The Standing Committee on Community Safety, Cultural Affairs & Sport (WCPP) held a virtual meeting to deliberate on Vote 4: Community Safety in the Schedule to the Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation Bill, 2022. The Committee also considered and adopted its Committee Report on Vote 4 in support of the Budget, with the ANC expressing its minority vote not to support the report.
Members asked how the Department justified the rising levels of murder, sexual abuse and child murders. Members also wanted to know the total number of posts that were not filled, and why these posts were not filled. Members also wanted to know what the performance mechanism was for the Chrysalis project.
The Chairperson opened the meeting and informed Members that the agenda of the meeting was to deliberate on Vote 4: Community Safety in the Schedule to the Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation Bill, 2022. The Committee was also going to consider the adoption of the Committee Report on Vote 4.
The Western Cape Minister of Police Oversight and Community Safety, Mr Reagen Allen, said that it was apparent that, with the shrinking envelope, it was vital to use funding to benefit the residents. He therefore wanted to share information leading into the coming year, which he called M-TEK one, two and three.
The Head of Department, Adv. Yashina Pillay, said that, as a Department, their focus was the safety of the community and to have the murder rate down by 50 % in ten years. Though murder stations were within the city of Cape Town metropole, it had not prevented the Department from focusing on the rural municipalities. The Department had established K9 units and introduced units in rural areas to focus on youth at risk. The Western Cape legal authority’s strategic objective was aligned with the Department’s objectives and the safety plan.
The Chairperson tabled Vote 4 to the Members, and they were to deliberate starting with pages 51 to 53.
Ms R Windvogel (ANC) asked how the Department justified the rising levels of murder, sexual abuse and child murders. What is the total number of posts that were not filled on page 52, table 4.1, and what were the reasons why these posts were not filled? She rebuked the entire government for its unbecoming behaviour of buying computers, travel and other things. She also asked about the rollover, and if the computer that had been bought assisted in fighting crime.
Ms P Lekker (ANC) asked if the Department could explain the R6.5 million shown in Table 4.1, on policy and research and community police relation, and the reason behind it. She asked if the funds were originally earmarked. What was the R5.1 million community police relations earmarked for? Were there any funds intended to fund the Community Police Forums (CPFs)? Why were the funds shifted towards the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)? Was it a way of finding easy projects, or was it another form of fiscal dumping?
The Chairperson asked if Ms Lekker was an alternate Member.
Ms Lekker said that she is standing in for Ms A Bans (ANC).
Minister Allen replied to the question regarding fiscal dumping. He said that, as a Department, they were adopting the whole of government approach and a whole-of-society approach, through the National Development Plan. The departments need to collaborate so that there is integration to ensure safety. Community safety was everyone’s responsibility, and it was not fiscal dumping. The Department was trying to be proactive in its stance towards community safety.
Regarding the decrease, he said that the decrease was 0.03%, from 776.15 to 775.821. It was vital to note that the Department budget received in 2018/2019 was a 29.2% increase. The allocation in 2018/2019 was R335.8 million, which now stands at R775 million. There has been an increase consistently since 2018/2019, leading to safer communities. He highlighted that the allocated funding was shifted to develop a software system for safety projects, because the Department believed in the whole-of-government approach and the whole-of-society approach where each department had a key role towards safety.
Adv. Pillay replied that ten posts were not filled and were in the process of being filled. They were at various stages and, at times, they had to re-advertise the posts due to the internal processes within the Department. The vacant posts had to be advertised. It was important to fill the positions with the correct staff.
Regarding the computer equipment that they were unable to proceed and to conclude some of the procurement matters due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Constitutional Court judgement, and the communication from National Treasury: the Department requested that funds be made available by Provincial Treasury to conclude the purchase of the computer equipment for the personnel. This was to replace equipment that had reached the end of its warranty period but also to ensure that the new staff had the necessary resources to fulfil their roles and responsibilities.
Regarding the EPWP stipends, these were paid to the Chrysalis graduates and peace officers supported across the provinces. There had been a Department allocation and a lower level, and they had to offset that to ensure the stipends and the budgetary line items were fully covered and that they could pay the youth the full stipend for the 12 months placement.
Regarding the community policy and research question, the reductions concerned agency fees and research. For community-police relations, there had been increased funding to CPFs that qualified for funded projects. The Department encouraged neighbourhood watches and CPFs to work together to get double the amount of funding, if they would have joint projects. Some of the funding was reduced in terms of the cost of employment due to promotions and re-advertising
The Chairperson said they were going to move to pages 54 and 55.
Ms Lekker said that the Chrysalis programme was very important and an opportunity for the youth to join the programme. She asked how much the underspending was, and how many young people would have benefitted from the R1.7 million. She asked for the details of the projects that were funded, and how many people had benefitted.
Minister Allen thanked the Members who attended the graduation of the Chrysalis Academy. It was vital to continue to make efforts to ensure that the programme was up and running. Young people were getting the opportunity to get the training that was contributing. The project being funded was directly linked to the work the Academy and the Department were doing in June. Out of the 191 graduates that partook in the programme, 71 were deployed directly to the SAPS to play a meaningful role in the community service centre in the police. This helped maintain the number of officers in community service centres. SAPS stations would usually only have one CSC member. The Department had now deployed the graduates to help in the environment. Out of 208, all of them had been placed on the EPWP programme and deployed to places like the NPA and municipalities. Nine had applied to be in the SAPS intake, and they had gone through the process. Six had been accepted to go through a medical assessment. He hoped those who wanted to go in the other avenues would get more opportunities.
Adv. Pillay said there was a reduction of the funds allocated to the Academy, because they had paid them the first tranche in advance, which was in the previous financial year, hence the R1.7 million decrease. The additional funds put towards the EPW were to cover the UIF for the youth placed in the EPWP.
