Domestic Violence Act annual reports

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

The Committee was briefed by the Civilian Secretariat for Police on the statistics relating to the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) as required on a bi-annual basis by the legislation. Despite previous outstanding reports, the reports tabled and discussed in the meeting showed that there were significant challenges that the South African Police Service (SAPS) faced in complying with the prescripts of the Act.

An outstanding finding was that none of the 546 police stations surveyed had achieved 100% compliance ratings. Furthermore, a total of 185 SAPS members were reported to have been offenders of domestic violence within the police stations visited. The Western Cape had recorded the highest number, with 74 members, and KwaZulu-Natal had recorded the lowest number, with two members.

It had also been found that about 84% of the police stations visited had a Victim Support Centre (VSC), but the functionality of these centres varied. Half of them were fully functioning and open and available for use 24 hours daily, and had resources as stipulated in the national instructions, while 19% had functioning VSCs but were not fully resourced. Of the rest, 15% of the stations had a VSC that was not functional and instead used for purposes other than victim support services, and 16% did not have VSCs at all.

The Chairpersons of both the Police and Women in the Presidency Portfolio Committees questioned the validity of the SAPS report, expressing scepticism over certain statistics which showed unrealistic figures which in no way correlated with the reality of domestic violence cases which were reported.

The Committee was briefed by the Wits City Institute on police accountability. The Institute’s study interrogated what oversight had changed in the policing of domestic violence, how oversight of the policing of domestic violence had changed between 2000 and 2016, and ultimately what needed to change in the policing of domestic violence. It had drawn information from annual and other reports produced for Parliament by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) and the SAPS over the past 16 years. It had found that the SAPS reports were mostly inadequate, and the report of the ICD was the most detailed in assessing police accountability. It was pointed out that the Committee had followed up on the implementation of the DVA only in 2007, which was seven years after its enactment, and that more frequent oversight was necessary.

The Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), in assessing police performance, found that station commanders displayed some knowledge and understanding of the key challenges relating to gender-based violence in their areas. However, they were largely unfamiliar with some of the key national policy and legislative frameworks, other than the DVA, in dealing with gender-based violence and violence against children and women. Regarding the institutional capacity and gender-based violence-related internal structures, it had been found that the most common institutional set-up in most of the stations was the VSC, but these appeared to be understaffed and under-resourced. It was also found that police stations did not have clear, coherent and well-defined long-term strategies to tackle the scourge of domestic violence, and many of the stations admitted that domestic violence was escalating.

The CGE and the Wits City Institute made recommendations, including more frequent oversight and multisectoral coordination and policy development, harsher sanctions for misconduct and non-compliance, and the linkage of DVA compliance by SAPS members to their performance bonus, promotion and incentive prospects.

SAPS said that it had a designated division which looked into all proposals and recommendations, and it would be sure to explore the recommendations put forward by the delegations.

Committee Members and guests from the Women in the Presidency, expressed their disapproval at the way in which SAPS was losing the war against gender-based violence. They urged that greater compliance be emphasized through policy development, member training and harsher disciplinary measures. 

Meeting report

The Chairperson said the delegates from the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Department of Women in the Presidency, the Wits City Institute and the Commission on Gender Equality (CGE) would each be given the opportunity to present, and a discussion session would be held after completion of all the presentations.

As a preface to the SAPS presentation, it was explained that SAPS had a legislative mandate in terms of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) to report to Parliament twice yearly to report on compliance and non-compliance with the prescripts of the DVA, as well as to state what had happened in terms of disciplinary action against members. The last report was tabled on 29 February 2016 to this Committee. At today’s meeting, however, SAPS had tabled a report for the period April 2015 until the end of September 2015, and also to March 2016. To date there were still two reports outstanding but the Ministry had indicated they took full responsibility and those reports would be tabled as soon as possible. Those reports that had not yet been tabled could therefore not be discussed at the meeting and would be dealt with in a meeting which would be scheduled for August 2017.

