The Committee met with the SA Police Service (SAPS), as led by the Minister of Police and National Commissioner of Police, to be briefed on a forensic report on investigation of contracts. The Committee was provided with a 11th hour request from the SAPS to close a portion of the meeting, and not distribute certain information to the public, due to the fact that some aspects of the investigation were still underway and the possible airing of it in a public forum could jeopardise the investigation and court cases underway. The Committee was not pleased that the request was made so late and that SAPS did not take the Chairperson into its confidence so that the Committee could make a determination on whether to continue with an open meeting or not. Legal advice was heard on the closing of meetings. On this basis, the Minister agreed to withdraw the request to close a portion of the meeting. Members also emphasised that Parliament is a people’s institution and the principle of sub-judice could not be used.
The Committee suspended proceedings for eight hours to give Members a chance to peruse the full preliminary Grant Thorton and Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo Advsiory report on the forensic investigation of contracts because this was not provided to the Committee ahead of the meeting – a high level summary presentation was provided but Members voiced their displeasure at this. The report was still interim as new matters - which cropped up - were being dealt with.
The high level presentation updating Members on the forensic report addressed the status of investigations, compromised tendering and procurement processes, concerns related to organisational structures/controls and work in progress. The presentation also covered the CJS budget analysis, outstanding matters and recommendations.
The first line of questioning of the Committee concentrated on the Criminal Justice System (CJS) funding, indications of the total amount of money spent under the CJS project from 2004/05 to date as this is a huge amount of money which, if tracked, would, in part, tell the story. The questioning also addressed PCEM, if SAPS was still in contact with Mr Keating, Ethemba forensic services, the current SAPS CFO, implicated SAPS members resigning and skipping the country and the current state of the forensic labs and ICT in SAPS.
The second line of questioning of the Committee focused on the irregular evaluation of bids, interference from the bid evaluation and bid adjudication committees, how the interim and final forensic report would differ, specifications deliberately tampered with and flawed budgetary processes. Further questions related to conditions included in the specifications aimed at opening gaps to discredit other competitors.
The Committee discussed processes around action taken against SAPS members implicated in the report, especially those who have already resigned or left the country in relation to recouping state funds, vetting processes, insight the National Commissioner had into these matters in his prior position as a Deputy National Commissioner and the strong likelihood that recommendations made in the forensic report would have been raised by the Auditor-General already and the forensic report the merely confirms these findings.
Members were concerned about estimated budgets and internal shifting of budgets, escalated cost implications and the non-declassification of documents by SAPS of information required by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to complete the Directorate’s investigation. Members pointedly questioned what steps SAPS were taken, beyond the recommendations of the Report, to clean up the organisation particularly in the procurement environment. There was also discussion on the unnecessary procurement of SAPS ICT equipment and the ownership of SAPS assets vis-a-vis SITA.
In conclusion, the Chairperson noted the engagement today, and forensic investigation, confirmed many matters. The momentum must be maintained. It was emphasised that SAPS must clean its house. It was also said that PCEM would most likely confirm what came out in the report today – this was the next matter for the Committee to deal with. The Committee also awaited outstanding responses today on vetting, lifestyle audits, disciplinary cases and the management reports from the AG on the particular contracts.
The Chairperson welcomed the Minister of Police and National Commissioner. He noted matters under discussion today were well known by Members as the Committee has been engaging on it for quite some time. The matter should have been disposed of some time ago because the investigation was supposed to have been completed by end May 2018. Between then and now, the Committee should have met with the SA Police Service (SAPS) but on a few occasions, meetings had to be postponed due to clashing programmes. He was pleased to finally engage today.
Possible closing of the meeting
The Chairperson alerted Members to a letter addressed to him on behalf of the National Commissioner. The letter was received when he was already in the parliamentary village yesterday afternoon requesting the meeting today should be closed and that the report not be submitted in advance – the last point was moot because it was already a fait accompli.
Gen. Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner of Police, clarified he requested only specific information, which spoke to investigations, not be distributed to the public. The request was not to have the entire meeting in a closed session. Some of the investigations were in court and other matters could jeopardise investigations if discussed in public. The request was for this information to only be made available to Members and not for consumption of the public – this was the only request.
The Chairperson said it was absolutely unnecessary to send such a vague letter – he did not understand why these exact sentiments were not captured in the letter as it was uncomplicated. Members were given a sleepless night and legal services of Parliament was called in to deal with the request for a closed session.
Gen. Sitole apologised for this.
The Chairperson retorted that when people started apologising for many minor and needless things, this means the meeting already started on an unnecessary and unfortunate footing. The request was for specific areas of the meeting to be conducted in a closed session.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA) said Parliament is a people’s Parliament, open to the people and where any form of censorship was not welcome. He also raised there were many important investigations underway which Members did not want jeopardised in any way. Matters in court cannot be used as motivation because the sub-judice rule was not applicable to the Committee. He was concerned as to why it was said the Committee would be given a copy of the final report when some investigations were still underway. There was an incredibly slow pace of work.
Mr N Booi (ANC) asked the Chairperson when he received the correspondence. He was with the Chairperson yesterday morning in the management committee meeting and there was nothing raised of this nature. This last minute request undermined the Chairperson and Parliament. It was expected that when the meeting invitation was sent to the police, the request for a closed meeting should have been made then. Without seeing the report, Members could not entertain this discussion and make a determination. The Committee did not work on its own – the Speaker should be alerted to these developments. The National Commissioner had himself to blame for this challenge now – the Committee could not take responsibility.
The Chairperson highlighted he received a call at 16h00 yesterday informing him of the letter – at that time he was already in the parliamentary village.
Mr D Ross (DA) noted the vague letter submitted to the Chairperson, the submission on sub-judice rules and the slow pace at which investigations progressed. Whether the meeting was held in-camera or not, the Committee needed to hear the legal advice on how to proceed. The principle was that the meeting must proceed to avoid wasteful expenditure given the size of the SAPS delegation present today.
Mr Brauteseth asked a number of questions which he said would determine the legal opinion – how many matters were before the courts, i.e. sub-judice, and how many matters are still under investigation? There is no disqualification for hearing a matter before the courts in Parliament – the only time sub-judice applies in Parliament is if the discussion affected those sitting on the Bench. South Africa’s Justices see the newspapers and news all the time and this did not affect their legal reasoning on the Bench. Matters before the court can be discussed, less so investigations.
The Chairperson said the sub-judice rule did not apply because the matters were not before court.
Ms Fatima Ebrahim, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said the Rules of Parliament and Constitutional principles still apply whether the whole meeting or a portion of it was closed. Speaking about having one section of the report confidential was neither here nor there. The default position of Parliament is to hold meetings in the open. Rule 184 provides for this although it lists a number of exceptions e.g. (1) (a) “rules or resolutions of the Assembly provide for the committee or subcommittee to meet in closed session (e.g. Ethics Committee), (b) the committee or subcommittee is considering a matter which is (i) of a private nature that is prejudicial to a particular person (ii) protected under parliamentary privilege or for any other reason privileged in terms of the law”. The sub-judice rule could apply on the last point but the rule has changed substantially following a judgement in the Supreme Court of Appeal. The test is whether there would be a demonstrable and substantial prejudice to the administration of justice – the fact that something was before a court pending a decision did not mean it is sub-judice. Rule 89 of the NA Rules say “no member may reflect upon the merits of any matter on which a judicial decision in a court of law is pending. Parliament’s Legal Section has previously advised that Rule 89 cannot be a blanket prohibition as Parliament has an obligation to conduct oversight. All of the Rules of Parliament must be framed in the context of the Constitution. One of the listed founding values of Parliament is a multiparty system of democratic government to ensure accountability, responsiveness and openness. These rights are interlinked with others such as the right of access to information, media freedom etc. These constitutional rights must be taken into cognisance when discussing the Rules of Parliament which allow for a meeting to be open or closed. There is ample case law on the importance of this right and how to measure interests of the public against the prejudice which may be caused.
As she did not have the document, SAPS was best placed to prove that having this part of the meeting openly would cause the prejudice it feared. It is also practice in Parliament that when it was wished to have a closed meeting, the Speaker would be engaged – while this was not a rule, it was a practice. There should then be deliberation and the public should be informed the meeting was closed – it is unfair on those attending the meeting and expecting a briefing only to be told at the 11th hour that the briefing will not be held in open. The Rules do not specifically provide for this but in reading the constitutional rights, all of these facets would need to be weighed. The Committee now needs to ascertain the actual prejudice and then determine the public interest vs. the prejudice.
