Kat-Kop Petition; Executive Undertakings by Minister of Employment and Labour

NCOP Petitions and Executive Undertakings

14 October 2020
Chairperson: Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape)
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Meeting Summary

Executive Undertakings made by Minister of Employment and Labour (during the Question and Answer Session of the NCOP on 11 July 2019)
 

The Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings (the Committee) met virtually to discuss the Kat-Kop petition to help end house invasions, stock theft, and business sabotage in Kat-Kop Local Municipality, as well as consider and adopt the Department of Labour (DOL) Progress Reports for 2019 and 2020, and the outstanding minutes.

The Kat-Kop community needed help in getting their plight noticed by those in power who could help end the pillaging that took place daily. Almost every night in Katkop a household, small holding or small business was attacked. Over the past three years there had been an increased effort to steal and deplete livestock in the area. This syndicate was also involved in breaking into people homes, terrorising the families inside and stealing from them and in too many instances they have killed and raped during these attacks. The people of Kat-Kop felt that the local police were not doing enough or were a part of the problem and had no faith in them. People were unable to make an honest living. Many people in Kat-Kop were raised on small-scale subsistence farming and small businesses needed in the area, but these people were scared to continue as  they knew that they would be targeted. The community started different patrolling teams but people got tired of doing this by themselves and were doing it unarmed. Syndicates were instilling fear in people. Those caught would be placed in holding for a short while and then released backed into the community, forcing victims to leave. The police needed to be given more resources.

The Elundini Local Municipality confirmed that the high rate of crime was becoming worse – especially stock theft, burglary, rape, and other criminal activities which occurred daily. The police could not do anything without the help of other spheres and sectors. The municipality faced issues of roads, electricity, and bridges because the area was vast – as well as a lack of funding. As the area was vast, the only solution that could assist the issue was to get another police station. This would allow the people who wanted police services to get it as a matter of urgency. They asked that communities be trained on how to whistle-blow so that they could speak out and inform the police.

The Eastern Cape SAPS presented on their interventions and response to the petition. This was specifically in relation to: Human Resources; Vehicle Resources; SAPS Intervention; Recoveries 2018+; Challenges; and Images of Successful Interventions.

Members wanted the police to acknowledge the problems that they were experiencing, so that the Committee could be in a position to help in proposing solutions or alternatives. Members asked to be provided with the case numbers and details of instances where cases had been opened by members of the community, how far it went, why it did not reach a point of proper prosecution, and what the police had done to intervene. Members felt that this was not just a capacity problem, but that somewhere within the criminal justice system something or someone was not working. Simply giving more capacity to police was thus not going to solve the problem. They asked that those police officers who were cooperating with the criminals be pointed out and reported, and whether it was possible to do so. Further, they asked that SAPS give the Committee further information on what they were doing to address the allegation?

Members asked if the municipality was holding community meetings to establish the community’s concerns. What the municipality was doing about the lack of streetlights and problems of distance. More police visibility was needed in the area. In terms of issues of capacity, vacancies, challenges with terrain and vehicles that were constantly in the garages, what was being done to address these kinds of matters? Were the challenges encountered elevated to get assistance beyond the municipality? The different spheres of government should work together. Was there a station or service centre in walking distance or were residents to go to a different area? What were the plans for making sure that the services for the people were brought closer to the residents of Kat-Kop? Members asked if it was possible for Kat-Kop to have a mobile police station that went around to areas where there were high rates of crime.

In terms of when there were crimes committed in Kat-Kop, Members asked who these crimes were reported to? What type of murders were common? Was the increase in murders due to the tribal areas? People who were caught went for bail hearings, would be granted bail, and keep committing the same crimes. What is the police doing to make sure that they mobilise and encourage residents in the area, so that residents would get involved in bail hearings and ensure that perpetrators did not get bail and reoffend? Members asked the police to look into the illegal liquor outlets. SAPS was also asked to tell the Committee how much livestock they had recovered out of the total theft reported so that they could measure the success rate. When recovering the livestock, what was SAPS’ sole purpose? Members felt that arrests needed to be made beyond the recovery of livestock, and the police needed to tell the Committee how they were going to ensure this.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would look at the petition holistically and consider the responses that had been provided. The Committee promised to respond and help the situation Kat-Kop found itself in. It was always important that a person received feedback when he or she reported a matter. She though that the police service was generally very weak on providing feedback. She asked for a number that the community could use to report matters without identifying themselves because of fear from the community itself of the perpetrators of violence.

The Committee adopted both Progress Reports and the outstanding minutes without amendments.

Meeting report

The Chairperson was happy that the meeting was not complicated and added that it therefore did not need a quorum. She welcomed everyone to the meeting and said that the agenda was quite straightforward. The meeting would start with the petitioner, consider and adopt the reports of the Department of Labour, and thereafter, if there is time, consider and adopt the previous meeting’s minutes. However, what was critical for today’s meeting was to deal with the petition from Elundini Local Municipality in the Eastern Cape. Everyone had the right to participate fully, without fear.

