Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill: SAPS R5.8 billion reduction

Standing Committee on Appropriations

25 November 2020
Chairperson: Mr S Buthelezi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Appropriations, 25 November 2020

In a virtual meeting, the South African Police Service presented on the implications of the R5.8 billion reduction in its budget as noted in the Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill. The presentation covered the financial position of the department and an overview of its performance target achievement. On the adjusted budget implications and expenditure analysis, as at 30 September 2020, the department had utilized 46.6% of its total allocation, with a remainder of 53.4%. Initially with the Special Adjustment Budget in July, SAPS had to reprioritise R1.1bn and an additional allocation of R3.7bn allocated to SAPS for its COVID 19 response which took the budget to R105bn. With this Second Adjustment Appropriation Bill, the 2020/21 budget allocation is now  R99.9bn.

The Committee raised concerns about how SAPS will deliver an effective police service in view of the increase in protests and the upcoming local government elections following this R5.8 billion budget cut. The Committee asked for explanation on the discrepancy in the cost of PPE purchases. The target on firearms were not met, how was the Department dealing with this? Members said the measures put in place by SAPS to address gender based violence (GBV) were inadequate and it needed to work with relevant departments towards improving the prevention of GBV. SAPS was question about payment of its creditors. Underspending on vehicles was referenced in the mid-year financial report.

The Committee was particularly concerned about the R2.7bn reduction to Visible Policing and its impact. Members asked how recruitment was affected and if people from the rural areas were considered for recruitment. The need for the police to engage with communities was emphasized in an attempt to improve the fight against crime. What is the impact of the Community Police Forum work? What training is in place to ensure that police officers are able to effectively deal with domestic violence?

Members asked about the payment of overtime and the ranks of officers who benefit from this. SAPS was questioned how it had allowed the vandalisation of PRASA infrastructure; about the role of the police in the Bushiri incident and under what conditions should a person be subjected to leg irons.

Meeting report

Opening remarks by the Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed SAPS led by the Deputy Minister, National Commissioner and SAPS team. When appropriations of this nature are adjusted, the Committee is expected to interact with the departments affected by the adjustment. The Committee would also want to interact with SAPS on many other issues. Apologies were noted from the Minister.

Deputy Minister remarks
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, stated that the Department is ready to meet with the Committee on a separate day to evaluate how the monies allocated to the Department have been utilized. The current briefing is on the SAPS budget and its impact on the South African police. If the Department could, it would have wished for an increase instead of a cut.

Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B25-2020]: SAPS briefing
Gen Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner of Police, introduced SAPS team, and the rest of the delegation from the Department. The presentation is two-fold: the first part will be given by the Chief Financial Officer while the second part on performance will be given by Strategic Management.

Lt Gen Puleng Dimpane (CFO) provided a summary of the Adjusted Budget Implications and the financial and non-financial performance at end of Quarter 2 of 2020/21. As at 30 September 2020, the department had utilized 46.6% of its total allocation. Similar spending was recorded in comparison with previous financial year. On comparison of monthly spending with previous financial year from 2017 to 2021, the pattern was considerably the same. 2021 is a little bit lower due to the impact of the COVID 19 regulations as well as subsequent lockdown, which impacted on the work of the police.

On programme spending amounts as at 30 September 2020 and remaining allocation:
On Programme 1: Administration – 44,7% spending was made, with a remainder of 55,3%.
On Programme 2: Visible Policing – 47,5% spending, with a remainder of 52,5%.
On Programme 3: Detective Services – 45,4% spending, with a remainder of 54,6%.
On Programme 4: Crime Intelligence – 4,.7% spending, with a remainder of 52,3%.
On Programme 5: Protection & Security Services – 46,6% spending, with a remainder of 52,3%.
Overall percentage spending was 46,6%.

Lt Gen Lineo Ntshiea, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Management, provided a summary of non-financial performance as at the end of Quarter 2. Total number of under-target indicators at end of Quarter 1 was 39. There was much improvement at end of Quarter 2 with only 29 under- target.

Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) thanked the Deputy Minister and the Commissioner for the presentation. He noted that SAPS had a R5.8bn budget cut, and the challenges in the country with the increased crime rate. Though the COVID 19 restrictions could have accounted for the lower crime rates in certain sectors, it is evident that the situation is getting out hand, the protests are increasing, and with the upcoming local government election, how does SAPS intend providing an effective police service with such a large budget cut. The Portfolio Committee on Police had requested that SAPS present a report on its PPE procurement. A report was submitted but it was not comprehensive enough. A 5 litre sanitiser was R400 from one company and R1950 from another company. The Portfolio Committee on Police requested, and the Standing Committee now demands a breakdown on the large cost discrepancy between the two companies, and information on who the directors of these companies are. 

He asked for clarity on the statement that the compensation budget of SAPS had been suspended. The target on firearms is far from being met, both in issuing of firearms licences and firearms received. How is the department dealing with this? The measures put in place to address gender based violence (GBV) was inadequate. He observed that GBV is not really a police matter as most of these crimes are committed by intimate partners. What measures is SAPS putting in place to work with other relevant departments towards ensuring the prevention of GBV, in addition to addressing the consequences when the violence has occurred. How has SAPS strengthened its relationship with the Justice Department? When the police arrest peopl, and within an hour the same people are released by the justice department, more havoc will be caused. 

Mr Shaik asked how the expenditure of the Department is measured against its performance? What mechanism have been put in place to ensure that value is received for money?

Mr O Mathafa (ANC) stated that the presentation was very informative and would aid the work of the Committee. The presentation indicated that there was a budget reduction to specialised programmes, and GBV is a specialised programme. In view of the President committing to a special focus on fighting this scourge, he wanted to know how this cut would affect the response to GBV. On compensation of employees, how many specialised positions will be affected by the budget cut, or how many positions are deemed critical in terms of the new focus area? The Minister and the Deputy Minister had previously indicated that there were new initiatives that will require the formulation of special units. How many of these special units will be affected by this particular cut?

On performance indicators, SAPS stated there were 39 under-target for Quarter 2. Were these 39 for a particular programme or overall under-target. Can SAPS be specific on the exact percentage under-target.

On lost and stolen firearms, is this target based on firearms reported lost or stolen by the public, or lost or stolen by the police service. Can SAPS indicate its performance on 30-day payment to creditors? Is it adhering to 30 day payment to service providers to ensure effective service delivery to the subsidiaries? His question was based on a mechanic close to where he lives, who services SAPS vehicles. Four vehicles have been parked at his premises for the past five years, and most police stations are struggling because there are not enough vehicles. Are these vehicles parked because they have been disposed of, or is it because suppliers have not been paid?  Can a report be forwarded to the Committee on how many vehicles are not in commission either because they are being serviced or repaired. How will the budget reduction impact on ensuring that those vehicles are back in service?

Before the local government election takes place, there will be the festive season. How is SAPS reprioritising its operations to ensure that policing during this season is adhered to, considering that R2.7b will be lost from Visible Policing, in line with the new budget adjustment.

Ms D Peters (ANC) noted the R2.7bn reduction for Visible Policing. How possible is it that with the current challenges in communities, that one can allow for a reduction of this magnitude for visible policing. Today is the launch of the 16 days of heightened awareness of violence against women, and its painful to be part of a discussion on a R2.7b reduction. How will the reduction impact on the ability of the police to respond to cases of brutality, considering that SAPS keep complaining of no personnel, no vehicles, inability to handle cases, no safe houses, and no police station in many communities. She noted the case of a woman in Eastern Cape who had to travel about 200km to the nearest police station, and on her way to that police station, she was also raped.  

She raised an allegation received from a municipality where the police apparently claim that there is a national directive to keep the domestic violence statistics low by encouraging the victim and the perpetrator to go home and negotiate, so the incident is not recorded.

