The Committee was briefed by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigations (DPCI) on its specialised firearms and narcotics units, and by the South African Police Service on the findings from the firearms audits at the Mitchells Plain and Bellville South police stations in the Western Cape. The SAPS also gave details of its three-month plans to combat criminal activities over the festive season.
The DPCI said the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB) and National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crime (NBIFCPVC) units had come into existence in 2016. An interim capacity was placed nationally to deliver on the mandate, and there had been successes in relation to arrests and seizures since its inception. It had strategically established SANEB units at Cape Town, Durban and OR Tambo international airports, as well as at certain border posts. SANEB, together with SAPS units, had arrested 70 drug couriers.
There were 217 officials working nationally for the NBIFCPVC, with Gauteng having the highest number of officials. 1 980 firearms and 61 984 rounds of ammunition had been recovered, with 516 arrests and 94 convictions.
Members asked about the timeline for the finalisation of the structure of the two units as they were operating as an interim structure at the moment. They described the allocation of personnel to provinces as “irrational,” as it was based on size rather than the incidence of crime in the area. Why had there been so few convictions, compared to the number of arrests? They asked when the two units would be fully functional, and were told the implementation of the structure had been put on hold due to labour disputes with trade unions. The two units were currently operating with an unapproved structure, and this was affecting the operation of the DPCI.
SAPS reported that an inventory inspection at Mitchells Plain police station had established that there was a shortage of 15 SAPS-owned firearms, while at Bellville South police station there was a shortage of 18 firearms in the SAPS 13 store. A physical inspection of SAPS 13 stores and SAPS-owned firearms had been carried out at 25 identified priority police stations and 125 remaining stations. The priority was on the assessment of safe keeping facilities, assessment of compliance and the interventions to be implemented. Teams had been established to focus on reducing the number of firearms at police stations. There had been challenges through having inexperienced SAPS officials, and a failure to comply with national instructions in terms of standing orders.
As a precautionary measure, 14 members from Mitchells Plain and three from Bellville South, including the station commanders and the visible policing commanders, had been suspended. The suspensions had been uplifted on 22 November, in line with SAPS regulations, and disciplinary hearings were scheduled for 30 November and 1 December 2017.
Members asked why there was a lack of a centralised firearm facility. What follow-up had been made on the 473 firearms that had been sent to the forensic laboratory? A Member complained that the internal disciplinary measures looked like a way of sweeping the problems under the carpet, adding there should be no cover-up of criminals within SAPS as they needed to be exposed instead of being referred to internal disciplinary processes.
SAPS then briefed the Committee on the Safe Festive Season operations from 31 October to 31 January. There were six pillars of the operational approach: aggravated robberies; border security; firearms control, liquor and second hand goods, and Safety at Sports and Recreational Events (SASREA); crime against women and children, and people with disabilities; by-law enforcement; and road safety enforcement.
Members asked about the deployment of the army, as the Committee had been told to wait for confirmation from the President. What lessons had been learned from last year’s planning and implementation of the festive season operations, especially in rural areas? How would border security be enhanced at a time of increased cross-border travel? The festive season saw the start of faction fights in rural areas, and there should be a swift reaction to prevent them, especially in KwaZulu-Natal. The implementation of roadblocks to reduce driver fatigue was understandable, but there were also huge costs involved and the inconvenience factor had to be considered.
The Chairperson advised the Members that the new Police Commissioner would not be present at the meeting, as he was appearing at a meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA).
DPCI on specialised firearms and narcotics units
Maj Gen Mogoruti Ledwaba, DPCI Head: Serious Organised Crime, said the South African Narcotics Enforcement Bureau (SANEB) and National Bureau for Illegal Firearms Control and Priority Violent Crime (NBIFCPVC) units came into existence in 2016. The interim capacity was placed nationally to deliver on the mandate, and there had been successes in relation to arrests and seizures since inception.
An interim capacity for SANEB had been placed at the national and provincial levels. A total of 158 officials were in place nationally. KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Gauteng and the Eastern Cape had the highest number of officials. There had been 698 cases opened, 948 arrests, 160 convictions and 48 drug laboratories dismantled between 1 April and 30 September 2017. The DPCI had strategically established SANEB units at Cape Town, Durban and OR Tambo international airports, as well as at certain border posts. SANEB, together with SAPS units, had arrested 70 drug couriers. The development of the draft National Narcotics Integrated Action Plan involved a multifaceted approach with the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICOC). There was development of the new national drug master plan for 2018 until 2022, and continuous training of members on countering narcotics and illicit drug trafficking, and a precursor chemical investigation course.
