The Committee engaged with the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) and the Western Cape Department of Community Safety on their 2021/22 financial year annual reports.
Both the Department and the WCLA received clean audit opinions. The Department’s was the 14th in a row.
The WCLA reported that it had continued its focus on implementing Alcohol Harms Reduction Initiatives (AHRI). The compliance interventions in the Alcohol Harms Reduction Pilot Areas had proved successful to the extent that the WCLA could explore province-wide implementation. The challenge remained for the WCLA to be self-sustainable in a manner that supported the AHRI while maintaining a delicate balance in the setting of licence fees.
The WCLA said it had strengthened partnerships with key stakeholders such as the SA Police Service, local government and other government institutions. The capacity of the Liquor Licensing Tribunal was maintained throughout the year under review. Consequently, the board was able to oversee eliminating backlogs and finalising matters within the legislative timeframes.
The Department of Community Safety reported it had made a concerted effort to ensure safer communities were created across the Western Cape. It ensured that the law enforcement and violence prevention imperatives of the Provincial Safety Plan were met by, amongst others, establishing area-based teams in each of the crime and murder hotspots and assisting in the training and placement of peace officers at municipalities.
In addition, the Department continued to fulfil its constitutional mandate of overseeing and holding the South African Police Service (SAPS) accountable.
Partnerships with the City of Cape Town, district and local municipalities and other key safety partners have resulted in the deployment of more than 1 000 Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers in 12 high-crime areas within the Cape Town Metropole.
The Department had successfully established K9 units in the Cape Town, Swartland and Overstrand municipalities and there had been huge successes in confiscating drugs and other contraband in these areas.
Members raised issues concerning the role of alcohol in driving crime, the effectiveness of crime prevention in rural areas, the deployment of more K9 units and support for neighbourhood watches.
Minister’s opening remarks
In opening remarks, Mr Reagan Allen, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, said he wished to acknowledge the consistent work done by the Committee over the years. He said the Department Of Community Safety (DCS) had achieved consecutive clean audits. He and the officials were committed to implementing the safety plan announced by the Premier. There could be no doubt that there had been a concerted effort to ensure that safer communities were created across the Western Cape. The Department’s mission was to promote professional policing through effective oversight; to capacitate safety partnerships with communities and other stakeholders; and to promote safety in all public buildings and spaces. No time should be lost in implementing that mandate. “We don’t have time when 994 people were murdered in the province in the last quarter.”
The Minister said the Western Cape Liquor Authority (WCLA) had played a leading role in reducing the harmful effects of alcohol through effective regulation.
Department Opening Remarks
Adv Yashina Pillay, Head of Department, (HOD), DCS, noted that it was 25 years since the Department was established. It had been a challenging year for the Department, but also a very rewarding one. One achievement was the involvement of all the staff in a strategic planning session, the first time this had been done. The Department would continue to deliver services with dedication to citizens of the Western Cape.
Western Cape Liquor Authority Opening Remarks
Mr Ronald Kingwill, Chairperson, WCLA Board, thanked the Committee for the quality of the people it had appointed to the board. The WCLA had a strong board which contributed significantly to the mandate of the authority. The year under review had been one of significant growth in the deliverables in line with their mandate. This was made possible by generous and strong support from the DCS and Provincial Treasury which had made funds available to enable the WCLA to exceed its expectations.
The Chairperson said copies of the annual reports were available to members of the public attending the meeting. They would have an opportunity to ask questions at the end of the meeting.
He said the meeting would deal with the parts of the report separately.
WCLA annual report 2021/22
Discussion: Part A
Mr F Christians (ACDP) said alcohol was a key driver of crime. How did the WCLA work with municipalities on alcohol harms reduction? What effect did its inspectors have?
Ms A Bans (ANC) referred to page 8, paragraph 2. What was being done to create alternatives to alcohol? What programmes was the WCLA setting in place? Was there a way for local liquor traders to partner with big retailers to run liquor stores? Referring to page 15, what were the plans to get more Africans into the WCLA structure? How many inspections were conducted at big liquor retailers?
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) referred to page 9. How much revenue was reinvested into the liquor authority programmes?
