SAPS Strategic Focus 2000-2003: briefing

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01 March 2000
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

1 March 2000

Document handed out:
Strategic Focus 2000 to 2003 [This is a Corel Presentation file; email for a copy if you have suitable software]

Chairperson: Mr G Mluleki

A new strategy focussed at strengthening local police stations, fighting organised crime and doing away with corruption and ill discipline in the SAPS will be implemented from April 2000. The current 29 priority areas will be reduced to four in accordance with streamlining. The main focus will shift from individual crimes to syndicates, which is expected to cause a serious upset to organised crime. The object of the strategy is to deliver better quality service to the communities. One of the inadequacies of the SAPS is intelligence. A drive to recruit and train intelligence and detective personnel would be undertaken. Resources will be moved to where they are needed and training will also be dictated by need. Plans are also under way to raise morale and improve the working conditions of the police.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee would like the SAPS National Commissioner, Mr J Selebi, and his delegation to brief it on, amongst others, corruption, transformation, gender issues in the SAPS and programs in the fight against crime.

National Commissioner J Selebi was accompanied by Deputy National Commissioners: Pruis, responsible for Unit on Crime Prevention; Williams, Chief of Crime Intelligence, Eloff, responsible for Support Strategy; Divisional Commissioners: Makubela; Strjdom; Schoeman, Hlela, Chief of Logistics; Craman; Mala Singh, Career Management; Magda Stander, Personnel Services; Ferreira, Training; Assistant Commissioner Jones; Director De Beer, Communications.

Introduction by National Commissioner Selebi
National Commissioner Selebi stated that he hoped that their relations with the Committee remain sound and nothing happens to antagonise the relationship. He pointed out that he was shocked by media reports that he had angered the Committee. He went on to explain that he would have wished to detail the SAPS plans to the Committee alone before revealing these to the media. The primary reason for the meeting is to discuss the SAPS programs and operations.

When the SAPS began transformation, the aim was to ensure effective service delivery - the process is not about number of persons with a particular skin colour but good service delivery.

The vision of the SAPS is to set up operational divisional commissioners and the shortest possible time is three years. Currently there are four main strategies; previously there were 29. The operational plan that has been developed was worked out on the basis of crime statistics in the country. The total number of police stations around the country is 1136 and the plan will concentrate resources on the stations that are in areas that account for 50% or more of the crime in the country. This is known as the geographical approach. If the media was not in the meeting the Committee would be told the exact areas.

In the past the police dealt with organised crime in a disjointed way. There were separate units for narcotics, hijackings, murder and robbery, and so on. However criminals work in syndicates. The plan is not to concentrate on individual crimes since syndicates have a tendency to operate in interrelated crimes. An organised crime-combating group is to deal with specific syndicates. Major syndicates impact on the economy and crime in the country. For instance, there is a syndicate dealing in stolen pharmaceuticals, hijacking trucks meant to deliver drugs and medicines to government hospitals and selling them to private doctors. Such operations surely affect the delivery of services by the government to the poor.

He acknowledged that there are problems in the SAPS. Ill discipline is to be confronted with determination. When the SAPS was demilitarised, it seems that discipline was thrown out with the bath water. Police attire and absenteeism needs addressing. Some features of ill discipline have been ascribed to the presence of unions within the police but Mr Selebi pointed out that the unions are vehemently opposed to ill discipline.

Over a thousand police members have been suspended for misdemeanours. Instead of empowering Station Commissioners, new structures are set up for every problem that comes up, hence the long suspensions. The SAPS believes that the role of dealing with misdemeanours resides with the manager or station commissioner. It is for this reason that a Deputy Inspector General has been elected to oversee this whole process.

Another problem related to ill discipline, is corruption. To root out corruption, it is intended to that each and every member knows what to do in any given situation. Corruption is an immense problem but not a generalised one amongst the 127 000 members of the SAPS.

The operational plan entails that those members not needed in specialised units will be consolidated to strengthen police stations. The plan is to be rolled out from 1 April and it is thought that after three years an immense dent would have been dealt on crime. One of SAPS's greatest weaknesses is intelligence in order to prevent criminal activity. In the coming one to two years intelligence personnel and detectives will be recruited. Civilians not police will be attending to administrative duties while the police will be freed up to deal with crime. People are going to be moved to where they are needed. Training will be provided as required. It is hoped that the Committee will continue to support the SAPS even when there is no celebration in other sectors. The Committee needs to know these issues because they are going to see things happen, and they should know exactly what is going on.

