Availability of illegal firearms in Western Cape: SAPS Provincial Commissioner briefing; Department of Community Safety on Quarter 1, 2 & 3 performance

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

18 April 2018
Chairperson: Ms M Wenger (DA)
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Meeting Summary

SAPS briefed the Committee on the availability, impact and measures taken against illegal firearms by the Provincial SAPS.

SAPS reported that firearms in general are used in the commission of serious and violent crimes. In 2017/18, 1204 murders were committed with a firearm, 2646 attempted murders and 10 885 aggravated robberies. There were 3411 cases involving firearms and 694 convictions over the same period.

The seizure of illegal firearms and person charged with the illegal possession of firearms is increasing on a continuous basis. There has been roughly a 20% increase in the number of recovered firearms over the last two financial years. The percentage of incidents that involve firearms within the province has remained fairly constant. What can be said from this is that the demand influences the supply with regard to firearms as they are the primary weapons used by groupings and gangs in afflicted areas.

The loss of police firearms tarnishes the image of the Provincial SAPS and erodes the confidence that the community has with the broader SAPS. Members that lose firearms, have them stolen or robbed are subjected to investigations which can result in suspensions, dismissal and/or criminal charges being laid against them.

The Western Cape SAPS is focused on dealing with the proliferation firearms in the following manner: by enhancing its specialised investigative capacity (firearm capacity), by undertaking specialised operations (retrieval operations), and engaging and having already engaged with the DPP to prioritise and fast track firearm related cases to ensure that they are able to get these multiple offenders and repeat offenders off the streets. Currently, SAPS is focused on intelligence-driven operations. SAPS has adopted a geographical and targeted approach. The geographical approach focuses on identified hotspot and problematic areas. The targeted approach looks at dealing with specific groupings, problematic individuals, multiple offenders, and gang members.

The Committee asked questions around the strategies taken by SAPS to combat the presence of illegal firearms and the actions taken against SAPS members who are negligent with their firearms. Questions were also raised on the supply of illegal firearms.

The Committee recommended that SAPS present on the number of SAPS members disciplined and dismissed on account of lost firearm offences. The Committee also recommended that SAPS inform the Committee and how long the shortage of ammunition for training has been in effect, when it will be resolved and how many SAPS members have been affected by it.

The Department of Community Safety presented to the Committee on the non-financial quarterly performances for quarters 1, 2 and 3 for the financial year 2017/2018. The Department was on par with achieving 86% of its targets by quarter 4. Under-performances stemmed mainly from two reasons. The first was a lack of cooperation from the CPFs. The Department remained optimistic that the disagreements between the CPFs and the Department have been resolved. The second was due to the exit of the Wolwekloof facility. The Department was confident that its plans would offset the under-performances by the end of the fourth quarter.

The Department told the Committee that the information provided is not the final version as figures will be affected in the fourth quarter and annual validation. Of particular concern is the submission of Extended Partnership Agreement (EPP) web-based reports which had a target of 15 and an actual of 1.  This was as a result of the challenges faced by CPFs in utilising the web-based system, The system will be upgraded in the 2018/2019 financial year.

The under-achievement in the community-police relations is as a result of the Provincial board requesting CPFs not to sign the TPA. The Department had to provide additional support and discussions in order for them to consider signing the TPA. The Department continues to work at achieving its annual target.

Members of the Committee asked questions around the EPP. The Committee expressed concern over the functional relationship between the Department and the CPF clusters. Why were there still Neighborhood Watch Accreditation Forms at police stations? Concern was also raised over the exit of the Wolwekloof facility.

It was recommended that the Ombudsman be called in to present on the resolutions between the Department and the CPF board. The Committee also resolved to have the Liquor Authority present to the Committee its quarterly performance reports.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

The Chairperson welcomed the delegation from the SAPS Provincial department and members of the public.

