The Minister of Police briefed the Committee on various matters, followed by a briefing by South African Police Services Management on some of the same issues that the Minister had covered around performance and Festive Season plans.
The Minister firstly explained (and SAPS later amplified a little and took questions on) the Back to Basics approach adopted by SAPS. This put the emphasis on “always doing things correctly”. The ultimate goal is to ensure that South Africans are safe and feel safe. It included pillars of visibility, thorough investigation, efficient use of resources, crime intelligence, targeted deployment of resources and collaborative and consultative policing. Its strategic intention is to transform the police into a demilitarised and professionalised operation that displays integrity and discipline. These principles will lead to enhanced accountability and performance.
Speaking to the performance in Q1 and Q2 of 2016, the Minister outlined that of the 110 objectives 77 were achieved in Q1 and 80 were achieved in Q2. He outlined the crime increases and decreases noting that Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape saw increases, and there were also increases in contact crimes in three provinces. Contact related crimes increased in three provinces: Eastern Cape by 6.0%, Mpumalanga by 3.7% and Western Cape by 2.7%. Crimes detected as a result of police action were noted as increasing to 9.1%.
Following a call for the reintroduction of specialised units to deal with issues such as drugs and illegal firearms, the President had, in February 2016, announced the establishment of two specialised units: the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau and the National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control. The work of each was briefly outlined and it was noted that both had registered significant successes. There was also success in reducing serious commercial crime, and some of the statistics and primary cases were outlined.
The Festive Season campaign was outlined, with a six-pronged approach. Integrated policing was emphasized and so was multi-stakeholder collaboration. This was centred around high visibility and the high impact of deployed units, including student constables and other men and women on the ground. Cross border crime would also receive focus, at all ports of entry and border lines. The monitoring of the transport industry and inter-group conflict will also be intensified. Cross-border crime is a significant problem in the country, and border management needs to be improved.
The Minister was then asked by the Committee to speak to several issues which had recently been in the public domain. These were:
- The Committee Chairperson received a report from Acting National Commissioner General Bonang Mgwenya, in relation to allegations made during the tenure of Acting National Commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane. This report will be considered by the committee in 2017 [this meeting was their last of 2016].
- There were allegations in regard to contracts signed at the Civilian Secretariat of Police, as reported in the media
- There were concerns about the shaky relationship between the Minister, (the executive authority) and the accounting officer of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
- An overview of the situation at SAPS was requested
The Minister stated at the outset that he would not be dealing with the IPID matters as he would await further directives from the Committee as a process had to be followed. (This was discussed later by the Committee). A recurrent theme throughout his address was the suspicion of “sinister attempts” to tarnish the reputation and work of the police, including allegations that he himself had been involved in paying R30 000 to a private company operated by his partner, allegations and suspicions about the value of a house owned by the Acting National Commissioner, allegations that the Claassen Report of Inquiry on the previous National Commissioner had been released (which was not correct) and that drugs recovered had not been fully disclosed. Another claim was that the Minister had forced the CP to work with Indoni, his partner's business, and the Acting Secretary of Police had written to the Public Service Commission asking them to investigate this claim into poor governance. He absolutely denied the claims about himself, saying he had referred the matters to the Public Protector and Public Service Commission. He also denied that he was not investigating matters, citing the suspensions as examples of the actions that he had taken. He urged that where allegations were made, the matters must be dealt with consistently, and correctly, so that allegations were proven or refuted, once and for all. However he also stressed that there was not sufficient evidence, it would be premature to deal with anything and that proper processes must be followed. The Minister denied that he was personally determined to lay charges against McBride and maintained that he had good cause to request the inquiry given the allegations of illegal rendition of several Zimbabweans in which McBride was allegedly involved. He felt that all efforts had been made at different levels and political fronts to avoid the processes dealing with McBride.
Members asked if the Minister had confidence in the Acting National Commissioner, when the Claassen Report was expected, whether any money at all had been paid to the Minister’s partner and if there was a suggestion of “dirty tricks” promulgated by others. Some Members were dissatisfied that the Minister did not attempt to discuss the IPID issues, and asked if there was indeed a breakdown in the relationships between the Minister and IPID and why requests had not been acted upon. One Member suggested that the allegations against Mr McBride were remarkably similar to those brought against Mr Anwa Dramat in the previous year. Members also asked how the Minister intended to deal with the allegations. They expressed the hope that senior personnel would be on hand over the Festive Season. They asked if there was a suspicion that foreign elements were trying to destabilize. They asked that the SAPS present a full picture of all crime statistics for each quarter. The Minister was also questioned on but stated that the matter of General Ntlemeza was due to be settled in court.
