A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
JUSTICE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
9 March 2006
NATIONAL PROSECUTING AUTHORITY SUB-DIVISIONS: BRIEFINGS
Chairperson: Ms F Chohan-Khota (ANC)
Documents handed out:
NPA’s address to the Portfolio Committee
NPA report to the Portfolio Committee
Special Investigating Unit presentation to the Portfolio Committee
The National Prosecuting Authority and its various divisions (Directorate of Specialist Operations; Specialised Commercial Crimes Unit; Witness Protection Unit; Sexual Offences Unit; Priority Crimes Litigation Unit; Transformation, Integrity and Corporate Services; Asset Forfeiture Unit; Special Investigations Unit) continued its report to the Committee that had started on 8 March. Members questioned the budget, expenditure, future initiatives; successes and failures; key performance indicators and strategic objectives among others.
The Chairperson advised that she was having difficulty understanding the document and queried if it pertained to the current financial year. In particular she requested Mr Mackenzie to explain the Imperial and SICA matters and the roll over resulting from it.
Mr Mackenzie advised that the Imperial matter had been on the table for some time. He explained that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) had been in the same situation for the past two financial years. Essentially the matter arises out of a contract in terms of which vehicles are supplied. These contracts were long term in nature. The contract called for and specified in detail that the company must maintain full record keeping on the use of the vehicles, who they were used by and the reasons for such use. Invoices were then issued against approved authorisation. The bill was required to have all the necessary approvals and sign offs. The company was concerned that it could not maintain the records sufficiently and as a result would not be able to provide any proof of delivery of vehicles to the NPA. In terms of the contract the supplier was to maintain the records.
A situation thus resulted whereby statements without the necessary approval or supporting documentation would be forwarded to the NPA for payment. This led to a problem arising with the extent of services actually provided, leading to a disagreement between Imperial and the NPA. Mr Mackenzie advised that the matter was now going to court.
Mr Mackenzie stated that in terms of the available funding a roll over at the end of last year had been requested from the National Treasury, and consequently a R16.5 million roll over was approved. Mr Mackenzie advised that the NPA had anticipated a much higher amount would be required to settle Imperial’s account and so application for further funding in the mid term adjustment estimates was made to the National Treasury. R30 million was awarded and accordingly an amount of R46.5 million was held against possible amounts which may have to be paid over to Imperial.
Mr Mackenzie advised that when one looked at the projected under spending of R57 million, the amount of R46, 5 million had been included in this amount. He further advised the Committee that the NPA would once again have to apply for a roll over of this amount in terms of the current financial year.
The Chairperson commented that Mr Mackenzie had not indicated how this problem had arisen and lasted for a period of approximately two years.
Mr Mackenzie advised that this was the same original problem which had not been resolved and accordingly had not grown as thought by the Chairperson.
Mr Mackenzie advised that the amount in dispute as alleged by Imperial was R80 million whereas according to the NPA, Imperial’s claim was in the amount of R40 million. He further advised that once the problem was detected, it was arrested.
The Chairperson asked how long it had taken to detect the problem.
Ms M Sparg stated that the problem was detected within 8/9 months of the contract coming into effect. She further informed the Committee that the State Attorneys had advised them to stop paying whilst the issue was in dispute. Other departments (the contract was government wide with at least 5/6 government departments involved) who were parties to this contract had gone an alternative route (such as the Department of Transport) in terms of which they continued to pay the invoices but requested credit notes. To date however these credit notes had not been paid. Ms Sparg further advised that each government department had had to bring in outside audit teams to assist in the reconciliation of these accounts, causing huge expense. She confirmed that the ultimate control had vested in Imperial. Problems experienced with Imperial’s accounting related to double billing, incorrect billing, late billing etc. She further advised the Committee that the Department of Transport had done a sweep prior to the audit, and concluded that blatant mistakes had been made by Imperial to the sum of R6 million.
Ms Sparg stated that there had been constant communication between Imperial and the NPA in an attempt to resolve this issue which is why the matter had drawn out over two years, and had now been referred to court. She further confirmed that a roll over was the only way to have contingency funds available in the event the dispute was settled.
