The South African Police Service (SAPS) appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts to deal with deviations, expansions, irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure at SAPS in 2018/19. An irregularity expenditure of R20.7 million had been reported but that had escalated to R1.2 billion during the audit.
The Auditor-General had previously informed the Committee that there had been a lack of evidence in the SAPS register of irregular expenditure. The Committee requested an explanation for how that situation had arisen. The response indicated the Department had understated its irregular expenditure for the previous two years. The causes were explained away as a lack of controls and other factors, but the action taken in response to the audit report was presented to the Committee. In SAPS, transactions took place down to police station level and an audit response plan had been developed looking at all transactions from zero up to billions of Rand to scrutinise every transaction and then to investigate those that were found to be irregular in terms of the National Treasury Irregular Expenditure Framework. Internal controls had been ineffective but SAPS reported that it had enhanced its internal controls.
The Committee Members shared the Auditor-General’s concerns about the delays in investigations and consequent management. The Chief Commissioner explained that SAPS was working with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development and was assisting investigators to find evidence. The Hawks, the Asset Forfeiture Unit and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate were also involved. Members had been suspended but, as per Labour Law, had returned to work if their cases had not been concluded within 90 days. Mostly members were moved out of their area of work, especially those suspected of irregularities in the supply chain management. The Committee expressed grave concern that one person had not been suspended and remained working in the supply chain management division.
Contracts entered into by the State Information Technology Agency on behalf of SAPS showed a deviation from procurement processes, market analysis not done, non-compliance, use of a preferred supplier, etc. SAPS had been forced to report on it because the transactions had involved money from the SAPS account. Some matters had gone to court but, in at least one case, the supplier had won the case and SAPS had been unable to end the contract. In other cases, such as an R836.3 million transaction with another state entity, of which at least R475 million was irregular, was mired in problems of expired contracts, extensions of contract and so on.
SAPS was receiving assistance from National Treasury, the Auditor-General SAPS and internal audit to get the opening balance correct and to show how the organisation had arrived at it. SAPS might then get out of the qualified report, although it was anticipated that might only occur in the 2020/2021 Annual Report. SAPS was receiving assistance from National Treasury, the Auditor-General and internal audit to get the opening balance correct and to show how the organisation had arrived at it. SAPS might then get out of the qualified audit report.
The Committee noted that the names of three generals appeared repeatedly in the irregularity register. One had not been suspended but all three were being investigated. The divisional head of supply chain management had already been found to be involved in corruption. He had been fired and an appointment made in his vacated position, but charges against him would continue. A member noted that 12 companies had been identified with irregular expenditure but SAPS was still procuring from five of those companies with which there were outstanding investigations.
The Committee was unable to address all issues relating to the cause of the SAPS qualified report and arranged for reports to be submitted and for follow-up meetings after the Coronavirus emergency is resolved.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone, including the Chief Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS), General Khehla Sitole, and his team. He understood circumstances were difficult but explained that he was limiting the number of people in the room to 40, but could allow up to a maximum of 50, as per the instructions of the House Chair. The meeting for the following day, on outstanding payments to Eskom, was postponed as more than 100 people had been invited and they would, in the main, be flying down from Pretoria, and one knew the risks that travelling entailed. Even the provision of 40-50 people in the room would be insufficient. Once there was greater clarity on the situation, the meeting could be re-scheduled. Nevertheless, he assured everyone that the meeting remained a priority. Eskom, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, National Treasury, the Department of Public Enterprise and the Presidency would have to explain to SCOPA how they would structure the management of municipal debt to Eskom. It remained a priority.
The Chairperson noted that the declaration of a disaster meant that funds would be diverted from various government programmes to fund the disaster and the Committee would have to keep a close eye on deviations as Members knew what happened. Not everyone had the good of the people at heart at such a time. The corrupt elements would see an opportunity. If people could steal from funerals, there had to be vigilance at this time so that there was not a crisis within a crisis. Law enforcement agencies and government departments had to be alert to prevent a financial corona. The exceptional circumstances created a breeding ground for corrupt practices. The Committee would alert National Treasury and all state departments to tighten controls.
The Chairperson noted that about R230 million for drought funding in KwaZulu-Natal had never seen the light of day. It was sitting comfortably in pockets somewhere. He asked Gen Godfrey Lebeya, National Head of Hawks, to tighten his grip to avoid another situation of corruption and to bring the cases, where corruption did happen.
The Chairperson announced that the Committee was dealing with the qualified audit opinion for 2018/19 which was the same status as the previous two years. An irregular expenditure or R20.7 million had been reported but that had escalated to R1.2 billion during the audit. The meeting would follow the normal process of one question, one response and Ms B van Minnen (DA) would lead with the initial questions. All Members had read the Annual Report and would be asking questions. The Auditor-General had also reported extensively on the issue. The Committee might not touch on expansions of contracts as there was a lot of ground to cover.
He was aware that there had been some confusion as to whether the meeting would go ahead, so he appreciated the presence of the members of the South African Police Service.
General Khehla Sitole National Commissioner: South African Police Service (SAPS) introduced his team:
Lt Gen (Dr/Adv) Godfrey Lebeya, National Head: Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI/Hawks)
Lt Gen Ntombenhle Vuma, Deputy National Commissioner: Asset and Legal Management
Lt Gen Puleng Dimpane, Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Lt Gen (Adv) Sally Khan, Divisional Commissioner: Legal and Policy Services
Maj Gen Japie Riet, Acting Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management
Maj Gen Johan Nelson, Division: Finance and Administration Services
Mr Wally van Heerden, Chairperson: SAPS Audit Committee
General Sitole apologised that his Department had re-sent the presentation but there had been a glitch and some dates were not talking to the correct transactions.
The Chairperson noted that there had been a formatting issue, but Ms van Minnen would begin with the questions. He asked General Sitole how long the CFO and the Chief Risk Officer had been in their positions.
General Sitole explained that the CFO had been in office for 13 months. The Chief Risk Officer looked so old but she had only been in her position for one month. He quickly added he meant old not as in age but in that she seemed so confident.
Discussion on Irregular Expenditure
Ms van Minnen said she would be leading the questions on irregularities. Her colleagues would come in afterwards.
Ms van Minnen noted that the Auditor-General had briefed the Committee on irregular expenditure the previous week. Essentially, it was a lack of evidence in the register of irregular expenditure that was the problem. How had that situation arisen? She understood that the audit had uncovered a great deal of irregular expenditure from the previous years.
Lt Gen Dimpane, CFO, SAPS, explained that SAPS had been qualified for three years on the same issue, i.e. the Irregular Expenditure Register. The register was incomplete and could not be used or relied upon. The Auditor-General required SARS to demonstrate that all transactions entered into since 2016 were free of irregularities. The Department had not done that since 2016 and so it had impacted on the opening balance of what had been disclosed. SAPS had engaged with the Auditor-General to ask how the Department could get out of that situation. In SAPS, transactions took place down to police station level. The decision was to develop an audit response plan looking at transactions from zero up to billions of Rand. Internal audit was tasked to focus on transactions under R300 000 at police stations, regional and provincial levels. A service provider had been appointed to deal with all transactions beyond R300 000. Those exercises were still taking place. Once the process was complete, SAPS could present to the Auditor-General with an opening balance that could be relied upon.
