In a virtual meeting, the Committee met to adopt and consider the recommendations of several reports.
The South African Police Service briefed the Committee on the outstanding reports regarding the National Investigative Hearing into the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa, and the Investigative Hearing into the lack of Safety and Security Measures in Schools for Children with Disabilities.
Members expressed concern that there were currently only 560 SAPS members who were trained in managing cases that involve mental health care users, and that SAPS did not have statistics on the mental health care user cases. Members urged that although SAPS officials were not mental health care professionals, they nevertheless were still responsible for protecting the public and also affected persons against themselves. The police need proper training and the police need facilities that are suitable to cater for mental health care users until such time that they can be referred to proper facilities.
The Committee recommended that SAPS should fully implement the school safety strategy and that it should be extended to schools for children with disabilities. SAPS should take additional steps for crime prevention and safety at special schools.
The Committee considered and adopted its 2021 Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports for the South African Police Service, Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Civilian Secretariat for Police Service, and Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority.
The Committee decided to delay conducting its parliamentary inquiry into the unrest that erupted in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal in July. The Committee resolved to wait until the investigations by the South African Human Rights Commission and the independent presidential panel had concluded their work, after which the Committee’s inquiry would follow accordingly.
Mr A Seabi (ANC) recommended that the agenda always be attached to the minutes, and that messages of well wishes also be captured in the minutes.
The Chairperson agreed.
The Committee considered the minutes for 19 November 2021. There was an error in the attendance list; the minutes were adopted with the corrections.
The Committee considered the minutes for 24 November 2021. The minutes were adopted.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF) asked how long it would take the South African Police Service (SAPS) to respond to the resolutions.
The Chairperson said that before recess, the Committee would go through all of the resolutions and look at what SAPS had or had not responded to. She informed SAPS that they had until next Wednesday to respond to the resolutions.
Dr Irvin Kinnes, Content Adviser, Portfolio Committee on Police, said that SAPS has sent correspondence regarding Adv Malesela Teffo’s arrest; the National Commissioner of Police sent a letter indicating the circumstances.
The Chairperson said that the Committee would go through all the resolutions and ensure that responses were received.
Mr Seabi suggested that the arising matters be addressed in every meeting, so that there was follow-up and progress in addressing the resolutions.
The Chairperson said that the arising matters would be addressed and the responses to the resolutions would be monitored.
The Chairperson said that SAPS would brief the Committee on the outstanding reports from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).
The first report was on the National Investigative Hearing into the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa; the report was conducted by SAHRC. She reiterated that the follow-up on outstanding matters really needed a bit of work. This report was adopted in the House in 2017, and referred to the Committee in 2019. Effectively, it took the Committee four years to get to where it was. A number of these matters had been over taken by events, and she found this extremely unacceptable. She took responsibility and apologised for not attending to these reports earlier.
Presentation by SAPS
Maj Gen Thokozani Mathonsi, Division: Visible Policing and Operations, covered the following:
• List of questions from the South African Human Rights Commission report
• SAPS response to mental health care questions
• SAPS has developed a Vulnerable Group Learning Programme that addresses services for Mental Health Care Users (MHCUs). This Learning Programme was aligned to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disability and would be provided in the In-Service Training to SAPS members.
• The SAPS systems are not configured to capture data on the MHCUs cases. However, in addressing systemic issues impacting on accessing services, monitoring and reasonable accommodation for victims and offenders with disabilities, including MHCUs, the SAPS has embarked on enhancement processes of the docket and forms used for victim and offender information.
• The SAPS does not have the skill of early identification of MHCUs, but would be expected to play a role of referring to such professionals.
• Members of the SAPS were not trained in assessing the mental condition of a disabled person. SAPS members were often called out to the place where a MHCU was reported by either the family member or a concerned community member.
• SAPS was in the process of developing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Cape Mental Health Organisation with the aim of institutionalising the Sexual Assault Victim Empowerment (SAVE) Model, which was currently effective only in the Western Cape Province.