The Chairperson referred to page 8. What was the impact of increasing inspections? What more could be done?
Minister Allen said the issue of minimum unit pricing and trading hours was being dealt with. A regulatory impact assessment was underway. A timeline would be provided to the Committee. Municipalities would be engaged and would have to follow the regulations set in place. Designated liquor officers (DLOs) ensured compliance. A total of 116 liquor licences were not renewed automatically because the Department was persistent about compliance.
Adv Pillay congratulated the WCLA on its clean audit outcome and for following the Western Cape Government’s safety plan. She said liquor inspectors worked closely with law enforcement agencies in hotspot areas throughout the province.
Mr Simion George, CEO, WCLA, responded to Mr Christians. A need for partnership with local authorities had been identified. Progress had been made with the alcohol harms reduction plans. There had been legislative wins, and there would be minimum unit pricing and trading hours very soon. In the engagement with local government, trading hours were a key consideration in the regulatory process. The Liquor Licensing Tribunal (LLT) was mandated to grant a liquor licence provided it served the public interest. Once the licence is granted, the conditions set by the licence must be respected and followed. In instances where the licence was not in the interest of public good, the licence would be revoked.
Regarding partnerships between local liquor traders and big retailers, he said the big retailers threatened small businesses. There was a need for the economics department to determine the best way to minimise the impact of larger businesses entering the communities.
On licence renewals, some measures reviewed traders’ conduct and if there was bad conduct, the licence would not be renewed for the next year. Those whose licences were not renewed had to reapply and pay a fee. The focus going forward would be on developing intelligence systems to detect flows of alcohol. The right people had to be targeted.
Regarding employment equity, the WCLA followed legislation and complied with employment equity requirements. The aim was to find the most suitable ways of utilising resources to provide optimal services.
Mr Sandiso Gcwabe, Chief Financial Officer (CFO), WCLA, responded to the question about revenue being reinvested in WCLA programmes. There had been an overcollection of R4.4 million in the previous financial year. This overcollection was used for e-licence processes. During the year under review, the overcollection was R6.8 million, which would be reinvested.
Regarding inspectors, there was routine regulatory inspection. Inspectors with a specific skills set were required to respond to the challenges faced by the liquor authority.
Mr George said that stopping alcohol sales on a Sunday might result in people stocking up on their alcohol on a Saturday and binge drinking on a Saturday as well. Hence, this might not have the best effects.
The Chairperson noted that there had been a very impressive 320 percent increase in inspections.
Discussion: Part B
Mr Christians referred to page 18. He said the strain on the healthcare system, judicial system and law enforcement system caused by alcohol could not be justified. The income from alcohol versus the harms caused by alcohol was not justifiable. Could the WCLA comment on this?
The Chairperson asked how the liquor authority collaborated with other government departments to change undesirable behaviour.
Mr George said the WCLA followed the World Health Organization (WHO) research. The Western Cape had adopted the Alcohol Harms Reduction White Paper, and this was one step ahead of other provinces. The WCLA was responsible for regulating the retail sale and micro manufacture of alcohol. The main question was whether those licensed were seeing to the public good. Communities had the ability to stop the licences of those that did not see to the public good.
Mr Christians said that the trading hours of big outlets were restricted, and they sold to other outlets illegally to make extra money. Was there a plan to provide incentives to whistle-blowers?
Mr George said there was no such plan. A data and evidence-led strategy was being developed. It would point out red flags and then investigations would take place at the selected alcohol outlets. The WCLA was collaborating with other departments and stakeholders on alcohol harms reduction.
Discussion: Part D
The Chairperson referred to page 63. Was there a struggle to attract skilled females at the top management level?
Mr George said there were no vacancies at top management level at the moment.
Mr Christians said many good people were lost due to equity requirements. Regardless of equity, the best people for the job needed to be attracted.
The Chairperson said women could bring EQ skills needed at the liquor authority.
Mr Kingwill said the WCLA focused on safety plans and expanding its role in delivering value.
Mr George said there was a good understanding of where the WCLA needed to be, bearing in mind the resources.
