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STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS (SCOPA)
26 January 2007
SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE & INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE: INTERROGATION OF AUDITOR’S REPORT ON FINANCIAL STATEMENTS 2005-06
Chairperson: Mr T Godi (PAC)
Documents handed out:
Annual Report of the South African Police Service (available at www.saps.gov.za)
Annual Report of the Independent Complaints Directorate (available at www.icd.gov.za)
The Auditor General’s Report on the 2005/6 financial statements of the South African Police Service was interrogated. Members were concerned about allegations of misuse and mismanagement of vehicles, and the monitoring mechanisms put in place, the equal distribution of resources across stations, misplaced firearms, firearms still held by other government departments, and the implementation of control mechanisms. Further questions related to the preparedness for the World Cup and the training of members, training of detectives, the discrepancies in the SAPS and Auditor General’s reports on the police forensic laboratories and the effectives and reliability of the crime statistics. The costs in policing abalone and cable theft were also raised. The evaluation and effectiveness of the police service was examined. Members highlighted problems in monitoring and implementation of some policies.
The Auditor General’s report on the financial statements of the Independent Complaints Directorate had highlighted several issues. Members queried the travelling and subsistence allowances, the suspense account, the funds not recovered from the Department of Public Works and the position in the debtors department. It became clear that many of the answers given related to lack of capacity. The staff problems and vacancies, the difficulties in retaining skilled staff and the competitiveness of salaries were questioned. The Committee interrogated whether the entity was functioning and viable, feeling that it was facing a crisis situation, and expressed concern that no permanent chief executive officer had been appointed for eight years, despite the fact that Treasury funding was available.
South African Police Service (SAPS) Interrogation of Audit Report 2005/6
Mr E Trent (IFP) asked SAPS to provide comments on the allegations of misuse and mismanagement of police vehicles. He asked whether there were enough police vehicles to ensure effective service delivery. He asked for clarity on the monitoring and control mechanisms that were in place to ensure that police vehicles were looked after properly.
MrJackie Selebi, National Commissioner, SAPS argued that the allegations behind the misuse if vehicles were incorrect. He stated that there was no such concept as “after hours” for police vehicles, and that operational vehicles were used at a full-time rate. He also stated that in terms of the given government resources, there were enough vehicles. SAPS had worked out a system to ensure that in any given area where there were two detectives, there had to be a vehicle shared between them. The vehicle distribution system was done in such a way that resources were allocated equally to all police stations.
The Chairperson asked for comment on the equal distribution of resources and whether there had been a complete transformation process since 1994.
The commissioner said that the transformation process had not been completed, but was ongoing, and that SAPS planned to build police stations closer to the people, especially in township and rural communities.
Mr Trent asked for clarity on the steps that should be taken when an individual asked for assistance at his local station but was told that there were no vehicles.
The Commissioner replied that the station commander should be reported immediately
Mr Trent went on to question the misplaced firearms, and asked for comment on the steps that had been taken to ensure that SAPS personnel managed their firearms properly, were trained to use them properly, and returned them when discharged from service.
The Commissioner explained that station commanders were tasked with performing constant and prescribed inspections on the firearms. Criminal cases were opened on those commanders who had been found lacking in performing their responsibilities. In terms of ensuring effective firearm management, SAPS had bought 70 000 safes for the safe storage of firearms, and an additional 43 000 would be purchased in this financial year. SAPS had also implemented a street survival programme, to train officers in street survival techniques.
The Chairperson asked whether the implementation of the programme was effective. He commented that the number of misplaced firearms had increased from the figures in previous reports, and asked the Commissioner to elaborate how SAPS would relate these statistics to the programme. The Chairperson also asked about recruitment in anticipation of the World Cup Soccer in 2010 to ensure enough officers in 2010.
The Commissioner stated that the number of policemen was not constant, and SAPS had experienced an increase in the number of police officers over the past two years. The increase in misplaced firearms was related to the increase of personnel. However some of the firearms that had been reported as misplaced were not lost firearms, but were rather old firearms that had not yet been declared unserviceable. The Commissioner stated that it was important to note that the level of crime during the 1995 Rugby World Cup was much higher than the level of crime today.
Commissioner Mala Singh, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS stated that SAPS had geared up its recruitment and training mechanisms in order to ensure that there was a large pool of suitable applicants available. The street survival programme would be incorporated into the basic training,
Mr Trent stated that he accepted that SAPS had control mechanisms with respect to the management of firearms; but the Committee was concerned with how well these were being implemented.