SAPS DVA Report: April 2015/March 2016

Lt Gen Nobesuthu Masiye, Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing, said the report presented the status of DVA implementation by the SAPS based on oversight visits conducted at 546 police stations across the nine provinces during the period 1 April 2015 to 30 March 2016. However, of the 546 stations, there were 58 that were not fully captured. The main reason for this discrepancy was that while follow up visits were conducted to monitor implementation of recommendations in most police stations, a different version of the data capturing spreadsheet was utilised in these police stations

Even though there was no police station that had achieved a 100% level of compliance, the level of compliance was improving, with the majority of the stations falling within the significant compliance level, with an average of 80.6%.

The following police stations still achieved compliance levels below 50%: Petrusburg; Steunmekaar; Roadside (Free State); Tshitale; Gravelotte; Matlala; Gilead (Limpopo); Kwaggafontein; Sakhile; Vaalbank; Amsterdam; Ogies (Mpumalanga); Beisiesvlei; Vryburg and Makapanstad (North West).

About 374 police stations of those visited had functional Victim Friendly Room (VFR), even though 96 of those were not fully resourced.

She clarified that misconduct and non-compliance referred to failure by members of the SAPS to comply with the obligation imposed in terms of the Act or the National instruction 7/1999. For the 2015/16 term, the Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Northern Cape had shown no non-compliance and accordingly no disciplinary processes, while the Free State had reported 64 cases of non-compliance and 62 disciplinary proceedings. KwaZulu-Natal had one reported case non-compliance and one disciplinary proceeding, while Limpopo with the highest number of cases of non-compliance, with 130 cases reported and 115 disciplinary proceedings. North West had 12 cases of non-compliance and 11 disciplinary proceedings, and the Western Cape 28 cases of non-compliance, and 22 disciplinary processes.

Of the 488 stations visited, a total of 185 SAPS members were reported to have been domestic violence offenders. The Western Cape recorded the highest number, with 74 members, and KwaZulu-Natal recorded the lowest number, with two members.

The Firearms Control Act (FCA) stated that a person who in the past five years had been served with a protection order in terms of the DVA, or had been visited by a police official concerning allegations of violence in the applicant’s home, did not qualify to possess a firearm. Based on this clause, SAPS had an obligation to remove firearms from any member who had a case of domestic violence or a protection order against them. The number of SAPS members whose firearms had been seized in terms of this clause amounted to 50 members overall out of the 185 SAPS members who had been reported. SAPS members were treated equally to civilian offenders in respect of the FCA.

In conclusion, DVA compliance by the SAPS had not yet reached full compliance level, however, the SAPS was showing some commitment to improve the status. In respect of regulatory compliance, maintenance of documents at the CSC had improved, however completion of the relevant forms and registers still poses a challenge. Non compliance by the SAPS members was still very high even though the numbers reflected were based only on police stations visited. Insufficient provision of EHW services for SAPS members was a concern as access to this service would ensure that members that were offenders of DV were provided with the necessary rehabilitating services.

In response, an evaluation project would be carried out in 2017/18 by the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) on SAPS non-compliance to explore why the level of non compliance was not decreasing, despite a series of interventions by both the SAPS and the CSP.

Consequentially, the Secretariat recommended that SAPS management should strengthen their role of inspecting registers and ensure that corrective measures were outlined for members who continuously failed to comply. Also that the SAPS national office should fast-track the process of providing VFRs to those police stations that did not have enough office space, and that all members should be encouraged to attend the compulsory Employee Health and Wellness (EHW) sessions at least once every six months. This would assist in managing issues of ‘burn out’ and equip members with skills to deal with their emotional and psychological needs.


The Chairperson remarked that these figures could not be a true reflection of what was happening on the ground. He questioned whether the statistics were truly representative of the state of affairs because for 100% compliance to have been found in Mpumalanga and Gauteng was unrealistic, given experience and general news reporting on these issues.

Ms T Memela (ANC), Chairperson of Women in the Presidency, said that she shared the Chairperson’s sentiments, because from her own experience the statistics were not representative.

SAPS DVA Report: April/September 2016

This report presented the status of DVA implementation and compliance by the SAPS based on oversight station visits conducted on 246 police stations across the country during the period of 1 April up until 30 September 2016.