She was not going to waste time, except to say to the petitioner and invited participants, that this Committee dealt with petitions. She explained the procedure that the Committee used to entertain petitions. The Committee first checked with the petitioner if they interacted with the municipality where he or she is located, as well as if the petitioner tabled his or her petition to the Provincial Petitions Committee. If the petitioner did not get joy from all of these steps, the Committee then became the last resort to deal with the matter. This was how the Committee dealt with matters – it did not take matters directly from a local level without the petition taking the necessary steps to come to them. Even before the petition came to the Committee, it first had to go straight to the Mr Amos Masondo, Office of the Chairperson, NCOP. The tabled staff in the Office would then look at the petition and thereafter refer it to the Committee for the Committee to process it. She asked that the Committee allow the petitioner, to take the Committee through the petition.

Kat-Kop Petition

Ms Ngwane Makalima thanked the Committee for lending their ear and helping Elundini find a way forward in regard to the petition. She explained that she was from Durban and had married into the area. She had lived in Elundini full-time but due to her house being one of the homes that was attacked multiple time, she took the decision to move back to Johannesburg in the previous year and was lucky to go back into her normal job. She was thus now based in Johannesburg but quite a bit of her family was still in Kat-Kop. The petition was not the first petition to come out of Kat-Kop. Elundini used the platform Change.org to collect the signatures in front of Members. The petition outlined that the people of Kat-Kop needed help in getting some kind of authority to become involved to end the pillaging taking place every day. Kat-Kop was one of those places that a series could be based on because the stories that came out of the area occurred every night, so every morning there was a new, extremely traumatic story to tell. Over the past three years an increase in stock theft has been seen, and even that morning the syndicate was back again at 4am stealing livestock. Sometimes it is said that where there is smoke there is fire, and the people could tell who was involved in the syndicate. Unfortunately, law enforcement needed more than just hearsay and names. The syndicate involved broke into people’s homes, terrorised people, stole, and in some instances they had killed and raped people during the attacks. There were some people and parts of the community that felt the police were not doing enough, that the police did not have enough strength or muscle, or that the policy were part of the problem. People have thus lost faith.

The aim in releasing the petition was to get the ear of lawmakers, special units, and parties that could actually bring about change or difference into lives. Kat-Kop was mainly dominated by women and children, as a lot of people left Kat-Kop to work in Cape Town, Johannesburg, or Durban. The young men still found in Kat-Kop felt that they did not have power to end the household ravages. Some of the young men were also involved in this syndicate in some way or another. The heavy hand kept coming back and sometimes, when one thought that they were just coming to steal, they did so much more damage than that. People in Kat-Kop were not able to make an honest living. If one started a small business, the syndicate would come for your takings or stock, and one heard stories of them actually killing the owners of the small businesses in the process. In 2018, the syndicate had shot a husband, chased the daughter, raped her and left her in the field. The syndicate did not just come into the store while one was asleep – they came into one’s home and did so much more than just stealing. A lot of the people in Kat-Kop had been raised on small-scale subsistence farming and small businesses needed in the area. These people were scared to continue, as anyone who wanted to start a business could not because they knew what was coming for them.

Kat-Kop was asking if they could get help into bringing together organisations or organisms that already existed within legal and government structures, to help the people of Kat-Kop. These cries had been raised for a while. She was hoping that, with the little access she had to a platform like this, where she could go onto social media and call someone on SABC, that these efforts could be put together to bring about some tangible change. She would have loved to go home but she had been told by her family that by no means is she to go back home. She thus lives in Johannesburg by herself, with four children, and her husband lives alone because he would rather bear the brunt of these act of violence by himself. The community had started different patrolling teams in different cycles but people got tired of doing this by themselves and were doing it unarmed. They were just young men who wanted to protect their sisters and moms and went out in the middle of the night to walk the area, trying to raise some kind of alarm if they saw any activity. This was not ideal but Kat-Kop was asking for some help with collaborating departments.

She was not sure if the Committee had the capacity or time to hear certain stories. This was something that could be shared and provided in a written document should it be requested. The stories were horrific and no one deserved to live like this. She wanted to go home. At least for her, she had options – it wasn’t a great option, but she had options to leave. Other people did not have these options and she wondered if there was any way that the situation could be made better for everyone.  

The Chairperson said that this was a sad story. She noted that the Committee had read the petition and the situation was becoming very serious. She thanked Mrs Ngwane Makalima for bringing this to the Committee’s attention. She asked if there was anyone else with Mrs Ngwane Makalima that wanted to make additions to her petition.

Mrs Ngwane Makalima responded that she had asked one of the family members who was more impacted on the stock-theft side but they were struggling with connectivity. It was not so much about the stories but the impact that the stories had on the community. She added that she would share the stories without giving names as she believed that the stories belonged to the people it happened to. Thus, she would not give names for their protection. There was a family who ran a small business selling bread etc. from their house. A group of men walked into the house, killed the father, chased the daughter out of the house, raped her, and told the wife to put a hand over the shot wound as the husband was bleeding out. Eleven men had stormed into her own home, and her husband had let them out the back door and told her to run. At the time she had her one-and-a-half-year-old son covered in the one of the bedrooms because he was fast asleep. She had her five-year-old son with her who she had picked up in his sleep – which in hindsight she should not have done – and ran out with him. Subsequently, the men had caught up to her because she had a five year who she was trying to carry. They had pulled her legs underneath the fence of the property, which was where she had sustained some scarring. One of the men had chased her 15-year old niece for over a kilometre and a half, trying to catch up to her. It was known that the syndicates raped when they arrived, so her niece had run for her life. This was not the only time that the men had come, as they came four other times later and were quite brave. The fourth time that they came, they had shot at the kitchen door and said that they were coming back. She had to stop conducting business as they had stolen her stock the first time they entered her home, had no way of creating an income, and had to move back to the city.