The establishment of the NBIFCPVC had been a developmental issue. Since its inception, the DPCI management had prioritised the immediate establishment of members from its existing capacity within the serious organised crime environment. Through extensive consultation with various operational environments within the SAPS and the SAPS national firearms strategy, it had been determined that the following national strategic focus areas would be the most pragmatic and effective way to holistically address the proliferation of firearms and the priority violent crimes threat impacting South Africa: drug outlets; illicit cultivation; illicit production/manufacturing; human couriers; and drug trafficking networks.
There were 217 officials working nationally for the NBIFCPVC, with Gauteng having the highest number of officials. 1 980 firearms had been recovered, 61 984 rounds of ammunition, 516 arrests and 94 convictions. The NBIFCPVC, Western Cape was investigating the cases relating to the theft of firearms from the Bellville South and Mitchells Plain SAPS premises in August 2017. By 30 September 2017, two of the stolen firearms -- one from each case – had been recovered, and a repeat drug offender had been arrested for the illegal possession of one of the firearms. The other firearm had been found abandoned. The results of touch DNA and fingerprint examinations were still awaited.
The DPCI’s Serious Organised Crime unit had executed a search warrant and seized 1 496 firearms at the premises of a firearms dealer. The owner was currently facing a charge of illegal possession of firearms and negligent loss of firearms in the High Court in Bloemfontein. Subsequent investigation showed that firearms registered in the name of the dealership, and for which the accused could not account, had been used in violent crimes committed by illegal miners in Gauteng and North West. Firearms that were destined for destruction and had been illegally diverted from the destruction process were also found at the premises.
During this period, the NBIFCPVC had been solely responsible for dealing with police killings as a national priority. 121 suspects had been arrested, 13 convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Currently, police killings were investigated by detectives.
The SAPS national firearms strategy was developed specifically to reduce the proliferation of firearms that were contributing to priority violent crimes. The National Firearms Task Team (NFTT) would specifically focus on reducing the illegal pool and criminal use of firearms as the third pillar in the SAPS national firearms strategy. The NFTT would operationalise the centralised coordination nationally and provincially, ensure the conducting of intelligence-led disruptive operations,
court-directed investigations and provide support that would be required in all firearms and related investigations under the auspices of this task team.
The Chairperson asked about the timeline for the finalisation of the structure of the two units, as they were operating on the interim structure at the moment. It would be important to ascertain whether there was any vetting process of members of SANEB. It was clear that there was a problem of proliferation of illegal firearms in the country, and this something which would be addressed by the Amnesty.
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) wanted to know if there was any training provided to detectives at the national and provincial level on the NBIFCPVC. It would be important to know the factors that brought about the most recoveries of illegal firearms. Was it related to hard work, or the proliferation of illegal firearms in that specific area? What was the timeframe for the completion of the DNA sampling on the theft of firearms from the Bellville South and Mitchells Plain SAPS premises in August 2017?
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked if there was any specific reason why Mpumulanga was getting less capacity under the SANEB unit. It was concerning that there were more arrests obtained, but fewer convictions. When could the Committee expect the established structure of the two units to be completed?
Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) expressed concern that there had been no arrests at the three drug laboratories that were dismantled in the Western Cape, especially since this was a province that was drug infested, and asked for an update on the arrest situation. The presentation spoke about the case where a firearms dealer had been found with firearms that were meant for destruction, and this implied that these were firearms that had been stolen from police stations. Was there a way to determine the original location of those firearms? The SAPS management should prioritise consequence management in order to discourage these kinds of cases. The “rotten apples” within SAPS should be dealt with harshly, as these were the few individuals who were tarnishing the reputation of dedicated SAPS members.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) commented that the “elephant in the room,” based on the presentation, was that the DPCI was in crisis and unable to get a grip on ways to reduce crime, the proliferation of illegal firearms and drug trafficking. Its leadership was incapable of tackling the key challenges that were addressed by the two units. The allocation of personnel for both units was irrational and unjust, as it was not based on the prevalence of crime in an area or the size of the population in a particular province. SAPS was currently fighting a court case in the Equality Court around this issue of unjust human resource allocation. It would be important to ascertain whether the seemingly problematic human resource allocation guide had been used to determine the allocation of personnel for these two units.
