Policing, Security & Police Brutality: SAPS, IPID, DCS & SANDF

Adhoc Standing Committee on Covid-19 (WCPP)

06 May 2020
Chairperson: Mr D Mitchell (DA) (Acting)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Ad Hoc Committee on Covid-19, 6 May, 14:00

COVID-19: Regulations and Guidelines
Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002
Schedule of Services to be phased in as per COVID-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy
President Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa's response to Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic

The Western Cape Department of Correctional Services (DCS) said that since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Department had developed its regional level standard operation procedures to align with national standards, as well as risk mitigation plans. All management areas had had to customise their plans to suit each specific centres’ challenges. All facilities had been scraped down; all cells, kitchens, sick bays and offices had been cleaned and sanitised; the linen and blankets of offenders were changed on a regular basis; and all offenders and officials on duty were screened regularly. The risk of infection came from the officials on duty, rather than the offenders. Five facilities had seen an outbreak of Covid-19 and in total, there had been 50 officials who had tested positive for Covid-19, but 21 had since tested negative in follow-up tests taken 14 days later. Two officials were still hospitalised in Worcester. Three offenders had tested positive.

Members asked for a breakdown of the number of offenders that had been released since the commencement of the lockdown. With high staff infection rates, they sought clarity as to whether DCS staff getting infected was a sign of not adhering to social distancing and lockdown regulations, or if there had been other factors at play. Because the aim of the DCS was correctional services and not health care, Members had a keen interest in what was being done to fully equip it to deal with the pandemic and avoid an outbreak.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) said that integrated policing response teams were responsible for the monitoring of non-compliance with the COVID-19 regulations, responding to the looting of liquor and other shops, areas where food parcels were distributed and where public protest action occurred, as well as operationalising early warnings received from Crime Intelligence. The only permits that the SAPS could issue to the general public were permits to attend a funeral or cremation under specified conditions. Only a station commander or his/her delegate, and/or a magistrate who is the head of the office, may issue a permit to a person residing in the area nearest to the magistrate’s office or police station. A total of 15 618 permits had been issued in the Western Cape.

The Western Cape Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) reported on the complaints it had received during the lockdown period from 26 March to 4 May. These had involved two deaths, complaints of the discharge of an official firearm, rape, assault and non-compliance with the IPID Act. A total of 163 cases had been reported, of which 83 were related to COVID 19 operations. IPID was concerned about the complaints received from the public on the alleged use of excessive force and abuse by members of SAPS and the Municipal Police Services (MPS). Most of the complaints were about being assaulted by police officers and the discharge of official firearms.

Members wanted to know how many SAPS officials had been requested to self-isolate for the 14-day grace period as a precaution, and what had been done to address the shortage of personnel. Referring to situations that were constantly being reported by communities and the media, they asked what was being done to curb the heavy handedness and incidents of brutality by SAPS. A serious offence that had occurred in Sea Point was highlighted. Members made it clear that while they appreciated the good work being carried out by SAPS, the last few days had seen an escalation of police brutality, and this needed to stop before it spread into communities where members of society developed an anti-police attitude.

Meeting report

Department of Correctional Services

Mr Delekile Klaas, Western Cape Regional Commissioner: Department of Correctional Services (DCS), said the Department had ten management areas, each managed by an area commissioner, and consisted of 43 correctional facilities and 26 community corrections offices. The offender population as of 6 May stood at 26 803, was made up of 12 474 remand detainees and 14 329 sentenced offenders. However, the bed space of the region was around 19 000, and this led to overcrowding of almost 7 000 offenders. The major challenges took place with the 12 474remand detainees. They had 7 343 probationers and parolees who were being monitored in their various communities. The staff complement for the regime was 6 847.