Members then asked questions to SAPS about the Back to Basics roadblocks, use of cadets, what would happen if a large quantity of non-verified goods were found, and levels of coordination between police and private security, and trafficking of stolen vehicles and goods over borders during the festive season.
Members discussed the matter of how to respond to the Minister’s request that the Committee embark upon an inquiry into Mr McBride. Ultimately, it was agreed that the committee itself would take note of the request, but that the mandate to start an inquiry must come from a full resolution of the NA.
Members finally adopted minutes of 2 and 30 November.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Police, Mr Nkosinathi Nhleko, and delegates from the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) and Ministry: Mr Alvin Rapea, Civilian Secretary, Civilian Secretariat for Police; Mr Sandile Ngidi, Ministerial Spokesperson, Mr Fortune Sithole, Special Advisor to the Minister; Mr Molate Moremi, Stakeholder Relations, Civilian Secretariat for Police; and a legal advisor to the Minister.
The following delegates were present from SAPS: Lieutenant General Stefan Schutte, Deputy National Commissioner: Asset and Legal Management; Lieutenant General Gary Kruser, Deputy National Commissioner: Management Interventions; Major General Montantsi Makhele, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Crime Intelligence; Brigadier Craig Mitchell, Section Head: Risk Enterprise Management; Colonel KB Steyn, Strategic Management.
Issues in public domain: Introduction
The Chairperson explained that the Minister of Police had been asked to brief the Committee on the issues that had recently been reported, in the public domain, and to answer Members' questions.
The Minister dealt with these matters after briefing the Members on other issues. He excused himself, saying that he would have to leave this meeting by 11:00 for a Cabinet meeting, and he submitted apologies from senior managers of SAPS who were away on assignments outside the country.
Back to Basics: B2B approach in SAPS
The Minister introduced the Back to Basics (B2B) approach. He outlined the history, saying that concerns voiced by the public led to a process of internal and external consultations by SAPS, who then adopted the back to basics approach, which puts the emphasis on “always doing things correctly”. The ultimate goal is to ensure that South Africans are safe and feel safe.
B2B includes the following pillars, of:
- thorough investigation of every crime
- efficient utilisation of resources to investigate crime
- crime intelligence to support policing
- targeted and informed deployment of resources
- collaborative and consultative policing
B2B aims to create improved detection, a decrease in crime and improved perceptions of safety. Its strategic intention is to transform the police into a demilitarised and professionalised operation that displays integrity and discipline. These principles will lead to enhanced accountability and performance.
1st and 2nd Quarters 2016 (Q1 and Q2) performance
Minister Nhleko discussed performance under B2B in 2016. Of 110 objectives, 77 were achieved in Q1, and 80 were achieved in Q2, which marks an improvement. Two objectives had not yet been assessed in either quarter. The remainder were not achieved.
Minister Nhleko discussed performance in terms of crimes and the crime outlook. Over the period, all but three provinces reported moderate decreases in community-reported crimes. Those that saw increases were Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape. Limpopo previously saw significant crime increases but the Minister believed this phenomenon was turning around.
Minister Nhleko discussed contact crimes, which include assault, assault causing grievous bodily harm (assault GBH), murder, attempted murder and certain other crimes. He felt that these serious crimes were rooted in social and behavioural patterns. In Q1 and Q2 the police registered decreases of 0.3% in contact crimes. Three out of the seven types of contact crime decreased significantly. Sexual offences decreased by 5.8%, assault GBH decreased by 4%, and common assault decreased by 1.1%. The other categories all saw increases by less than 1%. Contact crimes decreased in five of the nine provinces: Free State decreased by 7.8%, Northern Cape by 6%, Limpopo by 5.4%, Eastern Cape by 1.2% and Kwa-Zulu Natal by 1.1%. Mpumalanga increased by 5.7%, Western Cape by 0.7%. There were increases in three provinces, the highest being 5.7% in Mpumalanga.
Minister Nhleko explained that contact-related crimes include arson and malicious damage to property. These decreased by 7.2% and 0.7% respectively. Altogether, contact-related crimes decreased by 1% nationally. Five provinces showed decreases ranging from 10.3% in Free State to 0.5% in North West. Contact-related crimes increased in three provinces: Eastern Cape by 6.0%, Mpumalanga by 3.7% and Western Cape by 2.7%.
Minister Nhleko discussed crimes detected as a result of police action, which had increased altogether by 9.1%. All individual crimes making up this broad category had increased: Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition by 4.6%, drug-related crimes by 10.9%, driving under the influence of alcohol and or drugs by 3.3% and sexual offences by 12.7%.
Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation
Minister Nhleko reminded Members that following the call for the reintroduction of specialised units to deal with issues such as drugs and illegal firearms, the President had, in February 2016, announced the establishment of two specialised units: the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB) and the National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control (NBFC). The NBIF would look at forensic linkages and record-keeping internationally. The SANEB looks at outlets, cultivation, transnational networks and human couriers, working cooperatively with Interpol, whilst there are also partnerships in place with other countries such as the BRICS countries. He stressed that it was not possible to police drugs and drug trafficking without understanding the international dynamics.
The Minister noted that both bureaus had registered significant successes already. In the case of the SANEB, twenty-four drug laboratories were dismantled and drugs worth R133.2 million were seized. Property seized was worth R79 million. There were 329 arrests and 15 convictions related to these drug-related operations. The NBFC recorded that 320 firearms were seized over the period, with 60 351 rounds of ammunition recovered. 203 arrests were made, and there had been 22 convictions to date.
Minister Nhleko stated that work has been done on reducing serious commercial crimes which include investment fraud, tax fraud, bank fraud and departmental fraud. R149.9 million worth of this activity had been stopped over the period. Five individuals, including foreign nationals, were arrested for trade in illegal cigarettes, to the value of R11.5 million. The unit also succeeded in arresting a 31-year-old suspect trafficking un-wrought gold worth R50 million concealed in a motor vehicle engine. The serious corruption unit succeeded in arresting suspects from government departments and the private sector, including foreign nationals, and confiscated R734 846. 91 government officials had been convicted of corruption.
Festive Season campaign
Minister Nhleko moved on to the third area of the presentation, the Festive Season campaign. This campaign had a six-pillar approach to ensuring a safer festive season. These were:
- A focus on aggravated robberies
- Border security and firearms control
- Liquor, second hand goods, safety at sports and recreational events monitoring.
- Enforcement of legislation aiming to prevent crime against women, children and persons with disabilities.
- By law enforcement
- Road safety enforcement
He emphasised that in all of these, the policing approach must be integrated and involve several stakeholders, in order to work. The campaign would be centred around high visibility and the high impact of deployed units, including student constables and other men and women on the ground. The approach was to be similar to the approach used in the previous December and January. Deployment is focused on high-density areas.
Minister Nhleko stated that cross-border crime would be another focus area over the season. This involves deployment along the land border line, the coastal border line and ports of entry. Deployments will be intensified to combat cross-border crime, especially relating to stolen vehicles and stock theft. The monitoring of the transport industry and inter-group conflict will also be intensified. Cross-border crime is a significant problem in the country, and border management needs to be improved.
Issues in public domain
The Chairperson highlighted that the issues in the public domain, on which the Minister had been asked to report to Members, were as follows:
- The Chairperson received a report from Acting National Commissioner General Bonang Mgwenya, in relation to allegations made during the tenure of Acting National Commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane. Whilst that report was too thick to duplicate and distribute for this meeting, Members would have the covering letter very shortly, during the meeting. This report will be considered by the committee in 2017 [this meeting was their last of 2016].
- There were allegations in regard to contracts signed at the CSP, as reported in the media
- There were concerns about the shaky relationship between the Minister, (the executive authority) and the accounting officer of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
- An overview of the situation at SAPS was requested
Minister Nhleko stated that he would deliberately avoid discussing IPID matters because he would prefer to wait for further direction from the Chairperson and the Portfolio Committee as to how to deal with it. There is a particular process that is required, and he felt that any discussion outside of that might border on unfair legal practice. He preferred to wait to be called in by the Portfolio Committee.
Minister Nhleko noted that the meeting occurring on a backdrop of “several sinister attempts” that had been made, largely aiming to tarnish the work that the police do. This was of concern, but was not altogether surprising, said that in an organisation such as SAPS, when developments happened, it was not unusual that “you find all these sorts of innuendos and mudslinging, precisely because there is jostling for power and influence in the process”. He said that prior to the last weekend there had been a rumour that the report on the suspended National Commissioner Riah Phiyega would be released, and that it would assert that she was not fit for the job, which meant that others would jockey to place themselves in line for appointment to the post. This led some individuals then to “embark on efforts to rubbish and discredit” others.
Minister Nhleko was of the view that many of these allegations were ludicrous. He firstly cited an allegation by the IPID into how Acting National Commissioner General Khomotso Phahlane had managed to afford a house apparently worth around R8 million. He said that it was ludicrous that an allegation could be made, based on comparing the value of a property with its owner's salary, that the property must be stolen. There should be a scientific process followed before alleging that a house was built from the proceeds of crime. A report has been sent to the Committee that will provide clarity on this case.
Another issue was the claim that drugs recovered had not been fully disclosed. Although he did not specifically name the individual, he said “He (the official) claims that Interpol tells him that the drugs that get confiscated are not fully disclosed”. The Minister argued that this claim defied logic, and asked how Interpol, when it tipped off SAPS officers in another country, could have weighed or counted the drugs consignment, so he considered that the tip-off must have been fabricated. This was another example of an attempt to tarnish the reputation of the police.
