The South African Police Service, the Independent Police Investigating Directorate, the South African Human Rights Commission and the City of Cape Town briefed the Portfolio Committee on Police on the recent incidents of public violence and forceful evictions in the Western Cape. The Minister and Deputy Minister of Police also participated in the virtual meeting.
The Committee was informed that law enforcement officers were appointed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Act, which placed them outside the investigative ambit of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act. It called for a closer and stronger relationship between the policing bodies that would ensure a coordinated response to policing challenges in the city, and stressed that the amendment of the IPID Act remained a priority, which was why it was calling for the integration of the law enforcement officers into the City police while the amendment of the Act was under way.
The Committee appreciated the open manner in which the Mayor of Cape Town had committed to ensuring a smooth working relationship between the City and the South African Police Service, and called for the city to urgently provide law enforcement competency certificates for verification by the SAPS management. It also supported the call for the submission of training programmes that were utilised for the training of law enforcement officers.
The Committee stressed the need for strict adherence to the law when evictions were carried out where there were illegally erected unoccupied structures, and to uphold the dignity of all residents at all times during the evictions.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and said the purpose of the meeting was to ensure the smooth working relationship between all involved stakeholders, and not to create tension between the stakeholders.
South African Police Service (SAPS)
Mr Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, said there had been meetings and engagements on the situation in the Western Cape with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Metro Police and the public officials of the province. There were specific issues that needed attention, and to be resolved. The murder of a SAPS member by a law enforcement member was one of the major concerns, and the issue was being evaluated.
Since the meetings that had taken place with the Western Cape, one of the agreements made was that the SAPS would receive the competency certificates of law enforcement members, which were supposed to be granted by the National Commissioner before members joined the structure. He stressed that the certificates had not been received by the SAPS, and emphasised the importance of the different structures working together. There had been constant reminders to try and establish the progress on the matter, but there had not been satisfactory responses and feedback from the City of Cape Town on the competency certificates. He asked the provincial officials to provide details on the progress.
Gen Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner: SAPS, introduced the attending members of the SAPS.
Lt Gen Sally Khan, Divisional Commissioner: Legal and Policy Services, SAPS, provided the background to the presentation and the legislative mandate of the municipal police service. She outlined the powers of the SAPS relating to the performance of members of the municipal police service and the mandate of the municipality relating to law enforcement, as well as the powers of the law enforcement officers. The involvement of the SAPS in the evictions was explained.
Independent Police Investigating Directorate (IPID)
The Minister introduced Ms Jennifer Ntlaseng, the new IPID Executive Director, and said that she would explain her powers and the work that had been done by IPID in policing the structure.
Ms Ntlaseng thanked the Minister for the introduction and said that the provincial head of the Western Cape would make the presentation.
Mr Thabo Leholo, Western Cape Head: IPID, outlined the IPID legislative mandate and the establishment of law enforcement in the investigation into the situation in Khayelitsha, as well as the remedial action.
South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)
Mr Chris Nissen, Western Cape Commissioner: SAHRC, said that the mandate of the SAHRC was to monitor human rights violations, and to protect and promote human rights in South Africa. The SAHRC was engaged in various sections of the South African society, especially in law enforcement. A number of human rights violations in the province had been recorded and preventive measures had been implemented, and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been drafted, together with the SAPS.
When there were evictions, human dignity had to be preserved, and evictions should not be destructive to the lives of people. Engagements were always encouraged by the SAHRC between the law enforcement bodies and communities, to prevent violence and chaos. He raised concern regarding the approach and language that was used by law enforcement members when attending to public engagements, and said that the concerns and complaints had been forwarded to the Provincial SAPS Commissioner. Engagements with the City of Cape Town would be scheduled so that the same relationship as the national SAPS was formed.
He said that there were good law enforcement officers, but there were also those who violated human rights. The mandate of the SAHRC had to be executed. The law enforcement officers were the point of contact for protecting communities and providing a better environment for them by upholding the constitution.
The Chairperson said that a meeting would be scheduled with the SAHRC for further engagements on the matters involving the City of Cape Town.
City of Cape Town (CoCT)
Alderman Dan Plato, Executive Mayor: City of Cape Town, said that an investigation into the progress of the competency certificates would be conducted. He agreed that a better relationship could be achieved between the CoCT and the SAPS, law enforcement and the Metro Police. He said that the CoCT could not act outside of any laws, and requested that if there were any acts that were committee outside of the law, they should be forwarded to be addressed.