The DNA Board had complained to the Committee on the challenges around making use of forensic leads that were given by the national forensic DNA database. It was unclear as to whether the DPCI was able to get referrals from SAPS in order to receive raw information. He asked if all the recovered firearms were tested through ballistic testing within the period of seven days. The testing should be to determine whether those firearms were not linked to other multiple crimes and crime scenes.
Mr J Maake (ANC) also commented that there was no correlation in terms of capacity between the identified hotspots and the personnel in place. The allocation and capacitation of the two units did not make sense at all. Had the confiscated firearms been linked to multiple criminal activities? The confiscation of firearms also seemed to be skewed provincially, as the expectation was that the majority of the confiscated firearms would be in identified hotspots.
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) commended the good start that was being achieved by the two units, as they had been regarded as redundant by the late Commissioner, Jackie Selebi. When could the Committee expect a fully functioning structure of the two units? It was sad that young people were getting arrested with a small bag of dagga, as they ended up with criminal records and were unable to get employment, while the drug lords were not getting arrested as they had the money to get competitive lawyers and avoid conviction.
The Committee should get comparative figures of the confiscated firearms in order to make comparisons to see if there had been any noticeable improvements. There was also no indication if the recovered firearms were in fact SAPS firearms. She said that 53% of the recovered firearms were in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), but there was no indication of the type of firearms recovered. Where exactly were these recovered firearms coming from? There was not a single drug laboratory in the Northern Cape, and yet the province had the highest conviction rate for drug offenders. Why was this the case?
Mr P Groenewald (FF+) said that drug trafficking was getting out of control in the country. There were people complaining about the involvement of SAPS members in drug trafficking, as this was the case in Klerksdorp. The DPCI seemed to know exactly where the problem lay, as it had provided a good analysis of the key challenges. One of the challenges of the DPCI was on training, and he asked what was going to be done to address this issue.
The conviction rate was extremely low compared to the number of arrests made in both drug and illegal firearms offences. It was unclear why there was such a low conviction rate, as there had to be a good reason for arresting someone. It had been mentioned that there were 240 assault rifles, meaning these rifles were the most recovered illegal firearms. The Committee should be briefed as to where these rifles originated from, as assault rifles were not usually provided to civilians.
Lt Gen Yolisa Matakata, Acting Head: DPCI, responded that the finalisation of the structure had been approved in February 2017 and the implementation of the structure had been put on hold due to labour disputes with trade unions. There had been a sitting on the approval of the structure, as this was an important matter that needed to be concluded. The two units were currently operating with an unapproved structure, and this was affecting the operation of the DPCI. The matter needed to be directed to SAPS management. The interim structure of the two units was using the existing members falling under organised crime.
There was indeed an irrational allocation of personnel, and this was a legacy issue. There was a concerted effort to deal with gang violence in Western Cape and underworld criminal activities. The provinces like Mpumalanga had a smaller population and therefore had a smaller allocation of personnel, but this would change with the approval of the new structure.
All members in both units were vetted, except DPCI members, but they still had to undertake polygraph tests, including a test for any abuse of alcohol or drugs.
The quality of information received on the illegal firearms and thorough investigation were two factors that often led to the recovery of a high volume of illegal firearms.
Maj Gen Ledwaba said that the training had already taken place, and this was not limited to only DPCI members, but included Crime Intelligence and visible policing members. This was to ensure that everyone was on the same page in respect of the training provided.
The DPCI was in constant communication with the Acting Divisional Commissioner: Forensic Services, Major General Ngokha,
generals working in laboratories, together with and the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA). There had been a request for the prioritisation of cases in laboratories, working together with the NPA, to improve the conviction rate. The DPCI was focused on conducting investigations and arresting those involved in criminal activities, and not convicting the criminals. The Committee would be provided with a written response on the conviction rate last year and this year.
The confiscation of illegal firearms in the Free State was high because the firearms were from one dealer. There were ballistic tests conducted on the recovered firearms to determine any linkages to criminal activities.
