The meeting consisted of four presentations:
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation or the Hawks who presented on their turnaround strategy and briefed the Committee on certain high-profile cases;
The South African National Taxi Association on taxi violence;
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) on taxi violence and recommendations to improve commuter safety, and
The South African Police Service who briefed the Committee on rail related crime.
The Head of the Hawks, who was recently appointed, and the Minister of Police were in attendance.
The Hawks gave a progress report on high profile cases involving State Capture, Steinhoff and the Venda Building Society Mutual Bank investigations, the Verulam Mosque and KZN bomb threats, illegal mining and poaching.
Serious Corruption: on the turnaround strategy of the DPCI, State Capture and the investigation into the status of the Venda Building Society (VBS) Bank.
Serious Commercial Crime: on the Steinhoff investigation.
Serious Organised Crime: on illegal mining, the Verulam Mosque and KZN bomb threats and sea poaching.
The Committee was very concerned about police station safety especially given the recent attack on the police station in Ngcobo. Two members and the Chairperson had conducted oversight visits and commented that police station security is very inadequate. They also said that the Department of Public Works is letting the South African Police Service down.
Members asked a wide range of questions. The includes the use of outside auditing and forensic firm to assist in complex commercial crime cases; the shackling of Duduzane Duma during his court appearance; the extradition of the Gupta’s; illicit mining; why no suspects had been identified in the Transnet investigation and collusion in the banking and construction industries.
The Minister agreed the security of police officers is very concerning, but that Treasury must also bear some of the blame for poor infrastructure and a lack of proper security systems and protection.
The South African National Taxi Association said one must be cautious when determining what constitutes taxi violence. SAPS statistics do not officially distinguish between different incidences of crime sufficiently to determine what is and what is not a taxi related crime or taxi related violence.
Operating Licenses are a major cause of disputes in the taxi industry as well as the allocation of routes. Bribery and corruption between Operating License issuing authorities and applicants is also a major cause of conflict. Law enforcement is reactive and not proactive in regarding taxi related violence. There is not a coherent strategy amongst law enforcement regarding how best to deal with taxi related violence. Additionally, not all road blocks are established in accordance with the requirements of the SAPS Act. The entry of Uber into the market has also created conflict. Taxi operators feel the current process is unfair as Uber operators are not always subjected to the same stringent requirements – such as requiring an Operating License – which the taxi industry must comply with.
COSATU said taxi violence is a serious issue and that the government has failed the taxi industry since it took power in 1994. Many workers are subjected to abuses on a daily basis and are forced to use taxi’s because other forms of public transport have completely broken down. This is a pity because the taxi industry is one of the only industries dominated by black people which managed to thrive in spite of Apartheid. The government must ensure that taxi operators abide by the rule of law and the government must not be soft or diplomatic in ensuring taxi operators comply with the rule of law. Sexual violence committed by taxi operators is unacceptable and young women cannot take taxis alone for fear of been subjected to sexual violence or abuse. SARS must ensure revenue is collective from taxi operators which appear to engage in tax evasion. The taxi industry does not appear to comply with labour legislation which is both unlawful and dangerous for taxi commuters. Greater engagement with the sector by government is needed.
SAPS then presented on transport and rail related incidents in the Western Cape in 2018, actions implemented, taxi violence incidents in April, May and June 2018 and actions implemented.
Members found it demoralising that 21 out of 32 cases were still under investigation in Cape Town and was concerned the lack of action would further encourage criminal elements. There were questions on where community intelligence was, subliminal dynamics at play and the need for stronger sentences. There was a need to include the Department of Justice to complete the triangular discussion. Members questioned the length of time to complete forensic investigations, sufficient surveillance of Cape Town train stations. Members wanted to know why many cases of train damage were closed as undetected and appealed for SAPS to take control of the situation as it had with cash-in-transit heists. What was required from SAPS was a solution-orientated approach with established links between the police and Metrorail to ensure long term stabilisation.
SANTACO was asked if it was in a position to make a difference in terms of reducing violence in the taxi industry and if so, if programmes and timelines could be provided to the Committee to enforce discipline among drivers. Members were not pleased with the emotional response of the SANTACO President and urged that emotions not dictate matters as what was needed was leadership. It was emphasised that tough questions needed to be asked although the ultimate aim was for all relevant role players to work together to solve challenges.
There were concerns raised around the lawlessness associated with SANTACO, lawlessness on the roads and SANTACO was urged to get its house in order and provide the leadership required. Members raised the matter of empowerment, formalisation and modernisation of the taxi industry as it was an important asset to SA. Questions were posed on operating licenses, what the industry itself was doing to address violence associated with the industry, including providing information to the police, support of the National Taxi Task Team and plans to address splinter organisations. Concerns were raised around the involvement of the police in the taxi industry as it was well known top police members owned taxis.
Members spoke about the key differences between e-hailing services and the meter taxi industry and questioned why Uber was not present as part of the agenda was about transport crime.
Members urged SANTACO to take the COSATU presentation seriously. COSATU was asked what it was doing to ensure employees in the taxi industry were organised.
The Committees noted that transport impacted millions of South Africans and their ability to contribute to the economy. The safety of transport affected the quality of life and wellbeing of the nation. Criminal elements in specific sectors affected society as a whole. SAPS were urged to make specialised units a priority along with working plans and addressing of cold cases. Another session on these matters would be arranged before the end of the year.
The Chairperson said the first presentation would be given by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI).
Dr Lebeya was recently appointed as head of the institution. The Committee had previously requested Dr Lebeya to brief it on the turnaround strategy for the DPCI. The Committee also requested a briefing on certain high-profile cases the DPCI is currently investigating.
The high-profile matters include:
The Steinhoff and VBS Bank investigation
Verulam Mosque and Kwa-Zulu Natal Bomb threats
The second presentation would be given by the South African National Taxi Association (SANTACO) on taxi-related violence.
As indicated in a previous meeting, in a few months’ time the Committee would also invite the Divisional Head of Crime Intelligence in the South African Police Service (SAPS) to brief it on the turnaround strategy for crime intelligence.
Members of the Portfolio Committee on Transport had also been invited to attend the meeting. Some members of the Transport Committee had taken up that invitation. Mr C Hunsinger (DA) – among other members - were in attendance representing the Transport Committee.
The Chairperson noted Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) is a member of both the Transport Committee and the Police Committee.
The Chairperson asked Mr Bheki Cele, Minister, Police to introduce his delegation to the Committee.
The Minister said General Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner, SAPS was unable to attend the meeting as he was currently attending to the formulation of the national strategic plan.
The delegation then introduced themselves:
Lieutenant General Yoliswa Matakata, Deputy National Head, DPCI.
Lieutenant General Peter Jacobs, National Head: Crime Intelligence, DPCI.
Major-General Alfred Khana, Component Head: Serious Commercial Crime, DPCI
Adv Lennit Max, Special Advisor, Minister of Police.
Brigadier Vish Naidoo, National Spokesperson, SAPS.
The SANTACO delegation introduced themselves to the Committee:
Phillip Taaibosch, President, SANTACO.
Bafana Magagula, Chief Strategic Manager, SANTACO.
The Chairperson said the Committee had raised serious concerns at their previous meeting with the National Police Commissioner. A big concern is the safety of police safety stations. This is especially so given the recent attack on the police station in Ngcobo. Police officers had been killed in that incident. The Commissioner had given an undertaking to the Committee to take strategic and technological steps to improve the safety of police officers. Firearms and other items were stolen in the Ngcobo incident. Two other incidents had occurred after Ngcobo. Firearms were taken in both instances. This raises the concern whether the necessary action is been taken to address these incidents.
The Chairperson mentioned that two weeks previously he had visited two different police stations on a Saturday afternoon. That visit raised concerns. Necessary technological and tactical measures were severely lacking. This concern is shared by the whole Committee. It is critical that the Minister give the Committee an undertaking that these matters will be addressed urgently. Who is responsible for the implementation of those interventions? If the intervention falls within the mandate of the provincial authorities, then who is the responsible body? What has been done by the provincial bodies to urgently implement interventions to improve the safety at police stations? Is the necessary consequence management been executed by the commanders in the various provinces? It is critical that consequence management is properly executed.
Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said he aligns himself with the Chairperson’s comments. The issues raised by the Chairperson illustrate the shortcomings of SAPS management. Poor infrastructure and inadequate training are serious problems. He and Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) did an oversight visit of police stations two weeks ago. That oversight visit highlighted the serious issues raised by the Chairperson. Various stakeholders in government – especially Public Works – have let the SAPS down. When it comes to things such as revamping and ensuring adequate infrastructure, Public Works has failed SAPS. One of the police stations had no fencing – because it was stolen - and another station had dilapidated fencing. Any person could therefore drive a vehicle onto those premises and cause havoc. It is very important for SAPS to also improve their supply chain processes and implement proper consequence management to address these issues as a matter of urgency.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) said she had visited a number of stations. Security is among the most serious issues. She agreed with Mr Mbhele that Public Works is not doing its job properly and is letting SAPS down. There is also no private security. One cannot have operational members signing people in and out and there is no security for officers manning police stations. There is a serious need to have a meeting between SAPS and Public Works to address this issue, especially in high risk security areas. It is unacceptable to expect a police officer to potentially be killed when a station is robbed for its firearms and those officers have no security. In some cases, police officers are also complicit in such robberies. In other cases, however, criminals use police stations as an ATM for firearms. It is the responsibility of management to ensure the safety of officers in police stations which they are failing to do at the present.
The Minister said he shared the concerns raised by the Committee. He personally had visited a station in his own township. At that station there are only five police officers. A shootout occurred between police and the robbers in the township. The robbers were wounded and therefore had to be taken to hospital. Four officers had to accompany the wounded suspects to hospital. Only one female officer could then man the station. In another case only one officer had manned the station while the other two officers were on patrol. The station was then robbed of its firearms when there was only one officer in the station. In Umtata two members occupied the station when criminals attempted to rob the station but thankfully no officers were killed.
While Mr Mbhele and Ms Kohler-Barnard laid the blame at the door of Public Works, the Minister said the Treasury should also share some of the blame. At one point there were 250 000 police officers who served a population of 52 million South Africans. Now there are 191 000 police officers and 57.3 million South Africans. This also does not include other foreign nationals who are not included in that 57 million figure. Arguably, 192 000 police officers must serve a population of over 60 million people. This means there is around one senior officer to every 7000 people in the population. Treasury therefore must be engaged to address these issues. One cannot have a rudderless policy. Policing will always be an activity that is human intensive. Top management of the SAPS had been engaged on this issue. Ensuring experienced police officers are in the Service is also a very important consideration which must be engaged with. The personnel issues are been looked into. National treasury will also be engaged.