There were situations where the syndicates were going to society meetings and killed people or were sent into an area to instil fear in people. People’s kraal’s were empty. How were people expected to create any kind of living or sustenance for themselves, with what they knew, if other people were just waiting to take this? She mentioned that it was not just a random bunch of people but the same people over and over again. The saddest thing was that they were infiltrating schools using little gangs and recruiting young boys to join these gangs. However, these gangs were run by old men who ran businesses, drove cars, had access to funds, and who could fund the lifestyle and the situation to keep it thriving. Little boys within Kat-Kop were continuously being pulled out of the gangs, taken to the police station, and three days later they would be back in the gang. A request that had been made, and what Kat-Kop was begging for, was to stop releasing people back into the community. The syndicates had raped and were attending a case but were living in the community with the people they had raped. Her neighbour had been raped in the previous year and the syndicates thought that they had killed her, rolled her down a hill, and her body was stopped from hitting the river by piles of rocks. It is known who was involved in this and their identities were known to the police as well. The boys were in holding for a short while and then released backed into the community. Her neighbour thus had to leave because the people who raped her were released back into the community – which was not right. 

There was a small online group of family members and people who had lived in Kat-Kop but now live in Johannesburg or Cape Town etc. These people carried so much anxiety because every time the phone rang one expected to hear something horrific. It was not natural to deal with such levels of trauma on a recurring basis. When she had arrived in Johannesburg she had sleep deprivation, as she had not slept properly in nine months in anticipation of something dangerous. There were people who had not had a chance to leave and were still there. Her husband was in Kat-Kop and did not sleep. The police needed to be given more resources. One of the biggest complaints was that the police station was full during the day. She understood that administratively a lot went on during the day but there were four cops and one cop car. The area that Kat-Kop police station had to cover was huge. It was difficult for these policemen to follow up on reporting. The third time that she was attacked she has seen the men come into Kat-Kop, had made about seven phone calls, and phoned policemen that she knew, but no one was able to make any movement because there was one car. There needed to be a will to change something and conversations around change. The community had been begging for this for a while. In 2018 there was a police imbizo where the community was engaged with to find out what their needs were. What the station commander was supposed to do if they did not have the resource had been spoken about. Kat-Kop was thus asking for someone to release the resources and start conversations on thinking outside of the box and changing the way things were normally done. This is because the way that things were normally done was not working, especially for Kat-Kop.

Elundini Local Municipality Input

The Chairperson noted that the petition was a sad story.

Ms Ruth Lengs, Mayor of Elundini Local Municipality, confirmed that what Mrs Ngwane Makalima d presented on the situation in Kat-Kop was true. Kat-Kop formed part of Ward 7, which was a vast ward in the area of Elundini Local Municipality. The high rate of crime was becoming worse day by day – especially when it came to stock theft. The burglary, rape, and other criminal activities were also something of a daily occurrence. At the local sphere closer to the people and tasked with issues of service delivery, there were issues that had been raised by the communities and several meetings called in Kat-Kop, trying to discuss the issue and come up resolutions that could assist the area. The police could not do anything without the help of other spheres and sectors.

From the local municipality side, there were issues raised of roads, electricity, and bridges because the area was vast – but they were trying their best. Since 2016, some of the roads had been constructed in the area. She had a report that she could present to the Committee, showing what the local municipality had done. People had raised the issue of the police sometimes being unable to access the roads and there were areas that needed bridges. The local municipality had listened to these people, went back to the office, and discussed ways of dealing with those issues. From 2015-2017 other areas also had problems with access roads and bridges, which the local municipality had attended to. There were also other projects that the local municipality was going to do in the area as requested by the communities. These things were creating challenges. 

The Chairperson asked Mayor Lengs to focus on the issue. It was good when Mayor Lengs had spoken about roads because police vans were able to access areas. She wanted the steps that the municipality had taken to deal with the crime. She knew that it was not in Mayor Leng’s competency to deal with crime but asked what the municipality was doing in partnership with the police. Mayor Leng was to focus more on the current petition.

Mayor Leng apologised and emphasised that what Mrs Ngwane Makalima presented was true. The crime rate in Kat-Kop was high. One of the points that was raised was if the area of Ward 7 could be provided with a satellite station. As the area was vast, the only solution that could assist was to get another police station, whether it be a temporary arrangement or not. This would allow the people who wanted the services of the police to get that service as a matter of urgency. There were people who came from other areas into Kat-Kop, who were frequently working with the Kat-Kop community members of Ward 7. She asked if the communities could be trained on how to whistle-blow so that they could talk about this and inform the police.

Presentation: SAPS

Interventions from SAPS on KatKop Community Petition

Lt Gen LE Ntshinga, Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner, SAPS, presented on what the Eastern Cape SAPS had done in response to the petition. This was specifically in relation to: Human Resources; Vehicle Resources; SAPS Intervention; Recoveries 2018+; Challenges; and Images of Successful Interventions.