Lt Gen Sehlahle Masemola, Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, SAPS, said that SAPS had already processed the documents on the Firearms Amnesty, and the issue was now with the Speaker of Parliament.
The Chairperson said that this meant that the Amnesty would need to be pushed out further, as it could not take place in February 2018, considering that the matter still needed to come before the Committee for approval.
Lt Gen Matakata said that the Western Cape was contributing to the closing down of drug laboratories in Gauteng, as Crime Intelligence was able to find linkages between the two provinces on drug trafficking. The DPCI was not dealing with lower level of arrests for drugs, including the small bags of dagga, as this was the responsibility of SAPS. The DPCI was dealing with suppliers of drugs from laboratories.
Maj Gen Ledwaba said that an AK47 was not made in South Africa, so the implication could be made that those firearms originated from outside the country.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said there was no indication of the origin of these firearms, and this was the most basic question that would be expected to be asked by anyone. It seemed like the DPCI was hiding something from the Committee, and this was really troubling. Were these firearms from SAPS members or not?
Mr Mhlongo also felt like there was dishonesty from the DPCI in terms of providing the Committee with responses to key questions asked.
Maj Gen Ledwaba responded that more than 2 000 firearms had been destined for destruction, but had been recovered from Colonel Chris Prinsloo, who had been arrested and convicted to 18 years in prison. Most of the firearms recovered in the Western Cape and Gauteng were from gangsters.
Lt Gen Matakata promised the Committee to get a written response by Friday on the high calibre firearms and the original location of those firearms, as requested by Members.
The Chairperson asked if there was a holistic analysis of the possible threats in place, so that they could be offset as soon as possible.
Lt Gen Matakata responded that the DPCI was responsible for providing a holistic approach, although everyone within SAPS and the DPCI had the responsibility of providing a holistic approach in dealing with crime.
Lt Gen Masemola said that previously there had been no units dealing with organised crime, but the units were now in place. The police members did make arrests in small cases involving drugs, but there was now a concerted effort to deal specifically with drug dealers, without ignoring the small cases.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked for assurance that SAPS had not started with advertisements and producing promotional materials for the Amnesty, as it was now clear that it needed to be rescheduled. It had been mentioned that there was not even a single arrest in Northern Cape, and this figure did not seem to be changing each year. This indicated that the irrational allocation of personnel was a historical factor; and the important question was when this decision had been taken. The staffing was determined by the level of crime in an area, and therefore it was still unclear why this was considered a legacy and historical issue.
Mr Mbhele said that the structural constraints from the SAPS management were making it difficult for the DPCI to to operate independently, as was trapped in the decisions by the management. There should be consultation between the DPCI’s acting head and the national commissioner on the staff establishment of the two units.
Mr Groenewald asked about the meaning of “improved international cooperation against firearm proliferation,” as this was not clear from the presentation
Mr Mhlongo requested that the Committee be briefed on the number of confiscated illegal firearms. It was unclear whether there was a working relationship between SAPS and the DPCI units in fighting the circulation of illegal firearms in the country.
Ms Molebatsi asked if the matter of collusion between SAPS members and drug dealers was truthful, or just mere rumours. How many arrests had been obtained on drug dealing?
Mr Maake asked whether the Committee would need for the finalisation of the dispute with the labour union before the implementation of the full structure of the two units dealing with drugs and illegal firearms. Was there a way in which the Committee could provide assistance on the labour dispute?
The Chairperson wanted to know if there were any multilateral and bilateral agreements with other countries on SANEB, as this was crucial. It would be important to ascertain if the training that was being provided was to international standards.
Lt Gen Matakata responded that there was cooperation with various countries on dealing with drug trafficking. This was where there was an exchange of information on drug trafficking internationally.
The budget of the two units fell under organised crime, and there was no specific budget that was set aside for the functioning of the units.
The irrational allocation of personnel for the two units was a historical and legacy issue. The DPCI was aligned to all the policies and regulations in place, and therefore all the work undertaken had to be in terms of these regulations. The DPCI had been established under the SAPS Amendment Act. Consultation had to take place between the head of the DPCI and the national commissioner to determine the structure of the units. The DPCI wanted a breakdown of the units into smaller units.