Minister Nhleko explained that there is another claim that he is personally in a relationship with “some other prominent person” and that R30 million had been paid to her business. He said that these efforts to tarnish SAPS' reputation are increasing and very interesting. The allegation that R30 million had been signed off to his life partner had been dealt with in the previous week and it was a lie. It was not clear why it had been told and to whose benefit. Various points provided evidence to the contrary. The Annual Report made no mention of an amount of R30 million and so it was unclear where this rumoured amount came from. He later added that the matter should be responded to by the Acting Secretary of Police. He had asked the Public Protector to investigate the matter. Another claim was that the Minister had forced the CP to work with Indoni, his partner's business, and the Acting Secretary of Police had written to the Public Service Commission asking them to investigate this claim into poor governance.
The Minister noted that another claim is that he is “hell-bent” on re-instituting charges against Robert McBride. He stated that this was false. He also said that the claims about the R30 million and the case of Mr McBride were being linked. He said that the facts in the McBride matter were clear. The inquiry into Mr McBride was based on his alteration of reports into illegal renditions (of Zimbabweans) and those renditions had been the subject of open claims previously.
The Minister added that he found it disturbing that on the one hand, people in the country could “shout issues of accountability and transparency at points of convenience” but on the other hand, when called to task would “begin to allege all sorts of sinister things and motives for an example”. He said that one claim was that people were being asked to look the other way when deaths occurred, and this was an issue around the process. He urged that where allegations were made, the matters must be dealt with consistently, and correctly, so that allegations were proven or refuted, once and for all. If there was wrongdoing it must be dealt with. If not, then it would be found that there had been no wrongdoing. Allegations were merely allegations until proven, and if people acted on allegations alone without proof, then they were catering to the ulterior motives. He stated that this was essentially a human rights issue, and that it was not right to have a situation where there is a set of human rights that was considered more important for some than others, particularly if these were efforts “ to continue to dehumanize Africans”. He said that he raised the above points precisely because of the linkage that has been made between the R30 million and the question of the suspension and investigation of Mr McBride. He had misgivings in that he felt that all efforts had been made to avoid dealing with the process at different levels and political fronts, and wanted to know why the potential inquiry into McBride had not been dealt with. He maintained that he and his team would abide by procedures and principles, and do the best that they could. The police could only be successful if they coordinated properly with other agencies and worked in the correct manner with community members. He urged Members to tackle oversight based on facts and scientific information rather than rumours. He would await a more appropriate time to deal with IPID matters specifically.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had received the report and cover letter from the Acting National Commissioner and he presumed that included an explanation as to the financing of his residence. He asked if the Minister had confidence in the Acting National Commissioner. Secondly he asked if the release of the Claassen Commission of Inquiry Report into suspended National Commissioner Riah Phiyega report was imminent, making the point that the Committee must, in terms of the SAPS Act, receive that report.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) noted the comment that the rumour on the R30 million given to the Minister's partner was said to be untrue, but asked if any money had been given to her, and, if so, how much. He asked if the Minister intended to suggest that that the “dirty tricks” were being promulgated by Mr Robert McBride.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) was happy to have seen the quarterly reports and summary crime statistics. He was dissatisfied that the Minister had not addressed the IPID leadership issue, which was the purpose of his invitation to the meeting. The matter of whether or not it has been referred to the Committee for an inquiry to be held was not relevant to the current discussion and no sub judice principle applied in this case. The Committee was not a court, and no inquiry was already under way, consequently the matter should be open for discussion. According to reports in the media, the relationship between the Minister and Mr McBride had deteriorated to what was described as an irretrievable breakdown. On 13 January 2015 Mr McBride had written to the Minister requesting, and recommending his intervention on, matters relating to suspended General Mmamonnye Ngobeni, claiming that the then-National Commissioner Riah Phiyega was not doing her role to ensure accountability. The Minister allegedly failed to respond. He asked why the Minister did not act on Mr McBride's request and recommendation and whether this had been the root cause of the breakdown in their relationship.