Again, there was no police station that achieved full compliance. However, the majority of the police stations – 137 -- had achieved partial compliance level, which was between 50% and 69%, while 71 police stations achieved significant compliance level which fell between 70% and 99%.
Out of the 39 police stations rated as non-compliant, 13 were from the Eastern Cape; nine from the Free State; six from the Northern Cape; three from Limpopo; and two stations each from Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.

The other area where police stations were assessed was their ability to serve Protection Orders (POs) immediately after issuing them, as stipulated in the DVA. What had been found was that there were POs that were outstanding for longer than two months in 25% (62) of the police stations visited, while in 75% of the stations protection orders were served within two months.

It had also been found that about 84% of the police stations visited had a VFR, but their degree of functionality varied. The VFR was fully functioning in 50% of the police stations, indicating that they were open and available for use 24 hours daily, and had resources as stipulated in the National Instructions 2 of 2012, whilst 19% had functioning VFRs that were not fully resourced. Otherwise, 15% of the stations had a VFR, but they were not functional and were instead used for purposes other than victim support services. Furthermore, 16% of the police stations did not have a VFR.

112 non-compliances were recorded at 11 police stations, of which 111 were administrative non-compliances, and one an operational non-compliance. The latter was recorded at Williston Police Station, where a member had refused to assist a victim of domestic violence. The Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal did not have any records of non-compliance. Disciplinary processes had been instituted on non-compliant members and their outcomes recorded within the police stations.

During the monitoring visits, it was often found that there were members who were offenders of domestic violence against their partners. The findings indicated that majority of the victims (20) opted to apply for a PO, of which two were final and 18 still interim during the time of the visit to the relevant police stations. Furthermore, 19 criminal cases had been opened against members, of which two were later withdrawn by the complainants.

The findings also had shown that 22 firearms had been seized, despite the fact that 26 PO applications had been made by complainants. Another area of concern was the minimal number of disciplinary actions instituted against members who had DVA incidents reported against them. The findings reflected that only ten disciplinary processes were initiated from the total incidents reported. Two cases were withdrawn by the complainants. Arising from these two cases, one member had resigned.

SAPS was recording more administrative non-compliance by members, as the report reflected that 111 administrative non-compliances were recorded. This was a positive step and an indication that SAPS management was committed to addressing non-compliance by members with the provisions of the DVA. SAPS still faced a challenge of members who were reported to be offenders of domestic violence, and based on the low number of internal disciplinary proceedings initiated against these members, it appeared that SAPS’s handling of this process did not effectively address the challenge, nor ensure that members were held accountable for actions that were not in line with the SAPS disciplinary regulations.

It was recommended that SAPS Provincial Commissioners strengthen their internal monitoring mechanism to enable timeous identification and provision of remedies for areas where SAPS was still failing to comply. Also, Station Commanders should ensure full adherence and compliance to the provisions of the DVA and related national instructions, and take decisive disciplinary action against members who failed to comply or were themselves offenders in domestic violence incidents. The Station Commanders should ensure that members served POs to the alleged perpetrators immediately after they were issued by the courts, or at the earliest possible time. The SAPS Provincial Commissioners and Cluster Commanders should take decisive disciplinary action against Station Commanders who failed to comply with the provisions of the DVA and national instructions. This was required, considering the low number of firearms seized despite the issuing of POs against such members and the low number of internal disciplinary proceeding initiated related thereto. The SAPS Supply Chain Management Division should also provide the infrastructure and support necessary to ensure the provisions of victim friendly services in all police stations in line with the provisions of the national instruction on victim empowerment.


The Chairperson said that the issue raised earlier with regard to the validity of the statistics still stood. The documents presented to Parliament needed to have gone through quality assurance before being brought for presentation, and it was evident that these documents had not been through this process.

Ms P Bhengu (ANC) said that to her, as a Whip of the Women in Presidency, the report was shocking, and she agreed that Statistics SA should be present at the next meeting because the reports presented by the Secretariat did not contain sufficient or reliable information. She remarked that many programmes had been established to address the issues of domestic violence, but it seemed no actual progress had been made to eradicate this evil. 

