Interim Acting National Commissioner introduction; petitions; Bloemfontein VIP Unit accommodation, with Minister

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07 June 2017
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Interim Acting National Police Commissioner was introduced as a professional police officer who has shown himself to be exemplary and who had leadership skills beyond reproach. General Phiyega’s contract was coming to an end on 10 June 2017 and the process of appointing a National Police Commissioner would begin in earnest. It was hoped that the process would be complete by the end of August.

The Minister of Police noted that the Ministry was on track to bring about stability and would ensure that vacancies, not only at the top, but at all levels would be filled permanently. He had told the Acting National Police Commissioner to look at the SAPS budget for optimal usage of resources. He needed to make a budget analysis and a deviation, if necessary, as the budget was reducing the number of personnel and yet communities wanted more satellite police stations. Although SAPS was intended to follow an intelligence-led approach, the budget did not reflect that either. The Minister’s biggest worry was the Civilian Police Secretariat where many people were employed but they did not provide a relevant service. He warned the Committee that he was going to be make changes as he needed a supportive Secretariat to give direction to the police. He promised to address the function of IPID that had to do its mandated oversight role, but he did not want feuds. He wanted acceptance of the prescripts of integrity in the interaction between the structures.

The Minister was also having sleepless nights about security at National Key Points, such as OR Tambo Airport. If one were to know what was happening there, one would collapse. In the geo-political environment that one lives in, South Africa would be embarrassed, security-wise. He also spoke of a very big campaign in the fight against violence towards women and children. Following questions, the Minister agreed to look into police reservists as they could assist with desperately needed personnel.

The Committee dealt with petitions for greater police presence in Soshanguve South, Etwatwa and Norkem Park, as well as a case against a police officer in Edenvale

The accommodation of the VIP unit in Bloemfontein was hotly debated as the Committee had been trying for two years to have the unit relocated from the unsuitable building in which they were currently housed.

SAPS said the delegation of responsibility for building, maintenance and leases to the Department of Public Works was a problem due to the lack of power over timeframes and DPW deviation from specifications. DPW deviated from specifications and caused security breaches. Matters that had urgent operational implications should sit with the Police Ministry. SAPS recommended an inter-ministerial intervention. The DPW policy impacted on performance. If DPW did not perform, then automatically SAPS did not perform. There was no performance management system that held DPW accountable.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the new Acting National Commissioner, General Lesetja Mothiba and the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi. The Minister of Police would be joining the meeting later.

He said the Committee welcomed the appointment of General Mothiba in his new post and called on National Management, Provincial and Regional Commissioners and Regional Managers to work with the General to ensure stability in SAPS and confidence in the leadership. The Committee noted the statements by the President and the Minister of Police with regard to his appointment. The statement about the former Acting National Commissioner was also noted and the Committee believed that processes should proceed and Members would await the outcome. The appointment of the National Police Commissioner was important and it was to be hoped that the process would be commenced by the Executive Authority as soon as possible. It was important that there be additional vetting and due diligence in that process. The most preferable process would be the one in the National Development Plan but the current SAPS Act was still on the table. The Committee would monitor the process very closely.

The Chairperson noted the arrest the previous day of a suspect in connection with the murder of the five-year-old girl in Nomzamo in the Strand, and the Committee congratulated SAPS for their excellent work as the community and the Committee would not tolerate such behaviour. He told General Mothiba that the detectives on that case should be commended for their action. He noted the action in Hammersdale earlier in the week that saw the killing of suspects but also of a member of the SAPS National Intervention Unit. The Committee extended its condolences to the family. The National Intervention Unit operated in difficult and dangerous circumstances and that member had paid the highest price as a policeman. The Committee had seen in other jurisdictions, attacks on policemen and terrorist attacks that highlighted the importance of specialised units and of crime intelligence. That was the way to go in SAPS – ensuring that there were adequate specialised units but also the necessary crime intelligence at all times.

The protest action at the 10111 Centres had been noted and the Acting National Commissioner would have an opportunity to brief the Committee on this. For many members of the public the 10111 Centre was their only recourse and the Committee expected the centres to function at all times. If there were labour issues, SAPS management was called upon to deal with it.

Introduction of the Interim Acting National Commissioner
Police Deputy Minister, Bongani Mkongi, extended the apologies of the Minister who was still in a Cabinet Sub-Committee meeting. The Ministry of Police conveyed condolences to the family of Officer Zwane who had died in the past week. Criminals had declared war on the people and they used heavy and sophisticated machinery to kill law enforcement people.