Mr Mbhele then noted that the request that the Committee hold an inquiry into Mr McBride bore a striking resemblance to the process initiated around a year ago, against former Hawks Head General Anwa Dramat. He felt this latest request was an attempt to have Parliament rubber-stamp the suspension of Mr McBride and wanted to hear if and how the two cases differed. He made the point that any request to Parliament to initiate removal proceedings is premised on the assumption that there has been a finding of culpability. The Minister himself had just said that allegations remained allegations until tested by investigation. To initiate any removal process without following that procedure would be in violation of section 17DA of the SAPS Act.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) agreed that there could be attempts to undermine the integrity of the Ministry, but asked if the Minister had any reason to believe that there may be improper conduct on the part of the Acting Commissioner's residence. A house may be evaluated at a higher figure than it had cost to build. He wondered if the Minister considered that there were orchestrated attempts, including Fees Must Fall and allegations against the police, to destabilise the government and the country, and if so, if he could say where they were emanating. If the allegations around the R30 million were lies, he asked how the Minister intended to deal with the allegations and whether action would be taken against those responsible.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked questions on the Festive Season programme, asking whether personnel were permitted to take leave, pointing out that it seemed that the most experienced officers would go away on leave, leaving the work to junior staff.
In relation to the allegations, Mr Ramatlakane asked if the Minister had instituted any process to investigate the allegations. He pointed out that there was another allegation that cash to the value of R70 000 was transported to a contractor in the boot of a car, and since it seemed that this could be contrary to the Prevention of Organized Crime and Money Laundering legislation, he would have thought the matters must be investigated. He seconded concerns about leadership stability and the relationship with Mr McBride.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked whether the Minister would continue with the pro-woman hiring approach. She stressed that SAPS was a key institution in South Africa and felt that the undermining of SAPS leadership could be the work of criminals. She asked who was funding these groups and who was at the forefront of the attacks on police leadership, and whether any were funded by foreign interests.
Ms L Mabija (ANC) referred to a “dangerous serpent under the grass” causing havoc and underlying the allegations. There had been efforts to undermine the unity of law enforcement institutions and to make attacks on the Minister and the Acting National Commissioner, regardless of their good performance. She too asked if there was knowledge who it might be, and what purpose it aimed to achieve. She thought the Minister and his team had been acting according to expectations. She spoke briefly in isiXhosa.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) was satisfied with the Minister’s response about the matters in the public domain. In recent weeks, right-wing non-governmental organisations and foreign citizens had been targeting the leadership of SAPS in highly-publicised reports and emails, and she wondered if these were part of an organized campaign or merely coincidence. She commented that the B2B was making good progress. She noted the appointment of new Deputy National Commissioners and Provincial Commissioners this year and asked if the performance of the SAPS and new leadership was considered satisfactory.
The Minister began his response by noting that some questions were complex and would require lengthy answers that he did not currently have the time to deliver. He believed that if there was indeed any force seeking to undermine democracy, economic confidence and issues in the social sphere such as education, a logical place to start would be an attack on the police. Safety is a holistic concept. However, the question of whose interests these forces, if they existed, sought to promote was intricate.
The Minister next referred to the allegations about the house of the Acting National Commissioner. He agreed that some houses were built from scratch by the current owners, and others were built and it was possible to build at low cost and achieve a much higher market value over time. Cost and value were two different matters. He suggested that accusations based on estimated value were not founded on sufficient evidence. He noted that the report that was to be circulated to Members had been started in 2014. It was unclear to him why it was so long in being released. He suggested to Mr Ramatlakane and Members that this report would be the best starting point from which to consider the allegations, for it would give a better perspective.
The Minister asserted that he did have confidence in Acting National Commissioner Phahlane, but that his own opinion and that of SAPS did not matter as much as the feedback from constituencies around the country. There had been positive feedback on social media about police visibility, and people were grateful for police efforts against crime.
Minister Nhleko then discussed the Claassen Inquiry Report, which he had not seen, so he could not understand how City Press had allegedly seen it. The question of fitness to hold office is dealt with at the level of the Presidency. He believed the Report would be made available to all Members of the Committee. He stressed that it would be incorrect for the Members to be misled by newspaper articles and “leakages” and urged them to rely on reports from official sources.
The Minister spoke about his relationship with Mr McBride. He did not understand why people focused only on this and said that a proper analysis into relationships between the Ministry and the IPID will take a whole day to describe, as there was an intricate web of players and interest groups at play. There is a national and an international dynamic, so that he did not feel it was appropriate to narrow comments and investigations down to individuals.
The Minister did believe that there could be an orchestrated effort to destabilize the police and society. He nd the police were trying to do the best they could, and although they might make mistakes, it was important to recognise their honest effort to do good, in cooperation with other departments.
Mr Groenewald interjected to say that his specific question – as to who was behind the “dirty tricks” that were alleged - had not been answered. This was a pertinent issue and should be answered. He asked also that if CSP had the answer, it should be given.
The Minister responded that Mr Groenewald’s question would be answered by the end of the day.
