Panel of Experts Report on Policing & Crowd Management; Crime Statistics; with Deputy Minister

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08 December 2021
Chairperson: Ms T Joemat-Pettersson (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


In a virtual meeting, the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) and members of the Panel of Experts briefed the Committee on the "Panel of Experts Report on Policing and Crowd Management" handed to the Police Minister in 2018 for the South African Police Service (SAPS) to implement its recommendations. The Panel was appointed in 2016 following the findings and recommendations from the Farlam Commission on the 2012 Marikana tragedy. The aim of the Panel was to analyse the Commission recommendations and work towards professionalisation of SAPS. The Police Minister only released the Panel of Experts report to be public in March 2021.
The Committee commended the Panel of Experts for a job well done. Committee members reflected on the two extreme incidents – the Marikana incident characterised by an overreaction by the police and the July 2021 KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng unrest characterised by under performance of the police. In both incidents, the police were criticised for their policing and crowd management. Members were concerned that little had been done about implementation and asked the Deputy Minister, SAPS National Commissioner, CSPS, and members of the Panel of Experts to respond this concern.

Members asked the Panel of Experts if it categorised its recommendations in terms of priority. Some of the recommendations would require an amendment to the SAPS Act and Members asked if these recommendations had been factored into the Draft SAPS Amendment Bill. The Committee noted it will require a continuous and collaborative effort to ensure the recommendations are implemented with CSPS and the Committee providing oversight.

The Committee was also briefed on the Annual Crime Statistics from April 2020 to March 2021 with the SAPS National Commissioner answering the Committee's questions.

Members asked why the top 30 high-crime police stations have remained the same. They expressed concern that the crime statistics are not a true reflection of what is happening on the ground, and were also concerned about under reporting. They questioned if enough was being done to encourage communities to report crime, especially under-reported offences; what steps were taken to prevent the manipulation of crime statistics at station level; and why SAPS claims it is under resourced yet there is huge under expenditure across its programmes. Several Members spoke about their experience of poor service at police stations. How are people supposed to report a crime when they receive poor service? They urged SAPS to get its priorities straight.

Meeting report

Panel of Experts Report on Policing and Crowd Management
Ms Bilkis Omar, CSPS Chief Director: Policy and Research, covered the following (see document):
• Background: What went wrong at Marikana? Appointment of Panel and Terms of Reference
• Professionalisation, Accountability and Demilitarisation of SAPS
• Crowd Management and Public Order Policing (POP)
- Protest and crowd management
- Right to peaceful assembly and the problem of protest related violence
- Need to maintain POP as a specialist crowd management capability
- Doctrine, capacity, command of operations and R5 rifles
- Holistic framework for addressing public violence
• Implementation.

Chairperson comments
The Chairperson thanked Ms Omar for the detailed presentation. She commended the Panel of Experts for a job well done. The report is very detailed and was four years in the making. SAPS should have already implemented some if not all of the recommendations as the report was completed two years ago. It was released to the public recently. The panelists should be really comfortable with the fact that this Committee will not allow this report to gather dust and be forgotten in some filing cabinet. She asked that the Panel of Experts be allowed the opportunity to comment.

Panel of Experts remarks
Mr David Bruce, Independent Researcher and panel member, said that he would comment by reflecting on the July 2021 unrest. There has been quite a lot of discussion about the police response to the unrest. There is a question about the way in which the better implementation of the Panel Report might have assisted the police in responding better to the unrest.

The Chairperson said that Mr Bruce made a valuable comment that is particularly relevant to the current situation. The Committee has been following the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) inquiry on the July 2021 violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, and awaits that report which it will interrogate. There were many recommendations made by the Panel of Experts and if followed and implemented, then the country would not be in the position it is today. She thinks that this is a historic report that should be recognised. This Committee fought to have the Panel of Experts Report published and will, again, fight to have it implemented.

Ms Adèle Kirsten, Small Arms Control Analyst and panel member, said that the Panel of Experts met for just over two years. There were some real challenges in the beginning as the panel members came from different perspectives; but by the time the report was written in March 2018, there was consensus on the final report amongst the senior SAPS officials on the panel and the rest of the panel members.

It would be useful to request SAPS to give a more detailed response on where it is with implementation, what kind of further training has happened and the use of weapons and equipment for public order policing (POP) units. The panel made several recommendations on the use of stun grenades, tear gas and other weapons used under SAPS command. Some of them were suggested not to be used.

Further training is needed, in particular, on the principle of differentiation, and if this has been understood and is being applied in response to public order protests. There is extraordinary detail in the report and it would be useful for the Committee and SAPS members to pull in the panel members where appropriate on particular sections. The panel members have different areas of expertise. She recommended that a space is created for further exploration of the key recommendations and encouraged the Committee to call in panel members for specific briefings. It is long overdue, yet gratifying to see the report come before the Committee at this point.

The Chairperson thanked Ms Kirsten for her valuable input. She is sure that Ms Kirsten is cognisant of the fact that the Committee is very supportive of this report. The Committee has really done everything to ensure that the report is presented to the Committee.

Dr Philip Jacobs, CSPS legal drafter and panel member, noted there are many recommendations for the proposed amendment to the SAPS Act, as well as the Regulation of Gatherings Act. He was with SAPS Legal Services when the Panel of Experts started its work, and he retired in 2017. However, it was requested that he remain on the Panel of Experts in terms of the continuity of the work. He is presently working on contract with the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) assisting with legislation. He was privileged to be part of the Panel of Experts. Three years ago, when they started with the review of the SAPS Act, he immediately used the Panel of Experts recommendations as one of the basic policy documents that needed to be interrogated, in the overall review of the SAPS Act.