Ms Kohler Barnard expressed concern that the DPCI was not independent, as it relied on SAPS for budget and an allocation for the structure of the units. It was bizarre to hear that the DPCI was not as independent as anyone would have hoped.
Lt Gen Matakata explained that the existing structure had been in existence from far back, and the allocation of personnel was based on provinces that were considered as small provinces. There were four provinces that had a higher number of personnel, and this was what had been inherited by the DPCI. The difference in the proposed structure was that there would be no consideration of smaller and bigger provinces. The priority on the allocation of personnel would be on the prevalence of crime in the area.
Maj Gen Ledwaba said that there was a low level of crime in the Northern Cape, and that was why there had been no arrests.
SAPS would be hosting and chairing BRICS in 2018, and this would be an opportunity to share real time intelligence. There had been arrests of people because of the sharing of information with other countries, like Nigeria and others. The meetings with BRICS countries were helpful in getting multilateral and bilateral agreements in place.
Lt Gen Matakata said that there was cooperation with various countries to prevent the proliferation of illegal firearms.
Regarding the question of collusion between SAPS members and drug dealers, the DPCI could confirm that there were members of the SAPS that had been arrested for colluding with drug dealers and it was mandated to arrest SAPS members for wrongdoing. The figures on the arrests of SAPS members would be provided in writing for this financial year and the previous financial year.
Mr Mhlongo asked about the progress that had been made in regard to the investigation on SAPS and DPCI members involved in a turf war around the access to drugs at OR Tambo International Airport, as reported by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
Lt Gen Matakata responded that she would follow through in regard to disciplinary processes on any SAPS or DPCI members involved in drugs or any wrongdoing. She was yet to get a briefing on the issue of DPCI and SAPS members involved in a turf war at OR Tambo International Airport.
Lt Gen Masemola replied that there would be no rush from SAPS on the printing of advertisements and promotional material for the Amnesty until everything was finalised, including the confirmed date.
The Chairperson appreciated the presentation that had been made on the update on the two specialised units. There had been a proliferation of illegal firearms, and the big issue was still on the finalisation of the structure. The Committee should perhaps invite the two unions involved in the labour dispute which was causing the delays in the implementation of the structure. It was important that these two units were provided with all the necessary support and personnel in place, as it was unacceptable to have this interim structure. The Members had made it clear that the DPCI needed a separate budget in order to operate independently.
Western Cape SAPS firearms audit
Lt Gen Khombinkosi Jula, Western Cape Police Commissioner, said that a comprehensive audit of SAPS 13 registers and SAPS-owned firearms was necessitated by a number of factors. These included the proliferation of firearms in the Western Cape, which was a huge concern for Government, as well as SAPS management. Recent court cases had highlighted the risks and lack of control measures relating to the management of firearms, and the understanding that SAPS plays a pivotal role in the effective management and control of firearms. An inventory inspection conducted at Mitchells Plain police station on 25 August 2017 had established that there was a shortage of 15 SAPS-owned firearms, and inspections conducted at Bellville South police station on 28 August 2017 had established that there was a shortage of 18 firearms in the SAPS 13 store.
Lt Gen Jula said there had been 25 identified priority police stations and 125 remaining stations where a physical inspection of SAPS 13 firearms and SAPS-owed firearms was carried out. The priority was on the assessment of safe keeping facilities, assessment of compliance and the interventions to be implemented. The date of inspections had been from 13 September 2017 up until 31 October 2017. A total of 9 439 SAPS 13 stores were inspected, and 473 were sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) and 9 439 were in SAPS 13 stores. All other SAPS 13 firearms were accounted for. SAPS had discovered that five rifle safes were not attached to fixed structures and this had been rectified. There was also a challenge because a large quantity of firearms were in SAPS 13 stores, and this created a potential risk. Four provincial teams had been established to focus on reducing the number of firearms at the top 28 high volume stations. 16 cluster teams had been established to focus on reducing the number of firearms at the remaining stations. There were also challenges in terms of having inexperienced SAPS officials, and failure to comply with national Instructions in terms of standing orders.
A total of 38 members had been trained on the Enhanced Firearm Register System (EFRS), and four EFRS sessions were still pending. Consequence management training sessions were scheduled for to 31 March 2018. Four SAPS 13 courses had been approved for 2018/2019 financial year.