The President had appointed an interim Acting National Commissioner, Lt-General Lesetja Mothiba. It was their view and commitment that they would like to see leadership of SAPS that was stable, incorruptible, who respected the law and who were fit and proper for the task. General Mothiba had shown himself to be exemplary and one who had leadership skills beyond reproach. They were sure that he was going to be able to instil discipline and respect and confidence in the police and the people of the Republic and the rank and file. To that end, Lt-General Mothiba had over three decades’ experience in SAPS. He had joined the Service in 1982 and rose in ranks from constable to captain, brigadier to major. He had had a marvellous and incorruptible career. He had a National Diploma in Police Management and a BA Hons in Police Science and various other certificates and commendations. He had led Gauteng Province for three years from 2013 to 2016. Among the merits and awards that he had attained in his great career was the SAPS Medal for Faithfulness that was awarded to those who had 30 years’ service and above. The General had the full confidence of the Ministry and the Deputy Minister requested the Committee to afford him the same, but he had to be given the space to acclimatise himself within the position. The title was Interim Acting as General Phiyega’s term was coming to an end that week. The process of searching for and appointing a new National Police Commissioner would begin in earnest. They had given themselves a deadline for the end of August and had communicated that to the President who would start the process in accordance with established laws. The Cabinet would deal with the matter and would communicate with the Ministry. He presented General Mothiba as a fit and proper Interim Acting National Police Commissioner.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) echoed the sentiments of sympathy for the officer who had died in the line of duty and noted the appointment of General Mothiba. He was a familiar face before the Committee and his record as an experienced career officer, at least at face value, gave one confidence in wishing him the best on his appointment. He suggested that, given the Deputy Minister’s timeline for the appointment of a permanent Commissioner, there would be more confidence in the process if it could approximate as closely as possible the process indicated in the National Development Plan. The National Policing Selection Board and a panel of experts had come before the Committee several times and it would be a check and balance for a rigorous and sound process. He was putting that on the table and asked the Deputy Minister if that was the kind of process that they could look forward to. Was General Phiyega going to get a golden handshake? If so, what were the details?

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) welcomed the Acting National Commissioner in the post. He would find the Committee cooperative in working together towards eradicating crime in the country. The Committee would give him all the support he needed, as they always did. He thanked the previous Acting National Commissioner for the contribution the made while at the helm and the Committee recognised that. Regarding the subject smuggled in by Mr Mbhele, the subject was not on the agenda. That bridge would be crossed when they got there and they were not there yet.

The Deputy Minister reiterated the Committee’s vote of thanks to the previous Acting National Commissioner. He did note that some of the things, termed “smartly smuggled in” were actually in the statement. Other police matters would be discussed as they went on but he asked the Committee to consider the introduction of the Interim Acting National Commissioner and if they wanted other discussions, the Committee Chairperson could write a letter to the Ministry who would respond in detail on those issues, and not thumb suck.

Mr Mbhele responded, saying that he was happy if the Deputy Minister did not have the full details, but he wanted to remind members and colleagues that the primary function of the Committee was oversight and therefore a Member could ask any question regarding any policing matter.

In his recognition of the previous Acting National Commissioner, the Chairperson acknowledged that the Back to Basics Campaign, which had been the brainchild of General Phahlane, had laid a firm foundation on which to build. The Committee recognised the contribution that General Phahlane had made in his year and a half as the Acting National Commissioner and looked forward to working with General Mothiba going forward.

Interim Acting National Commissioner, Lt-General Lesetja Mothiba, stated that when they had been informed of the death of Warrant Officer Zwane, the provincial office had given the family full support. The incident that led to his death was war. He wanted to commend the police members for the way which they had dealt with the situation. Those criminals were on a mission to kill or cause grievous bodily harm. Only one death spoke to the training of the SAPS that had ensured no more members died. They could have lost even more members under those circumstances. In respect of the 10111 Centre that had marched the previous day, he would provide a detailed response in writing. In the interim, he mentioned that he had met with General Mokoena who had briefed him. The management had taken a decision to deploy police officials to 10111 Centres. Posts had been advertised and the unions had been part of the process. Despite the march, there was no interruption to service at the 10111 Centre as police officials managed the centre.

The Chairperson welcomed the assurance that the 10111 Centre had operated optimally. He asked for a briefing on the 10111 Centres and for information on its deployment of Public Service staff on 14 June.

Mr Mbhele asked if SAPS would have the capacity or staff to place in 10111 Centres. Did General Mothiba have information from where they would be deployed as understaffing was an endemic problem and therefore robbing Peter to pay Paul would just be displacing the problem?

General Mothiba asked to make a full presentation the following week. At present the 10111 Centre was manned by Police Act officials so there were processes that were being followed but he would inform the Committee of details about the commencement date the following week.