Ms van Minnen asked why the system had unravelled in 2016. Why had there been no proper irregularity trail since then?
The CFO replied that there was a finding that the Department had understated its irregular expenditure. To respond to the finding, SAPS was supposed to have done the full investigation into all transactions but had not done so.
Ms van Minnen stated that she was trying to get to the reason why the situation had developed.
General Sitole explained that the root cause analysis pointed to a number of factors being responsible for the situation. An internal framework had not been fully in place nor the other systems that went together with internal controls, including monitoring systems. He had put all such systems in place.
Ms van Minnen asked how the internal control network worked. Was the R300 000 and below assessment at station or regional level? How did it work from station level up to province and national level?
The CFO replied that it was in relation to the procurement delegations of SAPS. Provinces could approve up to R300 000. If the transaction exceeded R300 000, it was sent to national office. All transactions above R500 000 had to follow the bid process.
Ms van Minnen asked about the situation at station level. Were there delegations at station level? Looking at the irregular expenditure, it was clear to her that transactions were clearly happening at that level.
The CFO agreed that there were approvals at station level, but the delegation at each station depended on the level of the station and was also dependent on the level of the station head. A Lieutenant Colonel, for example, would have delegations to a particular amount. She confirmed that there had been irregularities at station level.
Ms van Minnen said that the Auditor-General had picked up delays in investigations. What was management doing to deal with that and what processes were in place to find out if there had been irregular expenditure?
The CFO stated that during the previous year, SAPS had enhanced its internal controls. To that end SAPS had established an irregular expenditure committee at national level. Once an irregular expense had been reported, all processes had to be followed in line with the National Treasury Irregular Expenditure Framework issued in 2019 on how to deal with irregular expenditure. The irregularity expenditure committees at provincial and district level dealt with reporting and investigation. There was a time limit for investigation and so SAPS had started a process of clean-up. Transactions picked up by the Auditor-General were included and once those were entered in the register, they were being investigated according to the National Treasury Irregular Expenditure Framework. There was monitoring and consequence management.
General Sitole added that one of the measures implemented was a compliance board that sat periodically and checked the level of compliance. He had issued instructions that for any transactions, there should be a departmental investigation and where there was a criminal case, a criminal investigation had to be undertaken.
Ms van Minnen asked if that referred to the 105 cases, of which 39 were concluded and disciplinary steps had been taken.
General Sitole confirmed Ms van Minnen’s understanding of the situation.
Ms van Minnen asked what disciplinary steps had been taken.
General Sitole stated that the departmental process in terms of misconduct applied. The regulations determined that an investigator be appointed to establish whether there had been any transgression of the regulations. Then sections 34 to 81 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) were followed and an investigation conducted and damage or loss to the state was established but SAPS was also guided by the new National Treasury regulation on irregular expenditure. The last part was a criminal investigation and a docket could be opened. If Departmental misconduct was established, the tribunal process was followed and the outcome could be dismissal if it was a serious case of misconduct. There were various misconduct outcomes.
Ms van Minnen noted that, of the cases, only one third had been dealt with and two cases were pending criminal investigation. The Auditor-General had specifically indicated a concern about the delays in investigations and consequent management. What was happening to resolve the investigations timeously so that investigations did not take so long that they ultimately collapsed, as had happened in other departments?
General Sitole stated that the Department had very little control over criminal investigations as SAPS was working with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, but SAPS assisted investigators to find evidence, the investigation could be enhanced and the case could move more quickly in the justice value chain. To accelerate that process, he had established a process that brought together administrators, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) etc. On the departmental side, he had established the conduct committee that checked the status of investigations on a quarterly basis. The committee checked up on investigations on a quarterly basis. The committee also checked on people on suspension, so that a suspension was not extended unnecessarily, and it checked the outcomes of cases. The conduct committee worked with the irregularities committee.
Ms van Minnen asked how long the longest suspension had been.
General Sitole replied that, in terms of labour law, suspension was 60 days or a maximum of 90 days and if not concluded within the period, the person came back to work as per labour Law. Most of the time, it depended on the clarity of the case. Some members appealed the results of the case and even took the case on appeal to the Labour Court.
Ms van Minnen asked how the DPCI was involved with the processes. Had there been claims and had monies been repaid?
General Sitole explained that whenever there were investigations into irregular expenditure, the asset forfeiture process kicked in immediately.
Lt Gen Lebeya, Head of Hawks (DPIC), SAPS, said that when his unit was involved in the investigations, the members got statements from those who had worked with the person, on what people had or should have done and sometimes, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), would get involved. When the investigation was complete, the Hawks would approach the suspect. Because the individuals were known, the SAPS person could give his/her side of the story and that could be included in the docket for the prosecutor to make a fully informed decision. A case had to be reported and then a case number was allocated and then DPIC could get involved.
Ms van Minnen asked if there had been any successful reclaim of money.
Lt Gen Lebeya said that the administrators would know. There were various methods that were used in criminal investigations. If a case went to court and it was believed that certain people had benefitted in respect of the irregular activities that constituted a crime, assets could be attached either through the Prevention of Organised Crime Act or if the money was still there as an exhibit, one could so deal with that in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act. Usually because the money was not be readily available as an exhibit, one normally dealt with it in terms of section 300 of the Criminal Procedure Act. That process only came at the end of the case when the amount of the proceeds had been established. The Asset Forfeiture Unit then took out a preservation order in order to hold onto the proceeds so that when the matter was concluded, the assets could be handed over to the state for inclusion in CARA (Criminal Asset Recovery Account). He did not have specific details on a case by case basis. However, he had described the process.
Ms van Minnen noted that the slides were not numbered. She recalled a transaction of R636.4 million with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and she was aware of the historic issues with SAPS and SITA and of direct payment to suppliers by SITA, but what was that particular issue all about?
The Chairperson noted that it was the slide labelled “Summary: Annual Report Irregular Expenditure Note 23.1” (slide 5 on PMG copy).
The CFO stated that the transaction was entered into by SITA on behalf of SAPS. SITA had paid the contractor. It was an IT contract. SITA confirmed the transaction as irregular but SAPS had included it in its statement because the transaction was made using SAPS funds. There had been a deviation from procurement processes, market analysis not done, non-compliance, use of preferred supplier, etc. SAPS had received information from SITA about the irregularity and had disclosed it.
General Sitole asked Lt Gen Vuma to explain the actions of SAPS as it was a third party transaction.
Lt Gen Vuma, Head of Asset and Legal Management, SAPS, explained that the schedule submitted to Members of the Committee contained a list of third party based transactions. An internal investigation initiated in SAPS had found most members were not guilty of any misconduct as the money had been transferred to SITA, but a few members had resigned in the process.
