The National Forensic Oversight and Ethics Board (DNA Board) presented their 2018/19 Annual Report on the key activities by looking at: the key challenges that had been encountered over the period; some of the worrying trends that had been picked up on the performance of the SAPS Forensic Science Laboratory and the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD). Amendments to the Act would be necessary to support the effective functioning of the database, effective implementation of the Act and address the challenges that had been encountered. The DNA Board provided a situational analysis; discussed governance; DNA analysis performance; the NFDD; taking of buccal samples; forensic investigative leads; and proposals for the amendment of the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Act, No. 37 of 2013 (DNA Act).
The ensuing discussion included the delayed signing off of the Amendment Bill by the Police Minister; shortage and procurement of rape and evidence collection kits and consumables; absence of the Ministry; DNA Board expertise; chain of transparency and accountability; clash of protocols/mandates and delay in signing Memorandum of Understanding between Civilian Secretariat for Police Service and DNA Board; end of the DNA Board’s tenure; Schedule 8 offenders whose DNA had not been tested; gender-based violence; public engagement; supply chain management; maladministration and corruption; investigations; police station jurisdiction; workshop with all entities within the Department; training of police officials on taking DNA samples; appointment process for the new DNA Board; correctional services; SAPS supply chain management (SCM); jurisdiction over the appointment of the DNA Board and powers of the Minister; transition from the existing DNA Board to the new DNA Board; decline in the number of cases registered; contract management; clash of Committee and Cabinet meetings; the importance of the DNA Board with the focus now on Gender Based Violence (GBV).
The Chairperson noted apologies from the Police Minister as there were Cabinet meetings today. The Deputy Minister would be joining the Committee later.
Mr O Terblanche (DA) said there was serious concern that the Committee was going to start without the Minister or Deputy Minister – as the meeting progresses it would be understood why this was being raised. The Committee had to decide whether they were serious about what they were doing or not.
Mr A Whitfield (DA) said that when meeting with Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) on its Annual Report, the Committee was told that IPID would table in parliament a report on the manipulation of statistics. That meeting was scheduled for today and was changed. He was appreciative the DNA Board and Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) were present as it was a long outstanding appointment, but there was no reason why the Committee could not deal with both issues. He had a distinct feeling that the Committee was about ticking a box, arriving, and leaving as quickly as possible. This did not sit well with him. Why could the IPID matter not be dealt with today?
The Chairperson answered that she had also been extremely annoyed as IPID had once again requested a postponement until the following week. Could it be agreed that IPID report the following week?
Mr Whitfield thanked the Chairperson.
The Chairperson welcomed the DNA Board and its Chairperson, Justice Mokgoro, to the meeting. This was the first time that the Committee had them present. The Committee had the highest regard for their work and the Committee was here to work with them. The Committee was not there to rubber stamp reports but did interrogate reports, working as a collective. The Committee understood that the matter of peace and stability was not a party-political matter, but a matter that affected everyone as a country.
DNA Board Chairperson introductory remarks
Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, DNA Board Chairperson, said she had thought that the DNA Board would honour the Committee with the presence of the full Board but was disappointed that not all members of the Board were present. The DNA Board had had an appointment to present their report on the 6 November, but unfortunately this was too short notice considering that legislatively the Board was constituted of part-time members who had full-time jobs elsewhere. It was thus always difficult to come together at short notice. The DNA Board therefore appreciated the postponement granted to them by the Committee. Today, by sheer chance, was the day Board members were supposed to meet to have a Board meeting. The DNA Board was happy to have the meeting postponed to today, thinking that the full Board would be present but still only five Board Members and officials were present. However, this was not to make a difference to the presentation. The DNA Board appreciated the fact that they were there, not just to present the report and leave, but to subject themselves to scrutiny – the role that the Committee had to play. Being scrutinised also stood the DNA Board in good stead so that they knew how to do things better. In the question and answer section, she hoped that the DNA Board and Committee would be able to engage with each other that placed the DNA Board in a position to account for the work it had done during the report period.
DNA Board Annual Report 2018/19
Mr Mark Rodgers, Director, DNA Board, introduced the Annual Report and Ms Vanessa Lynch, Deputy Board Chairperson, presented. The Committee was to bear in mind that the presentation was for the reporting period that ended in March 2019, so there had been a number of progressions since then. Justice Mokgoro put forward the DNA Board’s proposals with regard to finding a permanent and effective solution to the challenges it faced.
The DNA Board is established in terms of section 15V of the DNA Act through which its statutory obligations are defined in section 15Z which established the National Forensic DNA Database (NFDD) for criminal intelligence and conducting comparative searches. DNA profiles from crime scene samples are compared in the NFDD as a criminal investigative tool to fight against crime, identify involvement in the commission of offences, prove innocence or guilt, exonerate convicted persons, and assist in identification of missing persons and unidentified human remains.
A situational analysis provided the key initiatives for 2018/19 which included working with relevant stakeholders to ensure the implementation of the DNA Act. The DNA Board looked to the amendment of the DNA Act to remedy a shortcoming in the legislation following the expiry of the two-year transitional period given for the convicted offender sampling programme. It proposed an extension. The initial proposal was for this to do be done within two years but, due to an inability to interface the identification numbers and training of police in sample taking, the programme expired before the convicted offender population was sampled and put on to the NFDD. This was put on hold as the Minister would prefer a wider population on the NFDD.
The second proposal concerned amendments to the DNA Regulations aimed at establishing Forensic Investigative Units to follow up on forensic investigative leads generated by the Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL). The DNA Board experienced challenges with its independence and governance, impacting the interpretation and execution of its mandate. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was proposed to resolve prevailing tensions but this has not yet been signed. The DNA Board was in the process of finding a way forward because the current DNA Board’s tenure will come to an end in January 2020.
The DNA Board will continue to find solutions to the crippling challenges in the procurement of buccal sample and evidence collection kits and awarding of maintenance contracts. Sexual offender data in the Criminal Record Information Management System that is to be entered in the National Register for Sex Offenders remains a priority.
The DNA Analysis Performance indicated that, upon the promulgation of the DNA Act in 2015, the initial loading of forensic DNA data profiles was an enormous and successful start with the exponential growth of the NFDD at 505 257 cases registered and 475 486 cases finalised. In 2017/18 this dropped to 428 051 cases registered and 439 276 cases finalised as maintenance and procurement contracts were not renewed. This significantly dropped in 2018/19 to 215 613 cases registered and 215 994 cases finalised and this is linked to the shortage of evidence collection kits and consumables. The DNA Board has also stopped sampling all convicted offenders. The maintenance and procurement contracts have only recently been awarded and even then, these have not been delivered to Supply Chain Management (SCM) and not all facilities and police stations have been resourced with the necessary sampling kits. This will start to show a slow increase in the NFDD if the contracts continue to be awarded.
