SAPS eported that 2016 municipal elections deployment planning commenced in 2015. A three-phased approach was implemented: Phase 1: Build up to election activities February to July 2016 - this involved the screening of IEC officials and service providers, securing of voter registration days and intensifying stabilization operations of hotspots and voting stations. Phase 2: Special votes and voting day 1 to 3 August 2016 - this involved escorting of voting material and IEC staff, static protection of voting stations, mobilizing of roving reaction teams, especially at medium and high risk areas. Phase 3 Post-election days included intelligence collection, analysis and coordination (threat assessment, categorization of hotspots), enhancing visibility in hotspots and investigating related cases. Limpopo had the highest number of interventions prior to the local elections, followed by KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng, North West, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State with the fewest hotspots. Intervention in the form of stability operations in these areas was paramount. During the election SAPS provided escort duties for 220 000 IEC staff and material to 22 612 voting districts. Total SAPS deployment on 3 August was 98 813 officials.
Overall, all Members were highly satisfied with SAPS ensuring that there was optimum safety during the elections. Members asked if there was a marked downturn in crimes during the 2016 elections as a result of this mass deployment; looking at the election-related murders, were the same patterns seen during the 2011 local government elections or was this a new phenomenon; what challenges were encountered in the execution of their plans; where there any security breaches in securing the voting material; what duties were allocated to South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members and where were they deployed; why did SAPS include the period from 1 February into the assessment when the election was in August 2016; what kind of support did SAPS receive from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in enforcing the Electoral Act; how did SAPS define “election-related cases”; how was “house break-in with intent” election-related; could SAPS say that these were political murders, if so, how did it define “politically -related crimes”.
Role of Crime Intelligence in detection of crime and unrest
The three areas of focus during the election process were Tshwane, KwaZulu Natal and Vuwani in Limpopo. Crime Intelligence was represented on this task team with a mandate to collect and analyze information on possible suspects responsible for the election-related murders. In the run-up to the elections dedicated intelligence collectors from Head Office were also deployed to identified hotspot areas. Collectors were deployed, seven days prior to the actual elections, to enhance provincial intelligence collection capacities in hotspot areas. The main objective of the Crime Intelligence Unit during the 2016 local government elections was to generate timely, credible, accurate and actionable intelligence to operational clients, to inform operational planning and deployments during the pre-election, election and post-election phases. Some of the CI operational focus areas were: crime in and around polling areas, terrorism, electioneering, intimidation, removal and/or destruction of placards, disruptive protest action, inter and inter-party political contestation, fraud on ballot papers and other material , election and possible impact of protest action at institutions of higher learning to name a few. Crime Intelligence assisted in the screening of IEC contracted staff (including presiding and deputy presiding officers and service providers). A total of 270 hotspots were identified, the bulk of these being in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.
Members asked if the cluster system was working, and was it sufficient; was SAPS doing early detection analysis; what was the cooperation of state security agencies like, specifically in relation to Tshwane and other hot spots; was there good cooperation from the State Security Agency specifically; what role did SAPS play in intervening during the illegal occupation of land; was there any research done by SAPS or by Crime Intelligence about police reaction time?
Disruptions in Tshwane began with dissatisfaction with the mayoral nominee candidate resulted in various acts of violent protest actions and looting of shops belonging to both South African and foreign nationals. Violent protests erupted from 20 June 2016 and continued until 26 June 2016. Following extensive SAPS deployment in the affected areas with Visible Policing operations to stabilise these areas as well as intelligence operations against identified instigators, the situation was brought under control by 24 June 2016. However, while the Tshwane unrest situation unfolded, SAPS also had to deal with a number of protest action country-wide. This meant that during this period SAPS resources were stretched to the maximum. Between the period of 19 June to 1 July 2016, 353 election-related cases were opened, the bulk of these were in Atteridgeville (87), followed by Rietgat (73), Loate (71) and Akasia with 32. A total of 278 suspects were arrested.
Members asked if any police had been looting; where the firearms of foreign nationals suspected to be responsible for some of the killings licensed, and what was SAPS doing about this; had community policing forums provided assistance to SAPS during the period of unrest; was SAPS aware of the usefulness of community WhatsApp groups; and what lessons were learned.
Senior Management Appointments
SAPS appointments at senior management level since 1 April 2016 were 43, 41 were appointed at Level 14 and 2 at Level 15. Seven were at provincial and 36 at divisional.