Ms van Minnen saw that the contract between SAPS-SITA had been a subject of SCOPA in the previous administration. It had been the subject of a constitutional court process but SCOPA had not been provided with an update. What was the status of that?
General Sitole explained that the SITA matter was two-fold. The first part was based on the matter that were under discussion which had gone to court and SITA had proceeded with the matter in court against FDA but FDA had won the case and had a court order against SAPS and SITA. The matter was almost concluded but SAPS was using the IP codes and that was under discussion. If it was not concluded satisfactorily, the matter would go back to court but SAPS and SITA were now working together. As previously reported to the Committee, SAPS’ concern was the security risk related to the IP codes. The Committee had advised that SAPS should work through National Treasury which it had done. A company had given a report on the value of the software and that was where they were now – discussing the use of the IP code. It was between SAPS, SITA and National Treasury.
Ms van Minnen referred to previous recommendations by SCOPA and suggested that the Committee keep its eye on that going forward.
Ms van Minnen noted that the R475 million transaction with Telkom related to telecommunication services. What had happened in that case?
The CFO said that there was no valid contract in place with Telkom. SAPS investigated and it proved to be irregular as there was no contract but expenditure had gone through. The investigation was now finding out who had been involved and was responsible for that. SAPS was still investigating.
Ms van Minnen asked if anyone had been identified.
The CFO stated that the process of identifying the people who had been responsible was ongoing.
General Sitole stated that SAPS could shortly give progress on the matter as it was almost finalised. SAPS could send a report or could report on it in the next meeting.
Ms van Minnen explained that her concern was about the time limit as the case ran from 2013 and 2018. The transaction had commenced at least seven years ago. The Committee needed to keep an eye on it.
General Sitole said that the person who cleaned up usually took the burden that went with it. The moment one put in systems and internal controls, it allowed people to uncover things even if the transactions were very old. That transaction had been found in 2018. It was not the only old one. The moment such a transaction was found, the organisation put in process the prescripts, but it was part of the process of cleaning up the organisation.
The Chairperson asked Ms van Minnen if she wanted an update report or to flag the issue.
Ms van Minnen suggested that it be flagged as at that stage, the Committee was not sure of other issues, plus there was the problem of Parliament closing. Her concern was that it might get lost in the system.
The Chairperson informed General Sitole that the Committee required monthly reports on the matter to keep the matter alive but it also gave SAPS time to clean up.
Ms van Minnen referred to the next slide: “Non-compliance in respect of obtaining three quotations, deviation from tender process not complying with Treasury Regulation 16A6.4, no financial and or procurement authority, non-compliance: PPPFA Regulations, orders not issued to the recommended supplier, procurement in excess of R500 000 without following competitive bidding process, total expenditure is more than the contract amount; etc.”
She was concerned about the Auditor-General’s statement that there was a lack of consequence management and follow up of the transactions. Did the matters on that page relate to the cleaning up of the system?
The CFO confirmed that it was a summary slide of the 38 transactions where there was non-compliance/deviations, etc. It was a categorization of the irregular expenditure. Measures were being put in place. Bid committees had been retrained. SAPS had been putting into place various systems to ensure sustainable maintenance of procedure. There were various reasons for the irregularities.
Ms van Minnen noted that the most significant issues were the three deviations from contract and six where the total expenditure that was worth more than the original contract amount. What investigations were taking place into those nine cases? What measures were in place to ensure that deviations and increases on contracts were properly dealt with?
The CFO stated that there had been five transactions where there had been a different understanding between SAPS and the Auditor-General. The matter had ended up with the State Law Advisor and eventually it was found that SAPS had interpreted the matter correctly. The interpretation had been sent to National Treasury the previous year and Treasury acknowledged the 15% validation for deviations of SAPS was correct. A SAPS policy had been applied but the Auditor-General had not interpreted the policy correctly. The matters had since been cleared by the Auditor-General.
The Chairperson asked that the Committee Secretary not permit any more people to enter the room. He understood that exposure was exposure and the numbers might not matter but he wished to enforce the guidance of the parliamentary leadership. He hoped no one interpreted it as a closed meeting. He just had to manage risk, as the risk committee members would well understand!
Ms van Minnen asked SAPS to unpack the action plan to address the irregularities expenditure so that the Committee could evaluate monthly report that SAPS would be required to present.
The CFO stated that SAPS had immediately put an action plan into place and had tabled the plan when the organisation had tabled its Annual Report. SAPS was addressing two things: the audit qualification as well as the normal non-compliance so that systems were in place to avoid a reoccurrence. SAPS had been advised by the Auditor-General in relation to that particular issue of dealing with the assessment of the entire population and ensuring that the organisation did not under-disclose irregularities expenditure. If that process succeeded, it might get SAPS out of irregularities expenditure. SAPS was receiving assistance from National Treasury, the Auditor-General and internal audit to get the opening balance correct and to show how the organisation had arrived at it. SAPS might then get out of the qualified audit report.
She added that there were other systems to deal with ongoing non-compliance. There were high level interventions from the accounting officer and the executives. Essentially the supply chain had been put on the table to address the matter: the appointment of the head of the supply chain was ongoing, training of bid committees, development of capacity at station level, revision and update of policies, including the supply chain manual, and delegations. There was a whole range of measures and the plan was available. It would be monitored by internal audit.
General Sitole added that the new head of the supply chain would start work on 1 April 2020. SAPS had also designed a contract management strategy in 2019 and that was being implemented. A contract management committee had been put in place and contracts would be monitored. Most of the irregular expenditure in relation to contracts was from expired contracts but those were being monitored. Once the new divisional manager began work, SAPS intended overhauling the supply chain management (SCM) system.
Ms van Minnen asked how long it had taken to replace the Head of SCM.
General Sitole stated that the last Head of SCM had terminated his employment in November 2019. There had been investigations and other problems before he terminated his employment.
Ms van Minnen asked what he meant by that.
General Sitole explained that the former head of SCM had been put on suspension before he had resigned and consequence management had been applied.
Ms van Minnen asked for clarity.
General Sitole explained that there had been a criminal investigation regarding the blue light contract. He and two others were put on suspension until he terminated.
Ms van Minnen asked what consequence management he had been subjected to. What had happened regarding the criminal case?
General Sitole explained that all cases were continuing and would continue to conclusion: internal, criminal and section 81 cases. Leaving the Service was part of the consequence management.
Ms van Minnen asked that that detail be included in the reports. The Department of Correctional Services, for example, had allowed things to slide. She handed over to Members to question SAPS.
Committee questions on irregularities:
The Chairperson noted that in the schedule of irregular expenses given to the Committee, people were listed by name and title. There were three generals whose names appeared repeatedly, almost on each page: Lieutenant Gen Ramahlapi Mokwena, Gen Pillay and Major-General Dladla. What was the status of those three generals? What positions did they hold? Were they part of the establishment? Were they part of criminal cases? The amounts of money attached to them was a cause for concern: deviation from procurement processes of R2.7 million, an unsolicited offer of R4.8 million, and so on. Where were the generals?