Presentation by Petitioner
Mr D Bergman (DA, the petitioner for a satellite police station in Soshanguve, spoke about the days when there was a reach into communities by the police. At the time of Commissioner Selebi, SAPS used to have police stations as the permanent base and a permanent presence and then had the satellite police station as a permanent further reach into communities where it was too expensive to build a station or a super station, and the cars would be roaming stations to get the police into the communities instead of the communities having to find a police station. What the petition had tried to do, when looking at Soshanguve where there was a lack of police presence, but understanding the lack of resources, was to say that they would settle for anything as long as there was a police presence in Soshanguve. Soshanguve South had serious crime and drug centres but no police presence. Social crimes were increasing. They had looked at locations and as shopping centres became targets over the festive season, he wanted to motivate for a mobile station in one of the shopping centres, such as The Crossing or Thorntree, as it would be killing two birds with one stone.

Acting National Commissioner Mothiba announced that the delegation was led by the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner who would brief the Committee.

Lt-General Deliwe de Lange, Gauteng Provincial Commissioner, asked Brigadier Bender to make the presentation.

Brigadier David Bender, Gauteng Provincial Head: Organisational Development, informed the Committee that there had been an investigation into a satellite station in Soshanguve South and it would be recommended. A proposed site had very recently been identified in Soshanguve 4 facing Soshanguve 2.

Mr Mbhele appreciated the feedback. He understood that the setting up of the satellite would follow due process but two days ago, the Deputy Minister had been in Gugulethu to open a satellite police station that had been expedited in response to demands from the community. He requested that the Soshanguve South satellite station be expedited in a similar way. He asked if it was possible that all satellite police station requests, that were clearly responses to an acute need in a localised area, be placed under ministerial supervision to expedite those matters. Routine processes could follow to determine a more permanent solution for the communities.

The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Police.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) noted that there were police stations close to Soshanguve, such as Rietgat police station and others. Were they not resourcing Soshanguve a lot and not worrying about other areas?

Mr J Maake (ANC) asked about the time frame as the site had recently been identified. Was it going to be a park home type of satellite or what would it be? That would determine the timeframe.

Mr Bergman informed the Committee that when the community in the south of Soshanguve wanted to report a crime, they had to walk to Rosland Police Station which was the closest police station serving Soshanguve South. As per the police investigation, there was a definite need for a police station in Soshanguve South and he appreciated and welcomed it. He was also interested in timeframes.

Lt-General de Lange informed the Committee that Soshanguve had been recently upgraded so they needed to capacitate and resource the station. It would be very difficult to have a 24/7 satellite in Soshanguve South but they would have a mobile Community Service Centre until they had finalised the process.

Address by the Minister of Police
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula stated that he agreed with the Deputy Minister’s earlier remarks. He was on track to bring about stability. They needed to ensure that at the top management level, and all levels, vacancies were filled permanently. Some positions were not dependent on their schedule but were dependent on litigation, for example the Hawks and the National Commissioner of Police. The former National Commissioner’s case is in the courts and she had been suspended but it had been costly for the Police. Her contract came to end on 10 June and then they would be able to confirm a permanent National Commissioner. He was looking forward to that so that there was stability. Over and above that, there was a need to move with speed in all areas in terms of instilling confidence in the police.

Minister Mbalula said the National Commissioner had been told to look at the SAPS budget in regard to optimal usage of resources. He needed to make a budget analysis and a deviation, if necessary. The fundamental question raised about the reality of the budget was that they were cutting down on personnel and yet they wanted more satellite police stations. Who was going to man those police stations? SAPS ntended to follow an intelligence-led approach but the budget did not reflect that. They needed to do a budget analysis in the coming weeks and the Committee could be of great assistance in informing that discussion. People complained that there were no vans but the reality was that they were cutting down on personnel. They did not have the numbers on the ground; but they needed a balance. The Ministry could not think on its toes and required strategic teams to advise them. What was it that they needed to do to spend optimally? It was good that SAPS regularly spent the entire budget but society demanded that police be smart with e-policing. How would they respond to that? People were campaigning and they were talking about 10111. How did they reverse that? The Minister was not going to theorise. Answers were needed and they needed to implement. The Department had a budget but it required budget analysis for optimal release of resources where they were required. SAPS had to live with what they had, effectively. He was confident that they could make it with the team at SAPS and the Ministry.

The Minister’s biggest worry was the Civilian Police Secretariat as many people were employed there but they provided no service. He could not say what they were doing. He was warning the Committee that he was going to be making changes. He needed a Secretariat that would be supportive if he were to give direction to the police. If he asked a lot of questions of the General, he had to give answers. The Minister’s mandate was to execute, not to lead the police. He would find out what needed to be done working with the Secretariat as his support. If the Secretariat was not coming to the party the way he wanted them to, he would have to deal with it. That was what was giving him sleepless nights.

He was happy with SAPS, their mandate and what they did. He interacted quite closely with SAPS. For Operation Back to Basics, they needed measurable outcomes. The way that they had started, and how they were going, was good. He would re-look at SAPS and abandon what was not working and keep up what worked.

