The Minister of Police expressed his concern over the large number of murders which were being committed by people with close relationships to the victims. Another major problem being experienced was the shooting and killing of young police officers. The police were having to contend with a rapid deterioration in the nation’s moral fibre, with the killing and raping of children by fathers, and an intervention was needed to prevent this from continuing.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) presented its 2019/20 third quarter performance and financial reports, focusing on its achievements against predetermined objectives in its five programmes. In terms of the annual performance plan (APP) targets overview, 59.54% of the targets were achieved, according to the preliminary results. 31.30% of the targets were not achieved, and 9.16% were key performance indicators (KPIs) that SAPS was in a position to measure only at the end of the financial year because of the nature of the activities associated with these specific indicators. The expenditure analysis for the first three quarters amounted to R70.1 billion, against an allocation of R96.8 billion, which represented a spending performance of 72.4% compared to the linear benchmark of 75%.
Members highlighted a wide range of weaknesses identified in the SAPS presentation. They were concerned that not enough bullet-resistant vests (BRVs) had been provided to meet the Department’s needs. Only 45 closed circuit television (CCTV) sites had been implemented against the 139 targeted. They questioned the ability of the police to handle gender-based violence cases and render victim-friendly services at police stations. Targeted reaction times were not being met, and Members wanted to know whether this was due to police stations not being located close enough to the communities they served, a lack of vehicles or inadequate communication facilities. They criticised the continued loss and theft of police firearms, and argued that better detective work would improve conviction rates.
Other issues raised during the discussion included the successful Safe Festive Season programme; the need for improved Information and Communications Technology (ICT) so the police could use advanced modern methods to deal with crime; the installation of vehicle monitoring units (VMUs); updates on various Bills in Parliament; the capacity and competence of police officers; security risks and vetting assessments; border control operations; the introduction of a national DNA data base; the effectiveness of Community Police Forums (CPFs); supply chain management (SCM) issues and disciplinary action; the progress of the firearms amnesty; the high number of unlawful and undocumented foreign nationals; the need for joint security cluster meetings; and improving SAPS’s relationships with the public through its community outreach programme.
The Committee agreed to continue with unfinished agenda items at its meeting next week.
The Chairperson said there were two items on the agenda. One item was just a regular update on the pace of investigations into the murder of Mr Cornelius Basson’s son, which had been committed to, and the Deputy Minister would briefly tell the Committee what was happening. However, the crux of the matter was the briefing by the South African Police Service (SAPS) on the quarterly report, and the report on the “Safe Festive Season.”
The report on the Safe Festive Season spoke for itself. The Minister, the Deputy Minister and the SAPS team could be congratulated on the project. The Deputy Minister had been seen everywhere, and it was acknowledged that the Minister’s team did not have a festive season. People were on the ground, and there was an additional number of people and police that had been deployed and were visible. She was convinced that everything had gone very well.
Members knew that today was a three-line whip. The report would not be rushed through, but all Members had received the report well in advance. The Minister had been informed that it would not be expected that the report be presented page by page, as it had been noted that the report had been received well in advance. It had been read and notes had been made, so Members would highlight their concerns. They should highlight those pages of the report that they were concerned about, as 167 pages would take the Committee well into the joint sitting. Instead of focusing on the presentation, she asked if there could be more time for discussion, questions and responses.
Mr Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, pointed out that this was the first time that the Committee, he and his team were meeting in the current year of 2020. One point that he wanted to make was that SAPS was having a serious problem when it came to statistics on murder. There was a big proportion of murders committed by people close to the victim. For example, on the previous day in Limpopo, four children were lost as they were killed by their father. One did not know how to begin to register this murder, because the police could not have been there to prevent the father from killing four children in their house. This was one thing that needed to look at and dealt with, especially where there were these statistics. In Durban someone had also been given four life sentences for killing two children and poisoning two children, and in Mpumalanga another lady had been given four life sentences for killing children. This was a number that was increasing, and that would be really difficult to police. This needed to be shared with the Committee going forward.
A further question of the day concerned women and children. It was certain that everyone had learned about the lost eight-year-old child in the Western Cape. Fortunately, the perpetrator had been found in Graaff-Reinet, but not the child. The alleged perpetrator had been brought back to the Western Cape to show SAPS where the child was, and to find out whether the child was alive or not. These were points and questions that needed to be shared with the Committee before the presentation started.
Gen Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner: SAPS, introduced the SAPS members who were present. As the Minister had indicated, SAPS would be doing a presentation on their 3rd quarterly report. SAPS would thereafter provide a presentation on the festive season, and lastly, they would provide an overview of the progress made on the Lentegeur case, as had been directed by Parliament. It was agreed with the Chairperson that an overview of the particular programmes be provided without zooming into the details thereof, so that a lot of time was not taken.
The Chairperson said that Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) had also requested to join the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services (PCJ). The Committee had received a message, and Ms Mofokeng was allowed to leave, as it was understood that she had to be at that committee as well. This Committee was very well represented, as all Members were present, so Ms Mofokeng was allowed to be excused when it was convenient for her and when she was required.
The Minister wanted to register this problem, now that the Cabinet was on, on where to get special permission to attend other committee meetings. This provided the Cabinet with problems sometimes, but it was thought that it was important that a request be received to get permission to come to the Committee.
The Chairperson explained that the Committee had raised this issue consistently. The Committee had even tried to shift their slot to a Tuesday. The Committee had made an observation that in terms of the record of attendance of Ministries, the Minister was one of the best ministers for attending meetings. If the Minister had an item of Cabinet, the Committee did accept his apology, and if there was a Cabinet meeting today, the Committee would accept that the Minister had to be excused. The Deputy Minister had been consistently present at committee meetings, and it was very seldom that he missed one. The Committee commended the Deputy Minister for attending meetings all the time.
SAPS third quarter report
Gen. Sitole said that after SAPS had compiled and sent the presentation to the Committee, there had been some important developments. SAPS did not want to change the document that had already been sent to the Members, so it had decided that an addendum would be designed, because the developments needed to be brought to the attention of the Committee. SAPS requested permission from the Chairperson to circulate the addendum so that the original presentation was stuck to.
The Chairperson said she knew that matters happened within the police environment all the time, and that changes could be seen on a daily basis. She asked that the presentation that was circulated be adhered to. Whatever changes had been made through the addendum were to be reserved, but could be mentioned in the presentation. The addendum would assist the Committee in providing updated information, as the Committee was going to inform SAPS that their information was outdated anyway.
Maj Gen Leon Rabie, Component Head: Strategic Management, SAPS, said the third quarter performance report provided a quarterly overview, including indicators that been effected in their annual performance plan (APP) for 2019/2020. The report would focus on the predetermined objectives and risk areas for programmes one to five.
Lt Gen Puleng Dimpane, Chief Financial Officer (CFO): SAPS, presented the overall financial report and identified spending patterns associated with the individual programmes.
In terms of the APP targets overview, 59.54% of the targets were achieved, according to the preliminary results. 31.30% of the targets were not achieved, and 9.16% were key performance indicators (KPIs) that SAPS was in a position to measure only at the end of the financial year because of the nature of the activities associated with these specific indicators.
Programme 1: Administration achieved 13 targets, and did not achieve 14.
Programme 2: Visible Policing achieved 24 targets and did not achieve nine.
Programme 3: Detective Services achieved 23 targets and did not achieve 12.
Programme 4: Crime Intelligence achieved 10 targets and did not achieve six.
Programme 5: Protection and Security Services achieved all seven targets.
Insofar as infrastructure and deliverables were concerned, the annual target was set at 80% of those deliverables which needed to be achieved on a quarterly basis. In Quarter 3, only 73% was achieved. On the information systems solution deliverables which had been scheduled for the financial year, there was a quarterly target of 85%. In Quarter 3, only 81% was achieved. Moving to establishments, areas were prioritised to develop the establishments, and this was to be corrected in the addendum. The initial indication was that the establishment of these prioritised areas had not yet been finalised, but confirmation had been submitted that this had since been approved. The annual target for the theoretical training of SAPS members in legal principles and the use of firearms was set at 95% of 4 089 personnel. By the 3rd quarter, 87.18% was reached, as only 442 out of 507 personnel were declared competent.
In terms of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) related disciplinary hearings, SAPS was required to implement recommendations within 30 days of receipt. Whilst this was complied with, the finalisation of disciplinary hearings within 60 days was not being complied with, as only 79 out of 91 were finalised within the prescribed time. For the procurement and distribution of mobile points, SAPS targeted 15. Whilst procurement was finalised, the mobile points had not been distributed. The target for bullet-resistant vests (BRVs) was 100% of the demand within each quarter, but only 93.65% were distributed in the quarter. In terms of the number of SAPS firearms lost/stolen, the target was to reduce this by 5% to 605 firearms. At the end of Quarter 3, there were 513 firearms reported lost/stolen, indicating that the target might not be met without drastic changes.