General Sitole explained that Lieutenant General Ramahlapi Mokwena was the former Head of SCM that he had just been talking about. Gen Pillay had been charged and suspended. The investigation had not been concluded within 90 days. He had had returned to work but was placed alternatively. He had been at SCM. He was now at the Inspectorate and the criminal and departmental investigations were ongoing. Major-Gen Dladla was still at SCM but her matter was about to be deposed.
The Chairperson asked in what role Major-Gen Dladla was employed in SCM.
Lt Gen Vuma stated that Major-Gen Dladla was working with immovable government property. She was employed in Logistics in SCM. She was one of the identified members in terms of the renewal strategy.
The Chairperson asked if she had been suspended. What had been concluded: the investigation or the disciplinary process itself?
Lt Gen Vuma stated that the matters were still under investigation and she was still at work in SCM.
Gen Sitole explained that, in terms of process, during the commission of the investigation, the member remained in his or her position but immediately after the report, a decision was made as to what to do with the person, i.e. to suspend, or move, etc.
The Chairperson asked why the three were not being investigated together as they seemed to be an alliance.
Gen Vuma said that SAPS was not investigating the three as an alliance. They had all sat on the bid adjudication committee which was why they seemed connected. The bid adjudication committee (BAC) had been re-constituted.
The Chairperson enquired as to why SAPS was not using the opportunity to investigate the entire structure.
Lt Gen Vuma said that the BAC had been removed because investigation showed that the majority of members of the BAC had been involved in irregularities and a new BAC had been established. Those people were all being investigated.
The Chairperson asked if the BAC was being investigated.
Gen Sitole explained that whenever a matter was uncovered, management also assessed the harm that it would cause the organisation or the investigation. The bid committee could not be allowed to continue as it could have caused damage to the organisation and government.
The Chairperson asked if the suspension of the generals was not linked to the BAC.
Gen Sitole confirmed that the generals were not being investigated as part of the BAC. The BAC report was still coming.
Mr S Somyo (ANC) noted the CFO had indicated that SAPS had serious capacity problem. How had they gone about it, especially at station level? It ought to be addressed. How were they dealing with under capacity, even at station level? The Commissioner spoke of systems, but how was he dealing with under-capacity? Secondly, the point regarding investigations had shown that the step-by-step investigations were eating into the time, service and integrity of the SAPS. Those steps were taking too long. That had been going on since before the time of the Committee. What could be done better to speed up the investigations? Why did they take so long on the investigative point? The Commissioner would be retired before the investigations were complete.
Gen Sitole stated that SAPS had identified vacant SCM posts which had been prioritized for filling. Also promotions had been signed off. Secondly, training was needed by new and current staff on SCM, as well as ongoing capacity building. That would ensure that SAPS would not run out of capacity. One of the challenges was that SAPS had followed a centralized and then a decentralized approach. Currently, the organisation was working on the need to give capacity to lower levels, such as provincial level. He added that SAPS structure was being reviewed and the organisation was scaling resources down to station level, including people with SCM experience.
Gen Sitole explained that investigation was as easy as how soon one started the investigation. The later the investigation took place, the more complex it was and the longer it took. They were taking a long time because the events were old. People were no longer there, others had retired and no one took responsibility.
The processes were not linked to the Performance Management System. However, he had given instructions that all process be linked to performance so if there were problems with irregularities, SAPS could hold someone accountable and get rid of the person without the need for a long investigation. That process was running concurrently. It was the first phase of the investigation, even though the matter was old. Future processes would not take so long.
Mr Sonya asked about the Major-Gen Dladla matter. Why was the matter dragging while the other two had been suspended already and were not working in SCM?
The Chairperson asked for an age analysis of the Major-Gen Dladla matter. When had it started?
Lt Gen Vuma stated that the Gen Mokwena and Gen Pillay matters were criminal cases and therefore quick. But there were so many others that were being investigated in respect of the BAC issues and that was why it was taking longer. In terms of a timeframe, the matter had started the previous year.
Gen Sitole asked that she look it up and would provide the information in a few minutes. It was linked to the BAC investigation.
The Chairperson asked the team to note that such specific details were required in the monthly reports.
Ms B Swarts (ANC) asked whether the Department was disputing the findings of the Auditor-General when the Auditor-General said that the majority of issues were in contravention of SCM legislation. Bid specifications had been changed during the process to suit supply and delivery.
The Chairperson asked the CFO to speak into the microphone as people could not hear her.
The CFO assured the Committee that SAPS was not disputing the findings. During the discussion with the Auditor-General, consensus was reached but there were a few cases where an interpretation was required. Those matters were brought to the attention of National Treasury which had sent the matters to the State Law Advisor who had then confirmed that the SAPS interpretation was correct. SAPS did not have disagreements with Auditor-General. The Auditor-General had stated that SAPS had understated disclosure of irregular expenditure and SAPS had worked hard to increase the disclosure as requested.
The CFO alerted the Committee to the fact that in the 2019/20 Annual Report, the disclosure would go up as SAPS was still dealing with issues and uncovering cases of irregularities in the past. She warned that there would be an increase in reported irregular expenditure.
Ms Swarts said she had not said that SAPS had not disputed findings of the Auditor-General. She was saying that the Auditor-General had found that the BAC had changed specifications to suit suppliers while it was busy with the process. That was in black and white but the CFO was now clearly agreeing with that position.
Ms Swarts stated that the Auditor-General had spoken of 12 companies which had long outstanding investigations of irregular expenditure but in 2019/20 SAPS was still procuring from five of those companies. How did SAPS still procure from people that had long outstanding investigations?
Gen Sitole informed the Committee that were standing instructions that when it came to any company under investigation, SAPS had to check the current standing of the investigation and, if it was finalised, what decision had been arrived at. Secondly, the officials also had to verify the status of the companies with National Treasury. At the present moment the investigation into those five companies had not been concluded. He could provide a report on the matter.
Ms Swarts said that the information had come directly from National Treasury that morning. Gen Sitole’s Department was still doing business with the five companies. Why did the Commissioner have to go and ask? Something was not okay. She added that suppliers were registered but had undisclosed amounts of irregularities. The Auditor-General said that the irregularities were found in the register. The Department was not maintaining its own register. It was millions that had not been disclosed. How did those things happen? She heard that they were going to train, mentor and coach. It was unacceptable that such things had happened.
The Chairperson asked the Commissioner to check the register and see if those people were still registered and what those people were doing. Ms Swarts would hand over her list and SAPS would provide explanations for each of the companies in the report that was due on 18 April should include those details.
