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JOINT MEETING BETWEEN PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE OF SAFETY AND SECURITY AND SELECT COMMITTEE ON SECURITY AND JUSTICE
15 May 1998
BRIEFING BY SECRETARIAT ON WHITE PAPER ON SAFETY AND SECURITY AND BRIEFING BY SAPS DEPARTMENT ON ANNUAL REPORT ON POLICE PLAN
Documents handed out:
Documents handed out:
Policing Priorities and Objectives for 1997/98 (pamphlet)
South African Police Service Amendment Bill [B39-98]
B39-98 can be accessed from http://www.polity.org.za/gnuindex.html
The joint meeting was attended by the MECs of Safety and Security for the provinces. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr Moosa (NCOP) and Mr George (NA).
The programme was divided into 4 main areas, as follows.
A) Briefing on the White Paper on Safety and Security.
There appeared to be some confusion over this item on the agenda. Mr Eric Pelzer, Safety and Security Secretariat, said he was only prepared to discuss the procedure around the development of the White Paper, "In service of safety—White Paper on Safety and Security 1998 –2003". He said that he was unable to discuss any other aspects of the White Paper as it was not finalised yet and he was not directed to have it ready for this meeting. Mr Pelzer continued by saying that a media launch had been planned for next week and that was when the White Paper would be available. Some members of the meeting, notably those from the NCOP, were under the impression that the content of the White Paper was going to be discussed during this meeting.
The White Paper arose out of ministerial inquiry into the following areas, namely:
1) Safety and Security policy
2) Safety and Security environment in South Africa
3) Safety and Security principles
4) Safety and Security organisational structure
5)The concepts drafted by the Safety and Security committee on 10 November 1997
After this was a period of consultation with the provinces and SAPS. A White Paper was then drafted and submitted to the cabinet in May 1997. It was then revised and amended and approved for the public consultation phase. IDASA has been contracted to co-ordinate the public hearings on the White Paper. Public hearings were scheduled to take place throughout July, where relevant business and community groupings were targeted. The paper will then be redrafted for a stakeholders conference, provisionally planned for 29 September 1998, after which it will be redrafted once again for cabinet in November.
The following questions and statements were then raised from the floor. Mr Powell (IFP) wanted to know why the MECs were brought to this meeting if the White Paper was not going to be discussed. Mr George, the co-chairperson, responded that the MECs were required as the White Paper dealt with municipal policing.
Mr Moosa, the co-chairperson, wanted more details about the media launch. The response was that IDASA has been contracted to carry this out.
Concerning public hearings of the White Paper, Mr Surty (North West delegate and ANC member) wanted more discussion between the provinces and Safety and Security committee on how the public hearing were going to be conducted . Mr Bloem (ANC) wanted more information about the hearings and who would be in attendance from the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces. Mr Gogotya (NP) wanted to know how much IDASA was charging and how they were chosen. In general the floor was concerned as they were not consulted in the decision to appoint IDASA
Mr Pelzer replied that IDASA were only contracted as facilitators to assist the provinces with publicity for the hearings.
After discussion it was decided that the co-chairpersons would be mandated to look into the public hearings process. They would decide how the process will be co-ordinated and how the provinces will fit in to that process as well as clarify the role of IDASA.
B) Discussion of the South African Police Amendment Bill [B39-98]
Dr Geldenhys, Department of Safety and Security official, discussed the proposed Bill dealing with the introduction of a municipal police service in considerable detail. Section 221 of the Interim Constitution and Section 207 of the new Constitution make provision for the establishment of a municipal police service. The process began in November 1995 where a task group had to look into the setting up of such a structure. In July 1997 the matter was taken over by the Department of Safety and Security and in October 1997 they produced draft proposals which were gazetted for public consultation.
Dr. Geldenhys then went through the Bill, clause by clause. The following questions and statements were made from the floor.
Relating to 64f (2) and 64c 2b, Chief Ngubani (Kwazulu Natal MEC) wanted to know what role the provincial MECs for Safety and Security had in oversight and intervening, as the Bill only seemed to deal with the Minister in this regard. Mr George replied that this can be looked at closer when the Bill goes to the provinces for consultation.
Mr Mathee (NP) wanted to know what the essential difference would be between a municipal police service and the existing traffic police, which could be granted additional powers. Mr Geldenhys agreed that existing traffic police do have, under certain circumstances, the proposed powers, but the creation of municipal police would clarify and simplify the situation. It also allows for a clearer public perception of these roles and a more widespread use of these roles.
Dr Cwele (ANC) wanted to know whether a metropolitan or municipality structure could set up a municipal police service. The answer given was that the decision to allow a municipality a police force would rest with the Members of the Executive Council. Under the terms of the Bill there is a possibility of both a municipal police force and a metropolitan one, though it is hoped that the consultation phase will ensure as little duplication as possible. It was noted that municipal/metropolitan conflict resolution bodies already in operation were already equipped to deal with possible disputes of this nature.
The concern was raised by Mr Surty about what powers/mechanism of revocation were available to intervene if the head of the municipal service abused his/her power.
Mr Powell wanted to know if there was any special legislation dealing with labour disputes within the proposed service and wage parity with SAPS. The answer was no, existing mechanism within municipal structures would apply.