The SAPS Amendment Draft Bill was published on 23 October 2020 for public comment and there were public hearings. The Department has already briefed the Committee on the developments of the Draft Bill. At the moment there is only one point outstanding which deals with the funding of the transfer of the functions of the Community Policing Forums (CPFs), which is a very important aspect of the Bill, and also the relationship between the public and police service. There is trust that this will be solved to enable this Bill to be submitted as soon as possible for Cabinet approval for introduction of the Bill into Parliament.

The Panel of Experts took note of the Mlungwana court case that eventually went to the Constitutional Court. The Panel of Experts preempted the outcome of the court case which was addressed in the recommendations. The effect of the judgement was that the convening of a gathering without giving notice is no longer regarded as a criminal offence. CSPS has looked at the Panel Report and tried as far as possible to address the points raised by the Panel of Experts about the Regulation of Gatherings Act.

When the Marikana event happened, Standing Order 262 of the SAPS Act regulated the use of force at gatherings. Thereafter, the revised National Instruction 1 of 2014 was issued and also interrogated by the Panel of Experts. There were many comments on the National Instruction.

In the regulatory environment, CSPS is looking at the Regulation of Gatherings Act, which is now amended, together with the SAPS Act. However, what must still happen is the review of the National Instruction 1 of 2014 by SAPS in line with the Panel of Experts recommendation. Looking at the recommendations, one realises that it is not possible to address all the recommendations through legislation itself. National instructions and other instruments might be more appropriate as legislation is not always drafted in much detail. There are definitely things that can be done in the review of the National Instruction.

Mr Gareth Newham, Institute for Security Studies and panel member, spoke about how the recommendations for SAPS could be implemented or further engaged with in a meaningful way. These not only requires changes to legislation but also changes to ministerial regulations, standing orders, practices and other policies. Given that a couple of years has passed since the report was handed to the Minister, and that there have been many developments in SAPS, and things are changing all the time; it would be useful if a team is set up between CSPS, key members of the SAPS top management team, panel members and potentially others with specific expertise to really look at how these recommendations can be implemented, how best that take place, what it would look like and what has been implemented. If there are problems with some recommendations that cannot be implemented, perhaps an alternative is looked at to achieve the ultimate objective, which is professional, principle-based policing in South Africa. If this work continues as a potential way forward, it can then be reported on to the Committee for a much more detailed use of the report to improve policing in South Africa in a collaborative way between the SAPS, CSPS, panel members, other potential experts and the Committee.

Mr Eldred de Klerk, Africa Analysis and panel member, thanked the panel members, both local and international counterparts, who gave a lot of their time and effort. The panel met over two years; however, they only met every few months for a very short period of time; so, given the volume of work that the panel was able to generate this needs to be commended. There were also others involved like the CSPS, various ministers and deputy ministers and their staff. The panel also engaged with civil society to make contributions. All of this should be on record. He encourages CSPS and SAPS to become the custodian of the body of knowledge that the panel was able to generate.

The panel was graciously led by the late Judge Ntshangase, and the panel will forever be grateful for his leadership, wisdom and insight. He thanked those that kept the panel together and ensured meetings happened and the SAPS members who were part of the panel. It took a while for the panel to get to a point of understanding on the intentions and different level of expertise and to understand that the common purpose is to ensure a transformed public service in SAPS that serves all of South Africa’s people.

On the transformation process, he reminded the Committee that part of the budget and programme of the panel was to hand this work over to a transformation task team that is supposed to be the custodian of the implementation of the work towards a professionalised, demilitarised, transformed and principle-based SAPS, where service delivery becomes the yardstick. The panel members now sit with the dilemma that they must leave and thank the Committee for its commitment and trust the Committee to be the custodian, watchdog and leader in ensuring there is political will to translate the report into action. SAPS has acted on a number of the recommendations. The panel members trust and invite all stakeholders to continue to walk this process, together with the Committee and SAPS. The panel's commitment remains to serve the Committee, the country and the people and to serve SAPS to ensure that its integrity, credibility and its purpose is best served by everyone putting their heads together.

He thanked all who were involved in the panel and those who have worked tirelessly, outside of the recognition of the panel members, to ensure that the panel was able to work, lead and produce the report and a body of knowledge, which they will continue to hold and be custodians of.

Mr Cassel Mathale, Deputy Minister of Police, suggested that it would be appropriate to allow a SAPS representative who was part of the panel to comment, because it is a product that SAPS has contributed to.

Lt Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner, said that he was part of the Panel of Experts. As Component Head for Public Order Policing, his task thereafter was to see what could be done in the meantime, while awaiting the release of the report; no time was wasted. From 2016 until 2019/20 there was definitely a lot of work done, especially on the physical resources for public order policing. However, in 2020/21 everything came to a standstill with Covid-19 and the training could not continue.

The Deputy Minister interjected and said that the intention was not to express what was done by SAPS thereafter, but just to indicate who was part of the panel and contributed to the production of the report. The Committee Members will further ask the Panel of Experts what they have done.

