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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
19 May 2006
BUDGET HEARINGS: INPUT FROM STATE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AGENCY AND SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE UNION
Document handed out:
State Information Technology Agency Presentation
South African Police Union Presentation
The State Information Technology Agency said that their relationship with SAPS was still challenging but it had stabilised. SAPS continued to be worried about the service delivery they received from SITA. To remedy this, a dedicated team had been established to deal with SAPS concerns. SAPS also wanted SITA to be more proactive in the identification of solutions and wanted more involvement in SITA’s research and development. SITA also had too many unsigned service level agreements that had to be sorted out. Reference was made to the world trend of using Network Centric Operations where all police personnel had access to a central network and database. SITA was pursuing this.
The South African Police Union welcomed the initiative of their employer in re-tooling the Special Dispensation for Functional SAPS employees as announced last year. This agreement had drastically improved the salary dispensation for most police officers and this had to be lauded. SAPU said it respected the employer’s right to restructure, but this could occur only after consultation with organised labour. SAPU noted that it was disturbed by Provincial Commissioners and Commanders adopting an attitude of not wanting to talk to organised labour. The current strategic plan and objectives of SAPS were compiled without any input from organised labour. SAPU called upon the Committee to intervene and turn the confrontational attitude of the employer into one of joint decision making.
SAPU supported the proposal to include the Metro Police and the Scorpions into SAPS to remove any overlap of functions. If these services were to be included under one ministry, the equitable distribution of human resources and logistics throughout the country could occur. The rising number of suicides in SAPS was of extreme concern to SAPU. It asserted that the police had been caught unawares on the matter of its policies for managing stress related issues and suicidal tendencies. The Emergency Assistance Service was not well marketed and their reputation was not inviting.
State Information Technology Agency (SITA) presentation
Mr Jonas Bogoshi, head of Client Services, said that SITA's role was to provide procurement services; application development and maintenance; centralised data processing services; network and decentralised support services; training services; specialised services and bureau services for South African Police Service (SAPS).
In the 2005/06 financial year, their key projects were an End User Equipment Project where the number of computers delivered to the SAPS were increased from 28 609 to 40 589. SITA also worked on the Forensic Science Laboratory Information Management System (FSLIMS); the National Photo and Image System and the Short Tandem Repeat Laboratory System. Future projects included the establishment of an Integrated Ballistic Information System for National Correlation and a Network Infrastructure Upgrade.
Their relationship with SAPS was still challenging but it had stabilised. SAPS continued to be worried about service delivery levels from SITA. To remedy this, a dedicated team had been established to deal with SAPS concerns. SAPS also wanted SITA to be more proactive in the identification of solutions and wanted more involvement in SITA’s research and development. SITA also had too many unsigned service level agreements that had to be sorted out.
SITA informed the Committee about IT world trends in policing. Worldwide, policing structures faced common issues such as critical public scrutiny, insufficient resources and the problems of combating complex, pervasive and sophisticated criminal world. The key to effective policing was the provision of the right information, to the right person, at the right time and in the right format. It was interested in setting up Network Centric Operations where all police personnel had access to a central network and database. This provided quality information and a shared situational awareness. It would enable collaboration, self-synchronisation and increase the speed of command and mission effectiveness. Technology was just an enabler of the key components to the whole system which were personnel, work culture and leadership.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) asked what had led to the increase in computers given to SAPS. What had caused delays in the FSLIMS that sometimes led to cases in court being jeopardised?
Mr Bogoshi replied that there had always been a backlog in the provision of computers and SITA had now accelerated the provision of the equipment. The FSLIMS project was ongoing work and so was incomplete. This meant that some of the forensic work was still being done manually, and this could create the delays.
Mr R King (DA) asked how important crime statistics were in evaluating SITA's effectiveness, and how recent the statistics they provided were.
Mr Bogoshi replied that to determine their effectiveness they looked at what their clients said about SITA and how they reacted to their service. SITA did not look at crime statistics to determine their effectiveness with regard to its client, the Department of Safety and Security.
South African Police Union presentation
Mr M Kwinika, South African Police Union president, said that they welcomed the initiative of their employer in re-tooling the Special Dispensation for Functional SAPS employees as announced last year. The re-tooled and signed agreement had drastically improved the salary dispensation for most police officers and this had to be lauded. This new salary system met SAPU’s demand in that a second leg for inspectors had been built in. This would alleviate the need for aptly qualified employees opting for promotion to Captain because now they could progress through the salary levels and be financially rewarded.
Despite these improvements, Mr Kwinika wanted to draw the Committee’s attention to problems that faced SAPS as the employer with regards to civilian employees in the sector. These employees were excluded from the new dispensation for functional members on the basis that they did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Safety and Security. Amendments to the legislation should be made to provide all employees in the same workplace with the same conditions of service.
SAPU respected the employer’s right to restructure, but this could occur only after consultation with organised labour. A disturbing occurrence in SAPS was for Provincial Commissioners and Commanders to adopt attitudes where they did not want to talk to organised labour. This could lead to a decrease in the morale of employees. The leadership of the SAPS was not exempt from the laws and the collective agreements of the country. They needed to work closely with organised labour to ensure labour peace.
It was disturbing to note that the current strategic plan and objectives of SAPS were compiled without any input from organised labour. Labour also had had no sight of the police budget that related to envisaged expenditure. SAPS perceived organised labour in a negative light and not as social partners. The current relationship between SAPS and the union seemed to be confrontational in nature. SAPU called upon the Committee to intervene and turn the confrontational attitude of the employer into one of joint decision making.
SAPU supported the proposed inclusion of the Metro Police and the Scorpions into SAPS to remove any overlap of functions. If these services were included under one ministry, an equitable distribution of human resources and logistics throughout the country could occur. This would avoid the situation where rich provinces were better policed than others. SAPS intended to train more detectives and they deserved applause for this. However, detectives continued to face the problems of a lack of manpower, large numbers of dockets and a lack of material resources such as vehicles. The SAPS needed to boost these resources.
The rising number of suicides in the SAPS was of extreme concern to SAPU. The police had been caught unawares with regards to their policies as to how to manage suicide and stress related issues. The Emergency Assistance Service was not well marketed and their reputation was not inviting. Members did not feel free to use these services due to the fact that secrets and problems were not treated confidentially. The whole system needed to be looked at again and possibly out-sourced if necessary.
The Government had shown its commitment to a safe society by equipping the SAPS with an adequate budget. The budget was in good hands and was well controlled in the SAPS with an equal distribution between human resource costs and logistics.
Mr Ndlovu asked why SAPU was still concerned about a lack of manpower as SAPS was increasing the number of detectives. What was the average number of dockets that a detective dealt with at any given time?
Mr Kwinika said that there were simply not enough detectives especially since each detective often had 140 cases to deal with at one time. It was almost impossible for detectives to give each case the necessary attention.
The meeting was adjourned.
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