DPCI personnel are also placed throughout the country and are not always properly coordinated. Inadequate infrastructure is a serious problem. Police safety is also a serious concern. All of the issues raised are been seriously considered by the Minister. It is not possible to ensure the safety of police without adequate personnel numbers. A single female officer occupying a station in a high crime area cannot have proper security without adequate backup. The Minister requested the Committee to support the Minister and the SAPS in addressing these very serious concerns.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister for his constructive comments and responses. A big issue however is the need to be proactive and not simply reactive to the issues within the SAPS. The National Commissioner would be presenting before the Committee the following week. If the Minister could brief the National Commissioner of the SAPS on the measures which are currently in place - and which are going to be put in place – that would be appreciated by the Committee.
DPCI Briefing: Turnaround Strategy and High-Profile Cases
Dr Godfrey Lebeya, Head: DPCI, said the presentation had three parts:
Serious Corruption: on the turnaround strategy of the DPCI, State Capture and the investigation into the status of the Venda Building Society (VBS) Bank.
Serious Commercial Crime: on the Steinhoff investigation.
Serious Organised Crime: on illegal mining, the Verulam Mosque and KZN bomb threats and sea poaching.
Serious Corruption and State Capture:
State capture is a form of corruption. Corruption is a serious problem for society. Part of this problem is because corruption can be difficult to detect because those engaged in corruption want to keep their corrupt activities secret. Corruption often occurs in state owned entities (SOE’s) and other government institutions particularly in procurement processes.
The DPCI is strengthening its relationship with a number of stakeholders and has adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to combat corruption. Whistleblower protection needs to be strengthened to encourage a willingness to report corruption. Government and other institutions need to be made aware of their role in reporting and combating crime and corruption.
The presentation then dealt with eight specific cases currently under investigation by the DPCI relating to State Capture.
The first case deals with suspected money laundering at Transnet. A case had been opened in Johannesburg involving those allegations. No suspects have yet been identified. The value of the suspected corrupt activity involved is R36 million. It is alleged a Transnet Board Committee unlawfully ceded its powers to a sub-committee – known as the Board Acquisition and Disposal Committee – who unlawfully approved a tender for diesel and electric locomotives. The tenderer failed to deliver the locomotives, but the state still paid for the locomotives. A search and seizure of Baroda Bank had been conducted on 08 June 2018; six section 205 subpoenas were served on Baroda Bank and Transnet; six witness statements have been obtained and a report regarding frozen funds is currently been considered by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). A forensic firm has also been appointed to assist the DPCI financial investigators with analysis and financial flows. No suspects have yet been identified for prosecution.
The second case deals with fraud, money laundering and corruption at ESKOM which is also alleged to involve both Trillian and McKinsey. The case was opened at Sandton police station. The amount involved is approximately R2.5 billion. Three natural persons and other companies have thus far been identified as suspects. The case involves the abuse of a fund established for the rehabilitation of Koornfontein mine; the pre-payment by Eskom to Tegeta for the purchase of Optimum Coal Holdings and the suspected unlawful transfer of money – from another rehabilitation trust fund – into the Bank of Baroda. Section 205 subpoenas have been issued and information relating to 767 bank accounts have been obtained; 33 pieces of documentation from the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CPIC) had been obtained and a further 3800 pieces of information are currently been assessed. Price Water House Coopers (PWC) is currently assisting with the investigation. 40 witnesses have been identified and will be interviewed.
The third case involves allegations of money laundering involving the South African division of Systems Applications Products (SAP). The case was opened at the Sunnyside police station. The German division of SAP became aware of suspected criminal activity involving SAP South Africa and appointed law firm Baker McKenzie to conduct an investigation. Baker McKenzie submitted a report to the DPCI under section 34 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PREECA). The suspected amount involved is approximately R106 million. Five natural persons and one company have been identified as suspects. The content of the allegation is that SAP facilitated payments to two companies to unlawfully secure contracts for the provision of IT services to ESKOM. The CIPC also alleges SAP South Africa also committed offences under section 214 of the Companies Act. One search and seizure on SAP has been conducted; seven s205 of subpoenas have been issued a Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) report has been received and DPCI investigators are currently analysing all the documentation and information which has been obtained.
The fourth case involves allegations of fraud, corruption and money laundering involving a company called Homix (Pty) Ltd. The case was opened at Weirdabrug police station by the SARB. It is alleged Homix was used as a conduit to facilitate money laundering for a certain family and their business associates. The amount involved is approximately R270 million, one company and one natural person have been identified as suspects. Investigation is ongoing; six section 205 subpoenas have been served on three banks who have complied with those subpoenas and six witness statements have been obtained.
The fifth case involves the Vrede/Estina Dairy project. The amount involved is approximately R284 million and the case was opened at Park Road police station. The allegation is that Estina entered into an agreement with the Free State Department of Agriculture whereby Estina would establish and manage a project to benefit previously disadvantaged and secondly Estina would – in terms of the agreement – provide a capital injection of R228 million. The capital injection never occurred. Instead, the money was transferred to the Bank of Baroda who then transferred the money to Oakbay Investments and other companies associated with the Gupta family. 302 witness bank account reports have been received as a result of section 205 subpoenas; two search and seizure operations have been conducted. An auditing firm has been retained to assist with the cash flow analysis. The eight accused – the names of which appear on page 14 of the presentation – have appeared in court and are currently on bail. The next court appearance is 17 August 2018. A number of suspects have been identified. The names of the suspects appear on page 14 of the presentation.
The sixth case involves allegations of fraud and corruption against certain private individuals who influenced the former acting CEO of ESKOM into favourably giving those individuals ESKOM tenders and contracts. One of the directors of a company which benefited from those transactions is directly related to the then acting CEO of ESKOM. A forensic firm has been appointed and the DCPI is currently awaiting the outcome of an analysis of the collected evidence.
The seventh case relates to allegations that Mr Duduzane Zuma and others offered the position of Finance Minister to certain individuals – despite the fact they did not have the constitutional authority to offer that position – and that such an offer was made with the expectation of a corrupt gratification in return. Cases were opened at Rosebank and Cape Town police stations in 2016. 20 witness statements have been secured; four section 205 subpoenas issued; personal diary of a witness has been secured and the presence of the accused – Mr Duduzane Zuma – has been secured in court and he is currently out on bail. The matter has been postponed to 25 January 2019.
The eighth case involves a potential contravention of PREECA involving SAHARA computers which it is alleged paid for accommodation, trips and other accounts for the then Chairperson of Denel to travel to India and Dubai. VR Lazer was a company which the same family which owned SAHARA wanted to establish as a joint venture with Denel at the time. National Treasury intervened, and the joint venture did not materialise. One natural person has thus far been identified as a suspect; two section 205 subpoenas have been sent to the banks requesting evidence; five witness statements from Denel are still outstanding and the investigation is ongoing.
The presentation then dealt with the investigation into VBS Mutual Bank.
Cases had been opened at Makhando, Malamulele, Marble Hall and Burgersfort police station. The allegation is that municipal money was deposited into VBS Mutual Bank in contravention of Treasury instructions and in contravention of the Municipal Finance Management Act. Three suspects have been identified and the amount involved is approximately R311 million. More suspects made be added as the investigation continues. Reports by the SARB and Provincial Treasury regarding VBS and the Municipality have been received. Information from the CIPC has also been requested.
Serous Commercial Crime:
This part of the presentation dealt with the investigation into Steinhoff.
Steinhoff is a holding company registered in the Netherlands which has a secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE). The DPCI has received three dockets in terms of s34 of PREECA relating to the Steinhoff investigation. The allegations in the docket is that Steinhoff has been submitting false and misleading financial statements in contravention of section 81 of the Financial Markets Act. The complaints were based mainly on media reports. The section 34 PREECA report indicated the reports of the Chairperson of Steinhoff’s audit committee lacked substance. PWC has been contracted to conduct on audit on Steinhoff’s financial affairs. A request to Interpol has also been made to receive access to the ongoing Steinhoff investigation in Germany and the Netherlands. PWC and an attorney’s firm are working with the DPCI in the preparation of a statement.
The investigation is ongoing.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA); Department of Trade and Industry; Independent Regulatory Board; Interpol and other organisations are on board in assisting the DPCI in the ongoing investigation. The rest of the organisations assisting the DPCI in the Steinhoff investigation appear on page 25 of the presentation.
The Chairperson asked if any suspects had been identified in the Steinhoff matter.
Dr Lebeya replied that the investigation is currently at an early stage and no suspects have been identified as yet. The DPCI does however an idea about who the possible suspects are. However, the DPCI has not yet definitively concluded whether those persons are the correct suspects at present.
Serious Organised Crime
The first part of this aspect of the presentation dealt with the Verulam Mosque and KZN bomb threats.
Cases have been identified and linked to both these matters. A surge in bomb threats and explosions occurred during May-July 2018 in the e-Thekwini and Durban Central area. A multi-disciplinary task team has been assembled consisting of prosecutors, intelligence; analysts and investigators. Ten incidents have been conclusively linked to one another. Conclusive evidence must first be presented to the NPA by the DPCI - under the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorism and Related Activities Act (POCDATARA) - before a certificate can be issued to prosecute suspected offenders.
An attack was attempted on Taqwa Mosque on 31 July but was stopped. One suspect was arrested. The suspect was charged under section 33 of POCDATRA and appeared in court on 02 August 2018.
The second part of this aspect of the presentation dealt with illegal mining.
A number of operational successes had been achieved from the April 2017 to July 2018 period. Illicit mining poses a serious threat to the economic security of the country and is a threat to national security. It is necessary to properly secure the country’s national resources to address the serious issues illicit mining creates. An inter-departmental initiative is currently been lead by the DPCI under the National Coordination and Strategic Management Team (NCSMT) which adopts a multi-disciplinary approach to addressing these issues.
Illegal mining occurs mainly at dormant and operating mines. This ranges from subsistence scale illegal mining to more sophisticated illegal mining operations. Illegal mining is also linked to trans-national organised crime networks and contributes towards other criminal activity such as human trafficking, smuggling, child labour, economic crime and illegal gun running. 33 illegal mining hotspots have been identified. Turf wars between rival Zama-Zama gangs often result in violence and death.