Divisional Commissioner Eloff presented:
The strategic plan is to start with crime combating and to build around it. The priorities are based around the President's speech. An amalgamation of the 11 agencies in the SAPS is looked at. The crime-combating strategy is based on the geographical approach and is to concentrate on serious and violent crime, organised crime, crimes against women and children, and corruption and integrity of the SAPS.

Fighting Serious and Violent Crimes
The strategy would be to prevent proliferation of firearms. Focus will be on six areas: cutting off the flow through border control; deterring and preventing loss and abuse of firearms through the Firearms Control Bill; tracing of arms through organised crime investigation; identifying and investigating firearms through forensics and firearm investigation units; taking matters to court for prosecution, sentencing, forfeitures; and fast track disposal of firearms through destruction.

Domestic Violence
The SAPS is to conform with the regulatory framework of the Domestic Violence Act and its ensuing National Instruction. It is expected that the number of reported cases of domestic violence is going to explode, not because of an increase in this phenomenon but because of proper records being kept of incidences of domestic violence.

Service Delivery
The goal of the Service Delivery Improvement Programme is to improve service to communities at a local level. According to Batho Pele, a public service delivery program is compulsory. The framework of the programme envisages focus on local policing priorities, community policing and community partnerships. Other areas of focus will be human resource development, optimal use of resources (personnel will be released to station level to increase delivery; training will be provided where needed) and delivery of quality service. The approach of the programme entails training of facilitators, establishing community partnerships, maintaining station profiles and drawing up a service charter.

Integrity Programme
To fight corruption there is a need for proper information management. Control measures require accountability at lower level. Another way to fight corruption would be to improve service conditions. Also the reporting system (whistle blowing) has to be refined to make it conducive for reporting and acting on the information.

Human Resources Management
Six key areas are to be focussed on: optimum personnel utilisation, developing implementation of human resource policies, developing human resources, implementing affirmative action programmes, institutionalising professional service ethos, and institutionalising performance management. Also important in the medium to long-term strategy would be to develop employee assistance programs.

Budget Management
The goal of budget management is to strike a balance between personnel and operational expenditure. The areas to be targeted are optimum personnel utilisation, information technology and partnerships with interested stakeholders such as related departments and business.

Physical Resource Management
The key objective is to have sufficient resources. The focus will be on priorities, equitable distribution of resources, proper uses and control of these. A strategic plan aims at procurement, operation, maintenance, replacement and eventually the disposal of physical assets.

Operational Support
The short term plan starting from April is to take in recruits. The finance strategy is to put more focus on provinces to aid the fight against crime.

A strategy of evaluation is to be implemented. Managers have to give quarterly reports on how they have done in relation to their targets. Inspections and audits will have to take place. This is linked to performance contracts.

Strategy in the Provinces
The crime combating zones that will be established are usually bigger than red dot crime areas. Commissioner Pruis pointed out that zones might have to spread to adjacent provinces as when you operate effectively in a red dot area, criminals are pushed outwards and forced to spread over to neighbouring provinces. The crime combating task group will operate in the adjacent province as well. The group will function under leadership of a commander and eventually a deputy area commissioner.

This task group will consist of a stability component, a reaction component, an intelligence component (tactical intelligence is required), an investigating component (court directed investigation and intelligence is necessary), a community policing component (comprising station police), and a communications component. The main purpose of this geographical approach is integrated operations.

National Commissioner Jackie Selebi concluded by reiterating that the plan is to concentrate not on individual crime but on syndicates. The detectives will be under a single command. The strategy will focus on crime prevention, reaction, partnerships with the departments SAPS works with, borderline control, disruption operations, intelligence to work in team with investigators, regional operations with INTERPOL. It has to be noted that border police can no longer be customs and excise control officers, they have to concentrate on organised crime. The SARS and Home Affairs would have to get their own officials.

(Q) Mr M Pheko (PAC) said he was impressed with the idea of taking resources to station level. He wanted to know whether in doing so the size of the population that the station serves is taken into consideration.

(A) The size of the population and levels of crime will have an influence on allocation of resources, these do not refer only to vehicles but to quality of service and information technology. Recruitment will be influenced by where there is the greatest need.

(Q) What the cause is behind the police killings.

(A) Police killings are carried out by criminal organisations, some may even be members of the SAPS who regard good police as a hindrance to their criminal activities. National Commissioner Selebi expressed his frustration that South Africa is the only country in the world where killing of a uniformed police passes by quietly without notice. Democracy has become too elastic and is not for the service of good citizens but used by those with bad intentions. The support of parliamentarians in expressing revulsion at the killings is needed. MPs need to stand up and defend the police. He would like to see Members of Parliament wearing the SAPS uniform so people can see that the police are valued. He would like Parliament to hold a debate on the killings.

