The Portfolio Committee on Police received a briefing from the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) on its performance over the last two quarters. The Committee’s Researcher pointed out a number of concerns about the spending patterns of the IPID, which were mainly related to expenditure on non-core items and the failure to fill vacancies.
The IPID presented reports on its performance and expenditure for the fourth quarter of 2015/16 and the first quarter of 2016/17. It also presented a progress report on the Consultative Forum, and on the vacancy rate.
Members of the Committee criticised the low targets that had been set for dealing with serious crimes, and asked questions about the backlog of cases and the slow progress in filling vacancies. There was concern about the low level of funding for the IPID.
The IPID indicated that they were operating under budgetary constraints, which impacted on their capacity to perform their functions. They were in discussions with National Treasury to address this problem. Because their operations were labour intensive, some of the expenditure which might appear to be non-core, was in fact core – such as the costs of employees, and travel and subsistence allowances.
The meeting concluded with a statement that the Committee had taken note of the decision of the Constitutional Court to declare certain aspects of the IPID Act unconstitutional. Parliament would have to deal with the rectification of the IPID Act and Regulations in order to ensure compliance with the Constitution. The Committee was in concurrence with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the independence of the IPID. It would await the outcome of the necessary parliamentary processes. It was important for the IPID and senior staff to continue with their work.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had noted progress, with a decrease in some crime categories, but the increasing trend of contact crime, especially the murder rate, was a cause for concern. Sector and visible policing had to be prioritised. The Committee welcomed the involvement of Statistics South Africa in the quality assurance of crime statistics and would try to have a special meeting in the fourth quarter to deal with the statistics.
The Chairperson thanked Members who had been able to attend the memorial service for police officers who had been killed in the line of duty.
He was aware of reports that a police officer had allegedly raped a pupil in the Western Cape some time over the weekend. He called on police management to deal with the “bad apples.”
IPID Quarterly Expenditure
Ms Nicolette van Zyl-Gous, Researcher, Portfolio Committee on Police, said that the IPID had shown a positive expenditure at the end of the 2015/16 financial year and had managed to spend 99.7% of its allocated budget. A total of R624 000 had been unspent. This was, however, achieved after several virements had been applied across all programmes to offset excess expenditure. The adjustments to the appropriated budget had been in line with the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Ms Van Zyl-Gous said that adjustments to the budget should be discouraged. She pointed out that funds had been transferred from core spending, to non-core items. The IPID should strengthen its implementation of cost-containment measures. Spikes in spending on goods and services in March pointed to fiscal dumping. There was a concern about the high vacancy rate, which stood at 10.6%. This rate was still high, despite it having been halved from the previous financial year.
IPID had spent 26.2% of its budget of R246.1 million in the quarter. This was slightly behind its targeted expenditure. There were 19 vacancies at the end of the first quarter. The high vacancy rate had had a negative impact on budgeted expenditure. There were increases in the expenditure on travel and subsistence due to staff members from the national office having to travel to provinces to assist due to staff shortages. The IPID ran the risk that vacant posts would be frozen and that further baseline reductions would be imposed.
Fourth quarter 2015/16 expenditure report
Mr Israel Kgamanyane, Acting Executive Director, IPID, said 69% of targets in the fourth quarter had been achieved, and the detail of the report would be dealt with by the respective programme managers.
Mr Molefe Matsomela, Chief Director: Corporate Services, IPID, reported on Programme 1, which was Administration. Six of nine targets in the quarter had been achieved. The IPID was working towards achieving those targets in the cases where they had fallen short.
Mr Tlou Kgomu, Acting Chief Director: Investigations and Information Management, IPID, reported on Programme 2, which was Investigation and Information Management. Of 19 targets in the fourth quarter, 18 had been achieved.
Mr Thabo Leholo, Acting Chief Director: Legal Services, IPID, reported that five of 11 targets in Programme 3 in the fourth quarter had been achieved.
Ms Mariaan Geerdts, Acting Chief Director: Compliance Monitoring and Stakeholder Management, IPID, reported that three of eight targets in the fourth quarter in Programme 4 had been achieved.
Mr Patrick Setshedi, Acting Chief Financial Officer, IPID, reported that there were two major cost drivers. These were compensation of employees, and travel and accommodation. Travel and accommodation costs had been incurred because investigators had had to do their work in the field. It was therefore questionable whether these costs should be classified as non-core items. There had been unauthorised expenditure of R624 000, and the IPID was still waiting for condonement of that expenditure.
