Independent Complaints Directorate: briefing

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Police

26 October 1999
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Meeting report

SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
26 October 1999
INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE: REPORT

Documents handed out :
Executive Summary of ICD Annual Report
Annual Report of the Independent Complaint Directorate [e-mail info@pmg.org.za for document]

ICD Representatives
Adv. Melville (Executive Director of ICD); Adv. Mdladla ( Kwazulu-Natal: Head
Office); Adv. McKenzie( Pretoria: Monitoring and Supervision) and Adv.
Mtshana (Communications Officer)

MINUTES
Adv. Melville summarising the salient features of their annual report. He highlighted financial and capacity constraints as the main factors hampering effective investigation. However, despite these challenges, Melville is pleased about the growing progress of the ICD. Its progress includes: influencing the new approach SAPS is adopting in dealing with victims of sexual offences; the introduction of a new policy on arrest procedures, as a result of recommendations made by the ICD and the impending implementation of the Domestic Violence Act - an activity in which the ICD was heavily involved. As for future endeavours, frustrated by the lack of funds, the ICD has decided to co-ordinate with NGOs and various other roleplayers when investigating and conducting research into police brutality and deaths in police custody.

A three-year comparison of the annual number of complaints received by the IDC clearly indicates an increase which is attributed to the ICD becoming well-known and more accessible.

With regard to monitoring, the ICD had introduced a reporting mechanism both nationally and provincially whereby the ICD is obliged to complete six-monthly reports, particularly of complaints and intervention measures.

Furthermore the ICD is involved in holding consultative workshops in all the provinces with relevant stakeholders and is engaged in inputting into SAPS training manuals as well as assisting with the first draft Green Paper on an ICD Act .

Currently, in an attempt to be proactive and not reactive the ICD is also focusing on developmental issues in order to identify root causes for undesirable police conduct. Therefore the ICD has started to conduct comparative studies with the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, funded by the Danish Government. The aim is to develop a profile of police officers prone to violent conduct.

There are currently 45 investigators (6 Kwazulu-Natal, 8 instead of 10 in other provinces, 2 existing offices in Pietersburg and Kimberley take responsibility for Mpumalanga and Free State) and the caseload per investigator is on average approximately 30 cases. The ICD made a principled decision to employ a majority of civilian investigators who required much training as most of these civilians do not have any investigative background or knowlwdge of police procedures. There is only a small contingent with a SAPS background.

Adv Melville said that the ICD has an approved structure of 535 posts, but due to budgetary constraints they have, over a two-year period, only been allowed to fill 28% of the proposed structure. This impacts negatively on the mandate of the ICD whose task has been expanded by the Domestic Violence Act. To fulfil its mandate fully, it would require at least four times its present budget allocation.

Adv Melville said that police crime still persists even though a decrease has been indicated. Police criminality is not being properly documented as past community distrustfulness of the police force still persists. Hence statistical information cannot reflect the true nature of the current South African situation. The ICD continues to aim to eliminate police violence and criminality, impact on the transformation of the police force, assist in cultivating a culture of honesty and integrity in order for the police to function in a more sophisticated manner.

QUESTIONS
Mr. Zondo (ANC): With the vacancy left by Mr Mothle, Chief Director of Investigations, why has there been such a long delay in the appointment of somebody else to fulfill his duties? Secondly, with regard to the core-line function of investigation, why are cases still being referred to the police? Doesn't this cause uncertainty about the role of the ICD and what steps are or will be taken to remedy the situation?

Response: The money allocated to Mr. Mothle's position was redistributed to create a number of posts at a lower level. Due to the shortage of investigators (only 45 fieldworkers currently) the ICD will have to refer certain cases to SAPS but will be monitoring these investigations, ensuring that the right results come about. Increased involvement in monitoring these cases will ensure that role confusion does not occur - the ICD will not be risking its independence.

A committee member stated that, according to the report, the ICD desires to improve community-police relations.However relations between the ICD and the police is one characterised by hostility and apathy. How will the ICD faciliate community-police relations when relations between the ICD and police has not improved?