Mr B Hadebe (ANC) compared the situation to polygamy. The Auditor-General was the first wife and the Committee relied strongly on the first wife. The Auditor-General had confirmed that there were still disputes regarding what constituted non-compliance as irregular, despite the fact that SAPS had the National Treasury Irregular Expenditure Framework which was very clear about how a department or entity went about recording and disclosing irregular expenditure. In the financial year under review, and in the two previous years, R490 million had not been disclosed but had been identified by the Auditor-General as irregular. Those expenditures lacked details such as contract numbers, amounts and details of suppliers, which were required by the Framework. Why were there still disputes?
Mr Hadebe explained that, in terms of the law, the Accounting Officer and the CFO were required to prevent irregular expenditure. If they were unable to prevent irregular expenditure, they were required to attach and disclose all irregular expenditure. SAPS had not done that because of the disputes. The Department was not grasping the legislation or was deliberately ignoring it. In the presentation, SAPS had constantly mentioned what constituted investigation but the law told them exactly what constituted an irregularity. If three quotes had not been sourced as required, that was an irregularity. An investigation was not necessary. The Department was prolonging the inevitable. It was like seeing traffic lights ahead and then investigating whether or not they were traffic lights.
Mr Hadebe referred to Robust Consulting Engineers that had subcontracted more than 25% of the contract value to four subcontractors whose BEE status remained unconfirmed. There was another one: Railway Infrastructure Project that sub-contracted more than 25% of the project value to Truck Bodies, i.e. R2.3 million. There were a whole lot of contractors that did not meet the criteria of being a sole supplier: St George Hotel, Shell Case, Intense Protection and Tourism Services, etc. amongst others. Those were the cases that the Auditor-General found had not been disclosed. Why did SAPS need investigators to tell them that those transactions were irregular when there was legislation to assist them? Secondly, was SAPS struggling to understand the legislation on what constituted irregularity? The more time they took with investigations, the longer it took to stop the irregularities. SAPS was prolonging the inevitable.
Gen Sitole confirmed that SAPS relied on the Auditor-General. There was no dispute. The organization was on a campaign to uncover more irregular expenditures. SAPS had uncovered some itself. Those that had been uncovered by the Auditor-General were appreciated as the Auditor-General was assisting SAPS. He added that the investigations were not because SAPS did not understand the law but operations in SAPS were different from other public sectors. There were investigations to determine whether those cases might have arisen from the unique operational nature of SAPS. One example was where there was only one quote that would have been suitable in terms of the operational nature of the need. One example linked to the fact that criminals were constantly changing their methods and if SAPS did not respond to those changes, it could create a disaster. There were times when SAPS had to respond immediately and there might only be one service provider that could assist in the timeframe. SAPS had recently established a modus operandi centre to assist with the way that it operated.
Gen Sitole explained that he was in discussion with the Auditor-General and National Treasury to explain the uniqueness of certain operations in SAPS that did not allow SAPS to work with the Framework. SAPS did not want to violate the laws but was appealing for adjustments to accommodate flexibility and operational interventions. Treasury was open to a discussion but SAPS was still staying within the law at that point.
Mr Hadebe said that he was not disputing the need for an investigation to determine the culprits and consequences. However, an investigation was not necessary to detect an irregularity. If the Auditor-General could uncover half a billion Rand of irregular expenditure, did that need an investigation? Gen Sitole did not have to go to town to investigate.
The Chairperson stated that, as a general principle, entities were required to investigate irregularities in order to disclose irregularities, but it might be necessary to check the process of investigation. He parked the matter and promised that the Committee would look into it.
The Commissioner explained there was a process in SAPS known as the UPA (Unconventional Policing Approach). In terms of that process he could not disclose anything because it could have disastrous national security implications. He stated that there were certain instances where he simply could not share information with anyone.
Mr Hadebe was upset about the concept of non-disclosure.
The Chairperson suggested that the Committee note the point. SAPS had asked for flexibility. The Committee would ask National Treasury what that entailed in terms irregular expenditure but, at that time, SCOPA was adhering to the PFMA. That approach could not set precedents and irregular expenditure had to be disclosed. That was non-negotiable and had to be very clear to SAPS and there had to reporting of irregularities. The Committee would note and discuss with National Treasury. It could not be a blank cheque and there had to be consequence management.
Mr Hadebe asked what had been disclosed by the Department and what had been disclosed by the Auditor-General. Was the Commissioner saying that the UPA was the reason that some information was missing?
The CFO said that during the course of the audit, the Auditor-General would pick transactions/ products and determine whether they were correctly procured. If they agreed, it would be finalized. There had been an issue with regard to the register but SAPS was prepared to disclose irregularities. She understood the question.
Gen Sitole added that the SAPS did not dispute the findings of the AGSA. The only findings not agreed to were those referred to the state law advisor and they were justifiable in terms of the UPA. However, the discussions with both Auditor-General and National Treasury was not about current irregularities but was a discussion about how to deal with future processes under the dynamics of SAPS and the need for confidentiality in some instances.
Mr A Lees (DA) stated that reports from his colleagues on the Commissioner were positive as he and his team were making an effort to clean up a dirty mess. He noted that the list of irregularities and wasteful expenditure was long. Much of it was discovered in 2016 by the Auditor-General. It was a big job. The CFO had said that there were discussions about an action plan. What was the end date of all of the irregularities, as per those discussions with the Auditor-General?
The CFO explained that there were different steps with different end dates but the issues had to be completed by March 2020 so that the irregular expenditure would be concluded before the end of the financial year.
Mr Lees asked if SAPS was going to conclude this by the end of March.
The CFO replied that SAPS would not conclude with all of them by the end of March 2020.
Mr Lees asked how SAPS would disclose the balance.
Gen Sitole said that he had given twelve months for the final plan but there were short, medium and long term issues. The medium term issues would be transferred to the Annual Operational Plan to correct, but they would be completed within the 12 months.
Mr Lees asked if that meant that there would be qualified audit report in the following year. As the matter would not be completed by the end of March 2020, the Committee required a monthly report that would show the number of outstanding items at the beginning of the month, those dealt with, and the number outstanding by the end of the month, including details of the ones that had been closed.
The Chairperson was in agreement with the recommendation made by Mr Lees.
Mr Lees said to the Commissioner that in the past the Department had been good at spending money wrongly. SAPS also did not seem to be good at keeping law and order. The officers had been unwilling or unable to keep law and order in Ladysmith during the riots over the past four weeks. Expenditure was important but the core mandate of SAPS was law and order and, for a month, there had been a disruption of Ladysmith by criminals and thugs that had brought the township to a standstill. Was that not something that SAPS should be dealing with?
Gen Sitole agreed that law and order was the core mandate of SAPS. The restoration of Public Order policing was a priority. However, SAPS was not the only role player. As there were root causes, SAPS had involved other role players which had made it difficult to resolve the public law and order issues.
Mr Lees said that it had not worked and the man responsible for the riots was still a free man. He thanked the Chairperson for his leniency in allowing him to raise that issue.