The design of the correctional facilities was such that they were not aimed at preventing the outbreak of diseases. Currently, there were only five new correctional facilities that had been designed and built post-1994:

  • Brandvlei Maximum
  • Vanrhynsdorp Medium
  • Warmbokkeveld Medium in Ceres
  • West Coast Medium
  • Goodwood Medium

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Department had developed their regional level standard operation procedures to align with their national standards, as well as their risk mitigation plans. All management areas had to customise their plans to suit each specific centres’ challenges. Since the outbreak, all facilities had been scraped down; all cells, kitchens, sick bays and offices had been cleaned and sanitized; the linen and blankets of offenders was changed on a regular basis; and all offenders and officials on duty were screened regularly.

He said that the risk of infection came from the officials on duty, rather than the offenders. Five facilities had seen an outbreak of Covid-19:

  • Allandale Correctional Facility (four officials)
  • Worcester Female Correctional Facility: (five officials) 
  • Warmbokkeveld Correctional Facility: (27 officials)
  • Goodwood Correctional Facility: (six officials)
  • Pollsmoor Medium B Correctional Facility: (two officials)
  • Voorberg Medium A Correctional Facility: (two officials)

In total, there had been 50 officials who had tested positive for covid-19, but 21 had since tested negative in follow-up tests taken 14 days later. Two officials were still hospitalised in Worcester. Three offenders had tested positive.

The DCS had established a number of quarantine sites within all the correctional facilities for offenders and officials. Isolation sites had been established at various specialised sites. Guesthouses within most of the management areas had been identified in the event that the other sites could not accommodate more people. Engagements had been taking place with municipalities and the provincial Department of Health (DOH) for assistance in the event that officials, particularly junior officials, were not able to self-isolate.  Currently, one official had been in isolation at the Blue Lagoon Hotel, under the Department of Health.

Weekly engagements were held with the DOH, represented by Dr Beth Engelbrecht, where experiences were shared and support for one another was discussed. Tomorrow, the DCS and DOH would jointly visit Pollsmoor prison, where they would take a closer look at the operations and recommend further support. The DOH had assisted the DCS to provide testing to offenders at the various facilities.

One of the major challenges faced was the availability of nursing staff. At the beginning of the month, permission had been given by head office to employ an additional 77 nurses, who had all been appointed and reported on 1 May. However, there were still shortages and challenges in various areas. Engagement and assistance had been sought from the DOH, because if nurses tested positive, they would require more assistance. Secondly, there was a huge shortage of PPE, and orders were continuously being placed, but suppliers had indicated that they were running short of stock. Internally, the DCS was currently in the process of producing face masks for all vendors and officials, and had to date produced 29 000. The goal was to be able to produce enough face masks for all offenders and officials within the next two weeks. The DCS was still awaiting delivery of face cloths from various suppliers, which had become their biggest challenge.

Operational staff were divided into division one and division two, to avoid officials at the centre level being on duty at the same time. If one division became sick, then the other division would be available. The DCS was trying to make sure that the different centres shared the little amount of PPE that was available.

In conclusion, the DCS was working very closely with the DOH to make sure that they mitigated any risk. Currently, they believed that they were managing. If the situation had to change, the Correctional Services Act empowered the Head of Centre to release offenders if, for security reasons, it was believed they were unable to manage because of overcrowding and the outbreak of disease and related issues, including risking the lives of offenders. That would be a last resort, given the levels of crime. Even if the Head of the Centre was authorised to release offenders, they would let the Minister be the one who took that decision when it was necessary.

Discussion

The Chairperson said the Procedural Officers had been informed that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would not be presenting to the Committee today. A request had been sent by the Procedural Officers to the SANDF, but no apology or confirmation had been received.

Mr R Allen (DA) asked for a breakdown of prisoners who been released since the lockdown and whether the South African Police Service (SAPS) station commanders, or the sub-stations in the various areas, including the victims or victims’ families, were informed when a parolee was released into the community. He wanted confirmation of the number of vacancies at Pollsmoor, why it seemed so large, and since when those vacancies had been in place. What security measures and protocols were in place with regard tof access control and the procedure for staff, especially in respect of the health and Safety regulations under the Disaster Management Act, as a number of officials had tested positive? He wanted to know if the sites mentioned for mass screened meant that each and every inmate within those specific sites was actually screened.  Were the facemasks being made reusable? What systems were in place to make sure that the cloth not only remained clean, but also did not carry the virus? He asked for clarity on the allegations that the Allendale Correctional Facility had even more inmates that had tested positive than had been reported.