The Provincial department was headed by the Western Cape Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Khombinkosi Jula. Accompanying him was Colonel Vosloo, Major-General Jeremy Veary from Crime Detection, Brigadier Fosker from Organisational development and other members from the delegate.

The Chairperson noted apologies from Mr B Cupido and MEC Plato. She requested a moment of silence for the police officers who have been slain in the Western Cape.

Briefing by South African Police Services (SAPS)

Brigadier Fosker briefed the Committee on the trends of illegal firearms in the Western Cape, the impact of illegal firearms, and the ways in which the SAPS Provincial department was combating illegal firearms in the Province.

The impact of lost and stole firearms in the Western Cape

He said firearms in general are used in the commission of serious and violent crimes. The predominant areas of crime in which firearms have been utilised as the primary instruments are murders, attempted murders and aggravated robbery. The aggravated robbery refers primarily to street robberies as well as your trio crimes, be it business robberies, house robberies as well as car-jackings. He said that 1204 murders were committed with a firearm, 2646 attempted murders and 10 885 aggravated robberies, Implied or committed with. SAPS had arrested 2375 persons for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. There were 3411 cases involving firearms for the 2017/2018 financial year and 694 convictions over the same period.

The additional impact or factors impacting on lost or stolen firearms

The loss of police firearms tarnishes the image of the Provincial SAPS and erodes the confidence that the community has with the broader SAPS. Members that lose firearms, have them stolen or robbed are subjected to investigations which can result in suspensions, dismissal and/or criminal charges being laid against them. It is a lost to the state in terms of the loss of an asset. The lost fire arms also impacts negatively on the effectiveness of SAPS as members are not operationally ready pending the conclusion of their investigations. SAPS Members run the risk of being declared unfit to possess a firearm, either in terms of the section 102 (Firearms Control Act) process which is a SAPS driven process, or in terms of section103 process which is a court process.

The numbers of police firearms lost, stolen and robbed

The Chairpersin asked if he could explain especially the difference between stolen and robbed.

Brigadier Fosker replied that robbed referred to a firearms being physically taken from a SAPS member usually by force. Stolen is where it can be stolen out of someone’s office or a house breaking. A lost firearm is where someone, through negligence, loses a firearm.

Clusters- Lost, stolen and robbed

Beaufort West- 0, 0, 1

Blue Downs Cluster- 1, 5, 1

Cape Town Cluster- 0, 2, 0

Eden Cluster- 0, 3, 0

Khayelitsha- 1, 6, 4

Milnerton- 0, 1, 0

Mitchells Plain- 1, 18, 1. Mitchells plain contributes about 33% of all the losses incurred-

15 of those stolen were as a result of one incident where the firearms were stolen out of CSC

Nyanga- 1, 5, 2

Overberg- 0, 1, 0

Tygerberg- 0, 3, 2

Winelands- 0, 2, 1

Wynberg- 0, 1, 1

Crime Intelligence- 0, 1, 0

This makes for a total of 65 for the past financial year.

Number of recovered police firearms

In terms of the recovery of police firearms for the past financial year, a total of 38 were recovered:

  • Blue downs- 3
  • Cape town- 2
  • Eden- 2
  • Kayelitsha- 5
  • Milnerton- 1
  • Mitchells plain- 4
  • Nyanga- 9
  • Overberg- 1
  • Tygerberg - 1
  • Winelands - 3
  • Wynberg- 4
  • Crime intelligence- 1

Issues of availability of illegal firearms in the Western Cape

The seizure of illegal firearms and person charged with the illegal possession of firearms is increasing on a continuous basis. There has been roughly a 20% increase in the number of recovered firearms over the last two financial years. The percentage of incidents that involve firearms within the province has remained fairly constant. What can be said from this is that the demand influences the supply with regard to firearms as they are the primary weapons used by groupings and gangs in afflicted areas.

