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SAFETY & SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 May 2003
CONSIDERATION OF PARTY VIEWS ON SAPS BUDGET
Documents handed out:
The Committee agreed that the Chair should prepare a report on the conference on police killings.
The Committee expressed concern at police salary levels and funding for investigation. They debated the value of funding for management services. The SAPS official indicated that measurable performance indicators were being implemented. The SAPS had made significant progress and capacity building continued. Considerable attention was being given to the matter of police salaries and service conditions.
Report on conference on police killings
Adv P Swart (DA) asked if the Chair could report back to the Committee on the conference on police killings he had attended.
The Chair asked the Committee for their views on whether he should do this.
Mr R Zondo (ANC) responded that the Committee should stick to the agenda.
Mr E Ferreira (IFP) stated that he was neutral on the matter.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) said that he would like to hear a report.
Mr D Gibson (DA) said that he was not neutral on the matter of police killings. He asked what hard decisions had been made at the conference saying that, whether the Chair gave a report now or later, it should be done.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) stated that it would be better if the Chair had time to prepare a written report rather than give a verbal report at such short notice.
Mr Q Kgauwe (ANC) agreed.
Ms A van Wyk (ANC) also agreed with Mr Maziya. Police killings should be taken seriously, so the report should be in-depth and prepared.
The Chair said that, while he would be happy to give a report on the conference then and there, the Committee's view appeared to be that he should prepare one for a later meeting, which he would do.
Consideration of party views on SAPS Budget
Since the South African Police Services (SAPS) officials were delayed, the Chair proposed that the Committee start to discuss the matter without them present. The Committee had looked at the budget and public hearings had been conducted. The Department had emphasised that, although there were never enough funds, they could work with the funding they received. Parties would have an opportunity to comment on the budget on 10 June 2003. The purpose of the present meeting was to allow members of the Committee to express their views.
Mr Maziya raised the issue of police wages. The South African Police Act needed to make provision for the Minister to determine minimum wages for police officers. Further, there were more junior-ranking support personnel among uniformed police than among detectives. Investigators also needed support.
The Chair responded that police salaries had been discussed before but he would allow members to comment further. A central question was whether the police should fall under the Public Service Administration Act.
Adv Swart noted that detective services funding was decreasing as a proportion of the budget and that the increase was below inflation. This reflected a problem in emphasis in terms of empowering detectives. Further, nine thousand extra police officers were to have been employed that year, but the personnel budget had only increased at the same rate as the overall budget. Where was the money for the extra officers? The budget for vehicles had increased in line with the inflation rate, but vehicle inflation was running at a higher rate than overall inflation. This would not address the problem. Finally, although the Commissioner had said he would work within the budget, he had not said that he was happy with it. There would be no significant drop in crime levels without an above-inflation increase.
Mr Kgauwe responded that the shortage of vehicles was to be addressed at provincial level. His view was that the problem would be solved. The increase for the crime intelligence component showed that Government is serious about crime detection and fighting crime. He noted further that support for investigation in the form of forensic laboratories has received a 36% increase. Visible policing had received a 12% increase. One hundred thousand police officers would be deployed on the streets, which would help to prevent crime. Regarding the killing of police, Government had said there would be automatic death cover. While there could never be enough money to do everything, much was being done.
Mr Ferreira stated that the IFP had no serious problems with the figures in the budget. He was concerned that Government was investing a great deal but not getting a good enough return. The criminal justice system as a whole did not receive enough funding, but when it came to SAPS, Government was 'coming to the party' but the SAPS was not. He noted, as an example, that the funding for detectives appeared to be falling in real terms.
Mr Gibson questioned whether ordinary citizens were receiving good police services. He had visited police stations and was struck by how poorly staffed they are. Police were expected to do more than was possible. He had spoken to detectives with more than two hundred and ten dockets each. Because of this the public often received unsatisfactory services. Response times were long and resources inadequate. He cited an example of having three detectives to every car. This wasted time, with all three having to attend every appointment. The situation was worse in the townships where detectives were often unable to make appointments and had to make several repeat visits because people were often not in. Although nine thousand new police officers were going to be appointed, this would have little effect since eighteen thousand had been lost over the past three years.