Ms Peter asked why the police are resisting to work together with community initiatives that are truly impacting on the reduction of crime in those communities. It is important that the police engage with communities and give them the necessary support, while providing a structure for them to work together, because they are key stakeholders in fighting crime in the communities.  

Ms Peters asked if a report can be received on the impact of Community Policing Forums (CPF) that are supported by SAPS. Are they productive? Is it something that needs strengthening or do they need a total overhaul? What is the role of the CPF and can they be that first line of defence, especially with cases of GBV? GBV cannot be policed because it happens in an environment where people should be friendly, acquainted with each other, or in a relationship. It is important to understand the work, the impact and the resources SAPS is giving to CPF, and if there is value for money.

Mr D Joseph (DA), agreed with most of the points made by Ms Peters. He observed that the Constitution is very clear in section 205 that the mandate of the police is to combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order and protect citizens and their property.  Section 206 also refers to the political responsibility of the cabinet, the committee, and provincial committees, to engage with the police.

On the Brakenfell school matter, he thanked the police for maintaining public order in the way they have handled the situation so far, and in accordance with its mandate. He observed that the adjustment to the SAPS budget is compromising the support needed by the police to maintain public order throughout the country. The vacancy rate is affected, and compromises the mandate of the police to be visible. He asked what intelligence support is available to the police. For proactive policing, intelligence is needed.

He noted that GBV is reported to the police, and the cases are referred to NGOs for mediation. While referring cases to NGOs for mediation is not wrong, there are repeated cases coming back to the police. Is there a record of such cases being processed by court, with evidence that mediation was not helpful?

Mr A Sarupen (DA) noted that due to the economic crunch and reduced revenue to the state, there would be continued reductions in budget over the medium term. How is SAPS ensuring that it copes with the budget reductions? What steps is SAPS taking to ensure that its programmes, more importantly crime prevention, will not be affected by these cuts? What efficiency measures are taken particularly in the area of supply chain to ensure that past controversies relating to supply chain are not repeated.

He asked if SAPS be maintaining its number of police officers in the medium term and not depending on retirements and reducing the number of police officers in the field to meet budget cut requrements.

Mr X Qayiso (ANC) wanted clarity on the R 2.7bn cut in the Visible Policing programme. In his opinion, a reduction should not have been the first point of action, in view of the numerous crimes against women and children. The cut would send a very different message as opposed to the actual fight against GBV.

He asked if Treasury had discussed the budget cut implications with the Department or were they just informed? What is the Department’s understanding about the clear implication of the R 2.7bn cut in Visible Policing?

On COVID-19, he asked for a breakdown on how economic inclusivity unfolds for procurement in terms of recovery, who the beneficiaries are in terms of transformation. On slide 14, there is a mention of movement of personnel from one province to another province. If reference is being made to public service, and the movement of public servants, it is no excuse as they fall within the category of essential workers.

Ms N Ntlangwini (EFF) thanked SAPS for the report. She expressed her disappointment with the police on the Brackenfell protest, and commented on how they handled the protest at Kimberly. Both protests were the same situation, but were handled differently. In Brackenfell, the police wanted to disrupt the whole process. They did not want to listen to reason, and even shot at a woman at close range, and beat a woman while she was lying on the floor. She witnessed an open display of an apartheid attitude that must never be allowed in a democracy. She will follow up on the issue and the law must take its course. A woman beaten up by a white mob, whose actions were celebrated, must not be condoned.

It is evident how the police will handle cases of protest and the upcoming local government election. When it comes to black people, it is surprising the way the police handle a protest as seen in Western Cape. Water cannons were continually sprayed on the people, even when the Human Rights Commission asked the police to stop, but they just continued. The lives of people was not a threat, as the police were only concerned with protecting the whites, and therefore maximum force had to be used at that time.

On the report that vehicles could not be purchased due to the lockdown, Ms Ntlangwini asked if a time frame was set by when these vehicles will have to be purchased and delivered to the police stations that are really in need of proper vehicles to combat crime.