Police initiated actions and some successes regarding the availability of firearms in the previous financial year

Brigadier Fosker noted that the Western Cape SAPS is focused on dealing with the proliferation firearms in the following manner: by enhancing its specialised investigative capacity (firearm capacity), by undertaking specialised operations (retrieval operations), and engaging and having already engaged with the DPP to prioritise and fast track firearm related cases to ensure that they are able to get these multiple offenders and repeat offenders off the streets. Currently, SAPS is focused on intelligence-driven operations. SAPS has adopted a geographical and targeted approach. The geographical approach focuses on identified hotspot and problematic areas. The targeted approach looks at dealing with specific groupings, problematic individuals, multiple offenders, and gang members. SAPS has adopted a specialised investigative approach focussing on prioritising firearm-related cases, expediting the forensic investigative leads specifically the ABIS or IBIS leads and linkages with other firearm related cases.

He said in the top four areas identified as problematic, gang-related areas specifically led by the Nyanga cluster, was the highest number of recovered firearms (278). The second problematic area - Mitchells Plain - 248 firearms were recovered. The third is Khayelitsha- not known as a problematic gang area but rather by its robberies. The Blue Downs area is the fourth highest. Tygerberg is a notable mention with 98 recovered firearms.

Discussion

Adv L Max (DA) asked why a copy of the presentation was not made available to members of the Committee.

General Jula apologised for not having made copies of the presentation in advance. He said the matter is a sensitive issue.

Adv Max asked what the feeding source of these firearms were.

Major General Veary said the only single feeding source of illegal firearms came from Silverton which were sold off by Colonel Prinsloo. The firearms sent to Silverton for destruction came from multiple sources. The evidence suggests that over a period of time that was the only source of illegal firearms. More information is to follow when Colonel Prinsloo is due to testify in the Western Cape High Court and evidence will be presented. Ballistic evidence suggests that gangs had a myth about these firearms being untraceable and clean.

Ms P Lekker (ANC) asked whether from time to time SAPS conducts home visits of members who have been issued with firearms.

A SAPS official replied that before a member is allowed to go home with a firearm they ensure that the member has a secure safe inside the home. In addition, SAPS does do home visits and it emphasises it now more than ever. SAPS does a parade twice a year and a head count and members’ firearms are inspected as well as the functionality of their firearms.

Ms Lekker asked under what circumstances the stolen firearm at Crime Intelligence occurred.

Brigidier Fosker responded that the Crime Intelligence firearm was a theft but he did not have the specific details of the case on hand.

Ms Lekker asked if there is a concerted effort in ensuring that taxi drivers are searched regularly on their persons and in their vehicles.

A SAPS official replied taxi drivers and taxi owners are subjected to inspections. Taxi stations are also now being inspected for illegal firearms.

Ms Lekker asked if the nine firearms recovered in Nyanga were linked with any crimes committed.

Mr M Wiley (DA) asked that within the statistics of the firearms presented, are there differentiations between pistols and semi-automatic firearms?

Brigadier Fosker replied that the stolen category refers to firearms being stolen by third party individuals. Of the 65 firearms which were lost, stolen or robbed, 62 are handguns 2 are R5s and one shotgun. 16 handguns were recovered and one R5 was recovered.

Mr Wiley asked if those firearms which were deemed “stolen”, are they stolen by members themselves or by a third party.

Brigadier Fosker clarified that it referred to being stolen by a third party.

Mr Wiley asked if those weapons which were deemed recovered may include lost firearms from previous years.

Major General Veary said with regards to the number of seizures of illegal firearms for the 2017/2018 financial year, the case dockets are at various stations. He stressed that processes are underway to establish a specialised unit to combat illegal firearms.

Mr Wiley asked what actions they are taking against members who lose their firearms.

Lieutenant-General Jula said that there are punishments for SAPS members who are negligent with their firearms.

Mr Wiley asked if illegal firearms include those previously legal licensed firearms that through an administrative deficiency of the Firearms Act then rendered those people illegally in possession of their own firearms. Are you including in your statistics those people who had not renewed their firearms licenses then had their firearms seized by the police in those firearms deemed recovered?