Adv Pikoli stated that there were clear lessons to be learnt from this situation as regards contracts with service providers and their management. He felt however that the merits of the Imperial matter should not be discussed in Parliament.
The Chairperson stated that she simply wished to know from an administrative point of view how long it took the NPA to discover the problem; she wanted to determine whether the NPA’s internal mechanisms were working adequately and sufficiently. In her opinion it seemed that these internal mechanics were not working adequately. She stated that you could not have a service provider in control; there must be an internal verification system.
The Chairperson queried why R46.5 million had been requested when the NPA alleged that only R40 million was owed. She further reiterated that the Committee required some sense of where the matter is now and whether Imperial’s services are still being used, and if so, what type of billing system was being used. She advised that this matter would be pursued at a later stage.
Ms Sparg said that they were no longer using Imperial. A new service provider had been contracted for the supply of vehicles. As regards the Imperial matter, at the time the budget for such services was R18 million per year. The R40 million was therefore for the period of two years. She further advised the Committee that the NPA could not pull out of the contract at the time and so were still making use of Imperial whilst they were trying to resolve the discrepancy with the billing. She confirmed that the amounts of R46.5 million and R40 million respectively were simply estimates as the NPA had no documentation, and the auditors had advised that the invoices supplied by Imperial could not be used to determine liability.
The Chairperson commented that she was more interested in the administrative measures taken and the Auditor General’s concerns. She was of the opinion that the Auditor General would not be happy with settlement outside of the invoices. She confirmed that the Committee would revisit this matter at a later stage.
Mr Hofmeyer confirmed to the Committee that they were using an alternative service supplier. To this end a fee management team had been set up and the contract with Imperial terminated.
The Chairperson queried why, if the NPA could, the contract was not terminated earlier.
On the SICA issue, Ms Sparg advised that a similar problem had arisen with government garages and state attorneys and late billing. She advised the Committee that a third reconciliation had been completed and that they hoped that this was the end of the matter.
The Chairperson commented that this seemed to be a constant problem, which certainly must be addressed. She stated that she was not sure what the Auditor General would have to say about the situation.
The Chairperson enquired into the missing person project and its nature.
Mr Hofmeyer answered that it pertained to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) processes and was under National Project Services.
Mr Hofmeyer advised as to the Audit Report for 2004/05 and the matters emphasized therein, that asset management related to the putting of an asset register into place, in terms of tagging assets, verifying the register as it stands, and putting into place the valuation process. In terms of the valuation process, assets bought prior to 1 April 2002 would be valued at R1.00 whereas assets purchased after said date would be valued according to their invoices. In respect of asset disposal, the NPA needed to put into place an asset disposal committee.
Mr Hofmeyer stated that the two systems, namely the Justice Procurement System and the Justice Asset Management system would be implemented at no cost.
Mr Hofmeyer advised the Committee that a major problem experienced by the NPA was the establishment of its own account and governance. Permission to produce its own financial statements had been requested but they were awaiting a decision. He stated that this situation needed to be resolved and finalised.
Mr Hofmeyer stated that on the internal audit, functionality needed strengthening and has been resolved. The Justice Internal Audit was assisting the NPA. One audit committee was required, but the issue had not been resolved although the situation was under control.
The Chairperson requested a fully detailed action plan in this regard.
Mr Hofmeyer confirmed that the National Director would become the Accounting Officer of the NPA.
The discussion of the budget closed. The focus then turned to the reports by the various units of the NPA
Directorate of Specialist Operations (DSO)
Adv McCarthy advised that the presentation put forward was on the basis of questions posed by the Committee last year. The issues raised by the Committee at the last meeting pertained to strengths, representivity, turnover, placement, ranking and recruitment.
Adv McCarthy advised the Committee that the DSO estimated it would cost R25 million to fill vacancies and R2 million to complete the job evaluation assessments. Turnover of employees amounted to 8.4% which was a bit high; however representivity at senior management level had improved with 69% male, 31% female, 57 % black and 43% white.
Adv McCarthy confirmed that the DSO’s objectives were the same as last year, although it was difficult to measure the impact. In terms of the previous report he advised that in relation to the 5 studies undertaken by the DSO, two had been completed. Once these two were available copies would be forwarded to the Committee.