The fixed establishment of Kat-Kop police station was a small police station as previously there was no police station. The SAPS National Department had been spoken to, to say that the area of Tsitsana was too far from Kat-Kop and should have its own small station. The visible policing fixed establishment was 30, there were 22 active members, and a gap of 8 members. The detectives fixed establishment was 4, there were 5 active members, and there was thus an increase of 3 members. The support services’ fixed establishment was 10, there were 7 active members, and a gap of 3 members. The total fixed establishment was 44, there were 34 active members, and a gap of 10 members. The vehicle resources in the area were made up of Toyota Landcruisers, Ford Rangers, Nissan Trucks, Toyota Hiluxes, and Nissan NP300s. These vehicles were suitable for Kat-Kop’s terrain but, due to bad roads, were always in the garage. SAPS was trying their best to ensure there were vehicles on the road at night.

In terms of SAPS’ interventions, four additional members from Mbizeni forces were deployed to the Kat-kop area. Additional forces were also beefed up with three more members from the support personnel. Village Committees have been established. Thus far, two committees have been established in Elalini and Mndeni Localities. Village Committees were forming part of the Community Police Forums (CPF) and work closely with the Vispol and Station Commander. There were joint cross-district operations conducted. The Rural Safety Strategy is being monitored. Traditional Policing was introduced to complement the Rural Safety Strategy where police stations were too far from communities. The recruitment of reservists from the area is continuing – applicants were being processed, screened and trained. All licensed liquor outlets are being visited for compliance every week.

Since the 2018 intervention, the successes in relation to stock theft in Kat-Kop amounted to: 771 sheep; 215 goats; 118 cattle; and 8 horses. In terms of the impact of interventions by SAPS in Kat-Kop for the 2017/2018 to 2018/2019 period, there was a general decrease in contact crime. However, there was an increase in the crimes of murder and common assault. There was also a general decrease in contact-related crime. In relation to property crimes, there was a general increase. This showed that the interventions were generally yielding results as there was a drastic decrease in crime. For the 2018/2019 to 2019/2020 period, there was a general decrease in contact crimes, excluding sexual assault which increased. However, property crimes increased in relation to arson.

In terms of the challenges faced, despite the additional human resources deployed to the area there is still a general lack of adequate human resources. The station would be upgraded to a Lieutenant Colonel station so that it could match the vast area, as well as include the reservists. The landscape of the area is not favouring police patrols as it is mountainous with no roads and more forest. The area is very dark at night as there is no street lighting or Apollo lights. Criminals were able to see police vans coming from far away, which is why there was an introduction of undercover police. The policing area is very vast and consists of more than 70 localities to be covered by the small station. Stolen stock was recovered but no arrests are made (stock found abandoned).

Community cooperation was very important as the community knew who the criminals were but did not want to whistle-blow or provide information. Even where people were arrested, no one wanted to come forward to give a statement to strengthen the investigation. If cases were not strong enough, the criminals would go back into the communities even where bail is opposed. Community support was needed. There were joint district operations in both the day and night. Stock theft recoveries, arrests, and confiscation of firearms were successful in working together with the community. Junior police officers were sent door-to-door to talk to the people of Kat-Kop on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and stock theft, so that information could be obtained and cooperation with the community strengthened.

In conclusion, although huge deceases were achieved in most of the crime categories in the Kat-Kop area, stock theft remains a concern. Interventions will be intensified. More emphasis will be placed on the community in blue concept and the recruitment of reservists. The GBV and Femicide action plan would be rolled out in the area. Most of the people in the area were victimised or knew of people being victimised but did not report the crimes, leading to issues of non-reporting.

Discussion

The Chairperson allowed Members to ask questions of clarity, so that when the Committee discussed the matter they would be clear on the issues that had been raised in the meeting.

Mr G Michalakis (DA, Free State) commented that one thing that he found disturbing and irritating, and this was a consequence of something that had come over a long period of time and which was found especially in petitions, was when a member of a community pointed out a problem, and he did not hear an acknowledgment of the problem. He did not hear proposed solutions to the problem but simply heard wonderful stories of what had been done. If what had been done was sufficient, then it would not be necessary for a member of the community to raise these issues before the Committee. He found this slightly problematic. He would have liked the police to at least acknowledge what the problems were that they were experiencing, so that the Committee could be in a position to help them, as well as indicate where it is impossible for them to do something so that alternatives could be found.

Would the petitioner be able to help the Committee in supplying the case numbers of instances where cases had been opened by members of the community? This was so that Members could have these case numbers. He asked that the police also provide the Committee with case numbers and details of every single case that they had mentioned, how far it went, and why it did not reach a point of proper prosecution. He would like the Committee to be in a position to know exactly how the process of every single complaint went from the police station, through investigation, to a State Prosecutor, to a court room, and whether everyone in this link had done their job. He got the feeling that this was not just a capacity problem, but that somewhere within the criminal justice system something or someone was not working. He heard mention being made of syndicates, which was the same case in the Free State. Simply giving more capacity to police was not going to solve the problem. The rotten apple in the Free State’s case was within the criminal justice system. If that was the case here, a solution needed to be found to point out who in the chain was the rotten apple.

