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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
2 November 2007
INDEPENDENT COMPLAINTS DIRECTORATE ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Independent Complaints Directorate on Programmes 1 and 2 Presentation
Audio recording of meeting
The committee was briefed by the Independent Complaints Directorate on Programmes 1 and 2 of their annual report, covering the staff complement, gender ratios, misconduct and vacancies. . The perfomance was outlined in the presentation. An important issue highlighted was the loss of staff due to lack of growth, stemming from flat structure and the apparent unwillingness of National Treasury to provide a larger budget in order to increase staff and provide more comprehensive service. The issue of employee disciplinary hearings were discussed. The Committee felt that the Directorate needed to fill all its vacancies before more funding for staff could be considered. The presentation on Programme 2 outlined the typical investigation workflow and workload and stated the outcomes of criminal cases. Challenges included the large case backlog. The Proactive Oversight Unit was created in order to apply a tactical approach to high priority cases, as well as those that could be resolved quickly. Each province had strategies in place to deal with the backlog. The Anti Corruption Command could not be put into operation yet as more funding was required. The Committee considered the inefficiency of the Eastern Cape office was cited as highly problematic, as was the investigation and high rates of deaths under police custody, whether causal or not. The Committee stated that there needed to be an adequate breakdown between current cases and backlog cases as well as a clear delineating of how deaths occurred in police custody. The validity and accuracy of the statistics presented was questioned. The Chairperson requested further elucidation around these issues during the next meeting.
Briefing by Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) on Programme 1 of Annual Report
Mr Elias Valoyi, Programme Manager, Independent Complaints Directorate, acknowledged the Committee’s assistance in helping the ICD to make headway.
He outlined the staff complement according to demographics and geographic allocation. Overall a 7% growth in staff had occurred. Gender ratios in all offices were approximately equal, with a ratio of 54:46 (men: women). Mr Valoyi acknowledged that the ICD had found it necessary to take punitive measures against staff due to 20 cases of misconduct. By the year end there were 19 vacancies due to intergovernmental transfers and the lure of more competitive private sector salaries. Major challenges were cited as staff retention, which was in part due to lack of career growth, due to the flat structure of the ICD, as well as stress-related burnout due to the high workload. The vacancy of the Executive Director’s post created the illusion of under expenditure, making the request for additional funding problematic. Furthermore travel and subsistence costs were excessive due to large areas serviced by regional offices. Performance and Priorities were outlined in detail in the presentation.
Mr F Maserumule (ANC) appreciated and praised the good work done since the last meeting. He stated that under the previous administration, especially in Bantustan states, staff did not perform despite adequate pay. He asked how the ICD viewed working relationships within the organisation, especially with regard to authority and staff training.
Mr Valoyi replied that the ICD’s conditions of employment were the same as other government departments. He stated that they did pay overtime and that they provided cars for their employees. However the problem was that owing to the size of the organisation there was no ambit for growth. He stated that the ICD did not have the prestige of other government departments and that every employee who left received a promotion. Initially the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) had mandated 535 positions; however the ICD currently only hads enough funding for 250.
Mr Patrick Mongwe, Acting Executive Director, ICD, replied that the ICD had not received any complaints from staff about leadership, but acknowledged that this did not mean there were not any issues.
Mr M Booi (ANC) stated that there was a significant improvement in the manner that the ICD was reported itself at a policy level and the impression was given that it did understood the mandate. He stated that there seemed to be an improvement in the relationship with the South African Police Services (SAPS). Mr Booi asked about staff retention policies. He stated that most cases of suspension seemed to be related to delinquency and lack of interest, and he asked what ICD were intending to do in that regard.
Mr Mongwe stated that the ICD did not have the capacity to match the SAPS , but that the members of the ICD did the most they could with their small staff complement, despite a ratio of 2000:1 in favour of the SAPS. He acknowledged that not all SAPS officers were errant. However he reiterated the need to increase the size of the ICD in order to be more effective.
Mr Valoyi stated that there was a retention policy in place and that it included incentives, but that ultimately the problem of career growth was still there.
