The South African Police Service (SAPS), led by the Minister and Acting National Commissioner, released its annual crime statistics to the Committee. A very detailed presentation was provided to Members looking at methodology for data collection and raw figures and quality improvement initiatives before turning to the two broad categories of crime:
I) 17 community reported serious crimes: contact crime, contact-related crime; property-related crime and other serious crimes.
II) 4 crimes detected as a result of police action: illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug related crime, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, sexual offences detected as a result of police action.
There was an increase in the murder rate by 4.9%, accompanied by an increase in the attempted murder rate as the two categories were closely connected. The only province to have shown a decrease in the murder rate was the Northern Cape, with a drop of 9.9%. Contact crimes also increased by 1% from the previous year. SAPS noted there was an overall decrease in the rate of serious crime over a ten year period and significant strides made in efforts to reduce all categories of serious crime except for contact crime. Aggravated robbery increased by 2.7%, while common assault went up 2.2%. The presentation also highlighted significant progress made in reducing community-reported crimes. The presentation concluded by looking at SAPS strategic approach of Back to Basics.
Statistics South Africa, also present, remarked briefly on the work between SAPS and the institution in improving the quality of the crime stats in line with the SA Quality Statistical Framework in terms of methodological soundness, accuracy, comparability, coherence, integrity and timelines. Stats SA welcomed the ambition of SAPS to release quarterly crime stats and would support the Service in this. Overall, the stats were compliant with national statistics and Stats SA endorsed the 2015/16 crime stats and encouraged its use by stakeholders.
Members engaged in thorough discussion on the stats firstly expressing concern at the increase in contact crime, increase in crimes in provinces such as Limpopo and Mpumalanga and the concerning role of alcohol in the proliferation of crime and what SAPS would be doing about this. There were mixed reactions to the Back to Basics approach as a means of intervention with some Members remarking that improvements had already been seen as a result of the approach while other Members were not yet convinced and thought the approach needed more time before success could be assessed. Questions were asked on when SAPS would be ready for a full independent assessment of the stats particularly on concern about underreporting of crime, especially sexual offences. A number of questions centred on interesting trends noticed such as the migration of crime from urban to rural provinces and Members asked to what the trends were attributed. Mention was made that carjacking was increasingly linked to syndicates and the SAPS flying squad needed to pay more attention to this. Members were excited to hear about command and control which had been raised by the Committee for some time but also emphasised the need for increased police visibility.
The Committee questioned aged dockets, shortcomings in crime intelligence, police resource imbalances and the success rate of convictions and repeat offenders in certain crime categories. Almost all Members raised the need for coordinated, broader interventions between SAPS, other government departments and communities in fighting social crime – the role of policing partnerships and police forums was also relevant to this. Other concerns were the increased vacancy rate in SAPS, many police members were almost at the point of retirement, and the increase in commercial crime. Specific requests were made for disaggregated stats for farm murders and attacks and sexual offences. The Committee welcomed the Cabinet decision to release crime stats quarterly.
Overall, the Committee felt it important to point out that the baseline population size increased year on year when contextualising the stats. The increase in contact crime was of huge concern but the progress made was noted. More emphasis should be placed on the role of illegal firearms and drugs. Another concern was the migration of crime where the role of crime intelligence was vital.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Police, the SAPS delegation, the media, civil society and all other interested parties. The Committee noted that this was the second year of the commitment of the Minister to introduce the stats to the Committee first which was a welcomed approach – it boded well for parliamentary oversight that Members received the first opportunity to interact with the Minister and police management on the stats. It was the first time the stats reflected part of the tenure of the acting National Commissioner for Police.
Minister of Police comments
Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko, noted that the crime stats as they were released today, covered the 2015/16 financial year. The stats covered the four broad categories of crime in SA i.e. the four most reported types of crime. There was also the category of detective work i.e. work done by the police in detecting crime. SA was experiencing a decrease of crime in the broad crimes with the exception of the contact crime category. The deeper contact crime analysis spoke to the social fabric of society and patterns of social behaviour. This meant that society would have to put in effort to deal with the social foundations of the contact crime category to eradicate some of the inimical behaviour within society.
The presentation would also cover the remedial action embarked on to deal with some of the identified defects in the crime outlook as suggested by the stats. This remedial action centred on the pivotal Back to Basics approach. At a later point today, the Minister would also address the aspects of crime sociology in SA – perhaps a discussion could be had with the Committee on this topic at some point.