A firearm inspection conducted at Mitchells Plain police station on 26 August 2017 had found that 15 SAPS-owned handguns on the asset register, with magazines containing 225 rounds of ammunition, could not be accounted for. A cluster inspection conducted at Bellville South police station on 28 August 2017 had found that 18 handguns could not be accounted for in the SAPS 13 store, and a case had been registered. He had appointed a senior officer to conduct a disciplinary investigation into the loss/theft of firearms at both Mitchells Plain and Bellville South. As a precautionary measure, on 18 September he had suspended 14 members from SAPS Mitchells Plain, including the Station Commander and the Visible Policing Commander, and three members from SAPS Bellville South, including the Station Commander and the Visible Policing Commander.
Lt Gen Jula stated that in an effort to ensure continuity of service and effective line management, the provincial management implemented the following measures at Mitchells Plain:
- An experienced acting station commander was appointed;
- The duties of relief commanders were assumed by other officers;
- The duties of Community Service Centre (CSC) commanders were assigned to other members.
At Bellville South, the following decisions were taken:
- An experienced acting Station Commander was appointed;
- Both the acting Station Commanders were mandated to take direct responsibility and exercise complete operational command and control.
Lt Gen Jula said that the disciplinary investigations had been finalised and the members had been charged with failure to take proper control of firearms at the police stations at different levels of command, in line with organisational prescripts. He had appointed a trial team. The suspensions had been uplifted on 22 November, in line with SAPS disciplinary regulations. Disciplinary hearing dates were scheduled for 30 November for the Bellville South SAPS officials, and for 1 December for the Mitchells Plain SAPS officials.
The Chairperson welcomed consequence management that had been implemented against all those found responsible for the loss of firearms.
Mr Groenewald asked why an “inexperienced SAPS official” had been cited in the presentation, as one of the challenges resulting in the loss or stolen firearms. What was meant by the lack of centralised firearm facility? What follow-up had been made on the 473 firearms that were sent to FSL?
Ms Mmola wanted to know the progress that had been made on the whereabouts of the firearm that was stolen in a burglary at the house of a police officer. It was unclear how SAPS could deploy an inexperienced police officer to handle the firearms at SAPS 13 stores. When was the last training conducted?
Ms Molebatsi commended the provincial commissioner for the steps that had been taken to prevent the stealing of firearms. The Committee should be provided with a breakdown of the action that had been taken against SAPS members. There should also be a regular feedback on what was happening after the suspension of the SAPS officials, so that the Committee could be made aware of what was happening.
Ms Kohler Barnard requested that the Committee be provided with feedback on those firearms that had been taken to the FSL. The internal disciplinary measures seemed not to have been followed by criminal charges against SAPS officials, and getting SAPS members behind bars. The internal disciplinary measures looked to be a way of sweeping the problems underneath the carpet. There should be no cover-up on these criminals within the SAPS -- they needed to be exposed instead of being referred to internal disciplinary processes. Would the firearms audits be extended to the rest of the country, and not just the Western Cape, as criminality was not limited only to the Western Cape? It was quite clear that the criminals were preying on every weak structure within the SAPS. There was a problem of recycling criminality within the SAPS, instead of dealing with it.
Mr Mbhele feared that there was combination of the worst of centralisation, combined with the worst of decentralisation, within SAPS. In theory, all the recommendations were good and essential to prevent the problem of firearms that were stolen at SAPS police stations, but the challenge was with the implementation of these proposals. He questioned whether the SAPS challenge on infrastructure would be given to the inefficient Department of Public Works (DPW), as this was a department that was failing in its mandate.
The Chairperson asked if there was any initiative in place to ensure that police stations were capacitated with CCTV cameras. Was there any challenge in the Western Cape in regard to having enough DNA kits? Cluster and station commanders were responsible for ensuring safe and secure store rooms for firearms. What steps had been taken to improve compliance and punish non-compliance?
Lt Gen Jula responded that inexperienced SAPS officers were involved because of regular changes taking place, and a particular police station would then have an inexperienced officer. Members needed to be trained to manage the system, and this was a process that was on-going. There were courses that new members were supposed to undertake, and they would have to wait for a certain period to get training.