Mr JP Smith, Mayoral Committee (Mayco) member for Safety and Security, provided the statistics of illegal land invasion trends in Cape Town, and the reasons for the land invasions. The actions by the City to protect land from illegal occupation were highlighted, as well as the impact of the land invasions on communities. He provided details on the matter of Bulelani Qolani, who had been dragged from his shack. He highlighted the CoCT’s under-resourced public order policing (POP) units, and responded to the allegations in the parliamentary research paper.
City of Cape Town: Metro Police
Mr Robbie Roberts, Director: Law Enforcement, CoCT, provided the roles and responsibilities of the SAPS in terms of land invasions, which included the how land invasions were dealt with and the feedback.
Mayor Plato assured the Committee that there was no intension of creating a bad impression of the Committee, but he hoped it would create a better relationship between the stakeholders.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) asked why the City of Cape Town was not taking responsibility for its role in the challenge of conflicting statements by public officials. There needed to be consideration for the people who invaded land, because they did not have a place to stay and an alternative housing plan needed to be drafted by the City to accommodate these people. He said the ongoing land invasion challenges were a result of the CoCT underspending on its urban settlement development budget and its human settlement and house building budget, and asked what its plan was in terms of spatial planning, which had not been protecting and promoting the interests of the poor. The issues of land invasions had been highlighted by SAPS previously, and he acknowledged that the issues would be addressed, but he wanted the City’s comments on the conflicting relationship between the SAPS and the Metro police, and why the matter was being addressed at the last minute.
Mr A Whitfield (DA) asked for insight on the extent of the impact of illegal land invasions on the housing project beneficiaries and on the CoCT’s efforts to spend the allocated budget to provide housing for them. He also asked if the Mayor was concerned at the decrease in the number of POP officers, and how this affected the City’s response action in protecting land.
Ms P Faku (ANC) said that the Committee did not politicise issues, but was always objective to ensure that the Constitution was upheld to promote the rights of people. She asked why law enforcement had been allowed to act unlawfully towards communities, and said that the Committee had to conduct its oversight on the issues. She emphasised that the City must take responsibility for addressing the issues that had been raised by the Committee, and provide feedback. It was not right for evictions to happen, because they went against the Disaster Management Act.
Mr K Maphatsoe (ANC) said that the Committee had a right to perform its oversight role, and that the City of Cape Town was wrong for saying that the Committee was politicising the work that was being done. The Committee had good relations with municipalities and other stakeholders. The Mayor had stated that the delay with the competency certificates would be investigated, and he asked whether the certificates had been submitted. He said the Provincial Commissioner should investigate whether law enforcement officers were permitted to operate without complying with the laws, and he asked for the National Commissioner’s comments on the matter. Land invasions were not supported, but evictions should be well communicated and conducted in a manner that preserved human dignity. In the SAPS presentation, it was indicated that there were no meetings held on the evictions in Khayelitsha, and the relationship between the involved stakeholders needed to be addressed. An annual performance plan was supposed to be adopted and presented to the Provincial Commissioner, and he asked whether the plan had been presented and adopted by the Provincial Commissioner. IPID needed to speed up the review on conducting oversight over law enforcement to ensure that evictions were conducted in a humane manner, especially since the evictions took place during the lockdown under strict regulations that evictions should not take place.
The Chairperson asked if the City of Cape Town evicted drug dealers and gangsters with the same force that was used to evict poor people, because the city’s rental contract was against drug dealing.
The Minister said that the police had a good relationship with the metro police in the metros that had been mentioned by Councillor Smith in the presentation and that if both the police and metro police were not involved, then IPID had to conduct oversight. In the Western Cape, there were more law enforcement officers than metro police, meaning that IPID could not conduct oversight over the law enforcement officers. He requested a timeframe from the Mayor on when the competency certificates would be received by SAPS, because there had been a meeting for the transfer of the certificates in February, and the feedback had been that a timeframe would be provided for the transfer of the certificates. The Premier had also been requested in July 2020 to investigate the matter and determine when the certificates would be received. If there were no certificates, how would the operations by the law enforcement be addressed, and how would issue of oversight that could not take place be addressed? The Minister said that the report of the SAPS promoted coordination to which the law enforcement officers had not complied, and after chaos had been created, the SAPS was expected to clean up the mess.