The modernisation and implementation of information communication technology (ICT) was discussed next. The target for digital radio communication infrastructure sites was set at 112 high sites. By quarter 3, 71 high sites should have been finalised but there were currently only 21 sites finalised. For national network communication infrastructure sites, the target was set at 240 Wide Area Network (WAN) sites and 180 Local Area Network (LAN) sites, but by quarter 3 only five LAN sites had been completed. 129 sites were targeted for closed circuit television (CCTV), of which none had been realised. Ten Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), commonly known as drones, were targeted but none were issued. In terms of case management capabilities, there was a target of 18 Integrated Case Docket Management System (ICDMS) sites, of which one had been implemented by Quarter 3. For the implementation of modernised incident management capabilities, the annual target was set at six implemented 10111 centres, but none of the sites was implemented. A target of 16 200 vehicle monitoring units (VMUs) was set to be installed, but none had been installed.
In terms of the Internal Audit Plan, 100% was targeted. By the third quarter, 85.54% had been achieved against a quarterly target of 97%, leaving SAPS just below target. The spending performance was discussed next. Whilst there was an allocation of R20.4 billion, by the end of December 2019 only R14.5 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 71% due to reduced spending.
Insofar as reported serious crimes were concerned, the target was to reduce serious crime by 2% per annum, which was amended to 3.14%. Whilst the initial target of 2% was being met, the increased target of 3.7% meant that overall targets were not being achieved. For the number of reported contact crimes, the target was also initially a reduction of 2%, and was later revised to 6.7% per annum. However, reporting had still suggested a 0.8% increase in contact crimes as at Quarter 3. At the 30 identified high crime weight stations, the number of reported serious crimes was initially targeted to be reduced by 2% and revised 3.7%. This was achieved only in Quarter 3. For the reported contact crimes at high crime weight stations, the target was initially set at a reduction of 2%, but later revised to 6.7%. At the end of Quarter 3, there was an increase of 0.8%. A target of 5 404 was set for lost/stolen and illegal firearms to be recovered. By Quarter 3, only 2 651 had been recovered. For the recovery of stolen/robbed vehicles, a target of 36 548 was set. At the end of Quarter 3, there should have been 27 411 vehicles recovered, but only 25 048 vehicles had been recovered. In terms of the issuing of firearm licences within 90 days, the target was for 90% of applications to be finalised, but only 82.63% were finalised within the time frame.
The operational response of SAPS was addressed next. The three categories of crime were Alpha (crimes in progress with suspect on the scene), Bravo (crimes committed with no suspect on the scene) and Charlie (attempted crimes). The target for Alpha complaints was an average national police reaction period of 17 minutes 37 seconds. In Quarter 3, the average was 18 minutes 4 seconds, not meeting the target. Similarly, for Bravo complaints the target was set at 21 minutes 28 seconds, but the average was 22 minutes 24 seconds. Lastly, for Charlie complaints, the target was set at 19 minutes 13 seconds, but the average was 20 minutes 33 seconds. Regarding victim-friendly services offered to victims of rape, sexual offences, domestic violence and abuse, the target was for 100% of police stations to be compliant with two out of three set criteria, but only 99.83% had been compliant. In terms of border control, this sub-programme was fully operational and met 100% of the targets.
The spending performance was discussed next. Whilst there was an allocation of R49.9 billion, by the end of December 2019 only R36.2 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 72.6% due to enhanced deployments, vehicle deliveries, and lower spending.
The target for the detection rate for serious crimes was set at an increase of 41.1% and amended to 37.5%, but only 36.15% was achieved. For the detection rate of contract crimes, the target was set at 59.08% and amended to 56%, but only 49.21% was achieved. In terms of the detection rate for crimes committed against women aged 18 years and above (murder, attempted murder, all sexual offences, common assault and assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm (GBH)), the target was 75.1%. At the end of quarter 2, only 76.63% was achieved, and the quarter 3 performance would still be provided, as verification processes were in progress. For the detection rate of crimes committed against children under 18 years (murder, attempted murder, all sexual offences, common assault and assault (GBH)), the target was 70%. In quarter 2 only 68.2% was achieved, and the quarter 3 performance would still be provided as verification processes were in progress. Regarding the detection rate for other serious crimes, the target was set at 36.8%, but only 35.86% was achieved. The detection rate for serious crimes at 30 high crime weight stations had targeted an increase of 37.65%, but only 31.85% was achieved. On the detection rate of contact crime at 30 high crime weight stations, there was a target of 55.96%, but only 38.6% was achieved.
For the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), in terms of the specialised cybercrime investigative support case files successfully investigated, a target of 55% was set. However, only 38.1% was achieved.
For Forensic Services, regarding the registered case exhibits (entries) exceeding the prescribed time frame, a target was set for the backlog not to exceed 10% of entries. However, by the end of quarter 3, there was a backlog of 21.63%. For the percentage of results of trials updated in respect of guilty verdicts, there was a target of 95% of results to be updated within 20 days, but only 91.32% was achieved. For the percentage of results of trials updated in respect of not guilty verdicts, there was a target of 95% of results to be updated within 20 days, but only 88.94% was achieved. For the percentage of entries finalised, the target was for 75% of entries to be processed in 35 days. However, only 61.28% was achieved. For the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS) intelligence entries finalised, the target was set at 95% of entries to be finalised within 35 days, but only 50.53% was achieved. A target of 80% was set for biology DNA intelligence entries to be finalised within 90 days, but only 19.97% was achieved.
The spending performance was discussed next. Whilst there was an allocation of R19.2 billion, by the end of December 2019 only R13.6 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 71.1% due to lower spending, vehicle deliveries and DPCI amounts earmarked.
In relation to requests received from Interpol member countries insofar as cross-border operations and arrests of identified transnational crime suspects were facilitated, a target of 100% was set, but only 88.89% was achieved. A target of 100% was also set for security clearances finalised, but only 65.95% was achieved when 75% should have been achieved. In terms of the pro-active intelligence reports that were operationalised at the provincial level, a target of 80% was set, but only 77.8% was achieved. For the re-active intelligence reports operationalised at provincial level, the target was 80%, which was only just missed. For the re-active intelligence reports operationalised at national level, the target was 90%, but only 72.44% was achieved. In terms of the arrests of identified transnational crime suspects on request from Interpol member countries, a target of 100% was set, but only 85.71% was achieved.
The spending performance was discussed next. Whilst there was an allocation of R4 billion, by the end of December 2019 only R3 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 75.4% due to vehicle deliveries and additional investments in vetting.
All targets were achieved, and there were no areas of concern.
The spending performance was discussed next. Whilst there was an allocation of R3.1 billion, by the end of December 2019, only R2.6 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 83.1% due to regrading, structural refinements, and very small sub-programmes.
The expenditure analysis for the first three quarters was indicative of nature, as the expenditures of each quarter in a financial year would not be precisely equal. The total expenditure as at the end of December 2019 was 72.4%, with a remaining budget of 27.6%. The total spending was split up into 24.1% in the first quarter, 23.8% in the second, and 24.5% in the third. Monthly expenditure trends were more or less the same from 2016/2017, when compared to 2019/2020. Whilst there was an allocation of R96.8 billion, by the end of December 2019 only R70.1 billion had been utilised. This left the spending performance at 72.4%. The linear benchmark for nine months of the financial year was 75%.
An overview of the spending performance was provided next. The compensation of employees (CoE) actual spending for period comprised 74.4% of the allocated budget, which was slightly lower than 75% linear benchmark. Still to be paid was the equalisation of salaries, with an effective date of 1 July 2019, grade progression of certain lower ranks, post promotions effective from 1 October 2019, and further implementation of housing allowances extended to spouses. Spending on goods and services comprised of 68% of the allocated budget, and payments for capital assets comprised of 41.6% of the allocated budget. Transfers and subsidies were slightly higher than the linear benchmark.
Ms J Mofokeng (ANC) thanked SAPS for the presentation and said that they were getting somewhere, but that there were still a few things that the Committee and SAPS needed to get right and understand. She congratulated SAPS on the public service training, as most of the targets had been achieved. When looking at slide 16 on visible policing and detective services, this was a bit disturbing and clarity was needed. Slide 16 showed that the annual target was 97% (6 795 learners) but, going down, quarter 1 showed 1 741 learners trained, quarter 2 showed 3 422 learners trained, and quarter 3 showed 1 458 learners trained. There was no consistency in the way that the figures and reporting were being done. On some slides no numbers were found, only percentages. This was actually very confusing, and an example could be found on the bullet list on slide 27, which just showed 100% but no real annual figures. On slide 27, SAPS was saying that in quarter 1 there were 3 893 BRVs distributed, 5 501 in quarter 2, and 7 664 in quarter 3, with a demand of 8 159 BRVs. What was the initial figure? This would allow one to be able to say that SAPS had achieved their target. However, this was actually very worrying, as SAPS was still not doing well when it was one of the demands present on the ground.
When going to CCTV on slide 31, the annual target was 129 sites, but to date there were 45 sites implemented. Perhaps SAPS could explain what the challenges were, because there were the things which could provide assistance in policing and actually be able to help. The other issue raised was about the RPAS, where SAPS was not getting anything going. What were the challenges? Was it a service that needed to be procured? This would allow the Committee to measure them, based on the challenges that they were having.