Mr C Dugmore (ANC) asked if the Commissioner could give the Committee an update on the number of parole boards that were operating, and how they were dealing with matters of parole during the lockdown period. Did the DCS have any plans with the Department of Public Works to build additional correctional services during the short to medium term? Thirdly, he wanted a clear statement as to whether the current occupancy levels across the provincial correctional facilities were above the desired average capacity and if so, by how many, and by what percentage.

Mr M Xego (EFF) asked if the DCS had not considered or identified sites where their members, especially those from densely populated areas, could take up temporary residence, to limit them and others from getting infected during the pandemic. He said that the provincial DOH had identified certain areas that could be utilised as hospitals, and asked if the DCS had done the same.

DCS’s response

Mr Klaas responded that the parole process was still under way. The DCS would continue with the parole placements for all offenders who had a defined release date. There was liaison with the nearest police station to inform them that a specific offender’s parole had been finalized, and that he or she would be released. The DCS had urged parole boards not to give offenders release dates during the present time, but rather a date at a later stage, so it would reduce the number of releases on parole by the DCS. Before some of the parole processes could happen, an interaction between the victim and offender needed to occur, but given the restrictions in place, such interaction would have to be telephonically. If there were engagements where the victims were informed telephonically, there would be mediation between the victim and offender before the parole was processed. He explained that parolees were dropped off in front of their homes -- they were not just released and allowed to take public transport.

He would forward the information regarding the vacancies, but he had been referring specifically to the nursing vacancies. A high turnover rate was the biggest challenge with nurses. It seemed that the DCS had been regarded more as a training facility by nurses and social workers, because the minute they gained experience they would be poached by both private and public hospitals. The DCS could not compete at the financial level of hospitals, public or private. The DCS was constrained by the budget and by law, which stated that the DCS had to run a semblance of a primary healthcare facility, and where there were problems, offenders were to be taken to the nearest hospital.

Temperatures were taken and officials were screened on a daily basis, but most of the officials who tested positive had been screened and had never shown signs. An official who tested positive had died after guarding an offender at Karl Bremer Hospital for two weeks. He had been screened daily at the hospital, but woke up on Saturday morning and told his wife he did not feel well. He was taken to the hospital, where he passed away on the Sunday evening. Only two hours after his death, the hospital phoned to state that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The mass testing was only being done in centres where many officials were positive.

The DCS was providing each official and offender with two cloth masks, allowing for a mask to be worn when the other needed to be cleaned. The masks were washable and reusable. Officials who were working in the front lines were provided with surgical masks, and not cloth masks.

He clarified that no inmates in Allendale had tested positive, and he was unaware of where that rumour had come from. He emphasised that only officials had tested positive in Allendale. The statistics could be verified with the DOH, as they were the custodians of the statistical information.

Parole boards had continued to function, and guidelines were provided from Head Office which indicated the aspects parole boards needed to focus on with each phase. The DCS could not hold offenders beyond a certain period, and if taken to court, they would not win.

Currently, there were no plans to build any new facilities. The reason was mainly due to budgetary constraints. He said that for the DCS to deal with overcrowding beyond COVID-19, they needed to replace some of their old facilities which had issues such as asbestos and zinc structures, and there were buildings erected in the 1960s that were beginning to fail apart. The submissions were made by the Head Office to National Treasury. National Treasury had indicated that there were no resources for new facilities. He added that the offender population was supposed to be capped at 100%, but they were currently sitting at 147%.

Correctional Services’ officers were members of society, and many had medical aids which they utilised to get tested. Where officials did not have medical aid, arrangements were made with the DOH to have them tested in public health institutions. In areas where the DCS did not have quarantine sites, the DOH and provincial government had been assisting. In the event an offender became very sick; they needed to go to a public hospital and, in line with the current protocols, the DCS’s responsibility was only to go and guard that offender in hospital.