The Chairperson asked the Minister if the law enforcement structure was acting illegally because there were no competence certificates.
The Minister said that the law enforcement structure had to act independently after receiving the competence certificates.
Mayor Plato said that the timeframe would be provided after investigations had been conducted, and feedback should be expected by Monday 7 September.
On the issuing of certificates, he said that the police issue the certificates, but the CoCT had to forward them formally after they had been received from the SAPS.
He said the CoCT was law abiding when it came to evictions, but the challenge was that people became violent towards the officers and there was retaliation. However, the issue would be addressed urgently.
On the land invasions, he explained that the statements by public officials were done through loopholes in the regulations, and that “shack farming” was a reality in many of the land invasion sites, and that money was being paid for shacks.
Mayor Plato agreed that cooperation with the police was necessary, and said that there were daily engagements between the metro police and police. He asked for feedback on any disputes on the relationship between the metro police and police to be submitted, so that matters could be addressed. He attended many meetings of the various committees, and that he could return to the Portfolio Committee to provide feedback. He agreed that evictions should be conducted in a humane manner.
The Chairperson emphasized that the relationship between the metro police and police should be equally understood, instead of different views on the relationship. The Committee had the responsibility to ensure that a smooth working relationship was established.
The Minister said that the metro police and police had a sound working relationship. The issue lay with the law enforcement, which had no monitoring mechanisms, especially during evictions.
Mr Whitfield said that there was a civilian oversight committee that conducted oversight over the law enforcement and policing issues, and if the IPID Act was an issue, there should be amendment to the Act as had been suggested before, to address the issues that had been raised. Factual information should be provided by public officials.
Mr Shaik Emam expressed disappointment that the Mayor had not addressed the question on the underspent urban development and housing funds, with over 500 000 people on the waiting list. If the CoCT had an oversight mechanism, he asked for the latest developments on the police officer that had been shot by law enforcement officers.
Ms Faku said that the question on the evictions going against the Disaster Management Act had not been responded to, and said that the Committee needed to work together, because there was a resolution that the IPID Act would be amended. She highlighted that the IPID Act Section 7, which describes the responsibilities of the Executive Director, states that complaints to IPID should be forwarded to the National Commissioner for further investigation. She said that if law enforcement officers did not comply with the law, then the law had been violated, and during oversight in Khayelitsha, committee members had not been pleased with the treatment from law enforcement officers. Coordination should be prioritised and monitored by the Committee.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) said that the competency certificates had been handed over to the HAWKS, and asked for clarity from the National Commissioner. The request for more competency certificates should be addressed by the SAPS, because they issued the certificates. She asked the CoCT about the training that was provided to law enforcement officers, what the curriculum consisted of, as well as how it contributed to what had been presented on the law enforcement.
Dr P Groenewald (FF+) said that illegal land invasions were not acceptable, and that there were political views on the matter. The Committee needed to ensure that police services and city councils were strengthened to promote law and order, to prevent illegal land invasions. A serious matter was the submission and presentation by the CoCT specifically on the false allegations in the Parliamentary research paper. He said that if the research was false, then the CoCT was also false because the research document contained factual figures on the IPID annual report, but the actual presentation from IPID did not contain the true figures. He asked for clarity on who was correct and incorrect in the matter, and requested that the CoCT apologise to the Committee researchers for accusations of false information.
The Chairperson said that the Committee researcher was a good researcher, and that the information submitted by the researcher was collected statistical data. The Committee’s documents did not need to be criticised because the research had been conducted for the National Assembly, and not for the City of Cape Town.
The National Commissioner said that since discussions with the Minister, the Premier and the MEC, SAPS had received only 10 competency certificates and some were outstanding, because 1 000 certificates had been expected. He requested a specific date for receiving the certificates.
The training standards of the law enforcement officers were not approved for the metros, so deploying these officers with the police became a problem, and he recommended that the training curriculum be implemented urgently to enforce the training standards. Currently, the law enforcement was deployed as a first responder to lower level protests, but they had been found at advance level protests, which was wrong, because they did not have the necessary training to handle the protests. The law enforcement was not allowed under the law to operate alone, but with the police. When metro police were deployed, the metro police plan was provided and approved by the Provincial Commissioner, but the law enforcement deployment plan was not approved by the Provincial Commissioner, which meant that there was no higher authority or structure to hold the law enforcement accountable for any wrongdoing. There was an agreement with the chief of the metros, that the law enforcement did not have the authority to use to level 3 resources, but the law enforcement had been allowed to apply and use these resources under certain conditions. If there were no certificates provided, the law enforcement would not be deployed to fulfil the SAPS constitutional mandate.