A SAPS official replied that SAPS did not have the legal power to seize firearms on those persons whose licenses have expired. It is only when that firearm is carried explicitly that they are allowed to seize that firearms.

Ms T Dijana (ANC) asked on section 102 and section 103, how many SAPS members were declared unfit to possess firearms?

Brigadier Fosker said that in terms of the section 102 processes, 73 investigations were finalised in the last financial year. Six members were deemed unfit to possess firearms and the rest were either withdrawn or found to be incompetent to carry a firearm.

The Chairperson asked if firearms are the primary instruments for murders or was it sharp objects?

Lieutenant-General Jula explained that at least 20% of murders in the Western Cape are gang related, and at least 30% involve firearms.

The Chairperson asked if they monitor the cost of firearms to assess the demand/supply relationship.

Major General Veary noted that the only firearms they found to have a definite price came from the Prinsloo firearms which had a value of between R2000 and R3000. Due to the myth that these firearms were untraceable they could fetch up to R10 000. He said that there is no distinctive average price of illegal firearms.

The Chairperson asked if detectives have been sensitised to collecting potential DNA evidence on firearms at crime scenes.

Major General Veary replied that Detectives automatically collect DNA evidence when a firearm is found.

Briefing on the Department of Community Safety performance report for the 2017/2018 for Quarters 1, 2 & 3

Opening Remarks

Mr Gideon Morris, Head of Department, introduced the delegation which included

Ms Farren Botha, Deputy Director for performance information, Ms Nuraan Galant, Deputy Director for strategic services, Ms Ansaaf Mohamed, Director for Strategic services, Ms Lindy Govender, Chief Director for support service, Mr Mohamed Vrieselaar, CFO Chair, Mr Simelane, policy and research, and Mr Simeone George, Program manager for program four, who will be arriving later.

Mr Morris said in the third quarter the Department was on par in achieving 86% of the targets. The Department remained confident that more than 90% of targets will be achieved in the fourth quarter. The two areas in which targets are struggling to meet rely on the cooperation with Community Police Forums (CPFs). Last year the Provincial board adopted the moratorium on the Extended Partnership Programme (EPP) signing of transfer payments. More than 80% of the CPFs have been signed off on. There is written confirmation by the police on the EPP and there is an understanding that it will be the payment model. The other area of struggle relates to the transfer and the exit of the Wolwekloof facility.

Mr Morris allowed Ms Galant to present the Quarterly Performance Report. See Document. . It was noted that under sub-program 1.4 it should read “unqualified” audit reports.

Ms Galant read out the presentation. She mentioned that the information provided is not the final figures for the financial year. The final figures will be affected after quarter 4 and Annual validation. The exit of the Wolwekloof facility has resulted in a number of under-achievements. Plans are in place to bridge the gap.

The number of CPFs submitting EPP web-based reports, target is 15 actual performance is 1, this is due to challenges experienced in terms of the utilisation of the EPP web-based system. Some CPFs have become accustomed to the Excel version; the system will be upgraded to a more stable system in the 2018/2019 financial year.

In relation to Sub-programme 2.5: Community-police relations, the underachievement is due to the Provincial board requesting CPFs not to sign the TPA. This required the Department to provide additional support and discussions in order for them to consider signing the TPA. The Department continues to work towards achieving the annual target.

Discussion (Programmes 1 and 2)

Mr Mitchell asked under sub-program 2.4, page 15, the annual target was reached in quarter one, surely the targets as it is set must still be achieved.

Mr Morris said that when there is an over-achievement the resources sometimes gets diverted. In this case it was aligned with programs in the Youth month.

Ms Lekker asked on page 9, what is meant by special projects compiled. On page 11, where it says number of management reports compiled on service delivery complaints against SAPS, among the complaints submitted to the directory is there any complaints deemed to be outside the mandate of the Department?