The two firearms that were lost due to a burglary at the house of SAPS members were in the safe, but the firearms were stolen regardless.
The firearm audits were ongoing, and they were conducted by station commanders. A certificate was submitted for the completion of the firearm audits at SAPS 13 stores. There was a team that randomly looked at the certificates of firearm audits in SAPS 13 stores. The station commander in Bellville South and the official at the SAPS 13 store had been suspended. The station commander at Mitchells Plain and the other 12 officials that were on the shift on the day of the loss of firearms were all suspended. SAPS viewed the transgressions and omissions very seriously but could not pre-empt the outcome of the disciplinary process that was under way.
A thorough analysis was undertaken in the appointment of station commanders, and courses provided in cases where gaps in their managerial qualities were identified.
There was a need to prioritise attaching rifle safes to fixed structures, to prevent the situation where firearms were easily stolen, or broken into.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked if it was not standard procedure to bolt down the firearm safes, as this was a basic thing that should be happening. Who was held responsible for the failure to bolt down the firearm safes?
Lt Gen Jula responded that it was standard procedure to bolt down the firearm safes. There was no information at the moment about who was responsible for the failure to bolt down the safe to the wall.
There was indeed a problem of a shortage of DNA kits in the province, and this was a major concern.
Lt Gen Masemola said SAPS had indicated the need to establish a centralised storage facility to prevent the loss of firearms. The general view was to reduce the number of firearms at police stations, as they should be kept at a central storage facility. There was still a need to do a feasibility study on the centralised storage facility.
It was difficult to say whether the facilities were devolved or evolved, but the responsibility of infrastructure upgrades would fall under the DPW.
There was a commitment to get firearm audits to spread to other provinces, and not just the Western Cape.
SAPS could provide a written response on the shortage of DNA kits.
CCTV at the station level could be a beneficial tool to allow station commanders to monitor what was happening.
Festive Season: SAPS briefing
Lt Gen Masemola said it had become the norm for major events such as sporting, cultural, religious and political to be planned around or within the festive season period. The activities associated with the festive season were unfortunately being used to terrorise the society. The Safer Festive Season 2017/18 Operations, as per the National Crime Combating Forum Instruction 08 of 2017, was being implemented over the period from October 31 to January 31. There was usually an outflow of residents from province to province and across the borders, as well as an increase in daily activities at places of entertainment, such as parks and shopping centres.
There were six pillars of the operational approach:
- Pillar 1 was focused on aggravated robberies;
- Pillar 2 was focused on border security;
- Pillar 3 primarily prioritised firearm control, liquor and second hand goods, and Safety at Sports and Recreational Events (SASREA);
- Pillar 4 was focused on crime against women and children, and people with disabilities;
- Pillar 5 was on by-law enforcement; and
- Pillar 6 was road safety enforcement.
Lt Gen Masemola stated that all provinces were expected to plan and execute operations to ensure safety and stability during the festive season. The focus would be on centralised operational guidelines, with decentralised operational and tactical planning and implementation. There would also be joint operational command and control, and the operations would be based on crime patterns, crime threats, intelligence and information-driven.
The role players would include SAPS, with the deployment of senior managers, Crime Intelligence, Public Order Policing (POP), and Visible Policing, Tactical Response Teams (TRT) and the Trio Crime Task Team. There would also be the utilisation of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), metro police departments and local traffic authorities, and the NPA. The operations would be conducted under the auspices of the National Operational Command Centre (NOCC), and each cluster was required to conduct two operations per week. Each cluster was also expected to draw up its operational plans in accordance with the prevailing situation, and operational plans had to be submitted with the weekly matrix of planned operations.
Lt Gen Masemola said that the NOCC would monitor the operation from 31 October to 31 January. All the operations and successes would be registered on the national Operational Planning and Monitoring (OPAM) under Operation Back to Basics: Safer Festive Season 2017/2018. The debriefing reports were to be submitted to the NOCC before 13 February 2018 by OPAM.
The Chairperson asked about the progress in regard to the deployment of the army, as the Committee had been told to wait for confirmation from the President. What were the lessons that had been learned from the last year’s planning and implementation of the festive season precautions, especially in rural areas.
