The Committee received briefings from the Panel of Experts and the South African Police Service (SAPS) transformation task team on the Farlam Commission recommendations.
The mandate of the panel of experts was to ensure that the SAPS played a principled role in policing, a direction that was clearly stipulated in the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP had been clear that there should be demilitarisation of the SAPS in order to ensure that the police were a civil service. The panel of experts wanted to establish a culture of accountability and good leadership. Poor leadership had been highlighted by the Farlam Commission of Inquiry as a factor that had led to tragedy in Marikana. The appointment of senior command personnel must be audited, and there seemed to be confusion between the rank and roles in the SAPS. The use of force in public order policing needed to be reviewed. Weapons of an automatic nature had no place in public policing.
Members asked whether the recommendations would really work in practice. It might be helpful to introduce policing in the basic education curriculum, rather than recruiting desperate unemployed young people after finishing their grade 12. The police at the station level were often under-equipped and under-staffed to deal effectively with large crowds. The NDP and the panel of experts seemed to be on the same page regarding the need to demilitarise SAPS, but this had been largely ignored by the SAPS leadership.
The transformation task team said its mandate was to investigate the world’s best practice in policing, particularly the demilitarisation of the force, professionalising it and improving the health and livelihoods of police. It would also conduct an assessment of police members’ fitness, as this was a matter flagged by the Farlam Commission. Crime intelligence had to be used effectively and proactively in order to avoid crimes taking place. The demilitarisation of the police was basically about changing the culture in the police. SAPS realised that the police must build better relations with communities, and raise the standard of new police officers when they were deployed. The team was currently in the process of establishing an ethics committee in the police, and had established a compliance board that would hold members accountable for their actions.
Members sought reasons for the delay in implementing the Commission’s recommendations, as it was now five years since the Marikana massacre. It was unclear as to whether there was any synchronisation in the work that was being done by the panel of experts and SAPS in reforming the police and public policing. They asked about progress with first aid training in the police, as this had been one of the recommendations of the Commission. It was unclear as to what had happened to those members who had been identified as being accountable by the Commission. What progress had been made regarding compensation for the Marikana victims? Had SAPS considered the use of body cameras in front of bullet-proof clothing? It should be mandatory for each police officer to receive counseling after every violent engagement to avoid situations where police officers committed suicide. It was asserted that the criminal justice system was failing SAPS, as some of the suspects were arrested today and released tomorrow, and SAPS did not have power to overturn those decisions. The Committee renewed its call that the post of National Commissioner should be permanently filled, as this would ensure that there was stability within SAPS.
The SAPS legal team briefed the Committee on the progress that had been made with the implementation of the firearm amnesty. There was agreement that SAPS should come back before the Committee to make a presentation to be considered by Members, and the Committee would then report to the National Assembly. The Committee would arrange a meeting with SAPS during the fourth term to finalise this issue.
Briefing by Panel of Experts
Mr Alvin de Klerk, Member of the Panel Experts, said that the Marikana tragedy had damaged the image of the South African Police Service (SAPS). The mandate of the panel was to ensure that the SAPS played a principled role in policing, and this was the direction that was also clearly stipulated in the National Development Plan (NDP). The NDP was clear that there should be demilitarisation of SAPS in order to ensure that the police were a civil service. The panel of experts wanted to establish a culture of accountability and good leadership. Poor leadership had been highlighted by the Commission of Inquiry as a factor that had led to the tragedy at Marikana. The appointment of senior command personal had to be audited, and there seemed to be confusion between the rank and role in the SAPS.
Mr De Klerk highlighted that the use of force and public policing was something that needed to be reviewed and taken into consideration. Weapons of an automatic nature had no place in public policing. The peculiar nature of Marikana was that it showed the ability to deal with large crowds, and the use of violence to bring issues to the fore was something society had a responsibility to look at. The reconstruction of scene two in the Marikana massacre had possible implications for prosecution by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). The role of private security in Marikana was critical to Parliament.
SAPS currently had an ageing police service, especially in leadership. There was a need to invest in people and not only focus on technological advancement. There had to be a legal basis for police to make any decision, so as to be in line with international best practice. The reality was that the more force the police used, the less likelihood of a peaceful resolution to any problem. There was hope that this presentation would indicate to the Committee what the panel of experts had been doing.