Mr Zondo stated that the ANC was happy with the figures, as was top police management. Resources would be committed at station level. How they were used was the important thing.
The Chair asked members to debate the issues rather than make political statements. The question was, was Government getting a good return on the money being spent on policing services?
Rev Meshoe stated that most people had no problem with the overall budget increase. Differences emerged when looking at specific allocations. He had a problem with the 27% increase for management advisory services versus a 7% increase for detective services. This would not help to increase the conviction rate. The increase for management advisory services should be halved and the money given to detective services. Although arrest levels were high, conviction levels were low and the budget did not address this.
Ms Van Wyk stated that, while it had been widely claimed that the public was generally dissatisfied with police services, the Institute for Security Studies, an independent body, had done a study and found that this was not true. Good work needed to be acknowledged. The public had been asked and they were not unhappy. One could double the budget or the number of police officers with no effect if this simply meant putting more untrained officers on the force. The problem often lay with management skills. Referring to Mr Gibson's example, a good manager would see to it that, if there was only one car for every three detectives, things were organised so that two of the three were busy with desk work while the third was using the car. Further, one should be careful when talking about allocations. The 27% increase for management advisory services represented a far smaller amount of money that the 7% increase for detectives. Salaries were important and there had been some progress in not treating police officers as ordinary state officials. Career management was important so that detectives could advance within the police service rather than looking elsewhere. The budget reflected policing priorities.
Mr Ferreira acknowledged that, if one delved deeply enough, one would find people satisfied with police services. Some problems could not be addressed by the budget. For example, detectives were on stress leave for months at a time and their dockets were not transferred. This stress might not even be work-related. Other more trivial matters, whilst fine in themselves, hindered police work when attended to in office hours. Problems related to such practices in the police service would not be addressed by an increased budget.
Mr M Booi (ANC) said that, while the budget had improved, people were unable to spend the money because they lacked the managerial skills to do so. One had to look at the people and what they could do. He had seen a big improvement in technical, forensic and court skills. The Committee should consider how to help the police.
The Chair stated that many of these issues would be better discussed with SAPS officials present, such as matters relating to detection and management systems. Salaries should be looked at, as well as merits or otherwise of the police service falling under the Public Service Administration Act. Police faced dangers that ordinary civil servants did not and should not be treated as ordinary civil servants.
Discussion with SAPS official
Assistant Commissioner S Schutte (Head of Finance, SAPS) and other officials arrived at the meeting at this point. The Chairperson asked why they were late and Commissioner Schutte apologised, explaining that he had been working on financial statements due on Friday and so had stayed in Pretoria.
The Chair asked for comments from the Commissioner on the budget increase for detective services; problems around the management of the police services; comments by members on some allocations; problems around vehicles; and the budget increase for criminal intelligence.
Adv Swart asked that the Commissioner address the increase in the personnel budget. With inflation over 10% and an increase to the personnel budget of 11%, coupled with a 9% salary increase, how would the personnel budget cover the costs of appointing additional officers?
The Chair asked if Commissioner Schutte thought Government was getting a good return on its investment in the police service.
Mr Maziya stated that, when he visited police stations, he always heard that when officers died or resigned they were not replaced. When the budget was drawn up, it was for a certain number of police officers. If there were no replacements, what happened to the money? He also wondered why the increase budgeted for Minister's administration was only 0.29% that year, with a jump to 8% the following year.
Commissioner Schutte dealt with these questions together. The small increase for the Minister's administration was simply because the baseline was being maintained. The Ministry was being re-organised under the new Minister. It was pointless to budget for an increase when none was needed in the short-term.
Regarding replacement officers, provision had been made to replace one thousand civilians and three thousand police officers leaving the service each year. These figures were based on historical trends. Replacement was not always by post but rather according to need, as determined by the provincial commissioners.
Regarding value for money, for the first time programmes and sub-programmes had measurable performance indicators and so could be assessed. This would encourage monitoring and accountability. Performance indicators would be benchmarked and these benchmarks assessed over time. However, in some cases it would be difficult to provide indicators. For example, it would be difficult to measure crime prevented since one would be attempting to measure what had not yet occurred.