Mr Molekane (ANC) wanted to know why the MECs should consult with the National Commissioner and not the Minister. Mr Geldenhys replied that most consultations would be of a operational nature. However if a municipal service failed to uphold national standards this failure would be reported to the Minister.
The MEC of the Eastern Cape asked the following questions:
1) How far a municipal police service can go in "hot pursuit"?
2) What are the intelligence gathering roles?
3) What are the lines of accountability for these services?
The response was to 1) was anywhere within South Africa. For 2) it was very limited as information was to be passed on to the SAPS who will retain responsibility for crime investigation and for 3) the service would be accountable to the elected council .
The new MEC for Gauteng Safety and Security, Mr Mashatile, asked about the availability of resources in councils, which wanted to establish the service. As a follow up question, Mr Surty wanted to know what happened in the event of S139 of the Constitution [allowing provincial government to intervene in local government management to ensure duties and functions are fulfilled]. Who would then be responsible for the funding of the service. In reply it was said that as it was envisaged that these services would be funded by the municipality, in accordance with the requirements in the proposed Bill. In the event of S139 occurring the obligation would lie with the province.
The MEC for Northern Province asked if it was possible for ex- SAPS members (even with severance pension) to be allowed to join these municipal services. Dr Geldenyhuis replied that he was not sure and would have to check the relevant public sector legislation, but that there was nothing in the Bill that precludes it.
The MEC for the Eastern Cape wanted to know to whom the municipal services ultimately accountable. He also stated that it seemed that the proposed service would be fulfilling services currently lacking in SAPS, that is crime prevention. In response the MEC was told that it was expected that all members of municipal services to operated within the boundaries of the Constitution. The services are only to be used as a supplementary service to SAPS, specifically in the areas of visible policing and crime prevention, in no way will they replace the existing duties of SAPS. Due to limited resources at national level these services will allow for a widespread visible policing role that would be impossible for SAPS to perform.
Mr Moosa explained that because the Minister and the National Commissioner want this Bill to be passed before the end of the present parliamentary session , it is being "fast-tracked" and will not go through the four-week cycle for a S76 Bill. The national public hearings for the Bill will be on 20th of May. It will then be passed to the provinces for public hearings between 25-29 May. The joint committee will deliberate to finalise the Bill on June 1st. It will be then debated in the National Assembly on June 5th and in the NCOP on June 10th.
C) The incidence of serious crime between January and December 1997
A discussion of the quarterly crime statistics by Chris de Kock, a SAPS official occurred. Mr de Kock gave an overview of the crime statistics in South Africa over the last year. All these statistics are available, in a national, regional, local and station by station breakdown at SAPS website, www.saps.co.za.
Some issues that Mr de Kock highlighted included murder and attempted murder were on the decline nationally. Also according to INTERPOL, South Africa has the highest rate in rape incidences per capita.
Organised and violent robbery and motor vehicle thefts were concentrated in the Johannesburg, North and East Rand. Social fabric crimes (i.e. assault, rape, attempted murder) were disproportionaly centred in rural areas and a link between these crimes and alcohol abuse in these areas has been identified. Cape Town had a disproportionate amount of murders, which was thought to be linked to gangsterism.
Dr Cwele wanted to know if the INTERPOL statistics were from area to area as opposed to country to country, for example Miami to Cape Town. Mr de Kock said that it was only nationally at the moment . South Africa was seen in a negative light due to the availability of statistics, whereas comparable countries, such as Brazil, were not viewed in the same light because of the unavailability of crime figures.
Mr de Kock said he hoped to have the statistics for the first quarter of 1998 available for the committee before June.
D) Report on the police priorities and objectives for 1998/1999
Commissioner Price discussed the report back on the priorities and objectives of SAPS. He said that the Minister and the Commissioner have decided to keep the same priorities and objectives for 1998/99 as 97/98. Commissioner Price then discussed how SAPS had set out to achieve its objectives and mentioned success rate in affecting arrest to show what had been obtained already.
Commissioner Price also discussed examples of SAPS focused operations phase, e.g. Operation Recoil in the Western Cape. Operation Recoil was a high density intelligence -driven operation aimed at gangsterism in the Western Cape. The idea was a "flash and flood operation to flush out the criminal elements" with the help of public order units and the SANDF. Commissioner Price said that so far it had been moderately successful with 4315 arrests, 441 of that being for murder in the Western Cape. Commissioner Price said that Operation Recoil was only aimed at stabilising the situation and that SAPS was working with state departments and NGOs in order to normalise the situation.
The following questions were raised from the floor.
Mr Molekane (ANC) expressed his concern that high profile gang murder convictions were set free at court level. The response was the police were experiencing problems with witnesses changing their stories and the intricacies of the legalities of the new Constitution. They were working on both problems.
Mr Molekane also mentioned the evident mistrust between white and black members of SAPS and wanted more information on affirmative action within SAPS . Commissioner Price replied that there was a programme of good conduct being worked on where discipline would be upheld and accountability would be strengthened. Added to that racial bias would not be tolerated. The emerging leader program has been instituted and it is hoped that it will show results soon.
Mr Moosa wanted to know what was happening with the proposed legislation on gangsterisim being made a crime as well as new firearm legislation. He also wanted to know about the open dealing of drugs in places such as Hillbrow, Johannesburg. Though due to lack of time these issues were to be raised again at the next Safety and Security meeting.
Mr George wanted it noted that no member of the DP attended the meeting.
The meeting ended.
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