The Committee convened virtually to receive a briefing on the status of discipline management in the South African Police Service (SAPS), and how complaints and recommendations were dealt with by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID).
The SAPS said that to fulfill its constitutional mandate, its members had to act with integrity and respect for people’s diversity and the law, thereby enhancing service excellence to the approval of the public. The SAPS, as an employer, had a right and responsibility to maintain discipline amongst its employees. In doing so, it had to ensure that its actions were in line with the relevant legislative framework governing employer/employee relations. It was incumbent that when applying the discipline, the employer had to follow the disciplinary procedure strictly. Disciplinary regulations provided a distinct framework within which employees were to be managed, according to the values and standards of the SAPS. If an employee transgressed through certain acts of misconduct, as codified in the regulation, disciplinary steps should be instituted against such an employee.
The IPID was responsible for overseeing the SAPS and the Municipal Police Service (MPS). The IPID was mandated by national legislation to monitor and investigate criminal offences allegedly committed by SAPS members and to make recommendations for redress. In essence, the IPID had been created to address the structural flaws in the SAPS.
IPID reported that it had a total of 11 578 active cases at the end of the 2020/21 financial year that had been carried over to the current financial year. Of these active cases, most of were for assault (7 820), followed by the discharge of an official firearm (1 635), death as a result of police action (794), torture (665), and other criminal/misconduct matters (184). A total of 3 684 investigations had been completed during the past financial year. The IPID had forwarded 2 220 recommendations to the SAPS during this period, of which 702 had recommended disciplinary action, and 1 518 had recommended that no disciplinary steps be taken.
Members acknowledged the presentations, but said discipline was not meaningful if there was no consequence management. It was a concern that the SAPS had talked only about recommendations, but none had been implemented. There had been a great deal of non-compliance with the recommendations on active cases, as well as a large backlog. There was a distinct lack of professionalism and basic discipline. It was proposed to link the police conduct with police practice to promote professionalism and disciplinary regulation.
Members requested clarity on the types of offences and the consequence management process within the SAPS. They were concerned about the relationship between the SAPS and the IPID. They highlighted the fact that there were inconsistencies between the SAPS Act, the regulations, and the IPID Act. The IPID needed independence for their recommendations to be binding. A Member suggested there was a disaster unfolding, with an increase in new offences, and questioned if the IPID was making an impact.
Apologies were received from the Minister, Dr P Groenewald (FF+) and Ms M Molekwa (ANC). The central firearms registry (CFR) would be discussed in the next session, and invitations would be sent to Members, as the Committee had to do justice to its oversight visits.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, greeted all and presented a short overview.
SAPS on Discipline Management
Lt Gen Dineo Ntshiea, Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Management, South African Police Service (SAPS), briefed the Committee on the status of discipline management, the reported cases of misconduct, the progress thereof and the impact of discipline on the conduct of employees. She presented the regulatory framework, the types of misconduct, and gave an overview of the disciplinary cases. She also briefed the Committee on the management of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) recommendations, the categories for mandatory reporting, and gave an analysis of the disciplinary cases.
[see presentation attached for details]
IPID on police discipline and charges
Ms Jennifer Ntlaseng, Executive Director, IPID, gave an overview of the purpose of the presentation, and said the total intake of cases in 2020/21 had been 6 122.
IPID had a total of 23 187 post-decision monitoring (PDM) cases, and its actual workload as at the end of March 2021 was 34 765 active cases, including the PDM. The five provinces with the highest workload, both active and PDM cases, were Gauteng with 8 722, followed by the Western Cape with 7 205, KwaZulu-Natal with 5 239, the Eastern Cape with 3 762, and the Free State with 2 856 cases.
Mr Matthews Sesoko, Head: Investigations and Information Management, IPID, presented the active cases under investigation as at the end of March 2021, with the completed investigations, the total workload and referrals to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA). The IPID had forwarded 2 220 recommendations to the SAPS for the 2020/21 period, of which 702 were recommending disciplinary action, and 1 518 recommending no disciplinary steps should be taken.
[see presentation attached for details]
The Chairperson wanted clarity on the types of offences and the consequence management. There were inconsistencies between the figures of the SAPS and the IPID -- the two presentations do not talk to each other. A comparative analysis had to be done on the figures. There were serious problems, based on the figures presented. She requested a breakdown of the torture and assault cases. Systemic corruption needed to be reported on by the IPID. There must be a breakdown of the torture and assault cases, as according to the figures, it looked similar to the culture of the police during apartheid. What was the relationship between the SAPS and the IPID, especially when it came to non-compliance from the SAPS?
Compliance was a misleading indicator -- how did the Committee know it was not just a box ticking exercise? The numbers on compliance did not align, and proper monitoring and evaluation needed to take place. How could they ensure the recommendations of the IPID were implemented? How could the SAPS say they could not act, and gave light fines and verbal warning for serious offences such as rape and torture? What should be done to ensure that the SAPS implemented discipline management?
There were inconsistencies between the SAPS Act and the regulations. How could SAPS officials exploit the loopholes and undermine the recommendations of the IPID? The Committee needed to get to the bottom of this. Legislative amendments had to take place. There were serious contradictions between the SAPS and the IPID, and going forward they must provide a presentation of their responses ro all the questions raised.
