The Committee met with South African Police Service (SAPS); Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA); Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET); Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA); Universities South Africa (USAf); South African College Principals Organisation (SACPO); South African Union of Students (SAUS) and South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student Association (SATVETSA) on police involvement in student protests. Each stakeholder presented its views on safety and security interventions during student protests and how conflict can be resolved.
The Police Deputy Minister remarked that the Committee would receive unqualified support for the initiatives to curb student protests at the start of the academic year. Thus, Post-School Education and Training (PSET) stakeholders and SAPS needed to enhance their interface and engagements to come up with solutions to avoid these protests but when they happen to be managed in a manner that did not result in violence, injuries and deaths.
The National Commissioner of Police emphasized the importance of a Campus Safety Summit because currently there was only a School Safety Plan in existence. The Campus Safety Summit would give birth to a Campus Safety Plan.
Stakeholders spoke on public order policing; legislation and policy; SAPS strategy 2020-2025 on peaceful conflict mediation, negotiation and resolution management; SASSETA funded training programmes for SAPS public order policing and private security; role of private security in responding to protest action and cooperation with SAPS; accountability of private security; DHET interventions on student protests; police brutality; violence and destruction of property and stakeholder conflict resolution; and working relations.
Committee members asked about the Campus Safety Summit; strategies to avoid violent student protests; how SAPS coordinated safety and security on campuses; weapons used by police during student protests; details on cases of property destruction in the presence of SAPS; third force infiltration in student protests and destruction of property; if PSIRA was satisfied with SASSETA course content; SASSETA skills interventions; SAPS, PSIRA and SASSETA engagement to ensure optimal training; uniform approach by universities on police access; any incident of private security guard violence in 2021 student protests; if universities were cooperating with SAPS in investigations against students; if SAPS liaison officers were employed in institutions to assist in peaceful dispute resolution as committed to in 2017; outcomes of investigations into criminal incidents during protests and number of cases withdrawn; and the USAf security task team.
The Committee resolved that there must be an increase in stakeholder engagement and communication among institutions of higher learning, the Department, SAUS and the TVET Students Association and better synergy between police stations and institutions
The Chairperson noted that this was a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Police. Apologies were noted from both Ministers and one Deputy Minister for their absence.
We have seen over the years how there has been an increase of student protests throughout the country informed by a number of factors such a lack of readiness, budget constraints, funding, availability of lecture halls and residences and safety and security in residences.
The breakdown of communication between stakeholders in the sector led to the student protests. The most fundamental concern is infrastructure damage and how student protests are managed by police, vice chancellors, principals and how students lead these protests and the inclusion of private security companies on campus and the framework used for this. Some of these private security companies do not have an understanding of the value systems that exists in our institutions and the risk that comes with that is enormous. We need to get to a point where there is a common understanding amongst stakeholders in the PSET sector or even a formal framework that influences the decisions taken. It becomes extremely concerning when we see deaths and injuries incurred by both students and police during the protests. We all have the responsibility to ensure that we resolve these protests in a manner that reflects a democratic South Africa.
It will be a dense meeting and she implored on stakeholders to stick within the time limits when making their presentations.
Ms T Joemat-Peterson (ANC), Co-Chairperson, remarked that given the presence of the executive it shows how important this matter is. We will also need to have a joint meeting to discuss gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF) as the numbers of cases have been greatly increasing on our campuses. That calls for a joint effort with the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, sector stakeholders and the police.
Deputy Minister of Police opening remarks
Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, said that he wanted to assure the Portfolio Committee of the SAPS unqualified support of the initiatives that have been started. It is clear that there is a need for an interface between Police and the PSET sector. All role players have a role to play and the students are justified to exercise their constitutional right but it must also be done so orderly. We are ready and willing to engage with Members as well as other stakeholders in the sector. He requested the National Commissioner to lead the presentation.
National Police Commissioner remarks
Lt Gen Khehla Sithole, SAPS National Commissioner, said that beyond the presentation and today’s interaction there was still a need for a Campus Safety Summit, which was planned before Covid-19 broke out. This Summit is supposed to lead us to a Campus Safety Plan because presently only have a School Safety Plan and there is no structured intervention that brings the DHET and Police to work together.