She needed to know more about the number of prioritised sites implemented with modernised incident management capabilities on 10111. Could the quarters be explained, as nothing was being seen besides zeros? Did this mean that it was at 100% or not? What could be said was that on slide 135 concerning VMUs, SAPS was not doing well. To date, it had installed only 8 100, which was almost half of the annual performance target. In quarters 1 and 2, SAPS did not do anything, leading one to wonder whether SAPS would be able to achieve the forthcoming VMU targetss.
It was seen that on the prescription in Civil and Criminal Matters (Sexual Offences) Amendment Bill, that the police had made comments on it. What worried her was that SAPS had said that they were doing well in the percentage of police stations rendering victim-friendly services. What were the police doing well in, as they did not have a facility? If there was a desk, who did it belong to? Was that person trained? To be honest, on the ground the police were not doing well. One went to police stations and these victim-empowerment stations were not there. One could go further, looking at the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill, to say that there were many things lacking in the SAPS inputs. Were there trained officers in this regard? The answer was no, as it was not known how many police officers were abusers themselves. This was where the problem arose.
Going to the issue of the detection rate of crimes committed against children under the age of 18, President Ramaphosa had raised the issue that there would be cases that would have to be reopened. It was a fact that when looking at the issue she had raised about the victim-friendly services, a number of adults were coming forward who had been molested and abused years ago. Was there capacity? Were there police officers ready to tackle this? At the moment it was being said that police would be providing whatever services that there were, but would police be able to cope with this? Whilst there could be good intentions, there could be unintended consequences, and people saying that they were not getting any joy out of it.
On slide 121, the percentage of security risks and vetting assessments conducted was disturbing, as SAPS was not doing well. What kind of police officers did South Africa have if it was not known whether vetting had been done? This went together with the percentage of security clearances finalised, which was also a question that one wanted an answer to. What was the problem here? Were internal or external services being used? If there was an internal body and internal services or the skill had been transferred, this matter should have declined. Clarity on this would be helpful.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF) wanted to touch on the issues of border control and police reaction time, as he was not satisfied here. SAPS had said that 100% had been achieved, but border control and “hits” were very important. There was the problem of people carrying passports that did not belong to them, and it then being found that these passports were being endorsed by the immigration officers. It would then “hit” in the SAPS office that there was someone who was wanted, but it would be found that the person was not there. What was being done about this? There were cases that would be referred to on this matter, but which he would not mention now.
On the issue of the reaction time, 20 minutes to react was a lot of time. If there were police stations in each and every village, and cars in each and every sector that the SAPS was attempting to cover, it could not take more than 20 minutes for a complaint to be attended to. Why were there not enough vehicles in each and every sector and each and every satellite police station? Another issue was communication. It was found that some satellite stations did not have radio communication and official cell phones. Police officers were using their own cell phones, and it had been found that they would not answer as they were busy with their work. However, an official cell phone would be answered immediately. Why were these people not having official cell phones? Why was radio communication not working at these stations?
Mr O Terblanche (DA) thanked the Minister, Deputy Minister and SAPS for their presentation, and commented that pockets of excellence had been administered. One such a place was in finance, where they were reporting very carefully and expenditure was on track.
Regarding the personnel issues, there were two questions. It was seen that submissions were not being made timeously, as only 70% of people’s applications were being submitted if they applied to go on pension. The other day, the Committee had been approached by a person battling to get their pension money after a very long time. This needed to be brought to be attended to. On the issue of training, quite a few people were found not to be competent. What happened to these people? What was being done with incompetent people in this environment? IPID could apparently not deal with all of the cases that were reported. In the current week, the Committee had received complaints about people that were seriously concerned about the reason why IPID was not attending to all cases that were being reported to them. This was something that the Minister had to be asked to deal with.
When going to the support services environment, he had been glad to see Maj Gen Japie Riet, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management (SCM), SAPS, as he hoped that Gen Riet would bring some change here, as he was very concerned at the moment. This was not a good story at all. When going through the documentation that the Committee had received, there were very low percentages achieved. In many instances, the columns were empty and there was nothing. This was the case in many instances, from the first quarter to the third. What intervention should be made? The Committee could not be satisfied with this, as it was a bad story in the support services environment. It was hoped that Gen Riet would make a difference. Everything in this environment, including mobile contact points, BPVs etc, had not all been delivered. What about the people who did not have BPVs? What was being done with them? Were they sitting around because they could not be deployed?
In terms of firearms lost, everyone was apparently happy with a target of 605 firearms that could be lost in any given financial year. Could it be true that one should be satisfied with something like this? SAPS was then aiming for a reduction of 5%, which was not being achieved. This was terrible. Looking at communication, radio communication, CCTV, drones etc., this was modern technology that SAPS was not managing to buy.
On case management, whilst it was known that Gen Rabie focused on the areas at risk, when going through the whole list that had been given to the Committee, the targets for serious crimes, contact crimes etc, were not going to be achieved. What had been set out to do was not being achieved. The Committee and the Department of Police had been confronted with the crime statistics and made very good promises, as had the President. However, once again, the targets were not going to be achieved. He was seriously concerned and really wanted to appeal to the Committee that they convey their concerns to the Department, requiring them to look into it. Perhaps the Department needed to come back to the Committee at some stage and inform it of what their plans were and what interventions they were going to take, to make a difference in all of these environments.
In terms of visible policing, a lot of targets were also not achieved. Regarding the detective services’ detection rate, the trial-ready cases were quite interesting, as 80-90% of cases were trial-ready. What was the quality of the dockets submitted to the court for prosecution? Successful prosecution was dependent on a properly investigated docket that proved a prima facie case. The conviction rate was so low, and there were serious concerns as to whether it could be achieved. This included crimes against women and children, forensic backlogs, DNA etc. The police, as an organisation, was not performing. The only environment that the police had achieved 100% of their targets in was the VIP protection services, which was not surprising. Could one believe this? He expressed his serious concern, and asked the Committee to take it as seriously.
Mr A Whitfield (DA) started on a positive note by commending SAPS for the summer Safe Festive Season programme. The interactions that he had had with most police officers had been positive. SAPS had been visible and present, and it almost felt as though they were following him when he thought that he was the one following them. SAPS was certainly present everywhere he had gone. He thanked the Minister and apologised for the Minister not having leave, but hoped that it was worth it in terms of the achievements that had been made during this period.
He thanked the National Commissioner and his office, as he had written a letter to the office and received a response the next day acknowledging receipt and informing him that they would be following up. This related to a police station in Jeffreys Bay, and involved one of the indicators/targets, being a community police forum (CPF). The letter had highlighted how the Provincial Department in the Eastern Cape had failed to assist with the election of a new CPF, as their CPF had resigned. The oversight role that Members played was critically important, as they hoped to assist the National Commissioner to intervene where necessary. He further hoped that it would receive the necessary attention.
In relation the presentation, what was also interesting about the Jeffreys Bay police station was that he had had a meeting with Lieutenant-Colonel Makhoasa Kiviet, the station commander: She had indicated that every night there was one police vehicle and two police officers monitoring almost 40 000 people across Jeffreys Bay in all communities. This was quite an expansive area and affected the response time, vehicle maintenance and workshops etc. This was an ongoing issue for SAPS, but was something that they needed to get right. It needed to be ensured that there were the right rotations of shifts for police officers, and that the maintenance of vehicles was happening consistently, so that vehicles were not in workshops but on the streets and so that police officers were where they needed to be to respond to crime.
In terms of programme 1, if SAPS was to inspire confidence in the public and if terror was to be inflicted on criminals in the 21st century, SAPS needed to be technologically capable and equipped to fight crime and criminals who were often incredibly technologically advanced. In programme 1, a complete failure of SAPS was seen with regard to technology. The list was long. 21 out of 112 digital radio communication infrastructure sites had been achieved so far, and this was not looking good. Lots of noughts were also seen under the national network communication infrastructure sites, CCTV, drones, modernised incident management capabilities at 10111 centres and VMUs. If technology could not be utilised effectively to fight against crime, the war against crime would not be won. He was making a constructive proposal and hoped that the Committee would receive some responses as to what the impediments were. He presumed that the Committee would hear a lot about contracts, SCM and issues of that nature, but then a response would be needed from SCM, and SCM would need to explain to the Committee precisely why they could not get contract management in order. Perhaps a response would be received later in the day. He was very concerned that unless technology was utilised better through Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the private sector or municipalities, sharing CCTV networks and radio rooms, perhaps partnerships would be a more efficient way to operate. Perhaps the Committee could receive feedback on this.
He was specifically interested to hear about the utilisation of gunshot detection technology and software. The Committee was aware that it was being used in certain parts of South Africa in certain municipalities, but had SAPS considered it to improve response times and arrests? It was seen to be able to work where it had been utilised.
Under programme 1, in terms of the firearms which had been lost or stolen from SAPS, what disciplinary action had been taken against any members who had lost, sold or left behind their firearms for a criminal to collect? What had been about the tracing of those firearms? How could it be ensured that SAPS traced and recovered those firearms? Was this being monitored? The other element of this was ammunition. How much ammunition was stolen? This should be included as firearms and ammunition, so that there was an idea of the real situation when it came to the actual amount of illegal firearms out on the streets. It was all good and well pursuing a firearm amnesty, asking people to renew their licences, and keeping an eye on every lawful citizen owning a firearm, but SAPS was unable to control the loss of firearms by its own members. This was a good opportunity for the Minister to clarify his comments on gun ownership. The Committee had not yet received the Firearms Control Amendment Bill, yet they had heard lots of comments in the public domain. Perhaps the Committee could be enlightened as to when they would actually get the Bill, so that the Committee could deal with it and do their work of legislating and holding the executive accountable – not the other way around.
