Disbandment and Redeployment of Special Units: briefing by SAPS

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11 April 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


11 April 2003

Mr M George (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Strategic Focus of the South African Police Service 2000 to 2005 presentation
South African Police Service website

SAPS Delegation: Division Commissioner, Mr JF de Beer; Assistant Commissioner, Mr V Moonoo; Director, Mr H Swart; Senior Superintendent, Ms P Mosime and Superintendent, Mr W Viviman

The South African Police Service briefed the Committee on its Strategic Focus for 2000 to 2006. Although the Committee acknowledged the importance of integrated policing to ensure that there is one operational management structure, it questioned the approach and the timing of the process. The Committee was not satisfied with SAPS' ability to respond to questions and another meeting would be set up to complete the briefing.

Strategic Focus of the South African Police Service 2000 to 2005
Mr JF de Beer apologised for the absence of the National Commissioner of Police, Mr J Selebi. He thereafter introduced his team and noted the aspects that would be covered in the presentation. He then handed over to Mr H Swart to make the presentation.

Mr Swart noted that in 2000 the SAPS implemented an Integrated Strategic Plan, which was aimed, primarily, at organised and serious and violent crimes. For the plan to be implemented they had to adopt an integrated approach. The result was the creation of multi-disciplinary units in order to effectively investigate specific crimes. The process was thereafter divided into three phases, of which the first two ones have been completed and the third one is about to be concluded. There was wide consultation before this process could be initiated and it has proved to be successful on number of occasions. (Please see document).

Mr Zondo said that he appreciated the manner in which the police dealt with the problems facing them. He asked what the Department is doing with the issue concerning the duplication of informers.

Mr de Beer responded that the Department is busy dealing with the matter and assured the Committee that all the concerns that had previously been raised would definitely be dealt with.

Mr Q Kgauwe (ANC) asked what qualifications are required in order to qualify to be member of the multi-disciplinary units and how would the Department identify these individuals.

Mr de Beer responded that qualified people are selected for the process and thereafter trained for those specific units. The issue of transformation and people coming from previously disadvantaged community is also taken into account and so far, this is one unit that has been very successful in this regard.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked why, out of 1 834 syndicates arrested, there were only 343 prosecuted. She further asked what happened to the case where a vehicle, loaded with huge quantity of drugs, was stolen in the SAPS vehicle unit.

Mr de Beer responded that the 343 cases have been investigated. However, they are still investigating the remaining cases, while others have been sent for trials. A task team was appointed to investigate the truck, which was allegedly to have been stolen at the vehicle unit and the reports of the said investigation would be made available to the Committee.

Ms J Sosibo (ANC) asked how many units have been phased out and how many have been integrated.

Mr de Beer noted that the process is based on an integrated approach and the need to have task teams that specialise in particular areas, possessing the required expertise and experience. With that in mind about 270 units had been phased out while others were integrated.

Ms Van Wyk asked how SAPS intends to handle police corruption as there are police officials who are also involved in organised crime.

Mr de Beer noted that the SAPS is the only Department which has been able to deal with the issue of corruption successfully. To show their seriousness in fighting corruption they have also shown willingness to arrest all those even their own members, who are pushing corruption.

The Chair interjected and noted that it is not important for the SAPS to tell the Committee that its success should be measured on its arrest of its members. Constitutionally the SAPS is the only department that has the right to arrest lawbreakers and that includes those who are amongst its ranks. While he did not question the importance of the process, the manner in which the process unfolds and its timing is very questionable. SAPS should first have started by wiping out corruption within its ranks and thereafter commenced with the process. He commented that the manner in which the Eastern Cape commercial unit is composed leaves much to be desired as it consists of people who were previously part of murder and robbery unit and have no experience in commercial crimes.

Mr de Beer noted the concerns raised by Chair, but reiterated that the SAPS is presently involved in the corruption fighting mission on all levels. He noted some of the successes that the Eastern Cape Commercial Crime Task Team has had and then said that the SAPS is very confident that the team would become successful in its mission.

Mr Zondo concurred with the Chair. The latest arrest by the Eastern Cape commercial crime task team involved small fishes and the big ones are still at large. To count that as a success would be a great disservice to the public. He then proposed that correct criteria be used to appoint people who would be part of these units.

The Chair noted that the Committee would grant the Department an opportunity to go and prepare itself for the questions that would be posed. It was clear that they had not properly prepared themselves for that and the Committee would not like to humiliate them further. A meeting where the Department would be expected to clearly answer the questions posed by Members, especially with regard to the manner in which the SAPS is dealing with issues of corruption both in private and public sectors, would be organised. He reiterated his contention regarding the Easter Cape Commercial Crime Task Team. This could only be solved by appointing police officials born or with experience in the Eastern Cape to lead the team as they know the big and small fishes within the province.

Mr de Beer acknowledged that the Department had only set themselves to deal with the issue of police corruption. He therefore welcomed the proposal that further discussions should be convened to consider the issue of corruption on its entirety.

Ms Van Wyk noted that the Department should not think that the Committee is interrogating it but should understand this as part of the Committee's assistance to them.

Mr M Booi (ANC) concurred with the latter speaker and further noted that there is public perception that the police are corrupt. The Committee, as the SAPS public representative, would have to know all the facts so that it could adequately defend them and clear this perception.

Mr George thanked the SAPS and noted that the Committee is always behind them throughout the process. It does not make sense to have many units doing the same thing, such as the murder and robbery unit, who would only investigate the robbery that has taken place and have the vehicle unit investigating a stolen car, which would transpired to have been used in the same robbery.

The meeting was adjourned.


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