Members were pleased about the progress and asked how transfers administered and how long did it take for a SAPS member to get promoted.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
Chairperson Beukman said he was quite impressed with the work that the SAPS management has been doing on the BRRR so there would not be a need for a briefing on this. A status report on the SAPS training college in Pretoria would be given the following week.
Evaluation of SAPS Deployment During 2016 Municipal Elections
Lieutenant-General Khomotso Phahlane, Acting SAPS National Commissioner, introduced his team and thanked SAPS members, inside and outside the unit, who did exceptional work during the elections. The community at large was also thanked for its cooperation as well as the Committee for its continued support.
Major General Leon Rabie, SAPS Head: Strategic Management, said 2016 municipal elections deployment planning commenced in 2015. Safety, security and stability planning were coordinated through the Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (JOINTS) to ensure integrated efforts in ensuring free and fair elections, including national security. Some of the key role-players were the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Department of Defence, the Municipal Border Demarcation Board and Government Communication Information Systems to name a few.
A three-phased approach was implemented: Phase 1: Build up to election activities February to July 2016 - this involved the screening of IEC officials and service providers, securing of voter registration days and intensifying stabilization operations of hotspots and voting stations. Phase 2: Special votes and voting day 1 to 3 August 2016 - this involved escorting of voting material and IEC staff, static protection of voting stations, mobilizing of roving reaction teams, especially at medium and high risk areas. Phase 3 Post-election days included intelligence collection, analysis and coordination (threat assessment, categorization of hotspots), enhancing visibility in hotspots and investigating related cases. Limpopo had the highest number of interventions prior to the local elections, followed by KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng, North West, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State with the fewest hotspots. Intervention in the form of stability operations in these areas was paramount.
Hotspots were identified by the established Intelligence Coordinating Committee made up of SAPS Crime Intelligence, Defence Intelligence, State Security Agency and the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee based on various items.
During the election days SAPS provided escort duties for 220 000 IEC staff and material to 22 612 voting districts. Total SAPS deployment was 60 480 officials on the first day of elections, 64 197 the following day and 98 813 on the third day. National Reaction Teams made up of the Special Task Force, National Intervention Units and Mobile Operations Units were deployed in KwaZulu Natal (90 officials), 105 were deployed in Limpopo and another 90 in Gauteng. Disaster management was coordinated at national level to provide relief to voters in situations of natural and man-made disasters.
Post election, SAPS escorted material and IEC officials from voting stations to the established results centres. Security was also provided at National and Provincial IEC Results Centres.
All reported criminal cases related to the 2016 local government elections were investigated and monitored since 1 February 2016. Most of the reported cases relate to the contravention of Local Government Municipal Electoral Act and some serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, assault GBH, arson and malicious damage to property. Investigation of these cases will be monitored on a monthly basis until they are all finalised. Between 1 February and 5 August 2016, a total of 782 election-related cases were reported. Between 1 and 4 August 2016, 129 election-related cases were reported. Gauteng had the highest number of reported cases (394), followed by Limpopo (112), KwaZulu Natal (90), Northern Cape (41), Western Cape (38), Free State (37), Eastern Cape (35), North West (24) and Mpumalanga (12). In comparison to reported election-related cases during the 2011 local elections, numbers have gone up from 604 to 782.
In conclusion, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Gauteng remained the national hotspots; more resources were therefore directed to these provinces. All 22 612 voting stations were opened and secured. Reported cases were being investigated in an integrated approach by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), detectives and the National Prosecuting Authority. The budget for the 2016 local government elections was R 256 million.
The Chairperson noted that during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, there was also a mass deployment of SAPS members. Does this mass deployment actually have a positive effect in reducing active crime during such periods? Was there a marked downturn in crimes during the 2016 local government elections as a result of this mass deployment? Looking at the election-related murders; were the same patterns seen during the 2011 local government elections or was this a new phenomenon? What was the planning going forward in this regard?
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) thanked SAPS for ensuring safety during the elections. Did SAPS encounter any challenges in the execution of its plan? Where there any security breaches in securing the voting material? Could SAPS share with the Committee the security breaches that took place during Phase 3 of the deployment, specifically the silent protest during the announcement of election results on 6 August 2016?
Ms L Mabija (ANC) said she was highly impressed by the visibility of SAPS members at all the voting stations she monitored. What duties were allocated to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members and where were these members deployed?
