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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
26 March 2007
INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE BUDGET 2007/08 BRIEFING (CONT)
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) presentation
List of the qualifications of Independent Complaints Directorate employees [not for publication]
Independent Complaints Directorate Human Resource Strategy
The Independent Complaints Directorate continued with their briefing that they had begun the previous week. With regard to finances, ICD had received a qualified report from the Auditor General on its last audit, but much progress had been made and the Auditor General's interim report confirmed the improvement.
The cause of the backlogs in the investigation of complaints was a high workload against limited capacity. That year: That year: 13% of the cases that came before them had been substantiated; 16% were unsubstantiated; 5% were dismissed; 4% of the claims were unfounded; 5% had been withdrawn and 57% of the cases had been resolved. Challenges were the long distances to be travelled for crime scene attendance and conducting investigations and late notification by the police about crime scenes.
Information management reported 80% of the new cases were captured and processed within 48 hours. There had been an improvement on feedback to clients from 30 days to seven days. Streamlined systems resulted in an improved updating of the database.
Challenges for the Domestic Violence Act were the inaccessibility of the ICD to the public especially in rural communities. There was also an increase in police officers that were perpetrators of domestic violence.
The Committee complained that it had been asking for three years in vain for the ICD reports about recommendations made to the SAPS. Also the quality of the ICD reports about domestic violence was “shocking.” The ICD needed to speed up the improvement of its capacity to inspect police stations and increase the percentage of investigators within its total staff complement.
Ms Elise Verster, the Chief Financial Officer of the Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), said that Programme 1 (Administration) used 35% of the ICD’s budget, Programme 2 (Investigations) 44% and maintaining their registries and ICT system and conducting in research another 21%. Expenditure on compensation for employees was up from last year from R30 235 000 to R39 559 000 this year.
In response to the Committee’s request for a detailed analysis of all of the ICD’s expenditure, Ms Verster said that:
- advertising cost R414 000;
- consultants and contractors R1 094 000;
- printing and publications R82 000,
- resettlement costs R238 000 and
- travel and subsistence R5 024 000, amongst others. She also gave a detailed analysis of the expenditure on travel, transport and subsistence costs for each province. For example, the Eastern Cape spent R607 000, Gauteng R367 000 and the North West R499 000.
She said that the ICD had received a qualified report from the Auditor-General (AG) on its last audit, but a lot of progress had been made and the AG’s interim report confirmed the improvement. For example, the ICD had problems clearing its suspense accounts. The suspense account was used to transfer outstanding balances from the various accounts on the previously used numerical system to the new alphabetic system, in order to close all the different accounts in the old system from 1 October 2002.
During the next year, the ICD was expected to clear these balances and re-allocate the various amounts to the relevant accounts in the new system. However,
due to the limited skills, this re-allocation process did not commence. Attention was now being given to clear the last of the outstanding R1.2 million in the Disallowance Miscellaneous Account, which was R326 000 before the end of the current financial year.
The AG also noted problems with how staff debts were handled. 25 debtors were created during October 2005 due to the clearing of the Conversion Accounts and a few more debts had been registered since 2006. Ten debtors had been traced through the Government Pension Fund and letters were sent for collecting the debts. One submission for the writing-off of a debt had been put to the Programme Manager, four other debts had been written off earlier in the financial year, and another nine were in the process of being written off. A further ten debtors still had to be traced.
Mr L Diale (ANC) asked what the timeframes were for the opening of the satellite offices. How many foreign visits did the ICD go on and what were these trips for? Did the ICD register its employees for UIF?
Mr Patrick Mongwe, the Acting Executive Director, replied that ideally, they wanted to open the offices on the 1 April. However, this depended on the approval of a request to the Minister to appoint 17 more employees. With regard to the foreign visits, he was unsure about the exact numbers of trips the ICD had been on. He added that other Departments and donors funded all of the trips and most of them were to attend conferences. With regards to UIF, Government did not pay UIF but had a system of benefits that was comparable to the UIF system.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) noted that 73% of the staff were not investigators and this was a serious issue. What were they going to do to fix this imbalance?
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked what the justification was for having a ratio of four administrative staff officials to only one investigator.
Mr Mongwe conceded that after looking at the organogram, the ICD had realised that some employees had been incorrectly placed within the organisation and there was a need for restructuring. A proposal was going to be given to the Minister that proposed having some case analysts and monitors becoming investigators as they usually had the same skills. This would increase the number of investigators from 74 to 110.
Programme 2: Investigation of Complaints
Mr Tommy Tshabalala, Chief Director of Investigations, said that in terms of performance, some of their tasks and goals were to finalise internal investigations of Class 1 offences within 180 days, finalise internal ICD investigations of Class III offences within 180 days and
finalise internal ICD investigations of Class IV offences within 90 days. They had set themselves targets for achieving those goals with a rate of 60%, 50% and 50% respectively. The first target was exceeded by 35.7%, the second by 2.3% but the third target was only at 43.4%.