The Chairperson felt SAPS has put him in a difficult position. It would have been easier if he was privy to information so that he could assist the Committee. He was weary to simply just take the word of the Executive vis-a-vis Parliament even though it might be legitimate. To give the matter some consideration, the Committee should have some idea of the nature of the information – without this, it was difficult. Although not a rule, the practice when other entities wanted a meeting closed was to discuss it with the Committee so that Parliament was informed.
Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele, said the meeting can proceed as Parliament normally does.
The Chairperson reiterated the apology of the National Commissioner for the letter put the meeting on the wrong footing, unnecessarily. There was a request to close a portion of the meeting – now that the meeting would carry on as usual, Members would be unsure of whether SAPS will present on this sensitive information.
Mr Brauteseth found it incredulous that the request was for the meeting to be held in a closed session because of sub-judice matters under investigation, which SAPS made to sound very serious, yet at the first word of the Committee, the Minister makes an about turn and says the meeting can continue as normal. Was this just a tactic to get the Committee to back off from doing its job properly? He wanted to serve notice on the entire delegation that it would not work. It sounded like a trick.
Minister Cele did not understand how Mr Brauteseth could say the request was a trick – what kind of trick would it be? He did not understand the language used. Listening to the legal adviser and Members, the Minister agreed to an open session to make the work of the Committee easier. The Minister understood the predicament of not discussing the request with the Committee first. What would the trick be?
Mr J Mahlangu (ANC) did not belong to the Committee but had a chat with the Chairperson last week. The body language of the Minister was “if you want it, we’ll do it”. His view was that SAPS present the report but exercise the right to request certain aspects not be dealt with in open. However, if this right is exercised and it has a bearing either on the lives of the people involved, success of the investigation or any other matter brought before the Committee, Members must be sensitive to this. A mechanism could be set where if such a thing happened in future, the Chairperson should be informed well ahead of time. Parliament should be reasonable and not reckless in handling its work.
Mr Booi wanted to know on what standing Mr Mahlangu was speaking on.
The Chairperson said Mr Mahlangu was making an input as a Member of Parliament.
Mr Booi said there were structures in Parliament – does this mean anybody can come and have their say? He recommended the Chairperson, National Commissioner and Chairperson have a small discussion so that the Chairperson had a sense of what SAPS wished not be presented in public. It would be important that information not be opened up if it would be very damaging. The difficulty was that when Members asked questions, they would want to know what SAPS was trying to hide – he was pleading with the Chairperson. If the information was valuable to the work of the Committee, it could be scheduled for presentation in another meeting. The Chairperson could not leave Members hanging.
The Chairperson pointed out there could be discussion but either way, the Committee would have to decide how it would continue with the meeting – this takes precedence over the matters that would be excluded. He wanted to check what documentation the Committee had – was it the document dated 16 October 2018 together with the additional information circulated today?
Gen. Sitole confirmed this including the latest Committee directive on the information to add to the original report.
The Chairperson looked at the document but struggled to get a sense that it was a report on the forensic investigation, unless this was because of how the information was packaged. He did not see the findings made on the contractors, what was done about it, areas still under investigation etc – the Chairperson asked if he was missing something. Page 12 of the document said the final report would be shared with the Committee – this was the only part which spoke to the forensic investigation report. Was the document before the Committee about the forensic investigation report?
Gen. Sitole explained the document was a progress report on the information excluding the detail of the forensic investigations report. The detailed report was still continuing as new matters relating to the forensic investigation cropped up. The detailed forensic report can also be presented although it was not yet final as additional matters cropped up.
The Chairperson checked the correspondence sent to SAPS. In the last engagement with the Committee, it was understood the forensic report would be shared once it came out at the end of May. SITA has already shared its report with the Committee. If the discussion today did not talk to the forensic report it would not assist. The letter sent to SAPS after its last cancellation was clear in that the Committee requested to know the outcome of the forensic investigation. Did the document before the Committee talk to the investigation report? SAPS were not responding to what was agreed to in its last engagement with the Committee and in the letter sent.
Mr Kekana added the letter was in support of what the Committee decided in the meeting. In the last engagement with SAPS, the Chairperson summarised the need for discussion once the report was released – this expectation was very clear. It was difficult to prepare for this meeting as he did not know what was before the Committee. The message was very clearly conveyed on what the Committee wanted. It seemed this was becoming a trend – the Committee would request information from SAPS but then be provided with something else. It would not assist Members to receive the report now because they needed to interrogate it. Parliament was being undermined and this was not the only Committee being undermined. Committees were being ambushed by documents provided in the meeting. The aim of the engagement today is to follow up on matters – Members knew exactly what they wanted.
Mr Booi thought the National Commissioner was taking the Committee for a ride. The Committee was not being taken seriously. In his first engagement with the Committee, Members welcomed the Commissioner in the post. Members had to clash with Mr Brauteseth to hold off on asking the Commissioner certain questions to give him an opportunity to familiarise himself with the Department. Now the Commissioner was dismissing the Committee. The public out there was asking if the Committee was afraid of the Commissioner – it was not. The Committee was showing due diligence, patience and the human part of the process to complete the report properly. The National Commissioner should have taken the Chairperson into his confidence if there were problems with the report but the Committee was not taken seriously. The document dated 16 October from SAPS did not satisfy what Members wanted. The Committee received the final SITA report as it expected to – the Committee appreciated that SITA took it seriously unlike the National Commissioner did. What did he expect the Committee to do? The Commissioner was effectively undermining Parliament, not allowing the public to receive information and rendering Parliament ineffective in its work. The electorate was thinking about 2019 – Members are politicians and would have to explain to the public about what SAPS was doing – the Commissioner was not making this easy. The Committee was clear it wanted the forensic report. The Chairperson provided guidance on the questions Members would ask so that the Commissioner could prepare. The Committee was not taken seriously. SAPS paid a lot of money to have its delegation in Cape Town – someone would have to pay this cost. SITA has improved by taking the Committee seriously and taking Members into its confidence. The rules and constitutional make up of Parliament was being undermined.
Mr Ross understood that the SAPS delegation was prepared to present a forensic report. Looking at the legal opinion, the default position is to have an open debate and ascertain the actual prejudice to parties but the status of the forensic report was as clear as mud. He did not know if the Committee could rely on the forensic report. The National Commissioner said it was not yet finalised as other matters cropped up – the Commissioner should clarify this for the Committee in terms of what was outstanding and where there were conclusions and findings for the Committee to work off of.
Ms N Mente (EFF) asked if the final forensic report can be provided to the Committee today for Members to look at. Would the meeting be shifted to later today or would it be rescheduled to a new date? If there was a new date, who would pay the cost? Scopa was not interested in presentations – Members interrogated documents themselves and then formulated questions. It was clear the person responsible for managing relations between SAPS and Parliament did not do what he/she was supposed to do – this person only realised SAPS must come to Parliament the day before the meeting and requests of the Committee were not met. The request to close the meeting was then used as a scapegoat to save themselves the embarrassment. There was no work done. She asked if the Committee could receive the final forensic report to then determine when the meeting should continue.
Mr Brauteseth agreed. He believed the report was present. Members would need to take time to go through it. While the Committee was given an extra week in terms of its programme for the remainder of the year, it still needed to fit in a study tour and there was a shortage of time. He recommended the meeting reconvene this evening. He believed all Members should have sight of the report to decide what can be discussed and what cannot. An engagement could still go ahead this morning because he, and Mr Kekana, had enough work to keep the Department busy – to look at this and the forensic report might take a long time.
Ms T Chiloane (ANC) concurred. She proposed the meeting be shifted to later this evening if possible. She went through the document and found the information contained in it was not new as Members were briefed on it before. The Committee did not have time to postpone the meeting to another date.
The Chairperson said it was clear the Committee needed the forensic report to read as this was the basis and reason for the meeting arranged today. The Committee cannot be ambushed with information. The House Chair was already informed the Committee might need to meet later to engage on additional information provided.
Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) agreed to meet late tonight. He was concerned about cost implications the change in flights of the delegation would have. For once he wanted Parliament to be serious about cost implications arising from Committees being treated this way. This was an opportune moment to exercise consequence management – this should be foremost in the minds of SAPS.
Gen. Sitole requested an hour to provide the report.
The Chairperson asked why it was not already available.
Gen. Sitole said the report to be provided to the Committee would be an interim one because forensic investigations were still continuing as a result of matters cropping up. The report to be provided to the Committee would cover the time period up until today.
The Chairperson asked why this was not the focus of the discussion as per the Commissioner’s request. The request was drafted craftily in that it asked that the report not be submitted to Members in advance or that it would be presented at the meeting. The Committee was now convened and the report was still not provided. The Committee and Commissioner were really together during the first few engagements but now it seemed as if some momentum was lost, at best. At worse, some direction was lost. The Chairperson did not know if this had to do with the Commissioner or the people around him – he understood the Commissioner was not working as an individual but with a team. The Commissioner was now working with the Committee minus the goodwill – the Commissioner will be viewed as anyone else who appeared before the Committee, with scepticism.
SAPS was given an hour to provide the Committee with the interim forensic report for Members to go through it themselves.
Mr Kekana asked what would be done if the report was not ready in an hour as this was a possibility.
The Chairperson said it would be ready.
Gen. Sitole confirmed this.
The Chairperson was clear the delegation would not be asked to appear before the Committee on another date because this would waste money. The matters raised by Mr Hlengwa should remain in the minds of the delegation as it was not unreasonable. SAPS provided the Committee with a presentation which was not what was requested, like a student who wrote an exam and provided the wrong answers all together. This was not good.
The Committee reconvened at 18h00.
The Chairperson asked SAPS to talk to the matter which informed the basis of the convening of the meeting – other matters can be discussed thereafter. He reiterated the matters raised in the morning could and should have been handled better. It was realised there was indeed merit in the request to find a way to handle sensitive information. He requested the briefing be pointed.
Briefing to SCOPA update on forensic report and cases handled by SAPS
Gen. Sitole informed the Committee that he had commissioned a forensic investigation to zone in on the problems as a result of events that occurred. By the time SAPS was called to appear before the Committee, the investigation was still ongoing. Action was taken in response to the findings. Some of the matters included warranted criminal action, financial misconduct, in terms of section 81 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and internal investigation against misconduct.
The report will speak to the number of matters under investigation. As a result of the forensic investigation, two Lt. Generals were suspended, including the CFO. As a result of this particular action, the CFO has already resigned. One of the critical matters for the Committee was the R52 million – the forensic audit investigated this amount further and people were charged.
New developments also warranted forensic investigation. There was a media report a few weeks ago which spoke to the R495 million. He called for a special forensic investigation but this was not part of the report provided today as it was a new development. This matter was punishing the image of SAPS and it was important for it to be seen that action was being taken. A criminal case was already opened in this regard. Another matter related to Telkom Towers, the SAPS headquarters – there was an inquiry into this matter by the forensic team.
Gen. Sitole said that as a result of the forensic findings and investigations on how contracts are handled in SAPS, he discovered SAPS did not have a contract management strategy and he has since designed one. The strategy was approved to ensure contracts were better managed. The strategy was also presented to the Portfolio Committee on Police.
The court matter with Forensic Data Analysts (FDA) was still pending. The next appearance, according to the report, would be 11 November 2018. While the court case continued, SAPS was approached by FDA to say it was prepared to “liberate the sovereignty of the state” by handing over the software at a price. FDA wrote an offer letter for the handover. A team was put together to work on the matter with FDA. SAPS asked for the offer to be broken down. Presently, this national security matter was still under consideration.
Since SAPS last met with the Committee, more matters have arisen - more members were charged and others resigned. Criminal, disciplinary and financial misconduct were the three principles followed along with recovery.
Mr Tshepo Nyatlo, Senior Manager, Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo, took the Committee through the presentation which updated Members on the forensic report by addressing the status of investigations, compromised tendering and procurement processes, concerns related to organisational structures/controls and work in progress. The presentation also covered the Criminal Justice System (CJS) budget analysis, outstanding matters and recommendations.
Mr Brauteseth was pleased to hear progress was made on some matters such as the Telkom contract. He spent the entire afternoon going through the report and hoped something happened as a result of it. From what he understood about the CJS, it was an amount appropriated by Treasury from the Justice portfolio to be spent in SAPS. This was confusing because he asked a parliamentary question in June on this matter to Minister Cele – the question asked if the Department of Police received any funding from the Department of Justice for any reason in the past ten financial years, up to 1 April 2018 and, if so, what the amounts received were and details of the funds spent. The question was referring to CJS funds. The answer was that no funds were received but this is completely contradicted by the report received today. Was the Commissioner aware of this response?
Gen. Sitole explained the budget was not physically allocated to SAPS – the budget is kept by Justice where SAPS, and other departments in the criminal justice cluster, would submit projects and needs for the funds to be released. The response was supposed to identify that the budget was kept by Justice but earmarked for SAPS’ projects which were approved.
Mr Brauteseth said if this was the case, the presentation indicated SAPS went over budget severely – the presentation said the CJS budget was overspent by R106 million. Were Justice officials complicit in this?
Gen. Sitole responded that once the budget was approved for the projects for SAPS to implement, it is placed directly under the accountability of the National Commissioner. Justice would seek a report from the National Commissioner to account for what was done with the money.
Mr Brauteseth said it could not be both ways. The answer to the parliamentary question said no such funds were received but he now heard the National Commissioner clearly knew the Member was referring to CJS funds but chose to deflect the answer. He put it to the National Commissioner that he was less than truthful in his response to the parliamentary question - this constituted an offence in terms of parliamentary protocol.
Over this period of time, the CJS would have received a serious amount of money and from the information he had, a lot of the money was directed towards the forensics division and a lot of money was spent irregularly, going back to 2004/05. He asked if the Committee could get an indication of the total amount of money spent under the CJS project from 2004/05 to date and how every single cent of it was spent. SAPS’ internal audit should be able to assist with an answer. This is a huge amount of money which, if tracked, would, in part, tell the story.
Turning to the report, one of Mr Brauteseth’s biggest concerns was that all the forensic investigations involved FDA contracts. He complimented the authors of the report for dealing very well with the Light Source contract but it however did not deal with all the contracts, most notably, PCEM. When would there be a proper explanation for the five PCEM contracts? The Member said he has been asking these questions since November last year. Why were the contracts only awarded to FDA?
Gen. Sitole replied that a response on the historical CJS funding could be provided to the Committee. He has given an instruction on the PCEM contract – a further forensic audit report would also be provided to the Committee.
Mr Brauteseth said this was close to R1 billion – Light Source, with all respect, was small change. PCEM was the big money. Sticking with PCEM, the Member knew Gen. Sitole was having secret meetings with Mr Keith Keating (FDA CFO) to discuss PCEM. The Member knew PCEM was conceptualised and first written in SAPS. His legal knowledge was that the first author of a document owned the intellectual property. The Member knew of a person who first conceptualised and wrote the programme – he did not want to name the individual. Why was SAPS still meeting with Mr Keating, after everything that happened, to settle this matter? Mr Keating did not own the intellectual property yet R1 billion was paid for it – South Africans needed an answer on whether there were still negotiations with Mr Keating.
Gen. Sitole said SAPS was in court with Mr Keating where part and parcel of the court process is PCEM. Secret meetings were not held. Mr Keating approached the National Commissioner by writing a letter. A team was put together to handle the letter to ask Mr Keating to come forward and explain what was contained in the letter.
Mr Brauteseth noted one of the big matters of the report covered was the payment to FDA on 31 March 2016. The Committee asked SAPS to provide details of all payments made on the last day of any particular year – the answer was a long waffle about salaries, tax etc and nothing was said about the Ethemba saga. He asked if the Commissioner knew about the Ethemba forensic service saga.
Gen. Sitole was aware of it on the part of the forensic investigation. He explained what prompted him to commission the investigation – when the Commissioner appeared before the Committee, Members asked him questions which he could not answer. The Commissioner said he needed to find the truth himself which led to him commissioning the investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to get to the bottom of all matters raised by the Committee and matters he had concerns about himself – the Commissioner would not stop until he got to the truth. The scope of the investigation is to look at the problem holistically and get to the root cause.