The sharp decrease in the taking of buccal samples is attributed to undue delays in the awarding of procurement and maintenance contracts. This shortage of rape kits means that critical evidence is not collected for extended periods of time and critical leads are lost, which will result in backlogs in the FSL when kits are delivered. The shortage also meant that new police recruits were not sampled prior to deployment as suspected offenders were prioritised.
What will be reported in the 2019/20 reporting period is that the DNA Board Chairperson was able to meet with the Minister to discuss the adoption of an emergency acquisition procedure? The entire convicted offender population was also not sampled due to challenges such as the training of police officers to take samples, integration between FSL and Department of Correctional Services (DCS) systems, and refusals by offenders to have their samples taken. Out of priority, police officers were not being trained as new sample kits could not be wasted. There has thus been a worrying drop in the number of buccal samples taken from suspects arrested and charged with Schedule 8 offences – this has caused the number of identified cases to drop.
The NFDD represents forensic investigative leads and is an important part of the programme. The task teams faced the primary constraint of not having the necessary resources to carry out its mandate. It was proposed that the DNA Regulations be amended to establish Forensic Investigative Units and provide resources to these task teams. The amendment was drafted by the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service and was currently with the State Law Advisors (SLA). For 2018/19, there were 1 719 cases with 1 346 known suspects and 886 cases with 464 unknown suspects. This indicates where the NFDD links a particular perpetrator to multiple cases.
Due to the challenges faced with the operational mandate, an MOU had been drafted and the concern is that the next DNA Board is faced with the same challenges. The MOU unpacks where the DNA Board and CSPS roles are complementary and where the DNA Board has expertise. As the DNA Board is financed by CSPS, the DNA Board is constrained. Additionally, while the DNA Board can make recommendations to the Minister, there is no enforceable mandate. In light of Board representation, the DNA Board is a flawed structure and this needs to be resolved. While the procurement of buccal sample and evidence collection kits has been awarded, the next struggle is for the maintenance kits which allow the FSL to continue its work. If equipment is not maintained, the integrity of results is compromised and cannot be presented as evidence. All aspects of the programme need to be resourced to give to the database the potential power it has to solve crimes.
The amendment to the DNA Act includes a provision which prevents the refusal of sample taking by a convicted offender. This amendment has been placed in abeyance by the Minister of Police pending the investigation of the establishment of a population DNA database to include the DNA of all civilians. From a financial and administrative position, the DNA Board does not recommend this take place. This is to ensure that the mandate of the DNA Act is upheld. The DNA Board suggests a conservative amendment that, in the meantime, parolees should be sampled as a condition of parole – this would not put strain on costs and FSL backlog. The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), which is to run the NFDD, has been signed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) with SAPS. The implementation of CODIS is now being looked at and it will further aid in familial searching.
The DNA Board’s proposal which led to it entering into an MOU with CSPS is not a permanent solution to dealing with the tensions and difficulties experienced between the DNA Board and CSPS. The DNA Board has a much more substantial model of service delivery, but it has not yet been discussed with the Minister. Some research was done into DNA legislation. It was observed that in many jurisdictions, countries were passing DNA legislation and would appoint sunset structures which dealt with setting systems in place to implement the new DNA legislation. This structure will be temporary and will step back once the structures are in place. Particular bodies are then appointed to take the implementation and regulation of legislation forward. In terms of section 15Z of the DNA Act, the DNA Board has a mandate to make recommendations to the Minister for amendments to the DNA Act.
The DNA Board was to make a proposal requiring substantial legislative amendments to make the implementation of the DNA Act effective. The DNA Board was given the opportunity until the end of January to make the proposals and ask that an opportunity be given to present the proposals to the Committee before the outgoing DNA Board left. The idea was to have a model which brought the CSPS as the implementer of the DNA Act and which released the so-called DNA Board from administrative burden. The panel of members on the DNA Board, which had particular DNA expertise, would continue to exist to inform aspects of the implementation of the DNA Act which CSPS could draw from when necessary. The DNA Board was created for expertise knowledge, in terms of which it exercised oversight and monitoring, and would be legislatively constructed in terms of the DNA Act. The CSPS also has oversight and monitoring functions from a civilian perspective. The continued tension between the two bodies created by different legislation to have similar mandates, was always a problem. The implementation of the service delivery model that the DNA Board wanted to propose would do away with that and was a permanent solution.
Mr Whitfield said that the DNA Board’s presentation was without a doubt the most detailed presentation the Committee had received in a very long time. He was passionate about this issue as it related to DNA, the DNA Amendment Bill and the issue of rape kits – which the Committee had been very outspoken about in the past. The DNA Board was thanked as this was a highly complex subject and it was wonderful to have experts present today.
There were two issues that the Committee needed to confront and repeat until they were corrected. Neither affected the DNA Board directly, but certainly affected the Committee. The first was the absence of the Deputy Minister. It was mentioned that the Deputy Minister was on his way, the presentation had been concluded and the Deputy Minister was still not present. Secondly, the Minister was not present, and his absence last week was raised very strongly. The Deputy Minister had attended more Committee meetings than the Minister, who had presented crime statistics at one or two meetings. This fundamentally undermined the Committee’s responsibility to hold the Executive to account. The Committee sat in a stalemate situation where they were presented with frank and honest information which the Minister needed to be interrogated on as well, because it is not believed that the Minister treated some issues with the urgency they deserved. The Minister and Deputy Minister needed to understand that they were not just Members of Parliament, but that they accounted to the Committee as well. If the DNA Board and various other structures were to be enabled to do their jobs properly, the Committee needed to be able to hold the Minister and Deputy Minister accountable.
The second issue was related. In the previous week the Committee had had the DPCI Judge which reported to the CSPS and now the DNA Board which reported to the Minister through the CSPS. In both meetings confusion around mandate, reporting lines and authority were mentioned. Again, the absence of the Minister and Deputy Minister to provide clarity on what they were going to do to clear that up was critically important. The Minister and Deputy Minister obviously did not see this issues as serious as the Committee did. The previous week’s meeting was one of the most dysfunctional meetings ever experienced where the Secretary of Police and the DPIC Judge were effectively having a back-and-forth on what should have been dealt with behind closed doors by the Minister.