• Safety and Security Measures in Schools for Children with Disabilities: In order to ensure the effective implementation of the School Safety Protocol, schools are linked to police stations and priority schools, including schools with special needs.
• Feedback on Shelters: No recommendation was made for the SAPS regarding this matter
(See attached document for further details)
Investigation Report on the Commission for Gender Equality State of Shelters in South Africa
The Chairperson said that the Investigation Report on the Commission for Gender Equality State of Shelters in South Africa had no real findings for SAPS. The Committee commends SAPS for their support role to shelters. There are no recommendations for SAPS, except that the Department of Social Development will convene a meeting with the head of departments. She informed the Committee that their discussion on these reports would be in the form of resolutions.
Mr Seabi asked if SAPS has a list of shelters across the country, and whether these shelters were known by their local police stations. If this was not the case, he recommends that such a list be made available, and that all police stations have access to that list, so that when issues arise the local police stations are able to assist.
The Chairperson agreed that the second resolution was that SAPS should provide a detailed list of all shelters countrywide, and indicate whether this list was available at all police stations.
Mr O Terblanche (DA) said that he had many questions that needed clarity. He thanked SAPS for the presentation as it was very much overdue. He had a few concerns. It was quite clear that this is not very well sorted at the moment; there were only 560 SAPS members that are trained in managing cases that involve MHCUs. The frontline members who work on the streets, such as the patrollers, were the members that get into contact with these cases of individuals who were a danger to themselves and to the public. There were not enough members trained and the training was not specific but rather futuristic in nature, in terms of “the training will be done”. SAPS did not have statistics on the MHCUs cases, so how many MHCU cases had they dealt with? They just do not know. Although there were necessary compliance visits to police stations, what were they checking during those visits? SAPS apparently does not have facilities that were equipped to keep MHCUs for a certain period. He agreed that this was not a police responsibility, but yet the police are responsible to keep the community safe and this is why the police were called upon. Obviously, the police are not psychiatrists et cetera, but a normal person can assess whether anybody was a danger to other people.
The Chairperson suggested that Mr Terblanche could raise those questions when discussing the SAHRC reports. She asked that they first raise resolutions on the shelters.
Mr Terblanche said that SAPS had said themselves that they do not know anything about the shelters. There was no input on the shelters. He thinks that SAPS still have a lot of homework to do.
The Chairperson said that Mr Terblanche’s proposal will be added. Although there were no recommendations for SAPS, she informed Dr Kinnes to capture that the Committee recommends that further work needed to be done on this matter, and that a report must be given on this matter.
Dr Kinnes agreed and said that it built on what Mr Seabi had proposed. The second resolution will read “the Committee recommends that SAPS, together with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE), research the number of shelters in South Africa, and make that list available to all police stations in all provinces”.
Mr Terblanche added that he thinks that the Committee also has the responsibility to acquaint itself to the circumstances, and at some stage, go on an oversight visit to some of these facilities and to some police stations to see exactly what is being done at the moment.
The Chairperson said that the Committee will capture that proposal in the programme for the first quarter, when they do their oversight visits.
Ms L Moss (ANC) said that since SAPS is in the process of developing a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Cape Mental Health Organisation, perhaps they should have a mental health awareness day with these institutions for the people of South Africa, because people have many challenges with this. She expressed that she is emotional, because on 19 November 2021, she went to Saldanha police station and the members were not trained and did not know how to deal with individuals who were mentally disturbed; even the health department does not know how to deal with these issues. She even went to the court in Vredenburg, where they had given her a copy of the Mental Health Care Act, 2002, that explained what the police should have assisted her with, because her sister has a child who needed assistance. With all respect, she said, the frontline police workers in Saldanha do not know about the Mental Health Care Act, and they do not know how to deal with these kinds of patients or individuals who are mentally disturbed. She urged that there must be an awareness day of this Mental Health Care Act.