Mr O Terblanche (DA) said that he was impressed by the presentation. It is clear that a lot of thought went into the report and a lot of ground has been covered by the panel. He was pleased to see that Dr Jacobs was involved, as he is a very competent man in the field of legislation. It is obvious that quite a lot of work has emanated from that and got filtered into future legislation. As far as the police are concerned, in a way he feels very sorry for them, because quite a lot of things will have to be done. He is glad to hear from Lt Gen Mkhwanazi that they have started already. It is also important that the police agree with the recommendations and thereafter implement, align and train to bring the police in line and to professionalise them to ensure they are able to deal with such incidents in a professional fashion.

At some stage, the Committee needs to get a presentation from the police indicating exactly where they stand at the moment. He compared the Marikana situation, to the July 2021 KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng unrest. During the Marikana situation there was an overreaction from the police and what had happened was horrendous. During the July 2021 unrest, there was total underperformance by the police. It is difficult to assess and understand exactly what happened on the ground but what was seen in the media is that the police were merely uniformed armed bystanders, and they obviously got a lot of criticism for that.

There is a lot that needs to be done, and his perception is that the police are not nearly there, but it is not entirely their fault. The police are understaffed, undertrained and under resourced, so there is a lot of ground that must be covered. He looks forward to when SAPS will come before the Committee and give a presentation on exactly where they stand. He is quite surprised that the police apparently just agreed to some of these far-reaching recommendations; he wondered how this would impact on the police ability for crowd control. He asked if the Panel of Experts has operational expertise; he has been there in his life himself. It is very difficult for the police to comply with some of these things to the “t”.

Mr H Shembeni (EFF) referred to the recommendations and asked if SAPS has done anything about the concerns about the National Policing Board that speak to standards, recruitment, appointment and promotion within SAPS. He asked about the political pressure on SAPS officials which makes them act in a biased or inappropriate manner. This sometimes does not originate from national level but at provincial and local level. This has been seen in Mpumalanga, where there have been a lot of deaths of politicians, and the investigations are unknown and there are no results. There were suspects and people were arrested, but after that nothing was done.

He would like a SAPS briefing on what is happening with the demilitarisation and professionalisation of the police. He asked for clarity on the different ranks and salary levels.

A lot of questions were not answered, as the Committee awaits SAPS response to the panel recommendations. After so many years since, nothing has been happening, and the term of senior officials will lapse and new officials will come in who again do not do anything and who do not have any idea of what was happening. For instance, today there is a National Commissioner who was not involved in the Marikana issue, yet today he must answer. The Committee should ensure that there are timeframes so it knows when to expect a response from management. When it comes to the capacity of management and the recommendations, one can see there are people who are in positions but they do not know what to do. He questioned how this happens. When people are promoted, they must be evaluated. Meanwhile, the real police officers are on the ground dying and resigning because of the pressure. He questioned the criteria for promotion to senior management; one cannot just promote for the sake of promoting. Senior management must be experienced and have qualifications. He questioned how a commander without qualifications is above those with qualifications, which is exactly what happens in the SAPS.

He suggested that the National Policing Board help the Minister and National Commissioner addressing promotions, because it is totally failing SAPS. There are people who have been part of SAPS for more than 30 years that are still warrant officers today. Those members are loyal to SAPS, but instead promotions are treated like a business. If SAPS follows the Panel of Experts recommendations, then there will be a lot of changes in SAPS , especially discipline. There is a mixed service in SAPS, which is the problem and it is caused by officials with egos who want their own people promoted. He expressed concern that officers are dying because they cannot use their firearms. They wear uniform but cannot protect themselves in front of criminals and they drive past accidents that they cannot do anything about. He urged that if the decision is made to employ Public Service Act personnel in SAPS, then they should undergo the complete and necessary training.

Mr A Seabi (ANC) agreed that SAPS members are really in trouble, especially based on the two extreme incidents pointed out by Mr Terblanche. That was the Marikana incident where the police used force and were blamed by society; and the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng unrest where SAPS did not use force but society still blamed the police. Perhaps SAPS should do a presentation on how they plan to successfully implement the panel recommendations. Considering that there are so many recommendations, he asked the Panel of Experts if it categorised its recommendations in terms of priority, for instance short term, medium term or long term. It would be difficult to implement all of the recommendations at once. He asked if there were timeframes by when particular recommendations should have been implemented. He asked the Panel of Experts if it was in its mandate to monitor the implementation of the recommendations. He asked the Deputy Minister for the attitude of the political leadership on the Panel of Experts recommendations.

There are some recommendations that will require an amendment to the SAPS Act. He asked if these recommendations have been factored into SAPS Amendment Bill that is underway. He asked what was meant by the professionalisation of policing.

Deputy Minister response
The Deputy Minister said that SAPS Amendment Draft Bill underway has considered the panel recommendations. SAPS have already been responding since 2016, to date, on the observations made to ensure that the Department prepares for the police to be in line with the panel recommendations. Commissions are appointed for a specific purpose, and in this case, it was specifically because of what had happened at Marikana, and this mandate has been executed very well as seen by the report. It is now government that has to take this process forward. Government, particularly SAPS, has taken ownership of the report and already started to work on it. When the Committee submits its report to the National Assembly, then the NA will follow up on the issues outlined; moving forward, the Department will also have to account to the Committee.