The Chairperson explained that he had accepted the point about public order policing as it was a live matter but he wished to sample a number of items of irregular expenditure. There was a deviation from a contract, a R475 million contract with Telkom. The note said that no document regarding the contract could be provided. He asked how there could be a contract to the value of R475 million for which there was no documentation. How could that be? What was the contract, how come there were no documents and how had the payment gone through with no documentation? He added that Gen Sitole could request any of the officials to respond and the Committee would accept that the official was responding on behalf of the Commissioner.
Mr Hadebe asked if R475 million was the amount of the contract or the amount of the deviation.
Maj Gen Nelson, Finance and Administration Services, SAPS, stated that the R475 million was a contract entered into by SAPS with Telkom. It had served before the bid adjudication at the time and there was also SITA involvement in terms of looking at certain of the elements of the contract. An agreement had been concluded between SAPS and Telkom but there were questions and a subsequent finding was made regarding possible irregularities in that regard. The investigation was conducted to confirm whether the existing contract was valid. It was a technology-related contract. The R475 million was the full value of the contract.
The Chairperson asked why it was flagged as a deviation.
Maj Gen Nelson stated that R475 million was the deviation amount. The total amount was a deviation.
The Chairperson asked if it was a new contract that had served before BAC.
Maj Gen Nelson stated that it was.
The Chairperson asked if the documents had been found.
Maj Gen Nelson explained that the contract had not been found. Only an agreement had been found.
The Chairperson asked if there was a contract.
Maj Gen Nelson replied that there was no contract.
The Chairperson asked if the agreement was still in force.
Maj Gen Nelson confirmed that it was.
Lt Gen Vuma explained that, in the previous year, SAPS had discovered that Telkom had not been receiving payment for services rendered. Investigation showed that the payments had been made under an old contract but that had since expired. There was no new contract.
The Chairperson asked if the contract was an expansion, an extension or a deviation. If it was a deviation what was it a deviation from.
Lt Gen Khan, Head of Legal, SAPS, indicated she was trying to retrieve the documents on her laptop. She need about 10 minutes.
The Chairperson agreed that the issue be parked for 10 minutes.
The Chairperson asked about the R19.9 million against the extension of an expired contract with Digicore from 2013. The note stated that it was under investigation.
Maj Gen Edith Mavundla, Head of Technology Management, SAPS, explained that there had been contract. It had ended in 2010 but had been extended to 2013. In that period, the R19.9 million was an irregular expenditure. It had been approved by the National Commissioner at the time but there had been no engagement with National Treasury at the time. There was no contract now but SAPS was paying Digicore on a month-to-month basis. The tender had been advertised once in 2016 but no bids had met the BEE requirements. It was to be advertised again.
The Chairperson asked why SAPS was only going back to re-advertise four years later. How much was SAPS paying Digicore each month?
Maj Gen Mavundla stated that it was approximately R3.6 million per month. It was an auto vehicle tracking system.
The Chairperson said that it could not be right that, in seven years, the contract was advertised only once and was currently on a month-by-month contract. It spoke to something fundamentally wrong. He asked the Commissioner to speak about the matter as it could not be right. It was deflating.
Gen Sitole stated that it was a SITA contract and so SAPS did not have full control over it. He had met with the new SITA CEO and discussed the matter. He had raised the matter in the Portfolio Committee on Police and had asked for intervention and support. There were a number of issues with SITA and the Department of Public Works. The new CEO at SITA was reviewing quite a lot of the processes, including that contract.
The Chairperson requested a list of contracts that SAPS had through SITA. He noted that the Committee needed to get SITA back to answer some questions as numerous problems had arisen that related to SITA, even in the Committee Legacy Report. But it could not be right that SAPS was transferring R3.6 million each month to SITA to service the contract. Had SAPS flagged the matter with SITA and what was SITA’s response? Was there correspondence on the matter with SITA?
Gen Sitole said that SAPS paid SITA and SITA paid Digicore.
The Chairperson asked if there was correspondence between SAPS and SITA on that matter.
The Commissioner nodded to indicate that there was.
Mr Hadebe said when he saw SAPS, he saw law and order but what he saw in front of him was a contradiction of that. Legally, there was no such thing as an extension of an expired contract. They were unfairly benefiting that service provider and they did not even know if they were paying a fair price. SAPS was waiting for a condonation to normalize an illegal thing.
The CFO agreed that the two transactions were abnormal and could not be normalized. She explained the use of the words “awaiting condonation”. In terms of the National Treasury Framework on Irregular Expenditure, a department had to investigate processes, take action and evaluate the impact on the value chain before submitting for condonation. It did not mean that the transaction would be normalized. She was waiting for the investigation and then a determination would be made as to the status of the transaction. The status as currently indicated in the register simply adhered to the required terminology. She had not changed anything although she knew it would not be condoned as it was abnormal. The R475 million was also currently undergoing investigation.
The Chairperson said that the wording on the document suggested that it had been concluded. Was the language incorrect?
Gen Sitole stated that the wording would be amended. He apologised for the incorrect use of language.
The Chairperson asked for the language and timeframes to be specific.
Mr Somyo said that it looked like there was a trend with SITA contracts and that trend weighed heavily on the fiscus. Looking at the quality, value, substance and the benefit overall, plus the financial burden, it meant that SAPS got deeper into irregularities. It was still continuing with something that was irregular and illegal and it weighed heavily on the credence of SAPS. The Commissioner had to look into how the matters were getting SAPS deeper into the issue. He asked, as Ms Swarts had noted, why there was a need to change contract specifications to meet certain companies. They did not meet the requirements and so worked out terms to suit them. That was not only irregular, it was criminal. It was known who had done it but there was still a drag on investigating those contracts. It was very necessary for SAPS to deal with the matter.
Gen Sitole appreciated the approach of the Committee on the SITA matter but added that there were bigger challenges. SAPS had written to the former Minister and asked him to intervene with the Minister of SITA and the Department of Public Works – he was squatting, even though he had paid millions of Rand for his headquarters.
The Chairperson asked why SAPS HQ was squatting, how long and who was being paid.
Gen Sitole responded that he had had to vacate his head office but, fortunately, the Minister of Public Works had intervened and was resolving the matter. SAPS had paid but the building had not been completed and so he was working in the office of the Divisional Commissioner. He had also raised the incompatibility of certain SAPS operations with SITA policies and other general policies. SITA did not have an understanding of criminal activities but the police had to buy through SITA, which took a long time, while criminals changed tack. Only SAPS understood the background. It was essential to modernize policing. The Ministers had intervened and the Portfolio Committee was also supporting SAPS in the matter.
He added that the case previously discussed was a criminal matter.
The Chairperson stated that he would come back to squatting. The Committee needed full details of the situation before it could assess whether it should take action.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF), who is a Member of the Police Portfolio Committee, asked about progress in the appointment of the heads of departments. How were they appointed and were they appointed on contract or not? What was the process of getting and checking on their qualifications? Were they being interviewed?