Ms M Mmola (ANC) thanked SAPS for the presentation. Could SAPS explain what was meant by “medium to high risk areas”? In the Western Cape, 38 cases were opened yet only one suspect was arrested; how was this possible? The presentation noted some cases were withdrawn in court; what was the cause for this?
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked what did SAPS mean by the “2-4-6 ratio” at voting stations. Why did SAPS include the period from 1 February 2016 in their assessment when the elections were only in August?
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) thanked SAPS for their outstanding work in delivering effective security throughout the elections. When he was in Mpumalanga where there were uprisings, SAPS responded immediately, apprehending all suspects involved. The presiding body over the elections was the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC); what kind of support did SAPS receive from the IEC in enforcing the Electoral Act? He said that he witnessed some dumping of election material in KwaZulu Natal and this raised some serious questions around the independence of the IEC. Such cases were threatening to a free and fair electoral process, and if not addressed could result in some serious political friction.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said looking at the 2011 elections, the number of cases withdrawn in court was quite disturbing; the guilty verdicts which were handed down were less than 10% of the cases which were opened. This was worrisome because it showed that there was little deterrent from the justice system for the prevention of future crimes as very few guilty verdicts were handed down. There were many other crimes which were reported in the run-up to the elections, these included robberies and house break-ins; what made these election-related and how did SAPS determine this? What was unique about these cases? Could the SAPS team clarify the role of reservists in boosting visibility during the deployment, what value-add did they contribute and what were some of their figures? The presentation said that the deployment did not affect day-to-day policing at police stations; so why was SAPS not making the mass deployment of members on the ground a permanent situation? The visibility of SAPS was fantastic; this played a significant role in reducing opportunistic crime.
Mr P Groenewald (FF Plus) also thanked SAPS for their excellent work during the elections. He said that in the previous elections there were problems with paying SAPS officials for their overtime work, he hoped that that would not repeat itself during this election period. How did SAPS define “election-related cases”? How was “house break-in with intent” election-related? Could SAPS say that these were political murders, if so, how did SAPS define “politically-related crimes”?
Mr D Bergman (DA) said that a lot of reservists, especially in Johannesburg were rendered useless because of a firearm competency issue; could SAPS provide more clarity on this? He said that on the two occasions that he had to use SAPS, the response was great and that was highly appreciated. With regard to the Electoral Act, the taking down of posters was illegal as well as the inappropriate hanging of posters; were any arrests made for these offences?
Ms Mabija asked about the screening of IEC officials and service providers; how was this screening done and did it also assess the neutrality of IEC officials. She was made aware of an incident where an elderly woman was made to vote for a party different than the one she wanted to vote for when she asked for assistance from an IEC official.
Gen Phahlane thanked Members for the positive feedback. On the mass deployment of officials during the election period question, he said during the voter registration period and the election period, the deployment of SAPS officials was increased, and this certainly had a positive impact on decreasing crime due to increased visibility. Certain categories of crime were certainly on the decline as a result. The murders which took place during the election period were very unfortunate and highly unacceptable. The killings during the election period were primarily due to the nomination of the person as a candidate. It would not have been possible for SAPS to know beforehand that these killings would take place, but SAPS would have had a sense of which areas to look out for due to high conflict levels. SAPS response teams would therefore be on alert. SAPS was committed to intensifying their efforts, especially in intelligence gathering. A number of arrests have been effected and the conviction of those responsible was inevitable.
On the question whether SAPS experienced any challenges in executing their plan; he said SAPS had a decent plan and it was well executed. He expressed gratitude for SAPS members who followed that plan. The cooperation which SAPS enjoyed from various units and departments was also highly appreciated. There were no disruptions. With regards to election material, he conceded that there were some security breaches. There was an incident in Soweto where election material was being transported to voting stations, and the delivery vehicle was hijacked and boxes of ballot papers were taken. These were ultimately recovered but were destroyed by IEC officials; these were replaced. This was a breach of security because SAPS had the responsibility to escort all vehicles transporting election material from the warehouses to the voting stations. This particular incident took place because no police escorted the vehicle. SAPS however worked well with the IEC to curb the reoccurrence of such an incident.