Adv McCarthy confirmed that the DSO had adopted a proactive approach, as pro-activity lied at the heart of the DSO. He advised that the benefit of international relations had provided gainful knowledge on international crime and exposed the DSO to best practices. In the past year, the DSO had as a result, been asked to assist other countries in setting up similar units.
Adv McCarthy reported that 11 joint investigative projects had been embarked upon. He further advised the Committee that 5% of the current workload had been outsourced.
Adv McCarthy reported that in terms of the capacity of the DSO, the targets set for the respective outputs, were in his opinion appropriate.
Adv McCarthy advised the Committee that problems had however been experienced in developing the law on racketeering. Courts had been sidestepping the issue on these matters and he hoped that eventually they would get authority in this area.
Adv McCarthy advised that in terms of internal business management, all personnel were subject to vetting, oaths of office and codes of conduct. Confidentiality agreements had also been concluded with all staff.
Adv McCarthy confirmed that the focus for the year ahead was on finance, law, cyber crime and major cases. To this end the priorities for 2006/07 were the achievement of annual targets by April 2006, succeeding in investigation and prosecution of key cases, the invigoration of the DSO’s human capital; the careful spending of finances; the conducting of such duties in the spirit of the constitution; the reduction of mistakes and development of the law; the transformation of the DSO in respect of strategic effectiveness and operations management, the maximised usage of technology and insulation of investigations, the narrowing and alignment of the scope of the DSO mandate and the double impact in disrupting organised crime.
Mr Joubert (DA) enquired as to the filling of posts. Which resource pool was the DSO targeting in view of poaching?
Adv McCarthy answered that ambitious people moved and that there was serious competition for qualified people. He confirmed that university graduates and people in the corporate environment would be targeted.
Ms Camerer (DA) enquired about the morale of the employees of the DSO. She further enquired as to what the DSO’s policy was in relation to camera crews. Ms Camerer further enquired about an assessment of all the warrants that had been issued.
Adv McCarthy advised as to the first question, that DSO was one of the most privileged departments, employees being generally well paid, with good leadership and good facilities. Employees were motivated to stay positive. On the second issue, he advised that the policy as regards media coverage was that where it was in the public interest, and did not unduly invade privacy rights, the DSO ideally wanted the public to know. However no media coverage was allowed without the direct authority from the DSO. In respect of the warrants, Adv McCarthy responded that the warrants were an internal matter. However he stated that the DSO’s mandate was too broad and that it was really a question of tightening the DSO’s focus in this regard.
Mr Swart (ACDP) enquired about the decrease in contraband, requesting more detail. In regard to the cyber lab, he queried whether this would result in duplication with the South African Police Services (SAPS).
Adv McCarthy said that the cyber lab would amount to a combination of deterrents and success. They can now interdict hardware immediately, deal with internet crime and swift code transactions without the previous problem of a chain of custody.
Mr Solomon (ANC) queried the 5% outsourcing, being of the opinion that this was high and the question of confidentiality being at risk with such outsourcing.
Adv McCarthy replied that this was a maximum of 5%. Outsourcing occurred in specific instances where experts were required and could not be supplied internally. He confirmed further that all employees and contractors were subject to a confidentiality agreement and went through the same vetting processes.
Mr Malahlela enquired about the basis for the dismissal of the 6 employees. She further asked in respect of the Kampepe Commission whether communication had improved.
Adv McCarthy advised that 5 of the 6 employees dismissed related to the misuse of vehicles, which the DSO took very seriously. As to communications, these had improved, with good co-operation with the SAPS on ground level. He further confirmed that he would ask the Project Office to detail all areas of good communication with the SAPS, which report will be forwarded to the Committee.
Ms Mahlawe (ANC), dealing with the Kampepe Commission, enquired when the report would be ready.
Adv McCarthy advised that he did not know the status of the report at this stage.
Mr Joubert (DA) asked about the take over of the Scorpions.
The Chairperson raised the issue of case backlogs, outstanding matters and their finalisation dates. She further asked what steps were being taken with regard to the budget, as the Committee required some sense and projections for the future.
Mr Hofmeyer advised that these figures could be obtained and forwarded to the Committee. However in certain instances, certain figures could not be provided as these pertained to joint services shared by the various units.