Response: Honestly, accessibility of the SAPS was difficult in the past , for it was a rather closed secretive organisation. However, the ICD has received remarkable support from the SAPS and the establishment of the ICD was welcomed. At the launch of the ICD in the North Western Province the Commissioner of Police emphasised the need for good relations between the ICD and SAPS. Lastly, police officers themselves approach the ICD out of fear to report misconduct to superiors.

As for establishing relations with the community, the ICD has been linking itself with NGOs and CBOs, offering assistance in self-defence courses, sharing skills and knowledge acquired from training received by overseas expertise and facilitating the effective fighting of crime.

Mr Booi (ANC): Why is it that the ICD doesn't have a tollfree number?

Response: The ICD is still seeking sponsorship for the costs involved are R60 000 for equipment and line fees. The ICD cannot squeeze its own budet to accommodate such a service.

Mr. McIntosh (DP): How do you (ICD) relate to the Secretariat of Safety and Security. What kind of a relationship do you have with them?

Response: The ICD makes recommendations to the Secretariat, this doesn't happen in each province though as roles are not clearly defined as yet.

Mr. McIntosh (DP) referring to Annexure 3 of the report: With regard to the decision that 57 complaints out of 500 cases were dismissed as not sufficiently important to be taken any further, can you expand on this. How have such decisions impacted on the workload?

Response: As mentioned earlier that annexure is for this year and thus is not complete so it is not a true reflection but merely an indication of trends. In cases that are not considered further, it is for the reason that a court does not proceed on a 50/50 prbability but on the basis of 'beyond reasonable doubt' and based on the nature of offences these cases would not be considered.

Mr. McIntosh (DP): Adv Melville requested R3 341 791 for the ICD budget, why is he being so timid and not asking for more?

Response: The structure was approved on minimum/maximum standards of expenditure. Hence a more conservative approach was taken in the hope that it would be considered reasonable and the request would be successful.

Mr. McIntosh (DP): With SAPS receiving 27 000 complaints from the public, the ICD is working with only a workload of 30 cases per investigator. Is the ICD comfortable in dealing with police work - considering the Criminal Procedure Act. Secondly is 30 cases a fair case load?

Response: The SAPS case load is ludicrous, but are mostly related to loss of property. However the cases dealt with by the ICD are fairly complex. So yes the ICD is comfortable with doing police work, but due to a shortage of investigators such case load is possible as yet, but hopefully in future.

Rev Meshoe (ACDP): Refering to the Garsfontein case mentioned in the report, what happens with a suspect who commits a serious offence, who escapes and is not apprehended . Is firing acceptable or have alternative recommendations been made? Secondly with regard to case management in the Western Cape where complaints are attended to not on a piece-meal basis but in clusters does this ensure that cases receive individual attention when dealt with in clusters?

Response: The Law does not excuse Schedule 1 offences. Various provisions are made for such an offender to be shot with certain conditions/restrictions. Depending on new sections or amendments lethal force may be used against the offender, but a cautious approach needs to be taken especially since innocent individuals have been hurt/ killed. Therefore alternative modes of arrest procedures are being investigated.
Adv. Riaz Salogee (Western Cape Regional Manager): Individual attention to cases dealt with in clusters will depend on the evidence emanating during investigation.

The Chairperson urged the committee to dedicate a few minutes to discussing the inadequacy of funds issue.

Ms. Felix: Noted that the ICD has a personnel expenditure of R65 000, which she considers very high as the Commissioner of Police was grilled for the amount allocated to SAPS personnel expenditure. Why does the ICD not cut down on training expenses. Most of the required skills are found in investigative officers why employ more?

Adv Melville agreed that there is a need to be more specialized and to draw on people with greater experience. The ICD has tried various techniques on how to maximise efficiency.They have investigated, reviewed and studied overseas cases to improve current systems but they still have a lot of problems.

Gen. Viljoen exclaimed that it is a pity that such a unit has to exist. Once the ICD has completed its task, then this unit will have to disappear.

