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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
26 October 2005
INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Documents handed out:
Independent Complaints Directorate Presentation
The Independent Complaints Directorate’s newly appointed Executive Director, Mr Leslie Xinwa, led the presentation. The ICD faced a number of challenges, mostly related to the fact that it was understaffed.
Members were particularly concerned about the number of vacancies in the organisation, especially since it claimed that a shortage of staff was its main challenge. Related issues such as dismissals, and disciplinary action were also raised. The Committee expressed its dissatisfaction that it has not yet received a report regarding the organisation’s travel expenditure. It also raised concerns about the necessity of the Anti Corruption Command.
The Committee suggested that due to time constraints, the presentations on the ICD’s budget and expenditure, as well as its Information Management and Research programme would be postponed until a later stage. This would give them time to adequately debate each presentation.
Independent Complaints Directorate’s briefing
Mr Xinwa briefed the Committee on the ICD successes, as well as its challenges. The organisation still battled with staffing challenges. This affected the rate at which cases were responded to and finalised. It was still waiting on the outcome of investigations into its investigative capacity and travel expenditures. Despite these challenges, the organisation has had had many successes. It had received its sixth unqualified audit report. Complaints of misconduct by the police had also been reduced.
Mr E Valoyi (ICD Programme Manager) briefed the Committee on the ICD management and organisation. His presentation indicated that of the organisation’s 186 approved posts, 163 had been filled. As far as service delivery and performance were concerned, the organisation had failed to meet the National Treasury’s deadline for the unique numbering of assets. The staff turnover rate had dropped by 3%, but the lack of human resources remained a problem.
Mr T Tshabalala (ICD Chief Director: Investigations) reported that none of its targets related to deaths in custody, criminal offences and misconduct cases had been achieved. He too indicated that the lack of human resources was a major hurdle. The ICD was still inaccessible to the most vulnerable rural and farming communities, because it was present in nine policing areas that were all situated in major cities. The ICD faced huge travel, accommodation, overtime and subsistence expenditure. Investigators spent most of their time travelling and their late arrival at crime scenes negatively affected their investigations. The organisation has formed partnerships with the Centre for Business Ethics as well as many other external stakeholders. The Anti-Corruption Command had also been established.
Reverend K Meshoe (ACDP) said that the Committee had queried the ICD’s travel expenditure in the past and had expected a detailed report. When would the outcome of the investigation be known? Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) added that the Committee had not requested an audit report, but had questioned the necessity of so much travelling. The Committee had requested a performance audit of the ICD as a whole.
Mr Xinwa responded that that the ICD was addressing the situation internally. It would be ready to respond when called upon to do so. Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) reminded him that they were being called on to respond at this time. Mr Xinwa replied that he had thought the meeting was about the Annual Report. They would respond on the travel matter once the report was ready.
Mr Ndlovu also questioned why there was so much travel involved. Why was it necessary for officials to travel from Head Office in Gauteng to other provinces? The Chairperson pointed out that much of the travel occurred within provinces. Satellite sites would greatly reduce the time spent travelling.
Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) asked what the ICD was doing to address its challenges. If the problems were related to a lack of funds, had the ICD approached the Minister for more funds?
The Chairperson was surprised that the report on the travel expenses was not yet ready. She added that if the ICD could not manage their funds, they would not know whether their challenges were related to a lack thereof. She pointed out that there was no difference between this year’s financial statement and the previous year’s, yet the ICD had not requested more funds.
Mr Xinwa felt the main cause of the ICD’s difficulties was related to capacity. The organisation did not have enough money or enough people to adequately perform its task. 180 people could not perform a task that meant to be delivered by 535. The organisation had approached the Treasury with a request for an additional 135 posts and had been requested to scale this down to either 90 or 60.
Ms Van Wyk commented that the Committee accepted that many of the challenges related to the previous management. The ICD however had to set measurable objectives. These objectives could not be determined by the Portfolio Committee, the Minister, or the Treasury. The main concern was not the lack of funding but the management of the available budget. The organisation should set measurable objectives that corresponded to the resources it had at its disposal. She wondered why the organisation employed only 180 people when it had approved positions for 203.
Mr O Monareng (ANC) requested the ICD to submit a detailed report on the matters that had been raised, otherwise they would be discussed the whole day. He advised Mr Xinwa to remind the Committee that he was the new Executive Director appointed to ‘sweep clean’.
The Chairperson asked whether the six vacancies at national level included the position of Executive Director. Had any more vacancies occurred since the report had been drafted? Mr Valoyi said that the report reflected the numbers on 31 March 2005. Mr Xinwa had since been appointed.
Ms Van Wyk commented that the presentation indicated that that the vacancy rate had dropped by 8% to 3.6%. At present there were 23 vacancies. There was no difference in the statistics, since 23 vacancies translated to 11.8%.
Rev Meshoe noted that there were 186 approved posts, yet all had not been filled. If the shortage of personnel was on of the ICD’s major challenges list, why had all vacancies not been filled?