The other piece of legislation that he wanted the Committee to get some feedback on was the Forensic Procedures Amendment Bill (Forensic Bill). At the end of the previous year, when the Committee had met with the DNA Board with the Deputy Minister, there seemed to be an interest in taking the matter forward. Progress so far was not certain, and the DNA Board had repeatedly raised their concerns in their annual reports. He understood the Minister and the Minister of Home Affairs were exploring a national DNA database. Some clarity was needed on this issue, as it was part of the gender-based violence (GBV) issue being dealt with in the country. If the Committee and Department were unable to expand the DNA database to include convicted criminals and Schedule 8 offenders that were in prison, he feared that they would not be able to tackle that end of GBV. With regard to the expenditure on the forensic laboratory services, could a response be received as to whether the equipment was functional? Were there maintenance contracts in place? If there were no maintenance contracts in place, it was presumed that equipment would be shut down, as DNA could not be processed without contracts in place, as the DNA would be challenged in court. This was a very simplistic interpretation but, if there were experts, could they advise the Committee as to where things were in terms of equipment laboratories, and the maintenance and procurement of the equipment and tools required to do the work?
There was a very serious technology issue. Looking at Programme 1, he believed that there were some quick interventions and quick wins that could be made to improve statistics going forward. He hoped that the Minister would champion the drive to modernise SAPS more and take note of some of the failures apparent in the report that could not be fixed in the last quarter, as it was not possible. Note needed to be taken of the fact that technology was available to use and catch criminals, but that it was not being adequately implemented, based on the report. The Committee and Department needed to ensure that pressure was kept up on the implementation of technology, but he was very concerned about the Forensic Bill. He had raised his concern around the Forensic Bill, he had written to the Department, and he would keep raising it. It could not be that the Bill which appeared in the annual reports, and about which the Committee had been told seemed to be an uncontroversial piece of legislation, was now being made controversial through the investigation of a national DNA database. It would be a dystopian nightmare if this road was taken, as there would be all sorts of constitutional issues when Schedule 8 offenders who should be on the database, remained off the database.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP), asked SAPS during the presentation why it would not express concern about the security risk and vetting assessments conducted. During the discussion, he then stated that one of the main problems that he was experiencing was that many senior officers in SAPS and the departments were untouchable and unreachable when there were challenges. This excluded the Minister because, if one contacted the Minister at any time, no matter what time it was, the Minister would return one’s call. For this, the Minister needed to be commended. The Committee was the eyes and ears of the people on the ground, and they heard what was going on, and repeatedly had to respond to them. However, when calling some of the Department offices, one could not contact them at all, even though phone numbers were made available. Having said this, his concern was that when matters were raised for attention, they were not being addressed. A good example that he had repeatedly brought up before was that of the bogus doctor, with all of the evidence that they had been practising, had committed fraud and received money from the Department. To date he could say that he had never gotten a response despite his phone calls, and now his phone calls were not even taken.
People on the ground wanted to know what was going on. Public representatives unfortunately did not have the time to chase one matter, because there were so many complaints coming in about many issues across departments. Matters needed to be dealt with when they came up so that they could be solved and something else could be moved onto. However, very often this was unable to be done.
He was concerned about the issue of vetting, which was a very serious matter that had been addressed in the presentation. This was a matter for concern that the Committee wanted to raise. Was there any update on the vetting matters which had been making headlines for such a long time? His concern was value for money. Where there was an appropriation, there needed to be value. Unfortunately, when looking on the ground, this was not converted to value.
He had visited the Delft police station over the festive season, and expectations from police officers were too high in a station like Delft. SAPS did not take into consideration the size of Delft, the growing population, and the serious crimes that existed. If one went to the station and looked at the offices that the detectives had to use, the facility and infrastructure was not conducive for them to be able to conduct their work. Nothing was happening about this. The Woodstock police station was a crisis as well, but nothing was being done about it. This needed to be addressed if the Committee and the Department wanted SAPS officers to be able to work properly. Police officers needed to be given the tools, but this was not being done. This went back to what the Minister had previously said -- when putting up a township, one did not consult with SAPS, but SAPS was supposed to prevent crime in the area. Many more people would be entering the area, but provision was not being made for some kind of crime prevention by departments such as SAPS.
SAPS was to be commended, as it was seen that they were doing a very good job on spending money and providing services for VIP protection. If all 59 million people were made into VIPs, maybe there would be better protection services. CPFs were not working all over. He had been in Caledon, where he had addressed a large community. In fact, there was a conflict of interest in Caledon, as it was the wife of the Mayor or the Deputy Mayor who was supposed to be in charge of the CPF that was there, and people were bitterly complaining. In Athlone, they had never seen the CPF. There were thus serious problems in terms of CPFs.
The President, in his initiatives on GBV, had spoken about R1.6 billion that would be set aside to deal with GBV, part of which spoke to rape kits etc. How was this working in terms of the budget? Had there been an allocation, or had it been shipped from one department to another at the expense of the other department? Was SAPS getting anything to strengthen police stations and other facilities in terms of GBV?
The Minister had correctly referred to the murder of victims by perpetrators known to them. This was a serious problem, as had been said before. He did not believe that enough was being done about this. Where did this problem originate from? It was correct that one could not detect what was happening inside someone’s house until a murder had been committed, but where was it coming from? What he was not seeing was what he wanted to see, being the cooperation of all relevant departments to take responsibility for dealing with the issue of crime. These issues were now just taken and pushed to SAPS.
Contrary to what had been heard, even from SAPS, the relationship of the Department with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services (DOJ) was not one that one could be proud of. Police officers were time and time again trying to do their work, matters were going to court and being withdrawn because of instructions that there was no space in correctional facilities. All that was being done, while police were arresting people, was trying to get these same people off the court roll. A good example was someone who worked in the precinct who was battered and bruised, but the matter had not gone to court yet and it was believed that the matter would be heard sometime in March. If one looked at the condition of the victim, Mr Emam said he had actually become emotional.
Could SAPS see the problems that were being faced? Was there an Information Technology (IT) system that, when punching in the identity document (ID) number of a person being arrested, would be able to tell the police everything about the arrested person, particularly concerning their criminal record and whether they had been arrested before for any similar criminal offences? The other day, a parolee for murder who was convicted for 25 years, who had served part of his sentence, was rearrested and received bail the next morning. Police officers were helpless. A police officer had gone to a police station seven times to makes sure that they had served the document on the parolee. It could be said with certainty that the parolee would be in violation of every parole condition. This was how helpless some police officers were, as unfortunately they could not do anything about it.
It was not certain what the conviction rate was in terms of those who were being arrested. At some stage, the success rate would be asked for and the Department had to break it down for the Committee to see what the cause of the poor conviction rate or withdrawals were. The Committee wanted to get to the bottom of the problem. When people complained, the easiest thing to do was say that it was SAPS that was not doing the investigations properly, or that something or another was not good. Looking at the example of the victim from the precinct, one could look at the person and the evidence, but the court was saying no -- that they needed more evidence. It was only due to the Minister and others in Parliament that the matter had gone forward. Victim-support was still not up to standard.
Looking at Cape Town Central police station, people went there to lodge complaints. There would be 20 people sitting there, and one or two police officers who would be interviewing them. Where was the privacy? Imagine someone going to the police station to complain about her husband abusing her -- or worse, a man going to complain that his wife was abusing him. Did the Department think that he wanted to go and talk to the police officer when 20 other people were sitting in that environment? Something had to be done about the public wanting to use SAPS, with the limited resources that there were, and filling the police station while getting affidavits done. It was just not possible, and there needed to be honesty about this. Where were the public representatives and the offices that should be issuing these affidavits – not SAPS? At any given time in a police station, this was taking away two police officers who were not working, and only filling out affidavits.
Going back to the issue of police officers and their wellness, a programme was needed to continuously vet police officers and look at their wellness. He had previously complained about a police officer’s wife in the Wellington area. A woman had sent him the latest voice note, and he would like the Chairperson to listen to it sometime. This woman was so concerned in the last voice note, she had said that if anything happened to her, she just wanted him to know that she had tried everything, because after he had been arrested, the court had released him the next day and she did not know what to do, as he had been abusing her. The next thing that would be heard was that she was a victim.
Was there a special investigation unit to deal with kidnapping in South Africa for ransom? It was known that there was an international syndicate and it was happening all the time – particularly with businessmen. He wanted an update on the Reshal Dayanand matter, who was the bogus doctor that he had mentioned earlier. Why had this man not been arrested for such a long time? He did not want to hear anything about the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), as this was a separate case where he was practising as a doctor, putting the lives of many people at risk and defrauding them. It was not to be linked to the unlawful qualifications from UKZN.