The Panel of Experts effectively ends in this meeting; it will then be up to the Committee to play the oversight role over the Department. At this moment, the Department cannot state that it is going to implement everything, it is not feasible, but where possible it will implement some of the panel recommendations. The legislation amendment process has already been kick started, and these matters have been discussed under the Committee’s leadership. On many occasions there was discussion to prioritise the amendment of SAPS Act so that it is in line with the Constitution; these amendments were also guided by the Panel of Experts recommendations. It will be a continuous and collaborative effort to ensure that the recommendations of the Panel of Experts are implemented. There is no way that this report will gain dust in a filing cabinet, because the implementation of some recommendations has already started. Ultimately when the new SAPS Amendment Bill is assented to by the President, it will be a product that has taken into consideration the Panel of Experts recommendations.

Panel member response
Mr Bruce answered about the implementation of the Panel Report. One cannot seriously say that the Panel Report has been implemented. It is clearly correct to say that in developing the draft amendments to the SAPS Act, there has been engagement with the Panel Report recommendations relevant to legislation. Beyond that, respectfully, he would seriously question the idea that there has been any proper engagement with the Panel Report. His understanding of this is because of the issue of ownership of the report. The Panel of Experts was appointed in 2016 when Minister Nhleko was the Minister of Police; by the time the panel had completed its work and submitted its report, Minister Cele had become the Minister of Police. He does not think that there has been any full ownership of the report at the ministerial level. There has not ever been a full backing at a political level for the report implementation.

Mr Bruce emphasised that he does not see the Panel Report as being a document of the status of a bible or constitution, there is still room for critical engagement on the Panel Report. No one should blindly implement the recommendations; nevertheless, the work of the panel is a very considerable engagement with the challenges facing SAPS including the terrain of public order policing. A body needs to be constituted whose mandate is to monitor the Panel Report implementation, in that process there should be allowance for further critical engagement. There are clearly resource constraints on South Africa as a country and SAPS; not everything that the panel calls for can necessarily be done. But if there is seriousness about moving forward with policing in South Africa and strengthening its public order policing then the Panel Report is worthy of a serious engagement and consideration, and much of it is worthy of implementation.

Mr Bruce referred to the experience of Northern Ireland where, during the transformation of the policing system, there was something equivalent to the panel of the experts, that is the Patten Commission, where after issuing their Patten Report on Policing, it was recognised that it would be necessary to establish a monitoring mechanism to ensure the recommendations were effected.

The Panel of Experts report does not have a clear recommendation on the need for a monitoring mechanism. Some panel members thought the panel members should be involved in the implementation of recommendations. The essential point is that much of what needs to be done, needs to be done by various government components. At the very least, somebody or some group of people need to be tasked with the responsibility of monitoring implementation. The monitoring mechanism itself would then need to have reporting obligations.

Secretary for Police response
Mr Alvin Rapea, Secretary for Police, CSPS, said that the responsibility of CSPS is to ensure that the r of the Panel of Experts recommendations are implemented through oversight. The Minister of Police has given instruction to the National Police Commissioner to implement and an implementation plan must be populated; and CSPS has been instructed to monitor the implementation of the implementation plan. There is an observation that not many resources have been allocated to deal with this. CSPS has not seen SAPS make an effort to ensure that these recommendations are taken on board seriously. He is sorry to say that this will be in the report provided to the Minister. There was clear instruction from the Minister on what needs to be done.

Ms Omar confirmed that CSPS has developed a policy framework on the National Policing Board.

SAPS response
Gen Khehla Sitole, National Police Commissioner, expressed his appreciation to the Panel of Experts for a splendid job in producing a report intended to assist SAPS to change its current situation, moving from the Marikana phase right up to the recent unrest. He also thanked the Panel of Experts for their preparedness to avail themselves in trying to assist with implementation.

Gen Sitole said he would like to give a strategic overview on what exactly SAPS has done, and perhaps how SAPS can speed up the implementation process and cover a broader scope. The first handicap is that there have been no resource requirements determined for the implementation of the recommendations. Immediately after the implementation plan was put in place, SAPS started with its execution. There has been a resource cut which impacted the implementation. There has also been growing developments which created other challenges. For instance the judgment referred to the increase in the number of protests, which demanded higher numbers of SAPS personnel to respond, yet on the other hand the personnel plan was scaled down.

Gen Sitole referred to the resource requirements to implement legislation. One of them is the Public Order Police (POP) policy, which was pronounced six years ago. One of the key objectives of this policy was the total revamp of the fleet of Nyala armored vehicles and aircraft fleet. The revamping of the fleet of Nyala vehicles alone required R21 billion, but SAPS did not have one billion in the budget. The aircraft fleet was estimated at R50 billion, and SAPS was supposed to ensure that legislation was complied with and implemented in the same year of pronouncement. There is other legislation that brings in resource requirements, with some promulgated by other departments. For instance, SAPS must give part of its personnel establishment to support the Disaster Management Act. This is giving what SAPS does not have, which would impact police stations and introduce other challenges. He urged that it is important for SAPS to get resources support where it needs to implement.

Gen Sitole agreed that perhaps the recommendations need to be prioritised and categorised. There are some recommendations that can be implemented without much cost implication or resource requirements, and these recommendations are already implemented. There are those recommendations that require medium to long-term solutions, where SAPS would first need to acquire resources and approach National Treasury, and perhaps even escalate the matter at Cluster and Cabinet level. With the current cost constraints, there are some recommendations that SAPS cannot afford to implement at all, and this will need to be planned for the future.

Overall, he has instructed the incorporation, integration and alignment of the implementation plan into SAPS operational plan, as well the strategic plan. The recommendations are now part and parcel of SAPS implementation. There is a need for collaboration when implementing, because there are developments happening on the side that impact the recommendations. This will require consultation and engagement with the different stakeholders. The detailed report required by the Committee will be compiled and made available.