Briefing by the Transformation Task Team
Lt Gen Bonang Mgwenya, Head: Human Resource Management: SAPS, said that the mandate of the task team was to investigate the world’s best practice in policing, particularly the demilitarisation of the police force, professionalising the police service and improving the health and livelihoods of police. The team would also conduct assessment of the fitness of the members of the police, as this was a matter that had been flagged by the Commission of Inquiry. Crime intelligence must be used effectively and proactively in order to avoid crimes taking place. The currently public order police strength was 5 343. The demilitarisation of the police was precisely in line with what was stipulated in the NDP. The public perspective of demilitarisation was the removal of uniforms and ranking systems within the police, but it was basically changing the culture in the police, including the curriculum of the police services. SAPS realised that the police must build better relations with communities.
The police had resolved that the demilitarisation of the police was more than about changing uniforms and ranks. There should be an improvement in community relations and its recruitment strategy. The police were mandated to be sworn in at academies before they were deployed to various stations. SAPS have reviewed the curriculum in the police in order to improve the new police officers when they were deployed. The Task Team was in the process of establishing an ethics committee in the police. SAPS had established a compliance board, and this was would hold members accountable for their actions.
The Chairperson said that the interim Farlam Commission report had been made available at the end of last year to the previous Minister of Police. Therefore it would be important to hear the reasons for the delays in the implementation of its recommendations, as it was now five years since the Marikana massacre. It was unclear as to whether there was any synchronisation in the work that was being done by the panel of experts and SAPS in terms of reforming the police and public policing.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked about the progress in the first aid training, as this had been one of the recommendations of the Commission. It was unclear as to what had happened to those people who had been pointed out as accountable by the Commission. The Committee should also be briefed on the progress that had been made with the compensation of the victims of the Marikana massacre.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) expressed concern that the Commission recommended the demilitarisation of SAPS, yet SAPS still continued to use the apartheid era rankings with militaristic characters. The mandate of SAPS was to protect the members of the general public and arrest and charge those who were believed to have committed an offence. SAPS was not supposed to be using the strategy of “shoot to kill,” but should rather be focused on the civilianisation of the SAPS, in line with the NDP. The NDP and the panel of experts seemed to be on the same page in regard to the need to demilitarise the SAPS, but this had largely been ignored by the SAPS leadership. The demilitarisation involved more than a change of the ranks, but also included strategies for crowd management. It seemed like the SAPS did not have the appetite to focus on the demilitarisation of the police service.
The Commission’s recommendations also called for improved training, the equipping of helicopters with video cameras, and the provision of first aid assistance. However, it seemed like the previous police ministers and police commissioner had rather focused on the militarisation of the SAPS. It was clear that the right to demonstrate was exponentially diminished by the public authority’s need for public order. SAPS should approach the strategy of being a citizen-friendly service, and have non-militaristic ranks. The approach of SAPS was based on the belief that crowds were generally violent and dangerous, and they should therefore take a military stance. Where was South Africa’s public order policing going wrong at the moment? Crime intelligence should be playing a significant role in managing large crowds.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked if there had been any consideration by SAPS to use body cameras in front of the bullet-proof clothing. It should be mandatory that each police officer received counseling after every violent engagement to avoid potential suicide situations. There were many police who were disabled on duty, and SAPS seemed to be ignoring them in terms of providing compensation. The opinion on the ground was that if one was injured on duty as a policeman, then one was likely to be ditched.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked if there was a specific reason why the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape had no members that participated in the crowd management refresher course. It would also be helpful to know why it was only the Free State province that had police members participating in the first aid level one programme. When was the last time SAPS held imbizos when engaging communities?
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) commented that there had always been this confusion that public order policing was only about managing a high risk volatile situation. However, SAPS had reported to the Committee on several occasions that the vast majority of unrest incidents were actually peaceful. This was not to say that those unrest incidents did not carry the risk of being volatile, as the Committee observed this in a labour dispute in Richards Bay where a police van had been torched and overturned. The police at the station level were often under-equipped and under-staffed to deal effectively with large crowds. The Committee should hear whether the panel of experts had considered the need for the capacitation of public order policing at the ground level.
Mr Mbhele wanted to know about the daily responsibility of the three divisional commissioners -- human resource management, human resource development and human resource utilization -- who had been introduced to ensure optimal resource performance. It would also be important to hear why these three divisional commissioners had been falling short in terms of an overall improvement in SAPS operations. Was there any record of improvement that should be accredited to the three divisional commissioners that could be provided to the Committee? The Committee should be briefed on the reason for the increase in public order policing, as this seemed to insinuate that there had been a reduction of staff in other units.