South African Police Service (SAPS) briefing
KwaZulu-Natal police commissioner, Lt Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi from SAPS Visible Policing, presented and the briefing topics included: Historical Background; Public Order Policing Mandate; Public Order Policing: Legislative and Policy Framework; SAPS Strategy 2020-2025 on Peaceful Conflict Mediation, Negotiation and Resolution Management; Types of gatherings; Doctrine; Principles; Police gradual response and force continuum; Four pillar, integrated, interdepartmental intervention plan; SAPS Relationship with Universities/TVET Colleges; SAPS accountability for police incidents during student protests.
National Commissioner Sithole concluded that there was a need to introduce Community Sector Policing to link all the institutions to community policing. This will deal with root cause analysis and linking this public violence to the modus operandi analysis centre so that the DHET and other stakeholders are aware of the new modus operandi that would be executed.
Mr Chris Modau, SASSETA CEO, spoke about skills development for the police and private security personnel; SASSETA mandate and strategic scope; qualifications developed; SASSETA funded programmes for SAPS; SASSETA funded programmes for private security and programmes in the process of being implemented for Public Order Police.
University South Africa (USAf) briefing
Mr Sibusiso Chalufu, USAf Transformation Strategy Group member, presented USAf’s position on police involvement during student protests. He spoke on the contextual background; initiatives at the system level and areas for critical consideration.
Co-Chairperson Joemat-Peterson said that SAPS must have a plan for student protests, which occurs at the start of every academic year during the registration period. We will have to work collaboratively with stakeholders. She asked the National Commissioner that the Crime Intelligence Division must issue an early warning alarm for such events and we must receive any form of intelligence reports that they have before the beginning of the academic year.
Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA) briefing
Dr Sabelo Gumedze, Head: Research and Development at PSIRA, presented an overview of PSIRA; the role of private security in responding to protest action; cooperation between private security and SAPS and accountability of private security.
As for the role of private security in responding to protest action, PSIRA research findings indicated that institutions of higher learning are constantly faced by student protest action that is generally violent. SAPS delayed response has resulted in the contracting of private security companies acting as force multipliers. Private security companies are now engaged in “crowd control”, which is beyond their scope of security service work. “Crowd control” is required by the institutions but SAPS Public Order Police (POP) has the monopoly over crowd control.
DHET on management of student protests
Dr Nkosinathi Sishi, DHET Director-General, presented the Department’s position and work on management of student protests at universities and TVET colleges. The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation was requested to brief the Committee on the role of the Department in mediating between stakeholders, managing student protests, and relations between the Department and the South African Police Service. This briefing focuses on the regulatory framework that guides safety and security intervention during student protests.
Under the University Education Branch, there was a specific focus on stakeholder engagement, safety and security interventions and safety and security on campus. There are a number of issues that lead to student protests. These include communication breakdowns between university stakeholders, but are also complex and sometimes linked to widespread challenges facing the system. Student protests at the start of the academic year are primarily driven by registration challenges faced by students for whom NSFAS funding has not yet been confirmed, those with debt who are facing registration challenges, and delays in the processing of appeals and payment of allowances. The Department, NSFAS and universities have a responsibility to ensure that all matters that have a potential to result in student protests if not addressed are attended to prior to the start of the academic year.
On safety and security interventions, the campus safety roundtable held in 2019 explored the roles of different stakeholders in preventing and resolving violence on campuses and managing student protests without causing harm to the protestors. Training of campus security officers on basic security requirements such as crowd management was noted as important. This requires an officer to make every effort to control and manage the crowd at a protest or gathering to prevent confrontation and violence. Universities South Africa (USAf) committed to work closely with South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Campus Protection Society of Southern Africa (CAMPROSA) to ensure that university security officers are well trained. There have been engagements between USAF and SAPS in ensuring that there is a good working relationship between universities and SAPS. The working agreements include directives on circumstances under which SAPS is invited onto campuses, and possible limitations on their actions.