Lt Gen Mkhwanazi replied that it is true that SAPS has been handling most of the concerns. SAPS started the implementation process immediately after the 2015 release of Judge Ian Farlam’s recommendations. From 2016 onwards, many concerns have been dealt with. At the time the Panel of Experts handed over its recommendations, SAPS then looked at those that were more operational, especially for public order policing; this is still being worked on. Some recommendations can be implemented short-term but others are long-term. SAPS was able to implement the short-term recommendations without wasting time. He agreed that SAPS will prepare a presentation for the Committee to explain what it had done from 2016 to date in addressing all the challenges SAPS experienced in implementing the recommendations.

Chairperson's conclusion
The Chairperson said that the Committee had prioritised to review the Panel of Experts Report before the end of 2021. The Committee does consider this report to be very important. SAPS will be asked to provide its implementation plan on the report. SAPS must respond to the Panel of Experts Report through the CSPS. One has to bear in mind that this report is four years in the making, and SAPS stated that it has already started implementing some of the recommendations. The Committee thanks the Panel of Experts for its work. When the Committee reviews the SAPS Amendment Bill, it will pay detailed attention to the recommendations and how they have been taken up in Amendment Bill.

If one looks at the budget and money spent on this report, one will realise that SAPS cannot afford to not implement it. The report will be taken to the National Assembly and be further processed by the CSPS. The CSPS must monitor the implementation of the Panel of Experts Report and the Committee will also monitor its implementation.

Annual Crime Statistics 2020/21
Maj Gen Norman Sekhukhune, SAPS Head: Crime and Research Statistics, briefed the Committee and the following topics in the crime statistics analysis were covered (see document):
• Broad categories of crime
• Highlights of the 17 community-reported serious crimes
• National crime overview
• Contact crime
• Kidnapping
• Contact-related crime
• Property-related crime
• Other serious crime
• Crime dependent on police action for detection
• Provincial crime overview

The Chairperson addressed the National and Provincial Commissioners and said her concern is a justified concern and she will not allow them to get away with it any longer. She asked why the top 30 crime-hit police stations have remained the same. What steps were taken to address the crime in the top 30 areas? Why is Nyanga police station on top? It was taken off for the last two years but now it is back on top. What has been done to take these stations off this list? Since she arrived in this Committee, she has asked these questions. It means that SAPS is not working to reduce the crime in those listed areas. Nyanga police station is where a constable is alleged to have raped someone this week. This Committee will not have the crime statistics presented to it and SAPS has to run off to a press briefing, leaving the Committee unable to interrogate those crime statistics.

SAPS presents statistics that show a reduction in crime, but people on the ground are losing confidence not only in SAPS but in this Committee’s ability to monitor and oversee the work of SAPS. Why are the crime statistics no longer trusted? SAPS had presented a draft Crime Statistics Data Dissemination Policy to revise access to crime statistics during the year. When will the policy be approved? SAPS is also supposed to have a policing policy before it brings the SAPS Amendment Bill – it is in the Constitution that SAPS must provide this. She questioned how they have released crime statistics without policy, and without the crime statistics data dissemination policy. The SAPS crime statistics are beginning to worry the Committee. SAPS is not using relevant population estimates. Why is SAPS still using 2017 population estimates to calculate crime ratios per 100 000 people. This means the crime statistics are not a true reflection of what is happening on the ground.

SAPS must present the per capita ratios of contact crimes for each province to allow the Committee a more accurate comparison between the provinces. She asked that SAPS adapt its strategies to combat crime, based on the lessons learnt, including the lessons from the lockdown restrictions and from the analysis of 2020/21. She questioned if SAPS is doing enough to encourage communities to report crime, especially those offences that are often underreported.

On the underspending on core programmes, Crime Intelligence underspent by R70 million. How would SAPS anticipate certain crimes if crime intelligence has been eroded and there is underspending. Visible Policing underspent by R2.6 billion; Detective Services underspent by almost R1 billion. If Detective Services is underspending, then how is crime being addressed? The Auditor-General pointed out that there was an prior year outstanding R3.4 billion in irregular expenditure under investigation. The under expenditure is R4 billion. The explanations that SAPS supplies the Committee are inconsistent.

She asked how the performance of police stations is measured on crime statistics. What steps are taken to prevent the manipulation of crime statistics at station level? Are petty crimes taken seriously? The 2016 White Paper on Safety and Security has been gathering dust somewhere. It spoke about a holistic approach to crime prevention and crime fighting. She asked if this White Paper had been forgotten about or if there are plans to have it implemented.

Mr Shembeni addressed the Provincial Commissioners about the top 30 crime-hit police stations and asked about the rank structure and capacity of those stations in terms of personnel, vehicles and other resources. He asked if there was enough space to accommodate more leadership and more personnel. The station commander at Nyanga police station has been there for five years and he has been failing to do anything about the situation in that area. He probably does not worry about that as long as he gets paid. A station commander must worry and not sleep. The station commanders do not visit their stations and do as they please. This is evident from the officer registers at the police stations.

He urged that when politicians and the National Commissioner visit those stations, they should check what those stations need and what they are not doing right, so there can be intervention. The station commanders need to be disciplined themselves, so they can discipline the SAPS members under their command. He suggested that the top crime-hit stations should be observed per province, where the provincial commissioner and the station commanders can account. He suggested that the Committee should do surprise oversight visits at those stations not doing well as he knows some manipulate crime statistics. The Committee should go directly to those stations and get the crime statistics themselves. The crime statistics are not a true reflection of what is really happening.