Gen Sitole replied that the post for the Head of Supply Chain Management had recently been filled according to the process followed with all such posts. The post had been advertised and the Minister had approved an evaluation committee. That committee had gone through the CVs and drawn up a shortlist. Shortlisted candidates were sent for interviews. All interviews for senior posts went through a practical assessment at an assessment centre and then were interviewed by the panel. Only national and provincial commissioners were appointed on contract. All other staff were permanent.
Mr Shembeni said that he was a bit satisfied but also disappointed. He knew of generals who had been appointed without advertisements, applications, interviews or other process of appointments. They had been appointed out of the blue.
The Chairperson asked whether Mr Shembeni was talking of upward mobility in the ranks or appointments. He should submit a list of the names and details of those generals that he was referring to. Once the Chairperson had received the information, he would submit it to SAPS and SAPS would provide a written report on each of the generals. He wanted the Committee to deal with specifics and not general broad strokes.
Mr Shembeni said that the Commissioner knew what he was talking about.
The Chairperson agreed that that might be so but the Members of SCOPA did not know what he was talking about. It was clearly something that had been discussed in the Police Portfolio Committee. If he wanted to raise the matter in SCOPA, there had to be a process for dealing with the issue. He was looking at principle and approach. Alternatively, Mr Shembeni could name the generals.
Mr Shembeni said that the appointments had been made by General Phahlane and they were on director level. Was it possible to have people in such positions who had not gone through an appointment process? What criteria was used?
The Chairperson asked SAPS to address the appointments made by Gen Phahlane.
Mr Somyo said that when Members were dealing with Rand and cents, they were in a better place. The Chairperson was being too lenient now. It was better when he asked for a list to be submitted.
The Chairperson explained that he was saying that the Commissioner could respond and then provide specifics later.
Gen Sitole said that regulation 45 provided for the National Commissioner, in consultation with the Minister, to appoint or promote without advertising a post. The regulation existed although the Portfolio Committee of Police said that there should be limitations on those regulations. Posts should be advertised. He was not using the regulations but they were there if he needed them and in which case, he would consult the Minister.
The Chairperson said that there was a time that Gen Nonkululeko Mbatha who had been the provincial spokesperson had become a general in KwaZulu-Natal SAPS. He thought that measures to curb that regulation was a good idea. It demoralized SAPS and prevented upward mobility. The provision should not be a norm but an exception. If Mr Shembeni wanted further information, he could submit the details.
The Chairperson was concerned about completing the work on the agenda.
Lt Gen Vuma informed the Chairperson that Maj Gen Dladla was being investigated on eight matters. The trial had started. Two matters had been initiated on 3 June 2019, four cases were initiated on 19 June 2019, one case on 5 August 2019, and one on 5 November 2019. The Provincial Commissioner was presiding over her case.
The Chairperson stated that the problem was that she was at work.
Lt Gen Vuma informed him that most of the people who were investigated had not been suspended.
Gen Sitole said that he would compile a report on the Maj Gen Dladla and check whether she should still be in the environment.
The Chairperson stated that even the perception was important. One created an ‘Animal Farm’ with all animals being equal but one animal being more equal than others. He asked what influence she had specifically by remaining at work when she was involved in eight cases. The Commissioner should go back and look at it. The Committee, noting eight cases that were being presided over by a Provincial Commissioner, believed that she should not remain at work when others had been suspended. She continued to preside over the same space in which she had been charged. It was not logical. He required a report on the matter from the Commissioner within seven days on the circumstances that had led to her remaining in her position. He asked that the Head of Legal also comment on her remaining in her position in the report.
The Chairperson indicated that the meeting was returning to the agreement for R475 million with Telkom.
Lt Gen Khan stated that she had the document from the office. It was a 20 page document and other documents had followed the initial one. She summarised the contract entered into between SAPS and Telkom on 13 March 2010 and ended 36 months later on 13 March 2013. Immediately thereafter, and during the process, extensions to the contract were made. Further solutions were presented and a third service provider came into the picture. She would provide the details in writing.
The Chairperson declared that was not acceptable. It was a case of R475 million on the SAPS schedule and they could not tell him the details. Small amounts were important but an amount of R475 million was an enormous amount. He was going to get to the bottom of the issue, even if the other items had to be postponed.
Lt Gen Khan stated that the matter was under investigation.
The Chairperson asked how long the investigation had been going on and who was investigating it.
The CFO stated that when she had picked it up in April, an investigation to confirm the irregularity of the contract had been initiated. It was an old and complex transaction. The investigation confirmed irregularities. The matter had been forwarded for forensic investigation and that was almost complete. The Accounting Officer had instructed that the perpetuating evidence of irregularity be presented. The person involved in the investigation was in the room.
The Chairperson asked who was investigating.
Lt Gen Vuma stated that the case had been identified the previous year but had been delayed because it needed a technician’s report to corroborate the facts contained in the report. The report would be submitted to the National Commissioner by 30 April 2020.
The Chairperson requested the Commissioner to include that information in the monthly report of 18 May 2020 to be submitted to SCOPA.
Mr Somyo asked how far SAPS was from appointing a service provider, i.e. when would the chapter be closed? Was SAPS close to the appointment of a service provider?
Lt Gen Khan said that SAPS was talking to SITA and Telkom to regularise the relationship.
Mr Somyo summed up, saying that there was no contract and forensic investigations were ongoing but the Department was still going into a similar service. How did they deal with those issues and move away from an irregular process?
The Chairperson asked SAPS if it was one process or two processes.
Lt Gen Vuma stated that there were two separate processes. SAPs was organising a contract but was also working with SITA as the services of Telkom might not be needed going forward. At the same time, SAPS was getting down to the substance of the agreement going forward
Gen Sitole stated that he was engaging with CEO of SITA and proposed that he meet with the CEO and say that by the end of the current month they had to end any irregularities processes, such as the Telkom agreement. He promised to regularise the process by the end of the month.
The Chairperson said that the principle fine but he asked that the caveat be applied that the process be with due regard to risk. But he appreciated the undertaking.
Mr Hadebe asked for the value of the original contract. What was the original contract value? He thought that it was probably a lot more than R475 million.
Gen Sitole asked for a few moments to look it up.
Ms Swarts said that SAPS had brought a corrected report. She noted that there was an item where the BAC had granted approval for an upfront payment to the Durban ICC of 50% but 100% had been paid upfront. There had to be documents approving the transaction, so how did the official pay 100% upfront instead of 50%? Who had instructed that official to pay 100%? What had happened to all the ranking officers? Had there been was a disciplinary process? What had happened? He wanted a full report.
The Chairperson said Telkom and ICC were government entities and that was clear indication of looting within governments. He was shocked that another government department had received 100% of the payment without flagging the issue.
Mr Wally van Heerden stated that he was the Chairperson of the SAPS Audit Committee and asked to make a few comments. He was encouraged by the questions asked by the Committee but some of the same questions had already been asked by the Audit Committee prior to that meeting. He referred the Committee to the Audit Committee report in the Annual Report which noted that the control measures were inadequate regarding non-compliance. The Audit Committee had conducted an internal audit and it was not only AGSA that had found irregular expenditure.