The Minister responded to Mr Mbele's questions around the allegations of corruption saying that allegations could surface. By way of example he suspected that steps were being taken against him and others wo were investigating corruption precisely because of their investigations. If questions were asked as to exactly which corruption people were investigating, it was difficult to pin people down. He cited the example of General Ngobeni, saying that the Minister clearly had acted, because she had been suspended, although she had challenged that suspension. The matter was already in the court process yet people were still claiming that the Minister had not wanted to act on the report from IPID. Clearly, however, her suspension was linked directly to that report being considered.
The Minister told Mr Mbhele that he could not understand how Parliament could ever rubber-stamp requests, because the law was clear on what it must do and he quipped that he really did not think that he would ever be able to exert that much influence on this Committee.
The Minister assured Ms Mmola that capacity-building and transformation is an on-going process at various levels within SAPS. He did indeed think that foreign interests or groups may be behind the attempts to undermine, but this was too complex to be discussed today. As to her question who might be “the serpent” he was unfortunately unable to identify that, as it was hidden but more work would be needed on that. He had spoken of “right wing NGOs” but could not be specific, but maintained that these issues and allegations should not be allowed to interfere with the work of the police.
Mr Rapea, Acting Police Secretary, added, at the request of the Minister, that the police do work with non-profit organizations, including Indoni. In 2014, a Memorandum of Understanding MOU) was signed, to run to 2017. In 2015/16, the year that Indoni was involved in the “We Are One” campaign, an amount of R384 000 was paid to Indoni in terms of the MOU.
The Minister pointed out that the MOU was signed in early 2014, before he had become Minister of Police.
Mr Groenewald asked if the full contract price amounted to R384 000?
Mr Rapea stated that this was not a contract. It was an MOU that allowed SAPS to help Indoni with certain of their campaigns. He reiterated that it was not a contract worth a set amount. The terms were that if certain things were done, payments would follow, as that was the way that procurement processes and payments worked.
Mr Groenewald said that if the agreement was an MOU, it should have an end-date.
Mr Rapea responded that it would end in 2017.
Mr Mbele asked when exactly that MOU had been signed.
Mr Rapea noted that he had not come prepared with the answer to that question. He knew that the MOU was signed by the former Minister of Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee would like to see a full presentation of Q1 and Q2 crime statistics in detail and for every province.
Mr Mbhele commented on the points of safety and their importance to South Africa’s democracy. He described the Ministers’ statements and explanations as “Marxist in the sense that they make the right analysis but arrive at the wrong conclusion”. One case in point was the Minister’s response to the questions about General Ngobeni. General Ngobeni had eventually been suspended, which was a good move for accountability, but it took too long to happen.
He added that Mr McBride’s letter requesting action from the Minister was written in January, but the IPID investigation started in March, with the IPID report produced in August 2015. The then-National Commissioner had only been suspended in May 2016. Over this whole period, Mr McBride’s request was never responded to. IPID was clearly going to do the investigation anyway, unrelated to what the Minister would have done, but Mr McBride had requested that Acting Commissioner Ngobeni be suspended. The matter of Commissioner Phiyega had been referred to the President for him to exercise his powers. However, Mr McBride's request for direct communications with the Minister were ignored. This was an important point in the bigger picture that explained the breakdown in the relationship.
Mr Mbhele clarified that he was not suggesting that the Minister had control over the minds of the Committee. However, his questions around rubber-stamping arose from the particular process that the Minister had requested the Committee to take. The headline asks for a Parliamentary inquiry into McBride’s fitness to hold office, but the legal citation in that letter actually refers to section 17DA of the SAPS Act, which is a removal procedure. This is a different matter to an inquiry. He suggested that a Rule 227 inquiry would be fairer. It would not open the door prematurely to suspensions, without first testing the allegations against McBride. He asked how the Minister could ask for removal when the basis of the initial allegations had not been tested.
Mr Groenewald pointed out that one of the key objectives of SAPS is integrity, and a court case had been instituted against the Head of the DPCI, General Mthandazo Ntlemeza. He noted that his integrity had been brought into question and asked if the Minister had considered this point when making the appointment.
Ms Mabija was satisfied with the Minister’s responses.
Ms Mabija noted that the Festive Season Campaign must be instilled in the home. She noted concerns about alcohol and drug consumption, said that detective services were important in suppressing crime, and asked whether the Minister felt that sufficient staff were available?
Mr Mbhele asked whether, if the court were to find that the appointment of General Ntlemeza was unlawful, the Minister would resign.
The Minister said that it was not necessary to hypothesise about events that had not yet taken place.
Mr M Mncwango (IFP) asked for an update on matters relating to a particular individual and the Minister responded that he was not in a position to disclose information related to this individual.
Minister Nhleko stressed that officers will not be out enjoying themselves over the festive period but most senior managers would be on the ground, including himself. Particular programmes are conducted and it during this busy period for the SAPS and SAPS had registered progress in improving the work of detectives.