Response: The ICD operates as a deterrence to incidents of police misconduct. One has a fire station even if there are currently no fires. There is no real question of the ICD disappearing soon.

The Chair, revisiting the statement he had made earlier about the lack of funds, concluded there were capacity problems in the ICD.

A committee member commented that new ways of how to build the capacity of ICD needs to be looked at such as shared training resources with SAPS.

The meeting was concluded.

Appendix 1:
Executive Summary of ICD Annual Report

INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE (ICD)
1998/1999 ANNUAL REPORT
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

1. INTRODUCTION
The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), has continued to deal with issues relating to the establishment, including efforts to improve office accommodation in the Regions It also received increased exposure in the media as t got involved in high profile investigations. The ICD has experienced a lot of problems because of lack of resources, lack of technical capacity as well as lack of clear empowerment. However inspite of all these problems, the ICD is off to a good start. It has made a solid contribution to the Government's efforts to curb criminality, both by deterring police misconduct and by exposing police involvement in collusion with crime.

2 THE ESTABLISHMENT
2.1 HUMAN RESOURCES
More posts were filled in order to render an effective and efficient service to
the people whom the ICD is to serve. The more important aspects needed to
be covered were:
- the filling of all funded vacancies
- the creation of a human resource and employment framework
- continued implementation of the conditions of service agreement
- the management of labour relations and
the implementation of the various, white papers in order to improve the Public Service.

2.2 INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
This component equipped the ICD reasonably well with computer equipment to start up the current financial year. Most emphasis will be placed on equipping new offices being established, as well as developing a centralised database and wide area network. In particular the centralised database will enhance the management of complaints and the automation of the registration process. Action has also been taken to ensure that all ICD computer equipment is Y2K compliant.

3. MONITORING AND DEVELOPMENT
During the period under review, the ICD has supervised and monitored about 1470 complaints which were completed, and various recommendations were made. A large number of these complaints related to the failure of police to give progress reports to complainants. After a number of recommendations were made to address this problem, an improvement has been noted.

The function of the Monitoring and Development component, apart from supervising and monitoring complaints, has been to develop policies to identify and address problems encountered in policing.

This component has been involved in putting, together a quarterly review as well as piloting a White Paper process aimed at developing separate legislation for the ICD.

4. COMPLIANTS REGISTRY
It is the responsibility of this component to receive, process and register complaints brought to the ICD by members of the public and other interested parties, as well as to determine how a complaint should be dealt with by the ICD.

During the year under review, the ICD received 2874 complaints of which 756 were reports of deaths in police custody. This figure is about 39% higher than that of the previous year. In some instances the number of complaints has doubled. This may perhaps be contributed to the fact that the ICD is becoming increasingly known to all sectors of the South African society.

By the end of the past financial year, the ICD had finalised 2240 cases. This figure includes cases finalised during the 1997/98 financial year. In about 28% of these cases various recommendations were made and different types of action taken. About 30% of the complaints were found to have been unfounded and the rest were disposed of through other means such as mediation, referred to the SAPS, etc.

5. INVESTIGATIONS
This component's main responsibility is to ensure that all complaints received by the ICD and allocated for active investigation, are indeed investigated efficiently and effectively, in terms of its statutory mandate.

In spite of the obstacles facing the organisation and the relatively short period of time of the existence of the ICD, it has managed to impact significantly both with regard to the public in general, as well as the community of sakeholders which it serves. This is evidenced by the increase in the number of complaints it has received in the past financial year.

The ICD has taken great strides in the area of policy formulation and development. It has supervised and co-ordinated the development of a number of operational policies and procedures. A further number are being formulated.

The Investigations Directorate has succeeded in co-ordinating a number of training programmes aimed at bringing lCD investigators up-to-date with the most modern and latest investigative techniques. This has afforded ICD investigators the opportunity of being exposed to the knowledge and insight of highly experienced investigators and investigative supervisors from abroad.