SAPS: Crime Situation in South Africa
Lt Gen Khomotso Phahlane, Acting National Police Commissioner, was grateful to share with the Committee and the nation the work done by SAPS – it was believed that with the Minister steering the ship, a great race was run towards the end of the financial year and while a lot of ground was covered, more needed to be done. The fight against crime was not only the responsibility of the police – SA as a collective needed to work together. He was encouraged by the support and cooperation SAPS received from all sectors and efforts made to turn the picture around would be continued in the current financial year. Sometimes the progress made was not convincing especially when lives were being lost but a downward trend was beginning to be experienced. SAPS was not on its own in producing the stats but was assisted by Statistics South Africa with the process being subjected to a serious quality control process.
The Chairperson welcomed the fact that Stats SA was part of the team this year as a concern was raised by the Committee last year in terms of methodology, reliability and accuracy so it was pleasing to know that that institution was now part of the process.
A Stats SA representative took the Committee through the statement of the Statistician-General noting that Stats SA had been working with SAPS to improve the quality of the crime stats since 2011. The collaboration between Stats SA and SAPS culminated in the two entering into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in April 2015. As a result of the MOU, the Statistician-General constituted a clearance committee to evaluate and authenticate the quality of the crime stats in line with the SA Quality Statistical Framework. The main focus of the assessment was to assess the crime stats against selected indicators within the framework namely, methodological soundness, accuracy, comparability, coherence, integrity and timeliness. During the 2015/16 financial year, an assessment of other measures was also done for relevance, accessibility and interpretability. The assessment outcome indicated compliance of the SAPS processes with most aspects of quality dimensions.
The challenges were such that SAPS would be able to effect the necessary improvements without any measure of difficulty to ensure compliance by the next annual publication. Once all recommendations were implemented, SAPS may request a full independent assessment to establish its level of readiness to produce official statistics.
Having given due consideration to the introduction of a quarterly stats series, Stats SA fully supported the initiative however, it should be preceded by an exercise that focused on risk analysis and human resource requirements. Such an exercise would ensure that the production system was both stable and sustainable before actual quarterly publication could occur. In order to ensure full benefit from the criminal justice value chain, the Statistician-General will coordinate a process of aligning statistics production throughout the criminal justice system. This will require, amongst others, the implementation of standardised classification standards and policies that cover the whole statistical value chain.
Taking into account the recommendations of the clearance committee, while the publication had not reached the level of official statistics, it was compliant with national statistics and Stats SA thus endorsed the 2015/16 crime stats publication and encouraged its use by stakeholders. The Statistician-General thanked the SAPS leadership for the ambition of producing crime stats quarterly and for consistently aspiring to the production of high-quality crime stats in SA. To this end, the Statistician-General stood ready to work with SAPS on assessing capacity and resource requirements for achieving this ambition.
SAPS: Crime Situation in South Africa: 1 April 2015 - 31 March 2016
Maj Gen Norman Sekhukhune, SAPS Head: Crime Registrar, took the Committee through the presentation noting that in compliance with a 2016 Cabinet decision to increase the frequency of publication, the crime statistics will hence forth be released on a quarterly and annual basis. These reports will enable government to monitor, on a more frequent basis, key government targets in the Medium Strategic Framework (MTFS) and enable a more proactive policing approach. The overall analysis depicted notable progress towards the reduction of the 17 Community-Reported Serious Crimes. The Crime Statistics dealt with the two broad categories of Crime: 1) The 17 Community-Reported Serious Crimes and 2) The 4 Crimes Detected as a result of police action. Community-Reported Serious Crimes included contact crimes (e.g. murder, sexual offences, attempted murder, assault, robbery and trio crimes), contact related crime (arson and malicious damage to property), property related crimes (burglaries and theft) and other serious crimes (commercial crime and shoplifting). Crime detected as a result of police action included the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug related crime, driving under the influence and sexual offences.
After going through the methodology of the data collection and raw figures, he touched on quality improvement initiatives for quality management improvement and the dissemination policy.
Maj Gen Sekhukhune went through the classification of serious crime where 83% of the stats reflected the 17 reported serious crimes while the crimes detected as a result of police action represented 17%. The community reported crimes were further broken down::
-contact crime: 35.2%
-contact-related crime: 7.0%
-property related crime: 30.7%
-other serious crimes: 35.2%
He highlighted certain points in the four categories of the 17 community-reported serious crimes where significant strides were made to reduce all categories of serious crime (except contact crimes) over the current and past two financial years. A provincial overview was also provided.