Minister Nhleko told Mr Mbhele that in the package of recommendations made by the Minister, the issue of the suspended National Commissioner was raised. It was incorrect to suggest that the Minister needed to report to Mr McBride what he was doing, and he pointed out again that the fact that General Ngobeni is on suspension is evidence that the Minister has taken action. He did not have to report every decision he took to other bodies or to the Committee itself.
The Minister agreed with Mr Mbhele that removal could only follow a process where evidence was produced, in terms of the SAPS Act. He was of the view that the Act was badly written and lacked sufficient detail on process and procedure. There is a problem with Section 17DA which involves the bringing of an issue to Parliament by the Minister.
Minister Nhleko said that the matter of General Ntlemeza was due to be settled by the Court and suggested that it be reported on after that.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee took note of the Minister’s comments and would consider the report from the Acting National Commissioner. It would await the reports of the Public Protector and the Public Service Commission. The Claassen Report must be tabled when available.
The Minister was released.
Back to Basics: Briefing by SAPS
Lieutenant Brigadier CB Mitchell pointed out that there were minor differences between the handout given to Members and the presentation on screen. He pointed out that what had been reported by the Minister was in these slides so that he would go very quickly through the presentation to avoid repetition. He briefly explained the extension of various police efforts over the festive season period.
Mr Groenewald asked why it was that roadblocks were always performed during peak traffic hours.
Mr Mbhele described the use of cadets from the academies as force multipliers over the festive season as a historic problem. He felt that the quality of the staff remaining on the job over the festive season had always been low. He asked if this would be the case again in the upcoming season.
Ms Molebatsi asked if a vehicle is pulled over and found to have goods without a receipt, would they be regarded as stolen goods. She asked for a classification of stolen goods.
Mr Ramatlakane asked about the level of coordination of police efforts and private security measures to protect shopping centres, which often had money and were therefore targeted, as well as what would be done to control rioting.
Mr Mncwango asked if there were any arrangements made to deal with the heavy trafficking of stolen vehicles to neighbouring countries over the season.
Mr J Maake (ANC) noted a heightening of police efforts at tertiary institutions and schools, but wanted to know what this meant and its purpose. He asked if the police were expecting FeesMustFall protests to recur in 2017.
The Chairperson noted that according to the crime statistics presented by the Minister, contact crime had increased in several provinces and asked what was in place to tackle this. He raised concern about and asked for the SAPS response on the .killing of police officers in the Western Cape, and asked what measures were in place in the worst-affected districts.
Mr Ramatlakane was concerned about the management of police in the Western Cape, and suggested that there was seemingly much bickering.
Lieutenant General Gary Kruser explained that the road blocks were set up according to crime trends and intelligence. High traffic can help police as it gives suspects less room to manoeuvre away from an impending road block. Trainees were qualified and were necessary to add to police visibility. He noted that a mere lack of receipts will not lead to the assumption that goods are stolen, and there will be no automatic arrest. The police have other ways of identifying stolen goods, using intelligence sources.
He added that the police were working with malls to create a strategy to protect money transfers. He told Mr Mncwango that stolen vehicles were included in the second phase of the police’s plan for the festive season. Additional policing staff would be deployed at national borders.
General Kruser stated that intelligence told the police that the country should expect more student protests. WITS had just announced a fee increase of 8%. He believed it was the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) intention to “come back with a vengeance” in 2017. He agreed with Members that community involvement is critical in suppressing crime.
General Kruser discussed high crimes areas such as the Eastern Cape. There was a meeting in November where specific plans were made to address these areas. 30 areas were identified as being particularly troublesome. These plans were being implemented already.
General Kruser described the loss of life in the police force as tragic. SAPS had been reinforcing efforts to address this issue. Trainees have been advised to move in bigger groups in these areas and to have tactical awareness. In response to queries about management, he asserted that communities should be put first and SAPS cannot allow issues in management to affect the safety of communities, and SAPS was dealing with the matter and would report on it later.
Ms Molebatsi was concerned about car hijackings in Gauteng, asserting that in some precincts, there is known collusion between police and hijackers. Why are these trends not intercepted?
The Chairperson commented on the launch of Operation Knock Down in the Western Cape. He asked if this was the same model as used in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro?
General Kruser explained that there were undercover operations under way for car hijackers. There was a specific programme in place. SAPS had made a number of related arrests in the last few months and in several cases police members were also arrested in relation to these instances.
Other Committee business
Minister’s Letter to the Committee Requesting an Inquiry into Mr McBride
The Chairperson tabled the letter from the Minister of Police, requesting the Committee to consider exercising its powers in terms of section 17 DA(3) and 17 DA(7) of the SAPS Act, relating to McBride. (PMG Note: these letters were not handed out at the meeting).
