get a separate vote, and also said that some of the way in which operations were currently carried out with permission having to be sought on certain points such as availability of travel had the potential to compromise investigations. Members asked about the basis for the budget calculations, asked how DPCI investigators would travel and made the point that whilst they heard its pleas for extra funding, that would have to be properly motivated to National Treasury. It was suggested that further discussion  on that point was needed. In addition, Members wanted to get more information about the filling of the 700 vacancies, making the point that it must fill these before seeking additional funding, asked how the budget would cope with this and wanted to hear timelines for this when the DPCI presented its new structure. They felt that the DPCI had to take steps to improve its image.

Meeting report

South African Police Services (SAPS) Annual Performance Plan: Programme 5: Protection and Security Services
Lieut Gen Kgomotso Phahlane, Acting National Commissioner of Police, introduced the team present.
A South African Police Services (SAPS) representative from the Finance and Administration said the main strategic objective that relates to the specific environment of Programme 5 relates to addressing serious corruption where officials are involved in procurement fraud. The performance indicator the Department of Police (the Department / SAPS) is going to use in this regard is having a percentage of trial of ready case dockets for fraud and corruption by individuals  within the JCPS cluster. The docket has been set at 53%. The next indicators related to the specialised investigation of serious crimes; here the target for the detection rate of serious crime related charges was 80%. The target for having trial ready case dockets for serious crime related charges was set at 53%.

Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) 2016 Annual Performance Plan
Mr K Mampane, Finance Officer, Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, presented the overall budget analysis for the 2016/17 financial year for this Directorate (DPCI). DPCI has a total budget of 1% of the total South African Police Service National budget, and part of that relates to Programme 3. The projected expenditure for the Directorate is R11.2 billion has been allocated, and the breakdown showed that for the Crime Record Center (CRC), the allocation is R2.2 billion, while forensic services was allocated R1.8 billion. DPCI had the smallest allocation overall.

In the previous financial year, DPCI had been allocated R1.340 billion. In this financial year, overall, there was an increase of 3.9% only, bringing it up to R1.4 billion.  there was to be an increase of 5.4% on goods and services as well as employee compensation. The estimate for 2017/18 amounts to R1.506 billion, an increase by 5.6%. For 2018/19 the projection is R1.597 billion, equivalent to 6% increase. For the transfers and subsidies, the allocation was R8.3 million for the previous year and for the current year 5.2% has been added. The estimates for the following years would be R9.02, then R9.20 million respectively. For capital assets, R17.5 million was allocated for the previous year, and for the current financial year R18.5 million was allocated. This was set to increase in the following years by 6.5% and 5.6% respectively.

In the outer years, the budget was R1.5 billion for 2017/18 and an 8% increase thereafter, to bring it to R1.6 billion in 2018/19.

The National office of DPCI is responsible for purchasing resources such as machinery and equipment. With effect from the 2016/17 financial year the National Treasury has earmarked the budget allocation for DPCI. The compensation of employees will remain the largest cost driver, constituting nearly 62% of R881 million of the total budget for the 2016/17 financial year paid by the National Head Office. The DPCI is responsible for overtime which forms part of the R550 million allocated. The cost containment measures as announced by the Minister of Finance and the public administration are to be taken into consideration.

The DPCI will conduct community awareness campaigns to educate the community about corruption activities. The local government election scheduled for 2016 will demand more operational costs for personnel to perform their task, in order to adhere to the directorate’s objectives. The travelling and subsistence expenses are regarded as the major driver in this case.

The Chairperson posed a question as to what SAPS would think was its highest priority, if it had to choose between the programmes in light of the amounts allocated, in order to ensure that the time of the SAPS was best used. The current allocation to the DPCI was only a very small percentage and it handled a lot of the high profile cases. He asked what the DPCI needed in terms of staffing and budget to ensure work was done effectively.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said that he had a “heavy dose of cynicism” about the impartiality of investigations where high level officials are involved. He asked whether DPCI felt free of political influence in order  to execute its mandate freely and fairly.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked what the entity had, as its wish list for the 2015/16 budget. She said the Parliament has adhered to the Constitutional Court judgment and recommendations that are made have to be in line with the Constitution.

Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) said he wanted clarity on who exactly DPCI would be reporting to if there was political interference. He asked if it would not be better to have a percentage of the money that it was allocated going into a separate fund, so that it can go out there and combat crime. He asked for more detail on the community programmes that were mentioned in the presentation.

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) said the presentation did not have provincial projections nor did it mention fixed costs at operation level.

Liet Gen Phahlane said Programme 3 is ring-fenced, meaning the money on this programme cannot be used for anything other than ensuring that the mandate of the DPCI is executed. He said there is money in Programme 1 for Information Technology (IT) and training. He said he has asked for full details, for instance, on what portion of  IT goes into supporting forensic services, in order to quantify how much benefit is being derived from the money in Programme 1. Further influences were the distribution of numbers and functions. He was important that SAPS should not overload the DPCI environment because, it will then be deviating from the entity’s mandate. Against this background, a specific decision was taken to keep to the mandate on serious organised crimes and serious corruption. He assured Members that there was impartiality in the DPCE. It did not have to be influenced by anyone. What influenced its operations was the type of crime committed. Actions are taken if there is unlawfulness, whether committed by officials, politicians or any other high level officials or individuals; the status of the suspect was irrelevant.