He explained that the SANDF was primarily providing logistical support, for example helicopters patrolled and monitored situations moving from one point to another. Another area where they were involved was to provide tents at voting stations. The IEC in some cases did not have tents on standby to ensure that voting took place, SANDF mobilised the tents with the IEC. There were no soldiers on the ground; however they were on standby to assist SAPS if situations got out of hand. The screening of IEC officials is a function performed by the State Security Agency, SAPS was not aware of what the screening entailed. “Low, medium and high risk areas” were termed as “hotspots”; a province would fall under these categories depending on volatility within the area, as informed by central intelligence. ‘High risk’ informed the numbers for deployment. On why only one suspect had been arrested in the Western Cape, he said that the rest of the cases were still under investigation. He explained that the 2-4-6 ratio was an indication of the level of risk within a voting district, low risk voting stations were assigned two people, medium risk stations were assigned four and high risk voting stations were assigned six people. He hoped Members understand why SAPS was unable to communicate these statistics before or during the elections. He said that from 1 February 2016 was the pre-election phase which included the voter registration phase; therefore the figures included this period as well. On the question about what support SAPS received from the IEC, he said elections were indeed part of the IEC mandate; the SAPS mandate was to ensure that the elections were secure; this was done in collaboration with the IEC. The Electoral Act outlined the functions of the IEC and the related structures, together with the categories of election related transgressions which SAPS dealt with. If a matter was not part of the competency of the IEC, it was referred to SAPS to deal with. The cases withdrawn in court were withdrawn by the presiding officer; SAPS would have done what they needed to do in investigating and preparing the case for court. It was also not the complainant who could do the withdrawal. He was therefore not in a position to indicate the reasons for these case withdrawals. SAPS respected the outcomes of courts.
He explained that the “everyday crimes” were election-related because they would have not taken place if it was not because of the protests related to candidacy. SAPS assessed each situation to determine whether the crime was politically- motivated or whether it was election-related. It is however important to note that it did not mean that the murders SAPS reported on were the only ones which took place during the elections, there might have been more. However, for the ones presented on, SAPS realised that the circumstances around the crime were related to the elections. For example, the vandalism in Tshwane would not have taken place if it were not for the elections. During processes like the elections, SAPS did work which was out of the ordinary, for example, some of the members deployed during this process were people who were stationed at national and provincial headquarters. Some of the SAPS members deployed were supposed to be on rest periods or were on leave but were asked to work overtime. SAPS would not be able to afford deploying such numbers throughout the year. The R 256 million budget allocated for the elections was money from SAPS’s baseline. The elections were therefore highly demanding on SAPS resources. Regardless, SAPS was committed to continue with increased visibility in the fight against crime. On the question on overtime, SAPS members would definitely be paid as provision has been made for this. SAPS was not expecting any problems with this. He said SAPS did not need the services of all reservists. Therefore the issues of firearm competency would not have been an impediment during the elections; reservists which were competent were deployed, around 5528 reservists were deployed countrywide. SAPS would continue working on firearms competency as this was a technicality which not only applied to reservists but also to SAPS members at large. He did not have the specifics on the question of posters being taken down, but if those matters were reported they would be part of the SAPS final report submission.
Role of Crime Intelligence in detection of crime and unrest: SAPS briefing
Maj General Rabie said there had been a need to identify and focus on specific areas of unrest during the election process. The three areas of focus were Tshwane, KwaZulu Natal and Vuwani in Limpopo.
Crime Intelligence (CI) received unconfirmed information about possible disruptive actions in the Tshwane area relating to the nomination of a mayoral candidate by the African National Congress (ANC). In view of this, sources were tasked and information was disseminated to operational divisions for operationalisation. When information received said that the situation was deteriorating, the Crime Intelligence National Operational Centre was activated on a 24/7 basis in Pretoria. Analysts managed to identify and profile several instigators responsible for mobilising unrest actions – these profiles were forwarded to the Detective Services and DPCI. Four suspects were identified to be responsible for overturning the Metro Police vehicle in Arcadia. These cases are awaiting a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
In KwaZulu Natal, a provincial task team was established to investigate the suspected politically related murders. Crime Intelligence was represented on this task team with a mandate to collect and analyze information on possible suspects responsible for these murders. In the run-up to the elections dedicated intelligence collectors from Head Office were also deployed to identified hotspot areas; collectors were deployed, seven days prior to the actual elections, to enhance provincial intelligence collection capacities in hotspot areas.
In Vuwani, following the initial violence in the area a Crime Intelligence task team was established to identify instigators and root causes of the violent protests. In the run-up to the elections, a dedicated Crime Intelligence Command Centre was established in Malamulele to monitor the security situation during the pre-election election and post-election phases. Five instigators who attempted to influence/intimidate residents not to vote were identified. Collected information was handed over to investigators to effect arrests.
