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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
1 June 2005
COMMITTEE WORKSHOP RECOMMENDATIONS: STRATEGIC PLANNING
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Strategic Planning Workshop, 1 to 3 February 2005
Draft of the proposed monitoring and evaluative tool for local police stations (email email@example.com)
The Chairperson discussed the recommendations reached at the Committee’s Caledon workshop, focusing particularly on the development of a monitoring tool, and the format of a questionnaire, that would assist the Committee in evaluating the implementation of policy and challenges faced at individual police stations. A Committee task team would be created to assist the development of this monitoring tool in conjunction with civic organisations and the provinces. The Chairperson also raised the problem of non-attendance by the provinces, which became a general discussion about the problems in communication between the Portfolio Committee, the Standing Committees of the Provinces, the Provincial MEC’s, the media, and the Minister. Another issue raised by Members revolved around the usefulness of more regular crime statistics being provided to the Committee.
The Chairperson noted the four provinces in attendance (North West, Limpopo, Northern Cape and Gauteng) and outlined the agenda for the meeting. The Committee would discuss the way forward from the decisions made at the workshop in Caledon, as well as the solution to Parliament’s need for a tool to monitor the effectiveness and implementation of policy decisions at the local police station level.
The Chairperson also referred to the Standing Committee of the Western Cape Provincial Legislature, who had neither attended nor sent their apologies for not attending Security Week, and who were also not currently present. This was especially regrettable as the Western Cape faced serious safety and security issues. Moreover, there had been only one representative from the Western Cape at the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) meeting last week.
Adv A Gaum (ANC) suggested that the Chairperson write to the Standing Committee of the Western Cape and express her dissatisfaction with both their poor attendance and lack of apology for their non-attendance. The behaviour of the Standing Committee was unacceptable and indicated an unwillingness to work with the Portfolio Committee.
The Chairperson reported that following the decisions reached at Caledon, a monitoring tool had been created, which would be the responsibility of the Portfolio Committee. A Committee task team of five or six Members would be formed to discuss this monitoring tool with the provinces and report back about a way forward. The goal of this task team was to standardise the monitoring tool document, which all stakeholders must be able to review and make suggestions about. This monitoring tool was the key to massive improvement in service delivery and increased knowledge about existing challenges.
The Chairperson reported that police stations visited in the Eastern Cape three years ago had shown no changes or implementation of new policy, and faced worse problems than previously. There was a need to monitor both the successes and failures of the provinces, although the Committee would focus a bit more on rural areas, as they had previously focused more on urban areas. Many rural stations had not been visited since 1994. Therefore, the Committee would visit police stations in Beaufort West, Laingsburg, and Prince Albert districts from June 10 to 12, 2005. After this visit, the Committee would visit other rural police stations until 15 June 2005, when they would return to Cape Town in time for their next meeting at Parliament.
The Chairperson reiterated her concern about the Standing Committee of the Western Cape, and wished that some Members of the Standing Committee would accompany the Portfolio Committee on their visit. This would be enlightening, as the Western Cape had significant problems within the police force and between the police and the community. The Standing Committee needed the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) and should be brought along to become more aware of the problems within their province.
The Chairperson described the document as a monitoring tool focusing on station-level oversight of service delivery, station management, resources, and police training, which would involve all stakeholders, including organisations in the private sector. The stakeholders would be given a mandate to highlight areas in the draft and give input to the draft. However, if there was no reply from the provinces by 24 June 2005, the Chairperson ruled that the Committee would take the process forward without further input from the provinces. The Committee group soliciting input in this process would include two Members of the ruling party, one of whom must be a convenor, and one Member from each of the other parties. She asked if the Members had copies of the draft.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) replied that Members did not, as it was not a clean draft.
The Chairperson stated that the provinces used to report quarterly on challenges and problems with safety and security to the Committee, and that this process should be reinstated. She appointed Ms Van Wyk to lead the task team. The Committee also needed a list of all the stations in the provinces from the provincial commissioners of each police station, its area, and its allocation. This would be more useful for monitoring than simply a list of police stations. The Chairperson stated that the Committee would now turn to other issues from the Caledon report that needed attention, though the need for effective oversight made the monitoring tool very important.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) asserted that statistics were also a valuable tool, but that the statistics the Committee had been given were over a year old, which limited their usefulness. The Committee needed regular statistics to carry out their goal of effective oversight, and the integrity of their intentions to do so would be measured by their willingness to "force" or "subpoena" the Minister or the Department to get regular statistics if they became necessary.
Mr A N Maziya (ANC) replied that it would not be possible to get regular statistics, as the South African Police Service (SAPS) only compiled statistics every so often. However, it would be possible for the Committee to determine local crime trends on their station visits. Getting statistics from the Minister would not be useful.
The Chairperson affirmed that everyone had the right to voice their opinion and have their views noted, but that the Committee would know the "correct procedure."
Mr V B Ndlovu (IFP) voiced his approval of the document as a way forward, and suggested that the Chairperson of the Standing Committees should also sometimes accompany the Portfolio Committee delegations on their visits, as a means of securing better communication with the provinces. Furthermore, the Chairperson should write to all of the provinces that have not been attending the Portfolio Committee meetings to find out why there has been a breakdown in communication and a lack of respect for the Committee.