Mr Mthandazo Ntlemeza, National Head, DPCI, answered the question on the choice between the programmes as posed by the Chairperson. He would like to see a separate vote for the DPCI. He said his main challenge as he saw it was the independence of the DPCI, and although there are challenges also linked to that, the DPCI is pushing for this to happen, even if it did mean revisions to the legislation. The DPCI is also still trying to move away from the legacy of the Scorpions, and its operations are very professional and not controlled politically.

He commented that the cyber crime unit was particularly important within the DPCI. Human trafficking, organised crime and similar crimes are cyber-linked. 25 members of the DPCI have been specifically trained, having attended a five day course. In a new programme, about 30 personnel would be sent to Brazil for further training.

Mr Phalaphala Ramikosi, Divisional Commissioner, Chief Financial Officer, SAPS, said the R1.34 billion was estimated, as was indicated by the National Treasury when the Department did the Medium Term Economic Framework presentation. It should be noted that the R5 billion reductions imposed on the votes was not imposed in regard to the DPCI allocation. Since the inception of the Hawks in 1999, the increase had been around 55% on the budget allocation – and the reason for those levels was that additional funding was required  subsequent to the promulgation of the Amendment Act, and the SAPS had thus approached National Treasury for money for additional staff levels and physical resources, which had amounted to R330 million over the MTEF, which was basically allocated at the time to goods and services.

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC)asked what the increase was based on – did it pertain to a specific programme, additional capacity required, or additional personnel and operations? He wanted to know how members of DPCI would travel from point A to point B. He said he wanted to establish the capacity. If the DPCI had to renounce some kind of operation that was operationally independent, what would the DPCI do, and if its operations were so sensitive, he wondered how the investigations could be physically carried out if there were not enough resources. He was asking that question in order to understand the rationale for the submission to the National Treasury (NT).  The route for seeking budget allocations was to tell National Treasury that this was a wish list, this was what the entity intended to do, this was what it required to do it. If the DPCI asked for the increases but did not motivate them properly to the NT, via the National Commissioner, there was not much that this Committee could do. The budget process was quite involved,  and as yet he did not see that a strong case had been made out. He thought that perhaps, in the next engagement with the DPCI, this point must be specifically introduced, together with the organisational review. He understood that there was something to be considered on the other unit in October.

The Chairperson noted that there were around 700 vacancies. The Portfolio Committee wanted to see timelines attached to targets, and he suggested that these be presented in May. Clear dates were needed for filling of the vacancies. This was linked to Mr Ramatlakane's argument. The new structure would need to be presented,and it should also present plans on the engagements with the Department of Public Service and Administration. If new staff were being requested for the two new units, then it would have to ensure that it filled the current vacancies.

Mr Mbhele also noted the  current vacancy of 700 odd posts, and wanted to link that to the allocation of just over R1.1 billion for compensation of employees. He asked if that was intended to cover a full post establishment; if so, there would be implications later in the year if the vacancies were not filled speedily. If it was based on a previous baseline then the DPCI might have difficulty in filling all the posts.

Mr Shaik Emam said South Africa is in good hands at the moment, and this Committee should commend people on good work they are doing. He asked, in respect of the special vote, where the costs would be going, and what the working relationships between the units would be. The DPCI did have a limited budget, and had been limited for several years, and asked how this affected its success rate and whether it was able to combat challenges, and how much by way of resources it would need to redress the challenges it faced.

Mr P Mhlongo (ANC) asked how, if the DPCI had insufficient funds, it would be able to rise above its challenges. He said it would be irresponsible of the Committee not to raise, in public discourse, what was happening in the DPCI, and asked how it would deal with the clearing of its image.

Ms Molebatsi said the reason the DPCI had ended “with a sinister judgment” was because of the independence of the Hawks. She asked whether having ring faced funds would help in addressing the Constitutional Court ruling on independence.

Lieut Gen Phahlane said the only way to restore the confidence of the community was for the DPCI to do what it was employed to do – namely, ensuring that the mandate of the DPCI is being fulfilled fully, without fear or favour, and refraining from having to be drawn into investigations and related matters in the public domain. He said the Hawks cannot play the role of protection and security services, and one of the major mistakes was for people to view the Hawks vehicle as a production service.

Mr Ntlemeza said he travelled using commercial flights but at times might ask the Acting Commissioner to assist if they were going on the same route. When he has to travel for operations purposes, he cannot ask for a helicopter or a jet, as the applications process could well compromise operations. He said if the Hawks could get a helicopter or a jet, then many of its current challenges could be over overcome. Moreover, there are covert issues that cannot be discussed with just anyone, yet he was forced to approach the National Commissioner, and in this process confidentially will be compromised due to the applications.

In relation to when the DPCI would be launching the unit, he needed some time as he could not yet give an exact date, but this would be within a reasonable time. In relation to the Department’s expenditure planning process, he noted that it would get its requirements from provinces and divisions, and DPCI was one of them. This year's allocation was based on what had been communicated to the DPCI. The R1.4 billion factored in CPI growth since 2001, and for the current year, and this would have been communicated to National Treasury. However, if  there are other additional requirements, these will be factored in as part of the new MTEF processes and as part of the discussion. SAPS was particularly sensitive on funds that are allocated to DPCI, and would ensure that there is no deviation in terms of the utilisation of the funding. The 55% figure was calculated from the 2009 baseline.

Mr Ntlemeza said that for the first time, the DPCI will have its own Standing Advance officer. There would be a launch of the new office at the National Head Office of the Hawks.

Lieut Gen Phahlane concluded that the SAPS was grateful for the opportunity to present to Parliament, and gave the commitment that plans would be translated into action and would be fully accountable for delivery.

The meeting was adjourned.


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