On overtime, she asked in which ranks was overtime payment outstanding? The constables who are daily on the road fighting crime, should be paid their overtime timeously, because they are already earning a very small salary and the overtime assists them. There are still a lot of police stations without rape kits. As the 16 days of activism commences what plans has the Department put in place to ensure that all police stations have these rape kits.

Ms Ntlangwini noted that the Deputy Minister should visit these police stations unannounced and check the status of cases compared to the reports received.  She expressed concern at the vacancy rate in Visible Policing. What are the plans to resolve the vacancy rate and fill positions, especially if they are not the critical positions where skills are not available in the country?

On PPE, the Committee will need a breakdown of its local suppliers and who the directors are. Why are there huge differences in the price of sanitisers for example? Treasury stated that most of the budgets were cut because monies were not spent. What then is the department measuring if it does not spend money allocated to it. It is a crime on its own if you are getting money and do not spend it for the purpose allocated.

On GBV, the Committee needs a full understanding of what programmes are in place to ensure that police officers are equipped to handle these cases. Most times, the police officers are playing counselling roles or are trying to mediate, which is not part of police training. What then is the role of the Department to ensure that police officers are effectively and continually trained to deal with GBV cases.

A proper register needs to be kept for firearms, so as to have a record of firearms carried by white mobs in Western Cape and Free State. There is a need for a register to show if the firearms are registered.

The Chairperson thanked the Deputy Minister, National Commissioner and the team for the presentation.

He observed on the carrying of guns that whites have more guns than blacks. He wondered why these guns are carried to marches, when it is the police that has the responsibility to manage protests. Blacks do not carry guns. It is more concerning that these guns represent some of the guns used to oppress the blacks during apartheid. Some level of sensitivity needs to be exercised, because certain actions can evoke a lot of emotions in some people, seeing the scenes of the 80s and 90s playing out in a democracy. He asked for the police opinion on the matter.

The Committee needs to see the value for money appropriated by Parliament through the Committee for the police. And the biggest test is to see crime declining.

The Chairperson noted from the report that there was a R3.7bn inflow to the Department, and with the budget cut in 2020/21, what is the net impact of this on the resources of the Department. Secondly, how much underspending will the Department have this year before the second adjustment is done. What is the trend of underspending in previous years? What were the reasons for the underspending and what was its impact on the primary responsibility of the police and its impact on service delivery? What strategy is the department putting in place to ensure that there is no underspending this year? With these adjustments, will there still be areas of underspending? If yes, in which areas? And what will the Department do with the funds?

From where are the big procurement items bought and how much of these items are bought from South Africa, how many are bought from companies owned by Blacks, women or young persons? The Chairperson explained that when money is appropriated, there are legal aspects to consider such as the empowerment of people through procurement, which was previously restricted to the whites in the country. SAPS is one of those departments with a large budget that can be used to de-racialise the economy and provide economic reconciliation. The Committee would also want to know where the Department buys its hardware? Is it produced in the country or imported and from which country? Where do you purchase your guns and your tools of trade?

The Chairperson commented on the PRASA infrastructure that was vandalised during lockdown with billions lost. How is SAPS leadership dealing with this? How is it possible for people to go into a station to commit this crime, when there are likely police stations around that crime area. Where was the police when this was happening and have arrests been made?

The Chairperson asked the Commissioner to explain why people from the rural areas were no longer considered for recruitment? In the past, the police used to recruit young people in the rural areas, but it is no longer happening. What is the its recruitment strategy as there has been no police recruitment there?

What was the role of the police in the Bushiri incident and what is the update on the saga? The Committee has had to answer questions from citizens on how a person like that was allowed to flee the country.

The Chairperson asked the conditions under which a person would be subjected to leg irons. This act evokes a lot of emotions. Does it make sense for someone who presents himself to the police to be put in leg irons? Is there a policy on this?

Deputy Minister Mathale thanked the Committee for the opportunity to interact with them. The National Commissioner and his team will respond, after which he will respond.