Mr Terblanche had the same concerns, especially that the crime statistics at the top 30 police stations remain the same. He is also worried about possible underreporting of crime. There is no certainty that people report crime. There are serious issues within the crime statistics as well. Nobody seems concerned about the murder of police officers, one does not read a lot about it in the media. It is regarded as business as usual when police officers are murdered on a daily basis; there is no serious effort at intervention.

The increase in crime in rural and farming communities is very worrying. The increase in cash-in-transit robberies is concerning. However, the main concern is gender-based violence; there have been significant increases in the murder of women and children.

It is high time that the policing style employed by SAPS must be scrutinised. There are excuses of SAPS not being properly equipped, yet there are huge under expenditures, then the Committee is made to believe that the police cannot perform because they do not have the necessary funding for that. He has been working in this environment for a very long time, and he knows that if a department does not spend its allocation, then it becomes all the more difficult to persuade National Treasury to allocate more funding for that underspending department.

The police need to get serious about crime prevention and crime detection because there have been huge under expenditures; yet SAPS complains it does not have resources. He travels to a lot of police stations and he does not see many engaged in crime prevention. He does not see a lot of police around. He is concerned that it is almost impossible to contact police management after hours; they are unavailable and do not answer their phones. The Minister needs to come up with a plan to ensure the police are more client-service orientated, and that one is able to contact them after hours.

Mr Seabi referred to the disjuncture between what is reported in the statistics and what is happening on the ground. In the presentation there was an emphasis on the lockdown restrictions. He asked for the impact of that emphasis on the crime statistics. Did this mean crime generally decreased or increased because of lockdown? Society believes that during lockdown GBV increased exponentially; but in the report GBV assaults decreased.

He asked what interventions are in place to deal with the top 30 crime-hit police stations. He asked how the Provincial Commissioners respond to those police stations that reappear as the top 30 list. He was concerned about the underspending, especially in Visible Policing. SAPS has not recruited any new police officers in the past two years; does this correlate with the crime statistics?

The Chairperson informed the Deputy Minister and National Commissioner that every portfolio committee in Parliament is contacting the Committee for joint meetings due to crime. It has an impact on the economy, on international relations and so on. Wherever one goes; one is confronted by the challenges of crime. During recess, each Member of Parliament will be visiting the police stations in their assigned constituency. In meetings, Members of Parliament cite their experiences at the police stations they have visited. They look at specific items and they will look at the police stations that have remained on the top 30 crime list. This Committee will no longer accept these crime statistics as if SAPS is Statistics SA as this is not a figure-driven approach but there are human lives behind what SAPS reports.

Ms L Moss (ANC) said that seeing is believing and she does not see a difference. She recalled a recent imbizo in Khayelitsha during the local elections in October. The delegation was led by the Chief Whip, but to MPs' disappointment the invited Western Cape Provincial Commissioner failed to appear without an apology. The issues that people raised at the imbizo were very bad. There was even a home visit to the family of a lady who was killed by her partner. The family was disappointed in the way that the police had dealt with the matter. She does not mean to say that the SAPS Provincial Commissioners must babysit the police stations, but they should work in clusters in their province and also visit the rural areas.

She wrote a letter to hand over to the Western Cape Provincial Commissioner about a concern a community leader had raised about Swartland police station where the police have done nothing about the murder case of a child and a rape case. These incidents happen daily in that community and the people fear for their lives. The city gangsters are moving to the rural areas. Every second week in Darling, a woman is raped and killed. She has made an effort to visit the Darling police station but the police station does not have the decency to explain the steps take on the rape cases. That police station does not even have a trauma centre.

Two weeks ago in Saldanha, she witnessed a few suspects approaching a man withdrawing money from an ATM to rob him. She climbed out of her car and approached the suspects to tell them that they cannot rob people; she put her own life in danger. The suspects ran away. She immediately drove to the Saldanha police station to report the case. The officer on duty informed her that they could do nothing about it, and complained that they were under resourced and understaffed. She questioned how the Committee will continue its oversight because the Members cannot be everywhere in South Africa, but the people want answers. She is so ashamed to read about police officers raping people in custody – they are messing up the image of this country.

Ms Moss noted that organised crime in this country is very high. What will be done about this? There are often statements that it is the foreigners causing organised crime but it is South Africans themselves who are involved in these crimes. She feels so disappointed.

The Committee received an excellent report from the Gauteng Provincial Commissioner on 15 May 2020. One could see that the Gauteng crime statistics were decreasing. This is because they work collectively hand-in-hand with other policing structures. This should be done in the other provinces.

Ms Z Majozi (IFP) was not pleased with the crime statistics for the same reasons as her colleagues, especially considering SAPS underspending; it suggests that the priority is not about crime. People are disgruntled and may not even want to go to the police station to open a case. She had a bad experience at Moroka police station during lockdown. She went at 11am and found people who had been waiting outside since 8am who had not been attended to. She called management at past 1pm to inform them of the long queue. She questioned how people would have faith in the police system providing help. A lady who had been mugged was traumatised and crying for all that time. When crime happens, how are people expected to go to their nearest police station when this is the service they get? Even though it is a pandemic, surely there must be a few officers who can attend to those people in the queue and see how they could be helped. If this poor service is in urban areas, then one can imagine how it is in the rural areas. There are many stations where there are no police vans available. After reporting a domestic violence case, a person has to go home to the very same abuser without police company because there are no vans. People are disgruntled and no longer have hope, they would rather stay at home with an abuser than spend the whole day at the police station to return with no help. She questioned how people are meant to feel safe if they do not get service when they need it. SAPS must get its priorities straight.