Ms M Bartlett (ANC; Northern Cape) was worried about the petitioner because it seemed as though she was still volunteering. The petitions and its problem had come from 2018. If the cases were coming on for so long and people were dying, what has the police actually done except for starting with giving the Committee this report? The Committee did not have a problem with the report but asked that the police provide the Committee with evidence on this. She was worried about grievous bodily harm that was still at 44%, which was still very high. With regard to Mayor Lengs, somebody had said that it was very dark in these areas. What was the municipality doing about these issues? If the darkness could be fixed, this would be helpful in the involvement of the community. If it was that the lights were really out of order, what was the problem with the municipality not fixing this today if possible? She did not know the distances but this was a problem. The community could be asked to get involved, but they could not be asked to get involved in such situations. More police visibility was needed in the area. She was worried that, if people could go into someone’s house and chase them out, then the Committee was sitting with a very serious problem. On the issue of liquor outlets, could the police look into the illegal outlets as well? Where there were liquor outlets, the distances needed to be spoken about so that the police could look at it. 

Ms S Shaikh (ANC, Limpopo) said that the stories that came out of the petition were quite horrendous. The presentation by both Mayor Lengs and SAPS was that there were various initiatives to try and address some of these challenges. SAPS raised issues about capacity and challenges with terrain in the area. In terms of capacity, vacancies, and vehicles that were constantly in the garages, what was being done to address these kinds of matters? Were the challenges encountered by the police elevated to get assistance? Has the petitioner herself elevated the matter beyond the municipality? This related to the Chairperson’s introduction in terms of the Committee being the last place for the petition to get the necessary attention. It was generally preferable for the matter to also be addressed at provincial level and elsewhere. Around what was said by SAPS on the lack of community cooperation, there was some reference to the police being involved. Could SAPS give the Committee further information in terms of this perception and what they were doing to address it? 

Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) thanked the petitioner for bringing the petition to the Committee. His concerns were around local government, as always. The issue of roads was very worrisome when Lt Gen Ntshinga said that SAPS had the tools to do the job but could not do the job because of the roads. He had the understanding that the different spheres of government should work together, as there were sector departments in provinces, districts and local municipalities. Every financial year these departments went through a process of budgeting. He was worried about how the departments prioritised their projects when it came to roads. Kat-Kop could not sit with the challenge of road problems while the municipality was not actually dealing with it. He did not hear anything about how the municipality was dealing with roads. On lighting, were there lights or no lights? If there are lights, are the lights sufficient enough? If not, what are the plans to ensure that the area receives light as the area is vast? In terms of when there were crimes committed in Kat-Kop, who were these crimes reported to? Was there a station or service centre in walking distance or were residents to go to a different area? What were the plans for making sure that the services for the people were brought closer to the residents of Kat-Kop?

Another worry was the successes that Lt Gen Ntshinga mentioned. In terms of recovery, when someone said that one of their successes was that they recovered 10 stock thefts, out of how many was this? When someone said that they had successes, they should be able to give the Committee an indication so that they could measure. If there was livestock lost, this was usually hundreds so if SAPS was only recovering a few then this could not be a success. SAPS needed to tell the Committee how much they had recovered in terms of the reporting of the theft. He did not agree when someone said that there was a success in recovering what had been lost, but there was no arrest. When recovering the livestock, what was SAPS’ sole purpose? Was it just to recover the lost stock or to make an arrest? He thought that the two had to go together. What actually happened? When the stock was taken back, the perpetrator would just go to the next house and steal what was recovered by the police. Nothing would ever be achieved this way. He asked that the police tell the Committee how they were going to make sure that these people were brought to book.

Another issue mentioned by the petitioner was that the people who were caught went for bail hearings and would be granted bail. This was a problem everywhere in the country, in that people who committed crimes would keep committing the same crimes because of the hope that they would be granted bail. What is the police doing in terms of making sure that they mobilise and encourage the residents within the particular area or municipality, so that whenever there were such bail hearings they would actually get involved in ensuring that the perpetrators did not get bail and go out and do the same thing? He added that he would share the rest of his concerns when the Committee engaged on the petition.

Mr E Mthethwa (ANC, KwaZulu-Natal) directed his question to the police. His concern was on the Kat-Kop crime statistics. Between 2017 and 2018, the level of murder was so high. While he appreciated SAPS’ intervention, as it could be seen that the level decreased between 2018 and 2019, what type of murders were these? Which murders were common in 2018? He asked this question as SAPS had singled out the issues of attempted murder, rape, sexual assault etc. The number of murders had increased from 9 to 14. Was this because of the tribal areas? What were the murders made up of?

Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) asked Mayor Lengs if the municipality was holding any community meetings to establish the community’s concerns. His second concern was around the rape cases as seen in SAPS’ presentation and what was generally said by the petitioner. His question was directed at Lt Gen Ntshinga who had said that she raised the concern with the Head of National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Why could the NIA not detect what was happening? 