The Commissioner stated that SAPS was ready to improve its monitoring capability with respect to firearms. A marking process of all the firearms was currently being rolled out in all the provinces.
The Chairperson asked for elaboration on the extent to which policies and practices were being monitored and conducted.
Commissioner Singh stated there were policies in place to ensure monitoring and evaluation. She stated that there were two main internal control mechanisms. The first was the internal audit component, which undertook inspections and reports that were then forwarded to the national commissioner. The second was through the national evaluation services; who were responsible for performing inspections and alerting station commanders of possible risks for remedial action. Follow up inspections had also been done to ensure that all outstanding issues were addressed.
Mr Trent asked for confirmation whether all the firearms that were issued to other Departments had been accounted for.
The Commissioner stated that there were still various departments in possession of firearms. He said that SAPS was continually engaging with those departments and had asked them to reduce the number of firearms if possible. Although some departments had responded the feedback had not met SAPS’ expectations.
Mr Terence Nombembe, Auditor General (AG) stated that owing to the constant revision of the accounting system by National Treasury, assets were increasingly being accounted for on a more onerous system and it became increasingly more important to observe the controls in order to match up to the financial statements.
Mr Trent asked about the control and management of dockets. He asked if there was a system that ensured that dockets were allocated in such a way that would ensure that detectives were not over-worked or under-utilised. He asked for elaboration on the systems in place to ensure that dockets did not go missing or were sold.
The Commissioner said that in 2005 and 2006 SAPS had trained 2168 detectives to address these questions. A case administration system was implemented as part of the training so that when the trainees were appointed as detectives they knew what was required of them. SAPS also performed quarterly audits on all the dockets that have been closed. The crime administration system required that a docket be issued within 21 days. He also stated that there was a mechanism whereby SAPS created duplicate dockets in order to prevent fraud in the service.
The Chairperson requested details on the training of the detectives. He enquired how many detectives were on the programme, how long the programme took, and how it would be sustained.
The Commissioner replied that there were 22 000 detectives. Trainee detectives for SAPS were usually initially assigned to detective work for a certain period. Successful candidates were sent for further training at Hermanskraal. The full training lasted three years.
Mr Trent asked the Commissioner to elaborate why the reports on the state of forensic laboratories (labs) provided by the SAPS and the AG respectively differed.
The Commissioner responded that in order to minimise risk an automated e-mail system was implemented in a case administration system, which would inform the forensic lab when a case was closed. SAPS also had held a meeting with the Directors of Public Prosecutions to request assistance in ensuring that cases were fast tracked. The forensic labs completed about 90% of the cases received in 2005 and 2006. However, they were threatened by shortage of skills and desperately needed a staff retention system to ensure that the private sector did not poach the skilled staff.
Ms L Mashiane (ANC) asked whether SAPS had a method of evaluating the effectiveness of its policies, which had been labelled as “outdated”.
The Commissioner stated that this question dealt with supply chain management policy framework. SAPS had implemented the National Treasury (NT) prescripts.
Ms Mashiane asked whether the crime statistics were effective and reliable
Commissioner Petrus du Toit, Divisional Commissioner, SAPS stated that currently Cabinet required statistics to be released to Cabinet before release to the public in the annual report. Mr du Toit argued that before release the statistics should be as refined as possible.
Commissioner Singh stated that there was a process of meetings and procedures, where information was sent from all the provinces to the national office for as assessment of the accuracy of the reporting. On a quarterly basis the national commissioner held meetings to discuss the crime statistics. A performance chart was presented to the commissioner on a quarterly basis in order to ensure that the statistics remained accurate.
Ms Mashiane understood the measures that had been put in place in terms of SAPS’s performance, but noted that many cases were unreported, and must affect the reliability of the statistics.
The Commissioner replied that those cases appearing on the statistics were reported cases. SAPS did not know the scale of unreported cases.
Mr P Gerber (ANC) asked for more information regarding the cost of policing of the abalone industry, and the issue of cable theft.
The Commissioner replied that in order to deal with cable theft SAPS had re-introduced the railway police. Its community public relations campaign was also attempting to build better community relations so that matters such as cable could be easily dealt with. He would respond in writing on the costs of policing the abalone industry.
Mr Gerber asked for a progress report on the rebuilding of the Wellington police station.
The Commissioner stated that the Wellington case would be investigated.
Mr Trent argued that it was important that non-financial information should also be audited, since matters such as service delivery were as important as the financial information.
The Commissioner stated that SAPS had a good functional relationship and would continue to cooperate with the Auditor General’s office.