Mr J Maake (ANC) wanted to know the people who were involved in re-enlistment in the SAPS and the criteria that were being used when doing the re-enlisting, as this was not clear from the presentation. It was also unclear exactly what demilitarisation really meant, as all that had changed were the ranks of the police members. It would be difficult to implement the demilitarisation of SAPS when there was still a lack of clarity as to its exact meaning. Where exactly was this recruitment strategy ever practiced?
Mr A Shaik-Emam (NFP) firstly wanted to thank Deputy National Commissioner and the provincial commissioner in the Eastern Cape for the prompt action in connection with the murder that had taken place in the province last week, as this was already yielding good results. The Committee would also like to welcome the presentation by the panel of experts, as some of the recommendations could potentially solve the problems. However, the reality was that management of large crowds was often difficult because of their unpredictability, as had been the case in the Marikana massacre. The Committee should probe the experts as to whether the recommendations could really work on the ground. It would perhaps be helpful for SAPS to introduce policing as a subject in the basic education curriculum rather than recruiting desperate unemployed young people after finishing their grade 12. The recruitment of competent, passionate people also meant paying them correctly and addressing their living conditions.
There were a number of SAPS members who were terribly dissatisfied and de-motivated about the slow level of transformation within SAPS. SAPS could not win the war on crime unless the country was able to deal with the socio-economic conditions on the ground. Therefore, all relevant government departments should come together to solve the problems of unemployment, poor housing conditions and crime. The Committee should hear what SAPS would do in order to bring together all the relevant stakeholders to deal decisively with other underlying problems contributing to the increase in criminal offences.
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) agreed with the sentiment that since the Marikana tragedy happened five years ago, the recommendations of the Commission should have been in place. The Committee should be provided with a detailed report as to how the recommendations would be implemented. The members of the police seem to have been confused about the correct strategy to undertake when managing large crowds after the Marikana tragedy. The fingerprint system of the SAPS was still not directly linked to that of the Department of Home Affairs, and this was a crucial matter that had to be addressed promptly. The SAPS members dealing with crowd management should be properly equipped in order to deal with any volatile situation.
Mr De Klerk explained that there would be synchronisation in the work that was being done by the panel of experts and SAPS in terms of reforming public policing, and this had been discussed in the meeting with the Minister of Police. One of the critical factors considered by the panel of experts was the role of the labour unions and the participation of the senior SAPS command. The senior command would be really helpful in terms of bringing in experience to the panel’s talk. The panel’s talk had not always been easy, as there had been robust engagements and disagreements in some discussions. The panel was not the first intervention that was being introduced by SAPS, as there had been other interventions before, including the International Advisory Committee and the Change Management Team.
Mr De Klerk felt as if the establishment of the ethics committee was fruitless expenditure, as the focus should be on the supervisory role and how this role was providing support to what was happening on the ground. There was a need to fully interrogate the meaning of command and control, as this was not a hollow concept. The notion of control when it came to public order policing, was about looking at the tactical approach to be implemented when intervening in a large crowd. The panel was not looking at providing other sets of recommendations that would have to be considered for the next three years. The focus was on intervention and programmatic objectives and providing definitional clarity, so that action could be taken right now rather than in the next three years. The panel would like to applaud the participation of the unions and senior staff command.
One of the critically important things when it comes to public order was this notion of tasking police to manage public order. The police seek to prevent disorder and to manage disorder, and not order. There was this unreasonable expectation that the police should keep the general public in order. One needed to be extra careful of intelligence-led policing, as one had to take into consideration human rights. There was also a need to interrogate the meaning of reactive and proactive policing. The panel was also looking at the proximity of police members to the general public on the ground. The panel was expecting police members to talk to the people on the ground, rather than focusing solely on managing the disorder. The leadership at SAPS needed to get to grips with the fundamentals of the law.
Mr De Klerk highlighted that the panel believed that the first responcet was still very important. There was also a general feeling that there should be supervisors at the station level to provide guidance. It was also important for the leadership at SAPS to be fully aware of the repercussions of any tactical decision that was being undertaken. The panel believed that the focus should be on the quality of the police and the culture of the police, particularly in the leadership role. The police members needed to be provided with adequate support so that they did not feel like they were lost as to what to do when intervening to prevent disorder. The early warning and interventions, the use of technology, synchronisation of the fingerprint system and DNA analysis were all critically important. The use of technology, robotics and biochemistry were all resources that should be made available to police members and they should not be constrained by ranks in using these resources. The respect of the police members, regardless of the ranks, was why the issue of role and ranks was still an ongoing issue. The other challenge that was facing SAPS and the police globally was the fact that those in authority often did not take on a duty that was not under their jurisdiction, as it put unnecessary pressure on them as an institution and as the members on the ground.