Mr Monareng noted that the organisation was complaining about being understaffed, yet staffmembers were being disciplined for viewing inappropriate internet sites while at work. Why did they have time to be idle?
The Chairperson pointed out that the ICD had had difficulties in the past because the National Office had to approve all appointments. What was the situation now? Had the process become speedier? Mr Valoyi said that provincial Heads could now approve appointments up to level eight. The process still took about six weeks. It had not become quicker. Mr Xinwe added that the speed at which vacancies were filled was a problem across government.
Ms Sosibo asked how long a post remained vacant once a person had been dismissed. Mr Valoyi admitted that after a dismissal, posts remained vacant for some time. Positions were advertised for about three to four weeks.
Mr L Diale (ANC) commented that there appeared to be too many cases of misconduct that ended in immediate dismissal. Did the ICD not have an internal disciplinary unit? The Chairperson added that the reports of staff being hired and fired easily pointed to disciplinary problems within the organisation.
Mr Valoyi said that since discipline was a management function, there was no specific disciplinary unit. Much of the disciplinary problems related to the misuse of vehicles. Provincial Heads should be responsible for discipline. He assured the Committee that disciplinary action was incremental.
Rev Meshoe asked whether the national office was also involved in investigations. He commented that the size of the organisation did not justify the staff compliment at national level. He also wondered what was meant by the increase at ‘grassroots level’. The Chairperson added that she expected the Minister to also respond to these issues.
Mr Valoyi reminded the Committee that at their presentation in June 2005, the ICD had related the responsibilities of each of its units. Due to time constraints, this information could not be included in this presentation. The information would be forwarded to the Committee. The increase at grassroots level related to skills development and capacity building.
Ms J Sosibo (ANC) asked to what the ‘auxiliary positions’ referred. Mr Valoyi responded that it referred to the registry, transport, telecommunications and cleaning services.
Mr S Mahote (ANC) said that while the presentation indicated the total number of people employed, it failed to give a gender breakdown. Mr Valoyi responded that the Annual Report gave a gender breakdown. The Chairperson wondered why this year the gender breakdown did not feature in the presentation as it had in previous years.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked what the previous year’s percentage of interns had been. Mr Valoyi said that the number of interns had risen from 8% to 13%.
Mr Mahote asked why the ICD had been unable to meet the National Treasury’s deadline for the numbering of assets. Did the organisation not have a register in the past? Mr Valoyi responded that the National Treasury had introduced a new system for numbering assets. Each asset should now have a unique number. The process required special equipment and special training and was quite costly. Delays had occurred because the person trained to perform this task had passed away.
Mr Jankielsohn pointed out that there were many careless errors in the statistics contained in the presentation. The Chairperson commented that this was an indication that whoever prepared the presentation had not cared about the task he or she was performing. Mr Valoyi apologised for the errors in the figures and assured the Committee that they would be rectified.
Mr Monareng wondered why the presentation did not indicate the difficulties the ICD had encountered with the SA Police Services (SAPS) when performing their investigations. Mr Valoyi said that these difficulties would be addressed under programme two of the presentation.
Mr Jankielsohn how many municipal police units had been included in the ICD’s oversight duties. Ms Van Wyk felt that the organisation was not fulfilling its mandate regarding the oversight of the municipal police. Mr Monareng asked whether the extension of the ICD’s oversight duties to include the many municipal police units would not add to its many challenges. Mr Tshabalala assured that Committee that dedicated efforts were being made to address and complaints regarding municipal police stations. At the moment, nine cases were being investigated.
Referring to the Smithfield case, Mr Jankielsohn asked how a person could be kept in a holding cell for two years and during that tome be sexually assaulted by at least three officials. These were criminal offences and yet no action had been taken. Mr Ndlovu was also concerned about the fact that no criminal charges appear to have been laid.
Mr Tshabalala said that, of the three staffmembers under investigation, one had resigned and was thus out of the disciplinary process. A criminal charge had to be laid for a criminal investigation to commence. All three accused had to be arrested in order to obtain the necessary DNA samples. All evidence could not be submitted since much of it was insubstantial. He assured the Committee that charging one did not mean that the others would not also be charged.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked whether the ICD had a system for prioritising so that its challenges would be met. Mr Tshabalala said that the organisation was working closely with other structures and was looking closely at prioritising their challenges for maximum results.
Ms Van Wyk commented that the Committee did not know much about the Anti-corruption Command. The Annual Report indicated that this unit was faced with many challenges. Was this unit necessary? Were there not enough such bodies in South Africa?
Mr Tshabalala that while large-scale corruption was not a major problem, bribery was. The Scorpions were not interested in smaller cases. A specialised unit was necessary since the ICD’s investigators were not trained to deal with corruption.
The Chairperson stated that the Committee had made clear that the Unit should not be created without consulting the Minister. She regretted that the ICD had gone ahead, ignoring the Committee’s recommendation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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