National Commissioner Khehla Sitole explained the SAPS recruitment strategy has been revised, with new directives from the Minister. The recruitment strategy extends to all areas including the rural areas in the country. A rural safety strategy has been initiated, which included the development of rural policing infrastructure and the resourcing of the rural safety strategy. This includes, among others, the recruitment of rural based reservists, as well as the recruitment of rural based police at that level. The traditional policing concept was also introduced, which includes the introduction of the rural reservist police service. The rural reserve police service is also linked to the national reserve personnel plan. Presently, reservists are being recruited and prepared, and future recruitment is done from these reserves.

On the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) infrastructure, the matter is being treated as high priority, as a matter of national sabotage. An unconventional policing approach has been lined up to respond to this crime, which is an organised plan, with a lot of networks. There is also an integrated plan between SAPS and PRASA, which has been endorsed by both Ministers, and they are working together to normalise the situation.

On equipping the police about domestic violence, immediately after the departmental strategy on GBV, it was resolved that HRD would immediately provide a training and development for the police, to enable them to respond adequately to gender-based violence. The inspectorate division has also been deployed to regularly monitor police stations and gather information, and feed the training and development strategy, so that the training is regularly improved to provide the necessary response.

On rape kits, a contract management strategy has been introduced in the supply chain, and all the contracts have been unlocked so as to make the rape kits available. Further to the suggestion of the Committee, the Department will also endeavour to conduct unannounced visits. The inspectorate division will be tasked to review the number of supplies stated in the Department's records, with what is available at the stations.

On the total implications of the budget cut, in 2009/10 when the population was at 48m, SAPS establishment was at 199,000, and investment and visibility was extremely high, as a result of availability of numbers. With the population increase to 58m, the strength of SAPS has gone down to about 186 000. The numbers need to increase. The special development stretch has gone far ahead of the policing capability. There are various geographic areas where the police are not present, developments are taking place such as the establishment of more malls which criminals would exploit. An example is the migration of modus operandi from the urban to the rural areas.  Criminals now occupy the big farms through rentals or buy them, and this means resources need to be shifted so that the response can be provided. The special development has therefore created a high demand on SAPS to provide an infrastructure response to service delivery access, and therefore more police stations are needed to close the gap.

There has been tremendous increase in number of cases and more investigators are needed to investigate the cases effectively. The policing method that should be applied normally is the basic policing method, which is the 24 hour sustainable policing method. However, because SAPS has been outnumbered by the special development stretch and growth, SAPS is forced to adopt the operational policing method, which is two times more expensive than the basic policy.

The main objective of policing is to create a conductive climate for economic growth and for investors to come into the country to invest. This can only be achieved through visibility investment and effective policing. Therefore, if SAPS does not invest in policing, the economy will not be as viable as expected. Police economics has therefore been introduced, which is the study of the economics of policing. This involves linking and striking a balance between fighting of crime, with the economy and social stability.

The National Commissioner replied that there is no such national directive on SAPS handling of GBV cases. However, any such practice [of sending GBV victims away] by a SAPS member is a serious misconduct and a dismissible offence. If there is any of such incident, action will be taken. A follow up will be done on this information and the inspectorate will be informed. GBV cases are treated according to existing Instructions. A number of SAPS members have been charged for sending GBV victims away, and GBV is still treated as a serious issue. The current GBV strategy is linked to the community policing strategy, where SAPS is working together with civil society to provide this particular response. With Department of Justice, there is an integrated plan with NPA, and SAPS is working on an integrated plan with both Correctional Services and Justice. This process is escalated so that the whole criminal justice value chain provides a response to GBV.

The CPF impact reports can be provided, but the strategy pronounced by the President is currently under full implementation.

On repeat GBV offenders, an instruction has been given to Crime Detection to compile a repeat offenders profile of the country, which must be linked to bail conditions, so that a database can be developed and repeat offenders can be monitored.