Page 38 of the presentation presented a table of the operations which the DPCI has conducted to combat illegal mining. 24 operations have been conducted in hotspot areas in the first quarter of 2018.
Page 39 showed the financial successes from those operations. 322 arrests were executed in the first quarter of 2018.
Preservation orders and forfeiture have been granted as a result of a number of those arrests. Page 40-41 of the presentation showed the amount of money which has been preserved or forfeited. The DPCI works closely with the asset forfeiture unit (AFU) in the NPA in this respect. Assets forfeited include both cash and gold.
Emerging trends show precious sand and gold bearing materials are been collected by illegal miners in the Erkhuleni central and east areas.
The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the DPCI hosted a three-day workshop to train stakeholders the links between illegal mining and transnational organised crime. SAPS legal services and other stakeholders are working in conjunction with the DPCI to provide assistance and training to those most affected by illegal mining. The legal sub-committee of the NCSMT is attending to loopholes in the current legislation.
A number of constraints continue to hamper the efforts of the DPCI to address illegal mining. Corruption in the criminal justice system, inadequate training for relevant stakeholders; some stakeholders have poor attendance records with regards to the work of the NCSMT and many abandoned mines provide a lucrative source for illegal mining activities.
The DPCI is currently reviewing the current issues to determine the way forward. Intelligence led operations need to be intensified at a number of hotspots and regular inspections need to be carried out by the regulatory bodies. Continuous training and workshops – among other initiatives – will provide the way forward to address the issue of illegal mining.
The third part of this aspect of the presentation dealt with the poaching of wildlife sea resources.
The DPCI: Wildlife Tracking Division investigates and focuses on level three to five poaching activities of Abalone and Rock Lobster poaching. This is in line with the National Strategy to Combat Wildlife Trafficking (NCSWT). The DPCI also coordinates with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) as the major stakeholder in those investigations.
26 investigations have been conducted, 84 arrests made, 12 cases have been finalised and total of approximately 23 000 kgs of abalone have been seized. Four Prevention of Organised Crime Act (POCA) investigations have taken place. The POCA investigations have taken place under the offence of racketeering. The DPCI also participates in operation Phakisa in combating wildlife poaching.
The Chairperson said State Capture and commercial crime matters are highly specialised. Many of those cases have required retaining the services of outside auditing firms. Is the DPCI doing anything to create adequate capacity so that outside auditing firms do not have to be retained to conduct those investigations? Many of the cases referred to in the presentation were reported by civil society organisations. Does the DPCI proactively investigation corruption in SOE’s? The DPCI is intended to be flag ship body for such investigations.
Ms Kohler Barnard said massive constructive firms are filing for bankruptcy daily because government is not spending money on new infrastructure. The presentation shows the state did have money to finance such infrastructure, but massive corruption shows much of that money has now been stolen. As noted earlier many SAPS buildings are crumbling. Massive corruption has severe socio-economic consequences. The Bank of Baroda has now had to stop its operations in South Africa as a result of been linked with corruption. Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas all escaped the law. Some people have said that they were tipped off which allowed them to escape. The Guptas operated in South Africa for more than 20 years before fleeing. Does the DPCI intend to extradite the Guptas from Dubai? Does the DPCI intend to charge the Gupta’s or will they simply remain free? How could the Guptas operate in South Africa for 20 years with impunity? Has the suspect in the attempted bombing of the Mosque been released on bail? Some reports indicated three suspects – who were suspected of been foreign nationals – were implicated in the Verulam mosque attack. How close is the DPCI to arresting those suspects? If there are three suspects is it possible that have simply left the country? Border security is very weak. Is there any intelligence which establishes they are still in the country? The presentation contained no mention of rhino poaching which is surprising. A few days ago, officials at Attaturk airport in Istanbul seized nine rhino horns worth R3.3 million. Those suspects easily flew with those horns from OR Tambo international which completely failed to detect the horns, but those same horns were easily picked up by the scanners in Turkey. How close, if at all, is the DPCI to arresting those suspects? It is very embarrassing, shameful and disgraceful that South African authorities can be shown up by foreign authorities in this regard. All the top management of the DPCI and SAPS had previously assured the Committee that OR Tambo security was secure. What is the DPCI doing to fix security problems at OR Tambo?
Mr Mbhele said the large degree of progress appears to have been obtained in the Vrede Dairy case in terms of subpoenas and statements obtained. The list of accused however does not do much to allay public concerns and suspicions that the politicians involved are not been investigated or brought to book. One such person for example is the former Free State Premier, Mr Ace Magashule, who is widely believed to have been central to the Vrede scandal. Are political officers been investigated to the same extent as all the other suspects? It is easy to go after the bureaucrats and public servants involved in the scandal, but the political leadership should also be investigated. The DPCI must apply its mandate without fear, favour or prejudice. Politics cannot drive the investigative work of the Hawks. Questions around the political officers’ bearers are still present and should be answered. In contrast to the Vrede case not much progress appears to have been made in terms of the VR Lazer case. Witness statements are still outstanding in that matter. How long have those witness statements been outstanding? The case was opened last year already. When the docket was opened were no attempts made to obtain those statements? It could be problematic – given that the case was opened more than a year ago – that those witness statements have not yet been obtained. While the nature of those cases are complex, the basic steps – such as obtaining witness statements – should have at least been done by this point. Border security is an issue when it comes to illegal mining. To what extent does inadequate border security play as a major risk factor or enabler of that criminal activity? Will tighter border security not effectively constrain or reduce this kind of activity? If that is not the primary issue, then will more effective internal security and investigation properly prevent illegal mining? It appears that only the surface of the true impact of illegal mining is been stemmed by law enforcement. What role can the mining sector play in preventing illegal mining?
Mr S Mhlongo (EFF) expressed his disappointment and anger with the current situation. The current problems in South Africa are because of corruption which pervades throughout society. The Guptas have raped South Africa. Weak investigations allowed the Guptas to thrive and also allowed them to flee the country. A huge amount of publicity had attracted Duduzane Zuma’s return to the country for his brother’s funeral. South Africa is a part of INTERPOL. How could it be that Duduzane Zuma could not be extradited and the authorities had to wait for him to return to the country? The current situation is both shameful and embarrassing. The Gupta’s are building huge mansions in India. How can they not be extradited through INTERPOL processes? This is a shameful situation. Must the Gupta’s first die before attempts will be made to extradite them? The NPA and the SAPS must account for why no action is been taken to extradite those implicated in State Capture and corruption. Clarity must be provided on the bomb threats in KZN. Intelligence services have established Al Qaeda operates in South Africa. Illegal activities in South Africa are then used to fund terrorist activities in the Middle East. It appears law enforcement is not ready to deal with crime and corruption in the country. Must law enforcement first wait for Al Qaeda cells to become active before action will be taken?
Dr P Groenewald (FF+) said the people of South Africa want answers on the investigation into State Capture. It is worrying that the progress that is needed on that matter does not appear to be occurring. For instance, in the Transnet case no suspects have yet been identified. How can it be that R38 billion has been lost through corruption, but no suspects have been identified? How and why can it be possible that no suspects have been identified in terms of the Transnet Locomotive scandal? In two cases the names of the suspects are given: in the Duduzane Zuma case and the Vrede case. In all other cases the names of the suspects are not mentioned. Who are those suspects and why are their names not provided? He has visited sites where Zama-Zama’s operate. The people must be informed that there is a real threat to local communities were Zama-Zama’s operate. Those illegal miners often operate during the day and during the evening terrorise local communities. How many of those arrested for illegal mining’s have been convicted? A big issue is old and abandoned mines. Are the unforeseen consequences of illegal mining been investigated? Is there cooperation with other Departments – such as the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) – to determine those consequences? Corruption within the criminal justice – as raised in the presentation – is very concerning. Is that corruption within the police or the NPAs or other institutions?
Mr J Maake (ANC) asked how many illegal immigrants are involved in illegal mining. This problem of illegal immigrants involved in illegal mining does not appear to be prioritised. Which Department is responsible for the issue of illegal mining done by illegal immigrants? This is a very serious issue and people in local communities are been harassed by these illegal miners. No-one appears to be addressing this issue. Illegal immigrants themselves are also been exploited. This is a serious problem. Does this issue fall under the mandate of the Hawks or some other Department or institution? If this issue has not been prioritised, then it should be prioritised. This issue cannot be left alone until it results in a very serious issue which will later explode. Poor attendance and participation by stakeholders is an extremely issue. People are supposed to participate as part of their duties as civil servants. It is unacceptable that civil servants do not do their job. The Minister should engage with this issue.
Ms M Mmola (ANC) asked why the case against Duduzane Zuma was postponed to January 2019. Does this mean there is insufficient evidence to prosecute him or is the DPCI still investigating? Three other individuals are involved but only Duduzane Zuma is mentioned? Why are those official suspects not mentioned? Duduzane Zuma handed himself over to the police but was still handcuffed. Two white people in Middleburg were accused of murder but not handcuffed. How many investigators are currently attached to the DPCI? Is the number of investigators the DPCI currently has sufficient to perform their mandate properly? PWC is assisting the DPCI in the Steinhoff matter. What kind of involvement does PWC specifically have in that matter? Between 2016-18 there have been 26 major investigations into wildlife trafficking with 39 years imprisonment in total imposed. What efforts are made to prevent wildlife trafficking especially sea resources? What level of cooperation is provided with different Departments such as DAFF in this respect?
Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) said the DPCI has made progress overall. However, the pace should also be picked up. Outside forensic auditors have been contracted to assist with a number of cases. Do those auditing firms provide assistance in terms of contracts which are put out to tender? In some cases, SAPS and DPCI members are alleged to be complicit in crime. To what extent are DPCI and SAPS members complicit in offences such as State Capture and other forms of corruption generally? Are the bomb threats in KZN terrorist related or are they forms of hate crime?
A member from the Portfolio Committee on Transport said the DPCI had made good progress thus far but there a few concerns. Earlier this year there was an allegation that a number of big banks had been involved in crimes. There were also allegations that construction firms had engaged in collusion. Those offences – and the investigation into them – should have been included in the presentation. The presentation fails to include the names of people which are listed as suspects in a number of crimes. It is a pity that the presentation failed to also deal with rhino poaching. Something must also be done to speed up the progress of the investigations.