Further discussion

Mr Allen requested that the Committee be provided with a detailed report of the last six months of interaction between offenders and the victims, their families and sub-stations. Regarding the Allendale facility, he wanted to know if the DCS was confident enough to state that there were sufficient measures in place, besides just the collaboration between the DCS and the DOH. Lastly, referring to the high number of infected staff members, he asked if that was not a sign of staff members potentially not observing social distancing and other factors that could be expected from the general public. What was the DCS doing to ensure that staff were following the protocols?

Mr Xego wanted to know if officials who had to look after offenders at the hospitals were provided with PPE, and if the gear they were using adequately protected them from contracting the disease.

Mr Klaas responded there were 27 officials who had tested positive, and most of them stayed within the same area. They had been paid on the 15th of the previous month, and had gone to Checkers. The following day, Checkers had closed down after some of its staff members had tested positive. The DCS had made an appeal to people to observe social distancing, but the reality was that given the shortage of security personnel, children were found playing in the street as if it were Christmas. They were trying to do a lot of education with their officials to make sure that they educated their families as well. Members who were guarding offenders in hospitals were provided with the necessary PPE.

By the time the processes had started, staff members who had previously resigned or retired had already been called up. As he had previously mentioned, 77 nurses had been recalled, and had started on 1 May.  The DCS had also employed thee doctors and three pharmacists.

The Chairperson said any further questions could be forwarded via the Procedural Officer to Mr Klaas.

SAPS: Policing, Security and Police Brutality presentation

Brigadier Preston Voskuil, Western Cape Provincial Head: Organisational Development & Strategic Management, South African Police Service (SAPS), said that since the national State of Disaster had been declared by the President, the Western Cape had operationalised the regulations and directives issued by the Office of the National Commissioner and the National Joint Operations and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS). Subsequently, an operational command structure had been established, consisting of a Provincial Core Command Group (PCCG), which convened on a daily basis and reported to the National Core Command Group (NCCG). The PCCG consisted of the following role-players: Law enforcement agencies, including SAPS, the State Security Agency (SSA), metro police, and traffic law enforcement; the South African National Defence Force (SANDF); the Departments of Health, Correctional Services, Home Affairs, Education, Community Safety, Agriculture, Transport and Social Development; the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA); and Eskom. The PCCG exercised command over all aspects relating to the COVID-19 threat.

Integrated policing response teams were responsible for the monitoring of non-compliance with the COVID-19 regulations, responding to the looting of liquor and other shops, areas where food parcels were distributed and where public protest action occurred, as well as operationalising early warnings received from Crime Intelligence.

How SAPS officers determine whether to issue permits

The South African Police Service was guided by the regulations issued in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The only permits that the SAPS could issue to the general public were permits to attend a funeral or cremation.

Regulation 11B (8) refers to the issuing of permits for funerals, and the criteria for issuing of these permits are set out in this sub-regulation. Persons wishing to attend a funeral or cremation and need to travel between a metro, a district area or a province, need to apply for a so-called funeral permit as set out in Annexure C, Form 2 and 3 of the regulations.

A permit may be issued only to:

  • A spouse or partner of the deceased;
  • A child of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or stepchild; child-in-law of the deceased;
  • Parent of the deceased, whether biological, adopted or step parent;
  • Sibling, whether biological, adopted or stepbrother or –sister of the deceased;
  • Grandparent of the deceased; and
  • Person closely affiliated with the deceased (a person closely affiliated means a person with parental responsibility and rights in respect of the deceased, or had developed a significant relationship based on care-giving, psychological or emotional attachment to the deceased)

Who may issue permits 

Only a station commander or his/her delegate, and/or a magistrate who is the head of the office, may issue a permit to a person residing in the area nearest to the magistrate’s office or police station. A total of 15 618 permits had been issued in the Western Cape.

No permit was required for travel to a funeral or cremation within a specific municipal district/metropole. The SAPS was not authorised to issue permits to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in food relief. Permits should be issued by “the heads of institutions,” be it a business, a NGO or a non-profit organisation (NPO).