This category of crime referred to the victims themselves being the target of violence or property was targeted and the victims in the vicinity during the commission of crime were subjected to threats of violence or the use of such violence. These crimes included murder, sexual offences, attempted murder, assault with the intention to do grievous bodily harm (GBH), common assault and common robbery. Contact crimes increased by 1.0% since the last financial year but the ten year comparison depicted a 14% decrease in this particular crime. Looking at the types of crime in this category in more detail, the statistics showed that:
- murder: increase of 4.9% since the last financial year. All provinces recorded increases in the rate of murder except for the Northern Cape. Alcohol abuse was an aggravating factor.
- sexual offences: sharp decrease of 3.2% from the last financial year. All provinces showed decreases in the rate of sexual offences except for Limpopo and the Northern Cape.
- attempted murder: increase of 3.4% from the previous year.
- assault GBH: increase of 0.2% since the previous year but there was an overall decrease over the ten year period. This crime usually occurred amongst people who knew each other
- common assault: increase of 2.2% since the previous year but there was a decrease in this crime over the ten year period.
- robbery with aggravating circumstances: 2.7% increase from the previous financial year but the rate of the crime was slowing down as the ten year period showed.
- common robbery: decrease of 1.5% from the previous financial year. Only three provinces showed an increase in this crime this financial year.
Trio crimes and other sub-categories of aggravated robbery
This included crimes such as carjacking, residential and non-residential robbery, truck hijacking, robbery of cash in transit and bank robbery. Trio crimes were the common and most feared crime in SA according to the Victims of Crime Survey. These crimes were also within the contact crime category which recorded an increase over the medium term. An analysis of reported crime indicated that although crime levels for robbery of residential premises showed a 2.7% increase in the current financial year, compared to 2013/14, this was a 4.7% point decrease. The same principle applied to robbery at non-residential premises. Prioritisation and targeted interventions towards the reduction of this was being ensured. Carjacking, a 0.1% increase was recorded in 2015/16 from 2015/14, which had a 1.6% increase from 2013/14. Details were:
- carjacking: increase of 14.3% from the previous year. Only the Free State recorded a decrease.
- robbery at residential premises: 2.7% increase from the previous year.
- robbery at non- residential premises: increase of 2.8%. Four of the nine provinces registered an increase in this crime this financial year.
- truck hijacking: sharp decrease of 7.4% from the previous year. Gauteng was the province most contributing to the reduction in this crime
- robbery of cash in transit: sharp increase of 15.1% from the previous year
- bank robbery: sharp decrease of 64.7% from previous year. Only North West experienced an increase.
These crimes included arson and malicious damage to property. These two crimes were closely related and involved damage or destruction of the property of another (often in order to punish such a person or entity) or to damage one’s own property for the purpose of insurance claims. Overall, contact crimes decreased by 0.8% from the previous year and recorded a 16% decrease over the ten year period. In terms of the types of contact-related crime:
- arson: decrease of 4.4% compared to the previous financial year. Limpopo was the only province which registered an increase in this type of crime (Vuwani should be taken into account when discussing Limpopo)
- malicious damage to property: decrease of 0.6% from the previous year. Limpopo and KZN registered increases in this type of crime in the year under review.
These were crimes during which tangible property of an individual or institution was taken by criminal elements without permission and in the absence of the owner or custodian of such property. This type of crime included burglary at both residential and non- residential premises, theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles, theft out of or from motor vehicles and stock- theft. Overall, property-related crime decreased by 3% from the previous year. Only Limpopo and Northern Cape registered increases in this crime. The details are:
- burglary at non- residential premises: decrease of 0.9% from the previous year
- burglary at residential premises: decrease of 1.2% from the previous year. Northern Cape was the only province to register an increase.
- theft of motor vehicles and motorcycles: 2.3% decrease compared to previous year
- theft of out of or from motor vehicle: decrease of 4.1% from the previous year. Only Limpopo and the Northern Cape registered an increase.
- stock theft: decrease of 1.0% from the previous year. The Eastern Cape, Free State and KZN registered decreases while the other provinces did not.
Other serious crimes
This included all serious crime not mentioned in the above categories such as other theft, commercial crime and shoplifting. This crime category had been on the decrease since 2008/09 and depicted a 10% decrease over the ten year period. Limpopo was the only province which saw an increase in other serious. Looking at the crimes in more detail:
- all theft not mentioned elsewhere: 5.6% decrease from the previous year.
- commercial crimes (for example, fraud, card cloning, interception of money etc) increase of 3.1% from previous year. All provinces registered an increase except Gauteng.
- shop lifting: 3.6% decrease from the previous year. Free State was the only province to show an increase in shoplifting.