(Q) Adv Swart wanted to know where the money for social crime prevention would come from, was it from the SAPS budget or somewhere else?

(A) No funds from the SAPS budget have been allocated for social projects.

(Q) Are there any specific plans to reward good police members or those that do their job properly?

(A) Regarding the morale of police members, the SAPS would like to actualise its vision of dynamic, vibrant service delivery. They are looking at improving service conditions and salaries. Also looking at non-monetary incentives as these hold even higher value than money to members. The SAPS is also dealing with issues around ill discipline.

(Q) General C Viljoen (FF) pointed out that the strategy's theory sounds good but his problem is putting it into practice. Is the plan to create a new police force to fight syndicates? What would the relationship be between the planned crime combating task group and the police already there. How will the group fit into existing structures? He has doubts that what is being proposed would be operational from April 2000. Also he is concerned about command and control channels. He suggests that the SAPS builds on existing structures and if necessary change those. Involving the community is the only way of having more surveillance on the ground.

(A) The SAPS has presented the provincial plan. It involves a mobile combat group that falls under the command of an Area Commissioner in a crime zone. If the SAPS had time to detail the plan to the Committee in the absence of the media it would be more clear.

(Q) What are the chances of the reservists being incorporated into the SAPS since they are doing such a good job?

(A) There are about 30 000 reservists, some of these rewarded, but the SAPS cannot afford to take all of them. Moves are underway to categorise the reservists.

(Q) An ANC Committee member said he is concerned that transformation and intergration is allocated to community service centres and if personnel are not encouraged that might have negative effects. He wanted to find out if there is any strategy driven from the higher structures of the SAPS to handle issues of racism and affirmative action.

(A) Regarding transformation, SAPS would like to make sure that systems and mechanisms to hold everyone accountable are there. Head office has set up a Transformation Committee. There is an affirmative action representative, and one that deals with human resources development and restructuring.

(Q) Mr I Vidi (ANC) asked whether the National Commissioner is considering making station commissioners accountable.

(A) The matter is related to performance contracts. The plan is to empower people to do their jobs well, supply them with necessary infrastructure then hold them accountable. Eventually the SAPS is looking at cascading accountability and performance contracts downwards.

(Q) What is the relationship of the planned crime combating task group with the Scorpions and its related organs.

(A) The SAPS has certain functions their enabling legislation does not empower them to perform. The Scorpions can undertake those functions such as in the forfeiture of goods connected to organised crime. The Scorpions cannot investigate all organised crime, a joint team would be formed with SAPS to do so. National Commissioner Selebi pointed out that there cannot be more than one police force in a country, for this reason debate is still needed to iron out relations between the SAPS and Scorpions.

(Q) Is the Commissioner willing to return to the Committee, say after six months, to give a report on how the strategy has fared.

(A) The National Commissioner indicated that he would be willing to keep linkage with the Committee.

(Q) The Chairperson wanted to find out what is being done regarding petty offenders in order to lessen overcrowding in jails.

(A) Commissioner Selebi stated that this is one of the problems with the criminal justice system in South Africa. Jails in South Africa were built to accommodate 90 000 prisoners, now they stand at over 100 000. Police cells were designed to hold suspects for 48 hours, but because of backlogs in the criminal justice system they now have to hold people for longer than 18 months. People in the police cells devise plans to escape and will succeed because these cells were not meant to deal with such problems. The SAPS has considered what can be put in place to supplement this. The perfect solution seems to be community service. At the moment the State spends R80 per day for about fifty days on a person that cannot pay a R50 fine. It is believed that community service would alleviate the problem.

The Chairperson observed that issues such as the rights of criminals and police killings are debates to be taken seriously.

(Q) Mr A Maziya (ANC) wanted to know whether police reservists especially those who were members of Self Protection Units (SDUs) and Self Defence Units (SDUs) are to be integrated into the SAPS.

(A) The SAPS needs to look at the issue of people in SDUs and so on. The intention is to recruit about 2500 people. The recruitment would look at people such as reservists who can be ready for policing in the shortest time possible.

(Q) Mr T Goniwe (ANC) pointed out there is no direct plan of involvement and integration of communities in the Commissioners' strategy. He also said he would like the Commissioner to come up with a more detailed proposal for Parliamentarians to go to police stations. The National Commissioner's delegation should maintain linkage with the Committee and give feedback to the Chairperson.

(A) National Commissioner Selebi stated that it is important for SAPS to build relations with the community. He is against offering rewards to citizens for notifying police of commission of a crime, which he views as commercialising citizenship. There is a need to structure the relationship with the community and to institutionalise the process of information giving. The SAPS are trying to put in place mechanisms that will enable quick response to reporting.


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