Four Minister/Deputy Ministers from the North West Intervention Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) were present for the progress reports on North West province investigations by the National Prosecuting Agency (NPA), the Hawks, the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID). The North West province was placed under administration in 2018 when the national government invoked section 100 of the Constitution due to the collapse of financial management in the provincial departments.
The NPA reported that there are currently 51 cases on the IMTT list at the NPA amounting to R2.37 billion. It stated that 13 currently before the court, nine under investigation, and 16 cases finalised leading to five convictions and one acquittal.
The Hawks stated that 51 matters reported by the NPA are also the matters that the Hawks investigate. The Minister of Police requested that the progress of the cases are safeguarded by providing minimum information on the contents of the investigations.
SIU is investigating 44 cases on allegations received of criminal conduct in the North West Provincial Departments. For two cases, the SIU submitted a motivation for proclamation to the Department of Justice and is awaiting a letter of support from the North West Premier. For five cases, the proclamations are signed and issued by the President. Three matters covered by the current proclamations are under investigation. Three cases are under investigation by the Hawks. Two matters have been referred to other agencies, and 29 matters have been closed after documentation was received where no evidence was found to support the allegations.
IPID reported that it takes in an aggregate of 300 to 400 cases a year in the North West, with an intake of 321 cases for 2019/20. It reported that the main challenges faced by IPID in fulfilling its mandate include a lack of human and financial resources, a workload that continues to increase, a lack of cooperation by the South African Police Service (SAPS) about the implementation of its recommendations, lack of accessibility due to limited office space, dependency on laboratories and technical experts, and COVID-19 causing the alternating of staff and quarantine of employees.
Members expressed disappointment about the relevance of the briefings by the law enforcement agencies. The Committee was concerned about the progress of the investigations relevant to the S100 Intervention as it had to determine if the intervention has been successful. The focus should have been on a breakdown of cases and investigations for each Provincial Department placed under administration. The picture painted by the agencies is that no irregularities, corruption or misconduct were found in any of the Provincial Departments. The four agencies must indicate what must be done to fast-track investigation and prosecution that are significantly delayed.
The Committee will formulate a proper approach for the expected briefings and follow-up meetings with the law enforcement agencies will be scheduled.
Opening remarks by Chairperson
In a virtual meeting, the Chairperson welcomed General Bheki Cele (Minister of Police), Mr Cassel Mathale (Deputy Minister of Police), Mr Obed Bapela (Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs), Mr Senzo Mchunu (Minister of Public Services and Administration), and Dr Joseph Phaahla (Deputy Minister of Health) and the NPA, Hawks, SIU, and IPID delegations.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee has put in hard work on improving its understanding of the situation in the North West province. This meeting has the goal of engaging in a coordinated and clustered way with the state entities involved to enhance Members’ understanding of the work being done. The North West was placed under administration in 2018 where the national government invoked section 100 of the Constitution. This demonstrated that there was a crisis in the North West province, and the engagements of this Committee has shown that it was tied to the collapse of the financial management systems in the province. The province’s audit results had been deteriorating for four consecutive years with continued findings of non-compliance and the lack of implementing audit recommendations. Another significant concern was high levels of irregular, unauthorised, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. These problems were exacerbated by the lack of compliance in supply chain management processes, allegations of fraud and corruption, and a mismanagement of funds allocated to the North West.
The law enforcement agencies have an obligation to ensure that all allegations of criminality are investigated and reported. The people of the North West have the right to understand why their government has been mismanaged and what the national government is doing to rectify the problem. It is paramount that the law enforcement agencies are allowed operate without any fear, favour, or prejudice to fulfil their mandate in a way that inspires the confidence of the public. This will only be achieved if law enforcement agencies exhibit an unflinching commitment to solve the problems and rid the province of its scourge of crime within the government. The Committee’s engagement today is paramount for it to identify the work that must be done.
Opening remarks by Ministers
General Bheki Cele, Minister of Police, stated that the duty of the ministerial delegation is to listen to the information presented by these four entities that are doing the work on the ground.