Mr Brauteseth explained how the Ethemba forensic matter came about – the matter was covered in detail in pages 28 to 34 of the forensic report. The award for panoramic cameras went to Ethemba but, suddenly along the way, the award was disqualified. To paraphrase the report, FDA was brought in to provide the cameras but Ethemba kicked back by bringing in an outside third party expert, the individual who designed the Spheron 360 degree camera, who met the specs and the police were forced to review and promise Ethemba the contract but this never materialised. Today, SAPS is still in litigation with Ethemba. The money assigned to be spent on Ethemba forensic services for the panoramic cameras was shifted across in a huge flurry on 31 March 2016 and the report details all this. The money that was supposed to be spent on the Ethemba panoramic cameras was instead spent on Mr Keating – this was the kind of control Mr Keating had over SAPS. He wanted the Commissioner to be fully aware of the Ethemba matter and the reach Mr Keating had regarding PCEM. He wanted the Commissioner to be careful and for him not to go down because of this.
Mr Brauteseth asked who the CFO is.
Gen. Sitole said the actual, appointed CFO was Lt. Gen. PA Ramikosi. He was now suspended.
Mr Brauteseth asked who the other suspended person, which the Commissioner mentioned earlier in the preface to the presentation.
Gen. Sitole said the other member suspended was Lt. Gen. A Shezi.
Mr Brauteseth asked Gen. Sitole if he was aware that many of the suspended members were now skipping the country. Col. Potgieter was already in Mozambique – did the Commissioner know this?
Gen. Sitole did not know this but would follow it up.
Mr Brauteseth added Lt. Col. Patrick was already at FDA – was the Commissioner aware of this? Another member was making plans to go to Texas and his wife was already there. Before these members could be nailed, they would all skip.
Gen. Sitole was not aware but he appreciated the information. He would immediate act upon it.
Mr Brauteseth said the report provided to Members today was very damning and people would start running for the hills. Moving on from this, all these matters affected the labs, consumables and forensic division - how many outstanding claims are there against SAPS at the moment regarding people who spent time in jail but should not be there because the lab messed the case up?
Gen. Sitole could not give the answer off the cuff but would provide one for the Member.
Mr Brauteseth asked if Gen. Sitole could confirm if there are claims.
Gen. Sitole had a strong belief there are but this would be confirmed in a prepared answer to the Committee.
Mr Brauteseth questioned the state of the labs and consumable stock. Very shortly, possibly before the end of the year, the labs would not have any stock to do much at all – is this correct?
Gen. Sitole replied that it was not 100% correct because some measures were put in place to ensure critical stock was there. He instructed that, following the right prescripts, the Service might have to go on quotations in order to get the stock. So far, he did not receive a report about a crisis.
Mr Kekana sought clarity on what is meant in the presentation, where it spoke to irregular evaluation of bids, that “independence of BEC members is questionable”.
Gen. Sitole clarified that according to Treasury regulations, any structure of a bid committee must be independent i.e. must consist of SAPS and other professionals, even including Treasury, so that it was independent.
The Chairperson noted that the question was about what went wrong and how the prescripts were violated.
Gen. Sitole said that as he brought in contract management, he was forced to review all structures talking to procurement so that there was compliance with Treasury prescripts.
The Chairperson said the question is what is specifically wrong with the BEC and its composition.
Mr Nyatlo answered that the investigation found some conduct of the BEC members was questionable in terms of how bids were evaluated depending on the service provider. This pointed to potential prejudice of some service providers. Prescripts were not consistently applied by members when they evaluated the criteria and this led to potential independence challenges on the part of the BEC.
Mr Kekana asked if this, by implication, was saying there were permanent BEC members because BEC members need to be rotated.
Mr Nyatlo clarified the investigation only looked at specific periods for the contracts under review and did not look at the historical records of the BEC. The independence was more on objectivity on the part of the BEC in terms of conduct e.g. specifications not adhered to, certain criteria set by the BEC itself which did not show independence or objectivity in terms of conduct.
Lt. Gen. RJ Mokwena, SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, added there are no permanent members on the BEC. With supply chain practitioners on the BEC, the challenge is these are non-scoring members. Forensic is a scientific area therefore those eligible cannot be argued with in terms of whether the product was right or wrong. Most of the BECs are highly subjective but with the interference the National Commissioner instituted, it was hoped this risk would be minimised. On the BEC it was helpful to have scientists from elsewhere and not solely on the end user so that there is no manipulation of bids.
The Chairperson understood the member to be saying independence was questionable based on how bid evaluations were submitted.
Mr Kekana said the process of the tender itself presupposes the tenders were not opened at the same time. If criteria was set for a particular tender and there is a committee entrusted with the responsibility of looking at this but the committee was inconsistent in doing so, it indicates the tenders were not opened at the same time. The statement in the forensic report was that there was interference when the report was sent to the BEC – clarity was needed on these matters. Additionally, minutes of the BEC were not available so where was the information obtained from?
The Chairperson asked the respondent to speak to findings on where the tamping would have come from and why it was said the people on the committee were not technically qualified.
Mr Nyatlo replied that looking at the five contracts, some instances of prejudice was found on the part of providers in terms of them being disqualified for not allegedly meeting certain criteria whereas FDA was passed through although it also did not meet the same criteria. Before some contracts were awarded, it was said physical verification would have to be done but then inexperienced individuals, not from the forensic environment, were sent to conduct these verifications. Certain BEC members agreed specifications were tweaked between the contract being cancelled and reissued.
Mr Kekana asked who the BAC members accounted to.
Mr Nyatlo said according to structures, the BAC accounted to the Accounting Officer.
Mr Kekana wanted to know what was found about accountability during the investigation.
Mr Nyatlo replied that the BAC would take the recommendation from the BEC, there would be deliberation and then a recommendation would be made to the National Commissioner.
Mr Kekana asked what informed the finding that information passed between the BEC and BAC was tampered with.
Mr Nyatlo said incidences were found where final recommendations of the BAC were not in line with what was evaluated by the BEC.
Mr Kekana asked if the investigation checked with the Accounting Officer on these discrepancies.
Mr Nyatlo pointed out the investigation was historic so Gen. Sitole was not the Accounting Officer at the time.
Mr Kekana asked what informed the recommendations given that the report was preliminary.
Mr Nyatlo responded that much as the report was still draft, certain flaws in the process were identified and need to be rectified. In some instances there were clear breaches of certain prescripts.
Mr Kekana was concerned that the final report would change the initial findings.
Mr Nyatlo said this was not what he was saying. The interim report contained the observations made during investigations. It was brought to the attention of the National Commissioner.
The Chairperson said the question was the material difference between the draft and final report to quell the doubts of Members that the final report may come out differently from the draft one.
Gen. Sitole said the final report will not change initial findings but could bring more findings and recommendations. For instance, with the R52 million, in the first phase of the preliminary findings, two people were involved but when a further report came, further findings suggested more people should be charged.
The Chairperson asked if this meant the draft report opened the door for further findings but would not change the initial findings made e.g. if someone was initially found guilty, further investigation cannot find the person innocent?
Gen. Sitole explained that as the findings came out, some warranted immediate action. In other findings, where people were implicated, they would be asked to explain themselves – if the explanation was not satisfactory based on the prescripts, further action would be taken. If the explanation was satisfactory and there was no violation of the prescripts, this could change the facts.
Mr Kekana was concerned there were already disciplinary hearings even though the report was only preliminary – what informs this process? The final report might show different facts.
Gen. Sitole stated that when the report came before him, he verified it against existing laws and prescripts. Where he took action, it was in the case where the law was already violated – this would not change in the final report. Disciplinary steps were taken where the case was a certainty and a prescript was violated – this was not done in cases still requiring an explanation.
Mr Kekana was not happy but he moved on. Going back to the BAC interference, there was a strong statement that the FDA specifications were deliberately tampered with - how was this conclusion drawn?
Mr Nyatlo replied that people were interviewed and there were testimonies that certain specifications were tweaked in order to align them to a specific service provider.
Mr Kekana emphasised he was speaking specifically to the FDA contract. On the flawed budgetary process, an indication was needed of which budgets were exceeded without necessary approval. Which contracts specifically were part of tender processes awarded on estimated budget?