Mr Emam said there was a crisis in South Africa regarding the high levels of crime. This was aggravated by the high presence of unlawful and undocumented people in the country, together with the criminal activities of the sex and drug trade. He was initiating a programme to raid one of the areas in Cape Town, together with SAPS, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and law enforcement, to set an example, starting with the identification of all of those people who were undocumented and all of the fake goods sold, for the enhancement of the manufacturing industry and the creation of more jobs in the area. The area was to be closed and the undocumented people were to be arrested, identified and dealt with, to set an example of law and order in South Africa. The Department’s help was needed in terms of this. This would also help SAPS because, as it was, there was a problem. However, if there were two million undocumented people who were involved in criminal activities, this was an additional burden on SAPS. Any form of crime needed to be dealt with.
The Chairperson asked how many questions Mr Emam had left.
Mr Emam replied that he would try and finished very quickly. The problem was that as he was in touch with people on the ground, and was aware of all of these issues.
The Chairperson commented that everyone had been on the ground over the Christmas period.
Ms Mofokeng said she respected Mr Emam for raising his questions. Members had been listening, and the worst part was that the Committee had a plan. The Committee had said that there would be a joint sitting with the Portfolio Committee on Justice (PCJ). As a person who sat on the PCJ, and as she was on the sub-committee of Correctional Services, it was not acceptable to hear someone saying what Mr Emam was saying when he had an opportunity to go and sit in the PCJ. She could invite Mr Emam to attend the meeting on Thursday, where Mr Emam could raise his issues with the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. At this time, SAPS could not be abused to answer questions of justice, as there was a cluster for it. Mr Emam should join the PCJ so that when he raised issues, he remained relevant. This was too much, as there should have been a limit on questions too.
The Chairperson said that the Committee was arranging a meeting of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster. On 10 March, the House Chairperson had given the Committee permission to arrange a meeting of the JCPS cluster, because it was now well overdue. The Committee was never going to get by without having a joint meeting, and all Members had been requesting it. The Chief Whip and House Chairperson had also requested that the Committee meet with the JCPS cluster, as they had also been receiving letters requesting it. When it came to matters of concurrency, they would be raised on 10 March. Other Members had been shortening their questions, so Members were asked to be disciplined.
Mr Terblanche wanted to raise a point of order. Could Members be asked to concentrate on the questions relevant to the presentation? Everything could not be discussed.
The Chairperson said that Mr Emam could agree that Members felt that his time was up.
Mr Emam thought that he was being suppressed, but said that if that was the attitude of the Committee, then he would accept it. The fact of the matter was that he was present to address the concerns of people with SAPS. There was a problem with SAPS and the PCJ. He could understand that it should also be addressed to the PCJ, but he was asking SAPS to deal with their challenges with PCJ. He thought that this was being misinterpreted. If there were 50 matters to address, what was one supposed to do? Leave half of them out? He was quite happy to leave them out, if this was the case. Justice was not being done to raising the challenges of the people and bringing it to the attention of SAPS. He was quite happy to leave it at this, but he did not think that it was fair. If it was initially agreed that only three questions were to be asked, then it would have been left at three questions, but if it was being left in general, then it became a problem.
The Chairperson said that Mr Emam was being very unfair. She had been very lenient with him in comparison to all of the other Members. Was this not so? Mr Emam had to apologise or withdraw, as she had been very nice to him. He must put his questions in writing, as the Committee would continue with questions in the following week. Everyone had been away for too long, and now had a long list of questions, but they could not all be completed in one day.
Ms P Faku (ANC) agreed with Ms Mofokeng that the Committee had come far with the Department. There had been a slight improvement in terms of targets that had been requested and met, but of course there were challenges. Some of the challenges were being monitored. When it came to the monitoring of the SAPS programmes, this was where SAPS was failing. SAPS could see that at some point, their victim-friendly centres or police stations’ target was 100%, but they were sitting at 99%. Did SAPS sit in the following quarter and discuss were they could improve? The percentages were mostly very small. The National Commissioner needed to strengthen the unit in terms of how they monitored their progress.
She was very happy with the SAPS finance department, and a sterling job had been done. From their audit findings, they were able to achieve 85% out of 89, which was a great achievement. This was perhaps because it was headed by a woman, but it was a great achievement, as previously most audit findings were on finance and ICT. It could be seen that ICT was still a challenge. If technology was not taken into SAPS, there would be a lot of challenges. Part of her other tasks had been that she served on the Portfolio Committee on Communications’ sub-committee in the ICT group. She had had an oversight over some of the facilities that were out there and seen how technology was used and how it could try and fast track progress. One only had to go to the Department of Health (DOH) and one would see. This was why the DOH was ready for National Health Insurance (NHI), because they were advancing in technology. This was something that needed to be looked at. The Minister had to meet with the ICT focus group of Parliament and the Minister of Communications, as some of these things could be done quickly.
On the issue of firearm registrations, which normally took 90 days, the percentage was very high because all targets had been met in 90 days. The Committee had supported the firearms amnesty. It could be seen that at least SAPS was doing their part in this and meeting their targets on a quarterly basis – this needed to be kept up. Then there was the crisis of firearms that were stolen. It was asked what the consequence management for this was, and what was being done with the people who stole firearms. The Committee and Department wanted firearms to be safe, but there was stealing within SAPS which posed a great challenge.
Overall, she thought that they were going in the right direction as long as there was a red flag placed when it came to how SAPS monitored progress. This was where there were serious problems. On the issue of infrastructure, less had been spent than was expected. Perhaps this needed to be corrected. On the Alpha complaints response, where the target was 17 minutes 27 seconds, the target had been met in the first two quarters, but not in the third. This was a problem, and was perhaps due to the distance of police stations, which was something that needed to be looked at.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) agreed with the Members that there had been progress compared to the previous report that the Committee had received. The only thing that needed to be stressed to the Department was that assessments on CPFs needed to be ensured. CPFs were also the most important stakeholders in ensuring that targets were achieved in the fight against crime. The functionality of CPFs had to be monitored, as this would provide a lens as to whether they were assisting or still needed more training in order to assist the Department to achieve their targets.
The last point was on the community outreach programme. The impact of the programme needed to be monitored to determine whether the relevant audience was reached, or whether there were positive outputs as a result.
Ms Z Majozi (IFP) said it would be a lot easier for the Committee to engage on the report if the challenges, and how they could be moved forward, were received. She did not want to assume anything. These challenges were needed so that the Committee knew what was being dealt with, and how they could help SAPS do their work. She agreed with Mr Emam, that if one contacted the Minister he would respond immediately. That deserved applause. Even those who were deployed in other areas would take the details of the Minister, because he responded immediately. This touched on the victims, as it would be found that there were police officers involved in housing problems.
The Committee received complaints during the holidays or when they went to their constituencies, of people being shot with rubber bullets. When going to report such cases, the victims were not taken seriously, and these were people from the same communities. Police officers found themselves meddling with issues that did not concern them. If it was said that targets were being met from the victims’ side, how so? People were complaining every day that instead of receiving help from police stations, they were told to come back another time. This was an issue that needed to be solved.
Regarding the disciplinary hearings, some of the things mentioned could have been solved. Why was there a backlog in the disciplinary hearings? Was this a problem of cases not being concluded? The report did not say what was happening. The Committee needed to find out whether the cases were concluded, about to be concluded, or what was about to happen. These were things that could be avoided and finalised so that SAPS could move forward.
On the issue of BRVs, the target had been reached, but she had heard in the presentation that there were other BRVs that could not be found because of sizes. She was not sure what this meant. If SAPS was saying that 100% of targets were met, what happened to those BRV sizes which could not be found? On the issue of firearms, there were licensed firearms given to people, but their licences had expired. This was not seen in the presentation, as it had not been indicated whether these people had come back to renew their firearms, or not renewed their firearms, or what SAPS would do if firearms were not renewed on time or brought back. The Committee had not got these statistics, and if it had, the presentation would have been much better.
She referred to the number of escapes from police custody, and said 769 escapes were too many. What was to be done with those police officers who were on duty when this had happened? Serious consequences should be applied to those officers, as these escapes should not occur while they were on duty. It was not all officers that were corrupt or took bribes. However, in these cases there could not be 769 escapes, and a reduction of 2%. This was unacceptable and those responsible should be held accountable. What was being done to ensure the minimisation of these escapes? When these escapes happened, it was not known whether the person had been arrested for murder, rape etc.
On the issue of car hijacking, she had received good reports during the holidays from five or six people who had seen that she sat on PCJ. These reports commended the turnaround time of police when it was reported that their cars were hijacked, and they got them back the same day. This deserved applause, but needed to be improved as it was not only those six people who had been hijacked. There were a lot of other people who had not received anything as yet.
Referring to the SAPS community outreach programmes, she said she hoped that this was being done in each and every ward. It needed to be found out why people were losing trust in the police and why the police were not connecting with communities. These outreach programmes were not held in each and every ward. If there was no interaction with residents in each and every ward, this would result in a problem. She suggested that future outreach programmes should be held in each and every ward so that the Committee could establish what communities were saying about SAPS.