Mr van Heerden said that when the Committee had spoken to the Commissioner, it always referred to the internal audit. He was happy with the responses of management. There had been a difference of opinion with the Auditor-General and he had facilitated the meeting with the Auditor-General. Once the Auditor-General had reflected and confirmed a finding of irregular expenses, the management had accepted it and reported on it. Once something was identified as a possible irregularity, the investigation had started and had been included in the Annual Report as such.
Everyone admitted that there was no process of proper internal control. In September 2019, a plan had been drawn up by the Department and the Internal Audit Committee had been following up and monitoring that plan.
In November 2019, a detailed plan had been developed. The Internal Audit Committee held management accountable. He had seen slide 21 previously. It was an agenda item. There was continuous training in the Department and he held up a little blue booklet that all members of SAPS were trained on. He assured the Committee that it was a valuable document. He congratulated the Committee and said that it had been a noble step to invite the Internal Audit Committee chair. He assured the Committee that the Internal Audit Committee would continue to follow up.
Maj Gen Nelson stated that the original amount of the agreement with Telkom had been R832.3 million but there were two elements to the contract. The arrangements for the Telkom data line service to departments had been formalised by National Treasury some 30 years ago. It was anticipated that the data line service for a Telkom monitoring solution service, would run over a period of 60 months and the total amount for that service was R496.5 million, for which there was a service level agreement. In addition, there was the Wide Area Network (WAN) to the value of R335.7 million. A cluster agreement had been signed, which included SAPS, for the Telkom Smart Solution. SAPS had a report on the chronological sequence of setting up the matter.
The Chairperson asked if the total irregular expenditure had been R832.3 million.
Mr Hadebe noted that National Treasury had prohibited the extension of contracts by more than 20% of the original contract value.
The CFO said that it was not an extension of a contract. There was a range of problems about the way in which the SLA had been concluded. It was not just an extension.
The Chairperson said that the explanation had changed as the original explanation had been that the contract had expired. Was SAPS rescinding the statement? The Committee was not conducting the investigation in the meeting. The Committee would await the report. It was like peeling an onion when one cried more with every layer that was peeled off.
Mr Hadebe said that the Department was being economical with the truth in the document. The officials knew the truth but were not sharing it with the Committee. The status was “awaiting condonation”’.
The Chairperson explained that it had been decided earlier in the meeting that “awaiting condonation” would be withdrawn on all items. The categorization was incorrect and had to be corrected.
Mr Hadebe said that whoever had compiled the documentation had based the report on the truth.
The Chairperson stated that it had been agreed that the terminology would be changed and now the Committee would await a proper explanation on the Telkom matter.
Ms Swarts said that the Telkom issue was a very serious matter and SAPS should come back to the Committee with National Treasury. SAPS was bringing up issues of 30 years previously. They had to say until when they had paid Telkom. There was some confusion and SAPS did not follow its own regulations.
The Chairperson confirmed that SAPS was still paying Telkom. The Commissioner had said that he would regularise the matter. Had an assessment been done in relation to the contract with Telkom?
The CFO said an investigation had confirmed that it was irregular and a further investigation into who had concluded the contract was in process. It was not finalized. She had not disagreed that the irregularity involved an extension, but over and above that, there were other problems. It was an old and complex transaction that required an expert to assist the investigation.
Gen Sitole requested that SAPS be permitted to follow his ruling and submit a report.
The Chairperson agreed that he required a report. He had flagged all the items but there was an issue of time. There was another section on contracts, consequence management and controls but the Committee needed to tie down the current point. The Committee could not bite off more than it could chew. IT services had to come in because the license fees for IT had not been paid and yet the police were fining other people for expired licences.
The Chairperson referred to another transaction of R269 million with SITA on the confidential schedule. He had flagged it because SITA kept coming up. He was concerned about the number of SITA issues. There was an extensive number of issues that related to SITA.
The Chairperson suspended the hearing. He said that when the Corona virus had been resolved a follow-up meeting would be arranged with SAPS.
Chairperson’s summing up of the situation with SAPS
The Chairperson informed the Commissioner that the Committee remained concerned about the historic issues of corruption and maladministration within the establishment. He assured the Commissioner of the full support of the Committee in areas where SAPS was doing good work. The probing of the Committee did not seek to water down the Commissioner’s good efforts, and those of his staff, but what the Committee wanted was urgency, a commitment to the Department’s own commitments to successful prosecutions. SAPS could not normalize things and allow people to hide behind resignation after they had looted. Disciplinary and consequence management issues should not be allowed to be protracted to the point where processes expired and fell by the wayside. The fundamental issue of corruption should not be allowed to fall away.
SCOPA needed a demonstration of investigation, prosecution and consequence from SAPS. The report had to tell SCOPA that people had been dismissed. The Committee wanted recoveries of state money. The Committee did not fault issues that were a part of preventive measures. SAPS was rotten to the core because it had been left to its own devices. Individuals had sat in that same room, looked the Committee in the face and had given assurances, but they had been lying through their teeth. Days later some of them had been arrested.
The Chairperson added that the support given by SCOPA to any institution or accounting officer was conditional. It was not a blank cheque. He had to continue looking into the irregular expenditure and to probe into it so that there were consequences for people. SCOPA would stay in communication. He was awaiting reports but he agreed with Mr Hadebe that SAPS had not answered the questions around Telkom. Members would check the report when it arrived. He highlighted the question on the generals, adding, jokingly, that perhaps where things did not work out in Parliament for the MPs, the Commissioner could always consider them for a job as a general. He also wanted a report on the issue of the Commissioner squatting in the divisional headquarters.
There were areas of the 2018/19 Report that had not yet been touched on. The Committee wanted to see the root causes and corrective measures should be accompanied by consequence management.
He asked Gen Sitole for his concluding remarks.
Concluding remarks by the National Commissioner
The Commissioner expressed his appreciation for the guidance and direction of the Committee but also for holding SAPS accountable because if the Department did as directed, it would hold people accountable. He committed to providing all the reports requested by the Committee. He was looking forward to coming back.
The Chairperson said that a separate meeting would be arranged on the SAPS and SITA contracts. He asked the Commissioner for an assessment of the prevailing challenges which the Committee could consider when providing a way forward. The matter had to be concluded in a responsible and legal way.
The Chairperson asked the Commissioner to conduct some public education around people who were fraudulently going to households saying they were Coronavirus testers but stealing from those people. SAPS had to ensure the safety of the public.
The Chairperson had a meeting at 1pm with the Chairs of Committees where they would receive a report on the decision of the whips, who had met that morning, on the modus operandi of Parliament and whether or not to close Parliament. He indicated that he would inform Members of any decisions relating to Committees that emerged from the meeting that he was going to. He asked Members to exercise caution in regard to the Coronavirus.
The meeting was adjourned.
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