Dr Joseph Phaahla, Deputy Minister of Health, agreed with General Cele that the ministerial delegation was there to listen to the challenges and recommendations made about the situation in the North West.
Mr Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, thanked the Committee for the opportunity granted to the IMTT to be part of the meeting and provide input.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, stated that the various Ministers and Deputy Ministers in attendance were representatives of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) appointed for the S100 Intervention in the North West. He appreciated the opportunity for the IMTT to engage with the briefings and to make input. It was good to see all entities involved with the North West were represented at the meeting.
NPA briefing on S100 Intervention (North West)
Adv Shamila Batohi, National Director of Public Prosecutions, stated that the work of Parliament is exceptionally important in providing support and oversight to the NPA about the S100 Intervention in the North West. The work of the NPA is an integral part of South Africa’s criminal justice system and provided collaboration about the North West situation. The North West province was placed under administration in terms of Section 100 of the Constitution which indicates the extent of the problems and challenges faced in the province.
Adv Rodney de Kock, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions, introduced Adv Ouma Rabaji-Rasethaba, Deputy National Director of Public Prosecutions for the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), and Adv Lebogang Dineo Baloyi, Special Director of Public Prosecutions for the Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU).
Adv de Kock stated that the first part of the NPA strategic approach involved getting a deeper understanding of what the challenges were in its management of the matters relating to the S100 Intervention in the North West. It was discovered that the NPA was not adequately resourced, but this was resolved by extending the capacity of the NPA within the province. The NPA decided to appoint staff members based on contracts, and five employees were appointed in this manner. Seven additional permanent staff members were employed after the NPA went on a recruitment drive to urgently fill the vacancies in key positions.
The NPA has received positive feedback that the working relationships between prosecutors and investigating officers have improved greatly over the last few months. This has resulted in the work done in the province finally starting to bear fruit by bringing cases to the courts. The quality of the work done by the NPA will be evaluated by the cases brought to court and the outcomes of those cases to effect consequence management in the province.
Court cases ongoing for the S100 Intervention in the North West:
Adv Lebogang Dineo Baloyi, Special Director of Public Prosecutions for the SCCU, reported that there are currently 51 cases on the IMTT’s list at the NPA amounting to R2.37bn. Of these matters, 13 are currently subject to court proceedings, nine are under investigation, and 16 cases have been finalised which led to five convictions and one acquittal.
On AFU matters, the details of matters and progress made would not be disclosed due to their sensitivity and to prevent possible dissipation of assets. A preservation order of R80 million was obtained in one matter, subject to a pending forfeiture application in the Mmabatho High Court. A R454 000 confiscation order was granted by the Vryburg Magistrate’s Court. An additional recovery is being considered to the value of R200 million.
There are three matters awaiting the prosecutor’s decisions which will determine possible criminal forfeiture recoveries. Three matters are awaiting forensic audit reports, which will determine if proceedings for criminal and civil forfeiture recoveries are instituted against those responsible. Currently, 16 cases are in court of which two cases were enrolled during October 2020 and another in November 2020. In one case, relating to Rustenburg, one accused has already been convicted and sentenced. A breakdown of the 16 cases currently in court was provided (see document)
The NPA has employed five Senior State Advocates on a contractual basis within the SCCU, and seven permanent staff members. It has motivated to fill seven additional positions. The NPA is engaging with the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the judiciary, and Legal Aid South Africa for the establishment of a dedicated Commercial Crimes Court.
Hawks briefing on North West Section 100 Intervention
Dr Seswantsho Godfrey Lebeya, Head: Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI), stated that all cases the NPA dealt with are coming from the DPCI. The matters reported by the NPA are also the matters the Hawks are investigating amounting to R2.37bn. There are indeed 16 matters currently in court. DPCI secures the attendance of the accused persons in the court during these legal proceedings. DPCI has secured the attendance of 25 accused persons thus far. Only the matters already scheduled to be heard before the court were included. Other matters under investigation could not be divulged during the meeting as it was on a public platform.