For the crime prevention programme to be minimally affected by the budget cut, a reservist personnel plan is in place. In this plan, SAPS has, together with Tourism, started working on the introduction of the tourism reserve police service. With the traditional leaders, the rural reserve police service will be introduced. The reserves personnel plan is intended to provide a response on sustained visibility. Within rural safety, SAPS also want to introduce the agricultural friendly reserves. SAPS has also introduced the resource management integrated strategy, where resources are being migrated from the macro function of the organisation to production level. This is to ensure that the cut does not affect the production level. SAPS has had several engagements with Treasury, and has tried to make them understand that if there is no investment in policing, then all other processes are not likely to be sustained, including economic growth. Treasury said there was no money. SAPS is also calling on the support of Parliament to understand the fact that if there is investment in security, then all other programs are likely to have a foundation. SAPS is therefore aiming at building a solid security foundation.

Lt Gen Francinah Vuma, Deputy National Commissioner, Asset and Legal Management, said that a report will be provided on the names of companies from which PPE was purchased. She explained that when the President announced the lockdown regulations, the PPE supply was limited and scarce in the market. They were sold at different and unreasonable prices at the time. However, because SAPS members were at the forefront and regarded as the frontline and had to enforce lockdown regulations, they needed the PPE. The purchase was made following Treasury guidelines despite the price disparities, however, as soon as the situation calmed down, an analysis of all purchases was made, and the companies whose prices were escalated were identified. A report was made to the companies through the Competition Commission. The Auditor General commended SAPS for doing that. Investigations are ongoing with the Competition Commission and a report will be submitted to the Committee.

On purchase of big procurement and tools of trade, such as guns and uniforms, a detailed written report will be compiled and submitted to the Committee as soon as possible. The budget cut has had an effect on SAPS HR priorities. Consequently, a number of HR priorities have been put on hold pending the receipt of the letter of allocation from National Treasury.

Lt Gen Dimpane, SAPS CFO, replied about the net movement of adjustments. Initially SAPS was allocated R101bn with the special adjustment, the allocation became R105bn, the increase was essentially as a result of the R3.7bn allocated to deal with COVID-19 response. With the second adjustment, the allocation is now at R99.9bn. On underspending, as indicated, in the operational budget there is expenditure currently unfolding and confirmation has been received from service providers especially about the vehicles, and SAPS will ensure that 100% is spent. However, the existing challenges for infrastructure expenditure cannot be discountenanced, especially when SAPS is dependent on third party arrangements with Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI). There are continued engagements by the SAPS Divisional Commissioner for Supply Chain with DPWI to resolve these challenges. SAPS follows up on invoices on a bi-weekly basis and will hold meetings with DPWI to ensure that the budget allocation for the infrastructure environment is utilised fully. COVID-19 funding has been allocated by National Treasury but due to the unforeseen nature of the allocation, there may be some money still left by 31 March 2021. The money cannot be used for any other purpose. During the budget adjustment, SAPS did not record any savings.

On the question of 30-day payment of service providers, compliance is 99.7% on settling with service providers on a bi weekly basis, and SAPS processes about five million invoices annually. Where invoices are not paid, it is addressed as a matter of urgency. It is a non-negotiable matter with all officials, and it is monitored weekly to ensure payments are settled, especially to small businesses.  There is adequate funding that has been provided to ensure that festive season operations are adequately resourced and specialised operations are adequately funded. The allocation for repairs and maintenance of vehicles is always preserved, to ensure that fleet and vehicles are maintained in time and available at police stations.

GBV is a priority and there is sufficient allocation made for prevention for all vulnerable groups. There is a multi-disciplinary project on GBV which has been funded. On over time, level one to twelve is paid overtime, and payment is processed on a monthly basis. Activities on overtime have also been decentralised to provincial levels.

The R2.7bn that was cut from Programme 2: Visible Policing is in relation to salary adjustment. There are HR priorities such as recruitment of constables that always rely on this programme, and it would be impacted to a certain extent. Recruitment steps are being taken but there are challenges with the budget cut. Programme 2 is one of the biggest programmes and the salary adjustment will be likely more in this programme.