Mr Nyatlo answered that estimated budgets spoke to the procurement process where a division would approach Supply Chain Management (SCM) to kick start a tender process for items and estimate the cost of the contract. It was found the actual expenditure exceeded the estimated cost.
Mr Kekana again emphasised he wanted the answer to identify specific contracts.
Mr Nyatlo pointed to slide number eight/nine R35 million etc – on the matter of expenditure of budget without approval, it was found these projects were funded from the CJS budget and there was no approval from National Treasury when SAPS made certain adjustments to plans and budgets submitted when this was a requirement Treasury put on SAPS.
Mr Kekana asked what informed the statement “conditions included in the specifications aimed at opening gaps to discredit other competitors”.
Ms T Chiloane (ANC) asked what the intention of SAPS was with the members who have already resigned. What was being done about the person implicated in the report who has already resigned? The report found much was left wanting but the question was who signed off on these matters. The report made recommendations so SAPS cannot have further investigations when it comes to those who did wrong. Was the National Commissioner waiting on Scopa to ask the question of those implicated?
Gen. Sitole replied that if a person resigned but a criminal investigation has already been initiated against the person, the investigation continues and the person continues to be a suspect for processing through the criminal justice system. If the person had caused damage to the state in terms of section 81 of the PFMA, SAPS would resort to freezing pension and fringe benefits in following the correct process when one owed the state. If any person did wrong, the expeditious process would be initiated to go the summary dismissal route within five days –this was done according to the regulations. Another route to take was the normal internal investigation which involved suspension – if the person resigned, the investigation would continue to determine what the person owed the state and if the matter was criminal.
Ms Chiloane, looking at Rands and cents, noted the money in terms of variance was R106.5 million – can this money be recovered? Could the people involved be faced with criminal charges? The main aim should be to recoup the money because the criminal process took its own time. What would be done with the people who have signed off on tenders knowing the process was not followed correctly?
Gen. Sitole highlighted the multidisciplinary value chain of which Treasury was part. Treasury also guides and gives guidance on the process to recoup the money whether from an individual member or a contract. Certain investigations, whether by SAPS or the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), reached the level of the Asset Forfeiture Unit for recovery – this process was part of the investigation.
Mr Hlengwa placed the matter in context by referring to a question at an earlier interaction which is how far the vetting process is.
Gen. Sitole responded that Crime Intelligence (CI) is running a dedicated and specific project and a vetting report can be provided including lifestyle audits. The process succeeded in vetting many people. Supply chain was completed because this was the crux of the matter. Other components were also critical for vetting, for example, forensics.
Mr Hlengwa noted the Commissioner said contract management was absent, for lack of a better word, in the SAPS structure but this was something Gen. Sitole has since sought to rectify since occupying office. Gen. Sitole was however a Deputy National Commissioner (DNC) prior to becoming National Commissioner.
Gen. Sitole confirmed this.
Mr Hlengwa said this meant Gen. Sitole was pretty much in the mix of things at management and would have been privy, given the senior position, to the fact that contract management was not structured. He asked Gen. Sitole what his intervention was then.
Gen. Sitole said that he has written more than ten strategies in the past 10 to 20 years in SAPS including the Community Policing Strategy which was only being implemented now that he is the National Commissioner. As a DNC he was in charge of operational policing but he always contributed to the relevant strategies, including the Resource Management Strategy, but he did not have authority.
Mr Hlengwa was not suggesting the National Commissioner had authority but he was trying to say having been part of top management, Gen. Sitole should be in a better position to explain why contract management was absent. The Member was trying to do an age analysis of how this problem was arrived at and Gen. Sitole had a better view having been part of the machinery.
Gen. Sitole said contracts were handled and managed individually in isolation from the relevant delegations as there was delegated authority. Further, delegated authority to deal with contracts goes with the performance management systems and must comply with the Act. People must be assigned so that if anything went wrong with contract management, there are people to hold accountable. Over and above this, SAPS deals with both strategic and operational risk – contract management was on high strategic risk in SAPS because if it was not managed it could actually lead to a loss of huge sums of money. There was a gap in that there was no proper coordination, control measures or a structured plan in terms of early warning. From this gap, the National Commissioner directed contract management be instituted.
Mr Hlengwa asked how the contracts were managed in the division Gen. Sitole managed at the time as DNC.
Gen. Sitole explained that in terms of the SAPS structure, the DNC for Asset and Legal, at the time, was Lt. Gen. S Schutte. The various other environments were the users – if the environment needed something to be administered through a contract, Asset and Legal was supposed to coordinate the development of the strategy, manage all contracts and advise the Accounting Officer.
Mr Hlengwa asked if this meant contact management was the responsibility of Lt. Gen. Schutte, as warped as the arrangement was, and Gen. Sitole, as DNC at the time, was the end user of what Lt. Gen. Schutte may have purchased.
Gen. Sitole said this was correct, according to the prescripts.
Mr Hlengwa asked if this meant there was no vacuum but that Gen. Sitole sought to correct the arrangement because it cannot be that there was no contract management in the practical sense but that it was handled by Lt. Gen. Schutte.
SAPS have been audited for many years so were the findings made in the forensic report all new? Would it not be that if one went through a financial report of 2009/10 or 2013/14 that one would find such findings?
Gen. Sitole responded that there were more old findings than new. Some of the findings can be found in the audit reports. A number of audit reports were submitted but their findings were not responded to.
Mr Hlengwa was concerned that some of the findings have existed for some time - he did not want a moment where the shock or revelation was about the forensic report findings when these findings have existed all along. As a DNC, it was hoped Gen. Sitole would at some point have discussed the findings of audits and would have been obliged, as leadership and management, to respond to these findings by developing strategies. He asked the Commissioner if he felt the leadership of SAPS at the time performed this function of looking at audit reports annually and developing and devising response mechanisms. The Member was not asking these questions to pin the Commissioner down but because he had a front row seat and bird’s eye view in the thick of things. How was management responding to audit outcomes?
Gen. Sitole replied that when he was DNC, in his environment, it was his responsibility to respond to all audit findings and report to the National Commissioner. When he became National Commissioner, he realised there was a gap because there was an executive at the top and then all the DNCs.
Mr Hlengwa asked if Gen. Sitole was part of the executive when he was a DNC. He wanted to get a sense of how things were structured historically from a DNC who was now National Commissioner. Would the response of a DNC on the audit findings be sent via report or discussed in a meeting?
Gen. Sitole said as DNC, he would call all his Divisional Commissioners and inform them of the findings in their environments.
The Chairperson clarified the question was if the DNCs and National Commissioner, as executive management, discussed the audit findings of the Department.
Gen. Sitole replied that this was done when the executive management met with the auditors but there was structured discussion of all findings across the divisions.
Mr Hlengwa asked if it was fair to conclude that Gen. Sitole was privy to all findings.
Gen. Sitole agreed but noted that he was not sure of all reports because there were a number.
Mr Hlengwa felt the sense that these report findings were new should not arise because the National Commissioner had been privy to historical findings upon taking office. The forensic investigation merely confirms these findings. Gen. Sitole has been privy to the general state of health of the Department – is this a fair assessment?
Gen. Sitole said the assessment was fair insofar as the environment he was leading. He did not have a full view of other environments.
Mr Hlengwa, in fairness, accepted this although he had reservations about it. He asked who is currently in the position of CFO.
Gen. Sitole said the acting CFO is Maj. Gen. S Nelson. The CFO post is currently advertised and would be filled before the end of December.
Mr Hlengwa then asked what position Maj. Gen. Nelson held prior to acting as CFO.
Gen. Sitole said he was the Budget Officer in Finance.
Mr Hlengwa hoped this name did not pop up in light of all the investigations. Where do matters stand with recovery if implicated persons resigned? The challenge was that individuals were often “recycled” in the public sector so the implicated individual might resign from SAPS but pop up in another department down the line after taking a cooling off period to enjoy the loot – there was no consequence management. As contract management was improved, how was consequence management tightened because this remained a loophole?
Gen. Sitole responded that he reviewed the performance management system because of the gap between the system and what was actually happening. Risk management has also not been speaking to contract management yet most risk was found there. The risk management strategy has been reviewed so the two were aligned. In future when the investigation was reported on, the briefing should also speak to recovery because it was part of the instruction.
Mr Hlengwa asked if the SAPS delegation would have returned to Pretoria had proceedings this morning not been suspended, for lack of a better word.