The Chairperson stated that the usefulness of the Hawks’ briefing is unclear. The investigations that it cannot divulge details of are already in the public domain, especially its search-and-seizure operations. He expressed dissatisfaction especially since the Hawks provided the case numbers and details of the investigations to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts two weeks ago. It is paramount that the Committee be provided with these details to be able to fulfil its mandate.
Dr Lebeya responded that the Committee should not be impatient in these matters. There is no problem with disclosing the case numbers but there are concerns when disclosing the details of the companies under investigation by the Hawks at the present time.
The Chairperson said that the Committee merely wants to know the case numbers and where and when the cases were opened. The purpose of the Committee’s engagement with the Hawks is to understand why there are significant delays in its investigations for the North West S100 intervention. He asked if the Hawks could present later in the meeting and provide the required case numbers and information as agreed upon.
General Cele reminded the Chairperson that the meeting is being live-streamed. He requested case information is safeguarded by granting minimum information on the Hawks investigations.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee get the minimum information. The Hawks must brief the Committee on when the cases were opened for the Committee to engage on the reasons for delays in its investigations. The Committee would revert back to the Hawks later in the meeting to get information on the timeframes of its investigations.
SIU briefing on North West Section 100 Intervention
Mr Leonard Lekgetho, SIU Chief National Investigations Officer, provide the Committee with the progress of the 44 cases for criminal conduct in the North West Provincial Departments, the amount of money recovered from duplicated invoices and monies lost from the state through corruption and maladministration, and how many officials have been charged or subjected to consequence management.
SIU legislative mandate and outcomes:
The major function of the SIU is to investigate corruption, malpractice, and maladministration, and institute the necessary civil proceedings against those involved in criminal activities. The SIU can arrest and prosecute offenders, implement disciplinary action, and the entity works closely with other relevant agencies to ensure that consequence management is effected against wrongdoers.
The SIU institutes civil proceedings where there is the potential to recover assets, and applications are made for preservation orders at an early stage of an investigation where there is prima facie evidence to support it. In addition, the SIU makes disciplinary action referrals to state institutions, prosecution referrals to the NPA, and referrals to other regulatory agencies such as the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Breakdown of allegations received:
SIU is currently investigating 44 cases on allegations received of criminal conduct in the North West Provincial Departments. For two cases, the SIU submitted a motivation for proclamation to the Department of Justice and is awaiting a letter of support from the North West Premier. For five cases, the proclamations are signed and issued by the President. Three matters covered by the current proclamations are under investigation. Three cases are under investigation by the Hawks. Two matters have been referred to other agencies, and 29 matters have been closed after documentation was received where after analysis no evidence was found to support the allegations.
Allegations about procurement irregularities for the Moretele and Madibeng Local Municipalities were detailed.
Provincial Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport: Allegations were received on procurement for goods, works or services and payments made. In this case, five disciplinary referrals were made and the outcome is pending, 11 criminal referrals were made to the NPA where a decision is still pending. The value of the potential cash and assets to be recovered amount to R24.27 million. The matter has been referred to the Special Tribunal, and the SIU investigation is still ongoing.
North West Development Corporation (NWDC): Allegations were received on procurement for goods, works or services and payments made. Additional allegations of maladministration in the affairs of NWDC and losses or prejudice suffered for NWDC subsidiaries, Christiana Hotel and Game Farm or Tokiso Security Services SOC Ltd. In this case, the contract will be set aside.The matter has been referred to the Special Tribunal, and the SIU investigation is still ongoing.
North West Department of Health: SIU received allegations on procurement of medical and patient transport services. The outcome of this case involved freezing the Head of the Department’s pension to the value of R2.13 million for which the SIU court application was granted. The value of the potential cash and assets to be recovered amount to R30 million. The matter has been referred to the Special Tribunal, and the SIU investigation is still ongoing.
SIU received allegations about the procurement of goods, works, and services for the COVID-19 pandemic. Investigations are ongoing and scheduled to be finalised by the end of March 2021.