The Chairperson said that the Committee recommended that SAPS should increase its training initiatives and awareness programmes on victim empowerment; this should be adapted to cater for special circumstances, as Ms Moss had proposed. She added that SAPS should also look into the increase in cases of domestic violence and sexual abuse during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Ms Moss said that she would also recommend that SAPS should put the West Coast police stations next on their list of compliance visits. SAPS only speaks about the institutions within the cities, but it does not address the police stations in the rural areas.
The Chairperson informed Dr Kinnes that where she referred to “special circumstances”, that the state of shelters includes rural areas in general, and the West Coast in particular as requested by Ms Moss.
Ms Moss agreed, especially where it concerned cases during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, where police stations and shelters could not cater to MHCUs.
Ms M Molekwa (ANC) appreciated the presentation, as all the questions were responded to by SAPS. She recommended that SAPS should provide a progress report on the enhancement processes of the docket and forms used for victim and offender information, in order to address systematic issues impacting on accessing services, monitoring and reasonable accommodation for victims and offenders with disabilities, including MHCUs. She recommended that SAPS increase its compliance assurance visits to assess the effectiveness of its policies that aim to assist the MHCUs.
The Chairperson said that Ms Molekwa’s recommendation should be added to the resolutions for the report on the National Investigative Hearing into the Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa by the SAHRC; the mandate of SAPS is not really to do with the mentally disturbed but SAPS should support the Department of Health.
Mr Shembeni said that based on the report, he did not see how the police were protected in an instance where they might be involved in a shooting with a mentally challenged or mentally disturbed person, only to find out that they were not aware that the person was mentally challenged and they happen to shoot, kill or injure the person. How were police protected in this regard? He reiterated the lack of trained police officers who have to attend to these MHCUs; this is a big problem. At the present moment there are not enough officers trained. How do we ensure that each and every police station is covered on this issue?
The Chairperson said that Mr Shembeni’s input would be captured with the recommendation that SAPS should increase its training initiatives. She asked that the rest of the input be formulated in a recommendation when dealing with the report on mental health care.
The report was adopted with the recommendations.
National Investigative Hearing into the Status of Mental Health Care
Mr Terblanche said that there was a huge need for the police and relevant departments to perhaps have a workshop and determine how this was going to be taken forward. Not a lot was happening in the police environment about mental health care. There was a responsibility on the police to protect the public, and also affected persons against themselves. The police’s responsibility was to take this threat out of the community; the police are not health professionals; such individuals should be detained until such time that they are referred to suitable mental health facilities. The police need proper training and the police need facilities that are suitable to cater for MHCUs until such time that they can be referred to proper facilities. There was, he said, a huge backlog of training in SAPS, members need to be trained. He was very concerned about the non-availability of MHCU statistics, when incidences like these are happening on a regular basis. It was said that SAPS made entries in the occurrence books, so SAPS has information. A lot of documentation must also be completed in instances like this. He asked if this was something that the police did not pay attention to. How are we going to take this forward? It cannot be left as it is.
Even in schools, he would be very interested to know what exactly SAPS has in place. Apparently, SAPS has only signed a MoU. He does not think that this is exactly what the legislature had in mind, there needs to be something proper in place. This concerns vulnerable children at schools and it cannot be left just as it is.
The Chairperson said that the Committee staff will capture all of the Members inputs in the form of resolutions, which will then go to Parliament, and has to be adhered to by SAPS.
Mr Seabi said SAPS indicated that it had developed the Vulnerable Group Learning Programme to address services for MHCUs; he recommended that SAPS provides a report on the number of trainees. The report also said that SAPS does not have the competence in assessing mental conditions, but it could be recommended that perhaps there is a need for collaboration with psychiatrists and professional mental health care workers. If such collaboration were in place, it would really assist. SAPS reviewed the Standing Order (General 291) to be in line with the National Instruction on Mental Health Care Act 2002. He asked that SAPS should provide the Committee with a copy of the reviewed Standing Order, and to indicate whether this has been upgraded to National Instruction as per the directive from the investigation.