Gen. Sitole indicated the process ran from Monday to Friday and from Cape Town, part of the team would be going to the Eastern Cape and then return to Cape Town.
Mr Hlengwa asked if the delegation would have left today for the Eastern Cape.
Gen. Sitole said he was scheduled to leave tomorrow.
Mr Hlengwa asked if this meant the suspension of proceedings this morning had no financial impact whatsoever to the taxpayer as the delegation was scheduled to be in Cape Town.
Gen. Sitole, answering honestly, said that only some of the delegation was scheduled to remain in Cape Town tonight. Non-operational members were scheduled to return to Pretoria. The bigger part of the team was however scheduled to remain.
The Chairperson asked that the National Commissioner not preface his reply by saying he wanted to give an honest answer as if the answer could be dishonest.
Mr Hlengwa said there was then a cost implication.
Gen. Sitole confirmed this.
Mr Hlengwa wanted the cost implication detailed and spelt out so there could be a formal tete-a-tete with the leadership of SAPS as to who would foot the bill for this. A line must be drawn in the sand that this ends here and goes no further – whether R1 or R10 000, it was still taxpayer funds.
The Chairperson said the detail should include the cost of changing the flights and hotel accommodation i.e. any cost implications.
Mr Ross highlighted that he spoke to colleagues in the CJS cluster to get a sense of how the budget was compiled and he found the elephant in the room was the shifting of budgets internally in the CJS and as found by the forensic report. More information was needed on the shifting of funds in the CJS to SAPS over the past ten years – this money could run into billions of fiscal waste. He urged the Committee to give the Auditor-General an instruction to give the Committee an indication of how budgets were internally shifted in the CJS where contracts were awarded which were not part of the budget – this came out clearly in the forensic report. If the Committee looked back at this after the past ten years, it would be appalled at the level of mismanagement in terms of the budgetary process in SAPS. This would open the avenue for criminal action regarding mismanagement of funds. He asked the Commissioner if he agreed the budgetary process was completely flawed. Budgets should be fully funded and not estimated – the report clearly spoke to the problem of estimated budgets and variances. To look at the historical consolidated summary of variance over the past ten years would reveal the extent of the rot – as a previous DNC, the Commissioner could provide more insight on this. It was said there is a task team looking at targets and milestones in the CJS when preparing the budget– were operations linked to targets and budgets in the larger CJS budget to SAPS? How does this actually work?
Gen. Sitole explained the CJS funds are handled by the project registrar. In the project registrar there is a master project plan in which there were deliverables for detectives, forensic and training using CJS funding. The budget is spent according to these particular projects.
Mr Ross asked if there was agreement the shifting of budgets internally poses an opportunity for unauthorised spending – exceeding of budget is unauthorised expenditure. He was also concerned about estimated budgets which also opened avenues for shifting.
Gen. Sitole was also concerned about this hence reviewing the process and control measures introduced to minimise risk.
Mr Ross then questioned the FDA contract asking if there were concerns about the opening up of negotiations with, what was assumed, individuals implicated in unlawful activities by the task team put together. The concern was the status of the people being dealt with.
Gen. Sitole said when he first came to the Committee on the FDA contracts, he raised the concern of the national security risk based on the sovereignty of the state involving these contracts. The national security risk must be minimised on these matters. He was approached by FDA and did not approach it. When FDA brought its offer, experts were dealing with it, including the court. Negotiations must be linked to the court process for the court to pronounce on it. Matters raised by Members were noted but the experts were dealing with it. So far, there was a submission with amounts.
Mr Ross questioned if there was concern of escalated cost implications of requests made in negotiations.
Gen. Sitole, as Accounting Officer, was concerned about the cost of matters of this nature. If the cost did to speak to the product received, as Accounting Officer he would not allow such. The matter was not at the stage where a decision must be made. He awaited the recommendation from the legal analysis linked to the court process. He would be concerned with any cost.
Mr Ross asked progress made with lifestyle audits.
Gen. Sitole said both a vetting and lifestyle audit report would be provided to the Committee. The process of lifestyle audits had commenced by means of a project plan and progress can be shared.
Ms Mente noted two glaring elements in the saga were compromised tender and procurement processes, which has been a standing suspicion of everyone, and the organisational structure which was suspected to be full of crooks. Based on this, when SAPS met with the Committee in February, Members requested instances and cases raised be investigated by the Commissioner – did the Commissioner request any assistance from IPID or the Hawks? If so, was this assistance satisfactory to separate the crooks from the real SAPS management?
Gen. Sitole said everyone was called together to establish a multidisciplinary investigating team comprising of Treasury, IPID, the Hawks and Detectives. He commended everyone for working together and for working with the forensic investigators – this was of great assistance and he was satisfied with the cooperation.
Ms Mente noted that when the Committee met with IPID separately on corruption in SAPS ICT, it was indicated to Members there was a deliberate delay from SAPS to provide documents – she supposed it was those implicated who tried to hide information. She asked if IPID could confirm all the information it required for its successful investigation, to ensure recommendations were made and the implicated members were held accountable, was provided.
Ms Mente was worried that at the end of the report, it was said 23 members were referred to investigation – how many people were left to work with in procurement? Were all 23 members in procurement or elsewhere? The danger was that the Acting CFO came from the budget office – the unit in which flawed processes stem. Who was clean to continue working in procurement and be trusted with taxpayers’ money?
Gen. Sitole said not all 23 members were from procurement – some were part of coordinating operatives, forensic, Technology Management Services (TMS) and other environments, for example, Detectives. The instruction was that once a member in procurement was implicated, the individual could not proceed in the environment. The member would be replaced. The same applied to the financial environment.
Ms Mente noted these members were not suspended and were still in the national office.
Gen. Sitole responded that internal investigations were still in progress. The moment misconduct was picked up, an internal investigation was initiated.
The Chairperson clarified the Ms Mente was concerned that out of the 23 members, 17 were still under investigation and were still working within the SAPS structures. The report was dated August and it was now October – what was the progress of these 17 investigations?
Gen. Sitole would provide a status report on the 17 members.
The Chairperson asked when it was likely all investigations would be complete as internal investigations could not last forever.
Gen. Sitole proposed a status report be provided as some of the cases were on trial and not necessary under investigation. Timeframes for trial cases were determined by the regulations.
Ms Mente noted that for a person to be on trial, SAPS must have laid a criminal case – how can such a person still be part and parcel of the Department and not suspended?
Gen. Sitole clarified that it was a departmental trial and not a criminal one.
Ms Mente highlighted that when the National Commissioner was new to the post and engaged with the Committee, he promised cases would be dealt with. The document provided to Members, dated 16 October, still had the same names. She was concerned if these members would ever have disciplinary dates and if these processes would ever end. The danger was the opportunity for members, accused of criminal activity remaining in the Department, to mess up cases and hiding further information. She did not understand how someone implicated in corruption was not suspended while the investigation was ongoing to ensure the person was taken away from the environment.
Gen. Sitole responded the regulation allowed for a member involved in misconduct to be suspended or transferred. If a member was suspended, and the member was taken through a tribunal process, the regulation prescribed the process must be finalised within 90 days and if the 90 days expired, this person automatically returned. Suspended members who returned would not be kept in the same environment where the misconduct was committed. Today the Commissioner concluded a process of a Lt. Gen. which started three years ago as it concerned court and labour law processes.
Ms Mente asked the Commissioner to provide the Committee with a report of the 23 members.
Gen. Sitole said he would provide the report in five days as the cases were handled by different tribunals and a full detailed report would be submitted.
Ms Mente said the report would be expected next week Wednesday. The AG had a problem with the ICT of SAPS - this was known even before this forensic report came out. There was a bad tendency of procuring unnecessary ICT equipment – fingerprint equipment, e-dockets and firearm systems were never used by stations. The AG had a problem with the non-disclosure of this equipment and the uncertainty of leasing and ownership between SAPS and SITA – what is the current status regarding the ownership of SAPS assets to avoid criminals procuring unnecessary equipment? Does SAPS have people with the know-how to advise on equipment required and not the crooks? What is the current status of ICT in SAPS?
