Independent Complaints Directorate Annual Report: briefing continued

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02 November 2005
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report


2 November 2005

Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Independent Complaints Directorate presentation
ICD Annual Report 2004/05 [available on the ICD website:]

The Independent Complaints Directorate continued its briefing on its Annual Report focusing on the Information Management and Research programme and the ICD budget. Members expressed dissatisfaction at the ICD’s failure to provide them with adequate answers. A big complaint was that the ICD Reports on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for 2003, 2004 and 2005 had still not been released. The ICD was questioned about the Proactive Oversight Unit that had been set up despite the Committee's recommendation in April that such measures be put on hold in the light of the Committee's proposal that the ICD be restructured. The fact that none of the research reports had yet been produced was also noted. The ICD’s centralisation of its media desk with no provincial media desks was criticised. It was proposed that the ICD's 2006 strategic plan clearly reflect measurable objectives that matched its strategy. Members were concerned that the ICD’s presence was not felt at all police stations. The organisation was urged to work with the Committee so that it could assist in those areas that it was struggling in.

ICD’s Information Management and Research Programme and the ICD budget
Mr Steve Mabona (ICD spokesperson) and Ms Elize Verster (Chief Financial Officer) briefed the Committee on the ICD’s Information Management and Research Programme and the ICD budget (see second half of document). Some points made were that the Information Management and Research programme was aimed at maintaining a current complaints register, allocating and following up on cases and overseeing the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act. It had aimed at producing at least six research reports annually but this would happen now that its Proactive Oversight Unit had been established. In the past financial year the Programme had managed to register new cases as required, but had failed to promptly refer complaints to investigators and monitors. All applications for exemption by police officers who had been accused of not complying with the Domestic Violence Act had been finalised. This referred to cases that had been lodged directly with the police stations themselves. However cases of non compliance with the Domestic Violence Act - as reported by the public directly to the ICD - were far higher than the number of applications for exemption received from police stations. The Annual Report also gave a breakdown of all the cases the organisation had dealt with during the course of the past financial year.

A budget of R49 522 million had been allocated to the ICD for 2005/06. So far it had spent R23 838 million the bulk of which was spent on administration and the investigation of complaints. It was projected that organisation would be R332 000 over its budget.

Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) said that their presentation stated that the monitoring and implementation of the Domestic Violence Act by the SAPS was at 100%. Why had the ICD not yet made a monitoring report available to the Committee? He reminded the Committee that in March it had requested the ICD to present the Committee with the four monitoring reports on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act for the periods: January to June 2003; January to June 2004. The Committee still had not received one.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) stated that the Information Management and Research Programme was a failure since it failed to produce any of the outputs it was supposed to. Violence against women and children was a serious problem and a priority. The DVA was very important since much abuse of women and children happened within the family environment. It was a legislative requirement that the Committee received a report every six months. Four or five of these reports were now outstanding. Despite the lack of reports, the presentation indicated that 100% of applications for exemption have been finalised, but that the instances of non-compliance far exceeded the number of applications. What was this statement based on since there were no reports?

The Chairperson commented that the fact that the presentation indicated that there was 100% monitoring of the DVA yet some stations officials were not even aware of the Act, was problematic. She had suggested that the Committee sit with members of the police to find out what the difficulty with the implementation of the Act was. The DVA emanated not from the Department of Safety and Security but from the Department of Justice. The Committee was not happy with the fact that the Act was so poorly implemented. If the ICD statement that provinces had indicated that 100% of domestic violence complaints were being acted upon - then the provinces were misleading the ICD. She urged the ICD to respond honestly to questions and if they were unable to give answers, to state that frankly. It was important for the ICD to be open about where they were experiencing difficulties so that the Committee could assist them.

Ms Van Wyk added that many police stations had never been visited by the ICD.

Mr Mabona pointed out that provincial ICD units were supposed to go to the police stations to monitor activities there. All stations had registers which could be viewed to see if everything happened in accordance with the mandate of the ICD, as well as legislation.