Under the TVET Branch, the Branch developed TVET circular 0072 dated 6 July 2021. The circular was circulated to all Regional Managers and TVET college principals. The aim of this circular is to communicate the standard procedure for reporting incidents and strikes taking place at colleges.
South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO) briefing
Mr Sanele Mlotshwa, SAPCO President, outlined that TVET colleges were requested to provide information on the following:
- Strategies for peaceful conflict mediation, negotiation and resolution management
- Safety and security policies of TVET colleges
- Terms for security service outsourcing during student protest and terms of reference (ToR) to procure private security in managing protests
- Relations with SAPS during protest action
- Account of brutalities/deaths from protest action as majority of colleges indicated that they do not have any guidelines on this.
He went on to present safety and security measures in colleges in all provinces. In conclusion, overall most TVET colleges have: strategies for peaceful conflict mediation, negotiation and resolution management; safety and security policies; terms for security outsourcing during student protest and ToR to procure private security in managing protests and relations with SAPS during protest action. However, they need to work on guidelines for protest brutalities/deaths accounts.
South African Union of Students (SAUS) briefing
Mr Lubabalo Ndzoyiya, SAUS President, spoke about police brutality; violence and destruction of property and stakeholder conflict resolution and working relations. The South African Union of Students strongly believes that the police brutality in our campuses is one element that perpetuates student protest brings about violence. SAUS is of the view that university management does little to nothing in responding to students' concerns, outside employing military services such as SAPS, private security and ground wedge drivers. There is a need to create space for student leaders and management to have constructive engagement. There must be a process to formalise the role of student leaders and their contribution.
Police brutality on campus is one of the reasons why student protests become violent. Officers deployed on campus are sent with instructions to target certain leaders. Universities run away from discussions about these violent acts and more than 800 students, only in 2017, were arrested.
The damage caused at universities and training colleges by the Fees Must Fall protests soared to nearly R800 million as revealed by Former Minister Naledi Pandor in Parliament in 2018. The South African Union of Students disagrees with any damaging of property; even throwing the smallest stone at any property should not be celebrated. The struggle victories of the previous generation are a launch pad for the coming generations. Lack of constructive engagement and police brutality creates violent protests. Some criminal elements and outsiders come and infiltrate these struggles. The mood created on campus by militarizing campuses is an open space for all these criminal acts and a closed space for any engagements that could take place.
On a way forward, SAUS proposed that there should be an increase in constructive engagement between student leaders and university management; universities must do away with deployment of police and security forces; introduce decisive policies to deal with any act of property destruction; do away with institutional autonomy to allow government to mediate between the stakeholders; creating a single coordinated education system to iron out all challenges faced by the sector and run policy engagements for all sector stakeholders to create a safe space for constructive engagement.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) noted all the presentations had good plans in place but there were challenges in consistent communication amongst sector stakeholders. As you move towards the Campus Safety Summit, you must ensure that communication is done properly. She asked how the Summit was going to be constituted. Is it only going to be students or is the public also welcome to attend the Summit?
She noted how USAf in its presentation is rethinking terms and strategies as well as how stakeholders engage. The SRCs have complained numerous times that they were not satisfied with the manner in which they were engaged by institution management.
She asked SAUS if it had a planned strategy to ensure that students do not get into violent protests.
She asked SAPS how it coordinated safety and security on campuses. What kind of weapons are used during student protests? What are the statistics for criminal investigations? What happens to students arrested for property destruction?
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) asked why SAPS said that institutions should not withdraw charges against students. She asked PSIRA to provide details on the “SAPS delayed responses” comment.
Ms Sibiya noted SAPCO had said that students had destroyed property in front of the police – why did the police force allow such acts to occur in their presence?
She asked SAUS how it dealt with outside infiltration into campuses which leads to more violent protests.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) said that ideally the Committee would like to see all such disagreements handled internally before students go to the streets. The majority of protests happen at the start of the year due to challenges between universities, TVET colleges and NSFAS. We do hope that these challenges are being addressed now to avoid these strikes at the beginning of the year.
