Success and challenges of the LEAP Project since its inception: Department Briefing

Public Accounts (SCOPA) (WCPP)

14 June 2023
Chairperson: Mr L Mvimbi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary


The Committee convened to receive a briefing from the Department of Community Safety and Police Oversight on the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan Project, which aimed to enhance law enforcement and improve safety in high-crime areas. The presentation outlined the project's accomplishments, challenges, and prospects.

During the presentation, the Department emphasised its commitment to creating safe and cohesive communities by addressing social issues and preventing crime through evidence-based strategies and urban design. The project collaborated with the South African Police Service (SAPS), City of Cape Town, and Western Cape Government to introduce evidence-based policing training, aiming to improve law enforcement practices. One of the key highlights of the presentation was the deployment of the project’s officers in 13 high-crime areas, working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies.

The Members raised questions about the funding delays and inquired about the Department's plans to address these challenges and ensure efficient resource allocation. They sought additional information about the specific impact of the project in combating drug-related crimes and requested updated statistics on drug busts. They asked about the Department's efforts to improve cooperation and coordination with the judiciary in addressing crime and enhancing the justice system; the command and control structures within the project and the mechanisms in place to ensure clear lines of communication and coordination among the various law enforcement agencies involved; the oversight and accountability of funds transferred to the City of Cape Town, and participants sought reassurances about the Department's financial management practices.

Meeting report

Presentation by the Western Cape Department of Community Safety and Police Oversight: Successes and Challenges of the LEAP Project

Adv Yashina Pillay, HOD, Department of Community Safety and Police Oversight, led her team in the presentation of the success and challenges of the Law Enforcement Advancement Plan (LEAP) Project since its inception, including the value for money that was derived from the programme.

The presentation outlined:

- Launch of Evidence-Based Policing Training: The presentation highlighted the launch of evidence-based policing training, which is a collaborative effort between the SAPS (South African Police Services), the City of Cape Town, and the Western Cape Government. This training will be implemented in Mitchells Plain as a pilot site, with the goal of improving policing and law enforcement.

- Safety Priority and Strategic Goals: The presentation outlined the safety priority within the provincial strategic plan and the vision-inspired priorities. The focus is on achieving safe and cohesive communities, addressing social issues, and preventing crime through urban design. Data and evidence underpin the safety priority.

- LEAP Programme: The LEAP programme was discussed. It involves deploying LEAP officers in high-crime areas, particularly murder stations in the City of Cape Town. LEAP officers have powers of arrest, search, seizure, and the ability to compound minor offences. They work in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, including the SAPS.

- Data-led and Evidence-Based Approach: The presentation emphasised using data from various sources, including health data, crime trends and statistics, community-based partners, and area-specific information. A safety dashboard has been launched to monitor and inform operations, providing information on crimes, arrests, and confiscations.

- LEAP Deployments and Successes: LEAP officers have been permanently deployed in 13 high-crime areas, including murder stations. The deployment is based on the specific needs of each area. The presentation highlighted successes such as the seizure of dangerous weapons, arrests, and confiscating firearms, alcohol and narcotics. Leap deployments have contributed to a decrease in murders in the Western Cape compared to other provinces.

- Reduction in Murder Rates: The presentation noted a 13.1% reduction in murder rates in the Western Cape, while the national average increased by 3.4%. The Western Cape experienced a stabilisation and a decrease in the number of murders during the quarter.

- Detailed Analysis of Priority Areas: A detailed analysis was provided for the 13 priority areas, indicating increased and decreased murder rates. The presentation showed that the deployment of LEAP officers had positively impacted safety in these communities.

- LEAP Officer Training: LEAP officers undergo extensive training, which includes a 70-day course covering various models and topics related to law enforcement.

- Community engagement initiatives: The presentation emphasised the importance of community engagement in crime prevention efforts. The Western Cape government has launched various community-driven initiatives, including neighbourhood watch programmes, youth mentorship programmes, and community dialogues. These initiatives aim to build trust between law enforcement agencies and the community, fostering a collaborative approach to addressing crime and promoting safer neighbourhoods.

- Technology-Driven Crime Prevention: The presentation showcased the integration of technology into crime prevention strategies. The Western Cape government has implemented innovative solutions such as surveillance cameras, license plate recognition systems, and predictive policing algorithms. These technological advancements enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies, enabling faster response times, targeted interventions, and the ability to identify crime hotspots more effectively.

- Collaboration with Private Sector Partners: The presentation highlighted the successful collaboration between the Western Cape government and private sector partners in combating crime. Through public-private partnerships, initiatives such as increased security measures in commercial areas, improved lighting in high-crime zones, and implementing safety measures in public transport have been achieved. These partnerships demonstrate the commitment of both the public and private sectors to creating a safer environment for all residents and visitors of the Western Cape.