Wits City Institute: Police Accountability

Ms Lisa Vetten, of the Wits City Institute, explained that she had drawn information from annual and other reports produced for Parliament by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) and the South African Police Service (SAPS) over the past 16 years, with additional data drawn from Parliamentary minutes, reports, court decisions and media reports in this study.

The study had interrogated:

What oversight had changed in the policing of domestic violence;
How oversight of the policing of domestic violence had changed between 2000 and 2016; and
What needed to change in the policing of domestic violence.

She said that oversight was a way of looking at what had changed, and whether the law had the effect envisioned. She remarked that oversight should stop being treated as a private issue.

The ICD’s data showed that from the period 1 January 2002 up until December 2011, it had recorded 1 403 complaints of police non-compliance with the DVA, with three-quarters of these representing the failure to ensure complainants’ safety. The record of a 52.1% failure rate in arresting the abuser was the most frequent complaint, and there was a 13.6% refusal to open criminal cases. There was also a 12.3% finding of a neglect of assistance to survivors of domestic violence in finding suitable shelter or obtaining medical treatment. This also included cases where the police did not escort victims to collect their personal property, nor seized dangerous weapons from the abuser.

For the period of 1 January 2006 up until 31 December 2011, SAPS had provided no information to the ICD in 67% of the 694 domestic violence complaints submitted during this period. By comparison, a review of 573 general class IV complaints lodged between the ICD’s inception and 2007, had found that SAPS had responded to 50.2% of recommendations in this category of complaints.

The CSP had recorded a total of 22 complaints over 12 months from three provinces, and there had been a 77% decline in the number (94) recorded in its final 12-month reporting period. There were 27 complaints by the third six-monthly report from four provinces, in which not one of the complaints recorded in the second and third reports were forwarded to the CSP by the SAPS, but rather were identified by CSP monitors in the course of their station audits. These numbers undercounted the extent of misconduct. The CSP found 49 complaints for the period between 1 April 2011 and 30 September 2012, and in the SAPS there were 280 DVA-related cases of misconduct between 1 July 2011 and 30 September 2012.
She added that because cases were not referred to the CSP or provincial departments of community safety, the CSP could not issue recommendations to the SAPS around the handling of those cases. There was also no information regarding the nature of the misconduct.
In 2013, SAPS had found that three provinces had reported no misconduct between July 2011 and March 2012, while the Western Cape had alone recorded 186 cases of misconduct. In 2014/15, four provinces reported no misconduct and in 2015/16, 814 cases of misconduct from all nine provinces were reported. Furthermore, the CSP had identified 235 cases from station audits. There were, however, no details about the nature of the misconduct

She said that in comparison, it seemed that the ICD report was the most detailed.

She said that the Portfolio Committee had followed up on the implementation of the DVA only in 2007, which was seven years after its enactment. Looking at how oversight had been conducted over the years, in 2009 there had been the submission of the Auditor-General’s report on SAPS and DVA, public hearings by the Portfolio Committee for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, and the first court case against the SAPS in the Eastern Cape. In 2011, the Committee had invited non-governmental organisation (NGO) representations, and there was a SAPS circular on duties issued. In 2012, oversight was transferred from the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to the CSP, which saw a loss of the independent complaints mechanism and ultimately weakening of oversight. There was also a workshop around SAPS processes and a discussion of strategy, as well as the establishment of a CSP-SAPS forum. In 2013, there was an increase in the size of the SAPS DVA training programme and another SAPS circular issued. In 2016, regulations were gazetted to enable provincial DoCS to accept complaints

With regard to protection orders (POs), in 2009 one in 20 of the women who were killed by their intimate partners had a protection order. In 2010 in Johannesburg 2010, a man had killed his two children and committed suicide while his estranged wife, who had been informed of his intentions, begged the police to act on her protection order. In 2012, a woman was stabbed to death by her ex-boyfriend, following a long history of abuse, which included burning her house down prior to the attack. Police had failed to arrest her former partner following any of these incidents. In 2015, the SAPS had been ordered to pay damages to a woman who had been assaulted and arrested by a police member after she attempted to lay charges of assault against her husband at Lenasia South in Gauteng. In 2016, the police had settled out of court for an undisclosed sum following a woman’s murder, again after multiple unsuccessful attempts to persuade the Sophiatown SAPS to act on a protection order. In Kuils River, Western Cape, there was a kidnapping and rape of a woman estranged from her partner, as well as the murder of the couple’s child, as a result of the failure to act on a protection order.