The cause of the backlogs was a high workload against limited capacity. They had a vision to be a fully investigative body and they had an action plan to deal with the backlog of cases. There was going to be business process re-engineering and different targets for different types of cases, with a project-based approach to finalise the backlog. There would also be bi-annual audits by the National office.
With regard to the cases that came before the ICD, 13% had been substantiated (there was a prima facie case); 16% were unsubstantiated; 5% were dismissed; 4% of the claims were unfounded; 5% had been withdrawn and 57% of the cases had been resolved. As for the conviction rate, there had been a 44% rate convictions and a 56% acquittal rate.
The Anti-Corruption Command (ACC) had a staff complement of four investigators who offered assistance to all of the provinces. The unit had received 64 cases of corruption from the SAPS. Of these, 31 were substantiated; 33 were closed as unsubstantiated or unfounded; 24 investigations were still continuing; two cases were in court; two were awaiting a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and in one, the DPP declined to prosecute.
Their challenges were that there were long distances to be travelled for crime scene attendance and the conducting of investigations. There were also late notifications by the SAPS about crime scenes. The SAPS management was also reluctant to implement some of their recommendations about disciplinary matters. The retention of skilled investigators especially in the ACC was also a challenge.
Their priorities for 2007/08 were to upgrade the salaries of investigators; to establish two satellite offices in Richards Bay and Mthatha; implement the revised targets developed from the business process project; review all of the standard operating procedures and compile an investigation manual for newly appointed investigators.
Ms C Barnard (DA) asked how many years back did the backlog they referred to stretch. She also wanted to know how many cases each investigator handled per year.
Mr Tshabalala replied that the earliest cases in their backlog were from 2002/03, and the ICD accepted that they had to reduce the duration of their investigations from 180 days. The opening of the satellite offices would help with this, as less time would be spent by the investigators on traveling. He was unsure how many cases each investigator handled but would get the information and pass it onto the Committee.
In reply to Ms Van Wyk asking how many cases had been finalised in the 2006/07financial year, Mr Tshabalala replied that 861 cases had been finalised.
Programme 3: Information Management System and Research
Ms Noluthando Sihlezana, Chief Director of Information Management and Research, said that her department’s role was to maintain a current complaints register, allocate and follow–up on cases and oversee the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) and analyse all of the information on the database.
She said that 80% of the new cases were captured and processed within 48 hours. There had been an improvement on feedback to clients from 30 days to seven days. A streamlined business process project, which was conducted during August to November 2006, resulted in an improved updating of the database, from 60% to 75%. All line staff in the provinces (both investigators and case analysts) were trained on the complaints registry process, database management and registering cases on the database. Training was still continuing on an ad hoc basis and on a one-on-one basis.
With regards to research, two research reports had been conducted during the past year:
The first report done by the ICD looked at the investigation of deaths as a result of police action in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Eastern Cape. The rationale of the research was that although the last few years had seen a significant decline in deaths as a result of police action and deaths in police custody, the number of such deaths remained relatively high in those three provinces. The findings would be discussed in a workshop on 28 March 2007. The second research report which the ICD should complete by April 2007 dealt with compliance with ICD recommendations by the SAPS.
In the monitoring and implementation of the DVA, during this calendar year the ICD received 46 cases of non-compliance by the police during the first semester, and 58 cases during the second semester. Both reports had been produced and the report with regard to the second semester would be tabled soon.
The priorities for 2007/08 were the ICD Ten Year Celebrations and a research workshop on the 28 April 2007. They wanted to join the SAPS in the implementation of a designed strategy geared towards decreasing deaths in police custody or as a result of police action. They also wanted to conduct research especially in terms of the DVA to provide a basis for the implementation of lessons and breaking the barrier of the “culture of silence” around domestic violence.
Challenges for the DVA were the inaccessibility of the ICD to the public especially in rural communities. There was also an increase in police officers that were perpetrators of domestic violence. Due to the inaccessibility of the ICD, they were getting only a fraction of DVA complaints. A shortage of staff to do DVA station audits and a cell inspection of the 1107 police stations around the country was another serious problem. At present there were only 9 monitors (1 monitor per province). The ICD did not have a toll free number or a national call centre where people could call and get assistance without actually travelling long distances to lodge complaints.
Ms Van Wyk said that the ICD had to give the Committee reports about recommendations they had made to the SAPS. The Committee had been asking for these for three years and was still waiting. Also the quality of the reports the Committee received about domestic violence was “shocking.” This was unacceptable especially as the Committee used them when they visited police stations.
Mr S Mahote (ANC) said that the ICD needed to speed up the improvement of its capacity to inspect police stations because conditions in many of them were terrible.
The meeting was adjourned.
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