The South African Police Service (SAPS) outlined the gang problems that the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape are facing, detailing the nature of these gangs. The National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy, approved in early 2017, is based on four key areas to promote a holistic and multi governmental approach: Human Development; Social Partnerships; Spatial Design; and the Criminal Justice Process. From SAPS perspective, focus is placed on the Criminal Justice Process. The briefing gave a breakdown of successes of each province, detailing the number of arrests, confiscations, and convictions as well as looking at the actions in community mobilisation, intelligence gathering and crime prevention. SAPS said although there are still challenges within some areas, there have been successes in dealing with the problem. The holistic approach is yet to be achieved in full but the need for an overarching, multidisciplinary, governmental approach is essential to fully tackle the problem.
Members queried if specialised training is given to SAPS members involved in tackling gangs. Questions also arose about the conviction versus the arrest rate as the conviction rate was significantly lower. Members stated that the operational approach appears to focus on disruption rather than neutralisation of gang activity. A more innovative policing approach is needed such as using 24 hour drone surveillance of druglord houses. Members showed particular interest in the status of the Impi Project, tackling gun racketeering in the Western Cape and noted the lack of success in the Western Cape. Concern was raised about how SAPS dealt with members who colluded with gang members as consistent and strong enforcement of accountability and consequence management is needed. The Chairperson said the big question is what is being done to deal with the syndicates.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) returned to provide a fuller briefing than the one they had presented at the previous week’s meeting. The briefing focused on the establishment of the Illegal Firearms Specialised Unit by DPCI, detailing its background, the interim capacity and successes.
Members were keen to know when this process was likely to be finalised.
SAPS explained an analysis of expenditure trends for past years before focusing on first quarter of 2017/18. They explained the current focus of their spending and highlighted that budget cuts are starting to be felt throughout SAPS. In response to previous concerns by the Committee, IT equipment and vehicles were highlighted and it was emphasised that both of these items are in progress with vehicles due to be delivered in November and the IT equipment is currently awaiting necessary documentation but the equipment is with Supply Chain Management.
SAPS focused on the Maj Gen Mokushane case and the allegations of misconduct before moving on to plans to improve and ensure the vetting of SAPS Senior Management.
Members were keen to know when the DPCI Firearms Unit process was likely to be finalised; why farm murders had not been made a priority crime; what affected spending patterns and if the budget was devised looking at the needs on the ground; non-cooperation with workplace obligations such as Mokushane’s secretary were noted as shocking as was SAPS senior management not complying with the vetting process. The comment was made that SAPS is not some hippy ashram where people do not do what they do not feel like doing. Is there consistent and strong enforcement of accountability and consequence management within SAPS?
The Chairperson reminded members of the joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources on 25 August on illegal miners. Next week’s meeting would be moved as it clashed with an international women’s conference taking place in Parliament. The Chairperson expressed sincere condolences to the Minister of Police and his family, over the passing of his mother.
Anti-Gang Briefing by SAPS
Lt Gen Sehlahle Masemola, Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, said that gangsterism in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape was a major cause for concern. He explained the definition of a gang and ran through the number of gangs identified in each province. He noted that gangs in other provinces are informal and less structured.
Lt Gen Masemola explained that the National Anti-Gangsterism Strategy was approved by Cabinet in February 2017. The Strategy is based on four pillars: Human Development; Social Partnerships; Spatial Design; and Criminal Justice Process. These four pillars should include law enforcement, social crime prevention and environmental design programmes and projects, using a holistic approach to address all factors involved in gang-related crime. SAPS focus predominantly on the Criminal Justice Process by working on four key action areas: Community mobilisation and safety; Intelligence gathering and coordination; Crime prevention and combating approach; and Investigation of gang-related cases. SAPS acts as the coordinating department and has the responsibility of collating and verifying the submitted data.
Lt Gen Masemola outlined the policy and legal framework for the strategy, detailing the departments involved and the overarching policies on which the strategy is based. He highlighted successes in law enforcement through continuous operations against gang violence in the northern areas of PE, the southern areas of Durban and northern and southern areas of Cape Town, which have seen prominent gang leaders and members being arrested, prosecuted and convicted, although the National Anti-Gang Strategy has not yet achieved the desired holistic effect. He detailed the nature of the gangs and focus of their activities as found in each province before explaining what has been done in community mobilisation, intelligence gathering and crime prevention in each province. He ran through the statistics for the successes of each province, detailing the number of arrests, confiscations and convictions.
Special operations are conducted with Designated Firearms Officers (DFOs) to ensure firearm compliance at firearm dealers and deceased estates and stated that this had been of particular success in the Western Cape. Problems surrounding gangsterism are deeply rooted and therefore an overarching, multidisciplinary, governmental approach is needed in order to fully tackle the problem. He also noted that although there are still issues within some areas, there have been successes in dealing with the problem in other areas.