This had raised a considerable amount of questions. What had happened to the domestic violence strategy? How could the Committee open space for fresh ideas and approaches to policing?

Ms Vetten also asked what had happened to the policy on reducing barriers to reporting sexual offences and domestic violence. She said that one of the recommendations had been that police performance evaluations needed to look at what was being done to comply with the DVA, and the score should accordingly affect performances bonuses, because this was one way to attract compliance with regulation. It also raised questions as to how better oversight could be exercised over the provinces and what the role of the National Council of Provinces (NCoP) and provincial legislatures were on this issue. Furthermore, had the National Instruction 7/1999 been amended to reflect the changes from the ICD to CSP, and had the internal directives been issued? She questioned how SAPS could use their data to provide better policing services and also how the CSP could be made more effective.

Commission for Gender Equality Report

The Secretary of the CGE said that the presentation was the overview of a finalized report produced earlier this year, based on work carried out in the 2016/17 financial year.

He said that the work of the SAPS, with specific focus on police station programmes and initiatives to combat violence against woman in their areas of jurisdiction, was finally being assessed through this study. The SAPS was a critical stakeholder in the fight to prevent crime in general and to combat gender based violence in particular. It was tasked as a key institution, in terms of the “365 days” programme in the National Action Plan (NAP) to address a number of key objectives, such as strengthening the capacities of existing prevention programmes, focusing on the development and implementation of prevention and intervention programmes, and putting in place mechanisms against gender-based violence and violence against woman and children.
The NAP assigned SAPS the responsibility to ensure that domestic violence was not confined to the private family sphere, but addressed as a crime and a public health issue. The SAPS’s five-year strategic plan (2014-2019) included among its objectives a reduction in the level of crimes against women, children and other vulnerable groups by 2% per annum. In additional, the SAPS had legal and administrative tools to execute its mandate of implementing national laws against crime and violence in the form of the South African Police Service Act, the SAPS five-year strategic plan (2014- 2019), the national orders and instructions, provincial orders and instructions, station orders and station priority.

The objective of this study was thus to assess the work of state institutions in their efforts and plans to combat gender-based violence, to examine the relevant national and local interventions and to scrutinize the work of selected SAPS stations and their compliance with the provisions of the DVA.
The assessment was primarily qualitative and made use of in-depth interviews with station commanders, deputies and related officials, as well as inspection of relevant official documentation. A total of 12 stations across four provinces were initially identified and approached, but only six of those had agreed to participate in the study. The stations that were approached were Seshego Police Station and Lebowakgomo in Limpopo, Berlin and East London in the Eastern Cape, and Rustenburg and Boitekong in North West. These stations were selected specifically from areas which serviced large communities, both urban and rural, with high rates of gender-based violence reporting.

The study focused on three key thematic areas -- strategic leadership, institutional capacity and gender-based violence-related internal structures, and relevant intervention programmes and initiatives.

With regard to strategic leadership, at six of the police stations, five male and one female holding the positions of station commander displayed some knowledge and understanding of key challenges relating to gender-based violence in their areas. However, it was found that they were largely unfamiliar with some of the key national policy and legislative frameworks, other than the DVA, in dealing with gender-based violence and violence against children and women.

It was also found that alcohol and substance abuse were key causal factors leading to various crimes such as sexual assaults, rape, attempted rape and intimidation, but that actual figures relating to these occurrences were not readily available from the officials. Furthermore, station leadership was able to provide explanations as to what the underlying causes of domestic violence and violence against women and children were, but were unable to translate this knowledge into strategy that could be implemented on the ground. The most common response to strategy across the six stations was awareness-raising campaigns, but the effectiveness of these campaigns could not be attested to by the station commanders. East London police station was the only station that claimed their awareness campaign was yielding positive results.