Gen. Sitole said he instructed the review of SAPS’ technology requirements. It was found that much of the technology in SAPS is outdated – Uganda asked SAPS to arrest a suspect through binational cooperation but SAPS could not track the suspect because of its technological limitations until it used the private sector. The incorrect technology was procured because the end user (policing operatives) did not determine the user requirement – support instead determined what operatives wanted. Other challenges involved the resource matrix e.g. data line capacity vis-a-vis acquisition of computer equipment where the equipment was purchased before the data line capacity and by the time this capacity was established, the computers were outdated. SAPS were working on these matters. Recently it went to Bangkok to benchmark digital transformation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was assisting with cybercrime technology. The capacity in TMS was also under review.
Ms Mente asked if the Commissioner could now own up to the ICT assets of SAPS or were the assets still between SAPS and SITA.
Gen. Sitole stated the assets were currently still between SAPS and SITA but the future plan was to move out of SITA due to national security operational dynamics. There is certain information no one but SAPS could have access to.
Mr Booi asked to be given a sense of how the recommendations would be implemented to stop corruption in SAPS so that the Committee did not meet with SAPS again.
Gen. Sitole responded that the multidisciplinary investigation task team would be dealing with recommendations where criminal or departmental misconduct were made. Internal departmental processes would be aligned with the disciplinary code as part of consequence management. Whoever committed misconduct would be flushed out of the organisation. There would also be negotiations with Treasury to work out some form of cooperation between SAPS and Treasury when it came to contracts. There were also negotiations with SITA. The aim was for SAPS to focus on policing and operational requirements. All findings were processed through risk management and control measures were put in place to bring about the required change.
Mr Booi emphasised the corruption in SAPS was systematic and the Committee needed to be given a sense of how it would implement recommendations so that the attention was on arresting criminals. The FDA challenge is a historic one and has costed billions. How would this be curbed?
Gen. Sitole replied that one of the processes put in place is modus operandi analysis so that when any crime or conduct was dealt with, the modus operandi is killed. There is also root cause analysis to remove root causes in the system. All culprits would also be got rid of. The system would also need to change to ensure it was not infiltrated and that it complied with the internal control framework, which would also be changed to close all gaps in the system.
The Chairperson clarified the point was that the report confirmed there was a lot of wrongdoing. While SAPS was expected to act on the report and deal with the individuals involved, the Committee needed to know what would happen beyond the report in terms of plans developed to address the wrongdoing – it is expected there would be an institutional response to the malaise.
Mr Booi agreed – he was concerned to hear about continued negotiations with FDA when the influence of FDA is what needed to be killed. A lot of good police was lost because of FDA. The recommendations in the report were tough and required a considered approach in terms of how it would be applied in the organisation. If the Commissioner could not answer now, a prepared response could be provided to the Committee. SITA is also not innocent and was deep in corruption – how would SAPS cut the relationship with SITA? This would be an extensive process.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee required a considered response from the Commissioner. When the Committee dealt with the SA Social Security Agency (SASSA) matter, Members said it should remove itself from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS). SAPS needed to do the same with FDA as part of the healing process. SAPS ridding itself of the connection with FDA would be a way of starving the corrupt elements in order to clean the environment.
Gen. Sitole agreed on the need for a considered response because the response would have to talk to current, medium and long term efforts to root out these challenges. He would provide the Committee with a response.
Mr Booi was concerned the people bringing SAPS into disrepute have been in the organisation for a long time and were skilled. Because of poverty, young policemen got involved in corruption by being duped by the crooks who remained in the system– future leaders in the organisation were then lost. He was interested to know how SAPS would deal with this phenomenon. There is no transformation in SAPS’ SCM – it remained white. The organisation needs to change to ensure the environment was corruption-free. If this was not dealt with, SAPS would remain in front of Scopa. The report is frankly honest and dealt with many concerns of Members. The Committee required a different approach when dealing with SAPS – it was different to SASSA in that the challenges are inherent to the SAPS’ environment. The report assisted in grappling with the challenges in the environment. The Commissioner should be commended for listening to the voice of Scopa although it was not enough. SAPS must be assisted to get out of this environment and Members should apply their minds to this.
Ms Chiloane asked how long the Commissioner has had the report. She also asked if the R52.9 million of irregular payment to FDA would be recouped or would the court matter first have to be finalised. It has been 2.5 years since this matter has come to light. Treasury has already found there was wrongdoing even before the report came out so why did this persist? SAPS must be held in high regard and lead by example. SAPS are responsible for holding people accountability and arresting those contravening the law but it now found itself under the spotlight. She wanted to know where the 23 suspects in the report were now.
Gen. Sitole responded that one Lt. Gen. resigned and the other was on suspension – the departmental trial process was at an advanced stage. A Brig. resigned along with a Colonel – the rest of the members are going through the internal process. The full status report would be provided to the Committee by Wednesday. On the R52 million, when the matter was first raised with the Committee, supporting documents were lost so it was a struggle to get on top of this – even the auditors struggled. Recovery of the R52 million is part of the investigation. On several of the cases, there has been Treasury guidance and warning but when people wanted to commit crime, they would continue. Where Treasury advised on an area and the action still continued, this was being assessed to determine if it constituted criminal or financial misconduct for action to be taken.
Mr Hlengwa asked for the Committee to be privy to the management letters submitted by the AG over the past five financial years – he was not convinced these matters were not raised substantially after the past financial years. He was also interested in the accompanying responses from SAPS to these letters particularly on the substantive matters under discussion now.
The Chairperson noted that management letters were hundreds of pages and asked if it would assist to ask the AG if the contracts under discussion were ever highlighted in any of its management letters.
Mr Hlengwa was amenable to this – he was interested in the trail of communication. He sympathised with the Commissioner as he was dealing with an organised syndicate within SAPS. He asked if the Minister has been privy to this report.
Gen. Sitole responded that the forensic investigation report continued from the day it was sanctioned. He was not in possession of the report but was briefed on its progress and he provided instructions. He requested the final report last week. He did not yet have the chance to brief the Minister on the final report – they were supposed to meet last week but the Minister had other commitments. He again reminded the Committee the report submitted was not final but was a preliminary one.
Ms Mente asked where the R106 million, which was excess expenditure, came from – was it shifted from another environment?
Mr Nyatlo said this was part of the CJS analysis which was still being finalised.
Ms Mente asked how long it would take to finalise this.
Mr Nyatlo said there was agreement, in a meeting with the National Commissioner last week, of 30 days.
Mr Brauteseth asked for an explanation as to why SAPS was paying R33 000 for a bulletproof vest. Google says such a vest should cost R8 000 – what is the value of paying R33 000 for a vest?
Lt. Gen. Mokwena responded that SCM was not best placed to answer that – the end user was best placed to answer the question.
Mr Brauteseth did speak to a serving police officer who provided him with some specs.
Lt. Gen. Mokwena said SCM does not spend money – it is the Department that spends money.
Mr Brauteseth hoped Gen. Sitole took note of the payment of R33 000 for a bulletproof vest. He then asked Lt. Gen. Mokwena if he had any dealings with Mr Keating.
Lt. Gen. Mokwena denied this – he did not know Mr Keating.
Mr Brauteseth asked if he received any gifts, endorsements, inducements or gratuity from Mr Keating.
Lt. Gen. Mokwena did not.
Mr Brauteseth asked the Commissioner for assurance that no one from the BEC or BAC was part of the team negotiating with Mr Keating – the Committee could check who was on the teams so the Commissioner must be careful with his answer.
Gen. Sitole provided this assurance to the Committee.
Mr Brauteseth asked if anyone from the BEC, BAC or anyone involved in PCEM or the allocation of awards was involved in the negotiations i.e. conflicted people.
Gen. Sitole said no one involved in the allocation of awards were part of the team.
Mr Brauteseth then asked when SAPS would declassify the documents required by IPID. To SITA, he asked how the process of rebuilding the organisation was going, if there was headhunting and what steps were taken to replace the 38 people taken out of the organisation with quality individuals.
Mr Kekana asked if the Commissioner was aware the Committee received a similar report from SITA on the FDA and if he looked at that report.
Gen. Sitole did take a look at it although he received the report late. He was still scrutinising it further.
Mr Kekana asked when the final SAPS forensic report would be submitted – the investigation must end at some time.
Mr Nyatlo said a timeline of 31 days was given for the outstanding CJS analysis given the volume of data and that the CJS budget ran into billions of Rands. The analysis would then inform further interviews to be conducted – from there, a more definitive timeline for the final report would be established.