The objective of the Crime Intelligence Unit during the 2016 local government elections was to generate timely, credible, accurate and actionable intelligence to operational clients, to inform operational planning and deployments during the pre-election, election and post-election phases. CI operational focus areas included: crime in and around polling areas, terrorism, electioneering, intimidation, removal and/or destruction of placards, disruptive protest action, inter and inter-party political contestation, fraud on ballot papers and other material , election and possible impact of protest action at institutions of higher learning to name a few.
The national and provincial operational centres of CI were activated from 29 July to 5 August 2016 and operated on a 24/7 hour basis. Products were provided to clients such as the Acting National Commissioner, Provincial Commissioners, Operational Divisional Commissioners, National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC), National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC), all CI and Operational Response Services (ORS) Provincial Heads and Public Order Policing (POP) Unit Commanders in the provinces. CI was represented at the following forums dealing with elections:
• NICOC Task Team on 2016 LGE
• Interdepartmental Intelligence Coordinating Committees at national and provincial level
• National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS), including Election Priority Committee.
Crime Intelligence assisted in the screening of IEC contracted staff (including presiding and deputy presiding officers and service providers). A total of 270 hotspots were identified, the bulk of these being in KwaZulu Natal and Gauteng.
The Chairperson asked if the current system of deployment at cluster level, and the number of informants attached to that was working in the current model. CI went through a very tough period, and the work which the Major General was doing to bring stability, is commendable. The Committee must be assured that if there is any threat to state security there were measures in place for early detection. Was the cluster system working, and was it sufficient? Was SAPS doing early detection analysis?
Mr Groenewald asked a follow-up question on the definition of “politically-motivated” murders. A while back the media referred to political murders but the reaction from Ministry was that the murders were not political. So could the Committee talk about suspected political murders? What was the cooperation of the state security agencies, specifically in relation to Tshwane and other hot spots; was there good cooperation from the SSA specifically? What role did SAPS play in intervening during the illegal occupation of land? In some situations the response from SAPS has been that there must be a court order before the police could intervene; was this the case? How was the police required to act in such situations?
Ms Molebatsi said apart from the mayoral nomination in Tshwane, were there any other influencing factors or third forces who might have contributed to the violence?
Ms Mmola asked about the role CI played in verifying that the information received and cases opened were not merely political character assassinations.
Ms Mabija asked if the five instigators identified in Vuwani were arrested.
Mr Mbhele said he was a bit concerned that the detection of information by CI seemed to be a last minute scramble. The unabated escalation of violence and unrest that happened in Tshwane within the first 24 hours, showed that there was no readiness or preparation from CI to handle the matter. He asked if in any of the hotspots highlighted, CI did not have paid informants. Where were the gaps?
Ms Molebatsi asked if the four suspects identified for overturning the Metro Police vehicle in Tshwane had been arrested.
The Chairperson asked about reaction time, especially in rural areas like Limpopo; was there any research done by SAPS or by CI around this? The Committee received an invitation from the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Learning for a joint meeting around timeous action at university campuses by SAPS; is there a proactive plan from CI to ensure that any action to destroy infrastructure at schools and at institutions of higher learning is dealt with as a priority?
Gen Phahlane said Members should appreciate that when it came to CI, SAPS could not give out too much information without going too far, which in itself would be counterproductive. Therefore he asked that if in responding to the questions, the answers seem a bit evasive, Members should understand the sensitive nature of the information.
The Chairperson agreed. However SAPS should be able to provide Members with the management principles, especially at station, cluster and provincial level. Those were the real issues. What were the lessons learnt from Limpopo and Tshwane?
Gen Phahlane agreed with the Chairperson. SAPS in the review of their structures, arrived at the conclusion to separate out CI and Counter Intelligence. SAPS was now in the process of establishing Counter Intelligence capacity to be able to deal comprehensively with those issues; however this was still at its initial stages. Intelligence is at local level, national levels dealt with collation and verification; good progress was being made in this regard. With deployment, SAPS was still following the cluster approach, even though the maximum level of deployment has not been reached yet because the unit has not yet been fully capacitated.