Regarding institutional capacity and gender-based violence-related internal structures, it was found that the most common institutional set-up in most of the stations was the Victim Support Centre (VSC) but these appeared to be understaffed. The Rustenburg station had only one volunteer and the relationship between that volunteer and the domestic violence/crime prevention officer was found to be unclear. The VSC also generally lacked basic resources and there was no guarantee of effectiveness in their operations. The stations that had family violence, child protection and sexual offences units appeared overstretched and working on too wide a variety of problems. The VSC and family and child support (FCS) units were largely post-incident support structures, while police stations had limited proactive capacity to deal with gender-based violence.

Police stations did not have clear, coherent and well-defined long-term strategies to tackle the scourge of domestic violence, and many of the stations admitted that domestic violence was escalating at the time of the study. Leadership of the police stations were largely not familiar with multi-sectoral or interdepartmental programmes to inform their work on gender-based violence, which consequently limited their capacity to develop appropriate long-term and effective strategic responses to gender-based violence.

It was therefore necessary for the SAPS to develop an internal national programme of action to educate and sensitise its senior officers, especially station commanders, deputy station commanders and other related personnel, on key national policy and legislative frameworks dealing with gender-based violence and violence against women. Such an internal programme should also focus attention on clearly defining the role of the SAPS in general and that of police stations on the ground, in implementing national programmes of action to combat gender-based violence and violence against women.
The SAPS should strive to develop and enhance current multi-sectoral arrangements with other key departments and institutions such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), to enhance inter-departmental collaborative working relations to address the scourge of gender based violence and violence against women.

The SAPS should draw up internal guidelines on the establishment of appropriate and well-resourced internal units to enhance the capacity of individual police stations for effective pro-active interventions -- through prevention and response programmes -- to deal with gender-based violence or violence against women. This could include reviewing and enhancing the effectiveness of VSCs to equip them with the necessary capacity for effective pro-active interventions and responses.

SAPS police stations should provide appropriate training to senior as well as ordinary police officers to equip them with the necessary skills to plan for, and implement, effective medium to long term programmes of action to combat violence against women in their policing precincts.


Ms Manemela said that SAPS was failing women. She asked which schedule, in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, perpetrators of domestic violence were being charged with, because if it were made a more serious offence then it would have the effect sending a message to the community that gender-based violence and violence against women and children had to come to an end. She also said that this over-protection of SAPS members involved in perpetuating the issue of gender-based violence was not acceptable, and should not be tolerated.

The question of what schedule was being used remained unanswered, as no one in the SAPS delegation was able to give the appropriate answer,

Ms D Robinson (DA: Women in the Presidency) said that domestic violence needed to be approached from a more caring and empathetic perspective, and that one needed to get rid of the officiousness with which domestic violence was dealt.

Ms M Molebetsi (ANC) said that the disciplinary steps taken showed that SAPS is not serious about combating the issue of domestic violence, because sanctions went from written warnings to nothing more. Non-compliance was equivalent to misconduct, and she wanted to know what the sanctions or remedy for non-compliance would be. She asked how long it took for a protection order to be served. Finally, she wanted to know from the CGE what exactly had been found in the Berlin case study, because the last time the Committee was there, there were 22 children who had been raped but not been helped.

Ms M Mmola (ANC) said that the results showed that there was no care for woman and children. She asked the SAPS when the last victim empowerment training had been held and for the number of participants in that training programme. Were there specific dates for national dialogue, as proposed by SAPS? She asked what steps would be taken against station commanders for non-compliance with the DVA, what the reasons were for not seizing firearms from SAPS members who were also perpetrators of domestic violence, and what SAPS’s response was to the fact that there had been a total of 66 complaints against SAPS members in relation to domestic violence cases. She also questioned the inaccuracy of the SAPS presentation, asking how it could be possible that 641 members were under departmental investigation, but none had been found guilty and also none had been found not guilty.