Crimes detected as a result of police action
These crimes were usually recorded after the apprehension of suspects in connection with the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, drug related crimes, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and sexual offences detected as a result of police action. Overall this category of crime increased from 0.3% compared to the previous financial year – this increase was viewed in a positive light unlike the other crime categories. Three of the nine provinces (Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KZN) recorded increases. Looking at the crimes in more detail:
- illegal possession of firearms and ammunition: decrease of 2.3% from the previous year
- drug related crime: decrease of 2.9% from previous financial year
- driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: increase of 11.1% from previous year
- sexual offences detected as a result of police action: decrease of 8.0% from previous year.
Public Order Policing
Despite the notable increase from 2 289 incidents of crowd unrest in 2014/15 to 3 542 in 2015/16 (compared to peaceful protests of 12 451 in 2014/15 and 11 151 in 2015/16), the police continued to maintain a restraint. A provincial breakdown of unrest-related and peaceful public order incidents was provided for 2015/16.
Maj Gen Leon Rabie, SAPS Head: Strategic Management, said the premise for the Back to Basics approach was in the National Development Plan (NDP): “Personal safety is a human right. It is a necessary condition for human development, improved quality of life and enhanced productivity. When communities do not feel safe and live in fear, the country’s economic development and the people’s wellbeing are affected”. “In 2030, people living in South Africa feel safe at home, at school and at work, and they enjoy a community life free of fear. Women walk freely in the streets and children play safely outside. 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 Back to Basics approach focused on the weak areas of internal functioning and support, prevention of crime and investigation of crime. The approach followed in-depth analysis into the performance of the SAPS to identify these areas of persistent underperformance. It then consulted with management and members of the organisation to develop and implement relevant and viable solutions.
Looking at the key elements of the strategic solution, Back to Basics was conceptualised as “doing the right things right” and involved undertaking management interventions to “assess and fix” for improved performance. Key elements included the prevention of crime (partnership policing, command and control, crime awareness, increased police visibility and intelligence-based operations) and investigation of crime (crime scene management, docket age analysis, performance and accountability, tracing of wanted suspects and utilisation of forensic leads). The management intervention focused on 63 prioritised police stations where there was a high record of crime reported and low detective performance. Through the three intervention teams, provincial, cluster and station management was engaged. Also in the interventions, management was briefed, parades were conducted, infrastructure and resources were assessed, recovery plans were initiated, performance assessment and the Back to Basics approach was ultimately established.
Maj Gen Rabie pointed out that the Minister of Police, the Acting National Commissioner and senior SAPS management identified the need for the introduction of a Back to Basics approach to policing. This approach focused on every member of SAPS reverting to the establishment regulatory framework, or simply put, doing the basics of policing properly and consistently.
Lt Gen Phahlane added that SAPS was doing its best to bring the levels of crime down – policing remained a thankless job despite the efforts put into police safety. Sunday was a day of commemoration for those members who were not able to finish the race and died in the execution of their policing duties. Despite this, SAPS remained committed and loyal to South Africans and would continue to do their work. What was presented before the Committee today was evidence of men and women in blue who went the extra mile in executing the mandate enshrined in the Constitution.
Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko noted that SAPS had learnt a lot through particular cases, such as Vuwani, where the experience would be unpacked and analysed further for future lessons for the Service. Good feedback was received from the festive season in that people said they felt safe because of increased police visibility and this would be built on. Progress and success were registered and decreasing trends were beginning to be seen in one form or another. The only problem area was contact crime in SA – this required a broader, societal effort, far beyond that of the Service itself where the overall patterns of social behaviour needed to be addressed to dampen the contributing factors to the various categories of crime. This would need to be combined with a myriad of interventions at a policing level. SAPS also conducted its own research which pointed to a lot of issues which needed to be looked into because behind the statistics and figures were human lives and particular patterns of behaviour.
The Chairperson noted the trends presented on contact crime which was of particular concern for the Committee as had been noted in previous meetings and engagements. In terms of methodology, when did SAPS envision it would be ready for a full independent assessment of the stats? This was particularly in reference to underreporting where a number of researchers pointed to the fact that sexual offences were underreported – what was the sense of SAPS about this and the categories of crime? An interesting trend in was the migration of crime where SAPS experienced success against motor vehicle theft but the crime migrated to hijacking – how were these migratory trends being responded to? It was also interesting to see where there was a decline in a type of crime in an urban area, it then migrated to a rural area – how was SAPS responding to this?
