Minister of Police briefing; SAPS, IPID & CSP Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports

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Police

06 October 2017
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Crime fighting in SA would be intelligence-led. The Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula revealed this when he briefed the Portfolio Committee on Police of drastic plans to tighten police operations in the country.

Minister Mbalula stated that visible policing needs extra personnel. There are challenges facing the Department because National Treasury reduced the salaries budget by R800m this year, plus a further R2, 9 billion for 2018/19. The structure of the service needed to be finalised soon. SA Police Service has a top-heavy management which was contributing to the size of the salary bill, high head office costs, and that resources were not going to where they are most needed on the ground.  Provinces like KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern and Western Cape require an investigation on whether management could be regionalised, wherein two lieutenant-generals are deployed to manage the south and north, respectively. He would intervene to reduce the structure and to make sure there are delivery agreements between the Minister and SA Police Services management because they are non-existent at the moment. The agreements would help in monitoring.

The Crime Intelligence Division is facing staffing and technological challenges which have rendered the function non-responsive. This division should be deployed at police station and cluster level. This unit has over-spent by R33,1 million. He had set out clear directives for the Crime Intelligence unit on its management practices, especially the supply chain environment under the State Security Agency secret account. This division should start to function in accordance with the law.

There has been over-spending on the administration programme due to compensation of employees. Visible policing has recorded under-spending. Certain tenders and contracts were not awarded by the Skills Education Training Authority.
The national crime statistics results have been submitted to Parliament and would be released to the public on 23 October 2017.
The National Crime Prevention Strategy is being reviewed and the review is motivated by the globalised world. Minister Mbalula reminded the Committee that public service regulations require that all civil servants be subjected to vetting. SA is vulnerable to cyber-crime. Engagements with provinces and municipalities would happen to ensure community safety. He pointed out a fully-funded Independent Police Investigative Unit is non-negotiable. The Independent Police Investigative Unit requires full empowerment so that it could operate successfully. There have been improvements in the SAPS management plan and that there must be enhanced police development and oversight.

Comments of Members were around budget cycles; professionalisation and depoliticisation of the police service; prioritisation of resources and funding; proposed changes of SAPS structure; planned regionalisation of SAPS; and continuity when the Minister leaves office.

The Draft Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) 2016/17 Annual Report was adopted with minor amendments.

The Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) was adopted with minor amendments.


The Draft Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the 2016/17 Annual Report Plan of the South African Police Services (SAPS) was adopted with minor amendments
 

Meeting report

Briefing by Minister of Police, Mr Fikile Mbalula
Mr Fikile Mbalula, Minister of Police, stated that the SA Police Service had 193 674 police employees on its payroll. There are 402 personnel in the detective services division whereas the requirement was 2500. Visible policing needs extra personnel. There are challenges facing the Department because National Treasury has reduced the salaries budget by R800m this year, plus a further R2, 9 billion for 2018/19. The structure of the service needed to be finalised soon. SA Police Service has a top-heavy management with 35 lieutenant-generals, 216 major generals and 664 brigadiers. This was contributing to the size of the salary bill, high head office costs, and that resources were not going to where they are most needed on the ground.  Provinces like KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern and Western Cape require an investigation on whether management could be regionalised, wherein two lieutenant-generals are deployed to manage the south and north, respectively. He would intervene to reduce the structure and to make sure there are delivery agreements between the Minister and SA Police Services management because they are non-existent at the moment. The agreements would help in monitoring.

The Crime Intelligence Dvision is facing staffing and technological challenges which have rendered the function non-responsive. This division should be deployed at police station and cluster level. This unit has over-spent by R33,1 million. He had set out clear directives for the Crime Intelligence unit on its management practices, especially the supply chain environment under the State Security Agency secret account. This division should start to function in accordance with the law.
In the past five years, there have been 12 Divisional Commissioner and 10 different operational structures. Presently, the structure that is being utilised is ad hoc due to a Bargaining Council interdict on a new structure. He has instructed there should be a direct relationship between the police ministry and crime intelligence to monitor and evaluate activities of the operatives, which include potential misuse of power and resources.

There has been over-spending on the administration programme due to compensation of employees. Visible policing has recorded under-spending. Certain tenders and contracts were not awarded by the Skills Education Training Authority (SETA).
The national crime statistics results have been submitted to Parliament and would be released to the public on 23 October 2017.
The National Crime Prevention Strategy is being reviewed and the review is motivated by the globalised world. In the past five months it appears that Parliament was misled on a number of instances, particularly over vetting or security clearance within the entire SAPS and Crime Intelligence environment. The Crime Intelligence unit is to set up 26 directives with an action to be developed along with the Ministry of Police in order to refocus the unit. The secret account would be strictly monitored and this would include correcting irregular promotions and taking action against employees accused of various infringements and other matters.