He would address the function of IPID that had to do its mandated oversight role, but he did not want feuds. He wanted acceptance of the prescripts of integrity in the interaction between the structures. The Presidency and the Ministry had acted against General Phahlane because they did not want people to say that persons were a hindrance to the execution of the law. They did not want to be made a project. Where police were erring, he would have to act on that. He was not only worried and concerned about police corruption, but also lost dockets and recycling of criminals in the system.

The previous day the Minister had gone to OR Tambo Airport and he was concerned about security there, and at other National Key Points. He had not slept. He had immediately spoken to the General. If one were to know what was happening there, one would collapse. They needed to attend to it. In the geo-political environment that one lived in, South Africa would be embarrassed, security-wise, if they left the situation as it was in some of the National Key Points.

He wanted to jack up a very big campaign on the fight against violence towards women using all their resources. It was important to teach police how to deal with women abuse issues. How they responded to this was going to be important, and they were going to release a very big campaign that included society, NGOs and they would have rules in police stations on how to handle woman abuse. It was a broader societal issue about the social fabric of society. The relationship between men and women continued to reflect patriarchal issues. Social ills that affected social patterns of behaviour among couples had to be addressed. The police would address woman and child abuse in the community.

The Chairperson thanked the Minister, especially for responding to the request to intervene with IPID. He informed the Minister that the Committee had been concerned about the competency of the Secretariat as they needed to provide unfettered, independent policy advice and they needed the staff to do it. The Members welcomed the focus on violence against women and children. Institutions reporting to the Minister had to jack up their performance. There were still outstanding annual reports from the Secretariat and SAPS on the Domestic Violence Act that they had been awaiting for many months. The Minister should crack the whip as the Committee had to deal with it in the next two weeks, so they welcomed a proactive approach.

Mr Mbhele thanked the Minister for his inputs and explanations in the previous Thursday’s debate. He welcomed the strong and clear intention to work on abuse against women and children and would be watching the situation. On the questions raised by the Minister about who would man the satellite stations, he wanted to say there was a massive opportunity that SAPS had been missing out on for a few years and that was the potential to utilise the reservists. The new Reservist Policy that had come out a few years ago was far too restrictive and even within that narrow framework, individuals who had wanted to become reservists faced obstacles and bottle necks and non-cooperation, at best, or, at worst, resistance from management at the local level. They found it difficult to get accepted and when they were accepted, they faced difficulties. That was a unit that could be used. He asked that the Minister look at the reservist issue. Satellite units were necessary so that the community could walk from their homes to do the basics of reporting crime. There was no need for crime intelligence in satellite stations. It was simply about being as close as possible to the coalface for residents. Mr Mbhele asked that the Committee minutes reflect a need to look at the core issue of police reservists so that they could maximise on that potential and extend the SAPS footprint on the ground.

The Minister said that they would look into the reservists as, over the years, there had been confusion at operational level regarding reservists. There was an expectation on the ground that reservists were supposed to be getting a stipend and that reservists were semi-permanent police. That was not the policy understanding. Reservists were supposed to be people who rendered their service voluntarily at a police station. At one point Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa was a reservist. They had been paid but the policy was not to pay them. He agreed with Mr Mbhele that SAPS should call for more reservists, but there had to be a clear policy that closed the gaps in understanding of what a reservist was so that people understood the expectations when they undertook to be a reservist. The reservist system had degenerated into an expectation about employability. Thousands of young people on the ground were complaining that they had been a reservist for 15 to 20 years and they had not been absorbed into the police service. That was not the point. There should be no expectation that one had to become a police officer. It was fine to skill the unemployed but they had to address this expectation. They would be trained and over time, those who were the best, might be absorbed into SAPS. That did not happen at the present moment. People who became unemployed while a reservist tended to lean on being a reservist as a way of survival. That was a problem as unemployed reservists were susceptible to corruption. Crime had become a big business. There was a 91.8% possibility of an unemployed reservist being corrupted and they became a burden on the state. The Minister agreed with Mr Mbhele that reservists should be used effectively and so SAPS had to apply its mind. If they wanted to give reservist stipends, so be it. SAPS had to take a quick decision and report to the Portfolio Committee.

Response to petitions brought by Member of Parliament, Mr M Waters
Mr Mbhele asked if there could be a postponement for response to the petitions brought by Mr Waters (who sent apologies).

The Chairperson explained that the Committee had run out of time and needed to finalise the matter at this meeting, although Manco could look at further matters. He invited SAPS to present a reaction to the petition.

Brigadier Dave Bender provided a response to the petitions brought by Mr M Waters.

Petition 2 was from Mr Waters and related to a spate of murders in Etwatwa in connection with a gang known as One Vision Life (OVL). The community had assaulted the so-called gang members and was burning their houses. A meeting had been held with the Cluster Commander, which had resulted in the development of an Intervention Plan. Public Order Policing, Task Teams and Crime Intelligence would remain in place until the area had been stabilised. Crime had since decreased in the area.