Lt Gen Phahlane indicated that trends of migration were noted and observed – the situation was accordingly analysed and being responded to. Just yesterday there was a meeting with all Provincial and Divisional Commissioners and the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) heads in the provinces to look at areas of concern. There was a direct relationship between murder and attempted murder where if one decreased or increased, the other followed.
The Stats SA representative added that the assessment was a work in progress and went hand in hand with financial and non-financial resources. Once all recommendations were fully implemented for all dimensions, there would be a self-assessment process before a request for the Statistician-General to do a full, independent assessment to cover all dimensions. The Statistician-General would appoint a data quality team to conduct the full independent assessment.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) was very excited to hear about the command and control in place which was an issue for quite some time. When aged cases were spoken of as old as 1976, what happened with such cases? Did it mean the complainant in such a case was getting regular updates dating back from 1976?
Minister Nhleko replied that the work SAPS management did on the aged docket analysis was very interesting because it involved dated dockets and displayed the shortcomings in the work of detectives in terms of case backlog. Serious progress was however beginning to be registered with the functioning of detectives due to interventions made. SAPS management should report to the Committee on this progress in the detectives programme along with information coming out of docket age analysis.
Lt Gen Phahlane added that the docket analysis was done partly look at which dockets were closed unreasonably. This tied in with recovery plans put in place in the Detective Services environment as well as in Visible Policing in line with the management intervention approach previously outlined to the Committee.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) welcomed the presentation and congratulated SAPS for their fantastic policing during the Local Government Elections which was done without an additional budget which showed money was not always needed to perform or deliver. It appeared the Back to Basics approach was now yielding some results and he welcomed the plan to fix, assess and find solutions. He agreed that some problems were not just found in the Police Department and this pointed to a need for a coordinated programme among all the relevant departments – was there a plan between SAPS and Social Development, Basic Education and other relevant departments to fight crime from a broader perspective because the fight would never be won “after the fact”, when the principle needed to be preventing crime. He was concerned by the lack of emphasis on drug and gang-related violence. The presentation made repeated reference to the role alcohol played in the committing of crime but the issuing of liquor licences and shebeens seemed to be growing – what role was SAPS playing in shutting down these shebeens? Surely shebeens should also have a limit on how much alcohol was sold or served to individuals. The other problem was car hijacking which was moving from one environment to another. The problem with this crime was that a car was hijacked, more often than not, by order. This was also aggravated by problems in licensing departments and changing of numbers in scrap yards. The other matter was the very high vacancy rate in SAPS and the large number of employees almost at the age of retirement– he was concerned that this was limiting the success of efforts and asked if there was a plan to start training young members from a young age perhaps even introducing a policing curriculum at a school level.
Minister Nhleko replied the plans for coordinated interventions were receiving attention under the auspices of the criminal justice cluster to look at beefing up coordinating mechanisms to begin to address some particular shortcomings. Amongst others, this included the drug and alcohol abuse. This was another societal problem and should be seen as an ideological challenge and not simply a policing matter to resolve. The reason he did not drink or do drugs was not because a policeman told him not to but because of the way he was raised – these were the societal foundations which needed to be returned to and to teach people that it was never cool to intoxicate oneself and that it was counterproductive to have young people drunk all the time. This was a social consciousness matter which needed to be driven. He made the example of Motherwell township in the Eastern Cape where there were 535 taverns in just that township alone – this indicated a particular problem both at the level of licensing and society. With carjacking in the Northern Cape, SAPS research showed the major factor was that vehicles targeted almost exclusively belonged to the British American Tobacco company – now that the problem was identified, the challenge became how to resolve this problem to stem the tide of carjacking.