Mr A Whitfield (DA) said discipline was not meaningful if there was no consequence management. It was a concern that the SAPS talked only about recommendations, but none were implemented. There was a distinct lack of professionalism and basic discipline. What was the National Commissioner's stance on the SAPS not implementing the recommendations of the IPID? This indicated there was no consequence management.
On the feedback on disciplinary cases in 2020/21, why were there only disciplinary recommendations and no criminal recommendations? Why did the SAPS investigate or reinvestigate IPID cases? Had the IPID explored alternatives in which legislation amendments could ensure enforceable recommendations? The IPID needed independence. Did the Executive Director believe that the IPID could manage affairs and the backlog within the current available budget? It was very difficult to defend SAPS, as they also did not respond to how they were they portrayed in the media. Why did they not respond to allegations in the media?
Mr O Terblanche (DA) said he did not think there was a good relationship between the SAPS and the IPID, and was disappointed at the late submission of reports and documentation. There was a great amount of non-compliance in terms of the recommendation on active cases, as well as the backlog. No impact had been made, and the Committee needed to get to the bottom of this. There was no indication as to how members were trained in order to deal with discipline management. With respect to the Minister and Deputy Minister, everything was of great concern, as there was a disaster unfolding under their watch. With the new matters, there was an increase, and they were fooling themselves if they thought that the IPID was making an impact. There was no progress, and this was a disaster.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF) wanted clarity on the lack of dedicated capacity to deal with disciplinary cases. Misconduct in the crime intelligence unit was very high, and he asked what was happening in the unit. Something was not right with the high volume of torture cases -- what exactly was happening? How did the SAPS deal with the arbitration awards and court orders? Members were commissioned to returned to work, but had not returned. There was great concern, as some of the arbitration awards and court orders indicated members had to return to work, but there was a list of members who were still at home. SAPS were just releasing members, but they were well trained and fell into committing crimes. Were there corrective measures in place to deal with the misconduct of members, and were they helping these officials to refrain from further criminal activities?
Ms P Faku (ANC) was in agreement with the statements made by Mr Whitfield. She proposed linking the police conduct with police practice, to promote professionalism and disciplinary regulation. A formal proposal would be sent to the Chairperson. There was no reasons or sanctions reported on, and the report also did not show the link between and the SAPS and the IPID.
Ms L Moss (ANC) asked how citizens would obey the police if the police themselves did not show discipline. Discipline started at home. The report did not indicate if the terms of reference had been completed. Was it possible to get a copy of the document?
Ms Z Majozi (IFP) sought clarity on the positive and negative recommendations. She wanted to know what the turnaround time for feedback on waiting cases was.
Ms Faku said this meeting needed to be rescheduled. The reported figures were incorrect and did not correspond. The SAPS and the IPID needed to sit and resubmit one report with the correct figures. The SAPS could not investigate themselves, and both parties needed to resubmit presentations.
Deputy Minister Mathale appreciated the comments made by the Committee. No one could be excluded if a disaster was to happen, which meant they would all be part of the disaster. There was a commitment from the National Commissioner and the Executive Director of the IPID to ensure collaboration, and that the two entities should work together. These institutions must complement each other. Their predecessors had seen a need for an independent body to provide oversight, and all of the work was not going to happen overnight. The IPID must ensure that professionalisation was realised in the police, given the history of the country. They had to ensure the right mental attitude and appropriate professional service was applied when cases were reported.
There was clear understanding from the ministry that the IPID must be strengthened and supported. The police must not look at the IPID as a problematic institution -- it was not the enemy of the SAPS. There was commitment and good working relationships overall with the SAPS, the IPID and the Civilian Secretariat for Police (CSP).
The Department was aware of the challenges and the situation of the Executive Director. She was new in the position and had made commitments during the strategic session. The agreement was based on the interface between the National Commissioner and the Executive Director of IPID. When there were delays, the Executive Director had to contact the National Commissioner. Two weeks ago, the Executive Director had launched the intake of the interns who would assist within IPID for a period of 12 months. It was important that when this process started, the National Commissioner should be included, so that when the internships ended these individuals could also contribute to the broader body of SAPS. If the National Commissioner and the Executive Director of IPID encountered problems, the SAPS must be aware of it. The SAPS could see according to the backlog that matters had not been dealt with as quickly as possible. The IPID was aware of it, and the leadership of the SAPS were aware of the outstanding matters. There was a commitment that these matters would be addressed and handled properly. Going forward, the figures presented by the SAPS and the IPID might not be the same, but there had to be a correlation between the two presentations.
General Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner, said that the SAPS and the IPID had to give an integrated response. In agreement with the Chairperson, he said a reconciliation must be done, and one report must be presented. The team must sit together and do the reconciliation of the figures before the presentation was done.