On the question of management, financial performance was assessed by the Auditor General and Treasury. This had been good over the past couple of years. In terms of core functions, significant progress had been made. Senior managers were subject to performance agreements on financial and functional performance. The SAPS had come a long way in developing systems and processes, as well as in administration.
The personnel budget had increased by 11.6%, with salary costs budgeted to increase by 9%. This left almost 3% of R13 billion for new officers.
Regarding vehicles, the fleet was being modernised and extended. The number of vehicles had increased to over twenty-seven thousand. The vehicles were newer, with lower mileage and reduced maintenance costs. About R555 million per year was budgeted for vehicles. It was difficult at times for local manufacturers to meet government demand. Spending was in line with the need to increase capacity.
On the increase for detective services, these were being reorganised, with a more focused approach. Detectives were assigned to particular areas.
There would probably never be enough money, but substantial capacity building was underway.
Adv Swart noted that the four thousand personnel losses accounted for were estimated losses. In the year prior to the past financial year more people had left the police service than this estimate. How had the estimates fared in the last financial year?
The Chair asked why the loss of civilian members was so high.
Mr Booi asked for more specific information. For example, the just-resigned provincial commissioner of the Western Cape had boasted of being able to complete his Master's degree while he was Commissioner. Was management on holiday? How were area managers doing? What was being changed in the Minister's administration? Was money wasted on replacing standard items? How was leave managed? There appeared to be a problem of sick leave being given too easily, with officers away on sick leave for four or five months at a time.
Mr Maziya asked what the increased personnel budget was to be spent on. Would the higher ranks be getting an increase or would it be devoted to improving minimum wages? It was important to recognise the work of ordinary constables. He cited the case of the recent Coin robbery where unpaid reservists had been responsible for the swift arrest. What was happening to the ordinary constable?
The Chair responded that he understood that increases are staggered to favour the lower ranks.
Mr Schutte responded to the follow-up questions together. On wages, he confirmed that in the past increases had been on a sliding scale favouring the lower ranks. He could not comment on increases for the current year since they were to be negotiated. The Treasury baseline for 2003/4 for increases was 8%, but the final figure would depend on the negotiations. He could not say if the lower ranks would get a greater increase than higher ranks. Other wage-related measures being implemented included pay progression, with good average performance levels leading to salary advancement; improvement in conditions of service; and an incentive reward scheme. All this was to be negotiated, with between R460 and R480 million set aside. R30 million was set aside for compensation when police officers are murdered. Compensation was base-lined at R200 thousand per officer murdered. The SAPS was still working on the rules of the scheme. Matters were complicated because it can take up to two years for the courts to determine whether or not an officer has been murdered.
Regarding staff attrition, he did not have the figures with him but could say that the overall figure was in line with the estimate. The target had been achieved. The one thousand civilians estimated to leave each year was based on past tendencies. Most civilian personnel were junior and people seemed to change jobs more often at entry level.
Expanding on previous answers, he said the needs of the Family Violence, Child and Sexual Offences and Child Protection Units (FCSCPU) needed to be addressed. The SAPS wanted to increase the number of units. In addition to the units, one hundred and fifty six specialised individuals were stationed around the country for such work. The increase in funding for forensic laboratories helped here since DNA and other testing was very important in such cases. About R90 million would be spent expanding forensic services. Over five hundred buildings had been renovated, including the introduction of victim-friendly rooms and installing one-way glass for the identification of suspects.
Detective services were being restructured and specialised units were being looked at. This had been discussed before by the Committee at length. Speaking generally, there would be an increase in units such as FCSCPU and a decrease in outdated units such as the gold and diamond unit. The general investigations budget had been increased by 13.1% allowing for additional personnel and reduced caseloads.
The Chair stated that this had been a useful exercise.
The Chair stated that the next meeting had to include two items. Mr Gibson had written to him asking that the Minister be called to address the Committee on the statement by the National Commissioner about police killings. The Chair agreed to this. He hoped the Minister could be present at the next meeting. There would also be a report on the progress of Resolution 7. This was coming to finality at the end of June.
The meeting was adjourned.
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