One of the ICD's future plans is to develop the capacity for the organisation to conduct its own forensic investigations and examinations. Another plan is to explore avenues of better and increased co-operation between the Department of Health and the ICD with a view to speeding up the finalization of post-mortem reports.

In an effort to minimise the reliance of the ICD on the SAPS, the ICD is developing the capacity to hold identity parades at locations other than police stations.

6. LEGAL SERVICES
This component is mainly tasked with providing legal services including advice, to those members of the ICD who need it, as well as assisting in the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPS) for the ICD. It keeps proper channels of communication with the SAPS legal services, the State Attorney, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the National Intelligence Agency as well as the legal services of other relevant state departmental organisations.

During the past financial year, the component contributed to the committee assisting the Minister in formulating the official Policy and Instructions of the Prevention of Torture and the Treatment of Persons in Custody of the SAPS. It has also been instrumental in introducing a training component about the ICD among members of SAPS and prosecutors so that courses on the ICD become a permanent feature of their curriculum.

7. FINANCE
The main function of this Directorate is to ensure the proper management of state funds allocated to the ICD's operations. Because of the increase in the activities of the organisation, it has been a growth in staff and has been involved in current training efforts to modernise and unify the Governments accounting procedures.

8. COMMUNICATION AND MARKETING SERVICES
The sub-directorate is responsible for both internal and external communication in the ICD and liaises with the media on behalf of the organisation. It is also its function to see to the marketing of the ICD as well as maintaining liaison between the Ministry of Safety and Security and the ICD.

This component has taken some modest initiatives to market the organisation by producing publicity material as well as having regular meetings with other Government communicators. It has interacted closely with other departments on a bilateral basis.

9. STRATEGY AND POLICY CO-ORDINATION
This component is mainly tasked with assisting with policy and standard operating procedure development and implementation, and co-ordinatinq meetings of the Senior Management Committee.

In the past year this component established the web-site of the organisation on the Internet and co-ordinated the departmental Strategic Planning workshop. It has since tried to ensure that the organisation does not deviate from its initial focus and goals.

10. REGIONAL OFFICES
It must be noted that only Gauteng, Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal and Northern Eastern regional offices were fully operational in 1997/98 and the rest of the offices (except Free State and Mpumalanga), became operational during the year under review.

In spite of this situation, a lot of activity has been generated and the ICD has become known in most of the country. The totality of the cases handled by these regions has been summarized at the beginning of this document, while more details of their operations may be found in the larger Annual report.

11. EXTERNAL RELATIONS
ICD officials have had occasion to travel to meet their counterparts and colleagues abroad and to attend international civilian complaint were held in the organisations. In addition meetings with other colleagues were held in the country.
Of significance were the successful efforts of the Executive Director to bid to have the year 2 000 IACOLE World Conference held in South Africa. (IACOLE stands for International Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement). The conference will be a tremendous value to South Africa and the SADC region.
Other seminars on the theme of Human Rights and Police, as well as on ways of combating corruption were held in various parts of the globe.

12. CONCLUSION
The ICD has made a great effort to establish itself as a significant role-player in the transformation of the SAPS during its second year of operation.
The successes it has achieved need to be considered in the light of the fact that ICD is still devoting much of its energies to establishment activities, such as the acquisition of accommodation and equipment, recruitment and training of staff, as well as to the marketing of the organisation to role-players.
While the ICD is making solid progress in a hostile environment, its under-resourcing is preventing it from capitalizing on its good start. To fulfil its mandate fully, it would require at least four times its present budget allocation.

While the increase to the ICD's responsibilities in terms of the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 and the draft regulations relating to the Municipal Police Service, together with the increase in the level of complaints to it following its increased publicity profile, there is a danger that the ICD will be swamped and rendered ineffectual.
The ICD must be resourced to enable it to fulfill its legal obligations adequately, otherwise legislation will have to be amended to narrow the scope of its mandate and to remove the requirement that it be established provincially (in addition to nationally).
The latter option would not be acceptable if the initial goal of establishing the ICD of effectively and efficiently investigating public complaints against members of the SAPS is to be realised.

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