Ms Lekker asked what the performance mechanism for the Chrysalis graduates was in the institutions. She highlighted that she had found some on their phones at Nyanga police station instead of working.
The Chairperson asked if there were any questions from pages 56 to 57.
Ms Lekker asked what the R5.5 million was earmarked for. She asked for the details of the EPWP that would be funded, and how many people were going to benefit. On shifting funds between votes, she asked for details for the software systems and the safety projects that needed them.
Minister Allen replied that the Department had signed a memorandum of understanding with the SAPS, and even the MPA, regarding Chrysalis graduates to be placed where they would get experience. The management of those graduates was linked to the places they were working, and certain cultures did exist in certain precincts that would allow certain behaviours. He said he was going to make efforts to engage the graduates to explain the vital role that they were playing and the opportunity they had at the time. He asked the Standing Committee to help when engaging with the SAPS because some of the behaviour stemmed from the members of SAPS to the graduates. He would nudge them to give the best services possible. It was imperative that the graduates be managed in a way that they could learn and grow in their roles. There had been amazing stories of how some of the graduates had stepped up.
Adv. Pillay answered the performance assessment of the Chrysalis graduates. The supervision was on site and that was done daily. The placement institution did that; in this case, it would be the Nyanga SAPS. They would follow up on what the situation is, and to improve. There was also oversight from the Department concerning the placement and chrysalis itself. They were going to follow up with that.
Regarding the number of beneficiaries, Chrysalis graduates placed in the EPW programme amounted to approximately 600 youth per year. The Department also assisted with the stipend for peace officers to assist with the rural municipalities that did not have adequate law enforcement capacity.
Regarding the amount that was being transferred to the CEI and the Department of the Premier: the two entities had been assisted by the Department to develop a system for the school, a classification tool that could be used by the Department similar to the tool being used by the Western Cape Education Department. The Department supported all other departments concerning occupancy, health, and safety.
Regarding the amount of R5 million, the Department had savings in the earlier base, since the procurement had been put on hold. The savings were used to create law enforcement capacity in the rural municipalities and to further resources for partners such as the neighbourhood watch. Some of the funds went to the extension of the EPWP complex. Regarding the beneficiaries and placements at the various institutions with the chrysalis cohort, 122 of the graduates had been placed to support SAPS stations so that SAPs officers could go out and do their duties. The total number of beneficiaries on the EPW was 527.
Mr Moegamat Frizlar, CFO, Western Cape Department of Community Safety, said that the baseline funding related to the ariel-based teams’ budget early in the year and for the previous year had been directed to the EPWP neighbourhood funding.
The Chairperson asked for questions on pages 58 to 61.
Ms Windvogel asked if the Department could elaborate on the reasons for the slow spending, the realignment of the K9 unit, and the NHW programme cost.
Ms Lekker asked the reasons for the low expenditure, in the first half of the year. What measures were in place to prevent the underspending of the funds under the provincial policing functions? She asked if the Committee could get a legal opinion on the matter to prevent the underspending.
The Chairperson asked if she could submit that in writing to him or the Committee procedural officer.
Ms Lekker asked if it could be handled as a Committee resolution.
The Chairperson said that he requested that she send it in writing, and they would discuss it in the resolution when they got to that juncture.
Minister Allen said that, since his appointment, he had been making sure that monthly there was actually tracking expenditure. He felt extremely confident that there was spending to ensure the communities were safer.
Adv. Pillay said that the budgetary item was not the right name; the name was provincial policing functions, but it was money that covered the safety partnerships and the Ombudsman’s funding. The reduction was concerning the reduction of the payment to Chrysalis because of the R1.7 million that had been paid in March of the previous year. There were further reductions in the office of the ombudsman in terms of the vacant post and marketing and promotional items. In security risk management, the reduction was also due to delays in filling posts that became vacant and fewer funds were required for overtime.
Mr Frizlar said that, in terms of programme three, the slow spending in the first half of the year (which was eight percent) was the transfer to the city to leap – which they would do in the month of November or early December, hence the low spending.
The Chairperson checked if there were any submissions from the members of the public.
There were none.
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their questions, and asked the Department and the Minister for any closing remarks.
Minister Allen thanked the Committee and highlighted that the R304 000 reduction allocated to other votes was also for safety. He wanted the Committee to note that, since 2018/19, there had been a 29 increase in the budget allocated to the Department. He was going to ensure that the Department continued to play a meaningful role towards safety. He thanked the Members for their questions.
Adv. Pillay thanked the Committee for providing the opportunity to account.
The Chairperson thanked the Members and the officials, and they were released from the meeting. The Chairperson asked if there were any resolutions or requests for information.
Ms Lekker raised the issue of writing a recommendation. She asked if it could be written down as a resolution since there was no provision in the rules book.
The Chairperson said that she had misunderstood his communication. He said that the Committee supported one another by writing down the resolutions and sending them to the procedural officer by email or WhatsApp so that the resolutions would be on the screen when they discussed them. He did not mean that she had to submit a resolution separate from the process they follow. The process was clear regarding the rules, and the Committee did not deviate from the process.
Ms D Baartman (DA) asked if they could hold their resolutions because the next Committee was going to be sitting in a few minutes.
The Chairperson asked the Committee for their suggestions, and asked if the Members could send them to the procedural officer so that he could compile them and then discuss them in the next meeting.
Members supported the proposal and proceeded to adopt Committee Report on Vote 4.
The ANC expressed its minority vote to not support the report.
The Chairperson thanked Members for their attendance, and asked them to send their resolutions to the procedural officer.
The meeting was adjourned.
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