The Chairperson stated that the thesis of the presentation is that gangs are localised. He asked why Gauteng was noted as not being a prominent area. He queried SAPS perspective that gangs seem to be more of a franchised model nowadays. He noted that dealing with gangs was a specialised area as demonstrated by the Committee visit to the Eastern Cape. He asked if there was a SAPS initiative to ensure that members who operate in that environment have specialised training. He questioned what was being done from a strategic planning perspective in vetting rotation to ensure serving police members are above aboard as often public in certain areas will complain that the police station or commander is “part of the take” so this needs to be combatted in areas with gang problems.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked what was being done to prevent ordinary citizens being caught in the crossfire of gang killings. She queried the findings on collusion between SAPS members and gangs. If the gangs are as well-known as they appear to be in the presentation then why are they not arrested?
Ms M Mmola (ANC) referenced slide 28 and the three problematic schools identified in the presentation. What is being done to tackle this? She noted the lack of convictions versus the number of arrests and asked if this was due to poor investigation. She asked how long it took to obtain search warrants.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) stated that it was disturbing that most of the problems in gang violence and drive by shootings appeared to take place on the Cape Flats. There appeared to be no convictions from these areas. Government invention had been brought up but there was no mention of what needed to be done differently. Government is expecting SAPS to be able to handle the problem. If the police are failing then why not consider intervention from the South African National Defence Force? He asked about the source of the drugs as the problem would not stop without dealing with the source. Runners are not the issue, why not cut off the head of the problem. How can those at the top be dealt with? Along with turf issues, many of the gang problems are drug related. Although there are often successes with shutting down laboratories, these successes rarely seem to result in convictions.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked what was being done with Project Impi in the Western Cape as it appears as though SAPS is suffocating the project. It seemed as though the police had not supported the project even though it focused on gun racketeering in Gauteng and the Western Cape. Why did it seem as though it was shut down and why it had not been supported as there had been complaints from the prosecutors and it had ultimately been dismantled although it had had successes. He asked if this was because of police collaboration or corruption within the project, and what was being done with the senior officials who are colluding with gangs. He mentioned the capacity of SAPS. The structure meant little without the necessary capacity and the skills. He mentioned the use of rape as part of the modus operandi of gangs but that the Family and Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit had ultimately been neutralized by removing skilled individuals. This had been raised before but nine months down the line, nothing had been done. He mentioned the gangs ‘26s’, ‘28s’ and ‘27s’. Specifically the ‘28s’ gang, what is being done about it? although there was a lot of talk of monitoring, he had not seen any signs that the top layer of the organisation had been identified. SAPS’ job was not to monitor but to arrest the high-flyers within the gang. What is being done about this as little is being said about what actions are actually been taken to deal with the problem. There appeared to be a recurring problem where new management comes into a unit and moves skilled individuals to the periphery, what was the benefit of that?
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) asked for clarity on what are the parameters of this anti-gang strategy. He referenced the definition of a gang and noted that the criminal offences related mainly to murder, drugs and illegal firearms. What about gangs or syndicates dealing in trafficking, car hijackings, farm attacks, house and business robberies? There is no mention of that being in the scope of the Anti-Gang Strategy? What are the reasons for this? If the aim is to achieve a comprehensive strategy, these issues must be on the radar. In KZN, why is Wentworth the only area identified as a gang area. Chatsworth and Phoenix were mentioned as being linked not confirmed. The Committee oversight visit last month gave the impression that Chatsworth definitely has problems. If the outcry from residents is that it is a real, long standing problem, why are these areas only linked but not being confirmed as having problems with gangs? Most of the operational approach appears to focus on the disruption of gang activity. There was no sense of actual neutralisation or reduction. A more innovative and smarter policing approach is needed. He referenced the tables listing activities and outputs such as vehicle control and stop and search. He asked if those activities are targeted in the anti-gang strategy or are they just part of ongoing general activities as is so, the approach is not targeted or focused enough. He asked about an innovative policing approach such as using 24 hour drone surveillance of drug lord houses. A patrol car driving past intermittently allows windows of time for activities to take place in between. Smart, digital policing might be useful. He had heard that a lot of the communication happens on social media using code words. Is social media being monitored and informants used to the break code?
Dr P Groenewald (FF+) asked if the problem lay with intelligence and if it was up-to-date. Is there awareness of exactly what is going on? What is the aim with the strategy from SAPS? Is it to destroy the gangs? If so, how many gangs have the police been able to destroy? He referenced the figures on slide 21 and asked for the ratio of arrests to convictions as the number of convictions seemed very low in comparison to the arrests made. Some cases may be from the previous year but it does not give a clear view of what really happened with all the arrests in this report period. How many cases are carried over?
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) agreed with the previous Members. The main issue was with the disruptive mechanisms. These must be part of the entire project but there was no detailed analysis of the drug sources and criminal activity. Perhaps Chatsworth is a key supplier of drugs to the affected area of Wentworth and Wentworth is just on the receiving end. Who is being protected within Chatsworth, leading that drug syndicate? The drug cartels do not originate where they operate. If the problem is that the drugs are originating from ports and harbours, what kind of operations are needed? How do these drugs come to the shores of South Africa? Rather than constantly reacting, the roots of the problem need to be dealt with. Disruptive measures are welcome but these alone without a clear scientific understanding of the problem will not win the war against gangsterism and drugs.