Ms Ntlaseng assured the Committee that the IPID statistics for 2018/2019 had been audited, verified and confirmed by the Auditor-General, and questioned where the information from the City of Cape Town’s presentation had been collected. Parliament could not be provided with unverified information.
City of Cape Town
Councillor Smith said that there was a commitment to provide the competency certificates, and questioned why the City of Cape Town should provide the certificates if SAPS was responsible for issuing them. He highlighted that every law enforcement officer that was deployed had a competency certificate, and those that did not have one were still awaiting appointment and clearance.
The law enforcement training standards had been approved, and there was collaboration with the sector education and training authority (SETA), and an accreditation number had been valid since 2011 till 2021. There were nationally accredited courses that were provided to law enforcement officers.
He explained that law enforcement officers got involved in protests only when there were no SAPS members on the scene, and that law enforcement was not required to provide an annual police plan, although one had been provided voluntarily, but no feedback was given. The annual police plan supported the law enforcement’s involvement in illegal land invasions, and the metro police had not failed to meet any standard that had been outlined by the National Commissioner. He asked that the IPID Act be amended so that oversight was applicable, and said that municipalities that did not have metro police relied on law enforcement or public safety. Law enforcement was usually required to act without the SAPS, because the SAPS availability was delayed. If the SAPS was waited for, then there would be delays in the planning to carry out preventive measures against land invasions.
Referring to the IPID figures, he said that there had been no intention to demean the work done by the Committee researcher, and said there might have been a misclassification of the information. He suggested that there might be selective attention paid to specific matters involving the City, especially with the evictions. Negotiations could not happen with land invaders, and that was why the law was applied.
He explained that 90% of the urban development funding was spent, and the remaining amount was rolled over. The incomplete projects were affected by the land invasions and protests.
On the death of the SAPS member, he said that the officer had been involved in an assault of a community member, and had not identified himself as a SAPS officer.
The decreased POP deployment was a matter of concern, and the matter was being addressed accordingly.
He said that law enforcement complied with laws and standards, and it was disturbing that Cape Town was the only city that was being called to Parliament on the issue of land invasions because every other city in the country was experiencing land invasions. The City of Cape Town was not against the oversight role by the Committee.
He said the working relationship with the SAPS was functional, and the SAPS was involved in engagements with the CoCT.
The City of Cape Town was committed to evicting the gangsters and drug dealers.
The Chairperson explained that the City of Cape Town had been called because oversight had been conducted only in the Western Cape because of the lockdown regulations, and because the Cape Town neighbourhood watches and policing forums had been called to Parliament and concerns had been raised by these structures. The City of Cape Town had no right to inform the Committee on how to conduct its oversight role.
Mr O Terblanche (DA) agreed that the actions of the police must be conducted in a humane manner, and highlighted that the Minister had mentioned that there had been several meetings and engagements with provincial public officials. He asked the Minister if the issues that had been raised by the provincial commissioner had been forwarded to the MEC. He also asked what percentage of complaints had been taken to court. The CoCT presentation had stated that the police were not part of the engagements, and asked why the matter existed and whether it had been addressed. The presentation had also stated that the issues could be addressed only once the legislation had been amended, and he agreed that the IPID legislation should be amended.
Ms Faku agreed that the Committee should not be told how to conduct its oversight role, and said that the issue was not the land invasions but how the issue was being addressed in the Western Cape, especially because the evictions had taken place during the lockdown. She struggled to understand why the National Commissioner’s orders were being disputed by the City of Cape Town, and emphasised that the IPID statistics’ confusion should be addressed to avoid further confusion. She appreciated the efforts and commitments of the Mayor.
The Chairperson highlighted to the Minister that the Committee took its oversight role seriously, and that there was no political agenda.