Undocumented foreigners are also a big crime threat in this country. There are many cases of undocumented foreigners hijacking and killing. One must not shy away from this topic but address it properly. It affects SAPS who has to deal with criminals who are undocumented and unknown. The Department of Home Affairs must address this with the Committee, because it is not the responsibility of SAPS only. However, SAPS must get its priorities straight – combating crime is a number one priority.

Having oversight visits are good, but it does not have as much an impact because the Committee does oversight visits once a year and does not monitor the police station consistently throughout the year.

Mr Shembeni asked how many helicopters does SAPS have in each province. What is the role of the helicopters and when are they used? When there is a need for a helicopter, then there is the challenge of diesel being too expensive. Cash-in-transit crime would not be as easily committed if there were helicopters that could arrive on the scene quickly.

The underspending has been raised but Mr Shembeni emphasised the Detective Services and Crime Intelligence underspending because this is where SAPS is losing the battle. Crime is going to be committed, whether there is Visible Policing or not. However, there is crime committed behind closed doors that needs investigation. Those involved in these investigations must have skills and must love their work. The Crime Intelligence programme is well-resourced, and each officer has their own state vehicle. However, a police officer is not supposed to drive alone. What would happen if the officer was driving alone and was shot in a marked or unmarked police car.

Mr Shembeni spoke about “lost” dockets that are "sold" by police officers or prosecutors. To stop these scammers, each and every docket must be scanned and have a duplicate. This has been done but it is still happening. The Committee needs to follow-up on this.

The Gauteng Provincial Commissioner showed how it should be done, and the other Provincial Commissioners should follow this example. He stays in Mpumalanga and he does not remember when last he has seen a road block. A lot happens at the Eswatini border with South Africa. There are people who have never worked a day in their life but they live a luxurious life. There are people who live next to him who sell illicit cigarettes, he questioned what the police are doing.

Covid-19 regulations are no longer being followed at police stations. When the pandemic started, the police followed protocol, police vehicles were disinfected, police wore masks and gloves but recently he does not see a police officer with sanitiser. Everyone has forgotten about Covid-19. SAPS officers engage in a lot of manhandling and must protect themselves and others by following Covid-19 regulations.

Mr Shembeni said that in Detectives Services, there are police investigators who were not remunerated for being on standby, working from Monday to Monday. He urged that these investigators must be paid for the work they have done.

Mr Shembeni said that a lot of changes were implemented when the South African Police was renamed the South African Police Service (SAPS). At that stage a lot of people were employed who did not train as police officers. Those people were employed as constables moving up to become directors in SAPS. People were promoted without experience or knowledge. Police officers were able simply to register at the Pretoria Technikon and they were remunerated and promoted. That is why those police officers are referred to as “grade 12s”. It stopped when people observed that they were empowering themselves. It is a shame as the police officers with experience and knowledge and some with degrees have been demotivated by this.

SAPS response
SAPS Commissioner Sitole said that he is glad the Committee has given SAPS direction to narrow gaps within the crime statistics. The product specification of the crime statistics should incorporate the inputs and expectations of Members, so that the specifications cover broad expectations. The top 30 crime-hit police stations are followed by virtue of national direction, this principle cuts across all provinces. SAPS will bring the Committee on board when addressing this per province. He has tasked Maj Gen Sekhukhune and his team to review the Top 30 murder stations approach.

He clarified that the Top 30 stations are not necessarily there because they are crime hotspots, but due to the crime weight caused by the murder profile. One reason a police station stays so long in the Top 30 is because the profile does not change, instead it grows. All of these Top 30 stations must be subjected to stabilisation and normalization. Where there are crimes that require serious intervention, the station will work until it stabilises that crime. The process will move from stabilisation to normalization; the police station would need the correct resourcing and the profile must be addressed and balanced. This has happened at Nyanga police station for example. Nyanga was not upgraded but it was rather split into two police stations, in order for SAPS to further sustain the downward management of that particular profile.

He had also instructed the team to design criteria to give SAPS an early warning if a particular police station is rising towards being one of the Top 30 crime-hit police stations.

On how SAPS can encourage communities to report crime, Commissioner Sitole replied that within the community policing strategy, there are education and awareness programmes that continually create awareness in the communities. For instance, GBV is one of the most critical crimes at the moment, so a community outreach approach is adopted to target the vulnerable groups, to encourage individuals and other community members to report crime. While encouraging communities to report crime, SAPS also needs to ensure that there is an extension of that support service. In some communities where the nearest police station is too far, SAPS has extended service delivery as an access strategy to create more service access for communities to reach out.

The manipulation of crime statistics is not only a departmental offence but also a criminal offence. The inspectorate and other quality assurers are assigned to assist SAPS with this responsibility; they continually monitor and conduct inspections. If manipulation of crime statistics is identified, then the necessary action is taken. On the holistic approach to crime prevention, SAPS will work together with CSPS. From time to time, SAPS has emphasised and pointed out that there is a need for a national crime prevention framework. CSPS has started with an advanced draft of the national crime prevention framework. SAPS will push for its implementation as part of its operational responsibility.