Department of Community Safety Annual Report 2021/22
Discussion: Part A
Mr Christians referred to page 2 of the Department of Community Safety (DOCS) annual report. How were the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) officers assisting in the plan to reduce the murder rate by half? How was the repurposing of the Department assisting it in executing its mandate? What were the plans for the K9 units mentioned on page 9?
Minister Allen said that the provincial safety plan had two parts: a law enforcement component and a violence prevention component. There was a 10 percent vacancy rate in the South African Police Service (SAPS) and a chronically under-resourced environment. The Western Cape Government put funding aside to bring LEAP officers to hotspot areas. A total of 1 118 members would be added to the police service. The K9 unit was crucial in detecting illegal drugs and arms, and would be expanded.
Adv. Pillay said that the repurposing was an ongoing change and culture journey that resulted in structural change. There were five pillars: the policing pillar; the safety innovation and knowledge pillar; the municipal partnership pillar; the community-based pillar and the organisational pillar.
Ms Bans referred to page 7. Could the Minister explain why he did not comment on the sexual abuse that was going on in the Department? What had been done to prevent the reoccurrence of sexual abuse? What had been done to support victims? Regarding paragraph 5, what was being done to improve oversight mechanisms in the LEAP project? What stopped the Committee from calling Mr JP Smith to provide quarterly and annual reports on the LEAP project? Regarding the last paragraph, the undermining and underfunding of community police forums (CPFs) was a problem. When would this be addressed?
Regarding the future plans of the Department on page 10, what would this process cost? Would there be additional staff for police oversight? Regarding discontinued activities, how long did the Department run the youth safety ambassador programme? Could there be more information on this programme? Why was there no mention of the Safer Cities model?
Ms Windvogel referred to page 92. The Department mentioned risks to the continuation of the LEAP project. How likely were they and how sustainable was the project? Given the rise in crime outside the metro, what were the plans to extend the LEAP project to those areas? She asked for more information on the LEAP officers. Why were K9 units not deployed in other hotspot areas?
Mr Christians asked about the Premier’s announcement about the appointment of 150 investigators. Was this within the Department's domain? What were the Department’s plans for provincial policing powers? Were there plans to expand the Chrysalis Academy programme?
The Chairperson asked about the impact of the area-based teams being moved to the health department. What was put in place to ensure that data was provided to the health department? Referring to page 9, he asked for more information on the research into the drivers of crime. In monitoring, what was being done to feed information into the SAPS planning systems? Would area-based teams look at systems in place? Would these teams work at a national level?
Minister Allen said that a legal opinion was provided on the matter of sexual abuse Whistle-blowers and survivors needed to be honoured and respected. The former MEC was suspended, and the issue was investigated as soon as possible.
Regarding the LEAP, there had been successes and there was a framework for oversight. There was also a payment transfer agreement and monthly and weekly meetings.
CPFs were key stakeholders and 99 CPFs had received funding during the financial year. Regarding the Safer Cities programme, the City of Cape Town has signed off on its rollout. The Department played an active role in several committees.
The Youth Safety Ambassador programme has brought successes like job opportunities and work experience. However, the funding was allocated only until 31 March 2022. The Department advocated for the programme.
The LEAP had brought many successes as well and was also being advocated for by the Department. The programme used data to respond, and some areas were not in the LEAP precincts. LEAP officers were sent out to hotspot areas where there was gang violence, murder and so on.
There were district safety plans. Municipalities could approach these districts to allocate funding. There were joint operations and cross-boundary entry points were covered. The K9 units would be expanded soon.
The 150 investigators would work with various law enforcement units.
Submissions had been made to broaden the role of the Chrysalis Academy.
Area-based teams have brought success during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several departments led these teams.
Regarding the drivers of crime, the main one detected was firearms. There were many discussions about how justice should be served and how offenders should be prosecuted. The Policing Needs and Priorities (PNPs) had been tabled with the President and National Government, and a response had not been received yet. The SAPS needed to be held accountable and there needed to be more oversight.
Adv Pillay said the Department had signed a transfer payment agreement with the city of Cape Town which gave it oversight of the LEAP. There was a directorate for monitoring and evaluation.
There had been a request to establish a K9 unit in the Central Karoo district.