Petition 3 was initiated by residents in Edenvale and was brought to Parliament by Mr Waters. A case had been opened against Constable D Mapatlare for assault common but was withdrawn when the complainant relocated to England and refused to testify. The docket was with IPID.

Petition 4, brought by Mr Waters, related to Norkem Park Police Station, where residents were calling for increased resources to be provided. The number of members at the station was to be increased in the current year as the station had a shortage of 13 members. Promotion posts had been prioritised; 13 additional entry level staff would be employed and the station had been allocated two additional vehicles.

The Chairperson thanked SAPS for comprehensive responses.

Mr Mbhele raised a procedural matter. In light of the concern that he had raised that Mr Waters was not able to attend, he wished to note his objection to the haste with which the petitions had been handled, without input from the petitioner, recorded. The inadequate manner of debating the petitions was not optimum.

Mr Ramatlakane said that the petitioner had to prioritise attendance if the matter was important to him. The Committee could not be hamstrung by a Member’s availability. Mr Mbhele’s request to note the objection could not be recorded as a decision of the Committee as the Committee believed that the matter had been handled. Mr Waters had made a choice as to what was important. He did not want to become engaged in the matter and he was satisfied that the matter had been handled properly and not rushed.

Ms Molebatsi stated that Mr Mbhele did not like things to be done at a slow pace and yet he was complaining about haste. She did not understand.

Mr Maake said that Mr Mbhele was being provocative but that the Committee was not the correct forum. The matter had to be presented to the National Assembly and one person, Mr Waters, could not stop the work not only of the Committee, but also of Parliament. Who was Mr Waters anyway?

The Chairperson appreciated the comments, noting that they had discussed the matter in the first term and then the Committee had indicated that they would have a full discussion with everyone. The programme had been communicated to everyone and it had been on the gazetted list for a number of weeks and no one had indicated that there was a problem.

Mr Mbhele pointed out that Mr Waters had been notified of the request to present only the previous day.

Bloemfontein VIP Unit office accommodation
The Chairperson said the matter was critical if they wanted to improve the living and working conditions of SAPS members. It had dragged on for almost two years. The Committee wanted those members to be accommodated immediately. The Committee had had a briefing a couple of weeks ago and further had received a written report from General Schutte but there was still scoping of the park homes and they were looking at two months ahead. The Committee was of the opinion that the matter was still delayed. The Committee wanted an urgent resolution to the matter so the Committee had asked for an update. They could not have certain groups of members being accommodated under such poor conditions while there was a better system for other SAPS groups. As it had dragged on for over two years, they were concerned about the matter of speed.

The Acting National Commissioner indicated that Major General Rabie would make a presentation.

Major General Leon Rabie, SAPS head of strategic management, explained that the Department of Public Works (DPW) intended to find accommodation by negotiating outright a tender with local landlords. He provided an update that showed that, despite some opposition, the best option as a temporary solution, was the siting of park homes on a DPW site in Bloemfontein. SAPS was waiting for a response from DPW. Lt General Khehla Sithole, Divisional Commissioner: Protection and Security Services, had raised concerns about how long they would stay there, security at the site and the safekeeping of firearms.

Lt General Stefanus Schutte, Deputy National Commissioner: Asset and Legal Management, informed the Committee that late the previous day he had received an email from DPW. After some deliberations, it had been determined that the Crow Street plot would be best venue. The park homes could be re-utilised for other functions once there was permanent accommodation as SAPS in Bloemfontein was experiencing a general shortage of accommodation. Connecting Eskom power and addressing municipal bylaws would take some time. DPW had determined that they would approach National Treasury to negotiate regarding a suitable building in Bloemfontein. DPW said that the unit would move to new premises within three months. SAPS thought that they should move forward with both the park homes and efforts to obtain a new building. DPW had noted that the new landlord of the old building was cooperative and had been facilitating repairs.

General Mothiba had been briefed and he shared the concerns of the Committee that the process was too slow. He wanted to speed up the process but was happy that DPW had responded.

Mr Ramatlakane noted the response. He told the General that the three months’ delay was not going to cut the ice. It had been two years since the Committee had visited the Unit and had made the recommendation for a move. DPW had previously informed the Committee that there was no accommodation available in Bloemfontein. The latest correspondence stated that there was accommodation but they needed to deviate from tender processes. That meant that the information provided the previous time had been incorrect. Somebody was playing games. The Committee had proposed that if there was a park home option into which they could move immediately, they should go with it. The Committee was not going to buy the other option of waiting for another building. What if that option did not succeed, as it had not succeeded for the past two years? What was the timeframe for the move into the park homes? The Committee had made the decision that they should implement the park home solution so why had they not yet moved? Why wait for the briefing? The Committee had expected action. The message had been clear: move those members out. Details about electricity could be done and matters could be waived but the Committee did not need to be bogged down by the details. SAPS management had to go to the municipality about the electricity. They also had to be sure that there was no cost overrun if DPW was negotiating a building. He was worried about the cost of rental in a negotiated solution. He expected that it might be the same owner as that of the original building. He believed that it was not necessary for DPW to go for a direct negotiation as SAPS could stay in park homes for some time. The Committee had been frustrated for two years even after clear direction had been given for management to move the Unit out of the building. How much other frustration was happening that the Committee did not know about? He trusted that General Mothiba would take responsibility for the matter.