IPID briefing on North West Section 100 Intervention
Ms Matthews Sesoko, IPID National Head of Investigation, said IPID takes in an aggregate of 300 to 400 cases a year in the North West, with an intake of 321 cases for the 2019/20. The pattern of intake for rape cases reflected the high prevalence of gender-based violence within the province. A peak in the 2015/16 corruption cases was caused by cases received from the Presidential Hotline and ICD Anti-Corruption Command Unit, most of which were reported by anonymous complainants and did not have enough information to provide leads. The rate of case completion for matters investigated was consistently good through the five-year period, except for 2017/18 where significant budget constraints impacted service delivery.
Criminal referrals and disciplinary recommendations:
In 2019/20 the outcome of the IPID criminal referrals were 52 where prosecution was declined, four instances of prosecution, no instances where NPA requested more information, no matters withdrawn, and 126 matters awaiting a response from NPA.
It is clear that the number of referrals are not consistent with the number of convictions. The challenge identified is that the outcomes of the cases and the length of time for processing are entirely dependent on the NPA and the courts. Even after the NPA decision to prosecute, there are several court processes that must be executed. IPID has engaged with NPA about intervention in the time it takes to finalise and dispose of cases.
In 2019/20 the outcome of the IPID’s disciplinary recommendations were: one person found guilty, 15 matters where the outcome was not guilty, no matters withdrawn by the complainant, two employees resigned from service, 32 matters are awaiting a response, disciplinary investigations initiated in 22 matters, positive recommendations made in 113 matters, and no disciplinary steps were taken in six matters.
Criminal convictions and acquittals for the past five years were outlined as was a breakdown of the North West court roll (see document). IPID reported that there has been a consistent growth in the number of cases on the court roll through the five-year period. It is unfortunate that the workload growth was not experiencing the same growth for the constrained human and financial resources. On average, it takes more than a year for a case after investigation to be scheduled on the court roll, and then three additional years for cases to finalised. The categories of crime with the most cases on the court roll include assaults, murders, rapes, and attempted murders. IPID has only one resourced office in the whole North West province which has a huge impact on the delivery of services. The North West province is vast and requires long distance travel by investigators.
Challenges faced by IPID
The main challenges faced by IPID include a lack of human and financial resources, a workload that continues to increase, a lack of cooperation by the South African Police Service (SAPS) about the implementation of its recommendations, lack of accessibility due to limited office space, dependency on laboratories and technical experts, and COVID-19 causing the alternating of staff and quarantine of employees.
Hawks on North West S100 Intervention (continued)
The Chairperson asked the Hawks to provide the required case numbers and information as agreed upon earlier in the meeting.
Dr Lebeya stated that the first case under investigation by the Hawks was reported in January 2016 and the matter has been submitted to the NPA for decision-making. The next case was reported in January 2017 about a local municipality where only one statement is outstanding, and once it is received, the matter would be submitted to the NPA for decision-making. This matter was previously handled by the National Office but has since been sent to the North West Provincial Head where there has been accelerated efforts to speed up the work.
Adv Batohi interrupted the statement by Dr Lebeya and cautioned against the release of the case numbers for the matters he was referring to. There is widespread corruption within the North West province and even within the entities present at the meeting, and to safeguard the investigations the case numbers should not be broadcast in a meeting that is streamed on public platforms.
Mr K Mmoiemang (ANC, Northern Cape) said that there is a fear that disclosure of too much detail presented to the Committee will jeopardise the investigations and successful prosecution.
The Chairperson agreed with Adv Batohi and requested Dr Lebeya to mention only the year the matters were reported to give the Committee a general estimate of time spent on these matters.
Dr Lebeya continued that the third matter was reported in July 2020 relating the Office of the Premier. The fourth matter was reported in 2017, for which four statements are still outstanding. The fifth matter was reported in February 2013 and one statement is currently outstanding as well as a report from National Treasury. The determination of the correct tariffs that lawyers are supposed to charge is what has been delaying that particular matter. The sixth matter was reported in August 2016, and this matter was also previously handled by the National Office but has since been sent to the Provincial Head in the North West. Six statements and a report from National Treasury are still outstanding. The seventh matter was reported in March 2018, and this matter requires additional time due to the need to audit a phone call from a call centre. The last two matters were reported in May 2020.