Acting National Police Commissioner, Lt Gen Lesetja Mothiba, responded that based on his past as Provincial Commissioner in Gauteng, there were problems they but they were not as widespread as in the Western Cape
The Chairperson interrupted to clarify that he had not been referring to a specific location, but rather questioning if gangs were localised as opposed to operating as part of a network.
Ms A Molebatsi (ANC) added that Lt Gen Mothiba could not talk about his past as Provincial Commissioner. As the current Acting National Commissioner, he must focus on now.
Lt Gen Masemola agreed that the gangs are franchises to a certain extent. Most of the drugs come from Gauteng but gang activities in this area are less than in areas like the Western Cape. There are activities in Gauteng but mostly as a supplier to the rest of the country. SAPS Crime Intelligence and DPCI are dealing with this. There is no specific training for SAPS in terms of drugs. There is however on the job training for mainstream SAPS but that this is an area which should perhaps be looked at for SAPS.
The Chairperson agreed that there definitely needs to be training for SAPS especially for the specialised units on gangs. There must be utilisation of the specialisation of other jurisdictions as well.
Lt Gen Masemola indicated that a strategy for rotation is in development. There needed to be consultation with labour unions and then the best way to implement the strategy will be looked at. Specific areas where there is a need for rotation will be focused on for instance at specific stations, and places like airports. He referenced a case where complaints were made by a community against a station commander. When SAPS looked into the allegations they found that there had been action in terms of operations by the commander, that a number of arrests and convictions had been made, mainly of low level runners. He confirmed that rotation was something that was being looked at currently.
The Chairperson stated that it was important for the Committee that there should be an end date for the task team to complete its work.
Lt Gen Masemola stated that in cases where bystanders are caught up in gang killings, police action is taken to ensure the culprits are arrested. When collusion is found between SAPS members and gangs, action is taken against the guilty parties. Although gangs may be known, there is a need for evidence to prove involvement. The link between the runners and the gang leaders is often not obvious. Disruptive or unconventional methods are sometimes used to see how best to bring someone to justice. Gang leaders often make the link difficult to find but an investigation is always carried out.
Ms Molebatsi expressed concern. She could tell of two houses near where she stayed where there are gang kingpins. Where is the intelligence?
Mr Groenewald stated that it was quite simple; if intelligence is up to standard then the link will be made.
Lt Gen Mothiba indicated that there have been a number of arrests and convictions for collusion by SAPS members. These investigations take a long time as colluding SAPS members can assist gangs both directly and indirectly. There are briefings from both the Hawks and Crime Intelligence but these are long term investigations. He indicated that they are not happy with the degree of success that is being made.
Lt Gen Masamola stated that regular searches took place in the schools identified as problematic. They engage with the school principals and management. He took note of the rate of arrests to convictions. Many of the cases take a long time to get a conviction. The courts require ballistic reports to prove that the firearm can fire and these reports can take time.
Mr Groenewald asked what the backlog on ballistics was when it came to firearms overall?
Lt Gen Masamola replied that he did not have that answer but that the reports do not always correlate because the ballistics reports take time to be sent back and filed with the specific court.
Mr Masamola indicated that the time to obtain a search warrant varies from case to case and depends on the magistrate and the statement put in front of the magistrate. There was a need for a common government approach where all departments work together. Policing is important but dealing with social issues such as housing and community issues is key.
Mr Shaik Emam asked if there is a need for legislation amendments or more cooperation, or something else?
Lt Gen Masemola replied that there may be a need for more powers in terms of legislation. Unfortunately the courts require a lot of proof beyond reasonable doubt. Being a gang member or belonging to this category of gangs such as the ‘27s’, ‘28s’ should be an offence and should maybe be looked at in the future.
Lt Gen Mothiba stated that the gang problem is really coming from a long past. He proposed that legislation which outlawed the formation and membership of a gang. Some of the sentences given to gang members had been laughable. The sentences given out must bite and people must go to jail for a long time.
Mr Ramatlakane was surprised to hear this argument from SAPS top management. These powers in law exist. In the Western Cape there have been more than 10 gangs, including the Americans, that have been outlawed. Why is this existing judgement not being used? They needed to get these legal authorities and start implementing them as these judgements state that these activities are unlawful. There needs to be use of this existing legal precedent.
Lt Gen Mothiba stated that many of the actions of the Impi Project were in disarray. Members were transferred out of the project but he did not know the reasons for this. These members have now been brought back. The project is now in the hands of DPCI. Court action had an impact on the project.
Lt Gen Masemola stated that they were aware of gangs ‘28s, ‘27s and ‘29s. In the Eastern Cape they had started dealing with gangs in and outside of prison but, in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, this is still to be dealt with. Currently there are investigations but he could not say that SAPS is dealing with it yet. Measures are being looked at around Correctional Services in order to stop members inside giving instructions to gang members outside of the prison. There are projects dealing with drug trafficking from one province to another and from other countries. There have been successes in closing down labs but perhaps more intelligence is required to round up main drug suppliers both internally and externally.
Mr Shaik Emam repeated his question, asking why there are no convictions at all in the areas hardest hit in the Western Cape. It is often said that cases taking a long time impact the statistics for convictions. Surely if a reasonable number of cases have been taking place all the time, year in and year out for a number of years, then it should not really impact on the number of convictions as there should be a reasonable number of convictions ongoing all the time.