[See presentation document for further details]


Ms L Maseko (DA) asked regarding the last slide that discussed the delay in the transfer payment agreement due to the business plan. What is the reason behind this? It should be based on an existing idea when allocating a certain amount. If there is a delay in the transfer due to the business plan, what is the rationale for allocating a certain amount if the business plan is not yet in place? Regarding the ecosystem and successes mentioned, what happens to the 16 780 arrested individuals? Is there a challenge with them being released due to the system? What is the engagement with the judiciary regarding repeat offenders who are arrested but then released?

Ms Maseko asked if the drug bust figures are only for the metro or if they include the whole province, including rural areas. Where were those drugs going? Were they being transported to or from the City? In rural areas, there are challenges with drugs. Will the province invest in fighting drugs in rural areas? For example, there is a school in Porterville where children jump the fence to buy drugs next to the school. Teachers now act as security, patrolling the fences. Are drugs going outside of the City or have boundaries been closed to prevent drugs from getting out? Is there a strategy to invest in rural areas to fight drugs being sold there?

Mr I Sileku (DA) asked the Minister to elaborate on engagements with other provinces pertaining to issues of safety. What engagements are currently taking place that can assist provinces in fulfilling their oversight role when it comes to policing functions? Is it possible to compare lives saved to a monetary value? Some people try to justify why a particular initiative should not be supported by comparing it to the value of money. Is such a question justifiable? Can the Department compare life to a monetary value? Regarding discipline among law enforcement officers, are there challenges with conduct? How are these challenges being dealt with to ensure that officers serve their duty?

The Chairperson asked regarding the Minister's interaction with other provinces stating that there recently seems to have been a similar initiative launched in the province of Gauteng. To what extent does the Minister share or exchange best practices with other provinces? Are there other similar projects being launched in other provinces? During the annual report, there was an indication that the project might be discontinued due to lack of finances. Has this been resolved, or is it still a challenge or threat to the programme? He also applauded the province for the good tripartite relationship between the province, SAPS, and the City of Cape Town. This seems to be making the project work very well.

Mr D America (DA) asked regarding command and control: where does this lie? Does the City of Cape Town exercise command and control over the deployment and operations of law enforcement officers? What is the oversight role that the Department plays over the appropriation or expenditure of funds transferred to the City of Cape Town?


Minister’s Response

Mr Reagen Allen, Minister of Community Safety and Police Oversight, stated that he does not doubt that the Department is making great strides and continues to monitor spend in terms of this programme. For the record, this programme and its presentation date back to its inception. The delays and challenges the Department has experienced and listed have been dealt with. When the Department discussed this presentation, it was clear that it wanted to take SCOPA into its full confidence so Members could see how such a programme has had challenges since 2019. But there were many learnings the Department is taking out of it, moving forward. The Department is now in a position to better plan henceforth, and make sure some of these best practices can be shared with other provinces.

Regarding the drug bust, Minister Allen said that this presentation was specific to the successes of the LEAP programme, hence those drug busts are only in the City of Cape Town, where LEAP offices are deployed. Many Committee Members will be aware that the biggest drug bust for this financial year was due to cooperation between our rural safety unit in the Swartland area and the SAPS, specifically the rural safety unit and K9 unit attached to it. A number of blocks of cocaine, Mandrax, and over 20 firearms were sniffed out in our rural areas.

Minister Allen said that the Department also provides funding for rural safety units in the Swartland area because crime stats have identified a drug route on the N7 and west coast area. There have been amazing successes in that regard. The Department would be happy to report and be interrogated on its rural safety initiatives. The Department also has one in the Overstrand, which looks at poaching, transportation of illegal firearms, and drugs, because those industries are closely linked to organised crime. The Department wants to dismantle organised crime and ensure criminals are behind bars by making their lives as uncomfortable as possible through arrests and tracking. The drug busts and successes are in the centre of Cape Town, but the Department does amazing work and continues to do so in its rural areas as well.

Minister Allen said regarding policy changes, the Department has written to the national Minister and commissioner, and the Premier has also written to the President in this regard. The Department firmly believes that, on national policy and policing powers, powers can be devolved to a provincial government according to the Constitution and current policies in place. The Department is continuing to engage constructively in that manner. That constructive nature lands during MINMEC (Minister and Members of the Executive Council) meetings. Some of the questions posed now were also linked to engagements with other provinces. He said that he and the HOD, during MINMEC engagements, have not missed any MINMEC meetings for the SAPS. The Department actively participates in that forum, relaying some of its concerns, challenges and successes.

Minister Allen said that the Department is delighted that it has been able to foster genuine working relationships with SAPS here in the Western Cape and in other provinces, wanting to ensure that it ultimately creates safer communities. A huge part of input comes from looking at CPF (Community Policing Forum) funding. The Department has received confirmation that SAPS legal at the national level, together with the civilian secretariat, has established a working group to look at the CPF funding model and how it can be rolled out. The Department is consistently making input on policy directives and changes that it sees could ultimately work for the benefit of residents not only here in the Western Cape but across the country as well.