The Chrysalis Academy had established youth hubs.
Area-based teams were co-led by the Department of Health and the Department of Community Safety.
The Department had developed a firearms strategy and firearm cases were being looked at.
Ms Windvogel asked if there would be area-based teams across all municipalities and how they contributed towards the provincial safety plan.
Adv Pillay said the area-based teams were linked with the safety plan. There was one team per district municipality. The goal was to reduce the murder rate by 50 percent. Local municipalities the Department was working with were Witzenburg, Saldanha, Beaufort West, Overstrand and George.
Discussion: Part B
Mr Christians referred to page 23. Problem areas were clustered together. Was this how gangs operated? If so, how could this be addressed? Regarding page 28, what did the Chrysalis Academy do to reach out to youth and protect them from gangsterism in their communities?
Ms Bans referred to page 23. How was the Department responding to rural crime hotspots? Regarding page 24, was the Department working in collaboration with other departments and entities in addressing the key drivers of crime? Regarding page 25, what was being done to address mass murders? Table 1 on page 26 shows that cases of rape were still very high. What was being done about this? Regarding page 30, could the Department provide all the reports pertaining to cases of sexual assault?
Ms Windvogel referred to page 22. How did the safety plan address GBV, child violence and so on? GBV forms were not always available. What would the Department do to make these more accessible?
The Chairperson referred to page 23. Had there been research on the youth and capacity building programmes that other departments were conducting? How had neighbourhood watches been trained to respond to GBV incidents? Regarding page 27, how did neighbourhood watches improve law enforcement responses to GBV? Regarding page 28, how many Chrysalis Youth Ambassadors were employed during the year under review? Were there safe working environments for these graduates?
Minister Allen said there were more than 10 000 Chrysalis graduates, and the Department was focusing on the meaningful role they could play in other areas. Regarding the distribution of crime shown on page 23, there were recognised gangs operating in places highlighted in red. There was ongoing research on how to deal with this. It was difficult for the SAPS to intervene in informal settlements due to lack of roads, house numbers, street lights, etc. GBV cases were being monitored.
Adv Pillay said there had been first responder training for neighbourhood watch members. They had been trained in how to stabilise a situation. The Chrysalis Academy ambassadors were graduates who went on to participate in other initiatives and programmes. This academy was working with students and teachers in high-risk schools to ensure that the vulnerable got opportunities as well.
Minister Allen said neighbourhood watches had been very successful and more needed to be done to support them. There had been a decline in house robberies in communities with active neighbourhood watches. Since the inception of the LEAP, 265 firearms have been confiscated.
Ms Bans said that it was mentioned that municipalities might be the problem when it came to crime prevention in hot spot areas. What is being done to address this?
Minister Allen responded that safety was everyone's responsibility. The structure of communities could lead to an increase in crime. Crime was a reflection of society.
Mr Christians said that some people that volunteered for the neighbourhood watch programme were unemployed. Funding needed to be allocated to these programmes to support these individuals. Insurance cover should be considered for volunteers.
Ms Bans referred to page 37, paragraph 3. What were the current engagements in the cabinet on developing the Alcohol Harms Reduction White Paper?
The Chairperson referred to page 32. Could the research report shared with law enforcement agencies be provided to the Committee? What was the timeline for the Western Cape Community Safety Act review? What percentage of the overall targets was achieved?
Minister Allen said that 98 percent of overall targets were achieved. The Department was proactive in its approach to community safety.
On the Alcohol Harms Reduction White Paper, Adv Pillay said that approval was received from the cabinet for the amendments to the liquor act which were aligned with the White Paper. Regulations were currently being drafted.
Regarding insurance stipends for neighbourhood watch volunteers, the Department did not have the funds to pursue this. It could look at life and death cover for the most vulnerable. The neighbourhood watches were registered with the SAPS stations. They needed to be registered for them to be funded. The MinMEC process was pursued for further funding. It was allocated to the Department instead of individual municipalities because if there was any issue in the province, the Department would reach out to those municipalities and aid them.
Adv Pillay said neighbourhood watches in affluent communities needed to be encouraged to share their resources with vulnerable communities.
