Western Cape Appropriation Bill: Vote 4: Community Safety

Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport (WCPP)

19 March 2021
Chairperson: Mr R Allen (DA)
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Meeting Summary

Video: Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs and Sport, 19 March 2021, 14:00

Western Cape Appropriation Bill
Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill (2020/21 Financial Year)

The Committee deliberated in a virtual meeting on Vote 4 of the Western Cape Third Adjustments Appropriation Bill for 2020/21 of the Department of Community Safety (DCS).

The DCS said its budget had been cut by 5.79%, from R784.4 million to R739 million -- a decrease of R45.4 million – because of a reduction in funding to the City of Cape Town for the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) programme. There was an increase in the Department’s transfers to district municipalities, to help with the implementation of their safety plans.

The DCS said the province was committed to halving the murder rate within the next ten years. The Western Cape Liquor Authority was integral, and the province would assist the entity in its law enforcement capabilities. It was on schedule with its realignment and repurposing regarding the safety plans. Some programmes had had to be reprioritised due to financial constraints. The Department said its budget reflected its new approach, focusing on service delivery.

The Western Cape Liquor Authority said its aim was to regulate effectively. Self-sustainability was high on the entity’s list. It had set aside funds to employ five junior liquor inspectors, to further align the entity with the province’s safety plan.

The Committee supported the Vote however the ANC and EFF expressed their minority view.

Meeting report

Opening remarks

Mr Albert Fritz, Western Cape Provincial Minister: Community Safety, said community safety required both a proactive and reactive approach, to ensure that citizens felt safe from criminal elements.

The DCS was hard at work implementing the Western Cape Law Enforcement Advancement Programme (LEAP). It also had a transversal implementation of interventions that focused on social cohesion and urban design.

He said it was important that the Department’s budget spoke to the objective to halve the murder rate over the next ten years. The budget allocation had decreased by R45.4 million, or 5.79%, from R784.4 million to R739 million. The decrease was due to the decrease in funding to the City of Cape Town (CoCT) for the LEAP programme. The next tranche of LEAP officers was on its way.

R28 million had been allocated to the Chrysallis Academy, and a further R5.5 million to neighbourhood watches. R20 million had been allocated to the Safety Ambassadors programme, with further R7.7 million to support municipalities’ K-9 Units. These units had been integral in stopping the importation of the drug ‘Whoonga’ into the Western Cape.

He said R25.9 million had been set aside to increase and promote police efficiency. There had been an increase to district municipalities to help with the implementation of their safety plans.

The province was committed to halving the murder rate in ten years’ time. The Western Cape Liquor Authority Board was integral, and the Department would assist the entity with its law enforcement capabilities.

Adv Yashina Pillay, Head of Department (HOD), Western Cape Department of Community Safety (DCS), said the Department was on track with its realigning and repurposing of the safety plans. Some programmes had had to be reprioritised due to financial constraints. The Department’s budget reflected the Department’s new way of work, which was focused on service delivery.

Adv Letitia Petersen, Acting Chief Executive Officer: Western Cape Liquor Authority, said the aim of the entity was to regulate effectively. Self-sustainability was high on the entity’s list. This would be achieved through a two-fold approach -- progressive fee increases in the medium-term framework, as well as a differentiated pricing model.

She said the entity had set aside funds to employ five junior liquor inspectors, to further align the entity with the province’s safety plan.

Discussion

The Chairperson tabled Vote 4 for deliberation.

Mr M Kama (ANC) wanted to know about policy development. Would the differentiated pricing model result in an increase in the licence renewal fee? Had there been any assessment of how the increases would affect the businesses concerned? Was it still the case that if an applicant did not reapply for a licence in time, they would have to apply from scratch?

Mr F Christians (ACDP) wanted to know about alcohol harm reduction. He said when fees were increased, outlets sold their liquor to illegal outlets in order to generate a profit. Was there a strategy on how to stop this practice?

Ms A Bans (ANC) wanted to know if the Department had conducted oversight visit to schools, since they could sell liquor?

Ms L Botha (DA) asked for an update on the Western Cape Liquor Authority’s current liquor inspectors. How were they spread throughout the province’s districts?

Mr G Bosman (DA) wanted to know how the budget related to their path towards self-sustainability. Was this reflected in the current appropriation?

The Chairperson wanted to know if there was ‘end date’ regarding the achievement of self-sustainability. He requested an update regarding the process of amending the Western Cape Liquor Act.

Minister Fritz said that part of the thinking at the Department was that there should be a differentiated pricing model in order to ensure there was a level playing field between big outlets and the smaller community-based outlets. He said the selling of alcohol at a school was usually linked to an event which required a special licence.