Mr Letsie said that the SAPS presentation was spot on with “very nice plans”. However, when SAPS is called in it should be because there is danger to the property of the institution. It may not always be the case but ideally it should be the case. The Committee hopes that it will not see vice chancellors and principals decide to call in SAPS because of their lack of willingness to engage with the students – the largest stakeholder in the sector.
Has SAPS thought about intelligence work on student protests, around this time towards the beginning of the academic year to avoid infiltrators who want to take advantage of the situation where engagements between students and management have broken down.
This Committee agrees with the SAUS position that there is no support for any destruction of property in institutions. We are pleased that SAUS came out very clearly and strongly that there will be no destruction of property at institutions.
Mr Letsie recommended that SAPS develop a clear plan with clear actions implemented at the beginning of the academic year and going forward to deal with student protests. Perhaps, this plan could be submitted by January to both Committees. The plan should speak to how SAPS is going to deal with student protests.
What is PSIRA’s opinion on the kind of training offered by SASSETA? Is it happy with the contents of the course delivered by SASSETA? Can it indicate gaps or skills interventions to be offered by SASSETA? Are there engagements between SAPS, PSIRA and SASSETA to ensure that private security members function optimally?
There were allegations that some student accommodation owners exert pressure on students to get the universities to contract their properties for student accommodation and bypass supply chain management (SCM) process. There were allegations that some service providers pay students to exert such behaviour. Is this indeed true and what is SAUS planning to do about this? Do institutions name and shame and blacklist these service providers?
USAf stated that the Campus Safety Summit was postponed. What are the plans to ensure that it takes place before the next academic year commences? Can USAf look into doing a virtual Summit? This Summit must happen before the 2022 academic year.
Mr Letsie proposed that this kind of meeting is held at least twice a year – towards the end of March to highlight challenges and lessons learnt and then again late in the year.
He asked USAf what happens when workers are on strike – who guides the university to prevent destruction of property. What is its view on insourcing? He asked USAf to submit the 2019 report submitted to the Minister of Police to the Committee. Members would like to see what was raised in that report and the recommendations made.
Mr Letsie concluded that stakeholders had some good plans but the issue was execution. He urged SAUS that its message condemning the destruction of property during student protests be sent out.
Mr O Terblanche (DA) welcomed the informative presentations. There is a broad understanding of issues at hand. Everybody acknowledged the right of the students to protest. There seems there is understanding that the problem is between the management of the institutions and the students and that is something SAPS cannot do anything about. Since they seem to understand this problem, more needs to be done to ensure that this relationship is mended. He was concerned about the USAf presentation stating that the Task Team ceased to exist. Everybody seems to understand what the problems are but they do not engage with each other. We should encourage them to go and engage and report back to this Committee.
PSIRA said that certain security companies involved themselves in crowd control without being credited and trained for this service. He was pleased that they were being investigated and that they may be charged.
What amounts were spent in the current financial year on security? The numbers were very low.
The SAPS presentation was excellent – there is a plan in place but SAPS can admit that plan is not yet rolled out properly. Moving to registration at institutions, how do we prepare the police this time around? The National Commissioner said that the police were unable to fulfil their Section 205 constitutional obligations. We need to have an integrated approach; we cannot have a silo approach as we have at the moment.
Mr H Shembeni (EFF) said the construction tenders are also the cause for the escalation of protests – these perpetrators perpetuate these. This goes to SAPS Intelligence to investigate if the third force infiltration allegations were indeed true and who they were. Is it the students burning these properties or is it the infiltrators? This is something that SAPS Intelligence can reveal.
Mr Shembeni asked if there is a uniform approach by universities on SAPS access to campuses. What was the involvement of private security during the 2021 student protests? Did SAPS record any incident of a private security guard responsible for violence during protests? Are universities cooperating with SAPS in investigations against students in violent student protests? Are there SAPS liaison officers employed in institutions to assist in peaceful dispute resolution? If not, SAPS should explain why this commitment made in 2017 was not carried through.
What number of criminal incidents at institutions was recorded and what were the outcomes of these investigations? How many cases were withdrawn by universities? Were any private security guards investigated for alleged criminal conduct or misconduct? What is the current personnel strength of the Public Order Policing units?