The Chairperson was very concerned about the staff attrition rate and stated that the Committee would have to talk to junior staff at the ICD to determine the problem.
Ms J Sosibo (ANC) asked what happened to the two staff members who left in KwaZulu Natal, and whether the former KwaZulu Natal head had already assumed duties with the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)
Mr Valoyi replied that stated that there appeared to be a staff figure discrepancy due to staff leaving at the end of the year. The KwaZulu Natal head had assumed her duties with NPA.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) stated that the challenges identified by the Auditor-General were recurrent ones and many of them were related to administration. Despite the high representation of women, it appeared that women were only represented in low level jobs and therefore seemed to inflate the true representation figures artificially. She asked whether the ICD had implemented DPSA directives to install firewalls to prevent the abuse of the internet. Ms Van Wyk stated that she was nervous about the implications of converting monitors into investigators, as she was unsure who would assume monitoring duties. She stressed that the ICD needed to look at the internal audit committee, as it was clearly not functioning effectively.
Mr Valoyi conceded the challenge of lack of women in senior management and stated that they were working very hard to redress the issue. He stated that some of the internet abuses were from the previous financial year and that the firewall directive had been fully implemented now.
Mr Mongwe stated that the investigators would retain monitoring functions but would be more empowered as investigators. He stated that the ICD was in negotiations with the SAPS to provide training for ICD investigators and that this had been given the green light. He acknowledged the internal auditing issue. The internal auditor had previously been reporting to the Chief Financial Officer, but now was reporting directly to him. He stated that the salary level of the internal auditors was very low and that they needed to increase the salary and empower the auditor with a higher title of office, in order to ensure an adequate level of operational power and autonomy.
Mr L Diale (ANC) asked how long individuals were suspended without pay and when they would cease to be suspended.
Mr Valoyi replied that suspension was done pending misconduct hearings and that the Chairperson decided on the period, but that it could not exceed three months without pay.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) stated, in relation to the issue of burnout, that this was a stressful job and that it should be made clear to potential candidates during application what this job entailed in order to prevent those not capable of dealing with high stress loads from applying. He asked whether those who had resigned received a full severance package.
Mr Valoyi replied that the ICD did indicate these conditions to potential employees, but that ultimately people were only human and that they did offer counselling services.
The Chairperson stated that the ICD needed to fill all its vacancies before the committee could give recommendations to empower sections.
Mr Valoyi highlighted the vicious cycle of employee attrition.
Mr Mongwe stated that the vacancy percentage of staff fluctuated.
Briefing by Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) on Programme 2 of Annual Report Mr Tommy Tshabalala, Programme Manager, ICD, outlined typical investigation workflow and workload and stated the outcomes of criminal cases. Challenges included the large case backlog. However, to counter this certain strategies were implemented, including the creation of the Proactive Oversight Unit (POU), in order to apply a tactical approach to high priority cases, as well as those that could be resolved quickly. Each province had strategies in place to deal with the backlog, as well as a team assembled by the head office in order to supplement provinces with a heavy case load. Mr Tshabalala concluded that the ICD had made serious headway in reducing the backlog. Putting the Anti-Corruption Command (ACC) into operation in the provinces was awaiting funding, and he noted that this was costly due to logistics. He stated that due to the high output the ICD had requested that ACC be expanded into at least three major offices, especially in Kwazulu Natal.
Mr Booi stated that, reflecting on the figures presented, he found the presentation too general. He asked what the ICD saw as their largest mandate was. He stated that the Committee was dealing with the SAPS human rights record and that from the statistics it appeared that 600 SAPS officers were involved in death cases. He stated that the implications were very serious and stressed the need for accurate explanation of these statistics. He asked whether these deaths were committed by the SAPS.
Mr Booi stated that the ICD had vacillated between citing lack of cooperation from the SAPS and then stating that they had been very helpful, he wanted to know which was accurate. He stressed the issue of getting to the scene in correlation with the SAPS and stated that the report needed to address this issue in order for the Committee to help the ICD.
Mr Tshabalala stated that the separation of the presentation had created problems as Programme 3 dealt with statistics and that it affected Programme 2.
