The Standing Committee met to consider and approve the Appropriation Bill and Community Safety Budget.
The Department set out what it hopes to achieve during this financial year, which includes a range of interlinked programmes and projects aimed at making the province and city safer. The Committee heard submissions from the MEC for Community Safety and the departmental Accounting Officer.
The Department’s annual performance plan had been considered in relation to the work it hopes to carry out.
Members raised concerns about the extent of some of the programmes, particularly the Chrysalis Academy programme. Of particular concern was whether the Department plans to expand the programme to where it is needed. They asked where the graduates of the Academy were deployed to and why. They asked questions about the use of police reservists to assist in community safety, to which the response was that there are delays at national level. Further, the Committee heard that there were plans in place to amend the Western Cape Liquor Act, so as to make it more responsive. Referring to the 5 million set aside for police reservists, they asked whether the Minister understood the context of the funds and how may reservists the Department was planning on engaging. Would the funds be used to engage the services of reservists on a year-to-year basis, or is it an election ploy? In terms of the partnerships with religious organisations, had the Department conducted a study looking at the money spent and the benefits of these programmes? What were the benefits of these programmes to the community in which they operate, and how were these programmes conducted, with particular concern to the safety of the participants?
The Chairperson started the meeting by welcoming Members in attendance, especially the Minister of Community Safety and Mr Gideon Morris, Accounting Officer, and relaying apologies for those absent. She went on to say that it would be the last budget the Committee will be dealing with before the expiration of its term. This budget was vital to the ongoing work of the department. Substantial reference would be made to the “Blue Book”, which should be read in conjunction with the Annual Performance Plan (APP) for the Department of Community Safety.
Introduction by the Minister of Community Safety
Mr Alan Winde, Minister of Community Safety, thanked the Committee for the opportunity and reminded everyone in attendance that he had only been in the position since November 2018. He went on to congratulate the Department on the work done. Meetings had been held with members of the religious fraternity and the NGO sector, especially those serving in the “hot-spot” areas, with whom the Department has close working relations. The work of his Department was to keep communities safe and it is a role to be understood in the context of the provincial government as well. The work of the Department is that of oversight. The important work the Department does has an impact on the lives of citizens, and we are learning through the minutes of the Khayelitsha Inquiry, our own legislation and the day-to-day workings of the Department.
Mr Winde went on to say that it is the Department’s role to be a catalyst and energiser for community safety; that it is a collective effort and responsibility, to facilitate a safer society. There is a whole range of projects the Department is busy with, which is clear from the budget.
Mr Gideon Morris, Head of Department, Western Cape Department of Community Safety, thanked the Minister for the introductory remarks. He would be speaking to the figures relevant to the work of the Department. He said the Department was working with an approximate R100 million additional capital injection.
The Chairperson thanked the Minister and Accounting Officer for their introductory remarks. She went on to ask whether the Members had any questions at that point, regarding the introduction, overview and review. She directed Members to pages 125 – 130 for discussion.
Mr D Mitchell (DA), welcomed the introduction by the Minister and asked about the youth-safety and religious partnerships (referred to as the YSRP: Youth Safety and Religious Partnership) the Department is engaged in. As the Committee was aware, he would be leaving for the Central Karoo, and in light of this, he wanted to know whether there were any applications for partnership from organisations in the Central Karoo. He noted in the past there had been an active attempt to focus on the Karoo, and that interestingly there had been funding allocated to two communities which are two kilometers apart. He sought clarity as to how this came about.
Mr Mitchell referred to the Minister’s foreword on page 2 of the APP, and noted that there was still R5 million available to police reservists. He asked how and when this will be taken up by national government. Was there interest from national government in the monetary contribution by the Western Cape province? On the Chrysalis Academy, were there any long-term plans to expand/ extend it into other areas of the province, given its success?
Ms L Botha (DA), congratulating the Department on its work in relation to the Chrysalis Academy, said she had the privilege of attending the graduation of those young girls, eight of whom had been employed by their local municipality after completion. She went on to ask whether the Department is receiving value for its monetary investment into the partnerships with the community-based and religious organisations. Further, in terms of the Department’s own evaluation, what were the challenges and lessons learnt thus far with these partnerships, pertaining to the relevant community? She asked whether the partners are carrying out the Department’s mandate.
Ms P Lekker (ANC) thanked the Minister for his time. Referring to the 5 million set aside for police reservists, she asked whether the Minister understood the context of the funds and how may reservists the Department was planning on engaging. She went on to ask whether the funds would be used to engage the services of reservists on a year-to-year basis, or whether it is an election ploy. In terms of the partnerships with religious organisations, had the Department conducted a study looking at the money spent and the benefits of these programmes? What were the benefits of these programmes to the community in which they operate, and how were these programmes conducted, with particular concern to the safety of the participants? Referring to page 125 of the “Blue Book”, the first sentence spoke to creating a safer, resilient community, these are obviously communities who are able to provide for themselves (in terms of safety). These are communities who are given instruments, including employment opportunities that will enable them to live a better life. Part of the meaning of the word “resilient” requires the community to be able to sustain itself.