Regarding the path to self-sustainability, he said the last increase had been so minute that there was no way that the entity would become self-sufficient. He also said the Authority was in the process of appointing a new chief executive officer (CEO), and this should bring about some innovation.

Adv Pillay said the Department would be finalising the drafting instruction to legal services and undertaking a public participation process regarding the amendments to the Liquor Act. Some of the amendments tabled included the return of liquor on payment of an admission of guilt fine; offences related to minors; expansion of the Appeal Tribunal; providing for record-keeping of liquor sold; late renewal of licences; and amendment of calculations of penalties for late renewal.

Mr Simion George, Chief Director: Security Risk Management, DCS, said it had not abandoned all the other amendments. It was just that they required a longer process.

Mr Bosman wanted to know if a different process of amendment would be needed. Had the cost of this undertaking been considered?

Mr Kama wanted to know how the Liquor Authority was involved in ensuring that learners did not have access to alcohol during the events that required a special licence.

Ms Bans wanted to know if the application for the special licence was the same as that for a regular licence.

Mr George said the Department had had the White Paper since 2017, and very little movement had been achieved due to the complex nature of the provisions, and the Department’s ability to implement them all at the same time. All the questions being raised by the Members would be handled in the upcoming process.

Mr Bosman wanted to know about the tax receipts that used to accrue to the Department. He wanted confirmation that these were now going to the Provincial Revenue Fund.

Mr M Xego (EFF) wanted to know what role the Authority would play regarding the “alcohol harms” reduction programme.

Ms Botha asked to be refreshed about how liquor inspectors were spread throughout the provincial districts.

Mr Moegamat Frizlar, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), DCS, said the receipts were not recognised in the Department’s financial statements because the Department was seen as a conduit for the Provincial Revenue Fund within the Provincial Treasury, so the Member had been correct.

Adv Petersen said the Western Cape Liquor Authority currently had 11 liquor inspectors, who were spread throughout the province. She would be able to provide details of how they were spread out in the districts via a written response.

Regarding alcohol-related harm, she said the lockdown had shown there was a direct relationship between alcohol abuse and violent crime. Education and enforcement were key aspects of the entity’s strategy. Stopping sales to illegal outlets was part of the entity’s strategy, as part of the upstream prosecution.

Mr Bosman asked how the Department planned to deal with illegal outlets if it did not have the inspectorate capacity to enforce current regulations. He said the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) was no match for the alcohol industry which had billions to spend, as opposed to the small appropriation for the WCLA and the DCS.

Ms Botha requested that the written response include the number of licences that had been issued, compared to the number of dedicated liquor inspectors.

Regarding the applications for a special licence, Adv Petersen said the applicant would apply and a notice of application would be given to the South African Breweries and the municipality. The approval of the School Governing Body would be sought. The event would be outside of school hours and no sales of alcohol would be made to under-18s. An inspector and the SAPS would be present.

Mr Christians asked about the ten-year safety plan to halve the murder rate. Had progress been made in reducing the murder rate in the Western Cape, or not?

Mr Kama wanted to know about the upcoming tranche of LEAP officers. How was that coming along?

Adv Pillay said the next 500 LEAP officers would take up their positions by October 2021. There had been a delay due to the lockdown regulations. The CoCT had ensured that the process was under way. There was fluctuation in the murder rate. However, due to the lockdown, there had been a decrease in the murder rate which had coincided with the curfew and alcohol ban.

She said the Department had been working with the CoCT and the South African Police Service (SAPS) regarding the deployment of LEAP officers.

The Urban Design Technical Committee, as well as Social Cohesion Technical Committee, had been established in order to deal with the crime issue, and other issues that might arise. The Department was moving in the right direction.

Mr Christians wanted to know when the safety plan had been commenced, and whether the murder rate had been reduced.

Mr Kama asked if any requests had been made by the SAPS. How did the Department respond to these requests? How much was allocated to the Community Police Forums (CPFs) and neighbourhood watches? Were there any funds that were meant for CPFs that had been rolled over? How much was allocated to faith-based organisations? Did all the district municipalities have safety plans? Were all the municipalities receiving funds, or was this just for the stations that had a high murder rate? What were the risks that had been identified when it came to the safety plans?

He wanted to know how the Department would address the risks. How much had been budgeted for this? How did the DCS address the root cause for crime, and how much was budgeted for this?

Ms R Windvogel (ANC) asked about the area-based teams. How were they recruited, and how much was budgeted for them? She asked about the Youth Safety Ambassador Programme. How were they deployed? How much was budgeted for them? Would the Department consider the installation of CCTV cameras?