Minister Mbalula reminded the Committee that public service regulations require that all civil servants be subjected to vetting. SA is vulnerable to cyber-crime. Engagements with provinces and municipalities would happen to ensure community safety. He pointed out a fully-funded IPID is non-negotiable. IPID requires full empowerment so that it could operate successfully. There have been improvements in the SAPS management plan and that there must be enhanced police development and oversight.

Discussion

Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) stated the areas the Minister mentioned were critical, especially the intelligence-led approach to fight crime. Crime cannot be neutralised if you do not have capacity.  He highlighted that the Committee has been concerned that every appointed commissioner introduces a new structure. Now there is at least a direction to address these concerns. He pointed out commissioners of police have huge powers that are not consulted upon. They have powers to appoint their own people without following any due process, and that has been another concern of the Committee. Therefore, he supported what the Minister stated, hoping things would improve going forward.

The Minister agreed with the matters Mr Ramatlakane raised, especially the short-changing of the structure. Police generals had too much power the former Minister delegated to them. The police general can appoint any person or pals with no accountability whereas the Minister is accountable to Parliament. He is reviewing the regulations to put a stop to that because an individual cannot be allowed to make decisions with friends about the security of the state without being accountable to anybody. No one wants to undermine national security. He is going to amend and gazette the new regulations.

 Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said it was encouraging to hear of a proactive approach being pursued because this is about fixing the fundamentals that had gone wrong within the police. It was good for the Minister to identify and correct weaknesses in the frontline, appointing competent leadership, professionalising the police, and prioritising things like resources and funding. The plan is focused on fighting nepotism within SAPS and the regionalisation of SAPS is welcomed because it has been too centralised and that has impeded it in carrying out its duties.
It was important for the Minister to be visible because members of SAPS are visible to the public, but statements like 'crushing the testicles of criminals' should not be communicated to the public.

The Minister responded that the use of language must not defocus on what SAPS wants to do. He said he could not be philosophical when talking with and about criminals. He said he was no linguist. He is a Minister of Police and he must speak clearly and simply with criminals and criminals within the police force. He said 'bazakuchama baphinde bawusele', meaning that criminals are going to pee and drink their own urine. He had no better language to use because Afrikaans and Nguni languages were open to interpretation. He exemplified with the Afrikaans word 'gatvol'. Others would see the word as derogatory, while to some it means to be annoyed. He said he is not going to be apologetic to criminals because they are tormenting communities and they have to answered to the police. He only talked of 'balls', not 'testicles'. 'Testicles' are more direct and he did not mean it in the literal sense. So, Mr Mbhele must withdraw his statement.

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) remarked the pattern of the budget cycle did not allow budgetary projections. The top-down budgetary system did not work and that has been proved by the oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal. His concern was around the effectiveness of oversight organs. He asked the Minister to give the Committee assurance there would be continuity when he leaves office because a new Minister would usher in a new approach. This meant there would never be stability within SAPS and the Department would move in circles instead of moving forward. The appointment of cronies and rank plundering meant the committed police are being side-lined yet people who are not contributing to crime-fighting are being given superior or higher ranks. The Minister needs to take Parliament as his partner if he wants to fight all these leakages that appear to rob the SAPS.
The Minister was in full agreement with Mr Mhlongo because when he joined the police there was no budget analysis, but that is being reviewed. The transformation organ is in place. There is a transformation committee with experts led by Judge Ntshangase. It is finalising its report and would be tabled in Parliament end of October 2017 and be implemented. It is making recommendations for implementation. Transformation would be established and implemented by the Secretariat.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) suggested that some of the generals in the top-heavy structure of the head office should be taken to cluster commander levels.

The Chairperson indicated that there must be teeth in the Secretariat. It was not good to have a situation where Parliament was misled about vetting matters and that would have to be dealt with.

The Minister said there is litigation going back and forth regarding the Mdluli case. The case has to be finished soon. If he were a Minister of Police 10 years ago, the matter would have been finalised within a short time.  The Mdluli case is at a point where the disciplinary committee is taking a decision.
He discovered there are people in the police force that have not been vetted yet they manage sensitive state information, and no one knows if these unvetted people are criminals as well. Those who vet people should also be vetted. He said depoliticisation and professionalisation of the police are the key drivers of the Minister in changing SAPS.
Lastly, he said he wants to be known as Mr Clean Audit because during his time with the Department of Sport he achieved clean audits.

Draft Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP) 2016/17 Annual Report
The Chairperson took the Committee through the document, page by page.

The report was adopted with minor amendments.

Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)
The Chairperson took the Committee through the document, page by page.

The report was adopted with minor amendments.

Draft Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the 2016/17 Annual Report Plan of the South African Police Services (SAPS)
The Chairperson took the Committee through the document, page by page.

The report was adopted with minor amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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