The Committee engaged the Department of Community Safety on the 2017/18 annual report of the South African Police Service (SAPS) in the Western Cape.
A Member commented that the main appropriation had been R316 million, whereas the total adjusted appropriation was R343 million, and wanted to find out what the source of the extra R27 million was, and what was it intended for. Under-spending came under scrutiny, particularly in the area of compensation of employees, goods and services, training and operating leases, communication, venues and facilities. Why were less funds required for Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) payments for expanded public works programme (EPWP) volunteers?
The Department provided details of how the increase of R27 million would be spent. R5 million had been allocated to safety initiatives in respect of community and social unrest; R15 million to highway patrol initiatives; R2 million for safety kiosks; another R2 million for neighbourhood watches; R1.5 million for strategy; and lastly, R750 000 for technology.
Other issues covered included measures to reduce the administrative burden on the police, the funding of the Chrysalis Academy, the implementation of the safety kiosk project in vulnerable areas, and the filling of key vacancies.
SAPS Western Cape Annual Report: Committee discussion
Mr B Kivedo (DA) had a question regarding the aim of the Department in terms of an overall safety increase, as found on the first page of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Western Cape annual report. This was a service department, and when services were offered to the community or any part of society, one expected a reciprocal response in terms of impact. In their interaction with the community, and in terms of taking responsibility, being accountable, securing their assets, et cetera, where did they find their maximum impact? This was because the end result should always benefit the recipient.
Ms P Lekker (ANC) said that the main appropriation was R316 million, whereas the total adjusted appropriation was R343 million, and asked what had caused this increase of almost R30 million. What was the source of that money, and what was it intended for? Given the under-spending over the years, what was the reason for this year’s under-spending? Why had programs 1 and 3 both suffered budget cuts? Why had there been a decrease of R2.8 million on the compensation of employees?
Mr D Mitchell (DA) referred to the WiFi linking of safety kiosks and police stations, and asked about the spread and progress with the programme.
Ms T Dijana (ANC) asked the Department to explain increases and decreases in the budget for various projects and payment for capital assets, compared to the previous year. Could the Department clarify the statement of less funds being required for training and operating leases, communication, venues and facilities? It was known that goods and services were important for the normal functioning of the Department. Why were less funds required for Unemployment Insurance Funds (UIF) payments for expanded public works programme (EPWP) volunteers? Lastly, under the sub-programme for community police relations, why were less funds required for its payments? Was this because most of the money had been moved for catering at consultative workshops? What was more important, the safety of the community or catering for meetings?
Mr F Christians (ACDP) wanted to find out why there were less funds for the Chrysalis Academy.
Mr Gideon Morris, Head of Department (HOD), Community Safety, responded to questions about overall community safety in lieu of the transfers. The Department had no control over the transfer of funds, but merely acted as oversight. In pursuit of community safety, the Department would promote professional policing through effective oversight as legislated, capacitate safety partnerships with communities and other stakeholders of the society as whole, and promote safety in all public buildings and spaces. The impact of that was felt directly at the society level and it was measured by assessing outcomes. The Department reiterated its commitment to society and keeping it safe.
Regarding the addition of R1.2 million in administration, police stations were under a lot of pressure to do administration work, like filing affidavits, so this project was about empowering local enforcers to equip them so that they were better suited to handle their tasks with ease. They were even talking to the community to get volunteers who could ease up the administration pressure.
For civilian oversight, there had been an addition of R2 million to last year’s R30 million. The increase was mainly due to the cost of living adjustment, and increased spending on goods and services in respect of advertising and operating expenditure.
Over the period, SAPS had seen a number of unrest incidents -- for example, in the Camps Bay region. This programme went hand in hand with the programme on provincial policing functions. This was looking at safety initiatives across the whole province, and the money would be divided up among different municipalities. There had been several discussions on matters such as having programmes that best mitigated security risks.
The Department also had safety kiosks. These were already on site on the ground. The biggest issue was that many of them were volunteer kiosks, specifically in order to report crime by sending photographs or other mechanisms. They were also working on their training to further enable better engagements between the volunteers and the police.
The Department was looking to increasing their support in the supply line to better manage security risks. They were engaging technology so as to enable one platform that handled everything. This was in the incubation period, and more detailed results are expected later. However, if one went across the province, one would find that certain neighbourhood watches were so self-sufficient and advanced that they were utilising technology quite well. The Department was also engaging with the civil society on this.
Mr M Frizlar, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) replied that the under-spending on compensation of employees was mainly due to the delay in filling vacant positions. Some of the vacant positions had now been filled, as they were in the process of staffing under their modernisation process. There were also areas where the relevant officers in charge of the programme had not applied for project funding. They also had to submit monthly reports.
Less funds were transferred to Chrysalis because of the payment made in the previous financial year in line with the transfer payment agreement. However, for people already in the programme, or who needed the programme, this did not mean that they would be affected. This had all been factored in and that was why there was a small adjustment of 564 000. The overall budget was still there.
Regarding the safety kiosks, the Department was advancing with the programme, and had started in Khayelitsha and other vulnerable areas. A report would be tabled for Members to have a clearer view in terms of output.
He said the increase of R27 million in provincial financing had been well explained. R5 million had been allocated to safety initiatives in respect of community and social unrest; R15 million to highway patrol initiatives; R2 million for safety kiosks; another R2 million for neighbourhood watches; R1.5 million for strategy; and lastly, R750 000 for technology. The slight increase in capital spending was attributed to the accelerated payments in respect of the government’s motor transport daily tariff cost.
Ms Lekker wanted to find out how the Department’s 4 000 staff would be compensated for their time and effort. The Committee also needed to be informed through a detailed report of how WiFi kiosks would be instrumental, and how and where they would be rolled out.
Mr Kivedo wanted clarity on the additional funds required for transfers to non-profit organisations (NPOs) in respect of the youth religious safety programme. Were these NPOs included in neighbourhood watches and community response programmes, and other safety measures? Was this a youth capacity programme? Were they doing all they could to get the youth on board?
Mr Morris referred to staff funding, and said these were current active reservists. They were vetted and appointed by the police according to their own standards, and some of them were volunteers. The money that they make available was for the festive season for additional safety, mainly at shopping centres and other places. There were provincial staff participating in wellness programmes, and their main focus was to see if they could get more police appointments, as they were severely understaffed, especially with the administrative work.
On the question on safety kiosks, it was important to note that these were not 24 hour centres. They were open at specific times -- for example, during weekends or during specific programmes. They were mobile and would be WiFi enabled. A detailed report would be made available. However, as stated, there had been an allocation of R2 million towards this project.
On additional funds required for transfer to non-profit organisations, what was important to note was their main transfers, which they had highlighted. Any other transfer was as a result of additional funds that the Department had. The programmes all fall under administration, civilian oversight, provincial policing functions or security risk management, but inside all of these there were youth targets that they try to meet so as to involve not just the youth, but all stakeholders. As could be seen from the provincial policing function, neighbourhood watch was there, and there were also allocations for safety, safety strategy and other safety initiatives.
The Chairperson thanked the department for their responses and for finding time to come before Members, which was really appreciated. If Members had other questions or issues where they needed more details, they would compile a written request to the Department. In the meantime, the Department should furnish the Committee with its proposed funding modules
The Chairperson stated that members needed to either adopt the report as it was, or reject it. She noted that DA members were electing to adopt the report.
Ms Lekker replied that on behalf of the ANC minority vote, they would not support it.
The report was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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