IPID had now reduced the number of programmes from four to three. The proposed budget increase by National Treasury was far below the projected consumer price index (CPI). If funding trends continued, the IPID would have to reduce its staff establishment. The reduction of posts would have an impact across all programmes. Cost reduction initiatives had been implemented.
Mr Kgamanyane said that the full implementation of the Marikana Commission recommendations had had to be funded from the existing baseline budget. The challenge there had been the engagement of international experts for the reconstruction of the scene. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) would, assist but the challenge would remain. Although the results may indicate poor performance in the fourth quarter, the audited consolidated annual performance was good. There had been a significant reduction in the backlog of cases.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked whether all IPID staff members had been vetted. Were the Farlam Commission recommendations being implemented? She asked how the IPID justified its spending trends on goods and services, especially in March, since it seemed like fiscal dumping.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) said that the low targets that had been set, were not acceptable. This was particularly worrying in serious cases such as rape and murder. How many cases were in the backlog? Who paid for the court cases and what were the costs, specifically for the McBride case?
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked whether the acting posts were vacant. When would the vacancies in Legal Services be filled?
Mr M Redelinghuys (DA) asked how many vacancies there were for investigators currently. Would vacant posts be lost, or simply not filled? What was the average time for a case to reach decision-readiness?
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked what the nature of the challenge in recruiting investigators was.
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked whether there were different priorities attached to investigations of different types of crimes. How were targets determined? How could the pairing of investigators be a cost-cutting measure?
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) said that there had to be clarity on the importance of the IPID. If funding trends continued, the IPID would be grounded. Was qualitative evaluation of targets done on a national scale? In which of the nine provinces had community outreach events been held? Had the IPID established a working relationship with the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) in the running of community outreach events?
The Chairperson said that the funding of constitutional institutions was a broader issue. The number of police officers had increased by 10 000 over the past five years. The question was whether one wanted to fund constitutional institutions or not.
Mr Kgamanyane said that all staff members were pre-screened by the State Security Agency (SSA) before employment. Once they were in the system, full vetting was done. The Farlam Commission recommendation investigations were being implemented, in consultation with the NPA. There were matters that had been finalised for prosecution.
Targets that had been set in the Annual Performance Plan (APP) were the baselines, based on previous performance. The targets were the minimum performance expected.
Mr Kgamanyane said that the definition of “backlog” had changed. The specific figures would be provided. The previous definition of “backlog” had been any case with a lifespan of 12 months. The Auditor-General had advised that the definition should instead be anything not completed in the previous financial year.
Legal fees were paid from Legal Services. The breakdown of legal fees would be provided to the Committee, including the specific case of the Executive Director, which had been heard in the Constitutional Court.
Acting positions were the result of members being suspended, or because the post was vacant. At least two senior positions had been advertised and recruitment processes were under way. The expansion strategy had been costed. The intention was to have a footprint in every municipality. The IPID now had a learnership programme, where new recruits received on-the-job training.
Mr Kgamanyane said that the prioritisation of particular crimes had not taken place. He pointed out that the pairing of investigators had to do with the co-ordination of trips, and planning on a weekly basis. The intention was to ensure that investigators going to the same areas would share vehicles. Accommodation in local offices required thinking outside the box. An example was the satellite office in the Welkom area, where an office had been given free of charge by the Department of Justice.
Mr Setshedi said that the March spending spike had only happened in 2014/15 due to the procurement of crime scene vehicles and related equipment. There had been no March spending spike in 2015/16.
Mr Matsomela said that the programme in which Legal Services was located, was being reconfigured. The vacancies would be filled once the process was completed. There were currently 17 vacancies for investigators.
Ms Geerdts said that quality control was done on recommendation reports that had been sent to the NPA and to the South African Police Service (SAPS). This report was in the APP targets. Areas of improvement had been identified. She acknowledged that KwaZulu-Natal had had a lower number of community outreach events. Limpopo and Mpumalanga had not registered any community outreach events during the first quarter. The IPID had a good working relationship with the CSP.
Ms Lindelwa Nonjaduka, Director: Strategy, IPID, said that the backlog of cases had been reduced by 68%.
First quarter 2016/17 expenditure report
Mr Kgamanyane said that the IPID was reporting against a total of 41 annual targets, of which 21 were due in the first quarter. A total of 43% of first quarter targets – nine out of the 21 – had been achieved.