Having said this, Mr Whitfield had quite a lot of input as this was an important subject and he did not want to leave confused or having left anything off of the table. Justice Mokgoro had left the Committee in suspense as to the details around the proposal. One did not want to say that Justice Mokgoro was making a political statement, but obviously she was being very careful about undermining the important authority of the Minister and giving him a first bite of the details. Perhaps if the Minister was present the Committee could have made it more difficult for Justice Mokgoro. It was appreciated that there were protocols, but it was thought that the Committee needed some clarity insofar as the DNA Board could possibly go. Justice Mokgoro had said that, “What may no longer be the Board, but the so-called Board, when the Board steps back, a panel of members would continue to exist”. A concern was the robust nature of the Annual Report and the presentation. How would this be safeguarded as the DNA Board constitutes civilians in the literal sense of the word? There were civilian experts. While the DNA Board reported to the Minister, the DNA Board did not necessarily owe the Minister the same allegiance as a civil servant to not report to the Committee. If there was a panel now replacing the DNA Board, who reported to the Committee? If it was the CSPS, who appointed the Secretary of Police? In terms of accountability this was critically important, and to reference one of the lines from the presentation, there was relatively strong language like “crippling challenges” for example.
This helped the Committee understand the seriousness of the issues at hand. That the DNA Board clearly disagreed with the Minister’s decision about a population DNA database, this helped the Committee to understand that there were differing views. If the Minister monopolised the chain of accountability, it would be of concern what kind of information the Committee would get. The Committee would like a guarantee as to how the Committee would continue to receive the transparency and accountability. Why has the MOU not been finalised? What are the specific reasons? Does it rest with the Minister? Are there still outstanding details in the MOU? If Justice Mokgoro’s proposal should carry favour with the Minister then the necessity of an MOU would be done away with, but this eventuality could not be planned for. Once there is consensus is it believed that the MOU would enable a more effective working relationship, which would possibly negate the amendments proposed to the Minister? Will the relationship improve? It is understood that it is not necessarily a clash of personalities, but rather a clash of protocols, systems and who reported to whom.
What progress has been made in the implementation of CODIS? An agreement was signed, but has there been any progress? One of the concerning consistencies in the report was the DNA Board was coming to the end of its term and there were issues hanging in the air. The Committee was new and had been very outspoken on the DNA Amendment Bill, yet that matter was one of the great legacies of the DNA Board, but the process has not been completed. The Committee now needed to decide how to go about dealing with this. With the end of the DNA Board’s tenure, what plans and processes have been put in place to appoint a new DNA Board? What is the process that is supposed to be followed? Who is responsible for ensuring that there is a smooth transition from the outgoing DNA Board to the new DNA Board? The Committee would convene next year and would consider Annual Reports. Who was going to present? Was a DNA Board going to be in place? Would there be a seamless transition? Clarity was needed so that the Committee knew what to expect.
It was an anathema that the Minister would not sign off the Amendment Bill as there was no reason. As dystopian in nature as it was for the Minister to pursue a national DNA database, this would never pass constitutional muster. There was nothing preventing the Minister from investigating this while sending the DNA Amendment Bill to parliament. The Minister was acting extremely irresponsibly in suspending the referral of the Bill to Parliament while undergoing such investigation – these were two separate issues.
Has the DNA Board received feedback on the number of Schedule 8 offenders that had been released on parole without having had their DNA taken? The CSPS came to the Committee a few months ago and stated that there were 46 727 Schedule 8 offenders whose DNA had not been tested. Was this number the same or has it increased? Is there information available on those offenders who had actually been released on parole with no DNA sample? An impermeable system of accountability in the justice system should be created, where people knew that their DNA would be taken and that if they are repeat offenders that it would catch up with them. Would this be a significant deterrent for repeat offenders plus the kind of sentences imposed?
The bottom line was that not every police station had rape kits and that the evidence collection kits needed to be transported from either the neighbouring police stations or wherever they existed for rape victims to have evidence collected. Who is directly responsible for the procurement? Was it the FSL? What role did the DNA Board play? To what extent does the DNA Board in their oversight of the process, if this was a function of the DNA Board, believe that the emergency procedures referred to in the presentation were above board in terms of all applicable legislation? When an emergency is seen, one starts to worry about circumvention of SCM and potential implications of rushing something like this. The spokesperson for the National Police Commissioner, on this topic, had said that provinces were expected to go out on quotation to get rape kits for the provinces. This may not have been something that the DNA Board would be able to answer but it called into question that the suppliers were that went out on quotations from January this year. This was prior to the awarding of a tender in the middle of August this year. Who is the service provider? Can the Committee’s mind be put at rest about the current procurement of rape kits which were still finding their way to the police stations?
The ideal outcome would be for the DNA Board to become more effective rather than to try and create a back-channel route. How would this go about being created? Are the DNA Board members remunerated for attendance at meetings? The only Board member removed for non-attendance was Ms Benedicta Monama if he was not mistaken. Were there other Board members of concern due to non-attendance at meetings?
On forensic equipment supply, this was the beginning and end of everything in the criminal justice system as DNA is very important. If the supply of equipment has been flagged as a risk as the budget was declining year on year putting constraints on equipment, to what extent does the DNA Board provide oversight on the procurement of equipment and maintaining equipment supply? Has there been a situation where, due to a lack of funding or procurement negligence, a sample has been corrupted?
Has the position of Deputy Director now been filled? What is the remuneration of this position? The compensation of employees was a challenge in the expenditure of the DNA Board. Given that no complaints had been submitted, what would be the purpose of appointing somebody in the role of Deputy Director? What would they be investigating? Was a position on the organogram just being filled for the sake of paying somebody? Efficiency of the functioning of the Board should also apply to using money wisely.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) complained that the presentation is more concerned with challenges than solutions – and was mostly concerned about the tension between two entities. It was expected that, at the end, there would be recommendations from the DNA Board which would put temporary measures in place for the challenges presented, while the Committee looked at a permanent solution. It was worrying if the tensions affected service delivery. The presentation indicated that there was a shortage of rape kits. This meant that the perpetrators were not being tested. What would the result be when the victims receive information that the police has a shortage of kits? It meant that these cases would not be completed causing a backlog of cases. This poses very serious challenges as the Committee was committed to fighting against GBV. Recently, more cases of GBV were being experienced including rape. Who is responsible for the procurement? Why is there a delay? The DNA Board was currently unknown to the general public. This meant that the public did not know the DNA Board or where to raise their concerns. Is there any programme in place for public engagement? If so, what was the output from the engagements with the general public? It was the DNA Board’s responsibility to engage with the public for there to be performance in terms of the key performance indicators.
Mr Terblanche commended Justice Mokgoro and Ms Lynch on the excellent presentation. There was serious concern around the fact that the Deputy Minister and Minister were not present, but this was expected. It was quite obvious that the Minister and Deputy Minister were running away from their responsibilities and did not want to face difficult questions. The Committee could not allow on such an important issue, that the Committee is undermined because people were playing hide and seek. This was the last meeting and in future, if it were to happen again, the Committee would have to decide whether to go ahead with the meeting. The Committee should perhaps in future postpone meetings if the Minister is not present.