Dr Kinnes said that in terms of the resolutions as proposed by the Committee: The Committee recommends that SAPS and other relevant departments should have a workshop to determine how the findings in the reports will be taken forward, noting the responsibility of the police to protect people against themselves and to neutralise the threat. The Committee recommends that SAPS consider proper and suitable facilities to hold such individuals until they can be properly referred to mental institutions. The Committee recommended that SAPS address its huge training backlog and develop statistics from entries made in the occurrence books with these particular cases.
The Committee recommends that SAPS reviews its MoU on safety at schools and reports its findings to the Committee. The Committee recommends that SAPS provide a report on the number of Vulnerable Group Learning Programme trainees. The Committee recommended that SAPS collaborates with professional health care workers to deal with the recommendations in the report. The Committee recommends that SAPS provide it with a copy of the reviewed Standing Orders, which is in line with the Mental Health Care Act. The Committee recommends that SAPS investigate how SAPS members dealing with mental health care incidents are protected, in terms of any risk to SAPS members.
The Committee agreed that the recommendations were well captured. The report was adopted with the recommendations.
SAHRC: Safety and Security Measures in Schools for Children with Disabilities
The Investigative Hearing in the North West found that there is a general lack in relationship between special schools and the departments such as SAPS, to address issues of crime prevention, particularly the prevention of child abuse.
Mr Seabi said that he would recommend that SAPS strive by all means to have that relationship with special schools, especially to address the issues of crime prevention and child abuse. He is not sure if SAPS is implementing the school safety strategy and if so, what will be the impact? He recommended that SAPS strive by all means for the full implementation of the school safety strategy, across all the schools in the country.
The Chairperson agreed that SAPS should provide the Committee with a detailed report on the status of the implementation of the school safety strategy. SAPS should take additional steps to address crime prevention issues at special schools; SAPS should provide feedback on the additional steps they will take to prevent crime at special schools. The Committee has not really dealt with people who have special needs, and it is time that the Committee does so by adding it to the agenda.
Ms Z Majozi (IFP) said that she had network challenges. She referred to the report on the status on mental health care; she asked what would happen in instances where individuals are drug addicts and who have become mentally unstable. She asked how they are included and how SAPS handles this. There are household cases where a person who is on drugs becomes mentally unstable and abuses everyone at home, but when the police come they say that there is nothing that they can do, because if the person has not committed any crime then they cannot be arrested, but one can see that the person is not okay and is a danger to others. She asked that resolutions with drug addicts be included in the recommendations, because if family members are being abused then the first call would be to the police.
The Chairperson asked that SAPS respond to Ms Majozi’s question.
Gen. Khehla Sitole, National Commissioner of Police, said that SAPS provided a secondary and complementary function on this particular aspect, with both the Department of Education and Department of Health. In order for SAPS to operationalise on safety, there are various programmes, one of which is the school-based crime prevention programme. This programme is implemented but can be extended to special schools.
On the question regarding drug addicts, support is provided to the mentally disturbed persons. It does not make a difference; once a person is mentally disturbed it will not matter what brought about the state of mental disturbance, but SAPS does handle these instances. SAPS will further work with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services, because the current legislation does not provide for the detention of those particular people, because they obviously did not commit any crime but they must be kept in safety from others. There are also other challenges that must be addressed with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services; for instance, the detention facilities are overcrowded at the moment, the mentally disturbed cannot be kept in the same place. SAPS will also close the gap with communities, in collaboration with community policing strategies, so that it works with relevant stakeholders to deal with these aspects.
Dr Kinnes said that in terms of the resolutions, the Committee recommends that SAPS develops a relationship with special schools, to prevent abuse and violence in schools for children with disabilities. The Committee recommends that SAPS fully implement the school safety strategy, and extend it to schools for children with disabilities. The Committee recommends that SAPS take additional steps for crime prevention and safety at special schools. It is recommended that SAPS extend its consultation with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services with the view of closing the gap, with the community policing strategy and to consider accommodation for mentally disturbed individuals.
The report was adopted with the recommendations.