What number of serviceable Nyalas are available for use by Public Order Policing? What is the provincial distribution of these crowd control vehicles? If not adequate, what measures are being considered to enhance capacity?
Police officers are called to these protests. Criminals have more rights than police officers these days and most times police officers react with a consideration of the constitution rights of people. Once police officers are shot at, there is no IPID to investigate. However, if SAPS shoots, there is IPID to investigate. We also need to consider protecting our police officers. This is why more police officers are becoming criminals as they see that criminals seem to have more rights than them.
Ms D Mahlatsi (ANC) asked SAPS what brief does it receive from the institutions in a protest situation. In most cases, SAPS reacts differently to protesters. There were recent protests at the University of Free State (UFS) – the entire SAPS was guarding the institution. Yet when you go to the Central University of Technology (CUT), it is a different ball game altogether. What normally happens during that briefing process?
She asked SAUS how arrested students are affected on campus after the protests. These protests are an outcome of conflict between student and management engagement. There is a need to enhance inclusive engagements as the students are the biggest stakeholders. Does SAUS foresee possible protests in 2022? How best does SAUS think these protests could be mitigated before people get hurt or killed? Equally, how do we ensure that SAPS members are also protected?
The Chairperson thanked Members for their questions and comments. Before this meeting commenced, there was anxiety about how the conversation would go. Members were concerned that this conversation may take only one direction but she was pleased that it went both ways.
The Chairperson said the lack of infrastructure development in our institutions is a contributor to the security risks we see in these institutions. The suggestion was welcomed to have IPID appear before the Committee. The Campus Safety Summit is something that needs to happen and must be recommended by the joint meeting. It needs to surmount a number of security risks that concern the sector.
The Chairperson said the District Development Model (DDM) speaks to greater integration. We cannot see the development of institutions in isolation from the development in the surrounding communities. She referred to Rhodes University and Wits University and the security risks of infrastructure limitations such as accommodation. It is easier for Wits University students to find accommodation in the surrounding areas. These institutions are in communities were even the most basic items such as street lights are not working.
On the SAPS conflict management course that it rolls out, she asked if SAPS works with DIRCO on its conflict negotiation, mediation and resolution management training. This training was rolled out to SRCs across the country six years ago. At that time, as student leadership, we implored that vice chancellors should also be subject to this type of training.
She was concerned if the SAPS conflict management course was impactful and if it was consistently rolled out to police personnel and implemented by them.
She asked SAPS to send a diagram showing the overall police training process which would give the Committee a thorough understanding at which point police receive conflict management training and if it forms part of continuous training. People need to be consistently upskilled as the circumstances evolve.
It is problematic for us as the state to say that we need to put in harsh measures against student protests because there was a supposed third force that infiltrated the protest. However, why is the process not assisted by eliminating those third forces. In 2020, the University of Zululand Student Representative Council did confess to being infiltrated by a third force to damage property so that they receive the tender for property repairs or reconstruction. We need to find a way to eliminate these people who are a risk to students’ genuine concerns – what is the interface between intelligence and SAPS in protecting the authenticity of these student protests?
The Act speaks about two official languages being used to disperse the crowd, can we attest to this happening? There is also a negotiation process for reasonable time between the protesters and SAPS? What happens when police officers deviate from agreements that may have been negotiated between student protesters and SAPS on the ground? What is the consequence management when that happens?
The Act does not define weapons likely to cause bodily harm and one refers to less lethal weapons but that does not mean those weapons are not lethal. We need a clear definition on this and deal with the legislation gaps that create these grey lines that we see on the picket line. How do we deal with terminology that states ‘interventions put in place must not be greater than necessary?’ This leaves a lot of leeway for one to use their intuition and that is where perhaps a lot of challenges come about. This is not undermining the complexity that comes with dealing with protests.
Can we get confirmation if SAPS liaison officers are allocated to the TVET colleges as well as CET colleges? Do police officers want access to institutions? It seems like it takes a long time for police officers to come in and intervene at institutions during the protests? She sought clarity if police want to have access to these institutions. Perhaps, there should be a diagram that outlines the process on how the police interface with institutions and at what point the institutions require intervention from SAPS. It would assist if a framework was created so that all stakeholders are aware of this and who needs to take responsibility at what point.