On measures put in place to ensure SAPS functions with the limited resources, cost containment measures and policies are in place, which deal with wastage, wasteful expenditure. Systems have also been put in place with a focus on irregular expenditure, and we ensure that there is economic and efficient utilisation of all resources. However, SAPS awaits the final Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation from National Treasury.

Maj Gen Johan Nelson, Division: Finance and Administration Services, replied that no savings were declared or surrendered during any of the two adjustment budget stages. For the local government election planning process, once the allocation for the MTEF is received, sufficient provision will be made for SAPS to spend within the budget on local and general elections.

Lt Gen Sindile Mfazi, Deputy National Commissioner, Crime Detection, replied that GBV is a critical issue. On the cut to the specialised programmes, one critical issue that might impact the budget cut is GBV. SAPS has made commitments, and engaged in programmes directed by the Office of the President. One of the critical issues being considered is the reconfiguration of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units in SAPS and redefining the mandate. Several GBV-related murders are not being investigated by the FCS Unit. The FCS ends up focusing on rape while the actual murder of a victim does not get special attention. There is an element of reconfiguration that is needed for the unit. Also, pornography has overwhelmed the environment of the fourth industrial revolution, and steps are being taken to address this. Specialised skills are needed which should be retained in the police and enhanced to improve the ability to respond.

Other specialised skills that may be affected include SAPS response to taxi violence and organised crime. The process is ongoing to establish these specialised units. With the establishment of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), SAPS did not have enough capacity for these required skills. The police are also being empowered to respond to these crimes. The Gang Unit was recently established, but the budget cut might impact on the actions being taken to commence the programme. This may need some kind of prioritisation and should be expanded specifically in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and KZN. Extortion has also affected the whole country and negatively impacted the economy. Based on available intelligence, it has been established that most of the people involved in extortions are gang affiliated. This kind of police skill needs to be retained.

In response to repeat offenders, Lt Gen Mfazi spoke of the establishment of the court case unit, which is directly handled by the Office of the National Commissioner. To ensure effectiveness, police stations need to be enabled to respond to repeat offenders. There is a need for a collection capacity and an analysis capacity so the stations can have the ability to develop “station intelligence profiles” of individuals that are active in specific crimes within those stations.

Special units have been set up to investigate the PRASA matter. Currently, SAPS is interacting with the PRASA Chief of Security in responding to specific cases. People within the PRASA environment have been arrested, particularly individuals in management who have been interacting with the criminals to facilitate the vandalising of PRASA properties.

Lt Gen Ntshiea replied that the recruitment strategy has been revised as directed by the Minister of Police. Some issues addressed by the recruitment strategy include marketing SAPS as the employer of choice, improving the quality of people recruited into the police, and addressing allegations of corruption and nepotism in the recruitment process, introduction of e-recruitment, and strengthening communication with potential applicants. The last recruitment process included advertisement in local newspapers, visit to local areas and communication with various communities on the vacancies. In excess of 500 000 applications were received during the recruitment process.

There are a number of vacancies in the police and figures can be made available. The National Commissioner just approved the recruitment of 2490 qualified reserves, who have been appointed to start their training from 1 December 2020. They would be going to the college and all of them are going to be deployed at police stations, to ensure that the services in the police stations are not affected. Last year, 7000 posts were allocated to replace those people lost through natural attrition. They were to resume at the college in April this year, but due to  COVID-19 and the lockdown, the project was suspended. The 7000 cannot be sent to the Academy as it can only accommodate 2490 while observing required social distancing.

The reduction of the compensation budget is definitely affecting the filling of the vacancies, but as indicated by the National Commissioner, SAPS is making use of the little resources it has and is attempting to migrate resources from Head Office and from Provinces, to fill some of the vacancies in police stations, so that they can effectively respond to crime at the local level.

Lt Gen Fannie Masemola, Divisional Commissioner: Policing, replied that the lost and stolen firearms were from members of the public. The target was not met, but there will be an improvement in this. During COVID-19, focus was on the policing of the Disaster Management Act, and a lot of firearms would not have been on the roads because the police were on the roads across the country during that period. SAPS performance on new firearm applications and re-licencing of firearms was affected during the COVID 19 lockdown as the personnel had to be divided into two, so they were not operating at full scale.