Ms Molebatsi expressed concern about how SAPS was dealing with second hand goods, as there were cases where stacks of stolen copper cables were left lying around and not being followed through in terms of investigation. How was SAPS planning to deal with the unlawful selling of firecrackers, as there was lack of monitoring and they were often used by unsupervised children? How would SAPS ensure that roadblocks were corruption-free?
Ms Mmola wanted to know about ways to enhance border security during the festive season. She had identified a challenge with scanners when she visited the Free State where a lot of goods were crossing the border without being searched and scanned. With regard to the issue of crime against women, all the necessary steps should be taken, supported with resources, to provide assistance.
Mr Mhlongo said that the festive season was also saw the start of faction fights in rural areas, and there should be a swift reaction to prevent them, especially in KZN.
Mr Mbhele said that the presentation had focused on what should happen, and the challenge again was on the implementation of those strategies on a consistent and sustainable basis. The implementation of roadblocks to reduce driver fatigue was understandable, but there was also a huge cost involved and the inconvenience factor to be considered. It would be impossible to get hold of illegal firearms, drugs or abalone by using roadblocks, as criminals usually chose secluded roads in mountainous areas to traffic drugs, as these were roads that were hardly monitored and policed. There was a need to boostcapacity at police precincts and improve on resource allocation.
Mr Maake expressed concern about the nuisance that was caused by the celebration of students after finishing exams. Was there a way of arresting the students so that they could get a taste of prison and behave?
Ms KohlerBarnard pleaded that students should not be arrested, as they were young and having fun by celebrating after finishing exams. How would SAPS deal with the country’s porous borders during the festive season? It was unclear if there would be a release of festive season crime statistics, such as the number of arrests and police visibility operations during this period.
Lt Gen Masemola responded that SAPS was still waiting for approval for the deployment of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), although the SANDF provided assistance in many cases, including with faction fights.
One of the lessons learnt from last year’s festive season was the importance of police visibility and using the SAPS personnel that normally did office work. There were many suppliers of liquor, and many events in places such as taverns that were not provided with security to accommodate the volume of people attending the events.
There were plans in place to intercept the proliferation of illegal firearms. SAPS was taking note of the concerns around second hand goods, and this would be taken into consideration and addressed. SAPS would be dealing with suppliers of firecrackers, as there were requirements to be adhered to in the selling of firecrackers. There was also a concerted effort to provide parents with awareness on the eligible age for using firecrackers.
The roadblocks were meant to check on various forms of misconduct, including illegal firearms, overloading, stolen goods and the roadworthiness of vehicles. The deployment of senior officials would mitigate against the risk of corrupt officials.
Mr Mbhele said that there was no empirical evidence of a correlation between seniority and ethics, and therefore it did not make sense how the deployment of senior officials would mitigate against corruption.
Lt Gen Masemola replied that SAPS took note of Mr Mbhele’s concern. The deployment of more officials was another strategy to fight against corruption during roadblocks.
The problem of a lack of scanners in the Free State had been fixed. There would be provision of additional resources at police station levels to respond to all complaints. The deployment of officials included the provincial commissioners. There would be a focus on rural areas to deal with faction fights, especially in KZN, including the deployment of Crime Intelligence to deal with these fights.
The roadblocks were also to reduce driver fatigue, as well as deal with other infringements. There have been a lot of successes at roadblocks especially on the shorter roadblocks. SAPS was aware of those people using excluded and far-flung roads to traffic drugs, illegal firearms and stolen goods, and this would be addressed by providing roadblocks in these areas.
Regarding the arrest of students celebrating, the students were too young to get arrested and police tried to act like parents to the children instead of applying punitive measures.
There had been a deployment of the SANDF to the borders, but there were still challenges in places, especially at ports of entry. SAPS would release festive season crime statistics, including the number of operations undertaken as per the normal practice.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked about the exact period of doing operations and then releasing festive season crime statistics. This was to ensure that Members did not get outdated statistics.
Mr Maake wanted to know about the normal procedure that would be followed if an illegal immigrant came to South Africa without any identity document, and then ended up dying in hospital.
Lt Gen Masemola responded that the statistics would start from 13 October, and gave an assurance that Members would not get outdated statistics.
SAPS would try to contact the relatives of an illegal migrant who happened to pass away in South Africa so as to relocate the individual to the country of origin.
The meeting was adjourned.
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