Mr Maphatsoe agreed that the Mayor’s tone was suitable and welcomed by the Committee, but the tone of the Councillor was not assisting in trying to address and understand issues. He asked if the law enforcement officers who did not have certificates were used to perform duties, and said that the issue of evictions during the lockdown had not been responded to. It had been incorrect to shoot the SAPS member, even if no identification had been provided. Regarding the delays by the SAPS, he said that meetings were not held between the SAPS and the law enforcement, so the delays could not be blamed on the SAPS because there was no communication. The question about carrying out evictions under the Disaster Management Act had not been responded to, and while illegal land occupation was not supported, the law enforcement evictions should be lawful and humane. He agreed that the training curriculum should include all the metros.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said that the question on the size of the POP unit in dealing with protests had not been answered, and requested details on the matter. She asked whether an internal unit that dealt with breaches of various codes existed, and whether the unit worked with the IPID. She asked the Metro Police Chief for examples of crime prevention programmes in the City of Cape Town, as well as the success and failures of these programmes.
Mr Nissen said that illegal land occupation was not supported, and that the Commission handled matters across the country equally and without prejudice against the City of Cape Town. The Commission had been asked by the High Court to mediate, facilitate and monitor the situation in Cape Town. Communities were not the enemy, so proper communication had to be implemented. The Commission had observed a problem in the relationship between the police and law enforcement in the Western Cape that could be resolved by the Commission. Confidence and trust needed to be built in law enforcement and the metro police to address crime.
Ms Ntlaseng said that engagements would be held with the City of Cape Town on the statistics, and feedback would be provided to the Committee after the matter had been clarified.
The National Commissioner said that the figure for public order resources in the Western Cape was 552 members, with four units, one of which was dedicated for Cape Town. The public order resources had been discussed with the Premier and the MEC, but the concern was the public order strength in the province. There were an additional 500 members, and the Western Cape had the highest number of deployments of public order resources. There had been no need to increase public order resources in the Western Cape because of the existing stabilisation of resources in the province that had been deployed. A national team had been appointed to work on the resourcing of the other units.
He said that any training that was police orientated could be performed with the authority of the National Commissioner, and that course number 50022 of SETA also had to be done under the authority of the National Commissioner -- if not, the training was unlawful.
On the issuing of certificates, he said they must be presented on the field by the holders. If the process was taken to the operational level, some law enforcement officers might be arrested. The issue must be resolved in a civil manner.
The delay of the SAPS in the planning with law enforcement had to be brought to the attention of the National Commissioner, to be addressed accordingly. Municipalities should apply for the law enforcement training and the utilisation of level 3 resources.
The Minister said that Councillor Smith could not give excuses for the actions of the law enforcement officers, and there were no charges against these law enforcement officers. The problems that had been raised were outside the formal metro police, and it would be easier to work with the metro police instead of structures that were not in the legislative and constitutional framework, which had been resourced and had no oversight on IPID, and caused problems when work had to be performed.
The Minister said that it was better to work with the Mayor, and the MEC and the Premier had been involved in the engagements that were held in February. He requested that the certificates be issued, and those who did not have certificates would have to face consequences. He emphasised that the annual plans were required by the law, and not just by the SAPS.
Chairperson’s concluding remarks
The Chairperson thanked the various delegations for attending the meeting, and for the engagements that were held in a professional manner. She highlighted that politics was not used as a basis for engagements, but there were attempts to rise above politics when it came to policing. She thanked the Minister for seeking to strengthen inter-governmental relations, and also thanked the Mayor. She requested dates for the approval of the plan for the police and the approval of the training curriculum. The Committee would correct what was wrong to ensure that communities received good service from the police. She highlighted that the Western Cape was a crime hotspot, so that even the SANDF had had to be deployed, and that oversight had been conducted by the Committee specifically in the Western Cape because of this deployment. The Anti-Gang Unit had also been launched in the Western Cape, and oversight responsibilities had to be complied with in this regard.
The competency certificates had to be issued by Monday, 7 September.
She mentioned that the community police forums (CPFs) and neighbourhood watches had raised a long list of concerns.
The law enforcement officer who was suspended had been handled in a poor manner, and the amendment of the IPID Act was a priority for the Committee. She requested engagements with the Minister, the Mayor and law enforcement units on the integration of the law enforcement into the metro police while the IPID Act was undergoing amendment, which would ensure oversight. Issues of the IPID Act must be resolved and addressed by the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
- Media Statement: Police Committee Calls for Improved Working Relations between SAPS and City Law Enforcement
- City of Cape Town: Cooperation/ Relationship with the South African Police Services Western Cape
- Police on recent incident involving City of Cape Town Law enforcement officers during evictions in Khayelitsha
- City of Cape Town: Ongoing Land Invasions and Protest Actions
- IPID Presentation to Portfolio Committee on Police
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