Mr F Christians (ACDP), speaking to the partnerships, wanted to know what the content of these programmes were, given that the funds allocated does not amount to much. He continued to ask why the number of neighborhood-watches had not increased, despite the Department setting out to do so.
Ms T Dijana (ANC), referring to the partnerships with religious organisations, asked who the programmes were monitored by. In terms of the APP (page 65) and the “Blue Book” (page 130), what were the risks involved, were these identified risks the same in both instances, or were there additional risks identified.
Mr Winde said, when it comes to the detail of the Central Karoo and the application process, Mr Morris would speak more to this. The 5 million was made up of an amount that emanates from an array of options given to the National Minister (of police), in a letter, by the Premier of the Western Cape in October. This was done in the context of, and with the knowledge of resource scarcity, that the province is in need of about 4500 police officers. He went on tthat it takes some time to train new recruits, but this was one alternative option to the shortfall. The funds come from savings and additional funding from the Western Cape Liquor Board.
The lack of resources is a well-known fact, and the rules around recruiting new reservists had changed, which had an impact on their use. It must be borne in mind that the money is made available, but the offer must be approved by the national Minister of Police, which had not been done as yet. This was one of the options on the table, another was a departmental-volunteer programme, where employees of the Department would cover certain administrative functions at police stations, freeing officers to do actual police work. There had been no response to this suggestion, although it has commenced regardless. Thus far 1670 members of the public had been assisted through the initiative, at the Cape Town Central Police Station, and there are plans to extend it to the “hot-spot” stations around the city.
Mr Winde, in response to the question relating to the R5 million, said it cannot be used by the Department or City, as it has been earmarked to the reservist’s project, which must be approved by national government. Concerning the Chrysalis Academy, extension throughout the province and country is planned, and the Department is certainly looking at this. On oversight of the partnerships with religious organisations, about 80 – 90% of the projects had surprise-visited and monitored, by the Department as well as by members of the police force. He went on to speak to the achievements of the project, and said on the one side, there were robotics built from Lego-blocks, while on the other, there were arts, crafts and camping trips organised. He invited Members to go and observe the work of the projects. He went on to describe the programme and budget allocated as forming part of crime prevention, rather than policing.
Speaking to the question of evaluation of the programme’s success, Mr Winde said that there had been impact studies conducted, which seeks to review the programme. Responding to Ms Lekker, he said accepting that this is a complex space, it is not influenced by the upcoming election. Looking at safety, about 10 people are murdered in this province every day. We have to make a difference, we have to build safer communities, although we could do with a bigger budget.
Mr Morris, responding to Mr Mitchell, said that the advert had been released calling on partner organisations. It would remain open until the 22 March 2019. 40% was earmarked for rural areas, and 60% for urban. There is also a panel in place, consisting of members of the community safety forums, police services and certain Community Policing Forums (CPF), which makes recommendations to the Accounting Officer for approval of proposed partner-projects. The budget increases will enable the growth of the programme.
Responding to the question around an impact study of the programme, Mr Morris said that an evaluation of the programme had been done, and submitted to the presidency; and, that plans on improvement had emanated from it. The money allocated was additional to the work already done by the church and religious groups; it is not meant to replace those initiatives.
Responding to Lekker, he said the stipend paid to reservists are prescribed by National Police.
Within the province, there are about 850 reservists on standby; and, that during the festive season and other peak periods, they are “called-up” for specific duties. The 5 million is intended to allow the reservists to be utilised at “hot-spots”. Last year, with funding by the Department of Community Safety, the Chrysalis programme is now fully accredited, allowing for a more detailed programme, divided into modules; and piloting those in different areas. Ms Botha would note that on page 155 (of the “Blue Book”), there has been an increase in the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), making sure the trained youth are absorbed into the public service, including at municipal level. The continuous employment and placement of the trained youth is something the Department is working on.
On YSRP, it is monitored by many parties: the police, the Department and members of the CPFs. There is a vetting process in place, and a detailed report of our visits conducted. He went on to say that payment of these funds is separated into two parts, and that continued funding is dependent on proper compliance and performance.
Responding to Ms Lekker, he said the safety of the participants in the programme is being dealt with by the Security Support Team, made up of 20 officers, recruited from among provincial security officers. These officers are rotated to points of security needs, and this involves a security risk analysis.
Responding to the question asked by Mr Christians relating to the number of neighborhood-watches, he said there had been a funding model introduced, which has two phases to it. The first, involves paying 135 neighborhood-watches R10 000 each, so they may prepare themselves to conduct their work. There is also discussion around utilising the services of the neighborhood-watches to ensure the safety of school children and schools.
The Chairperson opened the floor to follow-up questions
Ms Lekker said there had been mention made of the different options given to the national Department of Police. He believed it was fair that the Committee be provided with evidence of the options given and the communication between the parties, at some other time, or in the form of a communique/ statement. She went on to ask, in relation to the Chrysalis Academy graduates being deployed to different CPF’s; which CPFs have been identified, and how many graduates have been deployed accordingly? Concerning oversight of law enforcement agencies, she asked whether the Department had a relationship with the city, and how this relates to law enforcement. She spoke of the existence of a “chop-shop”, located opposite a primary and high school in Nyanga. She asked whether anything will be done about city official not responding to the requests of the CPF to have it removed. This is a matter that has been raised on numerous occasions, without success.