Institutions of higher learning need to open their gates to Members of Parliament to assist with constituency oversight work. The SAPS presentation noted the role of community policing and that is where MPs through their constituency offices can assist in mediating better stakeholder engagement. We need to be allowed into those spaces.
We must also agree that bringing police onto campus is an agitation for the students. We do not think the police in South Africa have obtained sufficient trust by society to see the police as people who are here to protect us. There are so many members of the LGBTQIA+ community who continue to face discrimination and abuse from the police when they want to lay a case. When students see police on campus it seems like militarisation or securitisation of the campus. Therefore, why have we not invested more in ongoing stakeholder engagement to avoid the eventuality of student protests? We need to be critical as a sector whether we are investing enough effort to ensure NSFAS is working effectively and on infrastructure development
The Chairperson asked PSIRA what the private security companies use when managing and dispersing crowds. PSIRA did indicate that crowd control was not within the remit of private security but it also said that these private security companies do receive training on crowd management and dispersing. Can the Committee get clarity on this?
She asked if pepper spray, whips and flammable substances were allowed to be used by private security to disperse crowds during protests. Do private security companies have the ability and capacity to negotiate with protesters?
Does SASSETA have a partnership with SACPO? Members welcome the call to work with SASSETA to enhance better relations to mediate the space. The Committee would like to see the resuscitation of the security task team initiated by USAf after the 2015/16 student protests.
She asked PSIRA what is the difference between the private security procured by institutions on a full time basis and the one procured for a protest.
DHET needs to conduct an audit of all institutions that procure private security companies and if they are not accredited with PSIRA. What are the terms of reference sent out to the private security companies for the assistance needed by the institutions?
Could SAPS provide an indication of how many injuries and deaths the sector has seen during student protests since 2015?
Have there ever been allegations of police who colluded with third forces who seek to render institutions ungovernable for their own gain? Can PSIRA tell us about some of the irregularities by private security companies? Does the outsourced private security have the capacity to deal with crowd control or management?
Does PSIRA have a database that institutions use to procure private security companies? Does DHET have a spreadsheet of institutions that use private security on a daily basis? Does DHET have a guiding document on safety and security and protest management in institutions? What generally is the role of DHET when the police intervene inappropriately?
The Chairperson was concerned about the over-focus on students during protests because all sector stakeholders must be held accountable. It cannot be that it is only the students that are seen to be at fault. It would assist if sector stakeholders including SAPS cross-reference with other countries on dealing with student protests.
Protest action cannot be a plan of action for SRCs – one needs to follow all the steps because SRCs are governance structures at these institutions. As student leaders and the SRC plan, management must allow the SRC to present these plans. Then if we start questioning why certain things are not happening, we can refer to the plan.
Would student leaders appreciate a confidential conversation within the Security Cluster when there are risks that have been identified in the protests?
The Chairperson said that it seems that there is a general intention to strengthen the PSET sector.
Lt Gen Mkhwanazi replied that DHET would be the main role player of the Summit but SAPS will also be part of it as well as other sector stakeholders and beyond. These stakeholders will be playing a bigger role – including NGOs and other stakeholders that play a role in the sector.
Weapons used are normally a standardised firearm but for public order other techniques are utilised which do not cause serious harm or death if used properly.
On the guidelines with PSIRA, these were taken care of but there was a problem at the end to proceed to finalisation because of problems with the legislation. There is legislation that guides SAPS on crowd control but for security companies there is not. This was still a challenge because bridging the legislation gap was a problem.
On intelligence to establish infiltration, in NATJOINTS, there is a priority committee where they sit with individuals from institutions of higher learning as well as basic education. As they brief SAPS, they are able to understand the situation. We have the Intelligence Coordinating Committee (ICC) involved – different intelligence working together. In the NATJOINTS Priority Committee information comes forward about matters that may not have surfaced amongst the public yet.
The plan is that there must be coordination between SAPS and universities. There must always be coordination – if anything happens SAPS must know and engage with the universities. This means that if any problem arises a venue operational centre (VOC) must be erected in the institution.