Specialised Commercial Crime Unit (SCCU)
Adv S C Jordaan advised that the SCCU had exceeded expectations in the area of service delivery, with the main area of activity being investigation and prosecution of complex commercial crime.
Adv Jordaan further reported to the Committee on their various targets. On the target for the staff complement, he advised that there had been a significant improvement in the ratios. Although the statistics provided did not provide a complete breakdown, he told the Committee that it could be supplied if required. On the second target of speedy and effective prosecutions, there had been an increase in finalised cases, and the conviction rate had been maintained as compared to the previous year. Generally however the target had been exceeded by 8.25%, with 90 Section 105A agreements being concluded. Turnaround time for cases averaged 122.6 days per case although the case load per prosecutor of 50 cases had not been achieved with prosecutors handling an average case load of 62.16 cases. On the 3rd objective, increased access, he advised that the SCCU was active in 4 regions, namely Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Planning for the roll out to Cape Town and Bloemfontein had however commenced. Access to other sectors affected by serious economic crime had increased with the prosecution of Road Accident Fund (RAF) cases project underway by the SCCU, and ad hoc assistance being provided by the SCCU to the SAPS commercial branches. On the issue of Court hours, Adv Jordaan confirmed that fewer court hours were due to a lack of Magistrates in certain courts, with the result that Magistrates were filling in for other courts.
Adv Jordaan advised that convictions and sentences had increased. Turning to the high profile cases, he stated that in many cases sentencing ranged from 12 to 23 years’ imprisonment. He further confirmed that a number of cases were still being investigated or pending on the court rolls. He further mentioned that one of the areas that required focus was asset forfeiture.
Adv Jordaan confirmed that the challenges and priorities for 2006/07 were assisting in finalisation of the JE process and the placement of all SCCU officials on the correct levels, in the increasing of access to SCCU services in line with the NPA and increased service delivery to customers, preparation for 2010, the gauging of customer satisfaction, the leveraging of stakeholder assistance, pro-actively contributing towards the prevention of commercial crime and enhancing IT usage and support.
Ms Camerer (DA) enquired about transformation and the development of skilled staff and the question of enhancing skills.
Adv Jordaan advised that although he did not deal with development, a comprehensive training programme was in place and the Department as a whole was very active in skills development.
Ms Camerer asked what the relationship between the Assets Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and the SCCU was, whether they were linked or separate.
Adv Jordaan advised that the SCCU worked very closely with the AFU. The approach of the SCCU at the moment was focused on conviction. However he said that a change in focus needed to take place in the sense that asset removal needed to be considered at the beginning of an investigation. However the AFU would not be interested in all cases; this would be dependant on asset forfeiture potential. He did however confirm that regular meetings did take place between the AFU and the SCCU.
Ms Camerer enquired as to how many of the 680 sentences fell into the crime category where more than 12 years sentence was imposed.
Adv Jordaan said that he did not know to what extent but that the lengths of sentence imposed were case dependant.
Ms Johnson (ANC) queried whether in light of the slight increase in new dockets, commercial crimes were decreasing.
Adv Jordaan advised that commercial crimes were decreasing, however it is invariable when one pursues a roll out of the SCCU. There is a typical backlog of cases experienced. These cases are sifted to determine whether they have a reasonable prospect of success and would lead to a speedy trial. Matters not deemed to be successful are dead filed. The new cases are those that have yet to be sifted.
Mr Solomons (ANC) asked about the reasons behind the acquittals.
Adv Jordaan stated that with more convictions, more acquittals would result. So although there has been an increase, this increase was understandable if one considered the increase in cases, and the fact that the conviction rate had remained the same.
The Chairperson felt that an analysis of the cases was necessary. Enrollment appeared to be high. She further enquired as to the number of prosecutors. She commented that one could not get a proper sense of capacity from the report and therefore requested an additional report on this issue.
Adv Jordaan advised that he would provide the Committee with a report regarding capacity, the number of prosecutors, types of sentences imposed, range of sentences etc.