Ms L Mabija (ANC) agreed and hoped that it was the last time that they talked about the matter in the Committee as the VIP Unit had to be moved to where they could be safe.

Mr Maake agreed and found the response unacceptable. He quoted “… was anticipated in two months but…” They may get approval from National Treasury in three months. He found the maybe and maybe not unacceptable. The people had to be moved. Well, there was the issue of rules and so on. Even today, it was not clear what is going to happen. The VIP Unit was saying that the Portfolio Committee was useless and the Members might not come back after the elections.

Mr Mbhele asked for a description of the term “park home”. What kind of structure were they looking at? Was it prefab or containers? Could the General explain the fundamental problem? The Committee was only hearing technical and procedural challenges. Were other units or divisions in Bloemfontein facing similar problems? What was it about that particular Unit or building that was causing that challenge? Or was there a more endemic structural issue around leases and property in Bloemfontein? If the park homes were erected, that would also take time and it was still not adequate. If they knew the root cause, the process could be addressed.

The Chairperson agreed with the analysis of General Sithole about the risk of park homes and firearms. He was concerned that the DPW negotiations would lead to a bid from the same building. Those were medium to long term options. What were the short-term options? He was appreciative of the Deputy Minister’s presence. The Committee was not getting a solution. They had reached a stage where they could no longer accept the situation. There was no indication of steps to investigate other options. What about the Peace and Stability cluster? Why was there no interaction with them?

Ms Mabija wanted to know what the real problem was. Was it entrepreneurs, the tenders or what? People were collecting salaries but nothing was happening. What the Committee expected from people, it did not get. What was boiling in the pot that was causing them not to deliver?

Ms M Mmola (ANC) was finding it confusing. Was SAPS paying Public Works for the building that was unhealthy? The personnel present sat in big offices in Pretoria but they had to think about those in Bloemfontein. Who had an interest in that building? It was corruption that they were doing as they kept talking about the building. The next Parliament would have to address the same issue. What was the truth? General Mothiba should follow up. He should tell them the truth.

Mr Ramatlakane had to express displeasure with both Ministers – Police and Public Works. The Committee should send a detailed letter of unhappiness about the matter. The former Minister of Police had understood the problem but the new Minister probably was not aware. He wanted to ask a direct question to the top management. Were they committed to finding a solution? If they were committed, they would find a solution. General Mothiba was central to the matter. He asked General Schutte if was he really committed or was he just saying that it was the problem of Public Works. He queried the statement in the letter that “conditions had changed considerably”. What miracle had happened overnight? He suspected that DPW would simply say that the Unit had to stay there as all the concerns had been addressed. Which person from DPW said so? Was it DPW National or Provincial? And what happened to the meeting with DPW? The Director General had been invited to attend the Committee meeting but had not attended. All the senior administrators had failed, now the Ministers had to be approached. Someone could fly to Bloemfontein, check the building and return. It could be done.

Ms Molebatsi asked what had changed in the condition of the building.

Mr Mbhele noted that the former Minister of Police was the current Minister of Public Works so he would not hold his breath.

General Mothiba stated that it was not negotiable that the Unit would move out but the Lieutenants General would respond. General Schutte said that they had done a lot, even though it had not yielded the results that the Committee wanted but they had a file on the many interactions they had been involved in. There was commitment by SAPS to solve the problem, although there were restrictions. Park homes were fixed structures, and they had been used extensively in the past. They had explained that they were not legally permitted to negotiate leases. They had not gone the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) route but they would explore that route, although it depended on the condition of the SANDF buildings and then there would be processes to follow. The core problem was very difficult. If SAPS had had the power to do as it wanted and they had gone out on tender twice and without response, they would have gone and looked for a supplier and motivated for the supplier. That was what they had to try to push with DPW. DPW had a problem with their bid adjudication committee (BAC). He could not confirm what had happened as he only saw the BAC outcome. He could only infer that it was an issue with BAC. There had to be multiple issues as it could not only be supply. SAPS had to pay Public Works as SAPS did not pay landlords directly. They had asked DPW to apply penalties to the current landlord.

Major General Mathidza, Supply Chain Management, stated that in the Free State they were dealing with the DPW Director of Property Management, Mr Justice Jabari, and at DPW Head Office they were dealing with Mr Paul Serote, Head of Property Management.

Lt General Schutte reiterated that SAPS did not want to stay in the building, even if it had been improved, but the matter had been raised and therefore they had to address it.