Mr K Mileham (DA), from the Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, had question relating to BDS. Five cases dealt with that issue. He personally had laid two cases – in the West Rand and Sandton – both of which are not reflected in the presentation. He also knows personally of a further ten cases which have been reported which were not part of the presentation. Why are those cases not been investigated?
The Minister responded to the question regarding the shackling of Duduzane Zuma at his appearance in court. His shackling had caused a number of problems for the police. The decision to shackle Duduzane Zuma was taken by the Department of Justice and not by the Police. In fact, the Hawks had urged the court to not chain Duduzane. The court however responded it was the norm in that court to chain all people who appear before it. Police had stated that he had handed himself over voluntarily, but the court insisted that it was common practice in that court. The Minister of Justice had taken up this issue. The Minister stressed it was not the decision of the SAPS to chain Duduzane. The question therefore can be answered more fully by the Justice Department and not the Police. It is however common practice to chain dangerous criminals. The police however did not state that they did not believe that it was appropriate to chain Duduzane at his court appearance, but the final decision rested with the specialised commercial crime court where he appeared and the Department of Justice.
The Minister said SAPS have made progress in addressing the issue of corruption within the police. The State Attorney’s office for instance had recently been engaged in acts of corruption and maladministration to the tune of around R80 billion. In many cases there is also collusion between some SAPS officers, staff in the State Attorneys office and private lawyers who ran a scam in defrauding the government to the tune of R80 billion rand. Corruption therefore occurs in terms of a chain involving a number of different people often from a number of different departments and institutions. It is therefore necessary to address corruption across the entire chain.
The Police Ministry had met with the Department of Mineral Resources. A number of life sentences had been handed down for Zama-Zama’s convicted of various serious offences. Both illegal and legal zama-zama’s engaged in criminal activities. In some cases, legal immigrants and South African nationals can be more dangerous than illegal immigrants. However, the problem is that the foot soldiers are not the people who get rich from criminal activity. The issue is to investigate and prosecute the people who head those criminal syndicates. It is important for the courts, mining houses, SAPS and the whole of society to take the issue of illegal mining seriously. Arguably the courts sometimes give light sentences to those involved in illegal mining and poaching. Government across the board must work together on this issue. The DMR Minister had been approached to consider creating a special unit to deal with Zama-Zama’s. The DPCI is not opposed to such an idea.
Dr Lebeya said the DPCI is working on a number of initiatives to strengthen its capacity. This includes attracting a number of personnel from other institutions and disciplines to develop capacity for skills such as auditing. The difficulty however is to attract people from the auditing environment into the police. A major barrier is the level of remuneration between those offered in the private sector and the police.
When a matter is not reported but media investigations establish a possibility of criminality then the DPCI will be proactive in conducting an investigation. The reality however is that it can sometimes be difficult to detect corruption due to its hidden nature. When a media statement is made, there is almost an indication of how people should be proactive to report and combat corruption going forward.
On the question of extradition, Dr Lebeya said that certain procedures had to be followed to lawfully secure the attendance of accused persons in court. The DPCI however cannot communicate methods of operations regarding ongoing cases. However, when one deals with extradition one must deal with the extradition process according to the letter of any extradition treaty which involves looking at the charge sheet presented. Dr Lebeya stressed he could not comment in this respect on an ongoing cases and could only make general comments.
The suspect arrested in connection with the foiled mosque bombing had been arrested in Gauteng and is still in custody. The suspect was due to apply for bail the following day and the NPA and DPCI would oppose bail.
The reason why the presentation did not deal with rhino poaching is because – as stated by the Minister – the presentation was based solely on the investigations upon which the Committee had requested a briefing.
The reason why the names of some accused had been listed – and other accused not listed – is because the DPCI had decided to only release the names of accused people in public and not the names of people who are only suspects at the present time.
Dr Lebeya stressed the DCPI is conducting its investigations in an impartial manner and if any additional suspects are added to the accused list then those names will be released publicly at the appropriate time.
Regarding whether weak border controls contribute towards illegal mining, the Minister was correct in stating that criminal activity operates in terms of a chain of individuals. That question therefore was answered by the Minister.
If any DPCI members are alleged to be involved in criminal activity, then an impartial investigation will be conducted by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). Such a matter would properly fall within the mandate of IPID. However, the DPCI would assist in such an investigation where possible and will tolerate no corruption or criminality within its ranks.
The DPCI cannot comment publicity on whether Al Qaeda operates – or has affiliates – within the country or not. The DPCI can assure the Committee that it is using all resources at its disposal to combat any potential terrorist activity or financing of terrorist activity within the country.
In response to Dr Groenewald, a number of witnesses in the Transnet locomotive matter had been interviewed and appeared to point fingers in different directions. The DPCI cannot publicly comment definitively on this issue. The DPCI however is currently dealing with a number of different companies and individuals and therefore a definitive answer cannot yet be given on the number of suspects in the matter at this point in time.
Illegal mining is different from whether a miner themselves are illegal immigrants or not. However, both legal immigrants, South African nationals and illegal immigrants are involved in illegal mining. The DPCI however does not have a mandate per se in relation to illegal immigrants. However, the DPCI does have a mandate in terms of human trafficking and not immigration per se.
The reason Duduzane Zuma’s case was postponed to 2019 cannot be revealed in the public at present. Various aspects were considered in postponing the matter to January 2019 – both by the DPCI and the court.
The DPCI does not have enough financial investigators at present. This is part of the reason why outside forensic firms have to be contracted to assist in complex investigations. However, this issue is one which the DPCI is focusing on as part of its overall restructuring to properly capacitate the institution. Not all forensic and auditing firms have been retained or appointed by the DPCI. One of the firms was appointed by the SARB. Treasury regulation directives require the SARB to appoint certain entities to do certain types of preliminary work which is the reason for appointing some of those firms. Other firms have not been appointed by the SAPS but by Treasury in line with the Treasury methodology and directives. Where firms have been appointed by the SAPS there is a methodology which is followed in terms of their supply chain methods to determine firms which comply with those pre-determined processes. This occurs in terms of a mandate which is compiled by the DPCI and then auditing firms which comply with those directives can later be appointed.
Many cases investigated by the DPCI often involve other relevant stakeholders such as the DAFF and DMR. Where a relevant Department has a role to play they will be engaged by the DPCI in conducting investigations.
It is not entirely clear at present whether the recent bombings and bomb threats in KZN are terrorist related or are simply hate crimes. That will only become clear at the end of the investigation and such issues are not always clear at the beginning of the investigation.
The DPCI had not included any investigations into collusion involving banks or construction firms because the presentation was prepared only according to what was requested by the Committee.
Dr Groenewald said he had not received an adequate answer in relation to his question regarding Transnet. No suspects are even identified in the presentation let alone accused. There is a serious problem in terms of the current system of witness protection. Proper crime fighting often requires a witness – together with proper protection – to expose and fight crime. What does the DPCI currently do to protect whistleblowers? Many whistleblowers are afraid to come forward because they are not provided sufficient protection if they expose criminal wrongdoing or corruption.
Mr Maake said Parliament had debates previously about the protection of police officers. A suggestion offered was the potential use of body cameras. This would go a long way to identifying those involved in committing violence against police officers. Has the DPCI considered using body cameras as a potential way to address that issue?
Ms Molebatsi said her question whether the contracts for the forensic firms had been put out to tender had not been answered. She requested that question be answered by the DPCI or the Minister.
A Member from the Transport Committee said State Capture is a serious issue which can take many different forms. He was concerned that the presentation did not deal with any issues regarding the banks and the collusion regarding the construction companies. Both of those issues appear to have been touch and go for the DPCI. Everyone is equal before the law and must be subjected equally to the law. Those issues must be taken together as they also form part and parcel of State Capture.
Mr Mbhele asked how many investigators from the DPCI are investigating the Transnet case? Initial media reports on the matter stated only one investigator was involved in that case which raised concerns regarding whether the DPCI was taking the Transnet matter seriously. Does the 39 years imprisonment figure mean that the sum total of all the sentences is 39 years? Is that a problem with the way the charges are initially formulated at station level? For example, that the officer may not be aware of the more serious charges which should be included in the charge sheet or an issue in terms of legislation which does not have sufficiently serious penalties for those crimes? If it is a legislative issue, then Parliament should apply its mind to fix those legislative shortcomings. However, if it is a training issue then those issues should also be addressed.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said the DPCI had acted on procurement fraud within SAPS. Procurement fraud is where the most corruption takes place within all Ministries. Has the SAPS pinpointed the causes of procurement fraud within the SAPS? Are there additional matters under investigation regarding criminal activity within the SAPS and within other Ministries?
Mr Mhlongo said he did not receive a proper response regarding his question on extradition. Both South Africa and India are part of BRICS. There must be some sort of protocol agreement regarding extradition between South Africa and India? Regardless, both India and South Africa are also part of INTERPOL. Warrants of arrest were issued for the Guptas as far as he knows. Once a warrant of arrest is issued then a charge sheet should be formulated. If extradition is of no assistance once warrants of arrest have already been issued, then what other avenues can be pursued? The Gupta’s must be returned to South Africa to face the justice system and to return the money they have stolen from the South African people.
The Chairperson asked what percentage of people in the DPCI are subjected to vetting procedures? What other measures – besides integrity testing – does the DPCI have in place to ensure the integrity of its members?
Dr Lebeya said the collusion of banks and big construction companies were not included in the presentation because the presentation only dealt with issues the Committee had requested a briefing upon. The DPCI however is currently investigating both of those matters and cases have been opened in that respect. Those cases are been handled by the Serious Economic Offences Unit in the DPCI. Two other cases involving the banks have also been registered and are currently subject to ongoing investigation.
The audit firms were not – as stated earlier – appointed by the SAPS. Some were appointed by the SARB and others by national Treasury and therefore the DPCI was not part of the appointment process for those firms. Where the DPCI appoints outside firms they do follow their own internal processes.
Regarding the potential use of body cameras, that question could be answered more efficiently by the visible policing contingent that would appear before the Committee the following week.
Various companies and individuals are been pointed in the Transnet investigations. However, as stated earlier, because those individuals sometimes point in different directions no possibilities can be ruled at this point and therefore that this why no suspects are listed in the presentation. Potential suspects and companies are listed but the DPCI cannot say at this stage whether those suspects can be eliminated.