Lt Gen Gary Kruser, Deputy National Commissioner: SAPS, added that indeed there were sometimes robust discussions in the panel and sometimes disagreements over certain issues. SAPS had already started implementing some of the recommendations that had been made by the panel, and others were still a work in progress. SAPS was still doing a lot of research on the use of body cameras by police members. The use of body cameras was something that was being considered by the panel of experts, but evidence had shown that some countries using them had picked up a lot of problems.
The Chairperson once again requested that the Committee should be furnished with all the implementation steps that had been taken by SAPS, based on the recommendations that had been made by the panel. The Committee was particularly concerned about the slow progress at ground level. It had to be emphasised that the Committee had made it clear that there should be a budget set aside for body cameras and CCTV cameras at police stations. The Committee would need the police management to look into this issue very carefully, as it was critically important.
Lt Gen Kruser promised that the Committee would be provided with such a report, as it was important for Members to study such measures and possibly make inputs.
Lt Gen Mgwenya responded on the issue of first aid, and said that there was level one and two first aid training within SAPS, as recommended by the Commission. There were 44 members of the police who had completed level one training, and 510 members in level two training. The plan for 2017/18 financial year was to train about 270 police members. The panel would also be coming up with recommendations as to how SAPS could provide training to more members at the same time.
Ms Molebatsi interrupted, and asked whether the training of the 270 members was enough, considering the number of police. The Committee should also be briefed on the new fleet of Nyalas, and whether they had already been procured.
The Chairperson added that during the Committee’s oversight visit to the Pietermaritzburg Hawks unit, there had been an indication that members there had not received first aid training. There were a lot of recommendations from the Farlam Commission for SAPS that could be described as “quick-wins,” like first aid training, as these were not as complicated as the others.
Lt Gen Mgwenya said that the training of the 270 members was not enough, but trainees were also being provided with first aid training at the basic level and therefore this was included in their curriculum.
There were two groups of people that had been identified by the Commission with regard to the Marikana massacre. The first group had been exonerated, while the second group was still under investigation, with the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) saying it was unable to finish its investigation due to lack of adequate resources.
Maj Gen E Groenewald, Legal Services: Litigation & Administration, SAPS; said that SAPS had 653 plaintiffs with regard to the Marikana victims. The amount that was claimed was over R1 billion. The applications for compensation for 31 of the 37 deceased miners were currently being processed. Over R30 million had been offered to those dependents who were entitled to compensation. SAPS was still awaiting the submission of five documents to be submitted to the actuary, so that compensation for other deceased could be processed and approved. The matter was now currently before the Minister of Police and was receiving attention.
Lt Gen Mgwenya said that SAPS was looking at improving training that was provided to trainees, especially to ensure that the training addressed public order policing. Crowd management was already included in the basic training that had been provided to 5 000 trainees in the previous financial year. The training was currently taking three weeks instead of the two days that had previously been allocated for such training.
SAPS was very aware of the lack of capacitation of police stations around the country. The rumours about how the pension was going to be allocated had led to a number of experienced police members resigning. SAPS had embarked on the re-enlistment process and had started recruiting outside the annual recruitment. It was even now recruiting more members. It had already advertised 500 posts for re-enlistment at lower levels, and this would include the constables and warrant officers. This was all in an attempt to capacitate the police stations.
Lt Gen Mgwenya disagreed with the sentiment that SAPS seemed not to be doing well at the human resource level, as there was a process of identifying the existing gaps at the human resource level and there were plans that had been implemented to deal with these gaps. SAPS had just finalised the fourth policy that would be implemented, and this showed there was improvement in human resource management. The fitness policy was in those four policies that had just been implemented. The view from the human resource management team was that there had been improvement, and that there would be further improvement that would be noticeable on the ground. SAPS had trained 1 048 members for the “first responder to crowd gatherings” workshop, and this was also included in the basic training programme.
SAPS had also reviewed the recruitment strategy used by SAPS, and this had been placed on the desk of the acting national commissioner. The demilitarisation of SAPS involved more than just a change in ranks. The planning commission had found it extremely difficult to clearly define the concept of demilitarization, and this was therefore making it difficult for the SAPS management to implement it. It was important for SAPS to have the same understanding of the meaning of demilitarisation. It was currently doing research on the matter, together with the panel of experts, and this would allow some progress towards implementing demilitarization.