On reaction time, he agreed that that was indeed an issue. Management always argued with the CI police and state security about SAPS having to receive information earlier to prevent things getting out of control. He had not expected the situation in Tshwane to go the way it did in such a short space of time but SAPS was pleased that they were able to bring the situation under control within a few days, together with what happened in Vuwani. It was unacceptable to get to a situation where 24 schools were burned in such a short space of time. What was evident in Vuwani was that people were not moving in groups, which meant that there was a smaller group which was responsible for the planning and for resourcing people to do what they did. People were fed with drugs and alcohol and there was a supplier of petrol. Poor people were really taken advantage of. SAPS however was very happy that arrests had been made, however some of them were granted bail. Regardless of such occurrences, all voting stations still managed to open. It was therefore important to note that there were many other factors outside of intelligence which contributed to such situations. CI was an environment with its own challenges but these were being managed very well.
Ms Molebatsi asked if SAPS managed to arrest the people behind the instigations who had taken advantage of the poor in Vuwani.
Gen Phahlane said yes, the main players in the disruptions were the ones who were detained and were ultimately released on bail. SAPS made sure to focus on those people who were leading these disruptions. The courts are the ones who will pronounce on what the motivations were behind these disruptions. SAPS had a very close working relationship with state security, in particular CI and the intelligence community, SAPS relied heavily on a working relationship between all these structures. On the question of whether there was any third force behind the Tshwane unrest, he could not publicly agree or deny that there was any third forces behind the unrest in Tshwane, but SAPS has found that criminality was a dominant factor there. SAPS could say that the situation in Tshwane was not just an ANC matter. People may have also taken advantage of the situation. The four suspects who overturned a police vehicle in Tshwane were arrested and the matter was with the magistrate. They would be processed through the courts. With regard to any elements of character assassination and intimidation, SAPS would ordinarily deal with such matters. CI would continue to play a role in assessing all the information which was generated on the ground. On the question about informers, SAPS had ground coverage from an intelligence perspective. With institutions of higher learning, a new trend has developed which has forced SAPS to redirect resources from an intelligence perspective. Some of the issues at the institutions of higher learning should be dealt with by the relevant authorities before they became a policing problem. For example, security at institutions of higher learning was the responsibility of the institution, but the situation escalates and SAPS then has to go in. Yet, SAPS in these matters is always perceived to be at fault. SAPS is committed to intensifying its efforts from an intelligence perspective.
Lt General Fannie Masemola, SAPS Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, responded to the question on the role SAPS plays during the illegal occupation of land. The owner usually reports the matter and opens a case of trespassing and SAPS then responds. However if the occupation has been there for more than 48 hours, another piece of legislation comes into force. In most cases owners take longer to lay a charge. He acknowledged that there was some misunderstanding by SAPS members on the ground however these were being addressed.
Gen Phahlane added that people needed to lodge a trespassing case with SAPS, but this needs to be immediate. If the illegal occupants are on the land for more than 48 hours it becomes a separate process and SAPS then takes its cue from other role-players. SAPS has recently established a Crime Prevention Awareness Directorate which has the responsibility of educating communities and bringing about awareness about such matters. Once illegal occupants have been on the land for more than 48 hours, the provision of ‘alternative accommodation’ kicks in and SAPS would not be in a position to provide alternative accommodation.
Mr Groenewald thanked Gen Phahlane for the explanation.
Mr Bergman said the response about third forces was not clear. He understood some of the reasons for the vagueness however it needed to be ruled out that other political parties were involved. Could SAPS rule this out or provide some substantiation if this was indeed the case?
Gen Phahlane replied that SAPS did not make reference to any political parties. SAPS was aware that criminality might have played a part, however only when the individuals have been identified could there be any clarity around who was involved. But SAPS could not at the moment link any political parties to elements of criminality. SAPS should therefore be given the space to investigate.
Tshwane Unrest 22 to 27 June 2016: SAPS briefing
Maj General Rabie said that some of the material might be repetitive because most of it has been covered in the last two presentations. He explained that dissatisfaction with the Tshwane mayoral nominee candidate resulted in various acts of violent protest and looting of shops belonging to both South African and foreign nationals. Violent protests erupted from 20 June 2016 in inter alia Sunnyside (Arcadia), Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, Garankuwa, Loate, Hammanskraal, Bronkhorstspruit, Soshanguve, Mobopane, Rietgat, Hercules informal settlement and Winterveld. This violence continued until 26 June 2016.