Mr Ramatlakane asked for a response on the FCS unit in the Western Cape which is part of the Anti-Gang Strategy and the fact that it has been demobilised. The Impi project is now part of the Hawks but it was a SAPS project which was driven by SAPS. Why has it been moved out of SAPS? Is it because there is a problem inside SAPS and the only way to deal with it is to move it to Hawks? What is the problem? In terms of the Rules of Parliament, the Committee has the powers and function to investigate or enquire on any matter in relation to functions of the organs of state. In this case there might need to be the institution of a Committee to investigate this matter especially with the Impi project. The Impi Project was a serious project so why has this not been supported by SAPS in the Western Cape but rather has been worked against the project? He suggested formally that the Committee should consider implementing 227C to look at the Impi project in the Western Cape which link to the FCS unit.
Lt Gen Mothiba asked to respond in writing to Mr Shaik Emam on the convictions in the Western Cape.
Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, Lt Gen Khombinkosi Jula, stated that at no stage has Operation Impi not been supported in the Western Cape. It is a national project which runs across a number of provinces but at no point was it decided to not support it. He addressed issues raised in the media that Operation Combat had been disbanded or was dysfunctional, stating that these suggestions were not true. There are 82 members who are part of Operation Combat which is a functional investigative and combative wing which has had a number of successes.
Lt Gen Mothiba noted that during gang activities, a number of crimes are committed. All of these crimes are being investigated.
Lt Gen Masemola noted that the gang activity in Chatsworth is high but that in these areas we mainly deal with runners, but there are more organised gangs in Wentsworth. There are mainly runners in Chatsworth and Phoenix. Both smart policing and disruptive measures are used. Currently police are used during disruptive measures, often following or monitoring suspects. It is something which will be looked at once the drones are approved. One gang in KwaZulu-Natal has been closed down completely. SAPS cannot say they are satisfied with this performance as more needs to be done. They are aware that convictions might not be as equal as the arrests. The Eastern Cape currently has over 63% convictions. This will be rolled out in other provinces.
Deputy National Commissioner: Management Interventions, Lt General Gary Kruser, mentioned that the project in the Eastern Cape was a private project in which one of the main drives besides visibility was detection. A system had been implemented with intelligence, detectives and forensics working together. Every crime scene was visited by all three. The primary objective with this had been detection. It is not possible to have high convictions without good detection. The gang unit has achieved a 65% conviction rate. Many of the cases take two or three years on average. There have been arrests of 50 of the top people and none of them have been granted bail and it is getting good convictions with life sentences. The system is working and with the use of operational centres, this will be implemented further. The improvement of detection is the primary concern but later on the focus will be on improving the conviction rate.
Mr Mhlongo asked what the delay was from the side of police management in rolling out that programme.
The Chairperson agreed and requested a follow up on this matter.
Mr Ramatlakane pointed out that the Acting National Commissioner had noted that there was a problem but that he did know what the problem was in terms of the Impi Project in the Western Cape. This project has been transferred to Hawks. The Provincial Commissioner says it is not true that the project has not been supported. What is the problem and for what reason was it transferred? There is much to engage with the National Commissioner on the Impi project both provincially and nationally. Hawks has not said much about the project. He was not happy with the responses received so far.
Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, Provincial Commissioner: Eastern Cape, confirmed that successes had come from the Operational Command Centre (OCC) concept. In this concept, the Gang Unit is in the building but the unit is covering more than just gangs. Good co-operation with the prison was essential to identify gangs operating from within prisons. She noted the focus on Facebook. If someone from within the prison is using Facebook to communicate then the prison is contacted to alert them that they must conduct a search. The multi-disciplinary approach is leading to the successes.
Lt Gen Kruser stated that there were some challenges around the Impi project. These issues were referred for investigation. SAPS is busy with the refocus of the National Crime Combating Forum. In analysis, too many people were dealing with the same thing and therefore resources were not being used wisely. It was agreed that the Hawks would come into the Operational Command Centre and firearms will be dealt with by all the units in a collective desk. For the Western Cape, it made sense to take the Impi project and bring it into the Firearms Task Team itself. There will be a collaborated and integrated approach with fixed detectives, intelligence operatives and forensics people attached. It will be led by the Hawks in terms of expertise in dealing with guns. The detectives and operational people will come from the Police.
The Chairperson stated that there were a few gaps in the presentation which needed to be addressed. He proposed that the Committee visit the OCC in the Western Cape at the start of the fourth quarter to get a briefing on the approach and the levels 3-5. The big question is what is being done to deal with the syndicates. Perhaps it would be worth getting DPCI in on the visit to explain what is being done from a strategic approach. The presentation was very much closed shop and the intergovernmental approach and the international aspect must be addressed.
DPCI Illegal Firearms Specialised Unit: progress report
Maj Gen Mogoruti Ledwaba, DPCI Head: Serious Organised Crime, explained that the presentation today was as a response to the questions raised at the previous meeting on 15 August. She noted the establishment of the DPCI Unit had been a response to the promises made by President Zuma during the 2016 State of the Nation Address. She noted the areas the unit focuses on and the addition of cash in transit robberies as of 11 August 2017.