Witness Protection Unit (WPU)
Mr D Adams advised the Committee that they had nationally enhanced confidence in the WPU, and increased demand services. They had further become internationally acclaimed, with international confidence increasing. For the past 5 years, no witnesses or related persons had been threatened, harmed or assassinated. Grievances against the WPU had dropped by 90% and the number of "walk offs" had reduced from 40% to 6%.
Mr Adams further advised that the Auditor General had given them a clean bill of health in respect of the Unit’s administration, Operations and Financial Management. They had developed a specialised internationally acclaimed operating model with which to achieve the objectives and key performance indicators to ensure excellent service delivery. A specialised Operational Training Course against South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) and B Teck standards to achieve key indicators had been developed as well.
Mr Adams advised as to progress in terms of priorities and targets for the 2005/06 year, that they had nationally sustained confidence in the WPU to the extent that they had to adopt a hard approach as to who would be accepted into the witness program. As at 31 January 2006, the total number of witnesses involved in the program amounted to 431 in respect of 206 matters, and 225 in respect of section 204 matters. Due to increased international confidence in the WPU, there was an increased demand for their assistance in the international community including requests from the International Criminal Tribunal and the International Criminal Courts.
Mr Adams further stated that they had received a favourable report in February 2006 from the Public Protector, in terms of which all complaints were found to be unsubstantiated. This report would be forwarded to the Committee in due course. The Public Protector did however highlight the WPU’s capacity as a priority.
Mr Adams said that one of the challenges experienced by the WPU was in terms of financial budget constraints. The budget affected capacity. This lack of capacity also impacted on the implementation of section 6 of the Act. The WPU intended to absorb 85 SAPS members to enhance its capacity.
Mr Adams advised that there were a number of targets and priorities for the WPU during 2005/06 being, enhancing value for money, the delivery of efficient and effective support services to witnesses and related persons on the programme, to maintain the zero percentage of assassinations, intimidation and threatening of witnesses on the programme, to reduce the number of walk offs to 0%, to reduce the number of grievances to 1%, the fast-tracking of WPU cases and the reduction of cycle time of witnesses in the program, the enhancement of investigations and prosecution, the continuous redesign and transformation of the WPU to ensure excellent service delivery and attainment of strategic objectives, the development and phase-in of its own capacity, and to sustain a clean bill of health from the Auditor General.
Priorities for 2006/07 were confirmed as being the sustainment of efficient and effective support services to witness in the program, effective and efficient administration, operations and financial management to ensure cost effectiveness and value for money, continuous lobbying for an appropriate budget to meet the demands for services, impact of inflation and provision of aftercare, world standards development and phasing in of own capacity.
Mr Swart (ACDP) referred to the budget constraints and the issue of the 85 SAPS members, commenting that the issue of absorption seemed to be ongoing.
Ms Camerer (DA) queried who acclaimed the WPU’s international status and raised her concern on the issue of aftercare, querying what happened to witnesses after testifying, and whether there is a budget for this. She requested a comparative analysis on this issue since 2001.
Mr Solomons asked about the situation of the victim in the current Zuma rape case who was in the witness protection program.
Mr Adams advised the Committee that it would not be appropriate to discuss this matter at this time.
The Chairperson stated that the budget was R43 million, with an additional amount of R14 million amounting to R57 million. She stated that it must be difficult to project a budget for the Department.
The Chairperson further commented on the question of jurisdiction between the WCU and the SAPS that the two departments are interrelated, and that she did not feel that it would be good for witnesses in the program for matters to be decided on who’s case it is. She stated that if there were problems with management these matters could be worked out. If it was in relation to promotion, processes can be put into place. She felt that the situation had been precipitated by unilateral action; the WPU fell over both areas. She stated that this matter needed to be considered together with the long term implications. She commented that policy in this regard needed to be rethought. On ground level she was however glad that this had not affected the outcomes of the program itself but pointed out that this would affect the people involved in the program. On the issue of aftercare, she wanted to know what happened in other jurisdictions and the basis for determining who was placed in the program.
Mr Adams stated that the decision from policy level was taken to keep it away from prosecutors and the SAPS. Persons in the program would remain there for life until retirement. He advised that the WPU was constitutionally guided. He confirmed that they had assessed the problem of aftercare in relation to indigent witnesses who could not return home. He advised that in such instances it was cheaper to pay for resettlement aftercare than to keep witnesses in the program. On the issue of the budget he advised that they did not have control over the number of people in the program or the length of time they remained in it. 85% of the budget related to operational expenditure for support services to witnesses, but they were trying to analyse the cost implications of each case. To this end the Public Protector’s report explains why they need additional funds.