Prof said that the war against gender-based violence was being lost because there was so much laxity on the part of the authorities. The strategies lacked effectiveness and he had heard nothing fundamental from any of the recommendations put forward. The recommendations such as training and education were viable, but long-term. At present, however, people were dying from domestic violence and something urgently needed to be done about it. Victims would generally rely on the police, but if the police themselves were perpetrators people would just give up and not report domestic violence and perpetuate the persistence and escalation of gender-based violence and violence against women and children. Another of his concerns was that sanctions were a mere slap on the wrist, since people were being given mere written warnings.

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said that there was a dedicated section in the report of the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry dealing with recommendations that had national applicability to improve the performance of the police in handling domestic violence. He wanted to know whether the SAPS team was aware of these recommendations, and if they had been circulated in order to feed into the review process. He said that the slides dealing with capacity building were merely theory and policy, but judging by the non-compliance and under-performance indicators from the CGE and Community Active Protection (CAP) reports, it was quite clear that there was a gap between theory and practice in that implementation was not comprehensive and consistent. There really was no need for another national dialogue or talk shop -- what was needed was training, capacitation, implementation and to get the basics right by following policies and strategies as they existed. National dialogue was therefore not a priority.

Mr Mbhele said the SAPS presentation stated that the National Commissioners needed to report to Parliament every six months, but this had not been the case. He wanted to know why the reports were outstanding and what challenges SAPS was having around compliance with that obligation and the implementation of the DVA in general. Also, in terms of the National Development Plan, there was a proposal for the roll out of community safety centres and although not yet comprehensively defined, they had the potential to serve as a hub for multi-sectoral partners to address issues such as this. He proposed to SAPS that it could be used to house safety shelters for victims of gender-based violence and domestic abuse, and possibly a more appropriate venue for VSCs.

Finally, he asked the SAPS to respond to Ms Vetten’s contention that an internal blockage within the SAPS was perhaps being caused by the fact that their directives and instructions had not reflected the change in the wording from the ICD to CSP and if so, when would that be fixed because that was a very simple administrative issue to address. He also asked if compliance with the DVA was an explicit indicator in the performance agreements of station commanders and station performance charts, because this was one of the recommendations in the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry. Since this fed into incentives, bonuses and promotions, it should be a consideration. He also questioned at what level the investigations were taking place to ensure that there was not a “buddy system” being operated when investigating issues of misconduct.

The Chairperson asked whether provinces should perhaps play a more secretarial role in advising the Ministry on the lacunas in the current legislation and regulations, as according to the proposal by Ms Vetten, the inclusion of provinces would lead to greater compliance with the DVA and ensure that all the provinces had the same approach. He asked who was responsible for oversight at the national level, because a lot of the issues relating to domestic violence were about the broader society and how one deal with the conflict within it. The police dealt with the by-products, but the main issue was social development which was critical in addressing the symptom, which was domestic violence.

SAPS Response

Lt Gen Masiye admitted that domestic violence was a critical area for policing, and that the SAPS did face a myriad of challenges in executing the mandate of policing domestic violence. SAPS would sincerely engage with the recommendations made in the presentations.

It was very concerning to her that six stations had refused the visit by the CGE. It was unacceptable, and she would be requesting reports from those station commanders to take her through their reason for the refusal.

One of the main issues relating to VSCs was funding. She said that a blockage had been encountered from the sponsors.

She said it could not be true that members did not want to be exposed to psychological assessment in the course of application for promotion. Psychological assessment was never used against members when considering promotion because if that were the case, no one from the SAPS delegation would hold the position they had today. They needed to be assessed periodically, because the nature of their job of policing exposes them to situations which were not always psychologically favourable. Furthermore, the course which a member needed to undergo included ones in psychology, which address the need for sensitivity in policing domestic violence. Most of the SAPS members who were found to be insufficiently sensitive towards issues of domestic violence were male colleagues. They were exposed to sensitivity training, but it was not always easy for them to put themselves in the shoes of the victims. However, this must be done because domestic violence was a very serious issue. 523 members of the SAPS had been trained this year in specific courses, such as the Victim Empowerment, the Women at Risk, and the Human Rights training programmes.