Mr Mbhele felt that the process based on section 17DA (3) to (7) would not be the correct first step to take in response to the letter, and that the Minister had agreed to this point. The inquiry asked for in the headline of the letter is a different matter, and does not justify a section 17DA action. Input from McBride and other relevant parties will be necessary. He suggested that the Committee recommend accordingly to the House. Should the House take a resolution, this might trigger a section 17DA action. However, this action would be premature at this point.
Mr Maake thought the Committee needed to take some legal advice on the issues. He suggested that the Committee should not act yet, felt confused but rather should acknowledge receipt and say that it was seeking advice.
Mr Groenewald understood the letter as a request that the Committee started an investigation, and if that were to happen, then the Minister would immediately suspend McBride. He did not feel that the Committee had a choice. If Mr McBride, as Head of IPID, was suspected of misconduct, the Committee must investigate the matter. He proposes that the Committee start an investigation immediately, in line with its duty.
The Chairperson pointed out that a suspension can only occur if there is a House resolution for that, and that point had not been reached.
Mr Ramatlakane pointed out that the Committee could not change or modify the contents of the letter. The letter was incorrectly phrased, because actually a House resolution was required to achieve what it sought. The House must ask the Committee to investigate and set terms of reference, and that would be the correct approach. He agreed with Mr Mbhele that the outcome the Minister sought to achieve with the letter did not follow the Rules of the NA. He suggested the Committee should respond that it had noted the request but does not have the mandate to start the inquiry that Minister requested, which would instead require a resolution from the NA.
Ms Mabija sough clarification, pointing out that the letter was received from the Speaker, surely as representative of the House?
Mr Groenewald agreed with Mr Ramatlakane and pointed out that the Committee had no power to act before a resolution from the House – it might be possible to establish an ad hoc committee when that happened.
Mr Mbhele understood the legal logic of Mr Ramatlakane's proposal but had two concerns. The first was that the NA could not call for a resolution on the issue before the allegations were properly established. The only other legal premise for an inquiry process was through the Rules and it was premature if there was no motivation.
Mr Ramatlakane said that the House would apply its mind and any discussion prior to the NA discussing the matter would be hypothetical.
Mr Mbhele said it would be acceptable if the draft resolution to go before the House explained that the request was from the Minister to the Speaker, and was now before the House as the Minister had no further powers. The House should then be asked by this Committee's resolution to decide whether an ad-hoc committee is established to deal with the matter. That was different approach from passing a resolution that cited the removal clause, which he would oppose on the ground that it was premature.
The Chairperson noted consensus amongst Members to take note of the request of the Minister.
Mr Groenewald wanted to make sure that he would receive the report on the Acting National Commissioner.
The Chairperson assured him that Members would receive the report, and the cover letter must be made available, hopefully within the next two hours.
Adoption of minutes
Members adopted the minutes of 2 November and 30 November, with minor technical amendments.
The draft programme for Q1 of 2017 was tabled. The Chairperson drew attention to a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Social Development committee and the Select Committee, to discuss child justice in 2017. Petitions received from public must be dealt with in February.
Mr Mncwango asked about the impact of the court case regarding General Ntlemeza and whether the Committee would have to take action if the court were to find against him.
The Chairperson felt that the Committee should await the outcome of the court and appeals process.
Ms Mabija emphasised the importance of the international study tour. She wanted the committee to use its budget and felt that it was important for the Committee to travel.
Mr Groenewald quipped that the members of the countries proposed for the tour could probably learn more from SAPS in South Africa than the Committee could from visiting those countries.
The Chairperson said that he did not wish to debate the Committee budget at this point.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Claasen Commission of Inquiry, recent corruption allegations; Back to Basics report, Quarter 1 and 2 reports for SAPS and IPID, Festive Season campaign: Minister of Police and SAPS briefings 1
- Claasen Commission of Inquiry, recent corruption allegations; Back to Basics report, Quarter 1 and 2 reports for SAPS and IPID, Festive Season campaign: Minister of Police and SAPS briefings 2
- Claasen Commission of Inquiry, recent corruption allegations; Back to Basics report, Quarter 1 and 2 reports for SAPS and IPID, Festive Season campaign: Minister of Police and SAPS briefings 3
- SAPS Progress Report on Implementation of Back to Basics Approach to Police Committee
- NA Responsibility in McBride Matter RE Minister's Request for Inquiry
- Request for Parliamentary Committee to hold an Enquiry on Mr McBride's Fitness to Hold Office.
- IPID: Executive Director Refusal to Provide necessary Information for Parliamentary Questions: - 2266; 2267 and oral Questions 273 and 42
- Minister of Police presentation
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