Brig Voskuil said the SAPS faced the following challenges:

  • Lack of co-operation and non-adherence by communities to the restrictions;
  • Policing of contentious food distribution by relief organisations and individuals;
  • School feeding scheme to ensure 480 000 poor/disadvantaged learners receive meals during lockdown;
  • Dissemination of fake news regarding planned deliveries of food parcels, resulting in communities gathering and civil unrest when they do not materialise;
  • Compelled to police differently, taking cognisance of social distancing and to mitigate the risk of multiple infections;
  • Restriction on the utilisation of force multipliers, such as neighbourhood and farm watches;
  • Lack of uniformity regarding the interpretation of certain restrictions/regulations. Certain conduct was prohibited but not criminalised, which made policing challenging;
  • Personnel losses due to infections/possible infections and the 14 days self-isolation period.

IPID: Investigation of cases involving the police

Mr Thabo Leholo, Regional Head, Western Cape: Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), said that the Directorate’s mandate as per Section 28 of the IPID Act obligated it to investigate the following cases involving the SAPS and municipal police services (MPS):

  • Any deaths in police custody;
  • Deaths as a result of police actions;
  • Any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by any police officer;
  • Rape by a police officer, whether the police officer is on or off duty;
  • Rape of any person while that person is in police custody;
  • Any complaint of torture or assault against a police officer in the execution of his or her duties;
  • Corruption matters within the police initiated by the Executive Director on his or her own, or after the receipt of a complaint from a member of the public, or referred to the Directorate by the Minister, a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) or the Secretary, as the case may be; and
  • Any other matter referred to it as a result of a decision by the Executive Director, or if so requested by the Minister, an MEC or the Secretary as the case may be, in the prescribed manner.

In addition, Section 29 of the IPID Act obligates the SAPS and MPS to notify IPID on the following cases immediately upon becoming aware of such cases:

  • Any deaths in police custody;
  • Deaths as a result of police actions;
  • Any complaint relating to the discharge of an official firearm by any police officer;
  • Rape by a police officer, whether the police officer is on or off duty;
  • Rape of any person while that person is in police custody;
  • Any complaint of torture or assault against a police officer in the execution of his or her duties.

During the lockdown period from 26 March to 4 May 2020, the Western Cape IPID operation had received and registered complaints, and attended crime scenes in respect of a death in police custody, a death as a result of police action, and a rape in police custody. There had been telephone and electronic interaction with relevant stakeholders -- the courts, SAPS, NPA and complainants. The cases reported during the period involved the death cases, complaints of the discharge of an official firearm, rape, assault and non-compliance with the IPID Act. A total of 163 cases had been reported, of which 83 were related to COVID 19 operations.

Challenges encountered included being inundated with complaints that were not within IPID mandate;

restrictive movement for interaction with stakeholders, such as the courts, police stations and complainants; and limitations on IPID’s investigations due to the lockdown.

Mr Leholo concluded by saying that IPID was concerned about the complaints received from the public on the alleged use of excessive force and abuse by members of SAPS and MPS. Most of the complaints received from members of the public were about being assaulted by police officers and the discharge of official firearms. There was a possibility that other community members might have not been able to report cases due to movement restrictions, which might result in IPID receiving more cases after the lockdown period. IPID is calling on South Africans to reach out to the Directorate when they havd a problem with the conduct of SAPS and MPS members.

Discussion

Mr Allen wanted clarity on the ‘casual’ number listed as 153, which he assumed was the number of SAPS officials who had been tested and not actually died. He asked how many SAPS officials had been requested to self-isolate for the 14-day grace period as a precaution, and what SAPS had done to address the shortage of personnel, along with how many officials had tested positive. He asked if the reserves had already been tapped into, as he recalled it being a bigger number. To what extent had SAPS officials received training to execute their duties in terms of the National Disaster Act? Every day, the Committee and the general public heard about the heavy-handedness of the SAPS. Yesterday in Muizenberg, a boy had run on to the beach sand; SAPS officials had no protective gear on, and what was being done in terms of their heavy-handedness was all over social media. What did SAPS feel regarding the situation? Did they support the call for neighbourhood watches to be deployed?