He noted that Ms Lynch had told the Committee that the DNA Board was a flawed structure. On the old enemy of SCM issues, the system was incapacitated because of not having the testing kits they should have. The Committee had heard of possible amendment to the legislation and one could think of quite a few sections that would have to be revisited and amended. Justice Mokgoro could agree that there were opportunities to ensure that these DNA samples would be done. With the sentencing of a person, this could be a prerequisite where it had to be done. Perhaps the Committee and DNA Board needed to be inventive and scrutinise the legislation properly to ensure a point where this was dealt with. On equipment maintenance contracts, if the tools are not in a working order then the process could just as well be stopped. This was not negotiable, and it had to be ensured that the equipment used was functional. The MOU had been touched on. Could it really be that difficult? This was something that needed to be pursued and put in place as a matter of urgency. He agreed that the procurement of kits should have a two-year contract.
Mr T Mafanya (EFF), in listening to the insightful, informative, technical and complex presentation, found that it was like listening to a horror movie. Considering report by DPCI and SAPS, the same challenges needed to be addressed. The new administration was repeating what was already on the table of the Fifth Administration. The DNA Board was reaching its end of term, which meant that they had been sitting with these problems for quite a while but nothing much was being done. Even delivering a MOU had become a difficulty. One could sit and listen to everything that the DNA Board was saying, but no one was providing solutions to the problems they have been sitting with for quite a while. Would the Committee be complicit? There should be recourse and a decision taken on what the Committee was to do when confronted with such horrendous challenges.
On the maladministration and corruption in procurement, what was being done about this? Nothing was happening again. It was confusing to listen to stories with no end or solution. There was no such thing as rape kits at all police stations. This was a fact. The Committee was told that there was procurement and that all police stations would be provided with rape kits, but this was not true. Nobody accounted for such lies. The Committee and DNA Board needed to come up with solutions themselves as there was transgression in terms of the DNA Act but nothing was being done about this and no one was taking it up. He was despondent about everything that was happening. What could the Committee do to help the system itself to come to fruition so that there are results? The concern was people were killed every day and people were getting off scot-free. Communities did not know the complexities of the investigations. Families wanted to see a person getting arrested as they knew the perpetrator had raped their child or woman, but there was no evidence to prove this because there were no kits. The Committee was not expert in this field but it was not happy as things were not happening the way that they should.
Ms Majozi said that it needed to be acknowledged that there was a problem in the Department. The DNA Board could not be blamed alone. It was expected that the entities complement each other because there were no kits in all police stations. Also there were no police stations in certain areas. For example, in Tshepisong, people have to go to Kagiso or Slovoville, 120km away. How many people in Tshepisong were raped and could not get help? All entities needed to complement each other as they were in the same department. Perpetrators were walking away freely while the victims were left with scars and crime that could not be solved. How do you walk around in the same neighbourhood with your rapist every day? This was torture. Also common is that the police at stations, because the crime did not take place in their jurisdiction, have the attitude that as if it is not part of their area, they cannot assist. Victims are thus left on their own to deal with the rape they had gone through. One expected the police entities to find a way of complementing each other. She was certain that the DNA Board did have general meetings where they discussed this. While the rape kits were still on their way to police stations, what was happening to the people in those areas? She proposed that there needed to be a workshop with all the entities in the Department to point out who is not doing their job and what needs to be done. Right now, the Committee was not getting the full story. The DNA Board would obviously take the blame as they were reporting to the Committee. At the end of the day, all the entities needed to complement each other. Solutions need to be found for the problems being faced.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF) stated that the Committee could not sit here all day and only talk about two things. The kits needed to be received as these had been long overdue – it was four to five years back when the kits started disappearing when reaching police stations. It was thus about getting these kits. Kids, mothers and sisters were being raped. If a company has been awarded a tender, it was up to the DNA Board to check if the company was the right company and up to government to take responsibility so the programme could go on. Everyone needed to take responsibility for their work. Tenders were advertised but nothing happened. Tenders were stopped due to investigations. If a bidder was being investigated, the country could not be let down because of one bidder. How many other bidders were there? Something was wrong, and this went hand in hand with corruption. If not, the right bidder would have been awarded the contract and it would have been done. He asked if the training on taking buccal samples was not being done while police officers were at training college. This was the easiest as there would be more than 7000 trainee police officials present.
The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Cassel Mathale, and appreciated his availability. There had been a concern and his presence was needed. The DNA Board Annual Report was put on the agenda as a stand-alone item as it had a high level of importance – especially with regard to GBV. Thus, the DNA Board would not be rushed and would be given sufficient time to respond.
Mr E Maphatsoe (ANC) said that the report was a little different from the DPCI Judge and CSPS report the previous week, as the previous week’s report was mostly complaints. Last week, it was said that the report would be referred back and the Minister should be present in the meeting. The current report presented its problem in a very polite way. A statement had been made the previous day and the report was received today which was contrary to what had been said the previous day. If there was a problem with procurement, how are targets being met if the SCM is a problem? Targets would not be met if statements were just being made. The problem was identified as the SCM. If there was a tender investigation it was not for the SCM to stop procuring what was most needed in police stations – there was capacity to investigate.
On the MOU, the DNA Board said that there were still challenges about its independence, which impacted on its ability to execute its mandate. The DNA Board wanted to present to the Minister the proposal on how it and the CSPS would be able to operate smoothly. The report also showed the significant decline in the number of cases registered and finalised could be linked to the shortage of evidence collection kits. The DNA Board was specialised and specialists were very few. Perhaps the Committee should wait for the Deputy Minister’s response about what was happening? The Committee perhaps needed to do the same as was done with the DPCI Judge, that the DNA Board go and meet with the Minister. As the Deputy Minister represented the Minister, he could perhaps respond although it was not certain if the Committee could take a decision based on the Deputy Minister’s response.
The Committee could not continue to receive presentations that should have been resolved before coming to the Committee. If people came to the Committee and raised these issues, it meant that they were crying for help. It was important that the Committee did their oversight without fear or favour so the Department could work efficiently. There were matters in the presentation that needed the Minister. These should be resolved so that the DNA Board could come back and present to the Committee. The report received showed that some criminals who are a serious threat were being released for lack of evidence due to shortage of evidence kits. The DNA Board was a specialised board that needed to assist the police. The DNA Board’s term was coming to an end.
The Chairperson said that she had an equally long list of questions. Since the Deputy Minister was present, and not to put him on the spot, there were certain questions that Members wanted to raise with the Ministry. Members would be given strictly one minute to repeat specifically those questions raised for the Ministry.