Mr T Mafanya (EFF) congratulated the Minister for a job well done during the festive season. This was not the first festive season programme, but it showed that something different had been done this time around. As a result, feedback from the ground was that police had been on point. The issue was that there was nothing new about the things that had been highlighted, as the same challenges had been raised in the previous administration. This included the issue of the festive season, but because things were done differently, positive results were achieved.
The report highlighted to the Committee that the police were in the know, as the areas of weaknesses had been identified. This told the Committee that something different had to be done. To say that people had to account elsewhere, and that people at the operational level had to account was incorrect, as at this level, it was the Minister who was to account. The Minister had to explain what had happened and why there were weaknesses in those areas highlighted in the report.
There were areas where the police could not be timeously at the crime scene – including homes, schools etc. The JCPS cluster meeting would address these things, and matters would be engaged with at these levels. He wanted to refrain from saying one was from a specific police station, as everyone had something to say about different individual police stations. At this level, it had be said that in the past there had been 30 priority police stations. The police had the data and had identified areas where emphasis had to be made. The Committee just had to reemphasise the areas and mention any issues that needed to be zoomed into. The Minister would then account for this, as he knew that he had his own foot soldiers that were involved in those matters. When the Committee did their oversight, this was where they would pick up quite a few things that negated what the Department said, and where there should be improvements. He wanted crime to be looked at holistically for Members to begin to do their oversight as a Committee.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their detailed responses and questions. She added that the Safe Festive Season programme did not even warrant a presentation, as it had been very effective and spoke for itself. This was the kind of police service that was wanted, where a 160-page report was not received because the work was so effective.
Everything possible would be done to make the JCPS meeting on 10 March successful. Members had to highlight their areas of concern. On the matter of the JCPS meeting and the constituency reports, the assistance of the Minister and National Commissioner was needed, as the meeting would not be a success without them. Could the Department provide a point person who could assist the Committee? The Committee did not want to sit at a mass meeting and achieve nothing, as many committees were being brought together. It was not going to be a battleground and slaughterhouse, where the PCJ started being accused. Areas of synergy and common good had to be found.
On the matter of constituency offices, Members were visiting a number of police stations. The Committee could not just call the Minister or National Commissioner. There were a lot of opportunities because of the provincial commissioners’ responses. A system was needed to process the oversight visits. Once something was reported, there was a response. Going back to one’s constituency, they did not want to see one again if their problems had not been addressed. Members looked incompetent as Parliamentarians because if they could not help them, it became a question of who could. One lost one’s stature as a Parliamentarian if one went back to one’s constituency and the same problem existed. In fact, one would rather run away from the constituency and not answer their calls. When she had a response, she would rather call her constituency, and they would be very happy.
The Committee would also go through the Central Firearms Registry (CFR), as this was part of their concern. Could an update be received on the firearms amnesty, and how this had progressed? In terms of the CFR, the Minister and National Commissioner had raised their problems, but it needed to be made a matter of emphasis. How many police officers had been charged for sexual assault? Was this something that lurked in the shadows? Could those statistics be given to the Committee?
A matter that had been raised the previous year had been picked up that the Department and the Department of Public Works were still speaking about invoices not being made available on time. When was this matter going to be addressed? The same was true of technology, which had also been raised in the past.
Could a serious reduction in crime really be expected where the serious crime targets were so low? She was convinced that the Minister would be able to address the matter. Could the anti-gang units be brought back?
The Western Cape Premier and the MEC for Police had signed an MOU. Was this regulated? This was not understood, as she did not see the synergy. Was there some form of synergy? Had the Department convinced themselves of the legality? She did not want a comeback. If there were resources, they had to be applied in conjunction with the National Department. The Committee and Department did not have to work parallel to each other. Was there some cooperation, as in the past a lack of cooperation had been complained about?
Finally, there was a matter of a metro police force in the Mangahu municipality that would be wonderful for the Committee to launch. It would be a wonderful occasion and a success story for the Committee if the Minister could launch it. What would be required? Mangahu had engaged and worked quite hard on metro police, as they were a metro without metro police. There had also been a request for a firearms summit. The Committee had said that they could not have a firearms summit on their own. Could something be done about this in the provision of assistance when it came to a firearms summit?
Minister Cele said he did not regret attending the meeting, because there were “many horses present” for him to get information from the horse’s mouth. It really helped to understand things better when it was first-hand information. There had been direct questions and statements. He had been a Member of the Legislature for quite some time, and had just moved to the Executive, but the biggest portion of his life had been in legislation, which helped him to understand these processes.
In terms of the Bills, there was no minister that had a Bill. A Bill belonged to Parliament and the people of South Africa. A Bill was developed, taken to Cabinet, Parliament and the people, where it would be edited. It did not matter what the origin of the Bill was. Thereafter it would go to the House, who would either say they agreed with it or send it back, after which it went to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). It did not matter what the Minister wanted. The system was very elaborate for getting the best Act at the end of the day. Members would tell the Minister what they wanted to see in the Bill, but the Bill was dependent on the process involved. Most of the time, if one was lucky, the Bill was half of what was wanted. The Minister’s wishes would be sifted and sieved through the Bill. Personally, he would have loved to have seen the unarmed society -- Japanese and South Korean society. He thought that the Bill was almost at the end of the process.
On the issue of forensics and buccal samples from sentenced people, the Cabinet felt that it should be a standard issue of South Africans having a DNA bank of “fingerprints” which immediately put someone on the map of being South African and easily detectable. Once this was said, it was no longer a police matter, but a DHA matter as custodian of fingerprints and other things – including DNA. A letter had therefore been written by the Minister to the Minister of Home Affairs. The letter said that once Cabinet called on broadened issues, this was not confined to the people who had been sentenced, so it had been handed over to the DHA to complete the work on those matters. The Committee had also been informed that it had been the call of the Cabinet to work on the matter more broadly, like a fingerprint or DNA bank of all South Africans.
There were people who argued against this. If an arrested person was not found in one of the banks, then there would be a possibility of them not being South African, but a foreign national. The matter remained with the DHA. Having said this, the opportunity had been taken. For example, 14 000 remissions of sentence had been made, and not a single prisoner had gone out without the buccal kit. Unfortunately, this had stopped people from leaving prison, as they do not want to provide their DNA samples. When these people were in prison and the Department visited them, they did not want to leave prison as they did not want to pass the buccal sample test. There were sufficient kits waiting for the prisoners who had received remissions, but nobody left the gate of Correctional Services without the buccal sample of DNA being taken and kept in the bank.
He referred to Programme 1, where many issues had been raised, including IT, as without IT one could not live in this world. He requested that the Department be allowed to go away any come back with a fixed solution. By the look of things, it would not have all the answers. It needed to be remembered that the financial year being spoken about was almost over, but there was a period to come during which the issues needed to be fixed, with very strict monitoring in place. People had raised these issues internally, in the Committee and otherwise. This was especially the case in Programme 1, as Programme 1 had holes everywhere.
The question of clusters had been raised time and time again, and he was glad that it had been covered. The working relationship of the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster had improved, especially the working relationship between Justice and the Police. This was to such an extent, that the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Police had agreed that they had to have at least one meeting per month.
One thing that the Department was working hard on, was to get prosecutorial-guided investigations, so that by the time a case was taken forward, the Department could be more confident that the case was tight. However, there were still problems. The National Commissioner and the Head of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had allocated officials that would be working on some of the crucial matters. One of these matters was cash-in-transit heists, where the police would be working directly with prosecutors. There was one criminal who had had about 12 withdrawals of cash heist charges. Without defending the police, there was the blame that police officers did not do good investigations. However, there was no case that went to court that not been enrolled by the prosecution, but when it was withdrawn the police were blamed. These things needed to be worked on. Instead of fighting over the relationship, one had to find out why cases went certain places and how they were enrolled. When a case like the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana was filed, completed and people went to prison, praises would be sung for the prosecution, but no one would even remember that the police had done a good job on the case. One could not send a person to prison for life if the police did not do their job. For a case to be enrolled, everyone had to agree with the prosecution.
There were specific issues that had been raised, but he was not going to deal with Programme 1 much. There was one big thing in policing when talking about the response time. Some would say that perhaps it was in rural areas where response times were quite long, but the longest response time was in the townships. He had been working in Diepsloot, especially in December, and had been there several times. In Diepsloot, it took one 10 minutes to walk 500 metres, and police would have to park their van somewhere and walk. In Marikana, to go from one side to another, one could not even see ahead of oneself. The Department had called for assistance for a thorough working on the environmental design to make policing better. Without a better environmental design, involving streets, housing, numbers on houses, electricity for streetlights, cameras etc., policing was a nightmare.
He had heard that the Western Cape had been asked to account for the R5 billion that had not been used. He had not been happy about this, because the area of environmental design was one that the police really emphasised. The previous day, the Department had had a good meeting with the Premier of the Western Cape, and he was beginning to think that they were working very well together. He had sat down with a gentleman for the first time, and they had spoken sense on the matter. The issue of environmental design in Cape Town had been raised. Cape Town was a terrible place when it came to environmental design. He had visited Hout Bay and Camps Bay, but had also gone to Marikana and Khayelitsha. One would understand what it meant to go to Bishops Court and Khayelitsha, and what it meant to the people who lived there. These things were being worked on and people were coming together. He had had about two or three meetings with the Premier of the Western Cape, discussing these things.