In response to Ms Molebatsi, she said that protection orders needed to be issued and served immediately, and that in instances where this had not been the case, these would be investigated as to why they had not been done according to the regulation. The national instruction which stipulated this would be made available to the Members at a later stage.

When the victim had a PO, it was registered by a dedicated member who was responsible for ensuring compliance with the order. The disciplinary action taken against members might show less interest, but it must be put on record that it was usually an administrative error where the register had not been correctly or fully completed in time. Those were the errors for which written warnings were given. That written warning stayed in the file of the member for six months, and required that the member never repeated that same error, as well as that the member attended remedial instruction to better their compliance with the task at hand.

Regarding non-compliance and misconduct, she said that charged members were given written and verbal warnings, and in more serious cases they faced discharge and dismissal with fines.

In response to Ms Mmola, she said that the specific date for the dialogue was dependent on the availability of the Minister, whose office had indicated that he would be available in August. The specific date would be shared with the Committee in writing once it had been confirmed.

The reason for not seizing the firearms of perpetrators was that the firearms of the members were issued within SAPS. Of the 108 firearms seized, the difference in numbers reflected those members who had not had SAPS-issued firearms. SAPS had now instructed divisions to immediately seize firearms of any person, private or SAPS member, who had been declared unfit to possess a firearm.. There was currently a backlog because systems were being cleaned, but with SAPS members, both private and SAPS firearms were seized if they were found to be perpetrators of violence.

In response to Mr Mbhele, she said that there was a SAPS team to check all recommendations, including those of the Khayelitsha inquiry. With the dialogue, there were aims and objectives that were sought, so it could not be suspended. When the dialogue was finished and a report submitted, the Committee would have access to insight on what the challenges were that the SAPS faced in implementing the DVA.

She said that the National Commissioners’ reports had been submitted to the office of the Ministry, but unfortunately ‘things’ happened along the way, and they had not been tabled. The only report actually outstanding was the one which had not yet been reported to the Committee, but that report was also at the Ministry.

The issue of the name change from ICD to CSP had been corrected in 2012.

Compliance with the DVA was one of the performance indicators in agreements and monitoring in the annual operations plan of visible policing. The level at which complaints and misconduct was investigated were at the station level, where the Cluster Commander would appoint an investigator and a presiding officer to deal with the case.

She said that actionable steps were taken against station commanders who did not comply with the DVA. She could make available a report listing those station commanders who faced disciplinary action.

Where police stations lacked facilities to take statements from victims, the approach was very clear. The victims needed to be taken to a separate area for their statement to be taken.

In response to Ms Robinson, she said there were specialised people in some of the victim support centres specifically to assist vulnerable groups such as the deaf and blind. She admitted that there was an inadequate number of SAPS members trained in sign language, so utilisation of specialised professionals at the VSCs were integral in assisting stations in this regard.

Ms Robinson commented that a member of Deaf South Africa had received humiliating treatment and been mocked when she had approached a police station to report a case. She asked if any action had followed from that.

Lt Gen Masiye said that she did not know about that incident, but agreed that it was not acceptable and she would make sure that a follow-up was made.

She said that the SAPS had taken note of the proposals made by Ms Vetten.

The Secretary for the SAPS delegation said that it had been decided that in the upcoming August report they would do verification of the information received from the provinces, instead of relying on the spreadsheets supplied. There were also quarterly meetings of the Heads of Departments (HoDs) and other HoD forums and bi-monthly meetings with the provincial secretaries in which uniformity would be sure to become a standing topic of the agenda. The compliance forum had been resuscitated at the provincial and national levels to ensure coordination happened effectively.

He said that regulations established which reference groups should be operative, one of which was a reference group relating to the DVA. In the last year, there had been no meeting with that reference group, which included Ms Vetten, but the SAPS now realised that it could have been a very valuable engagement.

The Chairperson said that another meeting of this kind would be held in August 2017, when the provinces would also be invited to engage.

The meeting was adjourned.

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