Mr Mabona agreed that five DVA monitoring reports were outstanding as the first January to June 2005 was now due. The ICD had combined the two reports for 2003 as well as the two for 2004. The 2003 report was with the Minister for his perusal. The 2004 would be forwarded to him at a later stage. The information in their Annual Report had been taken from these reports. It was against these four reports that targets had been drawn. He explained that the ICD reported 100% in the application for exemptions that the ICD had achieved, not 100% in terms of implementation. He admitted that there were problems as far as monitoring the implementation of the DVA was concerned. The ICD relied on the provincial ICD offices to liaise with the police.

Ms Verster added that like the ICD Annual Reports, the DVA monitoring reports had to come to Parliament from the Minister after he had received it from the ICD. She admitted that the Minister had received the report late which was why it was still with him. The 2003 reports were ready and were just waiting for the Minister’s approval.

Ms Van Wyk pointed out that the impression had now been created that the reason the reports were late was because they were with the Minister. The fact remained that the reports were late going to the Minister. The Committee did not know why these reports were late. The ICD owed the Committee an expalantion on why they had missed one year and why they were late for the following two years.

Mr Ndlovu agreed that saying that reports were late because they were with the Minster was not good enough. He found it problematic that the information in the Annual Report was based on information found in documents that the Committee had never seen. He did not understand the answer the Committee had been given.

Rev Meshoe wondered why the 2003 monitoring report was with the Minister but not the 2004 one. Was the ICD planning on making changes to the latter, based on the Minister’s comments on the former?

Mr F Maserumule (ANC) asked whether the fact that Mr Mabona was reporting to the Committee on behalf of someone else, meant that he was not able to answer any questions.

The Chairperson stated that she expected the ICD to take full responsibility for all answers. The Committee expected the entire delegation to assist Members in adequately answering questions or else there would be consequences. There was no use in convening a meeting but not getting any answers. She expected the ICD to respond effectively to the questions that Members posed. She had a serious problem with the information received from the ICD. The reason the Committee had approached the Minister to restructure the organisation was because the Committee would receive a certain kind of information only to read something else in the press the following day. She reminded the ICD that the Committee should be the first recipients of information. The problems that the Committee was experiencing now were the same they had experienced when they had approached the Minister with a request to restructure the ICD. Lack of manpower did not mean that the organisation was exempt from doing what they were supposed to do.

Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked for how long the Annual Report would reflect cases of non-compliance? What was the ICD doing about this?

Mr Mabona replied that the situation was being looked at. Recommendations were made to the South African Police Service who then had to take departmental action. This process was problematic since there was no way of ensuring that such action was taken. If it was reported to the ICD that there had been an incident where a domestic violence complaint had not been properly dealt with by the police thus indicating a lack of compliance with the Domestic Violence Act, the ICD had to submit a report to that police station saying that there was an incident of non-compliance. The person suspected of non compliance would then have to be charged.

Ms Van Wyk said that there was an increase in acts of vigilantism because people were dissatisfied with the service the police was delivering.

Mr Mabona responded that reasons for the increase in vigilantism were not clear. It had however become a problem. A study would be conducted to determine the reasons for the increase.

Ms Van Wyk commented on the fact that the Open Society Foundation kept coming up in terms of the Proactive Oversight Unit (POU). In March the Committee had said that this unit should be shelved pending the Minister’s restructuring of the Secretariat and the ICD. The ICD chose to continue with the unit. This was despite the Committee’s recommendations and the fact that in the process they would not achieve any of their measurable objectives. There was no clarity on the ICD’s reasons for taking a whole year to establish a unit, they had been told to put on hold and then not delivering on any of their measurable objectives such as the target of six research reports. The Committee should basically take away all funding allocated to this programme. What were the two programmes that the presentation indicated had been started on?