Mr K Sayed (ANC) thanked the police for everything they were doing to keep communities safe. One issue he needed to raise was that he had seen police officers not necessarily wearing protective gear. What mechanisms were in place to monitor and ensure that SAPS adhered to the rules, as their non-adherence sent a signal to the public that non-adherence was acceptable? What mechanisms were in place to ensure that the deployment of police officers was heightened? IPID had been aware that the Committee had found that those in the leafy suburbs, who were going out and enjoying their leisurely activities and not adhering to social distancing, were being treated lightly in comparison to the heavy-handedness that was dished out to the poorer communities. He also wanted to establish whether a complaint had been sent to IPID regarding the tactics employed by the Metro Police at the Strandfontein camps, when journalists and public representatives had tried to conduct their oversight and had been apprehended.

Mr B Herron (GOOD) said that on Freedom Day, he had been alerted that a police captain from Sea Point had threatened a resident in Mouille Point with arrest for feeding homeless people, even though he had a permit to do. He had raised the matter with both the Premier and police leadership, and both had confirmed that feeding homeless people was lawful. The Police Captain had obviously been out of line, and therefore the resident had continued to feed the homeless people. In Sea Point, there was a Facebook group that had not accepted the outcome and his name, photograph, home address and his car description and registration number had been posted on Facebook, along with comments including incitement to violence. The police captain had informed those residents on his Facebook group that he had been prevented from stopping the feeding of the homeless, and had informed them that Mr Herron had been the one that had asked for clarification on whether the matter was lawful or not, and for the police leadership to give police stations clarity on what was lawful and what was not. Around 3am, the resident’s car had been petrol bombed. He was shocked that they had been receiving information from a police captain.  It was an IPID issue, as it dealt with police discipline. He also wanted to know how the police leadership intended to deal with the man who had been feeding the homeless, as his unselfish act had led to his car being petrol bombed. He stressed that what had occurred needed to be dealt with, and leadership must be shown by the police and IPID.

SAPS/IPID responses

Lt. Gen. Yolisa Matakata, Western Cape Provincial Commissioner, SAPS, responded that the 153 indicated the number of SAPS members who had been infected.

Regarding the Muizenberg incident and the fact that SAPS had not worn their PPE was an unfortunate incident. She acknowledged that the SAPS members had been really overzealous in their actions and should have applied logic and common sense. The matter was being dealt with internally with the station and the members involved.

The incident cited by Mr Herron was most unfortunate, and SAPS members had been made aware of, and made to understand, all the regulations – especially at the station level. Every time changes occurred in the regulations, they were to be communicated.  The actions by the police captain had been unacceptable, and the incident involving the vehicle would result in a criminal investigation taking place. The captain’s own actions would need to be investigated, and he would be informed of the outcome and the steps that would be necessary if the outcome pointed in a specific direction. She emphasised that the incident was unacceptable, and would not be allowed to just pass by.

Regarding the leafy suburbs and their attitude, she said there was no way it would be allowed to continue in that way, and deployments were being spread across all the stations in the provinces. They still needed to address crime by using extra deployment, but there was no way that communities should be treated differently.

Regarding the lack of protective gear, no station had been mentioned, but it would be addressed. However, she assured Mr Sayed that all police members had been issued with masks and gloves before they had even been deployed, and were responsible for wearing them when executing their duties.

Mr Voskuil added that while the 153 indicated the number of infections, 24 had recovered fully, 124 were in self-isolation, and five had been hospitalised.

A SAPS official confirmed that members had received training, and there had also been a briefing by senior management advising that a steering committee had been put in place to ensure everybody understood what they needed to, and from there the workshops were cascaded to the station cluster levels. The focus was on ensuring that members knew the regulations and understood them, but more importantly on ensuring that they knew how to apply them properly, which was a work in progress.

He said that when members began to test positive, all their members had been willing to be tested. The numbers would be coming out tomorrow. Members had gone through the testing processes because they understood through their training how important it was in playing a vital role against the spread of the corona virus.