Adoption of SAPS Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), 2021
Mr A Whitfield (DA) noted a wording error in the eight recommendations, that referred to firearm license application backlog instead of “DNA backlog”. He suggested that the ninth recommendation be phrased as “the Committee recommends that SAPS immediately complies with court orders in the civil claims relating to the firearms environment”.
Mr Seabi suggested that the correct spelling of Adv Teffo’s name be checked.
The report was adopted with the corrections.
Adoption of Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) BRRR, 2021
Mr Whitfield referred to page 17, regarding the Col. Kinnear matter. He mentioned that it states that “The Committee noted media reports that the IPID handed a 61-page report on the death of Colonel Kinnear…”; he asked to whom was this report handed? It is an incomplete sentence.
Dr Kinnes said that the Executive Director of IPID did inform the Committee that IPID handed in the 61-page report on Col. Kinnear’s death, but it did not say to whom; there will be follow-up on who the report was handed to.
Mr Whitfield referred to the third recommendation, he proposed that it be read as “The Committee recommends that the IPID report back to the Committee on its plans to secure independent technical reports… et cetera”, this is a more meaningful recommendation, instead of just welcoming the intent by IPID to report back to the Committee.
Mr Seabi said that the tenth recommendation about civil claims is unclear and suggested that it need more detail.
Dr Kinnes said that the tenth recommendation referred to Mr Terblanche’s comment about the significant increase in civil claims that needed to be reviewed. There were no further details, but it will be fixed.
Mr Terblanche agreed that it was an important recommendation as it is worrisome that the civil claims increased to that extent.
The Chairperson said that Mr Terblanche can assist in phrasing the tenth recommendation.
The report was adopted with the corrections.
Adoption of Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) BRRR, 2021
Mr Whitfield referred to page 16, regarding disciplinary recommendations. He asked if the implementation of “policy disciplinary recommendations” referred to police disciplinary recommendations or if the word “policy” is correctly placed. It does not seem to make sense.
Dr Kinnes confirmed that it should read “police disciplinary recommendations”.
Mr Whitfield referred to page 18, regarding the IPID Amendment Bill, he suggested that a substantive amendment be made to the last sentence, so that it reads “It was the view of the Committee that the mandate and independence of the IPID must be expanded, specifically by giving Parliament more oversight and authority regarding the appointment of the Executive Director”.
He asked that the Committee consider to recommend that CSPS ensure that the draft IPID Amendment Bill include a more transparent process for the appointment of the Executive Director for IPID, which includes a meaningful role for Parliament. He also proposed that the Committee recommends that CSPS take the Firearms Control Amendment Bill back for broader consultation, and prioritises the SAPS Amendment Bill, IPID Amendment Bill and the Criminal Law (Forensic Procedures) Amendment Bill, as the Committee had agreed to.
The report was adopted with the corrections.
Adoption of Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) BRRR, 2021
Mr Whitfield referred to recommendation one and said that he would include the intention to get an explanation from the Minister of Police, with respect to his delay in appointing the board members.
Mr Seabi proposed that the recommendation should merely state that the “delay in appointing board members should not occur again”.
The report was adopted with the corrections.
The Chairperson said that quite a lot of work goes on behind the scenes and it is not always easy to capture everything. She urged Members to continue sending inputs, as it facilitates the staff and the administrative work that they do before they present the reports to the Committee. She commended and expressed her appreciation to the Committee’s staff and the parliamentary legal services.
Terms of Reference for the Parliamentary Inquiry Matters Relating to the July 2021 Uprisings
Mr Seabi wondered if the Committee would be doing justice. He understands that the President appointed the independent presidential panel and the SAHRC to do an investigation, and that the Committee is also expected to do an inquiry. He asked if it were not possible for the Committee to wait for the two reports to evaluate whether they clearly capture the Committee’s views before making a decision to proceed with the investigation.