The Chairperson addressed Lt Gen Ntshinga, who had indicated that it was true that the police station in Tsitsana was very far from Kat-Kop. The proposal from Mayor Lengs was that the municipality wished, if it was possible, to have a mobile police station. Was it possible for Kat-Kop to have a mobile police station that went around to areas where there were high rates of crime? In terms of what the petitioner had said, there was a clear accusation of police officers that were cooperating with the criminals. Was the petitioner able to point out who exactly those police officers were? It was not good to insinuate rather than being direct and reporting the issue formally to the police, outside of the meeting. Was there was such a case of reporting those police who were cooperating with the criminals? Was this reported or not? If not, was it possible to do so, so that the issue could be stopped?

Mrs Ngwane Makalima responded to Mr Michalakis who asked if there was a way for her to supply case numbers. She confirmed that she had a little file and could definitely supply some case numbers. An exercise had been done recently where the residents had tried to gather as much case numbers as possible. She asked if she could be notified on which channel, email address, or phone number to use in supplying this information and documentation to the Committee. Ms Shaikh had asked her if she elevated the matter beyond the municipality. This sentiment came across from a couple of the Members of the Committee. She explained that she was just an ordinary woman on the street and that in her day-to-day profession she was not in the legal space. For herself, the petition was one of the first ways of getting a spotlight on the issue. There had been peaceful marches to the police station when Mayor Lengs, her team, and the police did the 2018 drive. She had been part of the community members who had raised their issues. The answer was thus both yes and no. In some ways residents had been trying to go through the correct chains but she did not know what those correct chains were. This was a learning exercise for herself as well because, in trying to bring the spotlight to the issue, she was also learning who she should contact and where she should go. She appreciated all of the directions to get assistance.

She was the face of the petition and she was present. She did not want to say that she was brave, but she did not have an option – she had children who wanted to go home but were stuck in Johannesburg and could not do so. This was as much for herself and her children as it was for her neighbours who she was in constant communication with. Unfortunately, one of the biggest things, as referred to by Lt Gen Ntshinga, was that the police needed community assistance. People were petrified. The ladies had done a peaceful picket to the police station a few months prior. A one minute video clip was taken by someone who had attended the picket and it was shared in the closed Kat-Kop Facebook group that is used to socialise and talk about serious things. Within an hour people were petrified that the video was public, that they were going to become victims of intimidation, or that their families would be next. The video from the closed Facebook group was thus requested to be pulled down. This was a reading of the fear that people had in their hearts. People had told her that she was brave because she was talking about these issues. People were scared to say names, and as an ordinary woman on the streets she did not know how far-up these syndicate members were – she could only say what she could see. She was happy to share her observations and have those prone to being investigated turned upside down and clearly looked into.

On the part of getting the community to go up to the police and tell them what was happening, the first thing to note was that CPF did not work. CPFs had become an old man’s forum where those men who found themselves prominent within the community used it as their term of rule. Unfortunately, in Kat-Kop, this was a stretch on the CPF and made it ineffective. People referred to CPFs as a snitcher’s forum, they did not trust it, they did not like it, and a lot of people wanted no part of it. It was thus seen as a cigarette lounge where certain old gentlemen came together to do what they saw fit, for their own political and personal aspirations within the community. Residents did not want to be tied up in all of the politics. The community did not trust the police and did not report matters, or they reported the matters and it was let go. In her honest and personal capacity, she had never received any feedback on her case from 31 August 2018. She walked into the police station often and had still not received any feedback.

On one particular occasion, on the day she was moving to Johannesburg, one of the detectives who was not part of her case asked her if there had been any feedback or progress on the case. She told the detective that she had not heard anything, and she had not heard anything back even after that conversation outside the police station. People got this kind of response from the police and did not have any faith that anything was going happen. In order for the community to sit up and have the guts to say that their neighbour’s son was one of the men who had attacked them the previous night, people needed to trust that they were going to be protected for speaking the truth. People needed to trust that something was actually going to happen, as history had taught them that nothing was going to happen. People also needed to trust that they were not going to have someone arrested, stand in court and speak their truth, only for that same person to get released and place themselves in an unsafe position. She thought that this was the honest truth around people standing up and being whistle-blowers. If people could be given a toll-free line that they could call and anonymously give that kind of information, or if there could be a campaign around publicising something like that, which she knew existed, it would be a part of the solution.

She noted Mr Sileku’s questions on where crimes were reported and criminals who came back to the community. Kat-Kop police station was on the main road and the Kat-Kop community was within five kilometres walking distance from there. When people had issues they reported it directly to this police station. However, as had been learnt through the previous discussions, that police stationed serviced a huge area. This meant that at night, when one called, the police station would say that vehicle is in Tsitsana – which is a good 30-40 minute drive from Kat-Kop. Thus, one might be five kilometres from the police station but when needing assistance in a particular moment, the vehicle could be 40-50 kilometres away. She had hoped that this issue would be highlighted and that the police would be able to raise the resources to close the gap. Mr Mthethwa had referred to the murder cases. One of the saddest things was that in a case like murder, it was normally not murder alone. It would first be that someone would storm into your house, assault you, rape you, steal your goods, and then kill you. Murder cases, especially in Kat-Kop, were therefore never standalone. The murder rates were quite high. She said that Mr Zandamela had asked about community meetings. There had been a lot of community meetings. Human beings were very good at meetings but the issue was the rollout in terms of the issues raised and solutions projected, and whether there was a tangible or physical rollout that could be seen with tangible and physical changes in their world. As Kat-Kop stood, the answer was currently no. The municipality continuously engaged with the residents, they cared, they asked questions, and did follow ups. However, Kat-Kop was currently struggling with actually seeing a solution to completion. She noted that this could be because of budgetary constraints, a lack of capacity to do something, or requiring multiple organisms to get together to find a solution.