A major problem being experienced was the shooting and killing of young police officers and members of SAPS in the city centre. There were difficulties when trying to investigate circumstances such as the competency of the officers. These were issues that the Department was trying to work on, and were hoping they would be successful. One could not have a group of 500 people armed, and not knowing how oversight would be carried out on them.
About 5 000 people had taken up the Department of Public Services and Administration’s (DPSA’s) offer of voluntary early retirement, and 3 000 of them had come from the policing environment. The problem about this was that it had removed many of those in the 55 to 50 age group. The crust of experience was being taken away, and 55-year-olds were being replaced by a 25-year-old in the system. How long would it take for a 25-year-old to understand the system? It was fine that they were young, but to have a detective that had been working for 30 years was more beneficial. Those people who had applied had been contacted to ask if they could stay a bit longer and fix things.
It had to be understood that there had to be some comfort in looking after the police. The lives of policemen had to be improved, and working conditions at SAPS had to be better than before. If police were to be retained, there had to be progression in their lives. SAPS had to understand that the best assets in the organisation were human beings, and this needed to be worked on going forward. He hoped that Lt Gen Dimpane, the chief financial officer (CFO), and the National Commissioner would find it in their hearts to say that police needed an improvement in their conditions going forward.
He had heard the issue about the response of IPID. What was the issue around this? Mr Emam had raised the issue about the bogus doctor, which had been referred to Dr Godfrey Lebeya, National Head of the DPCI. The Woodstock and Delft police had been spoken of. If he was not mistaken, there were 1 153 police stations in the country. On 28 February, the Department would be going to an area where, to reach a police station, one needed R60 for a taxi. Before a crime could be reported, the victim would have to be hurt and then find R60 in their house. Whilst Woodstock lacked certain things, there were things that were completely absent at other police stations. These were issues that needed to be tackled, as in some areas, police stations were not built where there had been a responsibility to do so. First prize would be for everyone to walk to the police station, rather than look for R60 and wait for a taxi that could take an hour before arriving at the police station.
Due to spatial planning, it could be found that police stations were being deserted. Big police stations would be built, as seen in Diepsloot, but it would be found that communities were moving away as the township grew. Spatial development was one area that the Department wanted to work on together with planners going forward.
Victim-friendly facilities were not present in all police stations, although this had been tried. However, the situation was currently not be adequate. In terms of the training, out of 5 000 police that had passed the previous year, 312 of them had been trained to be specialists on matters of GBV. These officers were young and it would take time for them to understand what it was to sit at the desk with a person who was coming to report GBV. This was one area where the police could not win alone. A major problematic area of GBV was family involvement. Families were giving SAPS headaches when asking people to withdraw their cases. There was a long list of withdrawn cases, and it could not be the police pushing this. This needed to be worked on as abuse was abuse. The police were spoken to, and two things that they could not do was chase away a woman that was coming to report an abuse, and pass judgement on how women dressed. The police were told in training, that women had the right to dress the way that they wanted, and it was the police’s duty to protect them. Families had to support the police when dealing with these issues.
The issue of foreign nationals had been raised, and a problem was being faced. Unfortunately, South Africa was chairing the African Union, and now and again was scared off when talking about the criminality of foreign nationals in the country in case of being called xenophobic. A lady from Durban had been kidnapped for 167 days by four Mozambicans. On the previous Sunday, the Minister had buried an officer in the Free State who had been killed by four foreign nationals. These foreign nationals were not just committing crimes, but were targeting the State. Fortunately, all of the kidnappers were arrested, but the police had been buried. This was a call that needed to be made to everyone, that such a situation should not occur. There should not be a situation where members of SAPS were murdered by undocumented foreign nationals.
He agreed on the issue around firearms. To allow for 600 lost/stolen firearms was a massive figure. Some of the percentages had been changed. For example, most 2% targets had been changed to 6%. Whilst this was still low, 2% was even lower. When coming back, better percentages could be worked on. Once figures were put down, they had to be achieved.
He had heard that the Committee was no longer interested in the Safe Festive Season programme, but he had wanted to brag.
The Chairperson said she had not said that the Minister should not do the presentation. She was using it as a standard.
The Minister explained that the problem was that everyone had praised the programme, but he just wanted the Department to be able to brag about the festive season.
The Chairperson said that the Minister should do the presentation himself, so that he could take the accolades himself. She asked if the Deputy Minister would like to say something.
Mr Cassel Mathale, the Deputy Minister of Police, said that the Minister had spoken as one voice and had said what was necessary.
Gen. Sitole said that it was important for him to start by expressing his appreciation for the questions, guidance and inputs of Members. The Department would answer as many questions as possible, but asked if the majority of questions could be answered in written form and brought back to the Committee. Other responses could also be included in the report that the Minister had indicated would be presented on Programme 1.
Firstly, he wanted to confirm the GBV which had been raised as a critical area. Those cases which the President had said were to be reopened involved a cold case analysis, and a total of 2 372 cases had been reopened to date. Out of the 2 372 cases, 2 000 were from Gauteng. All of these cases were currently under investigation. At the same time, SAPS was also looking into the capacitation of a cold case unit.
Secondly, the training of members in dealing with sexual offences concerned several categories, which included all sexually related offences. Up to now, SAPS had trained 1 979 officers on sexual offences, and this training was now integrated into the basic policing curriculum.
It had been said that SAPS needed to indicate what their challenges were, which would be done in future. There were critical challenges, some of which had been raised by the Minister. He mentioned the implications of these challenges. In terms of environmental design, it needed to be pointed out that it was rapidly deteriorating, resulting in a number of members being killed. As an example, in Alexandra the houses were on the pavement. If a case was reported, the police van would stop behind the taxi, as there was one road and cars could not pass each other. Taxis would load until they were finished, before police could pass to go and attend to a complaint. This included Alpha, Bravo and Charlie complaints. If the environmental design was rapidly deteriorating, instead of SAPS achieving the target, it was getting worse. Therefore, this was an area where SAPS called for the support of the Committee and, in SAPS’s view, this was a spatial development area which was the mandate of municipalities.
Secondly, there was also a rapid deterioration of moral fibre. The Minister spoke about the recent killing of children by fathers, but there had been cases of fathers impregnating their own children or raping them. This rapid deterioration of moral fibre needed to be stopped somewhere, and an intervention was needed. It needed to be said that there was hope, starting in the previous year, when SAPS had listened to the Committee. The Committee had spoken about a cluster intervention meeting, which was supported by the Minister, and inter-cluster interaction had also been emphasised here, which he still wanted to propose and request. Beyond the engagement with a cluster, the inter-cluster proposal should also continue.
In the State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President had pronounced a review of the national crime prevention strategy. The Committee had also spoken about the possibility of a summit of some kind. All of society needed to be brought together in trying to deal with this particular problem, so that it could be seen whether there were any changes that could be made. On the support side, SAPS would make it part and parcel of the presentation, but they had finalised an integrated strategy which the organisation previously did not have. As he was speaking, the support team was in the Western Cape and would review the total resource plan of the Western Cape after the several interventions. This would be done in the Western Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape, after which the other provinces would be followed up on.
The Committee’s support was also needed in service delivery access, which SAPS was trying to achieve but had been overtaken by the pace of the spatial development. Here, there was risk which SAPS needed assistance with, as some informal settlements were located on top of pipelines which held gas, petrol, diesel or water. There had been a recent arrest where people were trying to open a valve and gas was about to come out. If they had not been arrested before this happened, the whole informal settlement and other nearby areas would have been in ashes. Perhaps a collective approach was needed for spatial development.
Regarding the rest of the targets, SAPS was asking the Committee to allow them to present the reviewed approach after presenting it to the Minister. By the time SAPS came back, they should have reviewed quite a lot of them.
Another challenge was contract management. SAPS had designed a new contract management strategy. There was now a plan indicating by which time a contract had to be renewed or when another contract needed to be found, so that there was a specific contract. This was part and parcel of what would be presented.
The Chairperson apologised for interrupting the National Commissioner, but said Mr Whitfield had consistently been raising the matter of targets and performance plans. At some stage or another, she thought that the National Commissioner should respond in writing to Mr Whitfield. An email had been sent regarding this.
Mr Whitfield explained that the email was regarding strategic plans and targets. This was an ongoing issue that had been a discussion point from the first presentation, and which the National Commissioner was aware of. The Committee was limited in terms of writing the strategic plan, as it was not their responsibility. It would be a great concern if targets were constantly repeated. Time needed to be spent as a Committee in ensuring that there were improvements to existing targets and that those targets be revised where necessary.
The Chairperson asked if this could be agreed upon.
The National Commissioner said that a response would be provided, but with the proper procedure – it would be taken through the Minister, and brought back to the Committee.
SAPS was presently in the process of dealing with its online policing strategy. The Committee must have seen that a SAPS app and Amber app for missing children had been launched. SAPS was now working on Safer Cities technology, but would need the support of the Committee because there was legislation that would come into play. For example, facial recognition was being used internationally, and it was working. However, the laws in South Africa had not yet allowed for this. Finally, there were priorities to be noted, arising from the operational plan. One of them had been pronounced in the SONA by the President, and was the establishment of a tourism reserve through police services. SAPS was also working on a royal police reserve, where traditional leaders etc. were involved.