Dr Groenewald interjected and was dissatisfied with Dr Lebeya’s response to his question. The Transnet matter involves R38 billion. Newspapers implicate a number of suspects and certain people are clearly implicated. While he appreciates that no people can be ruled at present he felt his question was not adequately answered. He said he would not pursue the question further but asked the DPCI to prioritise the Transnet case given the amount of money involved and its importance.
In response to Mr Mbhele, Dr Lebeya said the law requires the DPCI to make appropriate recommendations on the law reform when they are able. However, the final decision is taken by the Department of Justice. There is however room for improvement in a number of respects in so far as the legislative framework and current prescribed punishments for poaching are concerned.
There are a number of investigators involved in the Transnet matter which exclude the outside forensic assistance. Three investigators are involved in analysing the matter excluding those involved in conducting the physical investigations.
In terms of the 39-year sentence, part of the problem is the manner in which POCA is drafted. The Act does need to have harsher sentences for these types of crimes. The Act only brings in harsher sentences when it can be established the accused are operating on a high level in terms of a criminal syndicate and not only as individuals. The reason why those lower sentences were therefore imposed is because the convicted people were operating on that lower level and not in terms of a criminal syndicate under the POCA.
The investigation into State Capture is expanding to include things which were not originally included in terms of the original investigation. In terms of procurement, other aspects of the investigation have expanded to include those matters, especially within specialised environments. Most corruption does emanate from government Departments. The anti-corruption task team deals with issues of corruption in various government Departments.
Extradition is a fairly complex process. It is only once a person has arrived within a country that the process can begin. The DPCI is working closely with INTERPOL. However, INTERPOL is only a police to police arrangement and is not governed by extradition treaties. Mutual legal assistance is a different matter of law in so far as the extradition of accused people is concerned. However, this is a live case and cannot be commented on further in the public domain.
The DPCI is ensuring that proper vetting processes are been implemented and the process is currently ongoing. The DPCI does want to ensure all of its members are beyond reproach.
Dr Lebeya added that he does not have those exact vetting process figures with him but the vetting process is currently ongoing.
The Minister said that extradition matters fall within the mandate of the Department of Justice and not the Police Ministry. This had caused a level of confusion between the two Departments in the past. The Police Ministry is doing their part in so far as INTERPOL is concerned.
The Minister said police are often given battles and wars which do not properly fall within their mandate. People often blame police for socio-economic issues or poor service delivery when those issues are not due to the fault of the Police. Where social unrest occurs the first question is always what the police have done to address the uprising, but the cause of the uprising is not always due any police action or inaction. Very rarely do people attack the police. The Minister had however recently been to Hermanus where the police were attacked and in some cases their firearms were stolen, however those firearms were later received. In some cases, police officers are also involved in crime. In the previous 24 hours five police officers had been arrested.
The Chairperson thanked the DPCI and the Minister for their presentation and responses.
Mr Phillip Taaibosch, President, SANTACO, commended the Minister of Police for conducting a meeting with the Taxi industry after the Colenso shooting. This was the first-time members of the taxi industry had been treated properly as human beings. The commitment by the Police Minister to address those issues is something which SANTACO commends. SANTACO strongly appreciates the invitation which was extended to it by the Committee.
In 1995 the National Taxi Task Team (NTTT) was formulated by then Minister of Transport Mac Maharaj. An outcome of that process was the formulation of SANTACO under the leadership of the late Dullah Omar who also later occupied the position of Minister of Transport. The purpose of SANTACO is to unit the taxi industry, eliminate violence within the taxi industry and economically emancipate the taxi industry. Since SANTACO’s formation in 2001, the organisation had done much to achieve those three objectives.
Mr Taaibosch said one must be cautious when determining what constitutes taxi violence. For instance, it is not clear that if a handbag is stolen at a taxi rank whether that constitutes a taxi related crime for instance. SAPS statistics do not officially distinguish between different incidences of crime sufficiently to determine what is and what is not a taxi related crime or taxi related violence.
Operating Licenses (OL’s) have been the source of much violence in the taxi industry. OL’s are described in section 50 of the National Land Transport Act (NLTA) and are also issued under the NLTA. OL’s can only be issued by the National Public Transport Regulator; a Provincial Regulatory Entity or a municipality which has had an OL function assigned to it under the NLTA. Section 59 of the NLTA deals with the manner in which OL applications must be considered. If no objections are received the matter can be resolved summarily. However, if objections are received in an OL application then further information or a hearing must be provided for in the prescribed manner before a final decision on the application can be taken.
A problem is that different Provinces sometimes follow different procedures in terms of how OL’s applications are dealt with. SANTACO raised this issue – which was causing much confusion and conflict – at the public hearings into the Land Based Passenger Transport Sector which was held by the Competition Commission on 04 June 2018. SANTACO are not afforded any official recognition or representation under the NLTA. This is a problem because while the government wants the taxi industry to be organised, it simultaneously has failed to afford the industry any official recognition to make submissions on matters which directly affect the industry such as routes and OL application procedures and requirements.
Failure to consult with the taxi industry manifested itself in the recent Africa mall killings. OL’s were issued despite the fact existing routes were already in operations. If the taxi industry was consulted that violence could have been avoided. The Gauteng Department of Transport made a submission to the Provincial Regulatory Authority that a moratorium be imposed on issuing new OL’s. The municipality however did not have an acceptable integrated Transport Plan to indicate why no new OL’s should be issued.
While the NLTA says OL’s must be issued within six months of submission, in reality OL’s are often only issued many years later, sometimes up to five years. An OL is also only valid for seven years. This is a major cause of disputes in the taxi industry as well as the allocation of routes. Bribery and corruption between OL issuing authorities and applicants is also a major cause of conflict. Government officials who issue OL’s often have vested interests in the taxi industry. In 1996 the NTT recommended that no person should be granted an OL if they hold a position or have been employed in a position which could give rise to a potential conflict of interest. Section 13 of the NLTA deals with this issue and says specific persons involved in the issuing of OL’s must be impartial and have no direct or indirect interest in the management or execution of law enforcement related to the transport industry.
Law enforcement is reactive and not proactive in regarding taxi related violence. There is not a coherent strategy amongst law enforcement regarding how best to deal with taxi related violence. Additionally, not all road blocks are established in accordance with the requirements of the SAPS Act.
The entry of Uber into the market has also created conflict. Taxi operators feel the current process is unfair as Uber operators are not always subjected to the same stringent requirements – such as requiring an OL – which the taxi industry must comply with. The NLTA does not currently deal with e-hailing services such as Uber but the NLTA Amendment Bill does make provision to deal with the regulation of e-hailing services. The Department of Transport sent out a practice note requiring provinces to deal with e-haling application for OL’s in the same manner as a Charter Service application. However, many provinces are dealing with those applications in the same manner as Metered Taxi operating licences. Even when those OL’s are given to Uber’s they are not subjected to the same stringent rules and requirements which the taxi industry must comply with under the NLTA in practice.
In May 2016 Mr Ismail, the MEC for Transport in Gauteng, launched an Uber OL application process which caused violence between metre cab operators and Uber. This was the first time the metre taxi cab industry was involved in violence. Many operators are highly frustrated because some metre cab operators have been waiting for up to seven years to receive their OL’s. SANTACO is considering taking the Transport Department in Gauteng to court as it is not clear how many uber operators received their OL’s. Meter cab operators felt Uber was engaging in anti-competitive practices and encroaching on existing routes. This led David Makhura, Premier, Gauteng to establish a special police task force to mediate between Uber and other parties. Over three years a number of task teams have been established to mediate and investigate incidences of violence in the taxi industry. SANTACO however has never been approached by any of those task teams and has never been asked for their assistance or input regarding any mediation efforts.
SANTACO wishes to strengthen its relationship with all the various stakeholders within the taxi industry and name and shame perpetrators of taxi violence. There is a perception that some people receive political protection in relation to violence within the taxi industry. SANTACO does not want any taxi operators to take the law into their hand but it is also important for law enforcement to show that they are doing their part. SANTACO also wishes to take a proactive – not only reactive – role in regulating and ensuring the continued viability and stability of the taxi industry. Consideration should be given to potentially amending section 78 of the NLTA to provide for the possibility that if an OL holder is found guilty of a criminal offence then they should also lose their OL. Many OL holders who are found guilty of serious violent offences and sentenced to prison often continue to run their taxi operations from their prison cells.
SANTACO wishes to strengthen its relationship with all stakeholders in government. Thus, far SANTACO feels they have not been adequately consulted and involved in various matters affecting the taxi industry. Government played a role in establishing SANTACO and should continue to involve SANTACO in matters affecting the taxi industry as the organisation has a positive role to play. Government should look into the possibility of giving limited regulatory power to SANTACO – in a similar manner to the Law Society or the Medical Council – to self-regulate their own affairs and to promote the interests of the industry together with government.
COSATU Presentation: Taxi Violence
Mr Mathew Parks, Parliamentary Coordinator, COSATU, said that the union and many other stakeholders agree that the taxi industry is in crisis. The vast majority of workers depend on taxis to get to work and get home and the economy cannot afford for the taxi industry to be in chaos. The taxi industry is one of the few industries dominated by black people that managed to thrive in spite of Apartheid.
Since 1994 the government has failed the taxi industry especially in ensuring taxi operators conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law and that the safety of passengers is protected. Workers have no alternative options for transport – largely because of the state of other transport forms such as the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (PRASA) – and are forced to use taxis to commute to and from their place of work.
COSATU believes the taxi industry is governed by anarchy and lawlessness and poses a daily threat to the lives of commuters. Taxi operators often drive dangerously on the roads. Some taxi drivers show contempt for law enforcement. Up to 10% of the fatalities on the road are taxi related. A number of vehicles are unroadworthy and not properly licensed. The industry also largely believes they are exempt from labour legislation in the country. Some drivers work up to 18 hours a day, seven days a week with no overtime pay. Not only does this contravene labour laws but it also poses a danger to commuters. The industry also does not pay its taxes despite making almost R18 billion per year. It is not clear why the South African Revenue Service (SARS) is so soft on the taxi industry.
Some members of the taxi industry also contribute towards and are associated with gang violence. In KZN about a month ago 14 people were assassinated. During a taxi strike four golden arrow buses were burnt down. Some other operators are involved in money laundering. Sexual violence is also a serious problem and young women cannot travel alone in taxis for fear of been raped. Many people want to do the right thing and expose these criminal acts, but their lives are often put at risk as a result.