Lt Gen Phahlane added that SAPS could not work in isolation – it was part and parcel of the Criminal Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster while also consulting and engaging other departments on issues of common interest as part of the ongoing work of government. Departments could not work in silos but were to share the challenges experienced and best practice was to deal with the issues collectively. Capacity was being established within the Hawks on drugs but it was important to remember that there was not a DPCI representation at each and every police station so the investigation function could also be performed at detective level at station level. Licensing remained a concern but SAPS continued with its programme of action in dealing with illegal shebeens and those illegally trading in liquor when it was evident it created problems in society. This was a matter which enjoyed priority attention as liquor was a contributing factor in many crimes such as murder and rape. It was correct to observe with carjacking that, in many instances, there was a market for certain vehicles. SAPS continued to analyse such trends to inform counter-operations. There was also a causal link between car theft on the downward trend and carjacking on the upward trend – to some extent, this could be attributed to the increased level of security in a modern car and it was becoming more difficult to steal a car while it was easier to hijack the vehicle. It was a situation SAPS continued to monitor and respond to. He noted the remarks around training – SAPS training programme was well underway and was responsive to the needs of the organisation as and when new trends emerged. Basic service level training was combined with in-service, refresher training programmes on various levels.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) was pleased that the stats were released in such a way that proved SAPS had nothing to hide from the public. The FF+ also welcomed the decision by Cabinet to release quarterly stats reports – a request he had made for the past ten years. He would have to further study the presentation to get a true picture of specifically defined categories. When looking at murder, the number of South Africans murdered over the past four years was very high. This number was also high for assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm – this showed that SA was a violent country but he emphasised that the task of fighting crime did not sit only with SAPS but was also the responsibility of each and every citizen. Communities would need to start creating respect for each other again because mutual respect would result in less crime so this was where citizens should play their role. Looking at the trio crimes, there were still a number of cases of robbery where it was not known where the crime occurred – this was why he felt the categories needed narrower definition to better understand if there were more robberies on the street or in homes. Crime was a very serious problem in society and he thought the Back to Basics approach had not yet fully kicked in given that the Acting Commissioner only started in his position in October. Violent crime needed particular attention and required a thorough study on how it would be curbed. He differed from the approach that more members were needed in the Service instead believing that the members already there needed to be better trained for more effective use. He requested the specific stats on farm murders and farm attacks.
Minister Nhleko responded that quarterly reporting would begin in the next cycle in compliance with the government framework on reporting – quarterly reporting was not started in prior years because of the systemic problem of the CAS system. Now that the system was running, the quarterly reporting would commence. He liked the point Mr Groenewald made around the culture of violence in SA society and that it was indeed time to take responsibility and go back to engaging each other to deal with its prevalence in society. Even the SAPS research work showed that people resorted to violence in the event of misunderstandings or disagreements – this issue needed to be confronted.
Lt Gen Phahlane stated that the figures for incidents of violence on farms and smallholdings were:
Murders on farms and smallholdings:
A provincial breakdown could also be provided. The presentation noted that contact crimes were somewhat stubborn to curb but SAPS was committed to dealing with these crimes because far too many people were getting killed. There were many contributing factors some of which could not solely be addressed by the police – this was where a collective effort would go a long way in addressing such crimes. Crime should not be taken for granted such as murder due to domestic violence which was another matter requiring societal attention. He clarified that the figures on aggravated robbery included trio crimes – trio crimes were specifically made visible because it was the category of crime most feared according to the Victims of Crime Survey.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) stressed that there needed to be more visibility of police. She noted that the use of alcohol was repeatedly mentioned but questioned what SAPS was doing about this. What work was the flying squad putting into fighting car hijackings?
Lt Gen Phahlane agreed that visibility was critical and the Back to Basics approach advanced to increase police visibility. If carjacking were on the increase, one should know exactly where they were prevalent and to then increase police visibility in those areas. There was commitment from management to deal with this. The flying squad would also continue to be enhanced and utilised in terms of police visibility.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) thought SAPS should constantly receive the positive message from Parliament that Members really appreciated what they did although it was often a thankless job – he slept more soundly at night knowing that there was increased police visibility. He questioned the work done by partnerships and police forums in dealing with the matter of social crime – were these partnerships really producing enough success to make a dent? Partnerships between the police and community forums would have to be built on to truly address social crime. In going Back to Basics, was the approach yielding any results particularly in contact crime? It was clear from the presentation that there was a stubbornness in some provinces, like Mpumalanga and Limpopo, but was the trend being nipped in the bud in these provinces? If it was not nipped in the bud, it would continue to bring the national picture down. He noted that there was a lot of good news and positive results in the presentation showing the ten year downward trend.
Minister Nhleko stated that while it was well and good to register progress, one could not become complacent because a lot of work still needed to be done and a myriad of challenges dealt with. An example was that of Community Police Forums (CPFs) where he was of the view that it required revisiting not just from a conceptual point of view but to also ensure CPFs became fully functional and capacitated. This spoke to the question of resourcing, capacitation in various forms and other structural challenges to be looked into. Conceptually, there was a need to view CPFs as part of the extension of constitutional civilian oversight.
Lt Gen Phahlane added that partnerships were entrenched in the SAPS approach – CPFs played a critical role in policing along with many other structures. Social crime prevention measures still existed within the visible policing environment and it was a very critical programme which would continue to be driven. Crime prevention awareness was a central component of the visible policing environment because there needed to be education to enhance preventive measures.