With regards to coordination, the following here included: Intelligence, ICC, POP, Vispol, Metro police, detectives, rapid rail and communication. Total deployments over and above normal policing was as follows: Pretoria CBD (68), Hammanskraal (69), Mamelodi (41), Hercules (22), Soshanguve (53), Atteridgeville (25), Bronkhorstspruit (19). In total, 1 075 members were deployed over and above normal policing; this also included DPCI, PRASA and Rapid Railway Police, air support, private security and immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs.
Following extensive SAPS deployment in affected areas with Visible Policing operations to stabilize these areas as well as intelligence operations against identified instigators, the situation was brought under control by 24 June 2016. However, while the Tshwane unrest situation unfolded, SAPS also had to deal with a number of protest actions country-wide. This meant that during this period SAPS resources were stretched to the maximum.
Between the period of 19 June to 1 July 2016, 353 election-related cases were opened, the bulk of these were in Atteridgeville (87), followed by Rietgat (73), Loate (71) and Akasia with 32. A total of 278 suspects were arrested.
With regard to murder cases related to elections and the Tshwane unrest, a number of politically-related murders took place, those under SAPS investigation were in Tembisa where a number of EFF members were attacked resulting in one death. In Pretoria West an argument broke out at an ANC Regional Executive Committee meeting, a member was shot and died at the scene. In Mamelodi East the bodies of three men were found in the streets on different days, all the men had gunshot wounds, either to the chest or to the back. In Loate after residents attacked the Central City Mall, the body of a man was found a day later with a gunshot wound to his chest. No suspects have been identified yet and the investigation continues.
Through intervention by JOINTS and by deploying additional personnel the situation in Tshwane was then stabilized. At the same time interventions by community leaders and political leaders were also useful and state authority was successfully reclaimed. Perpetrators were arrested immediately and looted items were returned to their lawful owners. Since then Tshwane remained stable even during the voting days.
Ms Molebatsi thanked SAPS once more for the work they did in resolving the situation in Tshwane. Without the swift intervention from SAPS there would have been more bloodshed. However there was footage of SAPS members also looting; how were such cases handled? What happened to the police who were looting? How was it possible that some of the security guards at the malls were unidentified, were not all security guards registered with security companies?
Ms Mmola asked how long it took for an alcohol report on a deceased person to be made available? Did the deployment at Tshwane not effect the day to day deployment at local police stations?
Mr Maake asked what SAPS meant by day to day activities being affected by SMSes. The report said that foreign nationals were suspected to be responsible for some of the killings which took place during the Tshwane unrest. Did SAPS know if the firearms used were licensed, and what was SAPS doing about this?
Mr Mhlongo said that SAPS members were subjected to a lot of difficulties in Tshwane. A political decision was taken by the ANC to remove the current mayor and that resulted in a lot of turmoil. Were there any community policing forums that provided assistance to SAPS during the period of unrest? If so, what kind of support? He asked if democracy was under threat and what measures were in place to ensure that this was not the case.
Mr Mbhele asked if SAPS could share some of the lessons learnt, in particular the preventative measures to mitigate and ensure better readiness of SAPS in the future. The Tshwane situation caught SAPS off-guard and there needed to be better preparedness for the future.
Mr Bergman said that Soshanguve was under his constituency, and he was in contact with many of the civilian WhatsApp groups in the area and a lot of the time they shared information which the police should also be aware of. If this were the case, the Tshwane violence would not have been a surprise to SAPS. On the night of the nomination of the new mayoral candidate there was an alleged meeting that took place; was SAPS aware of this? There was no mention of this in the report. The narrative was that it was far easier to buy a gun in Tshwane than a packet of peanuts. Intelligence needed to be a preventative tool/measure. He raised a concern that the situation in Tshwane could have easily spiraled into something far worse, what measures did SAPS have in place to ensure that this was not the situation?
The Chairperson mentioned that a number of analysts have said that SAPS really handled the situation in Tshwane very well, especially in relation to minimum restraint and the handling of civilians. This was very positive. The “Back to Basics” approach which was being driven by the National Commissioner was very good. Did the “Back to Basics” approach now form part of SAPS training?
Gen Phahlane responded about the pictures circulating in the media of some SAPS officials “looting” during the unrest in Tshwane, the media portrayed this in a negative light. SAPS officials were in fact retrieving some of the stolen goods, loading them in SAPS vans so they could be returned. SAPS has issued a statement about this. However there were some SAPS members who were caught looting; two from Soshanguve police station, they were immediately arrested. The reason some of the security guards at the mall were unknown was because at the time they could not be identified, but currently an investigation was underway. The post-mortem and blood alcohol tests were a function of the Department of Health therefore SAPS was not in a position to estimate when the results would be available.