One thing that she wanted to steer away from, and which she hoped that she was not guilty of, was finger pointing and saying who should have done what. Kat-Kop was asking for collaboration that would reap results. They needed local government to work with the policing system and needed the community to trust that these bodies would come up with an effective solution. Once it was figured out the solution was and what would be done, she thought that it would be great if it could actually be done so that the crime statistics could drop even more. As far as data was concerned, some of the numbers were a bit worrisome because they seemed very low in terms of the cases that she was aware of. However, she was aware that this was a data issue that Lt Gen Ntshinga was not responsible for. The community also needed an avenue where they could give back more correct data, so that the police knew what they were dealing and working with. She thanked the Members for their questions, hoped that she had answered the questions in their totality, and apologised if there was anything that she had missed.

Mayor Lengs answered the questions directed to the municipality, which concerned the issues of roads, streetlights, and community meetings. On roads, she confirmed that there was a challenge when it came to the access roads. Ward 7 was vast and had more than 17 villages alone. The municipality was servicing 17 wards with limited resources and was one of the municipalities dependent on government grants. The municipality was trying its best. There were roads constructed by municipalities trying to intervene in those challenges that affected Ward 7. In 2016/2017, through the prioritisation of communities and areas in need, Tsitsana was one of those that had an access road built. In 2017/2018 another access road was done in Ward 7, that was serviced by the Kat-Kop police station. Again, in 2019/2020 a rehabilitation of Tsitsana bridge was done. There were issues ranged around this that had caused a challenge in this area. In the current financial year, the municipality had budgeted for another two bridges in Ward 7. These were the inventions of the municipality, hence there were still roads that needed the attention of the municipality. On streetlights and poles, truly speaking there were no streetlights in almost all of the rural areas. There were only streetlights in the urban areas. This matter would be considered and taken back to the municipality, as it seemed to also pose a challenge when it came to the operations with SAPS. On community engagements, there were community meetings – this included quarterly meetings, ward committee meetings, and had been extended to community meetings. The roads that were currently being built had been discussed in those meetings. The issue of budget constraints affected the municipality badly. In the past and current financial year, the municipality had been given only R37 million for the entire area of Elundini in terms of the Municipal Infrastructure Grant.

The Chairperson noted what Mayor Lengs had said.

Lt Gen Ntshinga first responded to the question on case numbers. SAPS would be able to submit those case numbers and the status of each and every case in a report to the Committee. On syndicates, for the police to be able to address the syndicates they needed this information from the community or deployed informers. There was an organised crime unit dealing with syndicates. She would love to get that information if it was available, so that she could start dealing with the syndicates. Despite it being known that there were people who knew who the syndicates were but did not want to come forward because they were scared, the police had already started doing their own research. On the question of cases that had been dragging on for long, from 2018 for example, these cases were in court. Kat-Kop was serviced by different courts, so it could not be said why matters were taking so long. It could, however, be followed up as to why some cases were still in court but she was sure that other cases were done – a report could be given on this as well.

In terms of liquor outlets, there were operations every weekend throughout the whole province. Liquor outlets were being raided from Thursday and there was thus a compliance operation which checked whether the outlets had licenses. If the liquor outlets had licenses, they were then compliant. From Friday onwards, the police closed illegally operating outlets even if they had a license and were compliant. This was a weekly thing because the rural areas were different to the urban areas in that everybody had a shebeen and sold liquor. When the police went to the shebeens they would take the liquor, destroy it, and arrest the owners after finding that they had been selling for a certain amount of times. The shebeen owner would then receive a docket, go to court, and receive a very long sentence, and come back and operate again because it is their means of living. This is also where it is seen that the murder cases are emanating from the liquor outlets because of the abuse of alcohol. The issue of liquor in rural areas was really a problem because the police could close the outlet one day but the next day they open again as selling liquor was a manner of living that they could not do without. However, the police continuously closed these liquor outlets because they were the generators of crime.

On the matter of cars in garages and what was being done, the Kat-Kop police station had ordered four mobile garages. Joe Gqabi District Municipality had one mobile garage, so that if there was a small mechanical issue that vehicle would not be taken into the bigger garage. A mobile garage would go out and fix the car if there is any small mechanical issue. The Kat-Kop police station had already been given a new vehicle, as SAPS had seen the problem of Kat-Kop and were trying to give them the resources they needed. She was sure that if there was another batch of cars coming in, that Kat-Kop would be given another car. On livestock recovery, she could not give a number in terms of how much stock was stolen but was able to give the number in terms of how much stock was recovered. She had already explained the reason why there were recoveries without arrests. If one understood the topographic area of Kat-Kop, it was mountainous and there were forests. The village committees would say that their stock had been stolen and that people were now driving the sheep, and the police would want to go out and make an arrest. However, those people who were driving the sheep at night would see the police van lights coming from afar and would run away. When the police caught up, they would thus only find the livestock there and the thieves would have disappeared into the forest. Other livestock would be missing, and information would be received from the community that a lot of stock had been hidden in the forest. Even then, when the police went into the forest they would not find anybody – only the livestock that had been hidden there.