The Chairperson requested a report on the issue of administration and performance capacity.
Sexual Offences Unit (SOCA)
Adv Majokweni advised the Committee that the areas of focus for the SOCA were rape, other forms of sexual exploitation, forced and early marriages, trafficking of women and children, destructive female genital mutilation, domestic violence, HIV/AIDS in relation to the above areas, maintenance and child justice.
On the issue of rape, an anti-rape strategy project governance structure was developed involving three pillars - prevention, reaction and support. In terms of this strategy, a balance must be found across the actions to be implemented. Key choices need to be made in terms of how to prioritise which Department needs to react. In order to reduce the incidence of rape, focus is to be placed on offenders and victims in terms of behavioral issues, belief issues and social issues. She stated that systematic reduction is long term in nature with benefits accruing on an ongoing basis.
Adv Majokweni advised as to the second pillar – reaction – that choices needed to be made about the desired outcome of the criminal justice system (CJS), the overall objective being designed to improve the CJS over the long term. The focus should be on the whole of the criminal justice system and not merely on prosecutions.
Adv Majokweni informed the Committee that the Thuzela Courts which deal with specific sexual offences and have specialised Magistrates dedicated to this area of law were more successful than the other courts.
In terms of the performance against targets for 2005/06 and the implementation of the anti-rape strategy matrix for action, 13 dedicated sexual offences courts have been added making a total of 67. In terms of victim support services, an inter-sectoral team to draft a uniform protocol for all service providers not covered under the Victims Charter has been established. Site co-coordinators have been appointed in all 10 Thuthusela Care Centres as well as Victim Assistance Officers and Case Managers. Public awareness and education campaigns in all provinces are to be implemented, ranging from school projects to human rights campaigns in relation to the rights of women and children. Training to traditional leaders on their role on violence against women was given and children as well as children as offenders. In this regard they are in the process of developing uniform procedure manuals. Furthermore 16 traditional ambassadors were nominated to be the representatives of traditional leaders in NPA/SOCA outreach programs in all provinces.
Adv Majokweni advised that a continued increase in the number of diverted child offenders and a decrease in recidivism had been experienced since July 1999. She did not have a breakdown of the crimes committed by these children.
The Chairperson requested a breakdown on the types of programs these children were diverted to.
Adv Majokweni said that the priorities for 2006/07 were provincialisation to ensure a mainstreamed focus on human trafficking and gender based violence and the maintenance of such focus, the increase in Thuthesela Care Centres and dedicated courts for sexual offences, continuous skills development, the implementation of an expeditious and effective maintenance system and public education programs with focus on initiating a boys movement on violence against women and children.
Adv Majokweni highlighted the challenge faced in the standardisation of such programs across the board for child justice.
The Chairperson requested copies of the program for boys. She wished to investigate the school curriculum in respect of life skills learning and whether correct behaviour towards girls was implemented. She commented that women are cast as possessions on television. Parents are not equipped to deal with all these new influences on their children’s behaviour and that accordingly boy children need to be taught how to behave and treat girl children from an early age.
Mr Swart (ACDP) endorsed what had been said about children. He pointed out that the Department of Home Affairs was looking into the media and encouraged prosecutors to attack the media in their encouragement of violence against women and children. He suggested that the Department talk with Home Affairs on these issues.
Mr Sibanyoni (ANC) asked why only the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) had been approached in public education programs when other stations attracted greater audiences from the younger generation. He further asked what criteria were used for these programs.
Adv Majokweni thanked Mr Sibanyoni for his recommendations and advised he would follow up. As to the criteria, the matrix would be used as a framework, data would be analysed and the outcome of the analysis would indicate the action to be taken. She stated that SOCA focused not just on law but on changing the system by encouraging interfacing with the prosecutors and communities. They consider the prevalent rates and the gaps to see where interventions are required.
