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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 November 2004
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICES ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Police Services presentation: Crime situation for financial year 2003/2004
Police Services presentation: Financial statement : 2003/2004
Police Services Annual Report 2003/2004 - on SAPS website
Crime Statistics 2003/2004 - on SAPS website
The Police delegation made a comparison of crime statistics for the three preceding financial years. The overall trend was that crime had decreased for the last three years. They also presented a breakdown of their financial figures.
In the question time that followed, members of Opposition Parties queried the validity of the statistics. Other members also further questioned, among other issues, the increased incidence of shoplifting, the increase in rape reporting, human trafficking in Gauteng, border and livestock security, and the ongoing murders of police officers.
The Police Services delegation comprised of National Commissioner J Selebi, Deputy Commissioners Singh, Pruis, Hlela and Eloff, Dr De Kok and Divisional Commissioner Schutte. Dr De Kok briefed the Committee on the crime situation in South Africa and made a comparison of crime statistics for the three preceding financial years for crimes ranging from contact and contact-related crimes, to property-related crimes, etc. The overall trend was that crime had decreased over the last three years. However, exceptions such as increases in robbery with aggravating circumstances were noted.
The latter part of the briefing was presented by Divisional Commissioner Schutte. The Committee was given details on the financial performance of the Department for the financial year 2003/2004. He set out the Department's sources of revenue and how it had been allocated for this financial period. Commissioner Schutte emphasised that SAPS had far exceeded its performance targets.
The Chair extended the Committee's congratulations to Commissioner Selebi on his recent appointment as the Head of Interpol.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) noted that these crime statistics only dealt with reported cases. Research by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) had shown that only 50% of crimes were ever reported. Ony one in 35 cases of rape were reported. Mr Jankielsohn emphasised that the Committee needed figures for actual crimes committed, not only those that had been reported. He also asked how the population numbers had been determined in the calculation of the statistics. He remained sceptical over the reliability of the presented statistics.
Commissioner Selebi explained that the SAPS only relied on statistics for reported cases as there was no reliable scientific method of determining how many actual crimes were committed. Dr De Kok stated that the figure of one out of 35 rapes reported dated from 1994. The latest ISS figures showed that one out of two or three rape cases were now being reported. The SAPS had obtained its population figures from StatsSA. Dr De Kok conceded that there was about a 5% margin of error in the statistics, which was quite standard in research.
Mr P Groenewald (FFP) said the briefing had noted that rape had decreased by 1.4%, whereas on the South African Police Services (SAPS) website, it showed that rapes had increased by 0.6%. He asked for an explanation of this discrepancy.
Dr De Kok said that the statistics given on the SAPS website were raw figures. The statistics before the Committee had been properly calculated using population figures and ratios etc.
Mr Groenewald remained unconvinced and felt that the raw figures were more accurate.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) was surprised that shoplifting had increased, even though security in malls and stores had been strengthened. He proposed that the SAPS should reconcile its statistics with those of the Justice and the Correctional Services Departments.
Dr De Kok said that there had been increases in shoplifting at the time of the implementation of the plastic bag regulations. However, shoplifting figures had levelled out and were on the decrease. Even though the Department of Justice had access to SAPS figures, their formulas were different.
Mr Jankielsohn asked how the SAPS had determined the crime per 100 000 persons ratio.
Dr De Kok reiterated that population figures were obtained from StatsSA. It included mid-year estimates as well.
Mr E Xolo (ANC) asked what SAPS was doing about the 'bustling slave trade' in Gauteng.
Commissioner Selebi said the issue was the smuggling of illegal immigrants. Dr De Kok added that definitions of crimes were often mixed up. There were no signs of organised human trafficking in SA.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked under which category of crime family violence and crimes against children fell. She also asked whether these crimes had been prioritised.
Dr De Kok noted that violence against women and children usually fell under the categories of other crimes like rape, murder, assault, etc. Separating these out would be a tedious and time-consuming process.
Mr M Booi (ANC) asked what was being done about the murders of staffmembers of the SAPS.
Commissioner Selebi said that the killing of SAPS members was indeed a serious problem. The general public had little respect for the law and that the negative attitude towards the police was an apartheid legacy. He stressed that the SAPS was in the process of 'demilitarising' in order to make it more approachable to the public.
Mr A Maziya (ANC) noted that on a recent Committee visit to Germany, complaints had been levelled against Interpol for its lack of co-operation in the solving of international fraud. Cases often took two to three years to solve. He asked whether SA was co-operating with foreign countries to stamp out fraud.
Commissioner Selebi said that Interpol had 25 persons staffing a 24-hour information assistance database. He felt that Germany should have utilised this service.
An ANC member asked what the SAPS was doing about stock theft and drug trafficking on the Lesotho and Eastern Cape borders.
Deputy Commissioner Pruis explained that the borders were currently patrolled by the SA National Defence Force (SANDF). Cases of stock theft and drug trafficking at borders had decreased. The Cabinet had made a decision that by March 2009, the SAPS would replace the SANDF at border posts.
Mr Booi asked about the SAPS' relationship with the Department of Public Works, in view of the poor physical conditions of SAPS police station buildings. He mentioned that the Auditor-General (AG) had raised concerns over the issue of staff leave in the SAPS.
The Chairperson referred to a recent visit to a police station in Gauteng and said that the building was in a dire state of disrepair.
Commissioner Selebi said that the SAPS did renovations themselves in many instances. He was hesitant to comment on the lack of co-operation from the Department of Public Works, but hoped that the situation would improve with the appointment of a new Director-General. On the second issue, he said that SAPS members could not take leave in the same way as other government employees. Police work did not allow leave to be taken as chosen, and in most instances, members forfeited their leave. He had never taken a day's leave.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked what SAPS was doing about the housing problem that its staffmembers had complained about.
Commissioner Selebi said the housing problem was a recurring one.
Ms J Sosibo (ANC) asked why SAPS had not utilised its net surplus.
Mr R King (DA) asked if funding had been made available for those SAPS members who had taken over the roles of the out-phased commandos previously stationed in rural areas.
Mr Jankielsohn pointed that the Auditor-General's (A-G) report had mentioned that SAPS lacked properly trained personnel to use sophisticated equipment at border posts. Some 603 SAPS posts had remained vacant for more than six months. The report furthermore noted that SAPS had problems with the appropriation of the correct vehicles for police purposes, and that SAPS firearms were often stolen or lost.
Commissioner Selebi noted that the A-G's report was only one qualification. Deputy Commissioner Eloff said that SAPS had held discussions over the findings of past A-G reports and had tried to deal with the issues raised.
Mr Monareng asked why so many staffmembers of the SAPS had been dismissed.
Commissioner Selebi said that SAPS members who committed crimes were suspended without pay. If found guilty, SAPS members would be immediately dismissed as no second chances were allowed.
Mr Xolo asked if funding had been set aside for the training of SAPS members in rural areas.
Commissioner Selebi said that all SAPS members received the same training.
The meeting was adjourned.
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