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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
24 August 2005
RESTRUCTING INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE: MINISTER’S BRIEFING; COMMITTEE REPORT ON WESTERN CAPE VISIT: ADOPTION
Documents handed out:
Committee Report on Western Cape oversight visit (available shortly at Committee Reports)
The Committee adopted a report on their oversight visit to the Western Cape with minor technical amendments.
Minister Charles Nqakula then told the Committee that the Ministry was restructuring the Independent Complaints Directorate and Secretariat to allow them to fulfil their mandate more efficiently. A new SA Police Services (SAPS) Act would not be drafted, but amendments to the Act would be made.
The Minister said the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) should not to participate in crime prevention and combating. Seventy commandos had been phased out. Provincial task teams had been established to deal with this and the recruitment of reservists who would replace the commandos. The Minister also explained how South Africa’s borders were controlled.
The Committee particularly discussed the phasing out of commandos, and complaints of harassment by the police in Ficksburg in the Free State.
Western Cape Visit Report
The Committee decided to make stronger reference to the Firearms Control Act in the report, along with some other minor technical changes. The Report was then unanimously adopted.
The Minister of Safety and Security, Mr Charles Nqakula, confirmed that he had advertised for the post of Executive Director of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD). This had been done according to law, and the Minister had already indicated to Advocate Karen McKenzie that her contract would not be renewed.
The Minister had previously indicated to the Committee that they were in the process of restructuring the ICD to fulfil its mandate. They would look to ensure that the ICD had the correct structures. Currently their structure was top-heavy. The Minister would come back to the Committee when the process had been completed.
Minister Nqakula said the Secretariat and ICD kept overlapping. The Secretariat serviced the Minister of Safety and Security. In the past, the Secretary had been given some autonomy, and he had ‘become an accounting officer’. Because of its structure, the Secretariat was unable to do certain tasks. The Ministry had designed a new structure, which would not take away anything from their mandate. The Minister would come back to the Committee on this topic. The Secretary had left his position and there was thus a vacancy.
SA Police Service Act
The Ministry was looking at amendments to the Act, because the current SAPS Act did not respond to all constitutional stipulations. They would bring a draft of the amendments to the Cabinet, and then it would pass to the Committee for discussion.
The Minister said the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) ought not to participate in crime prevention and combating, unless they played a secondary role with the SAPS. Soldiers were trained for combat, not crime prevention. Policemen were trained to prevent crime. As a general rule, police officers did not have to be armed. They had taken a decision that the SANDF would only play a support role.
At first the SANDF had been responsible for crime prevention in the form of border control. The SANDF would have to relinquish this role. The Minister did not want to confuse crime prevention with protecting South Africa’s sovereignty. They had started to deploy police units at borders in September last year.
The sea borders
Small harbours needed protection. In October the Minister would have a plan to deal with the Western Cape’s sea border, where, amongst other things, the plundering of South Africa’s maritime resources was a problem.
The air border
The air border presented a huge problem. There were many small airstrips close to South Africa’s borders where foreign-owned small planes could land. The Minister wanted to ensure that all airstrips were covered by radar.
The land border
Northern Cape: Police units were placed at Middelputs, Rietfontein and Nakop in September 2004. They were patrolling 1064km. In the future more units would be placed at Alexander Bay, Vioolsdrift and Grasdrift.
North West: Patrolling of the 250km land border, from Derdepoort to Ramatlabane, started in March 2005. In future more bases would be established.
Limpopo: In February, units were deployed on the 470km border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. They moved around between Derdepoort to Pontdrift and were placed at Pontdrift, Swaarwater and Rooibokkraal.
Free State: In June 2005, units were deployed on the border between the Free State and Lesotho. Personnel were placed at Ladybrand, Fauresburg and covered about 480km.
KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape: Units were placed in surveillance posts in the Drakensberg to ensure that there would be no illegal crossing and the like. This had brought down the level of stock theft in the area.
Resulting arrests for April to June 2005
Thirteen people were arrested for car hijackings and 21 vehicles were recovered. They also arrested 1071 people who had entered South Africa illegally. Thirty people were arrested for smuggling drugs worth R1.8 million into South Africa.
Phasing out of commandos
The Minister said 70 commandos had been closed. In February 2005 implementing task teams were put in place to deal with the phasing out of the commandos as well as recruitment. There were three kinds of people in the commandos: inactive members, partially active members and active members. The 70 commandos that had been closed comprised mostly of generally inactive or partially active members, albeit that not all of these members were inactive. Approximately 800 commando members had indicated their willingness to join the SAPS.