He stated that on page 37 of the Annual Report there was a full breakdown of causes of death. He stated that sometimes suicide was not due to regulation violations and that sometimes it was unavoidable. He replied the ICD had flagged notorious SAPS stations, but stated that sometimes deaths due to shooting when apprehending perpetrators were part and parcel of the situation and that these portrayed the SAPS in a erroneously negative light.
Ms D Nhlengethwa (ANC)requested a break down of how these deaths in police custody occurred . She voiced her concern over the resignation of three investigators in Mpumalanga, especially in relation to the statement that a retention strategy existed.
Mr Tshabalala referred Ms Nhlengethwa to the Annual Report.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) asked how many investigators were legally qualified and how many were eligible to carry firearms. He stated that they must be protected. He referred to the issue of a female SAPS officer who was shot and raped in a cell, and stated there were rules for going into cells and that issues like these needed to be addressed.
Mr Tshabalala requested whether his colleague could respond to the cell issue under Programme 3. He stated that investigators were entitled to carry firearms, but they had to go through the same channels as civilians to qualify, and that as yet they were not equipped. He stated that currently they asked the SAPS to execute arrests on ICD’s behalf as they were obliged to.
Mr S Mahote (ANC) stated that there was no indication whether the Performance Indicators and Targets had been met; if not he enquired as to what assistance they needed.
Mr Tshabalala replied that a target-met column would be added.
Ms Van Wyk stated the need for a breakdown between current cases and backlog cases. She stated that the ICD needed to present police custody deaths correctly. She was not comfortable with the circumstances around deaths and asked how they could separate suicide, as it was also the SAPS responsibility to ensure that prisoners did not commit suicide. She stated that the ICD inspected more cells when they accompanied the Committee. She questioned the validity of the statistics and highlighted the case of a SAPS officer going on a rampage in Port Elizabeth eight kilometres from the ICD office. She stated that when they reached the office the ICD staff knew nothing about it. She stated that she was very worried about the efficiency in the Eastern Cape. She stated that the ICD would not be taken seriously until it stepped up to the challenge and that it still had not convinced the Committee that the POU and ACC were effective.
Mr Tshabalala stated that the ICD had tried to delineate the issue of backlogs. He replied that ICD was embarrassed about the issue in the Eastern Cape and that it had instituted an investigation into the issue.
Ms N Daniels (ANC) stated that the presentation did not reflect the amount of unsolved cases.
Mr Sosibo asked whether they were aware of the case Ms Van Wyk had mentioned.
The Chairperson interjected that it was impossible for ICD not to know now as it had been in the newspaper. She stated that at the time the provincial office was unaware, and that it would have been impossible for the national office to know. This was reflective of lack of information, even in terms of the Committee’s last visit to the Eastern Cape office.
Mr Tshabalala stated that at the time of the Committee’s visit, the provincial Head was on leave and that his Deputy was nominated to take care of their visit. He did not perform properly, and had received a warning.
Ms Van Wyk interjected that the provincial head was there.
Mr Tshabalala replied that the provincial head was not there during the Committee’s visit in May, but that he was present at a latter visit.
The Chairperson stated that there was always a problem with the Eastern Cape.
Ms Van Wyk reiterated that the provincial head was there and that at the Imbizo a representative was present. She stated that somebody was clearly not telling Mr Tshabalala the truth. However, the point in issue was not whether or not they had been there, but the lack of awareness of the visit.
Mr Booi stated that the Committee needed a better assessment and he asked if the ICD could come back and give them a better outline. He stated that this presentation did not tell the Committee anything that would assist it in enforcing its mandate, and that it was ineffective and inaccurate. He stated that he could not endorse this.
The Chairperson disagreed with Mr Booi, believing that it was not such a bad report. However, it was not clearly stated, and needed to be simplified in order to state specifics, allowing for a breakdown. She asked the ICD to give her a summary of how it would better this report for thefollowing meeting. She noted that in future Programmes 2 and 3 should be tied together for the purposes of presentation.
The meeting was adjourned.
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