Major General Dimpane, Acting Provincial Commissioner: Free State, explained that a visit had been undertaken the previous day with two DPW representatives. The noticeable changes were the replacement of the lift and painting and tiling.

Ms Molebatsi interjected and asked why she had only been to see the building the previous day. Had she only gone because she had to attend today’s Committee meeting.

The General explained that she had visited the building to view the changes. The noticeable change was the lift and she reminded the Committee that the email was from DPW.

Ms Mmola stated that she had a problem with the fact that after two years, Major General Dimpane had only gone to the building the previous day.

The General explained that SAPS was working together with DPW and the day-to-day issues were reported to her. She regularly went with DPW to assist in dealing with the issues at the building. The previous day she had been asked to accompany the DPW National Deputy Director General and Mr Serote to the building.

Ms Molebatsi thought that the problem lay with Public Works so it was useless asking SAPS for their answers. DPW was guilty. Discussing it with SAPS was unnecessary and they were wasting their time. DPW would come with a new strategy after the 2019 elections when there were other elected representatives in the Committee.

The Chairperson said that as the client Department, SAPS, had important information and had to answer certain questions.

In reply to Ms Mmola asking that the Committee call Public Works to a meeting, the Chairperson indicated that the Committee would be calling in DPW.

Lt General Khehla Sithole, Divisional Commissioner: Protection and Security Services (PSS), wanted to correct the impression about improvement of conditions. The previous day the Major General and DPW had held a meeting in the building and noticed the changes to the lift, but had not used it. The building did not meet user specifications and so improvements were irrelevant. The building was also leaking badly. They wanted the Unit out of the building with minimal risk so that they could function normally. The root cause was skewed policy and that needed to be looked at. Policy held them to ransom. The delegation was with Public Works but matters that related to protection and security were all urgent as, when an incident occurred, they had to respond immediately. Yet they were in the hands of DPW and had to wait for them to follow their processes. Lt General Schutte had explained that DPW had their own BAC and SAPS provided the operationally oriented user specifications but DPW did not have the capacity to assess operational liability. They deviated from the specifications. One example of this deviation was the x-ray machine for Parliament. DPW had chosen a Chinese model that had broken after four months. An x-ray machine should have a lifespan of 20 years. DPW policy was the issue. The Committee should look at policy as this was an ongoing issue. DPW deviated from specifications and caused security breaches, but SAPS alone had to account for those security breaches. Those matters that had urgent operational implications should sit with the Police Ministry. They had on their agenda a scheduled time to brief both the Minister and the Acting National Commissioner. He would recommend thereafter an inter-ministerial intervention. The DPW policy impacted on performance. If DPW did not perform, then automatically SAPS did not perform, but SAPS had to account alone to the Committee. There was no performance management system that held DPW accountable.

The Deputy Minister stated that the problem with DPW was broader than this single building and the delivery capacity of DPW in relation to SAPS timeframes. The Ministry was on the ground and people were demanding police stations left and right. DPW was responsible for building police stations. They took 20 years and by then the next development had to take place and those people would not have a building for 20 years. When SAPS requested a renovation of a building, it took at least five years for DPW to do the renovations. People on the ground were not interested in DPW challenges when they wanted a police station. He agreed with Mr Ramatlakane that there should be a Ministerial intervention. He had got the information about the building a long time ago before he was even involved with SAPS. The building in Bloemfontein was a health hazard and could collapse and then who would be to blame? In whose interest was it for SAPS to continue occupying the building? He recommended that the Committee write a letter to the Minister and then the Ministry would ask the police for a full report on the matter. They would then engage with the Minister of Public Works. They could resolve the matter but the question would remain: in whose interest was it that SAPS should stay in the building?

Mr Ramatlakane said the problem was DPW was failing SAPS. He asked if there was capacity in the police to handle the matters. The user specifications indicated the requirements for compliance. If something was not compliant according to the specifications, why had they taken on a building that was non-compliant? SAPS had therefore taken responsibility and absolved DPW. Lt General Sithole had said that the failure was that of DPW. Was it the considered view of SAPS that there had to be a half way house devolution of responsibility to SAPS for operational matters? The Committee could not answer in whose interests they were staying there. SAPS was forced to stay there. The Deputy Minister had hit the nail on the head when he asked in whose interest was the Unit in the building. He thought that the answer seemed to be obvious. Now they were saying that the building had been renovated. The Public Works Director General had to come to a meeting with the Committee. The SAPS senior management had a responsibility for the safety of their members. He wanted to see the DG of DPW at the meeting.

Mr Mbhele agreed that the locus of the problem was with DPW. The other side of the coin of Mr Ramatlakane’s question was what had been done about consequence management for DPW deviating from the specifications. Who would be held responsible for not providing the required specifications? If there was no consequence management, the problem would be repeated. He asked that the Ministry look at enforcing accountability for deviations and non-compliance. Secondly, it sounded as if there was an endemic systemic problem with DPW. Did SAPS believe that there were sections of the DPW that had been “captured” by the private sector?