The taxi industry is very important for the country as a whole and it is in everyone’s interest to see it grow. Hundreds of billions of rands have been pumped into the rail industry but pocket change has been invested into the taxi industry by government. Provincial government also appears to lack the political will to take decisive action on the issues facing the taxi industry.
Greater engagement with the sector by government is needed. More investment by both the private and public sector must take place. The law must be applied impartially and consistently at all times. An intelligence led crackdown should also be lead. Corrupt officials in municipalities and in the Department of Transport must be removed.
Mr Parks agreed with the earlier comments of Dr Groenewald that greater protection for whistleblowers need to be established and this applies equally to the taxi industry. Unroadworthy vehicles must also be taken off the roads. Continued and routine roadblocks should be established in conformity with the SAPS Act.
There is a huge amount of potential for the taxi industry. Government does not have to be diplomatic or soft about implementing the rule of law. People are suffering daily when they make use of taxis in and the issues in the taxi industry need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
SAPS: Transport and Rail Related Crimes
Lt Gen Jacob Tsumane, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS gave the presentation.
The issues raised regarding the taxi industry are been prioritised by the SAPS. Crime intelligence is leading the charge in determining the source of rail related offences. Three provinces are the most serious in regard to rail related crime. The presentation looked at rail related incidents in the Western Cape in 2018, actions implemented, taxi violence incidents in April, May and June 2018 and actions implemented.
Ms D Magadzi (ANC, Chairperson of PC Transport) noted that it was demoralising to have 21 out of 32 cases still under investigation. In Cape Town, there were graveyards of burnt train carriages and nothing was done about this. The lack of action further encouraged those filled with violence to vandalise state assets because they knew the law was relaxed and they would not be held accountable for the vandalism being committed. It would have been pleasing if Members heard that 21 cases were complete, there were arrests and processes were heading to court. Where was the community intelligence? Lawlessness was the name of the game when it came to SANTACO and operators in the sense that there was disobedience of the rules of the road and they acted with impunity – she saw this on the roads. The taxis had dedicated lanes but these were not used and instead the traffic was disorganised – this cannot be correct. COSATU should work hard to ensure taxi drivers were unionised so that they could uphold the law – we should help one another. The policies on upstream and downstream were there to ensure empowerment of the taxi industry. SANTACO was being beaten at its own game by not being part of negotiations in the 13 BRT towns – perhaps SANTACO should get COSATU to negotiate on its behalf to ensure it was part of BRT. There were complaints operating licenses took long but SANTACO also allowed illegal activities to happen before its eyes. When there were then arrests, this was often followed by protests and threats. The industry was then frowned upon.
She urged SANTACO to get its house in order. There was work on amending the law to ensure e-hailing became part of the law so that Uber, Taxify etc were regulated through operating licenses. This law would be signed very soon. It started with the taxis when it came to obeying rules of the road and the country. This would allow the taxi industry to talk from a position of good governance.
Burning of trains was of concern – she called on all to look deeper into the challenge to uncover exactly what was being missed. There was something subliminal but big at play because gradually trains were being reduced in all provinces. We should be asking why people were geared up to reduce trains. This was being done in a systematic way so as to evade the police. The situation was bigger than what met the eye. As a member of the community she had a role to look for community-driven intelligence.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) questioned COSATU’s own campaign to educate people to protect their own infrastructure. Synchronisation of security groups could assist in the matter of the trains burning. SANTACO needed to act to ensure the retaliation of the industry when the police acted on or impounded taxis, came to an end. Today’s meeting was like a workshop because Members received a lot of information. A follow-up meeting was required to ensure there was reinforcement. SANTACO must ensure all its branches were brought together under one umbrella so that challenges were confronted amicably.
Mr T Mpanza (ANC) found the engagement very enlightening and encouraging. Empowerment of the taxi industry is very important in terms of its great numbers and buying power. This buying power could be an advantage in terms of owning garages and manufacturing factories to empower industry members. The culture and perception of the industry sorting its problems out through the barrel of a gun must be stopped – the taxi industry was an important asset to SA as it was run by black Africans. Operators in Gauteng could not just do as they please at exclusion of the national imperative – the Portfolio Committee on Transport should really address this i.e. the arrogance in the way in which the Gauteng Transport MEC was behaving as a law unto himself. It is very important to deal with challenges in the transport sector head on – there were no other countries where the main freeway could be blocked. This was something the Member experienced and was held up for five hours. This could not be allowed to happen in a country such as SA which operated under the rule of law. This also applied to the burning of trains, killing of police, burning of trucks. These actions should be treated as treason because public, government property was destroyed. Legislation should address this and ensure perpetrators were given harsh sentences.
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) thought the Department of Justice also had a role to play in discussions today. The current legislation did not speak to any obligation to issue operating licenses in six months. With each new operating license application there is opportunity to make submissions and SANTACO was not excluded. There was a serious shortfall on the part of SANTACO in providing information or contributing to the factors involved in taxi-related crime – the Member was disappointed that SANTACO only alluded to the bad relationship between the meter/mini taxi industry and Uber. This matter was being addressed in the new National Land Transport Amendment Bill to the extent that it was said Uber taxis would need to be clearly marked and identifiable. During the inquiry of the Gauteng legislature in November 2016 into causes of taxi-related violence, it was found that the Association continued to accept new members despite overcrowding of routes and challenges of profitability. The inquiry also found there were self-regulation problems, privately admitted vehicles, joint venture agreements between taxi associations with no succession in law and change in executive committees at times when it was not embraced by members of the taxi association. SANTACO made no mention of this in its presentation today when they were crucial elements of tax-related violence. The attitude towards taxi councils was also raised in the Western Cape between CODETA and SANTACO.
It was a fact that 14 coaches were burnt at an estimated value of R300 million. During oversight visits to Cape Town train stations, Members learnt the forensic investigation unit was based in Port Elizabeth and in Gauteng – this was a problem because Metrorail’s priority is to restore services as quickly as possible. Having the forensic investigation unit that far away made it difficult to finalise cases speedily as it demanded preservation of the crime scene. In the presentation today, Members saw the current status of most cases said “awaiting investigation report”. It was high time that consideration be given to moving the investigation unit to Cape Town – the high level of train burnings was a further reason for this.
Damage to state property should be akin to arson as in most cases it was premeditated. There were variances in the conviction rate – in the Western Cape the conviction rate was below 10 per cent compared to Gauteng where the rate was above 60 per cent. The triangle form of the discussion should be completed with the inclusion of the Department of Justice. Was the varying conviction rate due to the Department of Justice being compromised or was there a capacity shortfall? This needed to be addressed. The closing of SAPS offices at some stations was concerning – this was seen in Retreat, Bellville, Philippi and Cape Town stations. In the last couple of months, senior police officers have become more involved in Metrorail and Prasa investigations and this was encouraging.
Mr Hunsinger was informed around 200 Golden Arrow buses were damaged on average per month. There have already been nine attempts to petrol bomb the depo and eight to nine armed robbery attacks per month on commuters on buses. There was a coordinated assault on public transport and the Portfolio Committee on Transport took this very seriously. While the police efforts to thwart this were appreciated, it appeared to be an organised and coordinated attack on public transport, especially in the Western Cape. He asked COSATU where it sourced the data on 40% of all murders associated with taxi-related violence as mentioned in its presentation– the Member was informed there was no data on the direct correlation between incidents and taxis.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) found the discussion lacking on what the taxi industry itself was doing to address violence associated with the industry. What was the industry doing to discourage the settling of disputes through the barrel of a gun? The standard constitution associated with the NTTT had specific provisions which spoke to what the taxi industry was doing with members found to be perpetrators of violence. What was SANTACO doing to educate its members about desisting from violence? The correct approach would be for the perpetrators to lose their operating licenses – is this a solution? The planning of attacks happened in the industry and so the industry would be a repository of such information. Did SANTACO play a role in providing information to law enforcement on the people involved in planning violence? It was often said the police were not doing anything but the fact was that no one came forward with information. The decision to kill someone was taken somewhere – what was being done to rid the good industry, that provided 68% of commuters with transport, of this?
Mr Ramatlakane said the long term objective was to formalise the taxi industry, provide training and make it a proper business – how would the industry professionalise itself? The industry needed to inspect itself and ask if it is doing enough. The conflict in SANTACO itself regarding its structure spilled over into other transport areas and the broader economy. Was SANTACO working in the province with the police to apprehend the suspects? Did SANTACO still support the NTTT? This was not discussed or championed by SANTACO. The bigger picture was formalisation of the industry, subsidisation of the industry, adding retail aspects, owning petrol stations etc – this was in the NTTT along with building of cooperatives.
Regarding e-hailing, the question was why SANTACO was not moving with the technology to create an app. The Fourth Industrial Revolution involved the digital space. SANTACO could not resist or fight against existing technology – it had to move with it. Regarding licenses, the allegation that operators waited 15 years for licenses was serious – proof of this should be provided to the Portfolio Committee on Transport so that it could be raised with the authorities. This was unconstitutional as everyone should be allowed to participate in the SA economy.
Ms L Mabija (ANC) urged SANTACO to take the COSATU presentation seriously.
Ms Mmola asked how long a forensic report took to complete. In April, 10 of 12 cases were under investigation with no arrests. In May, 29 of 34 cases were under investigation with no arrests. The deployment of the active unit task team that investigates taxi-related incidents needed to be reviewed. She was concerned by SANTACO saying it waited 15 years for operating licenses – how could this be? Why were the licenses not issued? Was it legal for the Gauteng Transport MEC to give operating licenses to Uber? What did SANTACO do about this? Was this concern raised with the MEC? SANTACO complained not all road blocks convened against the taxi industry was in line with the SAPS Act – how were these roadblocks convened? Was this discontent raised with SAPS and others?
Mr Maake observed that COSATU did not say it was being denied the right to organise in the taxi industry so why was it not organising in this industry? If the Union required help, it should present recommendations.
Mr Mhlongo was disturbed that SANTACO’s own members complained about it but the organisation was nowhere to be found. People then started burning trains and inconveniencing the public because SANTACO failed to provide leadership. He did not understand why people continued to become part of SANTACO when it provided no leadership when things were happening. Many splinter organisations have emerged in KZN as they complained about SANTACO’s lack of representation. These were the people who ended up causing chaos and the police were then forced to move into a problem not of its own doing. Parts of Durban felt like a warzone with big, automatic guns handled recklessly around passengers – how could SANTACO allow this? This needed to be regulated because it was not good for business and showed it was survival of the fittest in the taxi industry. This was a very bad image but SANTACO was nowhere to be found. It was well known that before someone was killed, money was collected – he expected SANTACO to talk about this.