There are liaison officers. SAPS started with a big number but due to retirement, promotions, resignations and transfers, that number has gone down.
Campus security officials are viewed as first responders to contain the situation. They do not repel the students but protect property. It would be campus security calling SAPS for intervention. There must be telephone numbers of station commanders because they can dispatch police officers.
SAPS will provide all the information on injuries, deaths and GBVF cases dating back from 2016 in more detail.
SAPS Divisional Commissioner: Visible Policing and Operations, Lt Gen Michael Motlhala, said that SAPS wants to commit itself to working very closely with stakeholders to ensure that the Campus Safety Summit was prioritised and that all institutions have campus safety plans. SAPS will ensure that the root cause analysis was conducted and that it intensified intelligence gathering in all institutions to get early warning signs to prevent violent protests. It will work closely with the stakeholders to conduct education and awareness in institutions and the Department to prevent GBVF incidents.
As SAPS we are committed to increase our human capacity. Last year 7 000 SAPS members were supposed to be trained but that could not happen due to Covid-19. The situation was monitored closely to ensure that this training did take place and priority will be given to increase community policing capacity.
The rest of the responses will be submitted to the Committee in writing.
Mr Mdontswa replied that whenever SASSETA developed course content it is done with its stakeholders such as SAPS and PSIRA all the way to the approval of that course content. SASSETA conducts impact studies on its courses to obtain understanding if there needs to be improvements or changes.
SASSETA is not part of the Steering Committee of the Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal. It understood that there was still a feasibility study on the nature of the institution. SASSETA will be participating in the latter phases of the development of this new university. The SETA would be more involved in matters to do with course content development.
On the extent of investment in training, in 2021/22 SASSETA has contracts to the value of R63 million for SAPS training and development. This is out of a total budget of R365 million. The SETA is one of the smallest SETAs by revenue – in the previous year it was R365 million and about 48% of it comes from the private security space. There is a demand from the private security sub-sector for skills development and the SETA must commit an amount equal to its contribution. The R63 million is just for the policing sector which included SAPS, IPID, Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and a few provincial departments responsible for community safety.
The SETA does work with SACPO but at a high level on research and policy matters but there is a good working relationship with SACPO.
Dr Chalufu appreciated the request for the resuscitation of the USAf security task team. It is a critical structure and it assists in proactive engagements on these matters. However, we will ensure that it is now more inclusive of the sector stakeholders. He appealed to stakeholders to recruit staff members who work at student affairs units because they worked very closely with student leaders. They are often ignored but when challenges come from students then they revert back to us.
The 2019 Report that was submitted to the Minister of Police will be provided to the Committee as requested. USAf fully supported the integrated approach in dealing with an inclusive stakeholder engagement.
Part of the USAf transformation strategy projects is one that looks at the building models of universities that are seriously and intrinsically engaged in local content. The better way is to ensure that we work together on that.
On student leaders being able to present their plans to management, part of the article that has been submitted speaks about these effective engagements between student leaders and management.
Mr Naidoo commented that there is a process of accreditation for student accommodation and there are some excellent private accommodation service providers. However, the complexity arises when student put on pressure to use accommodation of their own choice. Often this is less than ideal accommodation and far off the accreditation standards. Many of these landlords also pressurise the students – sometimes the students work hand in hand with the landlords to increase rental accommodation. This is a minority of cases.
Many institutions had to create an off-campus resident management unit – the idea is to assist students when they are challenged by landlords or when landlords are not honouring the safety and security aspects of the accommodation. Many institutions have created off-campus security units to patrol the areas where our students live. Sometimes the landlords, once they get paid, do not bother about our students. From 2022, the guidelines have been adjusted for on-campus accommodation to be preferred.
On in-sourced security, some institutions have in-sourced security staff but there is the issue of independence. You cannot get an external security company once you have an agreement with the unions that when there is a strike you may not bring any other workers on campus. The ideal would be to out-source but compliance must be top priority. Security costs are huge costs and many institutions are trying to manage these.
The Chairperson suggested that if there are institutions that would have liked to be part of these engagements or have inputs on what has been discussed today, those institutions can send through those inputs to the Committee.