Mr Whitfield responded that he would not like to repeat his questions and respectfully declined. He was not going to waste his time repeating the questions he had asked to the DNA Board as the Minister or Deputy Minister should have been present from the outset of the meeting. It was understood that the Deputy Minister was a very busy person, but the Committee had been repeatedly disrespected by the Executive. There had been an entire presentation and a host of questions which would not be repeated when the Deputy Minister had not had the opportunity to engage in the presentation, which was not a verbatim report, with the DNA Board. There were details infused into the report, information supplied, and context provided. It was just too complex.
The Deputy Minister did not think that Members should repeat themselves. Members had asked questions and the DNA Board was present who would respond to the questions. Those questions that needed his comment would be commented on, but it was not appropriate to restart the questions.
The Chairperson clarified that she did not expect Members to repeat all of their questions but there were specific questions that she thought the DNA Board may not be able to respond to.
DNA Board response
Justice Mokgoro said that Mr Whitfield had raised a very important concern about the robustness that the DNA Board would be expected to have. When the DNA Board came up with the envisaged proposals, the question was whether that level of robustness could be preserved in the new proposed structure. Just that morning the Board members had had a meeting where she raised that issue exactly. It was important that the new structure would have a body was sufficiently robust so that it was capacitated to exercise the oversight and monitoring required in the DNA Act. The details of the proposed service delivery model that was to be come up with was questioned. Indeed, it sounded as if the DNA Board had the details but was just reserving it for the Minister. In the work done by Ms Lynch in her teaching on DNA issues and her NGO work, she had done research and had come up with this information. Ms Lynch has proposed that the DNA Board look into what other jurisdictions were doing. The DNA Board had not gone into the details but had discussed the possibility. The current DNA Board would have to continue while the new body had not yet been effectively adopted but there was no possibility of ever being Board-less. There might be a transition and if, by the time that the DNA Board ended its term and the new proposals had not been adopted, the DNA Board would either have to continue as normal in terms of the Act and appoint a new DNA Board or there was a possibility that their term might be extended so that the current DNA Board could then be replaced with a newly proposed structure – there was no structure yet.
There was engagement, and there was this possibility of the term being extended just so that the current work could be done, and an alternative proposal come up with. The possibility was that the Committee might object to this or that it might be rejected, but the important matter to the DNA Board was that its independence be preserved. The monitoring and oversight functions were to remain as strong as it possibly could. If the DNA Board could come up with a model that strengthened it, considering the difficulties that the DNA Board had experience during their term, this would greatly inform what the DNA Board was to come up with. It was not that information was being held back. The DNA Board did not have sufficient information to give as yet. Rest assured there would be this kind of body. The DNA Board was engaging on the nature of such body and was hoping to come back to the Committee on that. She hoped that this satisfied the Committee for now.
On the important question on whether sampling would be a significant deterrent, she did not claim to be a criminologist, but sometimes she wondered what went through the mind of an offender – particularly the repeated offender who offends despite the fact that stringent punishment had been given out to people who had similarly offended. The death penalty issue did not even have to be delved into. At a personal level, getting arrested was probably the first step towards dealing effectively with the punishing of offenders. If one knew one was going to be arrested, in her view this could act as a deterrent. The question of sampling was about arresting, identifying and following up on offenders. Personally, she thought that this could be a very effective and significant deterrent. If the DNA Board could be assisted with the procurement of sampling kits, the DNA Board would go a long way in resolving the concerns that almost each and every Member had referred to. This included sexual offences and undeterred, repeated violence against women. Something needed to be done about this. The procurement issue was very important as there seemed to be a perception that the DNA Board was responsible for procurement and maintenance contracts. Members could be assured that if the DNA Board was directly responsible for procurement, the Board was so concerned about it that it would have done something about it.
Ms Lynch replied about CODIS that the State Law Advisors had made a number of changes to the contract that was sent to the FBI and the FBI had not accepted the contract with the changes. The contract had gone back to the SLA and until such time as the entities agreed, this could not be signed. That was the only progress on CODIS. As Justice Mokgoro mentioned, the Board could only identify areas where there were issues and make recommendations. With CODIS the DNA Board had gotten the SLA to come before them and had asked why the SLA had not signed the contract. The SLA signed off the contract but changes were made. The next step was for the DNA Board to ask why the SLA wanted these changes and if the DNA Board could help to resolve it, because the FBI was not going to move in terms of this particular contract.
She assured the Committee, there was a software solution currently in place. This software did work but was just not as advanced as the CODIS software solution and did not allow for familial searching. It would thus just be a step up from what was currently in place but, currently, searches could still be done, and profiles could still be entered onto the database. If the DNA Board was going from a position with no system, then it would be much more urgent, but obviously the system would just be much more efficient.
On the outgoing DNA Board, and until such time as a transition has been arranged, the new DNA Board would be appointed. The next tenure would be three years and existing members could reapply should they wish to. The Committee was asked to vet these people if possible, understanding that the Minister was responsible for their appointment. It was very important that the civilian sector is represented in the incoming committee and to have outspoken people who are able to speak from a civilian perspective. There needed to be people with the necessary expertise and passion to ensure that the people who would ultimately benefit from this were survivors or people that would not have crimes committed against them because there was an effective solution. The Committee needed to be mindful of who was represented on the incoming DNA Board and that they have the necessary expertise, passion and skill to do so from each of the sectors.
There was a spreadsheet of the number of Schedule 8 offenders who had been let out on parole without being sampled, but the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) representative was unfortunately not present today. On the rape and buccal sample kits supplied by Messina, she had met with a representative of Messina at a conference the previous week who had said that they would be delivering 300 000 rape kits in December. The difficulty was that the DNA Board could not get too involved in operational matters as they were a part-time board. The DNA Board had identified the challenges such as why samples were not being received, which was because there were no kits. The DNA Board then brought in somebody from SCM who had said that they only had a certain number left and could not do anything further until the Bid Adjudication Committee (BAC) awarded the contract. The DNA Board brought the BAC in front of them and asked why they were not awarding the contract and if they understood that it was a very specific type of supplier because of contamination issues in dealing with DNA. Also the kits had to conform to the FSL machines. There was no off the shelf product as they actually had to create and manufacture the kits to fit the FSL equipment.
The person on the BAC was not able to award it as the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) was investigating it. The next time the DNA Board met with BAC, that very person was before SCOPA for corruption. This was just an example of how involved the DNA Board was trying to get but also the number of challenges faced along the way. The DNA Board was very aware of what was going on, but there was only so much that could be done at every meeting in making recommendations. The fact that this has now been awarded was actually a positive step forward. Messina was the supplier and they had been cleared by the BAC and SCOPA. As they had just been awarded the contract there was going to be a slight lag in terms of delivery. The Committee can ask SCM and FSL if they were receiving kits and how much had been delivered. The Committee had to ask them for these statistics. When the Committee has SAPS Forensic Science Service (FSS) before them, the Committee could also ask them about maintenance contracts. Did they need to scope their budget higher and why had they not been given the budget to order those maintenance and supply kits? It had to be born in mind that the analysis machines would not run a sample unless those controls were in place, and the controls could only be in place if maintenance had been done on that particular piece of equipment. The quality management systems in place were adhered to very strictly in the FSL.