Ms M Sotyu (ANC) stated that there were some issues addressed in the meeting that the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security had felt demonstrated significant progress. They were satisfied with the question of vehicles, but had found problems in the control of firearms with the Metro police in KwaZuluNatal, and had been assured by the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) that the matter was being investigated. In terms of police corruption, that Portfolio Committee had come across lost dockets, but not dockets being sold. There was clearly a transformation system in SAPS that was working. Although the building of the police stations remained a challenge, there was a great improvement.
Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD): Interrogation of Audit Report 2005/6
Mr Trent asked
the ICD to elaborate on the Auditor General’s comments regarding the travelling
and substance allowance. He asked if the Public Service Commission report had
Mr Les Xingwa, formerly Acting Director, ICD replied that there was not enough capacity at the ICD to satisfy the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act. He also stated that the Public Service Commission report had not yet been received.
The Chairperson noted that it was unfortunate that in the last eight years ICD had had two Acting Directors and that situation needed to be resolved immediately
Mr Trent asked for clarity on the AG’s report on the suspense accounts that were not cleared, and asked what had been done to rectify the matter.
Mr Xingwa replied that the ICD was working on the suspense account and would hopefully rectify it at some stage. Due to the high staff turnover there had been a delay in the completion of the suspense accounts.
Ms Elise Verster, Chief Financial Officer, ICD added that the ICD lacked capacity in its debtor section, and had only sufficient people to run day-to-day activities. ICD had written off a number of debts.
Mr Trent then asked for clarity on the funds from the Department of Public Works (DPW) that had not yet been recovered. He also asked about whether there had been any developments in regard to debtors, as this was not indicated in the audit report.
Ms Verster stated that the process to recover funds from DPW had commenced. Although there had been movement with regard to the debtors it was as yet unsatisfactory.
The Chairperson questioned the lack of capacity at the ICD, in particular why ICD lacked funds to pay competitive salaries.
A representative from National Treasury stated that ICD had been receiving funds in order to increase capacity, but that ICD had apparently been unable to appoint the correct people.
The Chair asked ICD whether it was really functional, or was heading for collapse.
Mr Xingwa replied that the ICD was not on the brink of collapse, but it had been forced to cut down on the number of cases. He argued that there simply was not enough money to sustain the organisation.
Ms Sotyu said that she acknowledged the challenges faced by the ICD, and noted that the Minister of Safety and Security was in the process of restructuring the organisation. It was clear that ICD needed investigators. Some of the problems had turned into political issues. It was important for the organisation to appoint a Chief Executive Officer as soon as possible.
Mr Trent argued that the fact that the ICD was unable to deliver on its mandate was a serious matter.
Ms Mashiane stated that the she would not be able to get any logical answers from the ICD, as all the questions she had prepared dealt with manpower issues.
The Chairperson asked the ICD to comment upon what it believed made it a functional entity.
Mr Xingwa replied that the ICD was effective in terms of meeting its mandate. Its staff complement was at 42% strength, but the division could be up to 60%. He also stated that the ICD had a functioning head office that was making a concerted effort to improve its performance.
The Chair then asked the current Acting Executive Director to provide reasons why he took over a sinking ship
Mr P Mongwe replied that the ICD was not sinking. Despite the serious capacity challenges, the ICD could still function and make a turnaround.
Mr T Mofokeng (ANC) asked the ICD to elaborate on how much the investigators were being paid.
Mr Xingwa replied that there was no problem in senior management salaries as they were on par with all other governmental senior management salaries. However, at the lower levels skilled managers at the ICD were paid lower salaries than other departments that required the same skills.
Mr Thomas Tshabalala, Programme Manager, Investigations, ICD argued that the challenge faced by the ICD was the retention of highly skilled workers. ICD required highly skilled investigators with years of experience, and training a new detective took at least two years. However the salaries for investigators at the ICD were not competitive, resulting in poaching of staff by other departments.
Mr Trent stated that the audit report did not include non-financial information, and that the Committee was trying to investigate administrative problems, not operational problems.
Mr Nombembe stated that in terms of the human resources report, the human resources planning and strategy was still in a draft format. In terms of financial management responsibilities, Departments must ensure that whatever monies were received, were accounted for as a matter of priority.
Ms Mashiane asked whether the leadership of the ICD understood their responsibilities in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). She stated that the Committee would like to hear answers, not excuses.
Ms Sotyu commented that all the issues that were raised in the meeting were fair. The Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security was working with National Treasury to try to assist the ICD, as it was a vital entity.
The meeting was adjourned
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