Priority Crimes Litigation Unit (PCLU)
As Adv Ackerman was absent, Dr Ramaite reported to the Commission as per the report compiled. Dr Ramaite briefly discussed the TRC matters and missing persons. Nuclear proliferation in relation to the Karni and Geiges & Wisser matters were also discussed. Other areas focused on by the PCLU are proliferation of chemical and biological warfare agents, national and international terrorism, genocide and crimes against humanity (Statute of Rome), and foreign military assistance.
Dr Ramaite confirmed that in terms of the TRC prosecutions, the guidelines had now been finalised and prosecutions were now proceeding. He further confirmed that on matters affecting state security, it was the intention of the PCLU to recommend amendments to legislation and the prioritisation of a coordinated law enforcement approach.
The Chairperson requested a report on the backlog of cases.
Ms Mahlawe (ANC) asked about the budget for the TRC prosecutions.
Dr Ramiate advised her that this fell within the NPA’s budget.
The Chairperson enquired as to the process of missing persons, whether there was a fixed time period for this process.
Dr Ramaite said that they were focusing on 133 identified matters, but could go beyond this. In terms of the number of cases, there are two processes involved. One first has to determine which are prosecutable; thus out of 300, 167 were closed. The remainder of 133 cases would then be investigated, and in terms of the policy guidelines 5 fell squarely within the parameters and are to be prosecuted.
The Chairperson stated that in any event criminal matters did not expire and the closed matters can always be reopened where new evidence appears.
Transformation, Integrity Management & Corporate Services presentation
Ms Sparg reported that in terms of the transformation program, there were 6 objectives, these being: the achievement of optimal levels of governance, the creation of a best-in-class management capability, the achievement of optimal levels of cooperation with the organisation’s partners in the criminal justice system, the engineering of organisational processes so that they deliver excellent services to customer requirements, the creation of a best-in-class operations management capability and ensuring management of people for the purposes of the organisation becoming an employer of choice.
Ms Sparg advised that 6 projects/ initiatives had been undertaken in the first phase, namely governance, partner management, the transformation program, people management, operational excellence and customer management. In order to assist transformation, research had been carried out both internally and externally. Copies of these outcomes can be made available to the Committee.
Ms Sparg said that in terms of strategy development, the Department had managed and facilitated a strategy process which led to the adoption of a new 15 year strategy for the NPA, Strategy 2020. In respect of Enterprise Risk Management, they recruited an Executive Manager, guidelines were adopted by Exco and it was now actively managing the top 10 risks. On the issue of Integrity Management, she advised that a Hotline had been launched, there had been 99% compliance in submission of declaration of financial interest, they had completed a draft Integrity Promotion handbook and an anti-corruption draft policy had been completed and was scheduled for adoption on 30 March 2006.
Ms Sparg stated that Corporate Services had achieved an unqualified report from the Auditor General for the fourth year running, had implemented the JE results, reviewed and adopted most corporate policies, maintained information management services, finalised an employment equity plan and submitted it to the Department of Labour, decentralisation of recruitment had been implemented, workplace skills plan had been submitted to the Safety and Security Sector Education and Training Authority (SASSETA), 1372 files had been audited and completion was expected in September 2006. The provision of accommodation had been resolved, security and risk had been addressed with ID cards being issued and information security awareness sessions having been conducted throughout the country with confidentiality agreements being signed, the financial delegations had been approved and the CEO had finalised appointment of all Program Managers in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) with a separate set of financial statements being completed. Staffing of this unit has also commenced, had 90 % of assets bar-coded and provided library and information services to relevant personnel.
Ms Sparg stated that the challenges and priorities for 2006/07 were the Court Services (CS) turnaround project, the ensuring of CS capacity to meet the needs of a growing NPA, an unqualified report by the Auditor General for 2005/06, IT infrastructure for priority areas, the prioritisation of the needs of lower courts, the identification, acquirement and development of skills and capacity for governance, delivery and resourcing, the establishment of a governance centre to drive the new governance approach, the establishment of a National Program Management Office to manage projects across the NPA, the roll out, monitoring and evaluation of Strategy 2020, the building of communication capacity and improvement of internal communications and the building of capacity for integrity management.
Mr Mahlalela asked about the issue of skills development, whether this program was the first since the NPA came into effect?