He replied that the deployment of SAPS officials to Tshwane did not have any negative impact on everyday policing. Hoax SMSes did affect normal policing duties because in some cases they were a diversion from the actual matter which needed police attention. Unfortunately when a SMS came through, SAPS had the responsibility to take each and every message seriously. With regard to the firearms being used by foreign nationals, many of these firearms were not licensed. However not every foreign national’s firearm was unlicensed. As for the role played by the community policing forums, he could not say whether they were effective, however SAPS highly appreciated the role that some of the political leaders played in helping to defuse the situation. SAPS has learned a great deal of lessons from the unrest in Tshwane; one was that the police were very effective, that no situation should be taken for granted, and thirdly the vital role that intelligence played in enabling proactive policing. However irresponsible statements by people in leadership remained a serious problem. SAPS was therefore calling upon leaders to help ease the pressure on SAPS.
He replied to the question on whether SAPS was involved in any of the community Whatsapp groups and said he was not aware of any of these groups, and the police preferred to focus on factual information and verified intelligence rather than rumours. SAPS was aware that illegal firearms were a serious problem; from the 1-12 August 2016, SAPS managed to recover about 112 firearms. SAPS was committed to taking policing “back to basics” and all operational would be characterised by visibility and the police would exercise maximum restraint to avoid unnecessary casualties. The approach was indeed part of SAPS training.
Status of Provincial & National Appointments on Salary Level 15 & 14: SAPS briefing
Maj General Rabie provided an overview of SAPS appointments at senior management level. Out of a total of 43, 41 (95%) of managers were appointed at Level 14 and 2 (5%) at Level 15. At Provincial and Divisional Level, 7 (16%) and 36 (84%) were appointed out of a total of 43. With regards to equity representivity, the majority of the appointments were African males, followed by African females, Coloured males, White females, White males and Coloured females, Indian females and Indian males. On the implementation of structures, all provinces have been successfully implemented, except for the Northern Cape. All appointments were made from 1 April 2016 to currently.
Gen Phahlane said that the profiles of all senior management appointees were available and would be made available to the Committee. Some of the posts were not advertised but were filled internally. As said in the presentation, the Cluster Structure has already been implemented. However the Deputy Commander posts at station level have been done way with due to budgetary constraints. The compensation budget was not growing.
Ms Molebatsi said it would be very encouraging for SAPS memebers to know that their work and efforts were being recognised and rewarded.
Ms Mabija asked when last officers were promoted at different divisions at local police stations.
Mr Maake asked if the only way to get a promotion within SAPS was when a vacancy was made available, and promotions were not about your level of experience or qualification. How were transfers administered?
Mr Mbhele thanked SAPS for putting some attention into the cluster structure as this had been a problem for a while. What was the Section 45 which was revoked; was that in the SAPS Act and was it speaking to retirement?
Mr Mmola also asked how long it took for a SAPS member to get promoted.
Gen Phahlane replied that automatic promotions were no longer the case. In the past a constable was automatically promoted after two years, and then promoted to sergeant after another two years. This process was abolished with the dawn of democracy. Promotions were therefore now bound by the availability of posts. Now it took about 7 years after training before a member could progress to another level. However members could still apply for available posts if they met the requirements. He agreed that mobility was determined by the availability of posts. However SAPS was committed to improving the morale of its members. To date15 144 members have been appointed. The next phase, which will be effected from 1 January 2017, will be taking in around 3000 officials. These posts will be advertised between now and then.
Mr Maake asked if a constable could apply for a higher rank before the seven years.
Gen Phahlane responded that it was not impossible for the member to apply but it would be difficult to be appointed because of not having enough experience. Each SAPS officer must go through the ranks. Transfers were evaluated and approved according to merit.
The Chairperson said the Committee has taken note of all the hard work SAPS has been putting in and the work they have been doing in implementing the new structure and facilitating new appointments and promotions especially at senior management level.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Deployment of SAPS during the 2016 Local Government Elections & Related Issues of Unrest in Run-Up to Election: Research Unit
- Tshwane Unrest: 22 to 27 June 2016: SAPS briefing
- Role of Crime Intelligence in detection of crime and unrest: SAPS briefing
- Evaluation of Deployment During 2016 Municipal Elections: SAPS briefing
- Status on Provincial & National Appointments on Salary Level 15 & 14: SAPS briefing
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