The Chairperson thanked the National Commissioner for his participation, and said that the Committee was waiting for the Minister’s presentation on the Safe Festive Season.
The Minister explained that he was unable to do so.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would be awaiting his presentation in the House, and looked forward to seeing him at the SONA debate.
The National Commissioner continued, saying that in order to enhance its investigation capacity, SAPS was doing a restoration of the year of the detectives. This was going to have a series of capacity beef-ups on investigations, including a review of the total resource plan for all investigation families, such as the DPCI. Cybercrime strategy had also been workshopped, and was being shared with other countries so that they would be able to work with SAPS and provide support. These were priorities that were being discussed at the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), and at the right time they would be brought back to the Committee.
He requested a little time for the deputy national commissioners respond questions in their areas of responsibility. They did not have to go into detail, but a few questions could be responded to at an operational level. With the Chairperson’s permission, he would give them the go ahead.
The Chairperson asked if Members wanted each unit to respond. Could they highlight which units they wanted to respond?
Mr Whitfield said that this depended, as the Committee did not know which questions would be responded to or invited. The responses received thus far were not very satisfying, because every time the Committee met, they were rushed. Questions would be put and responses would be received in writing, which was a limitation of time. A way needed to be found to have two committee meetings per week, or the Committee needed to meet after sittings that did not go on until 20h00. A way needed to be found for the Committee to have an engaging dialogue. This was because, when there were follow up questions, it was very difficult to put follow up questions in writing and continue the conversation via email. For example, on the issue of buccal samples for remission, there was no reason why there should not be a discussion on the Minister and the Committee going and promoting the Forensics Bill to run concurrently with the investigation into a national DNA database. He had asked questions about the forensics laboratory, and now he had to wait a week before getting a response. If these buccal swabs could not be processed or maintenance contracts could not be done at the laboratory, the Committee needed to know. It did not mean anything if buccal swabs were taken from prisoners if the laboratories were not working because only 61% of the budget had been spent. It thus really depended what kind of answers would be received, and if there were really no answers regarding Programme 1, as the Minister had said, perhaps it was a waste of time to even get the answers. Programme 1 was the worst performing programme by far, yet there were no answers. This was what these meetings were for.
The Chairperson agreed with Mr Whitfield. It did not satisfy the Committee to say that responses would be given in writing. There were options. She had not asked Members to be limited to three questions each, as she did not want to suppress them. The one solution was that there needed to be more than one meeting per week – Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If the presentation was so long, there was limited time for responses. Presentations were long, questions were long, and responses were not forthcoming, as time would be rushed once responses were got to. This was not a good way to manage a meeting, and the assessment of reports was done for the sake of doing it. Boxes would be ticked to say that work had been done and that there had been compliance from the Committee, but by the next presentation the Committee would have the exact same questions. She added that she would like a day where there were no presentations, only responses. There would then be a follow up to those responses.
The Committee could not just go through the motions, as this was not much help. A number of questions being asked today were questions that had been asked the previous year, and to which promises had been made to attend to them via written responses. If the Committee was satisfied by the written responses, the Department would not have been asked again today. It was a new year and the Committee could not be repetitive. The Committee needed to get to the heart of the matters, deal with them, and be satisfied that adequate responses had been received.
Ms Faku said the Chairperson had captured her sentiments by saying that written responses should not be allowed at this stage. Another day should be set aside to interact with SAPS. Everything that the Committee wanted to hear was part of the report. She did not know what the deputy commissioners were going to respond to. The National Commissioner had raised the issue that there were outstanding points, and she felt that SAPS should be given time in the next week to allow interaction. The Committee’s function was not to gain political scores – it was for the Committee to make South Africa safer for communities. She requested that the meeting be adjourned and held over two days in the following week, depending on availability.
The Chairperson thought that enough had been said about the festive season and that it need not be discussed today. The Committee had been told about the Basson matter, and she had seen that there was a report. Could she be given the report on the Basson matter? The Committee thus had a response, as they had said that they wanted an update.
Three outstanding petitions had been received from the Speaker. When the Chairperson received something from the Speaker, she had to respond. Could it be ensured that this was also done?
Two meetings would be arranged for the next week – one on Tuesday and one on Wednesday.
The other matter was that the Committee Secretary, the Content Advisor and the Chairperson were receiving complaints from the public regarding the firearms licence applications on a daily basis. She had told these people to stop sending complaints to her, as it was almost as if she was now being harassed. This happened on a daily basis and, if she could not take it, she did not know what the Secretary and Content Advisor were doing about it. People were sending them the processing of the firearm licences, which was a major problem. There also appeared to be a problem at the firearms registry. She did not know what to do with these letters of complaints. Could the expired licence applications be looked at? It began to create the impression that the firearms amnesty was going to be a problem for the Committee. Either she had to continue ignoring these letters at her own peril, or she had to develop a standard response, as she did not know what to do anymore. If she ignored the letters, it would not backfire on anyone else as they had been addressed to her as the Chairperson of the Committee. As the letters went to the Committee Secretary, they were also on record, and it was as if someone was building a case. She could not deny that she had received the letters because they were in writing and on record. The Department had to make sure that these licences were processed, and responses to applicants needed to be given. Members’ emails were being put out somewhere on a database. Whilst she did not mind receiving emails, if she was to receive the same letter on one matter, she was not impressed. On one day she had received 20 emails on the same matter, which was abnormal.
Mr Terblanche said the Department should inform the Committee on how they were going to turn around the underperformance in certain areas where targets were not being met. There was no use meeting again and getting answers, when the Committee did not know where they were heading to rectify the situation.
Dr Lebeya apologised for having to request a minute to respond to the question raised regarding the bogus doctor. He needed to indicate that it was not his practice not to respond whenever he missed a call. For some reason, during the time when the DPCI was in session, his phone might be with somebody else, and he would apologise if that might have been the case. An update on the case being dealt with, was that there were three phases of the same case. Normally, feedback would be given to the complainant, but there were other accusations being made surrounding the case. On Monday he had been in KwaZulu-Natal with regard to other matters being dealt with. The bogus doctor case was among the top 30 prioritised cases being dealt with, and was intertwined with other matters. Some other people may have known about an individual that was involved, but there were others who may not have necessarily have been mentioned. He was impressed by the Public Prosecutor of the specialised commercial environment. Could these specific matters be separated from the rest of the investigation, so that the matter itself received attention? He had three recruitments that were investigating the matter because of counter-allegations due to there being two sides of the very same coin. He indicated that the matter was receiving attention, and apologised if there may have been miscommunication.
The Chairperson said that the Deputy Minister and National Commissioner would be given a last chance to speak and that the meeting would be closed. In fact, the meeting was to be continued in the next week – it would not be a new meeting.
The Deputy Minister asked if the Chairperson meant that the two items that had not been presented were to be presented in the following week.
The Chairperson said yes.
The Deputy Minister said that the Minister had suggested that a facile approach be adopted on the issues raised. The next item was the issue on Mr Basson, which was more of an update for the Committee. It could be agreed that this would be presented and done away with. The third item was the issue of the festive season, which Members had referred to before presentations had even been made. Members were happy with what they had observed and, therefore, the matter had been disposed of from the agenda and did not have to be done again, as Members had made positive comments. The only items still outstanding were the responses that were to come from programme 1 and other programmes. Mr Terblanche had even proposed that some questions did not need to be responded to specifically, besides saying how the Department was going to deal with specific challenges and how the Committee was to help achieve it. This was a fair proposal, as some of the challenges had an internal process that needed to be looked at to see how the Department could become more efficient in dealing with these matters. He appreciated the time that the Committee had afforded the Department to interact with the Committee.
The National Commissioner said that the Deputy Minister had already wrapped up on behalf of SAPS. He extended the appreciation of SAPS and added that SAPS would be listening to the marching orders of the Committee.
The Chairperson concluded the meeting by saying this was the start to a year of intensified oversight which was required. If this meant that two meetings were required, it would be done. The cooperation from SAPS and the Ministry was appreciated. There were always complaints, and the Safe Festive Season should not be swept away. This was why the Minister had to be given a chance to present it so that the Members could publicly comment on it as a Committee. A statement needed to be issued and all political parties should issue their own statements, because they also wanted to submit motions in the House.
Lastly, she wanted Members to interrogate the quarterly programme which ought to be fit for purpose. If it was no longer fit for purpose, this meant that the Chairperson had to go back to the House and make changes. She was always asking the different political parties to provide their inputs on what they wanted in the programme. The programme had to be looked at and evaluated. It was still the beginning of the year, but the year went by very quickly. The Committee needed to emphasise, focus, and be very strategic in their engagement with it.
The Deputy Minister indicated that there was no problem with the request made by the Chairperson that the item on the Safe Festive Season should still be presented. He was comfortable with the presentation, and it would be prepared for the next meeting.
The Chairperson added that the Committee wanted the Basson matter be an ongoing item until it was resolved.
The meeting was adjourned.
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