The Committee was told that there were definitely no staff shortages.  This was partly due to the integrated approach that SAPS had with law enforcement, traffic and metro police. All stations were operational, and the losses incurred had not impacted on their ability to deliver services.

Mr Leholo said that no complaints had been received regarding the Strandfontein matter. The Sea Point incident did not fall within their mandate.

Further discussion

Ms L Botha (DA) asked what assistance had been, or would be, given to employees who had tested positive for Covid-19. The virus had come as a shock to the world, and many who had been infected -- and even those who had not -- expected the worst, so assistance of some sort needed to be given to employees.

Mr Dugmore referred to the Good Samaritan in Sea Point. He asked if the sharing of someone else’s ID number and provoking on social media, which indirectly or directly could have resulted in the man’s car having been burnt, was an offence or simply malicious damage to property. Would IPID or the Police itself investigate any allegations that a SAPS captain had been taking sides in the matter? He believed that this issue, along with some others, required a formal investigation by the Ad-hoc Committee, or another Committee of the Legislature, which would call those thought to be involved in a number of the issues raised in the meeting -- and not just police members, but also members of the public because it appeared that some of them were actually undermining the attempts of others to support the poor and vulnerable.

Mr Herron said that he was appalled at how the police captain knew that he (Mr Herron) had raised the issue to be clarified. At no point had he asked for any action to be taken against the police captain, as he had claimed. The captain had taken the information to the residents who had been complaining, had set up a Facebook group and told them that Mr Herron had written a letter and fabricated evidence, and stated that he had called for his dismissal, which had never been the case. He asked how a Member of the Provincial Parliament could ask the Premier and police leadership to intervene in a matter in a way that was equitable and objective, yet it had got to the police captain whose conduct was in question, and he had taken it to the residents and told them that Brett Herron had actually written and complained. He wanted to know why the police leadership had told them he had written and complained, when he had inquired regarding something that needed to be clarified.

Lt. Gen. Matakata responded that as the Provincial Commissioner, she had sent each and every member who had tested positive a message of support and encouragement. Each message had been personalised to each member. Due to circumstances, they could not be reached in physical ways, and therefore a personal message had been sent to each. Secondly, all members had been personally communicating with her regarding their recovery progress. Members that had not tested positive had also been given support, as many continued to panic around the possibility of contracting the virus. It had caused so much pain to everyone.

The meeting with the Steering Committee had dealt with the issue of eliminating stigmatisation once members returned to work.

Regarding the Sea Point issue, she understood that the captain had returned to leadership, but she was unsure of the situation. Answers would be sought to the questions raised. She requested that she also be copied on any correspondence sent to the leadership at any level, to ensure that there would be an investigation conducted at the proper level to ensure they got to the bottom of the matter.

Mr Dugmore asked if the Police Commissioner could please give the correct address for the correspondence, because he wanted to direct it to her.

Lt. Gen. Matakata stated that it was matakatay@saps.gov.za

Mr R Mackenzie (DA) said that while the work of the police had been amazing, the last few days had seen the escalation of police brutality, from the Muizenberg incidents to what happened just yesterday. It needed to stop before it escalated into communities, where members became anti-police. He wanted the Police Commissioner to inform the Committee of what was being put in place. He could not believe that IPID was on standby, and could not move around for investigations. It did not make any sense to him. He wanted to know why the Committee was finding out only on day 42 what the management had been doing since day one.

Mr Allen said that he echoed the sentiments expressed by Mr Mackenzie.

Lt. Gen. Matakata responded that the organisation received complaints itself, and also through social media or the media itself, and communicated with cluster commanders daily on the matters raised. Station commanders and senior managers visited operations where SAPS members had been deployed, and engaged with them. She had been to the parades, even at the station level, where she had addressed members and reminded them of the kind of operation they were dealing with at that point in time, along with the kind of conduct and behaviour that was expected from them. Regarding brutal assaults on the communities, an investigation would be started from the station level, especially where a member had been identified.