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) felt that crime combating and stability remained a shared responsibility between securocrats and society in general. The Minister and Acting National Commissioner should be commended for interfacing their crime stats report with Stats SA in order to ensure the stats fulfilled the joint operation between securocrats and society in general. The presentation clearly showed that the rural safety plan was beginning to find expression in the current stats. Without stability in the rural areas, people would migrate to the urban areas seeking greener pastures. Though not emphatic in sectoral reporting, murder required political responsibility to be taken seriously at Cabinet level. Acts of violence and gruesome murders were taking place, for example, in the taxi industry which remained a highly unregulated sector yet so important to the livelihood of many South Africans. He found it worrying that such an important means of transport remained highly unregulated. It would mean further loss of lives if a mechanism could not be put in place to take the taxi sector on board into municipal Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) to reach agreements prior to any explosion of gunfire. He personally lost a very close, wise friend in KZN because of this violence which simply could not be blamed on the failing of police. He thanked the Acting National Commissioner for such well designed, well thought out stats which he thought would go a long way to shaping policing in the country.
Minister Nhleko said that murder in SA was often characterised by the fact that there were multiple murders as had occurred in the taxi industry. There was a need to look at if there were any policing policy loopholes in the transport and taxi industry specifically.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) thought the Committee found itself in a curious situation where it could not place too much emphasis on a causal link between the current police management sitting before Members and the crime stats because the tenure of the Acting National Commissioner was not in line with the stats for the most part and the stats were a cumulative outcome of at least a decade of systemic dysfunction and chronic mismanagement – for this, he was reluctant to hammer the Acting National Commissioner and the team for the figures. In defining his overall perception of the stats presented, he felt the picture was somewhat underwhelming for obvious reason like the increase in murder and violent crimes and that some crimes remained stagnant over the last 10 year period. Looking at murder, attempted murder and aggravated robbery, each category had the same ten year period trend profile representing a “V” shape where for the first five years the crime initially dropped but then increased in the last five years which was quite curious to see while the raw figures showed matters were back at square one over the period – did SAPS have a sense of what it attributed this trend to? What caused the initial decrease and what then led to the increase in figures? In relation to trio crime and non-residential burglary, there was stagnation as was seen with carjacking – this spoke to shortcomings in crime intelligence because these crimes were all syndicate driven. What was going to be done, in more detail than the strategy presentation alluded to, to fix crime intelligence as a mechanism to really get in shape to break the back of syndicate crime and see a drop in trio crime and burglaries?
Lt Gen Phahlane suggested that a significant reduction of crime in a number of areas had been registered and this could only be attributed to the work done by the police – this was work which could not be done by the Service alone but required everyone to roll up their sleeves to make the fight against crime a reality. Management continued to express their appreciation for those men and women in blue who continued to make their sacrifices to the extent that some loss their lives. In terms of murder and attempted murder, although he could not disclose much, SAPS would soon have a programme speaking specifically to wanted suspects and repeat offenders. Investigation work was also intensified in the Back to Basics approach along with a strengthening of crime intelligence because without crime intelligence things would be doomed. In this regard society also played a very critical role.
Minister Nhleko cautioned against equating individuals with institutions – the policemen and women were professionally trained individuals not dependent on the existence or non-existence of a National Commissioner. He did not see how the Acting National Commissioner could be tied to the current figures and it would serve the country’s democracy well to approach institutions for what they were and not to look at institutions as individuals and visa versa because this killed institutions. This was not denying the strategic management role played by the National Commissioner either in directing and steering the institution but there was a necessary distinction to be made between individuals and institutions.
Mr M Redelinghuis (DA) questioned when the quarterly crime stats would become available in terms of a specific date. Was SAPS working towards releasing disaggregated stats for sexual offences? If it was possible to track truck hijackings and bank robberies it should also be possible to highlight rape and sexual assault as specific categories to know where interventions needed to take place. In a recent report reviewing human rights in SA policing, the UN Human Rights Committee put this as one of the things that needed to happen – to have more specific, targeted interventions.
Minister Nhleko reiterated that the quarterly stats were anticipated to begin in the next cycle of quarterly reporting.
Lt Gen Phahlane said the detail on the sexual offences would be available on the SAPS website after midday. He was pleased with the downward trend in this crime.