Mr Masomela reported that one of two targets for the quarter had been achieved. The current vacancy rate was 9.3%. The IPID had an approved training plan for 2016/17, and various service providers had been engaged for the implementation. About 51 learnerships had been identified.
Mr Kgomu said that of the 13 targets for the quarter, nine had not been achieved. There had been delays with technical reports, which had held up the finalisation of cases. Almost all cases had been finalised by the end of July.
Mr Leholo said that the one performance target in the quarter had been achieved.
Ms Geerdts reported that of the five targets in the quarter, three had been achieved.
Mr Setshedi said that the focus of spending was on the capacity of investigators, awareness training for police officials on key provisions of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate Act, and on investigative capacity. The IPID was given R246 million for the current financial year and R64 million was spent in the first quarter.
Mr Setshedi reported that there had been cost pressures. These had included the capping of personnel expenditure by National Treasury (NT). The IPID and NT were in consultation to determine a way forward, which may result in some vacant positions being frozen. Goods and services were already showing over-expenditure due, among other things, to the implementation of the Farlam Commission recommendations, for which there was no budget; the deployment of an inspection team to improve service delivery, and the continuation of the Backlog Task Team to finalise the backlog cases. Contractual obligations may not be fully honoured in the current year. Travel and accommodation costs had been high due to factors such as investigators attending cases, and reorganisation to improve performance.
Implementation of IPID Act; output of Consultative Forum
Ms Geerdts said that four consultative forum meetings had been held.
The Chairperson wanted to know whether the relationship between the SAPS and the IPID had improved since October 2015. Had there been better enforcement of IPID recommendations?
Mr Redelinghuys said that he saw there were still serious cases that were not ready for decision. Could the IPID provide the Committee with an age analysis of cases? Where in the process were the proposals for legislative reforms?
Ms Molebatsi wanted to know how the unavailability of the SAPS had made it difficult for station lectures to be conducted. She asked for an example of the types of recommendations that were made to the SAPS.
Mr Mbhele wanted to know what the 82% of expenditure against the budget for transfers under Programme 2 had been for. What had been the reasons were for violations of Sections 29 and 30 of the IPID Act by SAPS? What had been done to address this?
Mr Maake asked what the consultative forum was meant to do.
Mr Kgamanyane said that biannual submissions had been done regularly since the inception of the Act. There were 104 matters where SAPS had not informed the IPID in time, and the IPID had opened cases against SAPS. SAPS were complying 100% with Section 30, but they were failing to submit quarterly reports to the Minister.
The IPID was making strides with meetings on criminal recommendations. The meetings between IPID, SAPS and CSP were held on a provincial basis every month. Reasons were provided when meetings did not take place. An age analysis of cases would be provided to the Committee. The legislative reform process was being undertaken by the CSP.
Mr Kgamanyane pointed out that for one case, the IPID would make two recommendations: one for the SAPS and one for the NPA. However, the target in the APP was the same. The report on the findings on the reasons for non-compliance by SAPS would be obtained from the CPS and provided to the Committee. The function of the consultative forum was to facilitate cooperation between the CSP and the IPID.
Mr Kgomu said that once everything in an investigation was obtained, a recommendation was referred to the NPA to decide whether or not to prosecute. The SAPS would receive a similar recommendation for a possible departmental hearing. While investigations took quickly, there was a delay in receiving the technical reports. This held up the finalisation of matters.
Adv N Ngele, Provincial Head: Western Cape, IPID, said that the IPID had dealt with the two matters in the Western Cape relating to Nando’s and McDonald’s. Everything was now on track.
Ms Geerdts said that station lectures were aimed at SAPS members. If they were not available, the lectures could not continue. The IPID was adjusting tactics and planning the lectures around the schedules of the SAPS. Meetings and relationship with the SAPS and the CPS were improving.
Mr Setshedi said that the 82% expenditure had been as a result of leave payments to members who had left the service.
The Chairperson said that there would be another interaction with the IPID the following day on the municipal police services, and later in the year there would be another on the annual report. The promised reports had to be sent to the secretariat.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had taken note of the decision of the Constitutional Court to declare certain aspects of the IPID Act unconstitutional. Parliament would have to deal with the rectification of the IPID Act and Regulations in order to ensure compliance with the Constitution. The Committee was in concurrence with the Constitutional Court’s ruling on the independence of the IPID. It would await the outcome of the necessary parliamentary processes. It was important for the IPID and senior staff to continue with their work.
The meeting was adjourned.
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