Mr Mabona explained that the Open Society Foundation was the funder for the Unit. Since the Department was experiencing problems as far as capacity in research skills was concerned. It relied on the Open Society for financial muscle especially in terms of research. The main purpose of the Open Society was to fund the process around how research would operate. He was not in a position to comment on why the Executive Committee had chosen to go ahead with the research unit despite the Committee’s recommendations. Ms Verster added that the former Executive Director of the ICD had met with the Minister of Safety and Security immediately after the ICD had met with the Committee in April. The Minister had approved the establishment of the unit. The Executive Committee acted on the Minister’s approval.

The Chairperson said that she did not want to debate the issue around the research unit because what Ms Verster had just reported was not true. The ICD national unit was a big problem. The Committee had requested that one member from the provincial office accompany the Committee on their oversight visits, so that issues could be directed to the provincial heads. The former director had however refused this request due to ‘petty excuses’ such as busy schedules or lack of funds. She commented that despite these excuses there were enough funds for national office representatives to ‘parade in the provinces’. If provincial representatives had accompanied the Committee, its work would have been made so much easier.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked whether the Committee was not wasting its time discussing matters here if the ICD just turned around and went behind the Committee’s back to have a decision overturned. The Chairperson did not allow Ms Verster to respond since she had already reported something that was not true.

Mr Ndlovu asked why the ICD did not have any regional communications desks that could liaise with the media. Mr Mabona responded that communication was centralised; there were no communication officers in the provinces. The ICD had decided that there would be just one media officer responsible for liaising with the media. The provinces therefore had the responsibility of informing the National Office of anything that should be communicated to the public. The coordination of the dissemination of information would be managed by one person. This decision was partly informed by the challenges the ICD was facing around capacity. He added that Treasury had, considering the ICD’s capacity problems, discouraged the filling of vacancies in other programmes in favour of focusing on the organisational operational needs.

The Chairperson commented that the ICD’s media policy was not satisfactory. Mr Ndlovu added that the strategy employed might be satisfactory as far as communicating policy matters was concerned, but for communicating information regarding cases it was highly impractical.

Mr Mabona said that if the Committee thought it necessary, he would take the matter to the ICD management for review. The Executive Committee would then make recommendations to the head of the Department to approve such amendments.

Mr Monareng wondered whether the ICD themselves did not think it necessary to have a proper communication structure. The fact that they would consider it for review solely because the Committee felt strongly about it pointed to a lack of commitment.

Rev Meshoe asked whether the ICD knew what the impact of the increase in criminality had been. If this was the case, did this indicate that the activities of the ICD had no impact on the police? Mr Mabona responded that after the closing of the Anti Corruption Unit in SAPS, corruption had shown an increase.

The Chairperson wondered how the ICD measured its success. Did it receive reports from the provinces? Mr Mabona replied that since the provinces interacted with the police, the ICD relied on them for information.

The Chairperson said at the Committee expected the ICD to respond to questions effectively. She did not expect Mr Mabona to answer all the questions. Ms Verster could assist him. Did the problems that were being experienced now not support the Committee’s suggestion that the ICD should be restructured?

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) requested an explanation on why ‘negligence’ and ’intentional’ shooting had been categorised together. What did the ‘vehicle accident involving the police’ refer to?

Mr Mabona replied that all incidents involving vehicles in the report, referred to the police as perpetrators. The ICD investigated such cases and then made recommendations as far as departmental action was concerned. Prosecution would depend on the Public Protector. He said that intentional shootings ‘might’ be shootings in which there was intent. If a shooting occurred due to negligence there was no intent. Some of the intentional shootings were classified as negligence depending on the findings of the investigations.

In reply to the Chairperson asking why there were cases where people were beaten while not in police custody, Mr Mabona explained that if a beating did not occur in custody it would have been "in action". The Chairperson added that she had raised the question because she had received an email indicating that police were beating people. There had also been newspaper reports indicating this. In the light of this, he wondered if the ICD existed in the provinces.

Mr Mabona said that he would appreciate it if the Chairperson could forward the email to him. He would pass it on to the relevant person.

Mr R Jankielsohn (DA) asked whether there had been any complaints regarding police officers who had failed to use their firearms? Many police officers were afraid to do so in case they would be investigated. Mr Mabona replied that this was a problem with Section 49 of the Criminal Procedure Act. Police were afraid that the ICD would investigate if they used their firearms. He could not answer the question adequately but he would forward a response.