She detailed the interim capacity as well as performance since the unit’s inception, as in the previous meeting but this time gave a more detailed breakdown by firearm type. She explained that the National Firearms Task Team (NFFT) will resort under the National Crime Combating Forum. The main purpose of the Draft National Joint Action Plan is to effectively and professionally operationalise the NFTT at national and provincial levels. The NFTT will embrace a collaborative approach to optimise cooperation, coordination and communication between the key stakeholders.
Maj Gen Ledwaba noted the main aims of the National Firearms Strategy including;
- Improved knowledge and awareness for the prevention of firearm related risk and threats
- Improved Firearm Control and Enforcement
- Reduced illegal pool and criminal use of firearms
- Improved international cooperation against firearm proliferation.
The presentation detailed potential solutions for problems raised in the previous meeting (see document).
South African Police Service (SAPS) on Quarterly 1 performance for 2017/18
Lt Gen Phalaphala Ramikosi, Divisional Commissioner: Finance, apologised for the confusion the previous week about DPCI procurement. He clarified that the procurement falls under Supply Chain Management so it was thought that General Mokwena would have dealt with it sufficiently.
He provided an analysis of spending trends for the past years. The Committee had requested a report on the first two quarters but the second quarter would not be finished until the end of September. The spending focus had been on personnel: 76% of the budget is spent on employees. There had been a focus on the continuous strengthening of Criminal Justice System (CJS) project, the provision of equipment for detectives, DPCI and ring-fencing their budget. In light of limited resources, it has been agreed the mobile police stations would be prioritised. With an increasing population, there is an increased need for stations but they cannot all be undertaken due to resources.
SAPS was beginning to feel some of the pressure coming through due to the budget cuts. The salary increases were higher than anticipated as wage negotiations were settled at 7.3% which was higher than the percentage negotiated with Treasury and this has had an impact on the numbers. There are issues around pay progression which impacts on the budget.
Lt Gen RJ Mokwena, Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, explained that during the past financial year, RT57 which is a vehicle supply contract, was awarded very late. This year, it is on track. DPCI for example has requested a total of 63 vehicles this financial year. These have not been delivered yet as the manufacturer must fill the order as they do not have this number readily available. These will be delivered in November. Vehicle availability for DPCI is 95.3 which equals 1 vehicle to 2 personnel. The national norm is 85%. On IT equipment, which was raised by the Committee in the previous briefing, all the requested items are available and will be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is all within Supply Chain Management, and is just waiting for the necessary documentation.
Crime Intelligence and Senior Management Service vetting
Maj Gen Leon Rabie, Head: Strategic Management, explained that the presentation had not been handed out due to the sensitive nature of the material contained in it. He noted the allegations against Maj Gen Pat Mokushane on the 13 July. General Ledwaba had been appointed to look into alleged misconduct by Mokushane. He outlined the allegations of misconduct and clarified that at present Gen Mokushane did not have security clearance. The last security clearance he obtained was issued in 2002 and expired in 2007. He did apply again but the process was never concluded. He noted the alleged abuse of State Security Agency (SSA) funds but that his secretary had refused to comply with the investigating officer.
Maj Gen Rabie noted that evidence indicated that Mokushane was the director of three companies and that it was highly probable that he carried out remunerative work linked to the directorships. It could not be confirmed that he had applied to do remunerative work during this period. He noted two criminal cases had been brought against Mokushane but that at this point he holds no criminal record. He emphasised that Mokushane was no long the Acting Commissioner of Crime Intelligence.
Maj Gen Rabie noted the number of SAPS Senior Management Service (SMS) staff who were and were not vetted. The vetting investigations were co-ordinated by Provincial Heads, working at provincial level. These investigations are then concluded at provincial level before being sent to Head Office. He noted a serious lack of co-operation by applicants, especially within Senior Management. The capacity of the vetting department would be enhanced and all SAPS senior management should be vetted. Anyone who has not applied for vetting but needs to, will be notified in writing. He detailed the deadlines for each phase of getting the necessary people vetted.
The Chairperson asked about for the date for the finalisation of the establishment of the DPCI Illegal Firearms Specialised Unit as it was indicated as interim. He was aware there were issues with labour consultation. He asked if there were still outstanding replacement and procurement issues raised by DPCI in Durban. He did not want DPCI’s ability to operate being hamstrung by internal problems. He asked what is being done proactively to deal with Trio crime and was the DPCI on track with this? Are they happy with the progress?
Ms Molebatsi noted that there is a new type of crime creeping in where business people are being kidnapped at their premises, with one case recently in Cape Town and one in Gauteng, what is being done about this? She referenced page 10 of the Firearms Task Team presentation, and the statistics for recovered firearms. She asked about the disparity between this report and last week’s report and asked for an explanation. She expressed concern about Gauteng as she would not expect illegal firearms recovery to be so low as firearms incidents take place so frequently.
Ms Mmola referenced the interim capacity on slide 6 of the Firearms Task Team presentation. She asked why Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape had fewer members. On slide 13 the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal had 0 arrests but 2 convictions. How did this work? She asked how long it took for a ballistic report and what steps are taken if compliance does not happen.