Mr Xego said the Department’s budget had decreased by R45.409 million. Had this amount been transferred to fund the LEAP plan? If that was the case, why was it viewed as a decrease? Which municipalities’ K-9 Units would continue to be funded by the Department? What informed the selection of municipalities?

Ms Bans wanted to know what technology was being explored to enhance safety. What were the plans to use technology in crime hotspots? What role had the Department been given to help lessen the impact of the third wave of COVID infections?

Mr Fritz said there had been a reduction of 5.9% in the Department’s budget for the last three quarters.

Adv Pillay said the Department would no longer be rendering support to the “Youth Safety in Religion” programme, as had been done previously. As part of repurposing and realigning the Department to a service delivery orientation, it had adopted the area-based approach. R12.5 million had been allocated to the approach. The area-based teams would be established in Nyanga, Bishop Lavis, Hanover Park, Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Gugulethu, Kraaifontein, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni, Harare, and Atlantis.

She said resources have been provided to ensure that the best evidence-based interventions were implemented. She added that 1 030 ambassadors would be paid and Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)-equivalent stipend. Lockdown regulations had led to a delay in deploying the 500 LEAP officers, and this had resulted in underspending.

Mr George said one of the functions of security risk management was access and egress control, and ensuring that Departments could deliver on their respective mandates. Increasingly, it had found that service delivery challenges happened when staff went out to deliver services to the citizens. How did the Department protect that operational space?

He said there may be the acquisition of cameras, but the intervention should go beyond that. Exploration of technology was about driving down costs. There would be interoperability, meaning that anything that was developed did not render the previous infrastructure redundant, but rather complemented it.

Adv Pillay said the Department had assisted all district municipalities in developing safety plans. The plans were being reviewed to ensure that they responded to the greater Western Cape Government safety plan.

She said the Department had trained peace officers within the local municipal space. These would be available for call-ups by the local municipalities. This was envisaged as a force multiplier.

Mr George said the focus of the K-9 units was to curb illicit dealing, like perlemoen and drugs. This was a factor in determining how municipalities formed part of the initiative.

Mr Frizlar said R554 000 had been allocated to CPFs to pay for administration costs. A further R6.6 million had been allocated to neighbourhood watches for accreditation and to support neighbourhood watch projects.

Regarding rollovers, he said the Department would not be requesting a rollover for funding for CPFs. He said there was a R5.6 million, but this was being consolidated to the area-based teams.

Mr Fritz said the DCS had received a budget to employ 1 030 safety ambassadors. The Department had reached out on social media to ask members of the public to recommend people for employment. There had been a suggestion that the ambassadors would be stationed at the police stations to assist with administration, so that there could be more boots on the ground outside, dealing with crime.

Ms Bans said the high murder rate occurred in low-income areas, where conditions were conducive for criminal activity and gangsterism. She said 12 police stations accounted for 42% of all murders in the province in 2019/20, so she stressed the need to deal with the root causes of crime. How was the Department responding to this issue in the budget? How would it support efforts to move police resources away from places with less crime and murder, to areas that needed it most?

Mr Kama wanted to know about the peace officers. Were these the same officers that had been sent to Laingsburg to assist with the COVID regulations?

Mr Fritz said the LEAP officers were not solely responsible for dealing with the murder rate, but they partly contributed as a supplement to the police resources.

Adv Pillay said the Department had an ongoing engagement with the outgoing Commissioner, and now General Patekile. There were matters that had been identified where it would assist, which included gender-based violence, and supporting survivors of GBV.

The DCS had been supporting the extortion committee that had been set up in the province.  It was also co-heading the anti-gang priority committee, together with the SAPS. Major-General Lincoln had been assigned to the committee.

She said the DCS had been in discussion with the Provincial Commissioner of the forensic laboratory, in order to ascertain how it could assist in addressing the issues faced by the laboratory with regard to DNA testing.

The Department supported district municipalities and their law enforcement components. It would continue to create work opportunities for the youth through partnerships with the Chrysallis Academy. The youth were placed in work opportunities for a period of 12-24 months.

She said the 56 peace officers were a small component of officers who been trained throughout the province.  The Department paid an accredited service provider to provide the training.

Mr Bosman wanted to know about the forensic laboratory. He asked the HOD to elaborate on whether her office had received a response from the ‘arrogant’ SAPS, or from the director based in Pretoria, who was responsible for testing. He said the SAPS had shunned the Committee and was not responding to their queries. Had they responded to the Department at all?