On the coercion of the police over members of the public, specifically in Kimberley, SAPS cooperates with all community stakeholders that are ready to work with it. The issue was that of cooperation between the other stakeholders with the CPF. On the Brackenfell incident, the matter will be will investigated. The investigation will include the carrying of firearms during marches, which is not allowed under the law. On PRASA, there has been 409 arrests and a lot of confiscation done. The operation is still ongoing. On the prescription of leg irons, it is only applied when people fight arrest or are a flight risk. There was another time when the judge in court ordered the police to leg iron the person, and the police had to comply.

Deputy Minister Mathale thanked the SAPS team for their responses. He noted that the Divisional Commissioner for Supply Chain was experiencing connectivity problems, and that the written responses on supply chain would be compiled and forwarded to the Committee.

The Deputy Minister said that follow ups are still being made on what really transpired with the killing of the police officers, but anyone who was involved will face the law. He agreed with Ms Peters on the importance of collaborating and working with communities in the fight against crime. On how people were treated in Brackenfell, there should not be different treatment from the police on grounds of being white or black. Investigations will be conducted to establish this act by any member of the force, and appropriate action will be taken. Impartiality should guide the South African police in doing their work.

On recruitment, the Deputy Minister confirmed that the South African police extends its recruitment process to people in the rural areas. The process is very transparent, and an appeal committee has also been set up, so that those who feel aggrieved about the recruitment process can appeal. At the convenience of the Committee, the Department will be willing to provide details on the recruitment process. The National Commissioner will make available a directory for the Committee which will contain all necessary SAPS contacts in case contact needs to be made with anyone.

The Deputy Minister expressed appreciation for the opportunity to interact and account for the utilisation of money allocated.

The Chairperson mentioned that there was a question on the historical underspending of the Department and the areas of underspending in the previous years.  

The CFO replied that historical underspending has been in the area of the Criminal Justice System allocation (CJS) which is earmarked. The Department has experienced challenges with that funding, as well as spending on infrastructure or facility projects. As indicated, there are third party arrangements with the Department of Public Works (DPW) that executes the facility projects. On average, underspending for CJS last year was R754m. In the previous year over a billion was declared as savings. On infrastructure, it was about 2 to 3 million.

Closing remarks
The Chairperson thanked everyone for the fruitful interaction. At the next meeting, the Committee would like to receive a briefing on crime intelligence, especially with criminality migrating to the farms. Crime is a major determinant for investment and in the ability to grow the economy. SAPS therefore should be part of economic discussions. The Committee would also like to know SAPS ability for crowd control in view of the upcoming local elections next year. He asked the Deputy Minister to address commercial crime and what the police service is doing about this in the next meeting. On 15 October, the President presented the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan to get the economy back onto a growth trajectory. It is evident that all departments – everyone – has the responsibility to grow the economy. Everything imported is a negative contribution to economic growth, and it constitutes an export of jobs and opportunities that should be for the children in South Africa.

Parliament is very sympathetic of the conditions under which the police operate, putting their lives at risk to ensure that everyone is safe. These sacrifices are not taken for granted. The Chairperson joined his voice with other South Africans who have condemned the senseless killing of police officers. Those perpetrators must be given the harshest punishment, as that act borders on treason. The Chairperson asked what interactions and safety measures have been initiated by the police service for the widows and widowers of the officers killed in the line of duty.

The Chairperson in conclusion challenged the Deputy Minister, National Commissioner and the entire SAPS team to endeavour to communicate the good work of the Police to keep South Africa safe, and not just when there are problems. As the Committee does its oversight, it may visit some of the locations.

Maj Gen Japie Riet, SAPS Acting Divisional Commissioner: Supply Chain Management, apologised that he was unable to give a response due to a connectivity problem. A written response will be forwarded to the Committee.

Meeting was adjourned.

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