If one went to visit the FSS, you would see that a number of machines were switched off and not running because they had not been maintained. Again, the Committee could ask the FSS how many machines were not operating as a result of not having maintenance contracts or consumables, if they are maintained to actually run through those particular machines. The DNA Board could not get too involved in the operation because they were already limited in the time that could be allocated to these particular issues. However, the issues could be identified and brought forward, and recommendations could be made to the Minister to give more budget to the FSS for them to do the job that they needed to do. These procurement challenges would keep being faced if only three-month contracts were being awarded. Going forward, the contracts awarded by SCM needed to be checked to see how long they were being awarded for. The renewal process needed to be set in place much earlier so that there is an overlap instead of a big gap between having and not having supply kits. It was correct. Every single person who left a rape crisis centre and had not had evidence taken from them, potentially meant that that person could attack again and that the person who had suffered the terrible ordeal could not even have evidence taken to identify who the perpetrator is. This was an unacceptable situation which should not be allowed to happen ever again. The outgoing DNA Board had to present a paper to the Minister and Committee on recommendations for improvements to the DNA Act. The only mandate that the DNA Board had was to make recommendations. Thereafter, the Minister either had to enact them or follow the DNA Board’s recommendations as experts. The Committee needed to ensure that this was followed through, and if not, an explanation had to be given why the recommendations had not been followed. On what was to be done before the end of the DNA Board term, she wanted to ask a direct question to the Deputy Minister, seeing that he was present.
The Deputy Minister stated that the DNA Board and himself were talking the same language. If the DNA Board has issues it wanted clarity on, it was to be mentioned in passing but he could not be asked a question.
The Chairperson explained that there was a chairperson of the meeting. One did not delegate to their chairperson or ask their chairperson to speak. There was a chairperson of the DNA Board, but Ms Lynch had told the Committee Chairperson that the DNA Board Chairperson would continue. There was a chairperson of the meeting, and Ms Lynch was not to tell the Deputy Minister when to speak. The Committee had been and continued to be extremely patient.
Ms Lynch apologised and explained that she was extremely bad at following protocol. She often did not know what the protocols were and apologised if she had offended the Chairperson.
The Deputy Minister said that the Chairperson was raising a procedural matter and that it was not about offence. It needed to be understood in this context. It needed to be agreed that everyone would conduct themselves procedurally so that there was no confusion in the process.
Ms Lynch apologised and explained that what she had been going to ask was around the amendment recommendation. She would reply to the question that had been asked. When it came to the end of the term, one of the questions asked was what had been done and what would be done to follow through on it. In terms of the regulations, when the DNA Board leaves, the DNA Board had made a recommendation to have the regulations amended. A lot of work had been done on recommendations. It was with the Minister who needed to look at it and either sign it or not sign it. If this came back only by the time that the DNA Board’s term had ended, it would probably have to be taken over by the next committee. The DNA Board had put together amendments to the Act that they believed were correct. This would now be given to the Minister and the next committee would have to follow that through if they agreed about how the sampling of convicted offenders was to go forward. In terms of SCM, the outgoing DNA Board had done as much as they could to ensure that contract had been signed and that kits were going to be delivered. The recommendation would be to ensure that those numbers were actually delivered as promised.
On the MOU, Justice Mokgoro had already said that if the DNA Board was not able to sign or agree on the MOU before they left, the recommendation would be for the new proposed structure. Alternatively, if this is not agreed to, a new Board would be appointed and would continue as is. On the question of how the DNA Board oversaw maladministration and corruption. When the DNA Board was notified of concerns such as SCM and evergreen contracts, they tried to bring those bodies before them to try and understand what the issues were and make recommendations going forward. For instance, with the CODIS agreement not being signed, all the DNA Board could do was to get together with SLA and talk about it but could not get involved operationally.
The DNA Board was asked how many police stations had rape kits. In the appointment of the Deputy Director, the DNA Board had envisaged that that particular person go and make sure that, in looking at the numbers given, they do spot checks on police stations, see how many kits there were and report back to the Director if it matched with the information received from the FSS. In this way a gap analysis would take place at ground level. If it was not occurring at ground level, the DNA Board would make a recommendation to ask why the kits had not been delivered. This was the furthest the DNA Board could take its mandate in the issues they had identified. Often, the DNA Board was not responsible for providing or enabling the actual solutions but could make recommendations for a solution. The DNA Board would then have to rely on the stakeholders to follow out the recommendations. On where the rape kits were, this was possibly something that the DNA Board could procure for their final report. At DNA Board meetings, FSL and SCM would always come to those meetings and present the number of police stations, provinces, rape kits and buccal sample kits received. Through this, the DNA Board could identify where the problems were. However, the DNA Board would not get that information today at the board meeting that was supposed to happen later today. One of the Members had mentioned a workshop with all stakeholders which she thought was an excellent idea. It became a finger pointing exercise in saying one person or the other did not do something, when in fact the SCM could not deliver the kits because the BAC did not award the tender because SCOPA was investigating the applicant. If everyone was in the same room everyone would be able to understand what their priorities were and facilitate these. Going forward this would be always be a good solution. It was not certain whether the Portfolio Committee had the mandate to bring all of the stakeholders into one room. What the DNA Board had found was that it was never just one particular department or area. Often it needed everyone who worked on this.
On the training of police officers, this was not done by SAPS but by the Department of Health. As tissue samples were being dealt with, this had to be done under the Department of Health with registered health workers who did the training. This could not be done at police stations unless there was a registered health provider doing the training. Other than the fact that the sample kits had not been available, the DNA Board encountered that in overseeing the training it had actually gone quite smoothly. External service providers were appointed to provide this and currently there were just over 20 000 investigators and police officers throughout South Africa who had been trained. One of the DNA Board’s recommendations was now to activate section 36D of the DNA Act which said that it was mandatory for all suspects and arrestees to be sampled because the DNA Board believed that they had enough representation nationally at all police stations to sample the arrestees.
Justice Mokgoro responded to the recurring question regarding why the MOU had not been finalised yet and what it would take to finalise the MOU. When the DNA Board briefed the Committee on the 2017/18 Annual Report, that report was filled with complaints. The Committee then sent the DNA Board back to resolve their issues, which was what had been done with the DPIC Judge the previous week. The DNA Board did exactly that through a strategic exercise which came up with the MOU. The MOU tried to resolve those tensions that were being experienced. Considering that the DNA Board was a part-time board, they could not always call meetings to discuss issues. So, what the DNA Board did to mitigate the difficulties was to communicate via email – the proposal had been circulated via email and members were asked to give their inputs. The DNA Board had a final draft of the MOU and was due to have a meeting to agree on it. All the DNA Board needed to do was sign it. After the meeting, as soon as the DNA Board agreed, it would probably be signed. There was a document that would serve as a blueprint on how to operate in a way that dealt with the tensions that had been experienced in the past. This was not a permanent solution as it was not permanently sustainable. For that reason, the DNA Board thought that they would come up with the new proposals alluded to.