Mr L Diale (ANC) asked whether the ICD had any relationship with the police. Mr Mabona replied that while the national office had a good relationship with the police, the provinces still needed to get some cooperation.

Mr Ndlovu asked whether the virement Ms Verster had indicated in her financial report did not exceed what the Public Finance Management Act allowed. He was also curious about what the R178 000 spent on ‘entertainment’ was exactly.

Ms Verster replied that the Act allowed a virement of 8%. The ICD has not exceeded that amount. Before any virement was allowed, the Treasury needed to be approached to approve it. The request then proceeded to Parliament for its approval. The money spent on entertainment had decreased that financial year. The President had instructed departments to actively start on appointments. Money was spent on the quarterly meetings that were held by various programmes. When interviews were being held, outside panelists were often invited. Lunches were normally provided for them. Also monitors were trained for two weeks. During these two weeks, lunch was provided for them.

Ms Van Wyk wondered, if investigations were the main task of the ICD, why it had under spent by R3 million? The Auditor General had commented that the ICD was not able to give an inventory of its movable assets. Had the deadline now been met?

Ms Verster responded that the ICD had set a target for the end of August but had failed to make it. All of the offices should have completed their inventory by the end of November.

Rev Meshoe commented that the ICD had moved to bigger provincial premises despite the fact that they did not have enough money. Who determined their needs? The ICD themselves or the Department of Public Works? Ms Verster replied that the ICD had shared offices with the Department of Justice in the Eastern Cape.

Rev Moeshe pointed out that the presentation had indicated that 60% of the budget had been spent on compensation, while 55% had been spent on goods and services. How was this possible? Ms Verster responded that what she had meant was that in the previous financial year, 60% of the budget had been spent on compensation. This financial year the amount had been only 55%.

Mr Monareng asked whether the R4 million virement was distributed across the budget. Ms Verster responded that if one looked carefully, one would see that the whole amount was indeed accounted for in the budget.

In response to Mr Moatshe (ANC) asking why the ICD had to pay money to the municipalities, Ms Verster said that the ICD had to pay levies to the regional service councils for offices.

The Chairperson asked whether the Executive Director had offices in all provinces. Obviously these offices were not always used. How did the ICD justify this? Ms Verster responded that the former executive director had requested to have another office. Ms Verster had tried to persuade her to share with the Department of Justice. She said that the executive director had needed an office closer to Parliament as well. Ms Verster added that other directors general also had offices closer to parliament for their parliamentary duties.

Reverend Meshoe asked why the ICD had gone into unbudgeted expenditure when it had known all along that it would need to move and would thus have extra expenses. Ms Verster replied that they had approached Intec earlier this year to open up more satellite sites in the provinces. They needed to put money into buildings now. They would incur all the expenses for all new offices to be built. In an effort to cut costs the ICD planned to share buildings with other departments. Rev Meshoe asked why they did not budget for the expense. Ms Verster replied that she had not known at the time. Now she did and would budget for it.

Ms Van Wyk asked to what the R742 000 that was spent on attendance fees referred. Ms Verster explained that this referred to monies paid to their Sector Education and Training Authority for training received. Most staff members had received training. She noted that there was something wrong with the figures in the report. She would report back at a later stage.

Mr Mahote asked whether the allocation for training came from the national or provincial offices. Ms Verster replied that it came from the provinces.

Ms Van Wyk proposed that the ICD be requested to carefully consider its strategic plan in order to put it in line with its measurable objectives. This would result in a better, more realistic view of what they could or could not do. She advised that this be communicated to them officially.

The Chairperson said that while they waited on the reports and responses to unanswered questions, the Committee would call on provinces to find out from provinces what had been reported. She wondered if funds had been used adequately. She added that she was worried about the ICD’s relationship with the media. The media should not only be used to report on cases but also as a vehicle for the organisation to popularise itself.

The meeting was adjourned.


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