Adv L Mpumlwana (ANC) congratulated the SAPS team for the work they had done. He agreed with the need for increased visibility but he also felt that at sometimes it was best for the police to remain invisible and move amongst the people to better see what was happening on the spot and also assist in preventing crimes from happening. He noted that there seemed to be more concentration of police resources in the cities especially in white areas while rural areas remained on the receiving end where there was, for example, only one van policing something like a 50km radius – this should be considered because he knew of many police stations in areas operating like this. He suggested the Ministers of Police and Trade and Industry discuss liquor licences.
Lt Gen Phahlane agreed that undercover operations were a key part of responding to crime. This also explained the split between crime intelligence and counter intelligence. This also spoke to making policing more accessible and bringing policing closer to the communities through the rollout of mobile police stations which were closer to communities. This was however a programme dependent on resources. The stats spoke to the entire country and did not highlight the urban rural divide. The aim was to provide all communities with equal coverage and resources – this was an ongoing programme of the police to capacitate equally.
Mr J Maake (ANC) was concerned about his home province, Limpopo, where all crime seemed to be on the increase – what was the problem in this province?
Lt Gen Phahlane was equally concerned about Limpopo – there was a new Provincial Commissioner in this province and the first quarter results showed the beginning of a positive picture; however, it would not turnaround overnight. Vuwani was to be considered in discussion of Limpopo along with mining strikes and a number of service delivery protests which contributed greatly to the crime situation in the year under review. Limpopo was also an entry point into SA – SAPS had its finger on the pulse in terms of this province.
Ms Molebatsi, as the ANC, expressed appreciation in the improvement in the overall picture. She commended the men and women in blue and SAPS management for their hard work to ensure South Africans were and felt safe. There were some categories of crime which needed attention which was why she called for strengthening of community involvement in the fight against crime. The appointment of Lt Gen Phahlane as Acting National Commissioner and his support from management had really brought a huge change in the Department.
Minister Nhleko thanked the Member for her constructive comments on recognising the improvement made in terms of the crime stats but noted that this was the beginning of consolidating and intensifying efforts in various areas of intervention to register more progress in fighting crime in SA. The appeal continued to be made for all of SA society to mobilise in fighting the scourge of crime. Prosperity required peace and stability in terms of development. SAPS, going forward, should intensify efforts together with communities in the fight against crime. Political leaders also played a crucial role and Members should engage constituencies with a view to make SA safer than what it was.
Mr Shaik Emam asked if it was possible for SAPS to speak to the success rate of convictions and the trend of repeat offenders in certain incidents. Public perception seemed to be that there was not enough protection of police officers from the Department which reduced morale and made it difficult for members to perform their duty.
Minister Nhleko responded that 26.9% of people arrested for murder were repeat offenders – this issue required work in terms of recidivism.
Mr Mbhele took the point of the Minister that there was a distinction between the individual and the institution but this did not change the fact that leadership remained crucially important as leadership of a bad calibre could actually undermine an institution so the two were related. He was curious about the figures on commercial crime and how much of that category was cyber crime and what were the trends for this year on year. The need for more focused attention on cyber crime had previously been raised by the Committee on various occasions. He appreciated the increase in the figures on the detection of driving under the influence – this increase was a positive one as it showed police action was detecting more of this type of crime and strengthened the deterrent effect on that behaviour to reduce road accidents while under the influence. He wished the Acting National Commissioner and his team strength in their efforts moving forward.
Lt Gen Phahlane indicated that the information on cyber crime was not readily available but was part of the operational assessment. At an opportune moment, the information could be shared with the Committee.
Mr Maake questioned what was meant by sexual offences detected as a result of police action.
Minister Nhleko explained that SAPS research showed that a percentage of sexual violence or offences were committed in open places like the street while SAPS was patrolling for example.
The Chairperson, in closing, thought it was important to note that when analysing the figures, the 2006 baseline was based on 48 million people while the current baseline stood at 55 million – this added more context to the increase in certain categories. The Committee noted the progress made in reduction in the general categories but contact crime was still a cause for concern. However the undertakings given today in terms of visible policing, sector policing and the role of cluster and station commanders would be vital to deal with this. He noted the interventions and plans of police management, appointment of new provincial commissioners and strengthening of the management team would be vital moving forward. There was a role for society in dealing with social ills, values and a multi sectoral approach. The Committee believed there should be much more emphasis on the role of firearms and illegal drugs. The migration of crime trends to different areas was a cause for concern and the role of crime intelligence was vital about this. This also applied to specialised units within SAPS and the DPCI. Quality assurance of the stats would take SAPS to new levels and the Committee would monitor this closely. With the role of CPFs, the White Paper process was quite vital in revamping and reconfiguring the capacity of these structures to fighting crime at the grassroots level.
The meeting was adjourned.