Mr Whitfield said that he was not fundamentally opposed to the suggestion by Mr Seabi, but there was still a need to flesh out the suggestion. He suggested that the principle of accountability insofar as Parliament is concerned is sacrosanct. It cannot abdicate the Committee’s responsibilities to the executive nor to a chapter nine institution, as the Committee was expected to hold the Executive to account. In respect of duplication, and while waiting for the reports, in terms of the information that may come to light and inform the inquiry by the Committee. It would make sense to delay the Committee’s process, as long as the Committee remains resolute that it will conduct a process in respect to what transpired during the unrest; and that this process will be able to use the information that is available following the conclusion of the SAHRC hearings, which should be presented to the Committee, as well as any information that comes from the independent presidential panel that was appointed. It would be very dangerous for Parliament to abdicate its responsibility to hold the executive to account, but if the Committee does agree to reconvene this discussion in the new year based on the new information at hand from both investigations and hearings, then he would be happy to postpone.
The Chairperson said that the SAHRC report in this regard would come to the Committee and would be discussed with the recommendations. The SAHRC investigative hearing will deliver recommendations in the report, and this report will come to Parliament and be thoroughly interrogated by the Committee. It was not that the Committee will not do the investigation, but the Committee would allow the independent presidential panel and the SAHRC to continue and, subsequent to that, the Committee would then look at the recommendations that have been made. This would then change the Terms of Reference as it is right now. She asked Mr Seabi if his suggestion has been captured correctly.
Mr Seabi agreed, and said that it is not to abdicate the Committee’s responsibility, but it is a delay until the Committee receives the information to inform the way forward.
The Chairperson said that it was not a delay but it was just a different process that was being proposed. In terms of the process, the Committee decided that the first process should be that of the independent presidential panel and the SAHRC, and the Committee’s inquiry would follow accordingly.
Mr Shembeni agreed with the suggestion and that the process be done in the right way. He was listening to the witnesses, and the Committee might find that there is a duplication of witnesses.
The Chairperson noted the Members’ decision. The Terms of Reference would then be changed accordingly. She asked that Dr Kinnes assist in writing a letter to the Speaker and to the House Chairperson, Mr C Frolick, to indicate that the Committee had unanimously taken this decision.
Mr Terblanche said that in the previous meeting the Committee asked about the Critical Infrastructure Council, but had not yet received any feedback. He asked if there was any movement with this matter.
The Chairperson asked the Deputy Minister if he could respond.
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, said that the Ministry should have the list of members appointed sent to the Speaker and House Chairpersons office by the end of business on Friday.
The Chairperson informed the Deputy Minister that it was already agreed last week that this matter would be finalised and brought to the Committee this week.
Mr Shembeni raised his concern on the heists and armed robberies that seem to be increasing. He was not sure if SAPS management had done something about this. These cases were being reported daily, where more than 20 armed robberies were involved in committing a crime at the very same time in one area. He asked the National Commissioner and Deputy Minister if anything was being done. These criminals were busy, especially towards Christmas time. He questioned if anything was being done to stop this criminal activity; something harsher must be done.
The Chairperson informed Mr Shembeni that the matter would be addressed next week when the Committee interrogated the annual crime statistics. She asked the National Commissioner to take note of the question raised by Mr Shembeni.
Ms Moss asked that when SAPS comes before the Committee for the last time this year, if they could brief the Committee on the plans they have for the festive season time. She agreed with Mr Shembeni that things were out of hand. Criminals take their chances during the festive season and do not obey the law.
The Chairperson agreed that SAPS should present its festive season programme, as it usually has. She asked that the Committee be sent the annual crime statistics in advance, so that Members could analyse it in detail.
Ms N Peacock (ANC) thanked the Chairperson for the leadership that she has provided throughout. She appreciated the effort and the way that the Chairperson has carried the Committee forward.
The Chairperson said that she really appreciates it. She thanked the Members, as she knows that they were not always happy with the way that she chairs the meeting, but she does listen to them. She hopes that there has been improvement. She asked that Members do raise their concerns if they were not happy with the manner in which the meetings are chaired. She thanked Mr Seabi, the Committee Whip, for the improvements that he had suggested since he had joined the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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