Mr Morris said he cannot give an exact figure but on average between 30% and 40% are outside the mandate.

Ms Lekker asked where it says number of police stations monitored and reports compiled, after how long does the Department go back to assess the progress.

Mr Morris said that assessments happen by National but the reports are tabled by the Department. There is no specific timeline for when the Department goes back.

Ms Lekker asked around the issue of the improvement on report deficiencies identified during that oversight, is there progress, does the Department get feedback from SAPS and is there cooperation from SAPS?

On page 16, number of training and support interventions conducted to support CPFs reporting on the EPP, how effective has it been? On page 17, around the Valid EPP TPAs signed with CPFs and cluster police, has there been cooperation and engagement with the CPF Board?

Mr Morris said that they do support CPFs but if they refuse to sign the transfer payment agreement they first need to unlock that barrier.

Ms Dijana asked on page 3, Quarter two, 80% of EPP targets achieved, what were the reasons for that? Why was the SCOPA meeting held in quarter two instead of quarter 3? Page 9, the number of research reports on special projects compiled, why were there no targets set under the quarters reviewed. Why is the board of the CPFs not invited to the meeting to report to the Committee? On page 9 where it says that the under-achievement is due to the exit of the Wolwekloof programme, is there any plan around this? On page 19, are you saying there was no venue in the Western Cape?

Mr Morris said there is no single answer as to why the targets were not achieved. You need to go through all the targets to see where there have been under-performances. Special projects compiled is determined by the National Secretariat. This year it was the report on the demilitarisation. The Department goes to SCOPA by invitation. There was no specific reason why they were called. There was a special SCOPA which relates to the Western Cape liquor authority but it was not counted under this target.

The Chairperson replied that they had not specifically invited the CPF board to attend the meeting as it was a quarterly report. The Committee will be interrogating the EPP programme at which they will be invited.

The Chairperson asked what the asterisks in the report indicate.

Mr Morris said the asterisks refers to national targets.

The Chairperson asked on page 9, the number. of PNP reports on the state of policing which has now been delayed because of additional police precincts being included, how does this impact on the police timelines?

Mr Morris said things have changed in that PNP reports now come standard with MINMEC reports. But the delay does not affect the timeline of the police.

The Chairperson asked about page 10, the reports on the implementation of the Khayelitsha commission recommendations, which reports are these being referred to and who are they being submitted to?

Mr Morris responded that the reports are submitted to the task team and then the reports are submitted to this Committee.

The Chairperson referred to page 12, the number of police stations inspected, why is there no target for the third quarter?

Mr Morris said there are 150 police stations and they get broken down into two quarters.

The Chairperson referred to page 16, on the web-based reports, why was there a drop from the second quarter to the third quarter?

Mr Morris said that was when the system began giving difficulties.

The Chairperson referred to Page 17, the number of CPF and cluster board meetings attended, do you request minutes or do you actually attend the meetings?

Mr Morris responded that when they look for evidence that staff were at meetings they look at the minutes of the meetings.

Ms Lekker expressed concern that the reports on the Khayelitsha Commission of enquiry have not been completed in terms of regulation 12. She wanted a detailed report which indicated verbatim what needs to be done.

Mr Morris said that the Khayelitsha task team includes the Social Justice Coalition. They receive regular reports from them. They get reports from the City on a quarterly basis. Recommendation 12 of the Khayelitsha Commission said that the Department must facilitate a consultative process to draft a youth anti-gang strategy. While the process was being implemented the National Intelligence Coordinating Committee (NICC) under the auspices of the National Secretariat drafted and submitted to National Cabinet the anti-gang strategy. The anti-gang strategy overtook the provincial strategy.

Ms Lekker asked when the Department gets the EPPs from respective CPFs is there a possibility than an EPP can be manipulated? Are there measures in place to verify the content in EPPs?