There was a collision of legislation, as a lot of pieces of legislation existed. Amendments of legislation needed to take place. The call of the Chairperson was that the SAPS Act must be amended, but there were also the regulations that governed discipline within the SAPS. When the IPID Act was promulgated, it was not reconciled with the SAPS Act and the regulations. The regulations prescribed that the Commissioner should appoint someone who should investigate any matter that was related to discipline. What then happened, the affected member challenged the disciplinary processes. The member demanded the disciplinary investigation report. In this case, the IPID Act was not read in context with the regulations. The IPID report would not be credible in the labour court because the Commissioner had to come and defend the case. It was important to bring in new legislation in order to make the recommendations of the IPID binding and enforceable within the regulations, then it would not be necessary for the SAPS to investigate or reinvestigate the cases of the IPID. It was not a matter of undermining the independence of the IPID, but a matter of compliance with the regulations. They were in support of the proposal that the necessary legislative amendments needed to be made.
It was the same situation the Department had brought to the Committee regarding the Central Firearms Registry (CFR), where they had been keeping members unlawfully in a building, but the authority to change the building lay with the Department of Public Works (DPW). Because the DPW had the authority, they had continued to extend the lease.
With regard to the low level of sanctions, the SAPS supported the proposal of the establishment of an independent disciplinary unit. Human resources (HR) had been instructed to operationalise the conduct committees. The committees were reviewing and analysing all sanctions. When sanctions were not in line with the level of misconduct, the sanctions were reviewed.
Lt. General Ntshiea said a breakdown of the offences had not been given in the presentation, but the information would be made available. He could confirm that the information had been tallied with the IPID. Meetings were conducted monthly with the IPID to give feedback and ensure information was shared and reconciled. The information contained in the IPID presentation was the same as the information in the SAPS presentation.
The lack of capacity in the presentation referred to the establishment of an independent disciplinary unit. They were not happy with the finalisation rate on recommendations, but this was receiving attention. The crime intelligence unit was one of the biggest divisions, which was why the high number of cases was reported. The terms of reference had been presented in 2014. This had been developed and must be approved and signed.
Brig Vish Naidoo, SAPS Spokesperson, said the media enquiries were related to disciplinary and criminal matters that had been leaked to the media. He acknowledged that details were leaked to the media, particularly on senior officers. The SAPS did not necessarily respond to the allegations, as this could hamper the cases. They did not give details of the processes that the SAPS were embarking on, as the disclosure could be counterproductive and jeopardise the processes, and had the potential to open the SAPS to possible litigation.
Lt General (Dr) Godfrey Lebeya, Head: Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), said the regulations they were dealing with had been approved in 2016, as indicated on slide 8 of the SAPS's presentation. The regulations on slide 9 also stipulated the members excluded. This regulation was promulgated at more or less the same time that the Police Act was amended in 2012. The agreement was signed on 7 November 2012, and the Police Act, as amended, became operational on 14 September 2012. At the time of discussions, the DCPI was still considered under the disciplinary processes of the SAPS. The regulations had not been amended accordingly, and this was identified and communicated. Consideration had to be given to making provisions to ensure the regulations were in line with the Police Act. Proposals had been made on the amendments to the Police Act, and would be communicated to the Committee.
Ms Ntlaseng said there was regular reporting and meetings between the IPID and the SAPS, but there needed to be an improvement at the national level. Improvement was needed on national communication, and the turnaround time on the implementation of recommendations. There were engagements with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to assist with the backlog of cases.
She proposed that the IPID be invited to the disciplinary hearings. It was vital that an independent disciplinary unit should be established.
There had to be a review of the SAPS Act, the regulations and the IPID Act, and amendments must be made to regulate and deal with the inconsistencies. There was a good working relationship between the IPID and the SAPS. The IPID had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the SAPS to strengthen the relationship, based on the challenges. The IPID was consistently looking at ways to improve on the recommendations made.
With the current budget, IPID dealt with what it had. The issue of funds had been raised every time over the years. That was why the IPID prioritised and reallocate operations through establishing partnerships. 66 interns would assist with the backlog of investigations, to ensure investigators focused on core investigations. Engagements had taken place with Members of the Executive Committee (MECs) in the provinces, as the IPID would have offices in each province. Five offices had been secured in the Gauteng province.
Officials in the IPID were being vetted. She had been vetted in August and September 2020, and the polygraph test was conducted in December.
She said the Committee should not despair -- IPID was doing its level best with the current ratio of 500 cases per person. Currently, they were looking at the post establishment to reallocate and reprioritise operations and cases to ensure an impact was made. In response to the request for clarity on the types of recommendations, a negative recommendation was when disciplinary action was to be taken against members. Positive recommendation was when the investigation revealed no misconduct based on allegations.
National Treasury had made it clear that they would not provide funds. The IPID was focused on relationship building and strengthening relations with the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA) and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). Currently, it was also conducting station lectures and community outreach programmes to educate on the role and processes of the IPID.
Further Committee business
The Chairperson requested that a list of arbitration award members be sent to the Committee.
The minutes of the Committee's meetings on 17 March, 13 April, 4, 5, 7 and 12 May were adopted, and the DA and EFF reserved their rights.
The report on the Committee’s oversight visit to the Central Firearm Registry was not adopted, and would have to be redone.
The meeting was adjourned.
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