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) said that the briefings to the Committee were interesting, but that it did not really inform Members adequately on the situation in the North West province. The public is frustrated with officials getting away with serious crimes such as murder, corruption and theft. These issues are not being acted upon quickly enough. Implicated officials are spending a long time on suspension drawing their salaries while they are being investigated as years and years pass before there is finality in the cases. He expressed disappointment at the progress of the investigations in the midst of a S100 Intervention that is supposed to hold people accountable. This goal of accountability is not being reached at all.
Mr S du Toit (FF+, North West) asked if any political interference was experienced during the investigations. He agreed with Adv Batohi that the case numbers should not have been shared, and that it is evident that some of the matters were compromised. The purpose of the Committee is to determine if the North West S100 Intervention was successful, but the briefings did not speak to the various Provincial Departments placed under administration and needing to be investigated. It is evident that the Office of the North West Premier was the centre point of all the contraventions. Members needed more information on cases being investigated and the pending arrests of implicated officials. There is no certainty that the matters presented at this briefing are relevant to the problems of the North West that led to the invocation of Section 100 of the Constitution. For example, the rates of rape in the province is a profoundly serious problem in itself, but it does not speak to the mandate of this Committee.
Ms C Visser (DA, North West) agreed that the briefings missed the purpose of the meeting and did not serve the mandate of the Committee. While the briefings did give Members a somewhat comprehensive overview of the investigations in the North West province, it was lacking in relevance to the Section 100 Intervention. The Committee required an update on what has been going on with the Provincial Administration and its wrongdoers rather than the work of the municipalities. Details were required on what consequence management has been effected on administrators who misuse the allocated North West funds within its various departments.
Ms Z Ncitha (ANC, Eastern Cape) appreciated the briefings made by NPA, SIU, Hawks and IPID. On the 44 cases SIU reported, she asked for clarity on the delays in getting the signature of the North West Premier to continue with the relevant matters. Why has the SIU not yet obtained the Premier’s signature? She asked how long it will take the Hawks to finalise the old matters as far back as 2010 that have been reported. It cannot be an optional situation where statements or reports are requested from National Treasury without the necessary follow-up to ensure matters are not unnecessarily delayed. This is unacceptable.
Mr X Ngwezi (IFP, KwaZulu-Natal) asked the four agencies to indicate what must be done to have their investigations fast-tracked. It is clear that investigation and prosecution are significantly delayed. Are there recommendations that can be implemented to ensure the matters are finalised and dealt with timeously? He agreed that the focus of the briefings should have been on the wrongdoers within the North West Provincial Administration and not on the municipalities which are doing their job. The majority of the damage and wrongdoing in the province stems from the Provincial Government, and this is what must be prioritised.
Mr I Sileku (DA, Western Cape) agreed with Members that the briefings lacked clarity and details. There was no clear relevance to the North West S100 Intervention and the mandate of the Inter-Ministerial Task Team. The focus should have been on breaking down the cases and investigations for each Provincial Department placed under administration in terms of Section 100(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution. While the Committee welcomed the investigations into the municipalities and the consequence management effected for those involved, the briefings was lacking in details on the investigations in the North West Provincial Departments. The Committee expected a detailed breakdown of the Provincial Departments and the investigations to address the findings of the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) in reference to the high levels of irregular and unauthorised expenditure in the North West. One of the main reasons for invoking the S100 Intervention was a result of severe allegations of irregularities in the Office of the Premier, which none of the briefings comprehensively addressed. There was no mention of the reasons for the high levels of fruitless and wasteful expenditure. The briefings were lacking in relevance. The picture painted by the agencies in this meeting is that no irregularities, corruption or misconduct were found in any of the Provincial Departments. This picture is not an accurate representation of the situation in the North West province.