Referring to the Extended Partnerships Programme (EPP) in Nyanga specifically and the Borchards Quarry intersection, she asked what plans in place to ensure public safety, besides the installation of surveillance cameras. City by-laws are seemingly not enforced in certain areas. She also asked what the department is planning to assist struggling CPFs in completing their EPP records.
Mr Christians asked whether the R10 000 is an annual amount, and what the average membership for the 135 neighbourhood-watches was.
Mr Morris, in response, said the approved amount from provincial cabinet was R10 000 to be transferred initially, followed by a second amount depending on the size of the neighbourhood watch. The initial funds are intended to assist the neighbourhood watch in compliance with regulations.
Mr Winde agreed with Mr Morris and added that the initial funds are intended to establish and enable the neighbourhood watch. He would make sure the Committee receives copies of the correspondence with the national Department of Police. He asked that Ms Lekker forward her communication, in which she raised the issues, to him, so he may engage with the city. He would investigate the “chop-shot” matter and the camera system in Nyanga.
Mr Morris, responding to the question of money repayment by the CPFs, said it was a requirement in terms of s38 of the Public Finance Management Act. At the beginning the neighbourhood watches are granted R2500, on condition that they sign an agreement to submit regular reports. Should they not submit these reports, they would be in breach of these agreements and would have repay the funds, or submit the (outstanding) reports, as required by the Auditor General. Nyanga was one of the top performing CPFs during 2017, however, currently they are not receiving funding. The Department would endeavour to solve the difficulties of this CPF.
Adv. Pillay spoke on the YSRP evaluation, and said it was sent to the Standing Committee, but would resend it. Regarding the CPFs and the deployment of graduates of the Cry Academy, there are many logistical issues that need sorting, despite the pilot project being successful. Adv. Some of challenges include the fact that the graduates are at the CPFs during the day, whereas the CPFs mainly conduct their work during the evening, resulting in little support and mentorship of these graduates. She confirmed that there are 118 CPFs submitting EPP Reports, and the Department had funded the CPFs to the amount of R2 million to date.
The Chairperson introduced the next section of the meeting.
Outlook, Reprioritization and Procurement
Mr Morris, responding to the Chairperson on where the additional funding was coming from, said the column (in the “Blue Book”) speaks to the main appropriation for the years 2018/19, last year the total was R316 million, but that this amount was increased during the adjustment budget to R342 million, and this year with a further increase to about R360 million. This is an additional allocation of R42 million. The Department had lost a conditional grant from national government, despite the Chrysalis Academy EPWP outperforming and that all targets were met. The conditional grant, from national government was reduced from R7.9 to R3.9 million. Further, the R7.4 million stated as part of the provincial revenue fund, was retrieved as a result of R6.2 million collected in respect of liquor licenses. There was already an additional amount of over R5 million collected by the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA), currently.
Ms Lekker, referring to page 136 of the “Blue Book” (BB), asked about the programmes involved in Civilian Oversight.
Mr Morris responded by saying these budgets are being “cleaned-up” as it is aligned with national programmes. Functions such as those of the Ombudsman and the YSRP are not part of the National Secretariat targets and have been moved to programme 3.
Ms Dijana, referring to page 141 of the BB, and in respect of “Programme Support”, asked what the reasons were for the decrease, and whether this would not impact of the department’s work. On safety promotion, and in the context of page 50 of the BB, how will a decrease in funds assist in promoting safety. She said pages 16 and 17 of the APP speaks to something different in this regard.
Ms Lekker asked which CPFs were indemnified to receive deployed Chrysalis graduates, a question she did not get an answer to. She went on to ask what the Department’s relationship was with institutions of higher learning, and in terms of research done to understand the needs of the communities. She also asked what the Department’s progress was in terms of the alcohol harm reduction project, and why certain areas were designated for these programmes and not others. The township of Nyanga had approximately 300 shebeens, but why had it been excluded, and what are the benefits of this project.
Mr Morris, responding to Ms Lekker, said the Department was looking at the WC liquor Act, so that the shebeens in the townships are not made to be illegal, as they cannot comply. The spatial set-up of informal settlements makes it impossible for shebeen to comply. The policing strategy is not assisting in the reduction of alcohol abuse. He agreed with Ms Lekker, that alcohol abuse contribute to about 60% of all cases of domestic violence and violent crime, and that there is a close relationship with the police service on this issue. Part of the response is strengthening the authority of the Liquor Board, by amending the WC Liquor Act.
Mr S George, Programme Manager: Security Risk Management, Western Cape Department of Community and Safety, agreed with Mr Morris.
Ms Dijana, referring to page 147 of the BB, asked for the reasoning behind the decrease in provincial security operations.
Mr Morris said the decrease was due to strategic resourcing and the increased use of technology. There is a strategic sourcing agreement in place with Provincial Treasury.
The Chairperson tabled the annexures in their totality, which run from page 151 to 164.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.