Ms Sparg advised that this was the first skills program in terms of the Act although various training programmes had been implemented.
Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU)
Mr W Hofmeyer advised the Committee that the overall objectives of the AFU were to increase the volume of cases and to develop the law. He stated that the number of new cases was well above target, the value already achieved being in the amount of R267.5 million against a target of R250 million. He further stated that the number of completed cases was also well above target.
Mr Hofmeyer advised on the issue of developing the law that 165 judgments had to date been achieved with a success rate of 65%. He stated that the AFU had maintained a success rate of more than 85% in all cases. He further commented that over the past three years there had been a change in the attitude of the courts towards AFU matters resulting in a significant increase in the success rate of matters.
Mr Hofmeyer confirmed that the AFU had excellent relations with the SAPS, DSO and other relevant departments, with SAPS task teams in most AFU offices.
Mr Hofmeyer stated that the major challenges faced by the AFU were the expansion of its capacity and the budget required for that and clarification and strengthening of the law. He stated that asset forfeiture was an important deterrent in the war against crime.
Ms Camerer (DA) enquired how the funds in CARA were to be distributed, and whether victims other than those of commercial crime would be reimbursed.
Mr Hofmeyer advised that funds were distributed between law enforcement agencies combating crime and organisations for victims. The AFU would ensure that the victim of crime is reimbursed.
Mr Joubert (DA) asked who was making the laws these days and whether it was not cheaper to approach Parliament rather than go to court.
The Chairperson commented that Judges are required to interpret law.
Mr Solomon (ANC) enquired about the reasons for the change in attitude of the courts and the aspects of law which need tightening up.
Mr Hofmeyer advised that he could not explain the change in attitude.
Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
Mr Hofmeyer confirmed that the SIU was similar to a Commission of Enquiry, with the powers of civil litigation. The President refers matters by way of proclamation. They however have no powers of arrest or prosecution. To this end they work closely with the SAPS in investigations and the compilation of dockets in order to ensure the docket is ready for prosecution. They also work closely with departments, conduct investigations and try to recover losses and the cost of the investigation. They focus on areas where they can save the government money.
In terms of the Department of Social Development, a complex investigation has been undertaken. The impact of this is that a large number of civil servants and beneficiaries have been removed from SOCPEN (social grants payout system) resulting in huge savings and preventions. Mr Hofmeyer was of the opinion that the threat of prosecution had a direct influence on the removal and decrease in collection of payouts.
Mr Hofmeyer advised in terms of the Department of Transport, there are four focus areas, namely irregular issuing of drivers licences, conversion of forged driving licences, registration of stolen vehicles and management and control systems.
Mr Hofmeyer, turning to the Department of Correctional Services stated that the focus of investigation was on correctional centre visits, procurement matters, pharmacy procurement, medical aid fraud and auto card abuse. He advised that in addition SIU was investigating the KZN Housing subsidies.
Mr Hofmeyer advised the Committee that key challenges for 3006/07 were the maintenance of high levels of forensic services to government, the increase of services to other governmental departments, the management of massive growth of the organisation, the continued good working relationship with stakeholders and partners, the building of a bigger capacity to investigate corruption and assisting African Union (AU) countries with advice and training.
Ms Camerer (DA) asked to what extent whistle blowing was occurring. Mr Hofmeyer advised that this did occur to some extent.
Mr Malahlela (ANC) asked about the SIU’s opinion on in-house investigators and whether they would be useful.
Mr Hofmeyer said that it depended on the circumstances. He commented that he was aware that CS wished to have their own internal investigators and that perhaps this was a good idea. However, investigations require considerable speed and resources. With the beaurocracy involved, however it is unlikely that they will achieve this easily and within the needed time frame. There is also the risk of bias and prejudice, or the appearance thereof and many civil service managers do not have the necessary knowledge on how to get their money out of investigations. Furthermore there is the problem of who guards the guardians.
Ms Johnson (ANC) asked, whether in terms of the Social Development grants where the person unlawfully claiming is indigent, whether the SIU will attempt to reclaim the money.
Mr Hofmeyer advised that in the instance of indigent persons, no recovery would take place although they will be removed. However in the case of people with means recovery will be instituted.
The meeting was adjourned.