Mr Mmoiemang appreciated the briefings made by the agencies. It is paramount that the independence of the law enforcement agencies is respected and upheld. These agencies must break down the R2.3bn of investigations relevant to Committee mandate and make a distinction between matters before and during the North West S100 Intervention. Investigations that are not relevant to the S100 Intervention are not within the scope of the Committee mandate.
Mr S Zandamela (EFF, Mpumalanga) agreed that it is important the Committee be given the information on the investigations relevant to the S100 Intervention for Members to fulfil their oversight duties and role as Members of Parliament.
Ms D Mahlangu (ANC, Mpumalanga) requested that the Chairperson convene a discussion on the mandate of the Committee, so when the stakeholders and entities are invited they are clear what is expected of the briefing. She agreed that the Committee required an update on what has been going on with the Provincial Administration and its wrongdoers rather than the municipalities. While it is important not to discourage the law enforcement agencies about the work already done, it is not enough to merely focus on the municipalities as the centre point of wrongdoing in the province.
The Chairperson appreciated the briefings made by the NPA, SIU, Hawks and IPID. He had a different viewpoint from Members who expressed dissatisfaction with the briefings. This meeting constituted the first engagement with the law enforcement agencies and the information received laid the foundation. While there is a long way to go to ensure the Committee receives the information it requires, this meeting is only the beginning of the process. The law enforcement agencies have a profoundly important role to play to ensure stability is restored in the North West. The Committee will have to engage more closely with each of the law enforcement agencies. However, the briefings do not inspire confidence in the people of the North West that the underlying causes for the S100 Intervention are being addressed and the wrongdoers held accountable.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, commented that the Ministry of Police is committed and willing to work with the Committee to ensure that Members are better informed. It is only through effective collaboration that the critical issues discussed in the meeting are addressed and to ensure that the Committee can fully fulfil its mandate and exercise its oversight role.
The Chairperson said that the Committee will meet on an urgent basis to formulate a proper approach for engaging with the briefings presented at this meeting to extract the necessary information to exercise its oversight function. Follow-up meetings with the law enforcement agencies will be scheduled.
Responses from NPA, Hawks, SIU and IPID
Adv Batohi stated that it is not the intention of the law enforcement agencies to waste the time of the Committee by presenting information that is not useful. It seems as if there was a communication challenge on what was expected from them. It would help if the law enforcement agencies had an exact understanding of what the Committee needs. The NPA was not targeting municipalities in particular in its briefing, but this was a mere consequence of its focus.
Dr Lebeya of The Hawks responded that the challenges with the older matters relating to 2010 was delayed because of lawyers charging more than they should have. The matters were complicated by the need to correct these tariffs. The Hawks noted the comments by Members and assured them that it will deal more quickly with matters that have outstanding reports.
Mr Lekgetho of the SIU agreed with Adv Batohi that it would be useful to get a clear breakdown of the information expected from the law enforcement agencies that the Committee requires.
The Chairperson said that the Committee will engage with the law enforcement agencies after its urgent meeting to formulate a proper approach for engaging with the briefings presented during this meeting. Follow-up meetings with each law enforcement agencies will be scheduled. The meeting was adjourned.
- SIU presentation
- NPA Combined presentation with IMTT NWD Intervention
- IPID presentation
- Key Focus Areas for the State Investigative Unit (SIU) Progress Report on Section 100 (1) (a) and (b) in the North West Province
- Key Focus Areas for the Hawks Progress Report on Section 100 (1) (a) and (b) in the North West Province
- Combined SCCU and DPCI Presentation
Dodovu, Mr TSC
Bapela, Mr KO
Carrim, Mr YI
Cele, Mr BH
Du Toit, Mr SF
Gillion, Ms M
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Mathale, Mr C
Mchunu, Mr ES
Nchabeleng, Mr ME
Ncitha, Ms ZV
Ngwezi, Mr X
Ryder, Mr D
Sileku, Mr IM
Visser, Ms C
Zandamela, Mr S
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