Minister Allen said that the Department would never put a monetary value on a person's life. The Department is in the business of community safety and creating safer communities. Looking at the last quarter and the crime stats, one would see 143 fewer people murdered in the province, hence the 14.1% reduction. But those 143 people represent families and communities. Whenever there is a person murdered, it creates fear and trauma in communities. The rise of unemployment and socio-economic circumstances across the country have been bearing the brunt of COVID-19, which has affected the entire world and was out of everyone's control. That has led to communities having more trauma and pain.

Minister Allen said that considering the crime categories and murder categories, it is alarming that many of those murders are outside of law enforcement and policing, where they are directly linked to misunderstandings and arguments between friends and partners. The Department continues to work with other departments in that regard, knowing that it is the lead in terms of safety priority. The Department works with Social Development, which is a key pillar in the fight against gender-based violence and making sure there is well-being within communities. The Department also works with the Department of Health to look at mental health, which has increased significantly in the country and the province, due to COVID-19.

Minister Allen said that whenever there are LEAP operations, first and foremost, the SAPS is the lead policing agency according to the Constitution, policy, and legislation. SAPS is in control and command. LEAP works alongside SAPS in that regard, but there are also operations where only LEAP offices are involved. It is a two-pronged approach. The joint operations involve planning, and the Department, together with our LEAP chiefs in various areas, plays a meaningful and direct role in those operations. He would be happy to take some Committee Members to some of these precincts for them to hear first-hand from SAPS how that integration and collaboration is working, because great strides have been made.

Minister Allen said that the Department meets regularly with the City of Cape Town and monitors spending. The underspending allocated in 2021 was directly attributed to COVID-19 when LEAP office training could not occur. However, the Department has made up for that by ensuring that the training colleges run by the City of Cape Town will be able to get boots on the ground so a meaningful difference can be seen.

Minister Allen stated that the presentation highlighted that funding had been allocated for the outer years. The Department has no doubt that, between now and the next two years, it is in the outer fundings. The Department will continue to advocate for the funding of LEAP to ensure that they work together with the SAPS to create extra visibility and apprehend and convict criminals and perpetrators. Funding has been allocated across the MTSF for the next two years.

Department’s Response

On the delay in finalising the transfer payment agreement and business plan, Adv Pillay replied that, as the Minister said, some of the challenges faced are historical. The Department wanted to be open and honest with SCOPA to indicate the challenges experienced since the inception of the LEAP project. It was the first time a project of this magnitude was undertaken by both the Western Cape Government and the City of Cape Town. The Premier mentioned this when he took office in 2019, but then the hard work started after his inaugural speech as Premier. Both the City of Cape Town and Department, where they were community oversight then, had to come together. The officials outlined how they were going to deliver on this joint mandate. Considering the amount of money involved, they wanted to ensure diligence and cost-effectiveness while complying with all financial prescripts. It did take some delay in getting this off the ground.

Adv Pillay said other issues were related to expenditure, which was mainly ones of expenditure where infrastructure had to be set up to run this project. It is not just about having boots on the ground but also about ensuring firearms are kept safe, etc. Provision had to be made for the City to put this in place so that deployment could be done responsibly. There were also issues during COVID-19, when certain levels of in-person training could not take place and procurement was severely impacted and came to somewhat of a standstill because the City could not continue with procurement on vehicles due to national constraints.

Those were some of the challenges faced in the past. Now, the Department operates more like a well-oiled machine and knows what is expected from both parties with the City and itself. It involves evolving over time. For example, building LEAP evaluation into the funding agreement to measure impact. The Department is engaging with the Department of Mobility to roll out equipment and applications on handheld devices for LEAP offices so that deployment can happen from home without having to travel two hours a day to collect firearms. The Department is able to track deployment so that it happens in areas where it will have the most impact on keeping communities safer.

Adv Pillay said that policy changes are something that the Department is challenged with, nationally: oversight over law enforcement. The Department has considered its Western Cape Community Safety Act, and national has looked at the IPID Act. There is oversight over some traffic officials, which is not necessarily in place and is facing challenges nationally. Those would be some of the policy changes that the Department would like to see. Currently, in terms of LEAP deployment, there is oversight by the Department as it relates to the business plan and transfer permit agreement. That oversight happens both from an operational and financial perspective. On the City itself, the City has oversight over LEAP and law enforcement in general. The Department would welcome any input and intervention by the Committee to take this forward nationally, on challenges of conduct.

