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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
3 November 2006
Independence Complaints Directorate ANNUAL REPORT AND FINANCIALS: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
ICD Information Management System and Research Programme presentation
ICD breakdown of criminal offences in 2005/06
ICD report on police stations
BACKLOG as at end September 2006
The Independent Complaints Directorate (the ICD) briefed the Committee on its financial operations. . The ICD had spent 99.4% of its allocated budget, and for the first time in two years, ICD statements balanced with those of National Treasury.
The Committee expressed satisfaction with the progress in the ICD Information Management Systems and Research Programme, and supported the ICD proposal to establish more satellite offices. There was a strong feeling among the Members that a skills audit for ICD staff was needed.
Independent Complaints Directorate briefing
Ms Elise Verster (ICD Chief Financial Officer) gave a brief overview and background on financial operations and expenditure trends for the 2005/2006 financial year. The ICD had spent 99.4% of its allocated budget. The largest portion (61%) of the budget had been used for staff salaries. Payments to National Head Office (80 staff and eight investigators) accounted for 28 % of the overall budget. Other expenses were new jackets for the ICD staff, various goods and services, tollgate fees, parking fees and hotel payments. The parking allowance per vehicle per month in Cape Town was R650.
The Northern Cape, Mpumalanga and North West provinces had had difficulties in obtaining skilled investigators, and so these staff had been drawn from other provinces. The National Head Office had sent staff to run trainings and workshops for provincial staff. Head Office staff had also assisted with some selection processes, especially for provincial heads. Although it had increased its workload to cover other areas like risk management, Head Office still battled with insufficient staff. The transition from the Fiscal Management System (FMS), about which only two staff were knowledgeable, to the Basic Accounting System (BAS) had been challenging and required much staff training time.
The success of consulting services had been limited as consultants had to first familiarise themselves with operations to find documentation. The ICD had putted a big effort into clearing its accounts. Consequently, for the first time in two years, the ICD statements balanced with those of National Treasury. The former Executive Director (ED) had only delegated signing powers for amounts above R10 000 to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) from 8 July 2005.The delegations were amended by the acting ED on 25 July 2006. Some 20 transactions had been investigated to collect outstanding funds from employees. The ICD Audit Committee felt that the Auditor-General’s disclaimer had been too harsh, and this had been echoed by the Programme Manager from National Treasury. Current investigations focused on underspending in the current budget.
The Chairperson said that if the ICD had given such a comprehensive briefing in the past, the Committee would not had experienced many difficulties. The ICD expenditure on travelling was justified, but spending millions on tollgates was not. More investigators in the provinces were needed, and the Committee would support the ICD on the issue of Satellite Offices.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) proposed that the ICD look at restructuring instead of complaining about staff shortages. It was not an issue of inadequate human resources, but of ineffective staff management. It was a concern that finance staff vacancies were not being filled.
The Chairperson said that a staff skills audit was necessary, particularly in the finance section.
Ms Verster agreed that the ICD should look at ways of restructuring its existing structures. People with advance financial skills had left for other government departments or the private sector where they were paid higher salaries.
Ms Van Wyk re-emphasised the importance of having more training workshops for ICD appointees, and this was seconded by the Chairperson.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) wanted clarity on the bursaries given to staff. Ms Verster responded that the ICD signed a contract with each staffmember taking out a bursary. If the staffmember failed a course the first time, s/he would have to pay the next time.
Ms J Sosibo asked whether it would be cheaper to call the provincial staff to the National Head Offices for training and workshops. Ms Verster replied that they did this wherever possible.
Mr Tommy Tshabalala (ICD Programme Manager: Investigation) said that the entity also needed expertise from other sectors such as the Justice College. The ICD divided its staff into two groups, and the groups were trained consecutively.
ICD Annual Report and Financial Statements
Ms Noluthando Sihlezana spoke on Programme 3: Information Management Systems and Research, and outlined areas of success, shortcomings and difficulties. The ICD had not met its targets for the complaints registry, monitoring and research. ‘Key deliverables’ were a better case management system and policy support to the Minister and Heads of Departments. Of the complaints received, 21% had been from the Western and Eastern Cape. More intervention was still needed in the Free State. The majority of cases (56%) included allegations of misconduct, 12% of offences and 12% of deaths.
The majority of deaths in police custody were men, and 91% of cases were black African followed by ‘coloured’ people. Upgrading the quality of research and building the capacity of the new research unit, was still a challenge. Another challenge was creating awareness of the ICD among the general public,a nd the establishment of satellite offices would be important in this.
Ms Sihlezana said they were not clear about successes in terms of their recommendations to the SAPS relating to administration and disciplinary measures. The ICD was working with the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on some of its initiatives. A questionnaire and a pilot study had started in one province and the next step was to implement the findings to other provinces.
Mr Moses Dlamini (ICD Senior Manager: Information Management Systems) then provided the Committee with data on the case backlog. The total backlog was 5 229 at end September 2006. This varied by province and in the nature of offences.
Mr Moatshe (ANC) pointed out in many of the police stations visited by the Committee, officers were not aware about the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) offenders register. He also wanted the ICD to be specific about areas where targets had been met and to provide clarity on community outreach targets.
Mr Dlamini responded that it was a huge challenge to ensure compliance to the DVA as the ICD had only one monitor per province, and many police stations. In Limpopo, the monitor estimated that it would take three years to monitor all stations.
Ms Barnard (DA) felt the presentation should also have shown comparisons with previous years. Without targets, it made it difficult to understand the needs of the ICD. More details were requested about the ICD’s Anti-Corruption Unit, and about the 40% underspending in the current financial year.
Mr Dlamini replied that the Anti-Corruption Unit was staffed by four people who dealt with cases emanating from any province. They had dealt with 73 cases thus far. An Anti-Corruption Hotline had been established in October 2005 for the public to make anonymous reports, and all allegations were investigated.
Ms Sosibo (ANC) asked about the causes of death in police custody. Mr Dlamini responded that deaths in police custody occurred in various ways, many of which were suicides due to officer negligence.
Ms Van Wyk asked whether the ICD were looking into co-operating with the Secretariat in terms of DVA compliance. She also wanted to know more about shortcomings in SAPS’ recruitment criteria, saying that there should be also ‘psychological fitness’ criterion.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had met with the police on ways to better implement the DVA and the police did not see any reason for the difficulties. It was the mandate of the ICD to inspect the police cells.
Mr Dlamini responded that police officer locations were often rotated, and that was a challenge in the implementation of the DVA, as specialised skills were lost. He acknowledged that police attitudes towards this Act were very important. The ICD was tying to inspect cells and many were not up to scratch. In response to Ms Van Wyk’s question, he said areas of collaboration with the Secretariat had been identified.
The Chairperson voiced her disagreement with the ICD’s intention to collaborate with the Secretariat, as the Secretariat was should not be overloaded. The Chairperson pointed out non-compliance with the DVA seen during Members’ visit to Oudtshoorn.
Mr Tshabalala said they faced difficulties when inspecting police cells. The National Commissioner of the SAPS had said that a visit to police cells should be triggered by an investigation. Investigating was not the ICD’s role.
The Chair said the Committee strongly wanted the ICD to inspect the cells.
Mr P Groenwald (FFP) asked how the ICD responded when staff were turned away from investigating cells. Mr Dlamini responded that they did investigate, particularly regarding deaths in custody.
The Chairperson asked the ICD to report to the Committee on any cases where their recommendations to the police had not been implemented. No one had the right to refuse the ICD’s entry into police cells. She could see that the ICD was doing its best, and they should keep up the good work.
The meeting was adjourned.
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