The police needed to receive information on who was driving the livestock, so that they would be able to use their own means of linking them to the information and arresting them. Hence now, the Kat-Kop police was changing their manner of operation and were using an unconventional method of dealing with those cases – which was where crime intentions were coming in. Ordinary conventional methods of visible policing did not work and needed an unconventional model. This was why in other cases the police had managed to arrest those people who were stealing the livestock. On the issue of mobilising the community to court, she thought that this had been successfully elsewhere. There were 13 suspects who were still in court as a community had stood up to say that enough was enough and worked with the police because the police have shown them that if the community gave them information, they did not leak the information and arrested the suspect. There was even a community leader who had come forward to say that they wanted to go to court and give a statement to oppose the bail of the suspects. The councillor had even had a petition from the community saying that they did not want the suspects to be released. This bail opposition was thus successful because of the community.

She stressed the issue of witness statements. If an arrest was made and there was no witness to strengthen the investigation, the court would never be able to make an informed decision – they would just say that there was not enough evidence and that the case was withdrawn due to the fact that people did not want to come forward. She thought that people needed to trust the police. On the issue of CPFs, the Kat-Kop police was trying to recruit young people because the people who were doing bad things in the area were the young people. This was why the police had done a door-to-door campaign in Kat-Kop, to recruit young people into becoming a part of CPF and the street committees. If the trust of young people is gained and used to guard the area, she thought that the issue of crime could then be won. However, if young people are pushed away and only old people are used to be part of CPF, it was not going to work. She had, however, seen the recruitment of young people work in other areas.

On the issue of a mobile station, the police station was in Kat-Kop and Tsitsana did not have one. This was why it was said that it needed to be made sure that the traditional council there had to give the police the space whereby the reservists and one policeman would be housed there, so that they could cover the area and be given resources. If an immobile station was going to be used, this would be coming from the bigger station which travelled 40 kilometres to get there and sometimes broke along the road. Temporarily, a mobile station was something that could be done but space was needed from the traditional council so that it could be parked – it could not drive up and down as it would break due to the bad roads. However, the police definitely wanted to put reservists in those areas.

Mr Michalakis commented via the virtual chat that the community would not give information about syndicates because they would most likely be fearful of those people taking revenge. He suggested that this information should be obtained by Crime Intelligence as this was their job.

The Chairperson said that the Committee would now look at the petition holistically and take into consideration the responses that the municipality and SAPS had given them. After Members had sat down as a Committee, they would then be able to come back to the petitioner and give feedback. Other logistics would be decided by the Committee after they had sat down and looked at the petition. She thanked Lt Gen Ntshinga, Mayor Lengs, and Mrs Ngwane Makalima for presenting to the Committee and being honest. As the NCOP, it was one of their roles to help where there was a need. Thus, when the police interacted with the Committee, she asked that they interact knowing very well that the Committee did not only visit or interact with them for the sole purpose of only judging the department rather than helping them.

The petitioner was expecting the Committee to respond and help the situation Kat-Kop found itself in. The Committee promised that this would be done, especially after looking at all of the issues that had been raised on cases that were very slow from the DOJ. It was critical for the Committee to know even the case of the petitioner herself, who had said that since she had reported her matter she had not received feedback to tell her at which stage her matter was. It was always important that a person received feedback when he or she reported a matter. She though that the police service was generally very weak on providing feedback. On the issue of a number that the community could use to report matters without identifying themselves because of fear from the community itself of the perpetrators of violence. She asked that Lt Gen Ntshinga allow the community to have this number, so that they would be able to report. She thanked everyone for the participation and excused the guests from the meeting as the Committee would be continuing with their agenda.

Consideration and adoption of the Progress Report on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Labour (11 July 2019)

The Chairperson said that the next item was to adopt the report by the DOL. She was sure that everyone had received the report on time and asked that it quickly be looked at. She asked that Members provide feedback.

Mr Michalakis asked how the Committee looked in terms of their quorum if they wanted to adopt the report at this stage.

The Chairperson said that she had not looked at her participants but was sure that there was a quorum. She asked Mr Nkanyiso Mkhize, Committee Secretary, to confirm that the Committee had a quorum.

Mr Mkhize confirmed that the quorum had been met.

The Chairperson asked Members to look at the report. Were there any additions to the report, any matters of clarity or comments? If there were no comments, she asked that the report be adopted and if there could be a mover.

Ms Bartlett moved for the report.

Ms Shaikh seconded the adoption of the report.

Consideration and adoption of Outstanding Minutes

The Chairperson asked that Members look at the minutes which had been given to all Members. If there were any discrepancies this would be corrected. Could those who were present in the meeting move for the adoption of the minutes?

Mr S Mfayela (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) moved for the adoption.

Ms Shaikh seconded the adoption.

Consideration and adoption of the Progress Report on the Executive Undertakings made by the Minister of Labour (11 July 2020)

The Chairperson asked that Members look at the second DOL report. She asked that there be a mover.

Ms Bartlett moved for the adoption of the report.

Ms Shaikh seconded the adoption of the report.

The Chairperson thanked Members for their participation.

The meeting was adjourned.

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