Adv Pillay said LEAP officers are employees of the City of Cape and follow supervisory rules. On departmental oversight and involvement, operational meetings are chaired by the Department of Police Oversight and Community Safety to ensure value for money and resources are allocated to areas with the highest rate of murder or incidence. The Department's policy and research team have conducted evaluations of the LEAP project, monitoring through its safety dashboard. The Department is also monitoring through financial monitoring together with Provincial Treasury and engaging with the City. An extensive, in-depth financial analysis of City spending since the inception of the project has been done, with continuous engagement.

Mr David Coetzee, Chief Director: Safety and Security, Police Oversight and Community Safety, said that the delay in the business plan is an administrative process and does not affect any LEAP deployment. The money is gazetted, and their business plan runs continuously. Every year, the Department has a TPA (third-party agreement) that needs to be signed, but it has to go to four places in the City and then to the Department. HOD Pillay has instructed that this process needs to be completed by 01 July 2023. This is a legacy issue, but it does not affect deployment.

Mr Coetzee said, regarding the ecosystem of the 16 000 arrests, many of these arrests are fines. However, when the offences are firearm-related or more serious, the Department monitors them through the court watching brief. On discipline, command and control are important, but the Department is also branding lead officers specifically so they can be better tracked. For example, the TPA with the City requires that there must be a thousand qualified, trained lead officers. The Department monitors this down to the name level and requires a list of names from the City of the deployed and contracted officers. The HOD did mention a while back that there was a problem with procurement of vehicles, but the Department has focused on finding a solution. Currently, while the Department is waiting for procurement, vehicles are hired to ensure operational and functional units in the communities.

Ms Linde Govender, Chief Director: Management Support, Police Oversight and Community Safety, said, on oversight, the Department can confirm that their annual performance plan has specific performance indicators relating to the oversight function. It is important to note that the Department has good relations with colleagues in the City of Cape Town, making it easier to perform oversight through monthly financial and operational meetings. Finance officials are also part of the operational meetings to serve as a link between the budget and spending. The TPA allows the Department to request source documents to verify spending on the City sites, which has been done. This is another method of monitoring and ensuring that spending is on track and allocated to the right items.

Committee Minutes and Report

The Annual Committee Activities report for the 2022/23 financial year was adopted.

Minutes from 07 June, 12 April and 05 April 2023 were also considered and adopted.

SAPAC and SADCOPAC Annual Conferences: Matters and the Rescheduling of SCOPA Meetings

Regarding the SADCOPAC (Southern Africa Development Community Organisation of Public Accounts Committees) Conference in Durban, the Committee Procedural Officer said they had not been given a location. The entire Committee, along with support staff, will attend during the first week of October. The annual report period normally starts in the second week of October. So, this falls in the Committee's favour. The Committee can go to Durban for the entire week and fly back on Friday or Saturday, as decided later. In the following week, the Committee can start with the annual report period as per the annual norm. The COD meeting will be next month, in the week of 12 July. Normally, it is the Chairperson and two Members that attend. Mr Sileku and Ms Maseko have stated they are interested and would like to attend as part of the COD delegation.

The Chairperson told the Committee that the SCOPA meeting had to be cancelled a week before due to the unavailability of the Department and the Minister of Infrastructure and Human Settlements because of other commitments. He subsequently contacted him and requested that he give the Committee a date instead of the Committee giving him one, as there seem to be clashes whenever the Committee does so. The date he has given so far is 27 July 2023.

The Chairperson stated that the Committee was also supposed to see the Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities. However, unfortunately, the Minister, HOD, and the rest of the Department could not be available due to prior commitments. A date for that meeting has not yet been secured, but the secretariat hopes to squeeze them in on 27 July. He said that he would negotiate with them.

Ms Maseko asked about the way forward for the Committee regarding the issue of financials that was addressed by the Chairperson from SAPAC. What is the Committee’s decision, moving forward, regarding the membership fee?

The Procedural Offcier said that, according to the regulations, the legislature must pay all invoices within 30 days of receipt. The only exception is if a dispute is raised with the service provider or organisation. He said that he had emailed the finance department, the financial manager, and CFO to indicate that the Committee has raised a query regarding the invoice they sent the Committee as a dispute. The invoice has been placed on the dispute register to cover the Committee and the institution. Otherwise, WCPP will have to report in its annual report that it was non-compliant due to a SAPAC invoice that the PAC could not resolve. Now, it is on the dispute register until the Committee can decide how to move forward on this matter of paying or not paying the invoice.

Ms Maseko suggested that, since the Chairperson said they are done with the report, the Committee can communicate to receive it and then unblock it. And can the Committee request that we receive their financial reports? The most important thing is to get their financial reports. Interrogation of the financial reports will happen at the SAPAC meeting, but the Committee needs to see something. Once the Committee receives the financials, communication can go to the Speaker to say that the Committee has received them and then the membership can be paid.

Members agreed that the Committee should adopt Ms Maseko’s suggestion.

The Chairperson thanked Members for attending the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.


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