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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON SAFETY AND SECURITY
18 FEBRUARY 1998
BRIEFING BY SAPS ON CASH-IN-TRANSIT HEISTS AND ESCAPES FROM POLICE CUSTODY
Director Groenewaldt from the South African Police Services (SAPS) presented the statistics on escapes from police custody for the period 13 September 1997 until 31 January 1998.
After the presentation, he briefed the committee members on four aspects of which could be the reason for escapes. These were:
1) Over-population of cells;
2) Inadequate facilities to retain prisoners, e.g. faulty locks;
3) SAPS members do not adhere to rules and regulations, for example, ineffective searching done when arrests are made, irregular visits made to the cells, etc.
4) Shortage of staff
Director Groenewaldt discussed the investigative research in progress by the Departments of Public Works and Correctional Services with the aim to upgrade and develop new facilities in order to make imprisonment more secure. A model was envisaged where everything would take place under one roof. This included facilities for a health clinic, day and night court and a community service centre.
The floor was opened for questioning by the committee members. The following questions were asked:
1. Has anything been done about the budget constraints?
2. How is the morale and conduct of the police staff being addressed?
3. Regarding staff shortage, what is being done to improve the situation?
4. Why are people left to walk around with no leg chains and handcuffs?
5. Why should offenders be placed in a five-star hotel?
The responses to the questions were as follows:
1. The Department of Public Works and the R.D.P. Project were assisting SAPS in the upgrading process. They were involved with the 5-star project where about 1000 prisons would be upgraded.
2. There was a process underway for putting together a code of conduct. Morale and discipline were being addressed. The National Department of Correctional Services will also train police on how to deal with people in cells.
3. That was a problem, as no new police people have been trained since 1994 because of the moratorium placed on all new recruits. Presently, 1002 people have applied and their applications were being scrutinised so that hopefully there will be new recruitments in July.
4. New regulations are being put into place as to categorise hardened criminals. It is a difficult issue as people's rights had to be considered.
5. The 5-star project (for upgrading facilities) is not aimed to produce five-star hotels. The project was to ensure that the requirements for adequate imprisonment are being met, for example, that drinking water was installed and cell locks are secure. Police stations had to ensure that the cells were secure and regular visits occurred to the cells.
The press and observers were asked to leave the meeting for the briefing on cash-in-transit heists as it was regarded as sensitive information.
SUMMARY: NUMBER OF ESCAPES FROM SAPS CUSTODY 13 SEPTEMBER 1997 TO 31 JANUARY 1998
SUMMARY: NUMBER OF ESCAPES FROM SAPS CUSTODY
13 SEPTEMBER 1997 TO 31 JANUARY 1998
PROVINCE SEPT. OCT. NOV. DEC. JAN. TOTAL
Gauteng 26 65 158 78 47 374
Kwazulu-Natal 30 75 93 54 38 290
Western Cape 3 7 17 27 40 94
Eastern Cape 19 14 31 26 14 104
Northern Cape 0 22 1 2 4 29
Mpumalanga 3 10 35 36 54 138
Northern Province 23 7 18 14 7 69
North West 0 3 17 38 29 87
Free State 13 9 10 18 3 53
TOTAL 117 212 380 293 236 1238
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