Mr Shaik Emam asked why people were still employed if their vetting had been rejected. What measures are being put in place for continuous vetting or polygraph tests? He mentioned the kidnapping cases, one specifically in Lenasia. He asked how underspending in the forensic science laboratory was impacting on the work of DPCI in completing cases.
Mr Ramatlakane stated that one of the conditions of SMS employment was to obtain a particular level of clearance. He asked if a lack of cooperation in this equalled defaulting. These are conditions in place due to the sensitivity of the information being handled. If this continues then why are you not declaring the employee in default? He asked for an explanation. Although the General had suggested that the Acting Commissioner has taken over this function in the interim, what exactly was the interim? One cannot have an Acting National Commissioner having that kind of responsibility due to the accountability issues it would cause. He asked for a breakdown of the expenditure on capital assets. What is this expenditure?
Mr Mbhele asked what the fixed establishment of the Illegal Firearms Control Bureau is in order to compare it to the interim capacity. He recalled that a previous work study had mentioned 600 posts being allocated to the Narcotics Unit but he was not sure. He asked for elaboration on the various cost pressure factors that had been mentioned. He asked about the cost impact of integration of non-statutory force personnel particularly at commissioned officer level, where people are being brought in laterally which is causing unhappiness from the unions. There would be cost implications and asked about the trends and forecasts for handling those cost pressures.
Mr Mbhele was shocked to hear of non-co-operation with required processes and workplace obligations. Gen Mokushane’s secretary should have been under SAPS workplace obligations and her non-compliance had led to a deadlock on the whole matter. In addition, SAPS senior management are not complying with the vetting process which was shocking. How does this happen? SAPS is not some hippy ashram where people do not do what they do not feel like doing. What about command and control and obligations? What happens to people who do not co-operate? What about consequence management and accountability enforcement? He asked what happened to SMS members where clearance has been denied. Are they removed or are they still employed? Is there consistent and strong enforcement of accountability and consequence management within SAPS?
Dr Groenewald referenced the priorities on slide 5 and asked the DPCI Acting Head what the criteria were for determining that something becomes a national priority? Why cannot farm murders and attacks be a national priority for DPCI? A police report on farm attacks from 2003 stated that the chance of a farmer being killed is three times greater than a security guard in a cash-in-transit robbery. According to statistics this year there have been 55 murders in 277 attacks. In August alone there were six murders in 23 attacks. This issue has been debated before and everyone has agreed this is a vulnerable community. If we want to ensure food security, this must be attended to. Why can we not have farm murders and attacks as a priority crime for investigation?
He noted that delayed ballistics reports had been cited as a problem. Looking at the statistics for the previous financial year there had been 154 arrests for illegal firearms but only 16 convictions. This gives a success rate of only 10.3%. For violent crime in total there were 444 arrests but only 85 convictions which is a success rate of 19.1%. An accused person has an 80% chance of getting away with crime. He referenced slide 19 and the challenges listed but stated that challenges was only a soft word for crisis or problem. He noted the problems with ballistics, the capacity problem with low performance, a lack of crime intelligence, and corruption and complicity. All these elements refer to the police service itself. This suggested there was a rotten issue in the police. He wanted to know exactly when people are going to be brought to book and corrective steps taken.
Mr Mhlongo asked about spending patterns and what informs these patterns within policy. He noted the amount of fiscal dumping taking place every year. He asked for clarity on the tabled expenditure. He asked for the convictions within KwaZulu-Natal and mentioned a situation where one man was receiving the protection of top politicians in the provincial government. The DPCI officer who arrested him was afterwards moved. The man right now is on the rampage and people are phoning and pleading for help because people are dying due to this one man who enjoys protection from those in high ranking places in the political hierarchy. Does DPCI find it difficult to deal decisively with those politicians that seek to divert justice in that particular area? The report on Mokushane clearly stated that a person who was given authority, has indulged in the abuse of state resources for his own ends. He asked about Mokushane being taken to Northern Cape to lead and said that this was rewarding anarchy and bringing members of the service into disrepute. He asked when there was going to be a comprehensive report on the number of members who are on suspension with full pay and what was happening with these charges and cases? It was not acceptable that some people are untouchable and fighting personal wars at the expense of people dying within the country.
Mr J Maake (ANC) indicated that would not be an advocate for the police, and that they are always asked about convictions. Why are people not convicted? Farm murders are equated with food security and these people must be protected because they give everyone food? This was not fair. It is like International Relations in terms of protection of citizens. Should you wipe out the whole village because they cannot produce food? Murder is murder. He mentioning a previous suggestion of bringing in retired detectives with experience but still nothing has happened. This should be flagged and reported on. If the problem is legislation then the legislation should be changed. The current situation is totally unacceptable. The Generals need to give specific reasons for the challenges. This must be dealt with otherwise nothing will change and that is unacceptable.
Lt Gen Ramikosi, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Finance, stated that he was not privy to that information but he had been briefed on the discussion on procurement and replacement. Everything is in progress at the moment.
The Chairperson asked the DPCI Acting Head if she was happy with the progress.