If one realises that the profile of a particular police station is changing or growing, then the Provincial Commissioner will conduct a work study on that station. The work study will come up with recommendations on whether an upgrade must be effected or an alternate recommendation. Most stations get upgraded under these recommendations.

Commissioner Sitole said that various MPs have contacted him when wanting to visit particular police stations in a province. He is then able to coordinate and ensure that they get the necessary assistance from the Provincial Commissioner. He encouraged all Members to make contact with the Provincial Commissioner, as he had encouraged the Provincial Commissioners to give the Members the necessary assistance. There should be clear directives of how Members should be assisted when they visit police stations. This will also include the responsiveness from the police management when answering phone calls after hours.

The non-recruitment of new SAPS officials for the past two years and the lockdown restrictions did negatively affect the crime statistics as there are areas that have become hotspots that require more policing visibility and more intervention on investigations. The number of dockets is growing but SAPS does not have enough investigators. Although reservists were employed as an alternative, SAPS is trying to correct and revive its recruitment process.

SAPS has taken note that some police stations do not take GBV victims seriously. While some police stations have an influx of crime reporting, the police stations will be particularly instructed on how they should handle GBV cases.

On the foreigners that engage in criminal activity, there are ex-military combatants who from time to time are found to be involved in heists and robberies. SAPS is working with the Departments of Home Affairs and International Affairs to collectively approach undocumented foreigners who engage in criminal activity.

Nationally, there are nine operational helicopters. Two of the nine are deployed in the Western Cape, two in the Free State, one in KwaZulu-Natal, one in Mpumalanga, two in Gauteng, and one in North West.

SAPS will intensify the enforcement of Covid-19 protocols. The allowance or remuneration for those working on standby and nightshift is taken care of by the Chief Financial Officer and Human Resources.

Lt Gen Sehlahle Masemola, Deputy National Commissioner: Policing, said that SAPS has now implemented an operation for the festive season. This is implemented nationally and is run and monitored by the provinces as a crime fighting initiative. SAPS will take note of the matters raised by the Members, especially in particular provinces.

Lt Gen Liziwe Ntshinga, Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, referred to the scanning of dockets on the Integrated Case Docket Management System (ICDMS). SAPS does scan the dockets at stations but the challenge is with the smaller stations, specifically in the rural areas. The ICDMS works with network, so if there is a low bandwidth then the scanning will not work. Police officials then have to go to other stations to scan the dockets. If SAPS detects the selling of dockets, then it will act on this offence; SAPS counter intelligence and anti-corruption units would address this.

On Crime Intelligence resources, SAPS is currently revising its corporate renewal strategy for Crime Intelligence. There is a lot of instability due to the lack of command in the Crime Intelligence programme. Currently, all vacant posts have been advertised. Vehicles and technology have been procured for all the provinces due to the old fleet and outdated technology. The new technology is needed because criminals are now migrating towards cyberspace. This process of capacitating crime intelligence is using new technology and training operatives at ground level in collecting intelligence.

She confirmed that the detectives on standby are paid when they are called out at night, the only challenge is that they are lazy to do the paperwork. They complain they did not get paid but they do not apply for the overtime that they work; they are encouraged to do so.

The counter intelligence and anti-corruption units will do their investigation if they get information that people are living beyond their means.

Maj Gen Sekhukhune confirmed that the lockdown levels had an impact on reducing crime. During higher lockdown levels there were restrictions on the movement of people. The theory is that for a crime to happen, three sides of a triangle must come together. There will be a motivated offender who comes into contact with a potential victim that is unaware of his/her surroundings at a place where there is a lack of intervention. During Lockdown Level 5, there were too many police officers deployed and movement was generally restricted. If those three sides of the triangle do not come together, the possibility and probability of crime happening is reduced.

The 2017 mid-year population estimate was obtained from Statistics South Africa. It is the latest demographic model based on the most recent census results. The 2017 mid-year population estimates thus are used to calculate population ratios.

Closing remarks
The Chairperson said that she specifically wanted the Committee to deal with this matter of crime statistics, because they are effectively dealing with policing as a whole. SAPS has one of the largest budgets, the Committee is under tremendous pressure to account to Parliament, the Chief Whip and to other committees. The Committee needs to inspire confidence – right now this is not the case. SAPS needs a plan for 21st century policing. She questioned why SAPS still uses manual dockets at the Central Firearm Registry (CFR), yet there is underspending when it comes to technology.

The amendment of the SAPS Act is being worked on to finance the Community Policing Forums but SAPS needs new community policing partnerships with the communities. The frustrations are already spilling over on issues like gender-based violence and undocumented foreigners.

During local government elections, crime was one of the top concerns for the country as a whole. The Committee does not just want to review the names of the Top 30 crime-hit police stations, but wants to change the way in which SAPS polices communities on the ground. The Committee needs to see changing policing patterns to ensure crime in those areas is addressed and that communities receive the services they deserve. The Committee is half way through its term of office and it needs to start seeing results. SAPS is not very fond of policy documents, laws and Acts, but she will repeat that SAPS cannot enforce the law if it ignores its own policy documents.

Committee Reports
The Committee considered and adopted its Committee Reports on the SAHRC National Investigative Hearing into Status of Mental Health Care in South Africa; SAHRC North West Investigative Hearing into Lack of Safety and Security Measures in Schools for Children with Disabilities; and Commission for Gender Equality Report on the State of Shelters in South Africa.

The Committee considered and adopted minutes of 1 and 3 December 2021.

The meeting is adjourned.

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