Mr Maake was not the lawyer of SAPS but he could state that they were being blackmailed. Those who were responsible for the building did not have a clue about operational issues. The building was not workable. DPW had to build a wide range of institutions. The question of policy was at Ministry level and they should just deal with it. The report to the Minister had to be very clear about policy. DPW should not be paid for that building. They should look into the rules and regulations to see if they had to pay for the building. It bordered on corruption.

General Sithole spoke, emphasising police procedure. He pointed out that DPW had an internal policy on procurement and as they followed their processes, there was no provision for intervention by the SAPS National Commissioner because he was from another environment. It raised an issue about procurement dynamics. Within SAPS, they would find a way to resolve the matter, but DPW stood firm on their policy and processes. DPW policy did not allow for another DG to monitor his work. Security risks and operational management was not in the DPW performance agreement. DPW did not account for the risks, only SAPS. Policy did not allow for consequence management for DPW not adhering to specifications. There was no mandate to take action against DPW. SAPS had a seven-year war with DPW when they had built a building but had put in a different specification for bullet proof glass. Only when DPW had finished, did SAPS see that they had deviated from policy.

Lt General R Mokwena, Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, stated that in terms of the devolution of budget, DPW and SAPS had entered into an agreement. They had agreed that only 271 police stations be devolved to SAPS to take responsibility for maintaining and upgrading police stations. From what he had heard from General Sithole and the importance and prestige of the PSS, he did not believe SAPS could take further devolution from DPW unless they got more engineers, more professionals and greater capacity. If they did that, they could apply for devolution and speed up the process. They could advertise on their own and award on their own. The waiting would be done away with.

Lt General Schutte agreed with the Deputy Minister when he stated that it was a broader issue. Funds were devolved to SAPS but DPW had to decide how and when to do things. That approach did not work. The problem with rentals was immense as nothing was devolved with leases. They simply had to hand over to DPW and were at their mercy. The Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) gave DPW the powers to act as custodians and other departments were merely users. On the timeframe, he believed that a quantity surveyor could provide a more accurate timeframe but the indication was that park homes would be useful for the Free State and so, regardless of other options, he believed that they should go ahead with the project and manage the risk of the current building for the two to three months that it would take to make the move. It would be helpful if the urgency of the matter could be conveyed to the DPW principals.

Mr Ramatlakane said that the Committee should agree with the park homes arrangement and that within three months, the Unit had to be out of the building, even if SAPS had to hire a bed and breakfast facility in Bloemfontein, that was what they had to do, but they had to be out. They could drive 45 kilometres out of Bloemfontein to find such a place.

Mr Mbhele said that he personally would condone any irregular expenditure as the Department should not be hamstrung by red tape in handling the matter.

Mr Mokwena warned that matter may take longer than three months unless the two Ministries came together. He reminded the meeting that DPW was responsible for approving the move onto the DPW site.

Ms Molebatsi said that the Committee was a leader of the nation and would not be held up. She had great confidence in the Deputy Minister whom she knew could do a good job and so the Committee should leave it at three months.

The Chairperson reiterated the view of the Committee that SAPS must move as quickly as possible on the park homes. The Committee acknowledged that policy-wise, there needed to be a much more in-depth session. The missing link was DPW and that was why the DG of Public Works had to attend the Committee meeting the following week so the Committee could get commitments from the DG. He understood the difficulties and that SAPS could not monitor DPW but, nevertheless, the Committee needed SAPS members to be more active in dealing with buildings. A task team between DPW and SAPS for monitoring was a possibility. They could start with officials and then the Committee could approach political heads. If the Committee and SAPS Management did not look after SAPS members, people would leave.

General Mothiba concluded, saying that he was happy that the Deputy Minister had been there but he would give a presentation to the Minister and the Deputy Minister on the matter. He confirmed that they were at loggerheads with DPW on a daily basis, and it was in all provinces, not just the Free State.

Committee Programme

The Chairperson said that the agenda for meetings the following week were the SAPS, IPID and PSIRA Third and Fourth Quarterly Reports and IPID’s Section 9 Report as well as requested feedback that IPID had to give the Committee. On Tuesday 20 June, there would be a joint meeting with the Higher Education Committee. On 21 June, they would meet with the Finance Committee to discuss illicit financial flows. There was the matter of the Domestic Violence Act Reports. All outstanding reports, including those from SAPS and the Civilian Secretariat, were to be submitted as there had been a considerable number of attacks on women and children in the past few months. The Reports had to be signed by the Executive Authority and submitted to Parliament. The Committee had also received a request to look specifically at the policing of gangs around the country, but with special reference to the Western Cape.

Meeting was adjourned.

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