Acting Hawks Head, Lt Gen Yolisa Matakata, replied that she was happy and that they had already received the replacement of laptops.
Ms Mmola asked why it was in progress. When was the request sent?
Lt Gen Matakata replied that the equipment was requested on 11 August. There was a speedy response from bilateral discussions. Cell phones has been discussed and they are happy that they are operational.
Lt Gen Masemola stated that DPCI is on track in relation to Trio Crimes, especially in provinces like Gauteng. There is however still work that needs to be done. He mentioned that 20 clusters had been prioritised and there has been some improvement from these. Hijackings had been coming down and some syndicates have been dismantled. House robbery remains a problem in all the provinces.
The Chairperson mentioned cases where 10 to 15 robbers have been targeting certain outlets. He asked if this was a new phenomenon.
Lt Gen Masemola responded that this was becoming a problem and that currently he did not have intelligence on this matter but that they had seen an upsurge in Mpumalanga, Gauteng and the North West. A team has been established to deal with these cases specifically. Commonalities have been found in some cases across the provinces. The team was established a week ago and have had their first arrest in this time. Provincial trio crime task teams are already in existence but there must be capacity that focuses on business robberies and they will work collaboratively with the national team. 260 dockets have been set up at the head office.
Maj Gen Dumezweni Zimu, Head: Counter Intelligence, Crime Intelligence, stated that the vetting backlog and lack of cooperation from SMS memebers would not be a problem moving forward. They were obligated to deal with accountability and they will develop a programme to include when interviews would be scheduled.
Lt Gen Mothiba indicated that a plan was approved and that he would receive a weekly report starting next week.
Lt Gen Ramikosi replied to the question on assets, saying that spending on buildings, fixed assets, machinery and equipment and biological assets was sitting at 8,83%. R891 million was allocated for buildings and R82 million of that has been spent. R2.6 billion is being spent on vehicles and machinery and R12 million has been allocated to biological assets. The spending has improved by around 20% as of yesterday. Movement is in progress.
Lt Gen Zimu replied that when a person is denied clearance, they are informed and they have the option to appeal within 30 days. When top secret clearance is applied for, there are some cases where their clearance is downgraded.
The Chairperson said that for most stations, vehicle availability is around 50% and he had not witnessed the high numbers being quoted. Spending might be 25% but at station level this is not visible.
Deputy National Commissioner: Asset and Legal Management, Lt Gen Stefanus Schutte, replied the availability of money and procurement vehicles that are in place impact the patterns of spending. If referring to any one police station, it should be noted that operation takes place in a tight environment in the sense that the economy is not good and does not look as though it will improve soon. Difficult decisions on who gets what have to be made, even in the provincial budget. Normally there are specific asset registers. Significant budget cuts over the past three years and cost increases this financial year have impacted the acquisition of vehicles. There will be R400 million more spent on vehicles this year than last year. That will obviously increase availability and the numbers they will have. When visiting sites, the Committee should be asking them to provide asset registers and printouts as well as verbal confirmation. He asked how far they at national level should intervene in the allocation of spending. At the moment, since demand is within the Provincial Commissioners domain, the apportioning should be at that level. The model that is in place is currently working fine. He did not agree about the comment on fiscal dumping in terms of vehicles as vehicles are ordered at the beginning of the year and these vehicles are normally delivered in the second half of the financial year. The order takes time for the manufacturer to fulfil as the quantity is not sitting readily available. This cannot be called fiscal dumping. Smaller stations were still a challenge and sometimes there are still delivery challenges with the Department of Public Works.
Mr Mhlongo referenced slide 9 and stated that buildings are a problem due to a lack of holding cells. CI is a problem in some areas. Programmes are meant to fill their staffing capacity but this goes on and on without details of what the money is being spent on. This amounts to fiscal dumping as there is no sign that these problems are abating. What is the final outcome?
Lt Gen Schutte responded that all programmes have salaries.
The Chairperson indicated the need for a special vehicle for these issues as it was another topic. Whatever is happening is not working at present but this is a topic for another day.
Lt Gen Mothiba confirmed that General Mokushane was now going to face investigations on the allegations against him. The Detective Services budget was based on needs. He asked to respond in writing about the forensic backlog.
Lt Gen Schutte stated that needs are always unlimited but the key questions was if the budget was sufficient and if it would allow them to operate. Based on the envelope of funds voted to SAPS, it is quite adequate. They had been trying to push as much as possible to Detective Services for the past four or five years in terms of their personnel and vehicles. However, it could not be said that they were saturated and certain needs still exist.
Acting Hawks Head, Lt Gen Yolisa Matakata, stated that she did not have a finalisation date for the DPCI Firearms Unit as the approved structures have been put on hold for labour consultations. DPCI is not investigating the kidnapping of business people as that lies with Detective Services. Lack of capacity in specific provinces was due to historical low numbers of members and this is still being addressed. The fixed establishment of the Firearms Unit was 200 members nationally. She explained that the DPCI criteria used to establish a specific type of crime as a priority crime focused on serious organised crime, corruption and serious commercial crime. The cash-in-transit (CITs) heists are a highly organised threat which impact on national security; these require specialised skills and so it was made a priority crime. The National Commissioner can always ask for support from DPCI on the farm murders but at the present she assumes the police have not encountered problems with the investigation of the farm murders. She would speak directly with Mr Mhlongo to gain more details on the matter he mentioned.