Mr Morris admitted that there is a risk the EPPs could be manipulated by CPFs. He explained that there needs to be a trust relationship between the Department and the CPFs. He noted that the Department does verify certain EPPs but due to the number of CPFs in the Western Cape not all can be verified.

Ms Lekker asked to what extent the PNP reports help in determining what needs to be done.

Mr Morris said the question on the PNP is difficult to answer. He explained that the core purpose of the PNP is to influence the deployment of resources and since it is a constitutional obligation it is mandatory.

Programmes 3 and 4

Mr Max asked what the purpose of the private security regulator was.

Mr George said that the Department is required to comply with those aspects as set down by PSIRA within operating in a security environment.

Ms Lekker asked on the accreditation of the Neighbourhood Watch (NHW) if there are any outstanding accreditation forms which need to be collected by the Department.

Mr George said that if they become aware of any communities which are struggling with the applications they send people in to facilitate the application process.

Ms Lekker enquired as to why in some areas there are parallel structures of NHWs.

Mr George noted that they have a memorandum of understanding with the City of Cape Town due to them having the capacity to support NHWs. In the memorandum it is agreed that the City will only support accredited NHWs, both parties will not duplicate the training interventions and there will be no duplication in regards to resourcing NHWs. Focus will be on branding so as to differentiate between NHWs.

Ms Lekker asked why there are political affiliations with NHWs.

Mr George said he is unaware of any link between NHWs and political parties.

The Chairperson referred to the bottom of page 24 on the number of access control card holder audit reports generated. She asked what the actual number referred to.

Mr George said they are looking at the number of active cards and the number of cards used. He noted that it is a control measure.

The Chairperson referred to page 5 - the number of risk self assessment analysis reports - she asked how could it be possible to understand this target better.

Mr George said it speaks to an assessment of all those self-risk assessments which are done.

The Chairperson welcomed questions from the public.

Mr Dumisani Kwebe, Nyanga CPF Secretary, asked why the provincial CPF gave the mandates to CPFs not to sign EPPs. He recalled last year at a Provincial SAPS summit they took a resolution that before they sign the EPP they must have a cluster summit to discuss the issue of the EPPs. He noted that there has been a lack of engagement between the CPFs and the Department of Community Safety.

Mr Morris said there were internal concerns within the board which had been resolved. The board is now in favour of CPFs signing the EPP.

He further added that the Community Safety Act is clear that CPFs have to be regarded as functional in order to transfer government funds. He said that it is not required by law that NHW need to operate under the auspices of CPFs.

Recommendations

Mr Max proposed to have SAPS send information regarding how many SAPS members have been disciplined and dismissed on offences relating to lost, stolen and robbed firearms for financial years 2016/2017 and 2017/2018.

He wanted to know how many SAPS members have not been able to be on active duty due to incompetency reports and a lack of funds to have assessments.

The Chairperson then proposed that SAPS explain how long there has been a shortage in ammunition which affected SAPS members’ training. She asked when it will be resolved. And how many SAPS members have been affected.

The Chairperson requested that they ask the Western Cape Liquor Authority to attend one of the Committee meetings and present on their quarterly performances with the Committee’s permission.

Ms Lekkker proposed that the concern raised about applications for NHWs accreditation forms at police stations needs to be addressed. What is the scale of the problem and when will it be resolved? The uncertainty of the relationship between CPF boards and the Department of Community Safety needs to be addressed.

The Chairperson requested that the Ombudsman come and present on the resolutions. It was added to the Committee programme.

Mr Max asked if the Provincial CPFs’ executive could address the Committee on the relationship between the cooperation between CPF structures.

The Chairperson noted that there was a meeting on the EPP with both the board and the Department present and as a result of disagreements which could not be resolved the Ombudsman was brought in to mediate and to facilitate.

The Chairperson noted that the meeting had run overtime and another meeting was scheduled for the same venue.

The meeting was adjourned.

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