Mr O E Monareng (ANC) declared that criminals also used statistics to see if the police were tracking their criminal activities. Therefore, in not releasing the statistics as often as the Committee would like, the Department was not simply denying statistics to the public, but rather denying criminals useful information.
Mr P J Groenewald (FF+) argued that although the Minister only released crime statistics once a year, the Committee ought to be informed when the statistics were released and given a copy. It was unacceptable that the media received the statistics before the Committee. Although he was sympathetic to Mr Monareng’s concerns, he suggested that the Committee receive quarterly crime statistics reports even if they needed a closed session to discuss them.
Ms Van Wyk suggested avoiding a debate about statistics and focusing instead on other issues raised in the workshop recommendations, such as the Committee receiving reports in time to prepare as a Committee and creating a database of external stakeholders or interested parties.
Mr K Meshoe (ACDP) emphasised that the Committee assumed that the Standing Committee Members were informed at the same time as the Portfolio Committee when information about the provinces was received. The Committee also needed to know exactly who would attend in advance. He advocated raising the matter in Parliament, regardless of embarrassment caused. Finally, the media ought to be approaching the Committee for information, rather than the other way around, and therefore the Committee had to receive crime statistics before their public release.
The Chairperson stated that she had not known the provinces were not planning to attend, particularly as they had been informed three to four weeks ago.
Mr Themba Gwabeni (NW Legislature MPL and Chairperson of Safety and Liaison and Public Works) emphasised that the monitoring tool, when completed, would assist every province to examine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as application of sectoral policy, according to a breakdown of specific areas. He asserted that statistics were not always helpful, as other aspects, such as inequality of resource distribution, were an accurate predictor of crime. There was also a need to examine inter-provincial working relationships and resource allocation, particularly over provincial borders. A questionnaire would help provinces determine what the problems with police were and what to do about them, as well as indicate priority areas. Returning to a policy of unannounced visits would also help determine what local problems existed.
The Chairperson agreed that it was important that the Chairpersons of the Standing Committees of the Provinces be involved in the process.
Mr de Beer (Northern Cape Legislature MPL) agreed with Mr Gwabeni and stated that a more business-like approach would improve services.
Ms J Mofokeng (Gauteng Legislature MPL and Chairperson of Community Safety) asked about the format of the future questionnaire, noting that a space for extra comments would be required, and stressed again the need for good inter-governmental relations and co-operation over provincial borders.
The Chairperson cited serious failures in provinces working together, for example between Mpumalanga and Gauteng, and stated that the Standing Committees of Provinces needed to take more responsibility. Ms Van Wyk and Mr Maziya would be in charge of the Committee task force. There was a space on the questionnaire for comments, and Members would receive the final draft of it today for comment. On 10 June, the Minister would address the Committee. There was no specific agenda. Instead the Minister would address the Committee on various issues the Committee ought to be informed about.
Mr R J King addressed the Chairperson in Afrikaans, stating that 24 June was not a convenient date for the final Committee meeting of this Parliamentary session, and asked that the meeting date be switched to 22 June.
The Chairperson replied in Afrikaans that the date had to be retained, inconvenient as it might be.
Ms Mofokeng asked that on 10 June, when the Chairpersons of the Standing Committees were meeting with the Minister, the MEC’s also meet with the Minister at a MINMEC (Ministers and Members of Executive Councils) level. Furthermore, it was unclear how Provincial Commissioners of Police were appointed, and she wanted to learn about the challenges they faced.
The Chairperson replied that the appointment of Provincial Commissioners followed a Constitutional procedure. She emphasised the need to improve working relationships between the Committee and MEC’s; an issue that had also been noted in the workshop at Caledon. This also applied to the Standing Committees and the MEC’s. The Committee also needed to have a strategy of communicating information between the various levels.
Ms Van Wyk stated that she would email or fax the draft of the monitoring tool to the Provincial Chairpersons.
Mr Ndlovu approved of Ms Mofokeng’s request, and also noted that the Chairperson had requested to co-host monthly meetings of the NCOP Select Committee. He stated that this request should be put in writing and sent to the Minister, so that the Minister would be aware of the communications problems. Furthermore, the Minister should be prepared to meet the MECs of any province that requested this. Putting this request in writing would highlight its formal nature.
Mr Gaum noted that the Chairpersons of the Provincial Committees should also be invited to the meeting with the Minister, and that this would be a good opportunity to resolve the communications breakdown.
Mr Ndlovu cautioned that the Committee would not want the Chairperson of the Standing Committee to think that it had gone behind her back in arranging this meeting. He emphasised that MEC’s should also be present at the Portfolio Committee and Standing Committee meeting with the Minister.
The Chairperson responded that it would be practical and conducive to have both the Standing Committee Chairpersons and MEC’s at Portfolio Committee meetings with the Minister, as they happened only once every six months or so.
Mr Monareng stated that the Committee should use whatever means necessary to improve communications, and that the Minister should be flexible.
The Chairperson expressed a strong desire to make all the arms of Safety and Security function effectively, and stated that interventions would be made if necessary.
The meeting was adjourned.
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