Lt Gen Ledwaba noted the discrepancy in the Gauteng statistics on slide 8 was due to the inclusion of statistics from Head Office. Arrests solely depend on detectives but convictions depend on the prosecution and courts. Engagement with Ballistics takes place on a daily basis to get them to prioritise cases. There are however heavy backlogs but communication is taking place between Ballistics and DPCI.
Dr Groenewald requested a response from the Acting National Commissioner on farm murders.
Lt Gen Mothiba responded that farm murders are being investigated by different units in the provinces. He agreed with General Matakata that if assistance is needed they will approach DPCI. At this point the Provincial Commissioners have not indicated that they need any assistance. He emphasised that SAPS is cooperating with DPCI on a daily basis. Although these cases may not lie with DPCI, DPCI is working closely with SAPS on a number of cases.
Dr Groenewald said that he understood but asked if farm murders were seen as a priority? The murder rate in South Africa is 30 per 100 000, and 133 per 100 000 is the rate for farm murders. These statistics make it a special community. From what the Commissioner is saying, it is just ordinary crime. In his view is it a priority or not?
Lt Gen Mothiba replied that any murder is a priority. These murders are spread out across provinces. It is up to the provincial level to decide if they need help. Any murder is a priority no matter where it takes place.
Dr Groenewald said that he now knew where he stood with the Police when it came to farm murders - it was seen as just an ordinary crime.
The Chairperson referred to the Treasury budget baseline and said there has been previous discussion of a cut in SAPS members. Is this still the case? He asked for assurance that frontline policing would not be affected. He asked for assurance from the Acting National Commissioner that the necessary resources are on the ground to deal with the Glebelands violence.
Ms Molebatsi stated that during oversight visits, the community not wanting to come forward out of fear was raised repeatedly. She was picking up that there was collusion between SAPS members and the persons who are drug dealing. If not, why can the community not come forward to report what they have witnessed?
Mr Shaik Emam restated his question about what happened to those whose vetting is rejected. He felt that SAPS was losing the war on crime because of a multitude of factors. He asked if greater response should be brought in, such as assistance from the army. One of the problems in policing was the identifying and tracing criminals. He was aware of problems surrounding tracing WhatsApp communications. Apparently if you communicate with the creators of these apps then you would be able to get information on these communications as at present calls for ransoms are unable to be traced. He had been told that this information has been requested but that this is delayed and nothing is coming forward. He asked what is being done. He felt that the budget should be done ground upwards. He understood the limitations outlined by the General but the budget should be based on the needs on the ground. He did not think this was happening in seeing the needs of a particular community and station.
Mr Mhlongo agreed. He thought it was important next time to look at the idea of a budget cycle. If stations and clusters are expected to carry out their duties but they are under resourced and yet a lot of money is going in year after year then there is something wrong with the budgetary cycle as a whole. He believed there was too high a level of fiscal dumping. Without improving Crime Intelligence in the country, it would be impossible to come any closer to matching the ever changing criminal patterns in the country.
Lt Gen Mothiba stated that cuts are affecting all the programmes and that Programme 2 (Visible Policing) was being hit the hardest. Almost 90% of the police stations cannot launch large scale operations on their own without assistance. Many of these stations cannot even set up roadblocks on their own without assistance from the Tactical Response Unit. They are under tremendous strain at an operational level. The members that are being utilised in the OCC are coming from other units and areas. Problems were being seen especially in the Eastern Cape as it was a big province geographically and so to assist rural stations is a big challenge as they cannot go there for just a day.
The Chairperson asked if the baseline cut was going ahead.
Lt Gen Schutte stated that based on Treasury indications, there might be a decrease in certain figures.
The Chairperson asked for an update when the second quarter report is produced. It was important that provinces which suffer from crime problems should not suffer.
Lt General Masemola stated that head office would be deploying to the Glebelands soon to add capacity to that deployment. SAPS is currently using army helicopters to support operations but there are issues that come with how this would be on the frontline. How would you use a soldier with a rifle in the community? CI and communications are working to trace WhatsApps but it does take time and there have been successes with arrests from this.
Maj Gen Bhekinkosi Langa, Acting Provincial Commissioner: KwaZulu-Natal, stated that a commitment had been made to add five members to help within the Glebelands area and this commitment had been kept. Five members have been added, including four investigators. He requested not to answer on the case of the SAPS member accused of collusion in Glebelands, as issues were being brought before the court.
Lt Gen Mothiba stated that engaging with communities was a continuous process. It was a very worrying matter as the police depend on the communities to get information. He has already requested that there is engagement with the communities with the aim of building trust.
Lt Gen Schutte stated that in essence, they can do better but each and every year input is requested from the provinces about their priorities. Sometimes the provincial inputs are not adequate for instance for furniture and they are not of priority. Perhaps the collation process needs to be enhanced.
The Chairperson thanked everyone and mentioned the information which must be received later in writing.
The meeting was adjourned.
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