Regarding IPIDs involvement, she said that SAPS would be informed only once an investigation had been finalised and recommendations had been sent to her. When they were informed, or an incident was reported or picked up on social media or broadcast media, it was dealt with and addressed internally as a disciplinary matter, depending on what recommendations had been made.

Regarding resourcing, SAPS had integrated with the SANDF, traffic police and law enforcement officers, and therefore they did not really have a shortage of personnel. However, there had always been outcries from communities where an escalation of some incidents meant that they would want to see the SANDF coming out as well.

Brig. Voskuil said that 100 additional police premises had been indicated in their Annual Operational Plan, but for the presentation they had confined themselves to frontline services.

Mr Leholo referred to the Sea Point incident, said if elements of incitement were present, then a formal criminal case would be launched. If the elements of abuse of power by the SAPS member were also present, then a formal complaint needed to be launched with the WC SAPS Commissioner’s Office, as that matter was disciplinary in nature and a management issue. If the case was opened, then it would be investigated by SAPS, as the mandate of IPID was limited to section 28.

He said IPID was an oversight body, but there were certain processes which needed to be followed that indicated how they should execute their office and their duties. Section 29 dictated that if there were any incidents, police needed to notify IPID. The police were aware that where complaints fell within the mandate of IPID, SAPS needed to alert the IPID and they would take over the docket and investigate it. There were instances where IPID intervened and took over cases they felt were within their mandate.

He clarified that in the end, what IPID did was to make recommendations which could go either of two ways. Criminal recommendations were normally made where there had been a clear case of a criminal offence of an assault. The recommendation would then be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision whether to prosecute or not.  At the same time, in cases where they found that some misconduct had been committed by members of SAPS, a recommendation would also be sent to the Provincial Commissioner’s Office, in which the recommendation would include what disciplinary steps ought to be taken, and the police management would have to take it from there.

Mr Mackenzie stated that regarding what had been said by IPID regarding their mandate, it was clear that they would have to investigate deaths in police custody, and he wanted to know how effectively IPID would discharge their duties if they were not fully at their offices, and not all lines were working.

Mr Leholo said everyone had to understand that IPID needed to operate within the context of the lockdown and the virus, and it could not have everyone working at the office. Schedules had been worked out on how they could effectively execute their duties while adhering to the circumstances they found themselves in.

Mr Allen asked if any SAPS members had been arrested for any form of brutality. He also wanted to know if students at student residences were allowed visitors for studying purposes.

Mr Sayed asked if he could get clarity regarding the Muizenberg surfing issue, why only two people had been arrested, and what the latest development was regarding the court case.

Lt. Gen. Matakata responded that the principles of social distancing were fundamental, and the purpose was to save lives. The issue of people moving around for study purposes was not applicable, as students could communicate via telephone, WhatsApp, emails and various other means to achieve the same purpose.  Regarding the Muizenberg issue, the people were taken to the police station only to be processed, and would then either have to pay an admission of guilt fine or be given a day to appear in court, if that was necessary.

Mr Sayed asked if the Commissioner could indicate if there had been only two arrests, and what had happened to the others.

Lt. Gen. Matakata responded that she would have to follow up on the matter

Mr Leholo said that IPID operated within the Constitution and within the laws of the country. When looking at the many cases brought before IPID, they were common assault cases where they had not made any arrests. The cases were examined individually regarding the circumstances to determine whatever action they could to bring against a person under the Criminal Procedure Act. No arrests had been made.

Mr Mackenzie asked if IPID, in terms of their mandate, could indicate what the period of arrest was for the last two years for rape, assault or torture by the police.

Mr Leholo responded that the brief he had received was to report on COVID-19 cases for the period from 26 March to 4 May, so his response had been limited to that period. During that period, they had not made any arrests, and for any information prior to that he would not be able to provide an answer immediately.

The Chairperson thanked SAPS and IPID for their attendance. Any additional questions that still required clarity should be forwarded to the Procedural Officers, who would pass them on to the relevant departments and entities. Members were thanked for their participation and cooperation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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