Lt Gen Lineo Ntshiea, Divisional Commissioner: Personnel Management, SAPS, said that SAPS had already implemented community-based recruitment -- it had been implemented in the 2014/15 financial year. SAPS was now going around the provinces in an attempt to market careers in the police. It was also publishing the names of the newly recruited police members in community newspapers so that the local community could be aware of them and make any comments where possible. The personnel management had reviewed the pilot project for community-based recruitment and changes had been made. The role of personnel management included employee health and fitness, and all the social workers and psychologists fell under the personnel management division. It was also responsible for human resource practices and administration, where the responsibility was to do recruitment from level one up to level 15. It also dealt with promotions, awards and improvement in employee relations, and discipline management.
Mr Shaik-Emam expressed concerning that SAPS had a low conviction rate, and this once again spoke to the issue of trying to introduce policing in the basic education curriculum in order to recruit the right and passionate police officers. The question on transformation had not been responded to, and this was important as it was linked to the performance of the staff. It seemed as if SAPS was afraid to highlight to the Committee the other contributing factors for poor performance. The criminal justice system was failing SAPS, as some of the suspects were arrested today and released tomorrow, and SAPS did not have the power to overturn those decisions.
Mr Mbhele appreciated the rationalisation process that had been undertaken by the human resource management, and there was hope that this would start yielding good results in the provincial and national offices. The interest was more on the effectiveness and outcomes of the new structure that had been put in place. It was much easier for the provincial commissioners to tell the Committee about what they were supposed to do in theory, but the focus should be on effectiveness and the proof of outcomes. If the new structure was effective, then how it was possible that Mr Richard Mdluli was still on suspension six years later, and having 1 400 police members with criminal records?
Mr De Klerk said it was the intention of the panel to come before the Committee next time to deal with the issue of the protection of property during protest. It had to be highlighted that policing was a calling, and in other parts of world people were recruited at a later age when they were older, mature and experienced.
Lt Gen Kruser said that public order policing needed equipment and resources valued at over R200 million, including 25 second-generation Nyalas valued at R3 million each, 14 prisoner trucks, body protection gear for officers, wire trailers, megaphones, video cameras and two-way radios. It was indeed true that there were repeat offenders who were continuously getting bail, and SAPS had picked up that it was the same detectives who were authorising these bails. SAPS now had a new system in place that was able to monitor the issuing bail, and this allowed immediate engagement with the detectives involved in those cases.
Lt Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Development, SAPS, said that SAPS was in the process of compiling a report that really addressed the demilitarisation of the police. It had done some research on the matter, as already indicated by Lt Gen Mgwenya. This included looking at the drafters of the NDP in trying to understand what had been in their minds when they postulated the concept of demilitarisation. SAPS ensured that its members were able to take into consideration human rights issues when conducting their duties. The change of ranks would be interpreted as SAPS being militarised again. A lot of seminars and colloquiums were being attended in trying to understand the meaning of demilitarisation of SAPS. The problem that was often faced by the management was the poor attendance in the training that was provides to police members. The training on crowd management refresher courses had taken place in the provinces only in the 2016/17 financial year.
The Chairperson emphasised that the recommendations by the Commission must be dealt with and there were no excuses that would be acceptable. The failure of the acting police commissioner to appear before the Committee was totally unacceptable, and should not be allowed to recur. The fact that the acting commissioner did not send an apology, not even in writing, indicated the need for a change of leadership. The Committee renewed its call for the post to be permanently filled, as this would ensure that there was stability within SAPS.
The Chairperson said the Committee was currently running out of a quorum, and therefore it would be advisable to move to the processes to be followed on the matter of the firearm amnesty.
Brigadier J Slabbert, Legal & Policy Services, SAPS; said that there was approval in principal from the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the processes to be followed for the firearm amnesty. The Committee had also approved the amnesty during its meeting in March 2017, but there were still glitches in terms of the stipulated dates for its implementation. The Minister would need to table the proposal for the implementation of the amnesty, and the legal team had already prepared a document that would be tabled to the Minister.
The Chairperson reminded Members that the dilemma at the previous meeting in March had been that SAPS had wanted to implement the firearm amnesty without the approval of Parliament. There had also been concerns around the proper consultation with stakeholders, as this was critically important. The Committee was currently waiting for SAPS to come back to make a presentation to be considered by Members, and then report to the National Assembly (NA). The Committee should arrange a meeting with SAPS on the fourth terms in order to finalise this issue.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.