Mr Alvin Rapea, Secretary: Civilian Secretariat for Police Services and Director, DNA Board, responded about the plans in place to appoint another DNA Board. The Minister tasked the CSPS to publicise for the new DNA Board, and the advertisement would be going out over the weekend. The comment on managing transitioning was noted and the DNA Board was to ensure that in the process of appointing this was not lost. The DNA Board had to ensure that in consultation with the Minister that the transition was managed effectively. On the remuneration of the Deputy Director, whether they had been appointed and if this resource was really needed, the DNA Board did need this resource as it was a skill that they had never had before, and which did not currently exist within the Department. The Deputy Directors were remunerated around R800 000 per annum. A person has been appointed and was expected to start on 1 December.
Mr Whitfield asked Mr Rodgers to provide the Committee with the information on Correctional Services, which was critical for the Committee to understand the problems they were faced with. It was also important that the Deputy Minister hear this first-hand. He asked if CSPS would bring the board applications to the Committee. This would allow the Committee to have sight of the applications and be satisfied that the new DNA Board constituted a sufficient level of expertise and experience in the field of DNA.
Mr Rodgers replied that initially there was discrepancy in the figures provided by the FSL and DCS. Ultimately, the figures that were given to the Committee were the final figures that the DNA Board was able to reconcile because different spreadsheets were given to the DNA Board and they had to clean up the data. The 46 000 referred to earlier was the final figure given to the DNA Board. One of the initial reasons why the Minister had also decided to put it on hold was because there was a discrepancy in the figures, and he had felt uncomfortable putting the DNA Amendment Bill before the Cabinet if the DNA Board did not have the correct figures. Essentially, what the Minister wanted was the total convicted offender population at the start of the two-year transitional period, the total number left over at the expiry date and how many samples were taken. The DNA Board needed to work this out and in doing so there were challenges. This was due to what Ms Lynch referred to earlier about the interoperability between the different systems and the way that data had been recorded had taken a bit of time to clean up the data.
Mr Whitfield said that there were two parts to the question: what was the total number of Section 8 offenders untested, and if the DNA Board knew how many were untested and released.
Mr Rodgers, unfortunately, did not have the answer to that question at the moment. The DNA Board would have to get that information from DCS but could always bring it back to the Committee.
The Chairperson observed that it was understood that the DNA Board was a programme and not an entity. The concern was that she had not seen a Strategic Plan or Annual Performance Plan (APP) after going into the history of the DNA Board. This meant that the Committee had no idea what the DNA Board’s strategic objectives, indicators and targets for the financial year were. This questioned the structure and uniformity of the manner in which the DNA Board executed its mandate. The DNA Board ultimately reported to parliament on a quarterly and annual basis. These reports had been late. Could the Committee get an explanation why the reports were late and why there was no service delivery model setting out objectives and how these would be achieved? The Minister’s instruction on the submission of the APP for 2018/19 was raised. The Committee expected that the CSPS Annual Report would include the report of the different programmes such as the DNA Board’s report. Why where there these shortcomings? The Committee had to place what it was that the DNA Board did and distinguish between what was functional. The DNA Board kept saying that this was an operational matter, but when listening very carefully the DNA Board did not distinguish between what was functional, operational and administrative. The DNA Board seemed to have a very blurred idea of what was functional, operational and administrative independence. If the DNA Board did not have an APP, how would the Committee be able to see and monitor? The DNA Board came to the Committee and said that there were certain things that they wanted the Minister to note. The Deputy Minister was now in the presence of the DNA Board. The Committee was not the conduit of the DNA Board’s messages to the Minister. The Committee had to do oversight, and this oversight was based on the DNA Board Strategic Plan and APP. Mr Whitfield had asked a number of questions on the rape kits and there was a serious concern as the answers were different to what had been in the presentation.
Ms Majozi did not have a follow up, but rather a rectification. When she had referred to entities, she did not mean that the SCM was to be called. She was referring mainly to those entities that formed the Department that had to speak to each other. Her concern was where there were no police stations, what happened about rape kits. This meant that the communities in those areas did not have access to them as they had to report their cases in different areas. The entities did not seem to speak to or complement each other.
Mr Rapea responded to the question on the APP and Strategic Plan for the DNA Board. For the first time in the DNA Board 2018/19 APP they had included their indicators in their report. This was not done in the past and was why it could not be found. In the 2019/20 Annual Report, the CSPS would be reporting on the work of the DNA Board. On the board applications, the Minister was supposed to table the appointments of the Board members he had appointed. This was not at the time when applications were submitted, but when they Board members were appointed the Minister would table it to Parliament and the Committee.
The Deputy Minister was not sure if what Mr Rapea was saying was the correct interpretation of law. Was Mr Rapea saying that the Minister would table it to Parliament, after which it would become the DNA Board.
The Chairperson said that according to the DNA Act, the Minister had the power to appoint. The current DNA Board was appointed by the Minister. Parliament did not have any jurisdiction over the appointment of the DNA Board.
The Deputy Minister thought that what the Committee was saying was not to bring the board applications to Parliament but to ensure the necessary expertise on the DNA Board in the same way that the current DNA Board had the necessary expertise. The information would ultimately be received, but the law had to be followed in the appointment of the DNA Board which had to be based on experts within the field.
The Chairperson agreed with the Deputy Minister.
Mr Whitfield clarified the question. It was understood that the Minister appeared to be on the same page as the Deputy Minister, in that the appointments would come to parliament after they had been made. Did legislation prevent the Committee and was it unlawful for the Committee to see the applications for information, so that the Committee was not acting on an ex post facto basis once the DNA Board was presented. The Committee could not prevent the Minister from appointing the DNA Board, but what was trying to be exercised was the Committee’s authority to hold the Executive to account through transparency. This was so that there was mutual cooperation between Parliament and the Minister. It was not that the Committee got to decide who was appointed as this was absolutely the purview of the Minister. A similar battle was to occur in the appointment of the Head of IPID. It was in the law that the Minister had tremendous authority to do this, but to what extent did the Committee get to conduct oversight over the application process? Perhaps this was a subject for discussion on another day, but the discussion would certainly not end there. The Committee needed to figure out what their role really was as they may get a Board which the Committee did not believe had sufficient expertise or the application process was not sufficiently inclusive.