Mr Gumedze replied about the 'SAPS delayed response'. The research findings from 2019 on higher education institutions resorting to private security companies was that some institutions would be specific on procuring companies skilled in crowd management but PSIRA was not adequately equipped to undertake that role.
On the training offered by SASSETA, PSIRA does collaborate from time to time with SASSETA in upskilling or contributing to training. SASSETA does have a course that is accredited on crowd management although SAPS has a legal monopoly when it comes to crowd management. There is a difference between crowd management and crowd control – when crowd management is required there has to be an application to SAPS.
There is also a difference between offensive and defensive mode when private security companies are utilised. They are not allowed to be on the offensive mode. The security guards can be on defensive mode only to safeguard and protect the property of institutions, and not on the offensive mode that requires use of weapons. We continue to engage with SAPS and SASSETA on this matter.
On the role of private security companies in student protests – this is very clear from Section 1 of the PSIRA Act, which defines a security service – it is to safeguard and to protect property and people in any manner that is within the law.
Crowd management is beyond the role of the private security sector and this was within the purview of SAPS. In many institutions, there is an in-house security service as well as an external security service but they both cannot engage in crowd control. It is beyond the legal definition in the PSIRA Act.
On the matter of tactical private security guards – the ones that look like the police or the army – this matter has been seen in the past and some of them are not necessarily registered with PSIRA.
There is a PSIRA database and app where you are able to check if a specific company or security guard is registered with PSIRA. We also encourage institutions of higher learning that whosoever is employed is registered with PSIRA.
Adv Howard Thwane, PSIRA Senior Manager: Legal Services, commented on the use of weaponry equipment. PSIRA has a regulation that dealt with weapons but it does not go as far as to state what equipment may be used or not. However, whatever weaponry is used by a registered security service provider, it must be registered. When a security service provider attends to a student protest, the security service provider must approach PSIRA and also indicate the type of equipment that will be used.
In 2017, PSIRA issued a directive and a number of universities did not take kindly to the directive and PSIRA was forced to withdraw the directive because it was also not empowered by legislation. PSIRA sought legal opinion on this and the opinion said that PSIRA was indeed acting beyond its powers and the directive was subsequently withdrawn. PSIRA will also put in place measures that suggest the type of weaponry that may be used during the student protests.
Dr Sishi said that it was humbling to see the security cluster committing itself to resolving concerns about violence within the PSET sector. On the GBVF matter, DHET will ensure that it will strengthen its measures on this.
The Department will certainly report on its progress on the work that will be done in the sector on the concerns raised by Members. We must deal with communication in the sector and DHET commits itself to ensuring that it will take the initiative. It agrees that this presents an opportunity to strengthen policies and identify any needs for policy development and implementation.
The Department will commit to the resolutions made in the meeting today.
SACPO and SAUS responses
SACPO and SAUS did not provide responses as they had departed the meeting early. The Committee resolved to seek their responses for submission to the Committee by 6 December.
The Chairperson made a vote of thanks to all the stakeholders and was pleased with how the direction of the conversation took shape. Although not all stakeholders were part of this meeting, the majority of the stakeholders did come.
We can all agree that all issues that came up today were critical in the sector. We should resolve that there must be an increase in stakeholder engagement and communication amongst institutions of higher learning, the Department, SAUS and the TVET Students Association (SATVETSA). The master plan was being drafted on the PSET sector and so much work has already been done as articulated by SAPS. However, we need to consolidate those efforts or plan and come up with a progressive plan that will be implemented across the sector. There must also be better synergy between police stations and institutions.
The meeting was adjourned.
Joemat-Pettersson, Ms TM
Mkhatshwa, Ms NT
Boshoff, Dr WJ
Groenewald, Dr PJ
King, Ms C
Letsie, Mr WT
Lotriet, Prof A
Mahlatsi, Ms KD
Mananiso, Ms JS
Mathale, Mr C
Molekwa, Ms MA
Seabi, Mr M A
Shembeni, Mr HA
Sibiya, Ms DP
Terblanche, Mr OS
Yabo, Mr BS
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