They were also utilising 3783 reservists. They had looked at categories where commandos and new recruits could be slotted in. There was a new system for reservists. This system had several different categories:
- people fully trained as reservists
- support groups; people with administrative functions
- people with special skills, for example doctors
- people dealing with rural safety, no training required, but commanded by police
The Minister would take a proposal to Cabinet later this year dealing with a new remuneration system for reservists. The system would entail the calling up of reservists, who would then be paid for the days they had worked. They would be involved in sector policing units. The Minister would still examine if they would be able to this; there were a number of pilot projects. Every police station had to be covered. An assessment would be done to determine the sociology of each police station to determine if they would be able to implement the programme. The Minister said they wanted to reduce crime by 5 to 7% in the next five years. Their target would mainly be social crimes, where the victim knew the perpetrator.
Many deficiencies had been discovered. Some police stations did not have relationships with their communities. Sector policing were not implemented in some instances. Furthermore, station managers did not understand how to manage their material and human resources. The task teams would report back in October 2005.
The Minister was satisfied that many police stations were working well. A system of incentives had been introduced.
Parliamentary monitoring tool for the SAPS
The Chairperson said that the Committee had devised a monitoring tool for the SAPS. The document would be adopted in the following week.
Ms Van Wyk (ANC) explained that the tool was the result of a workshop they had held at the beginning of the year, and its purpose was to consolidate the information gathered when visiting police stations, in order to confront the SAPS with facts about stations. The tool would thus assist Members when they visited stations and would also be adopted by the provinces and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP). Members of Parliament would be expected to visit police stations in their constituencies with the tool.
The tool was divided in two sections. The one part had to be completed by station managers and would capture basic information. The second part would be completed by the visiting Member and would measure legislation important to the Committee.
All the information would come back to the Committee and would be placed in a database, which would allow the problems to "pop up" and enable the Committee to address these issues. They were trying to develop a database system that would not have specific detail of stations, but would still allow the police to withdraw specific detail.
The idea behind the tool was not to distrust the police, but to take oversight one step further. The Chairperson of Chairpersons was very positive about the tool and would bring it to Parliament for adoption. They also planned to launch the tool in the media to make it public. It was also the first independent tool established in Parliament to allow Members to make their own assessments.
The Chairperson said it was impossible for the Committee to cover all police stations, which was why they had devised the system.
Mr P Groenewald agreed with Minister Nqakula’s definitions of the SANDF and SAPS. However, he was concerned that a vacuum would be created by closing the commandos. He quoted a report from army generals to strengthen his argument. He also did not understand how 800 commando members had declared their willingness to become reservists, when the official figures were that 35 farmworkers and 38 commando members would join the reservists.
Minister Nqakula expressed surprise about Mr Groenewald’s report, as he had received different reports from the SANDF. It was also the SANDF who had approached the Cabinet to say they were unable to fulfil the function of crime prevention. There was nowhere in the world where the army was doing both crime prevention and combat. Armies were only used in supportive roles in crime prevention operations. The Minister thought the best way to resolve the issue would be to take the Committee to where the commandos were being closed down.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) enquired about the role of the provincial task teams. The Minister had said that they were looking at a number of things, such as the inability of people to manage resources. At times, there had been a problem with vehicles. In Khayalitsha, 14 vehicles were deployed, yet people would still say there were not enough vehicles. A new police station had been opened in Frankfort and equipped with a garage to repair vehicles onsite. This could also be done at other stations.
Mr Jankielsohn asked when crime statistics would be made available. Minister Nqakula answered that crime statistics would be submitted to Parliament on 21 September 2005. Mr Groenewald was concerned that the media would have the statistics before Members of Parliament.
Mr Jankielsohn said communities near Ficksburg in the Free State had complained about harassment by the police who did not follow procedures when putting up roadblocks. No signs were used and guns were pointed by police officers. The community was unsure if the roadblocks were put up by police, as it could have been criminals in disguise. The Minister replied that anybody could complain if the police were not following procedures. They did not employ people who did not know what they were doing. He would ask for a report on the incident at Ficksburg. The Chairperson said there were differing reports on the incidents in Ficksburg.
Mr Jankielsohn said that people recently crossed the Lesotho border and plundered the Free State. The territorial integrity of South Africa was compromised. Mr Jankielsohn said South Africa should take a stronger stand in this regard as Lesotho was not helping.
The meeting was adjourned.
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