The Chairperson said that the Committee did not want transparency to compromise the appointment process. The expectation that the presentation should be transparent should not be allowed, when in fact the Minister's powers as stipulated in the law were being compromised. In no way did the Committee want to overstep its powers and undermine the powers of the Minister. The Committee took cognisance that there was a process for the new DNA Board to appointed. The Committee wanted a smooth transition from the existing DNA Board to the new DNA Board, and that the handover should be facilitated by the Minister. The Committee would want to ensure that there were no gaps between the incoming and outgoing DNA Board. The Committee commended the DNA Board for its presentation, appreciated the depth of expertise and considered this one of the best presentations that had been received as a Committee in the Sixth Parliament. This was a significant compliment to the DNA Board. This was a very difficult area and with the emphasis on GBV, the DNA Board’s work had become more central to what was done in the CSPS. The DNA Board’s work was not being left in the shadows and should be highlighted as a more critical point of focus. This should be regarded as one of the DNA Board’s achievements. The Committee could not prescribe to the Minister who to appoint but could recommend that there be continuity and that the specialists and experience built up was not forgotten.
Ms Majozi was concerned as she could hear the DNA Board could only go up to a certain point in terms of the challenges such as with the rape kits and problems with SCM, and CSPS. This was a concern that the Deputy Minister needed to hear because, when the DNA Board came to the Committee and said they could not go further than a certain point, she had a problem. When they report, who takes responsibility? When the DNA Board was present, it took the responsibility. This had financial implications for it. Reports would come saying how much was supposed to be spent compared to what had been supplied to police stations, and it would be found that the two did not balance. There seemed to be red tape somewhere where no one would come to the DNA Board and take responsibility for what had been done; but when coming to the Committee the DNA Board was to take responsibility for something that they could not go beyond.
Mr Mafanya referred to the significant decline in the number of cases registered which could be linked to the shortage of evidence collection kits and consumables. This was where there was a lack of resources on the DNA Board as well. He would thus have liked the Deputy Minister to intervene on this as it left more gaps for criminals to have a leeway by being released in a manner that was not conducive to the DNA Act.
The Deputy Minister explained that the DNA Board reported to the Minister. The Minister had asked him to be responsible for the entities. There should never be a situation where the DNA Board was helpless and could not do anything about the situation. The issues needed to be raised, he was to be informed and he was to respond accordingly to the issues raised so that there was no problem. This included the MOU with the CSPS, and all of this was a part of the Department. The DNA Board and CSPS had specific functions and responsibilities, which were not in conflict with each another. These things were to be resolved so that when coming to the Committee they reported on what was being done, the progress made, and challenges faced. The DNA Board could not come to the Committee and present problems that were supposed to be resolved before. For example, Ms Lynch had had an issue that she wanted to raise but could not get hold of him, now it was fortunate that he was present, so she wanted to ask him the question. Ms Lynch has to ask him the question outside of the meeting so that it could be attended to. On SCM, for SAPS to be effective they needed the tools of trade to work with. These tools of trade needed to be procured, which was done by SAPS units dealing with SCM and contract management. A challenge was picked up here and was being dealt with. This challenge played itself out around the rape kits, and it was known that there was a big problem around rape kits where a meeting had to be held over a weekend to deal with the problem.
At present, he thought that the problem was able to be resolved because rape kits were being delivered as they spoke. It could not be said that all police stations had received rape kits by now as the process of delivery was ongoing, but what was known was that all provinces had come to collect the kits at Head Office, and they were being distributed. They might not have reached all of the police stations. There were concerns about ammunition supply which had been resolved but, generally, there were problems in SCM. In the previous week there had been a meeting with SAPS leadership where this matter was discussed, and outside experts were also brought on board as it was thought that they could help in SCM. This was a matter that could be resolved as leadership at both a political level and administratively were engaged. It was believed that going forward SCM would not continue to be the serious problem that it had been.
Deputy Minister Mathale said he was not certain why Members were raising the point that the Ministry did not seem to be taking the Committee seriously. He thought that the Ministry was taking the Committee seriously. Since the Sixth Parliament, the Ministry had tried to attend almost all meetings, unless there the Ministry was unable to attend because they were not around. In the previous week he had not been able to attend because he had been given an emergency assignment to deal with in the North West. As a result, he could not but where possible the Ministry did come and even apologised to Cabinet sometimes for the purposes of being available for the Committee. Today, unfortunately, the Ministry had to go to the Cabinet first and join the Committee after. This was the seriousness that the Ministry showed to the Committee. When the Ministry was given responsibility by the Committee they had responded accordingly, which did not suggest that they did not respect the Committee as they did. If the Ministry had acted in a manner which suggested that they did not respect the Committee, it was not intentional.
The Chief Financial Officer for the DNA Board answered the question on whether the DNA Board was remunerated. The DNA Board was remunerated and there were forms they needed to complete for every meeting they attended which would be refunded. The only people that would not be remunerated were those people working for the public service.
Justice Mokgoro added that the DNA Board Chairperson was the only person who was not remunerated.
The Chief Financial Officer said that the Justice Mokgoro was a retired judge who was remunerated through the Department of Justice. This was an understanding between Justice Mokgoro and the DNA Board.
The Chairperson thought that this matter was not to be gone into now and would be left to the Deputy Minister as it was his responsibility. The Committee was to accept that when they had had this discussion with the Chief Whip, that Tuesdays and Wednesdays were Cabinet days. Committee meetings were mostly scheduled for Wednesdays. Every alternate Wednesday there was a Cabinet committee, and the Deputy Minister and Minister had to attend Cabinet committees. Unfortunately, Wednesdays were allocated to the Committee for Committee meetings. When there were committee meetings, the Committee had the highest representation of either the Minister or Deputy Minister when it came to portfolio committee meetings. She did not want to compare the Committee with other portfolio committees, but it needed to be said that the Minister and Deputy Minister prioritised portfolio committee meetings. Not to make excuses for the Minister, the Committee was a tough portfolio and the Deputy Minister had been consistently present in meetings. She made a point of saying this every time the Deputy Minister was present. It was understood that the Deputy Minister came to the Committee after having presented his items to the Cabinet committee and that he could not leave until after having presented. This did not take away from the importance of the Deputy Minister being present and the Committee did have the responsibility of exercising its oversight role.
The Committee would meet with the Portfolio Committee of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities on 19 November at 09:00. The Interim Steering Committee on Gender-Based Violence and Femicide in the Presidency would be reporting.
The Chairperson commended the DNA Board and Justice Mokgoro on a very good presentation and for a job well done.
Justice Mokgoro thanked the Committee for the questions raised, which would motivate the DNA Board in looking into the issues that might have been overlooked.
The Deputy Minister apologised as he would not be present the following week.
The meeting was adjourned.
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