Mr Christians referred to page 46. There was a relationship with the courts to assist with dockets. Was this relationship ongoing?
Ms Windvogel referred to the funding provided to district municipalities shown on page 48. She asked for updates on the implementation of business plans. Why were these municipalities given only R2.3 million when the city was given hundreds of millions?
Ms Bans said that 2018, the Department helped the five district municipalities with their safety plans. What was the current state of implementation of these plans? How was the Department funding them? Why was the target in the table on page 50 not achieved? What were the reasons for underspending of the community police budget shown on page 58? What were the details of the cases of wrongful arrest on page 60, paragraph 3, and had this been investigated?
The Minister said the underachievement of the target on page 50 was due to issues with allocating a proper service provider. The extension of oversight to law enforcement and metro police was under discussion.
Adv Pillay said that the process of court-watching briefs continued. Reports were submitted to the provincial police commissioner and responses were received to the reports. Reports had been submitted to the Standing Committee. More information would be provided to the Committee.
Regarding the underspending on community-police relations, this was concerning the area-based team initiatives. There was also a timing issue as the Department's financial year began in April. There was a request for the financial year to start earlier so that there was more time for funding to be spent instead of being rolled over for the next year.
Adv Pillay responded to Ms Bans. Oversight over law enforcement was a problem throughout all the provinces. There were engagements on how to solve this issue.
Ms D Baartman (DA) asked about a ruling by the Constitutional Court. She asked for more information on policies that the Department could put in place.
The Chairperson asked for the total number of jobs created for Chrysalis graduates during the year under review.
Adv Pillay said that the Department would not be creating policy on its own. A bid was advertised in connection with the PNPs process and proper procedures were followed. However, the procurement process was not completed due to the Constitutional Court ruling. The number of work opportunities available for Chrysalis graduates could be found on pages 61 and 62.
The CFO, Mr Gcwabe, said the procurement issue involved local content requirements. Departments were advised to suspend procurement above the local content threshold of 30 000. The Constitutional Court found provisions of the Preferential Public Procurement Framework Act to be invalid because of the issues relating to local content.
Ms Baartman referred to page 66, paragraph 4. Could anything be done to improve the scorecard system?
Mr Christians referred to page 60. How effective was the police ombudsman?
Minister Allen suggested an engagement with the Committee and the ombudsman.
An official of the Department said that the school scorecards measured 254 indicators regarding safety at schools. There was currently a current process for this to be automated.
Discussion: Part D
Ms Bans referred to the workforce plan on page 112. She asked for more information on the safety ambassadors programme. The table on page 120 showed vacant posts in senior management services. Why were they not filled? What was the reason for the high turnover rate shown on page 123? What were the causes of the deaths shown on page 125?
Mr Christians referred to the staff resignations shown on page 125. Some did not provide reasons for their resignation. Did the Department not conduct exit interviews? Referring to page 113, did the employee wellness programme help decrease the sick leave being taken?
Adv Pillay said the Provincial Treasury provided funding for the safety ambassadors programme. There was no funding for a couple of years and the service could not be rendered.
A few of the vacant posts in senior management services had been filled and the rest were still being advertised. Employees who resigned had the option to participate in an exit interview or not. Employees could access the health and wellness programme confidentially. External counsellors and trauma managers were available.
The staff turnover rate was just over 14 percent, and 7 percent involved contract appointments. There were various reasons for the deaths, but only one pertained to COVID-19.
The Chair asked if the safety ambassadors were employees.
Adv Pillay said they were not employees. This was a part time work opportunity.
Members of the public were invited to ask questions. One asked whether permits for dealing in scrap issued by the police could not instead be issued by the City of Cape Town. Another raised an issue about illegal shebeens.
Minister Allen said that he would like to know more about the scrap yards and what could be done to intervene and help with the permits. More information needed to be provided on the illegal shebeens and investigations needed to take place. Over 500 illegal shebeens were closed during the year by the LEAP project.
The Minister thanked the Committee for their time. He said that the Department needed help to fulfil its mandate. Notes had been taken on concerns and improvements to be made. Further information, reports, documents and responses to questions would be provided to the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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