Transnet is a multimillion money-making business – was there sufficient manned surveillance of the Cape Town train stations to pick up on illegal activities and report it? Railway police on rapid response was required. How did Transnet invest in the safety of passengers? In KZN, it was said former combatants were used but some of them were under the age of 24 – how could a combatant join Umkhonto we Sizwe at two years old? This was not part of building capacity to protect passengers – it was part of money plundering.
Mr Mhlongo asked what the cost benefit of operators renewing licenses was if the state did not control driving capabilities and behavior on the roads? This also spoke to the responsibility of the Department of Transport and what it did by way of regulation. The responsibility of this regulation could not be placed on the police. It was not a secret, but in fact well known, that a number of top policemen own taxis –it seemed as if this was simply in line with the rule of law. What was SANTACO doing to expose this? He was shocked that in KZN, some simply went to the Department of Transport to get permits printed and then go out onto the road. Where was the Ministry, SANTACO or province? The local councilors could not deal with these heavily armed individuals as they could even overpower the local police due to lack of capacity. The rule of the jungle applied when one was a taxi owner.
Mr Mbhele noted the SANTACO presentation conveyed the complaints of the meter taxi industry namely differences in licensing compliance rules vis-à-vis e-hailing although this was still in the works with the Amendment Bill. It was the sustained and widely shared, although subjective experience of the Member that e-hailing services provided a far more superior and affordable level of service due to key features such a providing real-time customer feedback on the app after each ride – this was far more diluted in the meter taxi industry unless one has noted the license plate number and number of the taxi driver. This then went to a call centre and one could not be certain of satisfaction in this sense. With timing, one generally does not wait more than five minutes for an Uber or Taxify. Having used meter taxis in the past, the experience of the Member was that one waited 20 minutes for arrival after making the call. With e-hailing, one had a fair estimate of the cost of the trip before hailing a taxi whereas some meter taxis would say the meter is not working and a fare would simply be made up. Tourists or out-of-towners were often ripped off in this way as they were not aware of what the route should cost and so were overcharged. The other convenience with e-hailing services was that the fare came off one’s card so there would not be a need for handling of cash – some meter taxi drivers said they do not have change and one would be forced to part with a R50 for a R25 trip. When it came to differentiation in the regulatory regimes, the fundamental question was why e-hailing services should not be treated differentially when it offered a fundamentally differentiated service. There was always room for regulation where warranted but the one-size-fits-all approach would not be rational – it would distort the market, stifle innovation and ultimately disadvantage consumers.
Did the taxi associations, and SANTACO as the umbrella body, fully cooperate with SAPS when investigating taxi-related crimes? If the associations were proactive in providing information there could be some sort of preemptive method within SAPS Crime Intelligence to mitigate escalation in tensions in the industry and hopefully prevent an eruption of violence. It was almost guaranteed that a few days before a taxi shooting, people in the industry would know what was in the offing. The sooner information was made known to the police and processed by Crime Intelligence, the sooner mitigation and other measures could kick in. There was talk of better cooperation between the taxi industry, government, private sector and other stakeholders – the relationship between the taxi industry and the police was equally crucial as a key way to oppress taxi violence. Is this cooperation happening and what more needs to be done to strengthen it?
Ms Kohler Barnard noted that the fight between taxi drivers and Uber has been going on for some time and it was particularly worse in Johannesburg and Pretoria. Uber drivers were attacked and their vehicles were burnt. She was concerned Uber was not represented in the meeting as part of the agenda was about transport crime. She urged SANTACO to study the COSATU presentation. Around Umlazi, while doing door-to-door, she saw taxi drivers wearing what looked suspiciously like SAPS bulletproof vests – this was a fascinating development although SAPS might want to check its stock of bulletproofs. She was concerned the legislation looked as if it would instruct the Uber vehicles to be marked as such. Currently the Ubers were driving under the radar as drivers were terrified of being burnt to death by irate taxi drivers who thought they owned the roads. She trusted the Transport Committee and SAPS would take this into consideration if the vehicles were required to be marked.
In the Western Cape, the world watched as train after train was burnt at a cost of R300 million, as the Committee was informed. There were 32 cases and only one person arrested – this was a three per cent success rate. How much security was there regarding this government property? Why was there no film footage? Why was case after case closed as undetected because it could not be proved a crime being committed? There is no such thing as a train spontaneously combusting while sitting in a station. SAPS was failing dismally in this area – two months ago, SAPS took control of cash-in-transit heists. The same thing was needed for the major train issue as R300 million was big bucks coming out of the pockets of South Africans.
The Chairperson was missing a solution-orientated approach from SAPS. In a prior presentation, the Committee was informed there was supposed to be 2 400 more railway police in terms of the deployment from Visible Policing. What was the relationship between station incidents and the relevant police station or cluster? This would be part of a solution-orientated approach to ensure there were links between SAPS and Metrorail to ensure long term stabilisation.
Minister Cele noted South Africa had four former Presidents but SANTACO had no former chairpersons as they all died. Millions of money was paid by PRASA to security companies to run security, sometimes close to R1 billion. PRASA would sign contracts with private companies but despite this, trains were being burnt – PRASA and the private companies would have to explain this to the Transport Committee. Earlier in the year, the Minister took a morning train from Khayelitsha to Cape Town station and he made a vow never to do so again. One person in fact died on the train that morning. Commuters were relieved for the presence of the Minister because at one station the train usually stood still for an hour but on that morning it did not. Pressure was piled on the police for people not doing their jobs. Commuters were late everyday and lost jobs everyday – PRASA and the Department of Transport must take responsibility for this.
The police were working on the taxi industry – Umtata and the Western Cape were cases in point as there were constant meetings. Provincial and national SANTACO were fighting amongst themselves. SANTACO will have to reassume leadership of the industry. Not only were incidents in the industry where people died planned, it was also funded. These funds came from taxi owners – there was no such thing as a free hit. There were two forms which were very problematic, namely the green form (criminal record) and yellow form (history of the taxi). The industry refused to fill in these forms hence the lack of record of people committing crime. SANTACO needed to do a lot of self-searching as it could not be as clean as it presented. The Minister had worked very closely with the taxi industry for many years. It could not be that 15 people were shot and there was no information to provide to the police. The number of the Minister was public and when taxi people called him, they called on private number out of fear.
Conviction rates were low because witnesses were wiped off by being shot. There were meetings which the Minister attended where guns were present on the table – SANTACO could not pretend this did not happen. He proposed the taxi industry negotiated honestly with government. The situation was so dire that one began to lose hope in finding a solution. It was akin to someone who constantly smoked but appealed to doctors for help with sicknesses. There must be a sit down with the Department of Transport and Justice to find proper solutions to shortcomings including the suggestion that when someone was found guilty, they were removed from the taxi industry. The problem was that there were more illegal operators than legal ones. The taxi industry was a lucrative one for Africans.
Lt Gen Tsumane agreed that burning of coaches, which affected railway structure, equated in law to malicious damage of property. SAPS were guided by criminal law which said that cases of damage to movable property, even if it was state property, be categorised as malicious damage to property. Cases related to damage to fixed structures were categorised as arson. This distinction however would be given further thought to ensure perpetrators setting trains alight received heavy penalties. There were cold-case strategies and teams to look at the modus operandi used in cases which were closed compared to current cases. Modus operandi however were constantly changing and evolving. Crimes were committed by human beings and humans always left some traces behind. Crime intelligence was used where one was not able to arrest and scientifically link the suspect to the crime
It was admitted that SAPS crime scene management sometimes left much to be desired and this must be dealt with. A detective conference would be held next month where crime scene management would be discussed. There were many cases where management of the crime scene was an embarrassment to SAPS. When one was not able to prove or trace a suspect from a crime scene, the case was lost unless someone, by the grace of God, confessed. With the trains, first responders were responsible for cordoning off the crime scene. There must be a coordinated approach and examination of modus operandi and centralisation of these cases.
Lt Gen Tsumane said that with cloning of taxis, there was a two pronged approach– conventional investigation of the case or project-driven investigations which were unconventional. There was a need for mounted roadblocks in terms of visibility and crime prevention.
There was a need to improve the conviction rate. A prosecutor required a well investigated, prepared docket to convince the Magistrate of conviction. SAPS’ role in this would be looked at in relation to railway incidents. Railway police were not totally removed – there were units in Cape Town, Bellville, Philippi and Retreat. These units were linked to a relevant police station in the area. There were also rapid units to deal with crimes on trains. Resources should not be scattered all over but be directed where needed. The need for forensic capacity relating to train-related crime in the Western Cape required attention. The provincial forensic head of SAPS in the Western Cape would be consulted to mitigate outstanding forensic reports. There was a need to look at dovetailing and complementary activities. He agreed on the need for cooperation between all stakeholders.
SAPS added that there were taxi violence teams within provincial investigating units in the mostly affected provinces. The provincial investigating teams were established in all provinces to prevent a reactionary approach.
Mr Parks appreciated the spirit in which Members took the discussion which cut across party lines. It was a pleasure to listen to the Minister and his hunger to find solutions – he wished the Minister was appointed a few years ago because much was lost over these years. With the tax forms in the taxi industry, it might be good to call in the SA Revenue Service (SARS) on this. The Portfolio Committee on Labour could also look into whether the sector was paying Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) contributions. The stats used in the COSATU presentation came from the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) which sourced it from the 2016/17 Annual Report on Crime (Crime Stats). It was also cited in the Mail and Guardian of 23 July 2018.
The role of COSATU in organising taxi drivers was raised with SA Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) which noted the challenges of the taxi industry being cash-based and that one would struggle to get debit orders. The taxi sector was a concern of COSATU’s and there was a task team to specifically look at the transport sector as a whole. He was positive SANTACO would partner with COSATU to open the doors and support its members to adhere to all labour laws of SA.
With the burning of trains, about two or three years ago, there was the suspicion of disgruntled employees in relation to wage disputes between PRASA and Transnet. This was different to the scale on which trains were currently being burnt – it now looked more organised. It was important to follow the money trail and look at who benefitted – this could be a question of tenders or competitors.