Adv Pillay responded that the Police Ombudsman had done an investigation, and there was a finding that there was a challenge at the laboratory that year. The Department had engaged with the SAPS at that point and tried, with the national department, to get the procurement fast-tracked. The provincial Commissioner in an earlier meeting had asked if the Department would be able to assist. The Department had asked for an indication of how much assistance would be required. She said the procurement was quite costly, as the reagents were of a certain type and quality. This information had not yet been provided. The provincial Commissioner had undertaken to inform national about a request to present to the Committee on the situation.

Mr Bosman asked if it was safe to assume that there was a problem with budget availability, if the SAPS was asking the Department to assist with procurement. He assumed that national would have a budget in place, because this was their core function.

Adv Pillay said the first issue involved the actual procurement. There were only certain providers internationally that could provide the specific product that was required. The second challenge was that the initial procurement would not be a long-term solution, as the supply may not last a long enough to deal with the backlog. Further details would be forthcoming in this regard.

Mr Kama asked the Department about its vacancy rate and how this challenge affected it. How long had this been a challenge? What were the plans to address it?

He referred to an amount of R998 million. Was this figure correct? He requested a breakdown of the expenditure for the area-based teams. He also wanted to know about the ‘whole-society’ approach. How much was being spent on this approach? What percentage of the funds was going to the crime hotspots?

Ms Bans asked why CPFs were not listed under policy priorities. She requested the details of the security contracts.

Mr Xego asked the Department to provide the Committee with clear indicators that the safety plan was yielding the required results. This was to ensure that funds were not being channelled to initiatives that were not yielding results.

Ms Linde Govender, Chief Director: Management Support, DCS, said she did not have the exact details of the Department’s vacancy rate, but this could be provided. However, it was lower than the provincial average.

She said budget cuts had necessitated the lowering of the compensation of employees (CoE).

Mr Frizlar said the supply chain management (SCM) vacancy rate had always been an issue. This been mitigated by the employment of interns, including graduate interns. Regarding turnover, the movement at the management echelon level was more fluid because there were opportunities in local government and across the province. There were currently three vacancies out of 12 permanent posts within the unit. 

The CPFs were not listed under policy priorities because they were being supported to a nominal amount. The caption reflected the bigger cost-drivers for the Department, where a large amount of time and resources were being spent, to ensure compliance was being achieved.

The security contract was a guarding contract, and was the biggest cost driver for the Department. This related to the guards deployed to guard at the head offices and buildings across the central business district (CBD).

He said that the R998 million had been typographical error. It was supposed to be R998 000. This amount had been allocated to the district municipalities to assist with their safety plans.

Ms Bans asked what the transfers to municipalities were earmarked for. What were the reasons for the decrease in the budget for LEAP officers, when murder was on the increase?

Mr Kama wanted clarity on why there had been a huge increase in funding for non-profit organisations (NPOs) in the previous financial year, and then no allocation for the 2021/22 financial year.

Adv Pillay said the funding to municipalities was for the development and implementation of safety plans at the district municipality level. The Department funded the CoCT to deploy school resource officers, who were deployed to high-risk schools. The funding also included funding for K-9 units.

She said the reason for the decrease in funding for NPOs was because the funds had been consolidated to the area-based team approach. The funding of safety ambassadors was now classified under goods and services.

She said the number of LEAP officers had been set at 500 due budget cuts.

Mr Frizlar said the reduction in the LEAP allocation had been due to the impact of COVID-19.

The Department was excused from the meeting.

Committee resolutions

The Committee resolved to request the following from the Department:

  • A breakdown of how the liquor inspectors were spread out across the province;
  • Details of the number of licences granted in each district, and the correlation between the number of licences awarded against the dedicated liquor inspectors, particularly in the West Coast district municipality.
  • Information regarding recruitment for the ambassador programme, and the areas to which they would be deployed
  • A list of areas that were targeted for the area-based teams, and what amounts were budgeted for each area
  • A presentation by the Department on the proposed fee increases.
  • Information on the peace officers, including a list of their responsibilities and the areas to which they were deployed.

Committee report -- Vote 4: Community Safety

Ms Botha proposed that the Committee support the Vote, and Mr Bosman seconded the proposal.

Mr Kama expressed the ANC’s minority view to not support the Vote.

Mr Xego expressed the EFF’s minority view also not to support the Vote.

Mr Bosman asked whether it was necessary to note the EFF’s minority view.

The Chairperson directed the query to Mr Ben Daza, Senior Procedural Officer: Western Cape Provincial Parliament.

Mr Daza said that in the absence of the ACDP from the meeting, the EFF’s minority view would be noted in the Committee’s report.

The Committee report was adopted.

The meeting was adjourned.

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