Mr Kekana was not happy with this answer – the contract between SAPS and Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo would have defined a timeline. Or was the contract open-ended?
Mr Nyatlo responded that the contract was not open-ended but was based on agreed milestones.
Gen. Sitole added that Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo was given 31 days to provide a final report. The Committee would be informed of how additional matters would be dealt with.
The Chairperson asked that the Commissioner check that the extended contract was also not irregular so that two years down the line, the Committee was not discussing this irregularity.
Gen. Sitole agreed.
Mr Nyatlo responded to an earlier question of specifications being tampered with – the specific example related to Forensic Light Sources where a year before the contract was awarded to FDA, the contract for Forensic Light Sources was advertised that FDA did not bid for. The shortlisted service provider was not awarded the contract and the following year the contract was readvertised with modified specifications to suit the product FDA was supplying.
On the conditions in specifications aimed at opening gaps to discredit service providers, it was found that evaluation processes would included site visits but it was found those conducting the visits were not qualified to make the determination. For example, out of three individuals, one would be from the user department and this individual was not qualified to make the determination but the testimony was that the other two individuals relied on the one from the user department. This made the process subjective and seemed to disadvantage other service providers.
Dr Setumo Mohapi, SITA CEO, said the journey to rebuild SITA has begun. There was a meeting last week with the TMS Divisional Commissioner and her team to discuss the new customer interface – the new interface was made up of subject matter experts in the department or cluster served. The Board was approached to allow for the opportunity to headhunt and the HR committee has accepted it. This would begin next week to headhunt people to lead customer engagements – those headhunted would be the ones who understand the business of the customer and solution designers to create solutions. The aim was to make the system dynamic linked to a clear policy matrix – this was easy as technology has moved on. There was also work on the method of engagement – traditionally, SITA reacted, as contained in the regulations, and this made it difficult for SITA to propose new solutions and innovation. It was agreed that it is SITA’s responsibility to drive and initiate digital transformation of government. Digital transformation of SITA has begun – on 23 November it will be announcing the first step of digital modernisation on hosting and a proposal has been made to SAPS on modernising hosting. Interviews were done two days ago for the Executive of Supply Chain – the net was cast wide to look not only for someone who understood the governance side of supply chain but also the commercial side. Two new frameworks were signed with network suppliers –SITA determined that if it had this model three years ago, on the basis of what was bought, it would have saved the state R300 million and this is clearly documented. Other agreements were bearing fruit and there would be benefit to SAPS from the framework agreement. A software asset management system was finally developed to have a view of all software licences in government in terms of which were in use and which were idle. The system will be in place by the end of the financial year.
Mr Matthews Sesoko, IPID Head: National Investigations, spoke to documents IPID requested from SAPS. Having seen the report, the National Commissioner is faced with a difficult task – he must take bold action to deal with these matters. A team was formed to deal with these matters and IPID and SAPS supported each other in this regard. There are documents IPID received without challenge from SAPS however the reality is that challenges are experienced with investigations in the CI environment – documents were not received despite request for declassification. IPID viewed itself as assisting the National Commissioner in cleaning the corruption in the environment, which in IPID’s view was pervasive especially in the secret service account. IPID has engaged the Commissioner and Minister – the Minister requested that, before he made a decision, IPID approach the Inspector-General of Intelligence (IGI) to advise on these matters. The IGI submitted two letters to the Minister advising that these were not matters of national security but were procurement matters and the documents could be declassified to allow IPID to complete its investigation. This has still not happened. IPID was currently in litigation with SAPS on these matters – it is believed this litigation is unnecessary but seemed to be the only route to get the document declassified as all other avenues tried have failed. The National Commissioner could easily take IPID into his confidence, sit around the room and discuss the information where there was concern of sensitivity. The IGI advised that SAPS could retract the specific matters in the documents where there was concern of sensitivity. As far as IPID was concerned, the documents spoke solely to procurement and had nothing to do with national security. The law was clear that classification could not be used to hide corruption and criminality – it was IPID’s view that this was contravened. The document should immediately be released to IPID save for where SAPS felt there was sensitivity. It is exactly for this reason that the IPID legislation said investigators must undergo security clearance. Personally, Mr Sesoko felt some consensus on the matter could still be reached and the Commissioner could take IPID into his confidence to assist IPID in completing its investigation – IPID could also assist the Commissioner where there were concerns of sensitivity. Even with the Mdluli case, a decision was taken years ago to prosecute but the matter did not proceed in court purely because of declassified documents.
The Chairperson, without the benefit of knowing anything else besides what IPID said, sympathised with the Directorate. The Committee was limited in discussions on declassifying specific documents – this is the central matter. It would be challenging for the Committee to insist documents be declassified because it was outside of the Committee’s competence. It is precisely because of this that the AG’s report on intelligence expenditure did not come to the Committee. This left the Committee in a bit of a quagmire. He thought it absolutely correct that the process went through the IGI – it was hoped the Minister would act according to this advice.
Mr Hlengwa agreed with the broader principle of jurisdiction of the Committee but a commitment was made to Members in a formal meeting. The Commissioner should then come clean to the Committee as opposed to, what he saw to be, a malicious or cosmetic agreement. This classification could not be discussed at every meeting. This spoke to the Commissioner saying earlier “let me give an honest response”. The Member could not sit in good faith and trust any other commitment made if this would continue. He took strong exception to the fact that the Commissioner made an agreement with the Committee at an earlier engagement. There was now a trust deficit – would the Committee now have to go back to every other commitment made and question why it was not done? Such matters undermined Parliament. It was best to be frank and forthright at the outset instead of stringing the Committee along. IPID would narrate the same story as if the Committee was incompetent – the Committee could not be undermined in this way.
Mr Booi responded that the Committee was told the document could not be provided to IPID – perhaps the Member missed a meeting but this was said before. The matter did not belong to the Committee.
Ms Mente noted that the Committee had a meeting with SAPS and IPID on 28 February and a commitment was made. IPID wrote back to the Committee in a letter dated 14 March complaining the documents were not declassified. What purpose was the Committee serving? It might as well not have these kinds of meetings. How could IPID investigate without the necessary documents? It was not about the Committee stepping on ground it was not supposed to – commitments could not be made to the Committee without it being adhered to.
Mr Booi raised that IPID has its own laws and is not even subjected to Scopa – working relations between IPID and SAPS is a matter for the Portfolio Committee on Police and not for Scopa. Scopa cannot intervene, according to the law. It is not possible for Mr McBride (IPID Executive Director) to insist that Scopa resolve this matter. It is not personal – there is no law to do so.
Mr Ross said it was inappropriate for the Committee to venture into the terrain of declassifying documents but he observed it was encouraging to see there are strong points where there could be consensus. Without lecturing, IPID could revise its strategy with SAPS to find some common balance on the procurement information required. The Committee wants to see an end to corruption, looting of the fiscus and misappropriation of public funds – the parties are responsible for finding commonality and making progress.
The Chairperson reiterated the classification hinged on the intelligence environment. The communication from the IGI to the Minister should assist the process.
Mr Sesoko indicated IPID did not ask the Committee to instruct SAPS to declassify because it is clearly not within the competency of the Committee. The matter came about in the context of IPID reporting to Scopa. IPID, IGI and CI recently had a workshop on this matter to try to resolve the impasse so it was not as if IPID was not doing anything to resolve the matter. The Executive Director of IPID would be meeting with the head of CI on the same matter so there is continuous engagement to reach resolution.
The Chairperson appreciated this. There was a sense of a total deadlock or standstill on the part of Members. The process of turnaround must be worked on by all concerned. He hoped resolution and common understanding would prevail even in view of future matters. Members expected that matters be resolved but there was the challenge of what the Committee was privy to – he cautioned the Committee against going down this slippery slope.
In conclusion, the Chairperson noted the engagement today, and forensic investigation, confirmed many matters. The momentum must be maintained. PCEM would mostly likely confirm what came out in the report today. The whole house should be cleaned because as one cleaned, one picked up rubbish to throw away. The Committee would next deal with the PCEM matter. It also awaited outstanding responses today on vetting, lifestyle audits, disciplinary cases and the management reports from the AG on the particular contracts.
The meeting was adjourned.