Mr Parks said many COSATU members have risked their lives trying to expose corruption. Often concerns were raised with the police, crime intelligence, Parliament etc, and often nothing happened. However one would continue to raise concerns.
In January, the Police Committee had a good workshop on redeployment of SAPS members from admin, desk-bound posts to working on the ground. This was a key solution. He was pleased about the Constitutional Court directive regarding the National Prosecuting Authority National Director. While this was a key step forward, there was still much to do to overhaul leadership of all law enforcement agencies. There was a culture of lawlessness across SA where criminal behavior was tolerated. In taxi ranks in Joburg, women were stripped for wearing blue jeans and this was simply accepted. This needed to be tackled before it was too late.
SANTACO agreed that discussions in the meeting promoted the need for a sit down between SANTACO, government and other role-players, such as the Portfolio Committee, going forward. In the Western Cape, CATA and CODETA were historic federal structures of SANTACO. Federal structures were discouraged. The matter of elections had been ongoing since last year to the point of going to court. SANTACO was a constitutional structure and disgruntled groups should raise matters within constitutional parameters including the elections. CATA and CODETA in the Western Cape won a court order against SANTACO – this order was in the process of being implemented. The SANTACO constitution could not be flouted by having pre-elective conferences with suspended people. All avenues were exhausted to the point of intervention by the ANC in the Western Cape – they were equally misled until documentary evidence was presented of what actually was happening. The Committee was assured that the Western Cape would have a democratically-elected leadership by October 2018.
Violence in the taxi industry was not completely funded by the industry. In 2015 and 2017, there were two incidents of police reportedly acting as assassins, killing people in KZN – what has happened to these members? There was a case of a man taken by police, in Joburg, during the night, in front of his family, who was found dead the next morning. The point was that there was involvement of the police in owning taxis, hiding behind existing members of the taxi industry. The report of the Gauteng legislature found these police members played a role in derailing attention and removing legal operators to maximize profits. Until the Minister took a stand in dealing with such issues, challenges would remain. The occurrence was so rife that those willing to provide information could not do so for fear of their lives of police action against them. Who could one provide such information to and trust that the information would be safe? SANTACO was however happy to initiate a new beginning with collaboration.
The BRT matter was a bit tricky because, on one hand, government says something but, on the other hand, does something completely different. Former Transport Minister, Jeff Radebe, said the taxi industry would become the nucleus of BRT as part of the public transport strategy – the complete opposite happened in Joburg where BRT operators were beaten and some died. Other operators had their vehicles stopped and passengers were removed from them. SANTACO has always wanted BRT but all it got was what was left of negotiations with BRT.
SARS had provided a completely different picture of the taxi compliance of SANTACO – in fact the Organisation went with SARS to the provinces to encourage operators to pay tax. Not filing and not paying tax were completely different and on the latter, SANTACO disagreed. SANTACO had a relationship with SARS. There were challenges of compliance such as with labour matters. Standardising wage levels across the board in the taxi industry, in terms of revenue and fare, could in principle create problems with promoting compliance. Many operators did comply and some even paid more than was stipulated in the sectoral determination – other operators had problems primarily because of income generated.
Problems ran deep and could not be handled once-off. With Uber, government has simply put the cart before the horse. Uber as a threat or competitor was not the issue – the issue was that government allowed Uber to operate illegally and then legislated afterwards.
SANTACO added that a workshop could be held with the Committee to explain what SANTACO was starting with the NTTT up to the founding document so that information gaps could be filled. Regarding the Transport MEC in the Gauteng, one had to ask if national or provincial legislation came first.
Mr Taaibosch said that if he was a dictator in the taxi industry, he would say never trust politicians because people forget what they have been doing all this time. SANTACO has not run away from the NTTT but government has failed the taxi industry on the NTTT – what has government done for the industry that is in line with recommendations of the NTTT? The answer was absolutely nothing. SANTACO was happy with the contents of the NTTT but they were not implemented by government. The taxi industry would continue to strive to find ways of resolving its issues especially the scourge of violence. The Minister needed to be informed that it was not factual that chairpersons were not staying in SANTACO because they were killed. This did not mean that there were not challenges – in Gauteng, two days after a chairperson was elected, he was killed but the circumstances were different and not everything could be made to look the same.
Mr Taaibosch had documentary proof of the Department of Transport in Gauteng saying it would assist taxi operators within 60 days. SANTACO took the Department to court on 12 December 2014 and it was found 31 000 taxi operators were on the waiting list to get operating licenses in Gauteng and they had been waiting more than 15 years. One operator in Pretoria died two days after receiving his operating license. The proof could be provided.
It was unfair for anyone to expect SANTACO, or the taxi industry, to stand in front of a criminal and say he must not carry a gun or shoot. SANTACO led a non violent industry. There were individuals who caused violence and partnership was needed with the police to eradicate this. The industry went to former National Police Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, with solid cases of killed taxi operators – nothing was done. The first National Deputy President of SANTACO was killed in Sedibeng and the perpetrators were known by the police – to this day no one was arrested or convicted. There were a number of similar cases. Many people risked their lives by giving information to the police. SANTACO wanted to work with and be assisted by government in running of the industry and implementing of laws. The industry was 100 per cent black-owned. Where Members saw gaps, they should come forward and assist.
COSATU could not accuse the taxi industry of not paying tax – SARS could provide the information. COSATU was not banned from organising in the industry but SATAWU had failed to do its work. They have been taken by the hand but COSATU has been lax in organising in the industry.
Mr Taaibosch apologised for being emotional as the taxi industry was unfairly attacked and criticised by Members. The taxi industry was prepared to learn but it could not be accused. He repeated that if he was a dictator in the industry he would tell people where to vote in the coming elections.
Ms Kohler Barnard asked that cases referenced as given to Riah Phiyega be given to a real police officer.
Mr Taaibosch said he was prepared to do this and sit down with the police.
Mr Maake asked if SANTACO was in a position to say it could make a difference in terms of reducing violence in the taxi industry – could a programme and timeframe be provided to enforce discipline among drivers to make a difference? SANTACO had the muscle to do so but was it possible to make such an undertaking?
Ms Mabija was very disappointed by Mr Taaibosch apologising for being emotional – he was projecting who he was and his subordinates would do the same. This was why SANTACO and the taxi industry was a mess – it was because the leadership could not control its emotions which set a very bad example to the subordinates.
Mr Ramatlakane said the intention was not to accuse anyone but to state the challenges on all sides – all sides would need to work together to solve these challenges. He was pleased to hear SANTACO stood by the NTTT – the Transport Committee would need to engage further. Today’s discussion was meant to be tough because lives were lost – the hard questions may be perceived as allegations. There was a standard constitution which was applicable to the industry and association – SANTACO needed to take action where it was flouted as it was empowered through its founding document. The founding document was clear that when someone was expelled, that person could no longer operate in the industry – only SANTACO could take this action.
Ms Mmola asked that Mr Taaibosch not make matters personal. The Committee was conducting oversight and it was concerned about taxi violence. What was wrong was wrong and answers were needed.
SANTACO said while it accepted criticism, it had a problem when it was unfairly expressed, including by the Minister. While SANTACO wanted to assist, its role and authority had its own limitations and there is a point where law enforcement must be exercised – the question was if the police was willing to exercise this at all cost. With the standard minimum constitution, it was found that when decisions were taken and the constitution was implemented, the aggrieved person went to the police and the police literally reinstated him. There was a problem in Gauteng where there was an arrogant MEC who did as he wished and who no one could call to order. This created problems which the industry was left to deal with. The situation in Brakpan, where an association was accused of buying private security - this was as a result of what the Gauteng provincial department did. The association approached the MEC to close a splinter group which opened an illegal rank as it was in contravention of the policies of the association. Nothing was done and it was in fact found that the police and government were in cahoots on the matter. Until law enforcement acted with impartiality, these problems would continue. Trust was required.
Government intervention was required because the law provided for the MEC to review decisions but SANTACO was blamed. Such cases should be seriously considered by the Committee for intervention. Looking at the NTTT and founding document, one would see how SANTACO has progressed the industry. Deviations occurred because government missed some aspects of the founding document. This was why it was suggested there should be a meeting where SANTACO could take Members through the process – the foundation must be understood. A collective solution could be found if government assisted.
It was sad because it seemed nobody recognised the job SANTACO was doing. In July 2012, SANTACO met with the national office of police in Pretoria where a Brigadier in the national office warned SANTACO against bringing cases – how did one then continue to bring cases, trust, promote unity and clean the industry? This was also heard by SANTACO members on the ground. There were cases of the police being given the names of suspects involved in fatal shootings and witnesses were then threatened. SAPS could do a good job when it wanted. Lucky Dube was killed in Sandton at night and no one saw anything but suspects were arrested days later and someone was convicted. However in the taxi industry, information was reported but nothing happened – this made Mr Taaibosch emotional. Witnesses were told to be careful by the police because they were talking too much. It was not nice to check if people were hanging around before one entered one’s home.
Mr Taaibosch apologised for the emotions which drove him to raise his voice. Government did away with the minimum standard constitution – the 2005 Act removed the existence of associations hence SANTACO’s inputs on the new Bill. SANTACO’s appeal was for government to bring back the taxi associations. SANTACO was willing, eager and able to report to the Committee.
Ms Magadzi wanted to wish SANTACO a happy Women’s Month but there were no women in its delegation present. SAPS were doing a wonderful job. Deliberations today were informative and the relevant matters would be taken up by the Transport Committee. Another meeting was required with the criminal justice cluster. She appreciated the civil element that COSATU brought to discussions. Collaboration was needed to sharpen policies and inform legislation to better the lives of South Africans.
The Chairperson noted the meeting was important because transport impacted millions of South Africans and their ability to contribute to the economy. The safety of transport affected the quality of life and wellbeing of the nation. Criminal elements in specific sectors affected society as a whole – as was seen in jurisdictions in South America, this element took on a life of its own, could not be turned around and soon there was a second economy which could not be controlled. This also applied to other sectors. SAPS specialised units must be a priority and cold cases must be addressed. It was clear reporting at local police stations would not work. Working plans were required from specialised units and crime intelligence. 11 people could not be killed in one incident – this was the South American model showing its teeth since 1994. This must be dealt with strategically and right on with political will and commitment. Order was needed on the road and SANTACO must show leadership. Another session was required later in the year.
The remaining item on the agenda would be postponed until Tuesday morning.
The meeting was adjourned.
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