Members met with representatives for the South African Police Service (SAPS) in order to discuss SAPS strategic plan and budget. In their presentation SAPS noted that the key strategic initiatives included the national crime combating strategy, firearms strategy, a strategy to address crimes against women and children and the prevention of attacks and killing against police officials. Several tables of figures were given, detailing the initiatives, the budget comparisons across the years, the allocation of funds to programmes and key strategic initiatives.
Members noted that there were reports of shortages of bullet-proof vests and called for comment. Members were also asked for clarity on the staffing, particularly the shortage of forensic officers, and the measures that had been taken to improve the working conditions of police officers. Further comments and updates were required on the border post issue, the situation at police stations in North West, the impact after the restructuring process in the North West and Mpumalanga, maintenance of stations, safety at police stations, airports and schools, and issues around skills and salaries.
The Chairperson also informed members the Committee would be dealing with the General Laws Amendment Bill and that the Committee would undertake a rigorous consultation process in order to ensure that every voice was heard.
South African Police Service (SAPS) Strategic Plan and Budget 2008/9
Commissioner Mala Singh, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS, Commissioner George Moorcroft, Head: Strategic Management Services, SAPS, and Divisional Commissioner S Schutte, Head: Financial and Administration Services, SAPS gave a briefing on the Strategic Plan and budget of the South African Police Service (SAPS).
At the outset, it was explained that the key performance indicators would include detection and conviction rates for property related crime, reports, exhibit analysis, reduction in crime, the number of partnerships entered into to reduce crime, and the number of police actions.
Tables were then presented across the various programmes, showing the initiatives and deliverables in relation to administration, visible policing, detective services, crime intelligence and protection and security. These included the implementation of Sector policing at 169 high contact crime stations, and the establishment of risk management at all Divisional and Provincial offices.
The key strategic initiatives included national crime combating, firearms strategy, crimes against women and children and the prevention of attacks against and killing of police officials, as also corruption and fraud prevention, risk management and improvement of services.
The Annual Report for 2007/08 would be tabled by the Minister in September. However, some preliminary indications could be given. The targeted additional personnel were 173 120 and this had been achieved. 8 400 additional vehicles had been purchased. Integrated Justice System priorities were recognised and R224 million had been allocated and spent. Bullet proof vests had been acquired; R98 million was paid in 2007/08. The capital works allocation had been spent and there had been modernization and expansion of equipment.
The economic classification was set out. In respect of the budget, it was reported that SAPS anticipated a nominal growth of 36%, from R36.3 billion in 2007/8 to R49.3 billion in 2010/11. The strong growth mainly reflected the employment of large numbers of personnel, investment in capital assets and improvements in conditions of service. The adjusted baseline figures were tabled, and a budget comparison year-on-year for the various programmes. The budget trends and the purposes and use to which the increases would be put was fully detailed (see attached presentation). The enlistment figures were also broken down.
The main programmes of the Integrated Justice System (IJS) were set out and explained, and the specific projects were defined. The division of Protection and Security Services was established and it was explained that four initial projects were approved by Cabinet and funded over and above the baseline allocation, being policing of Rail Transport, harbour security at Durban, security at OR Tambo Airport and security at Beit Bridge. Expenditure trends were set out. Additional funding would be allocated to the forensic science laboratories. It was noted that SAPS was heavily reliant on an efficient hosting and networking infrastructure and that this needed to be upgraded and increased in capacity. The main spending priorities were detailed and it was noted in particular that SAPS had also allocated R1.3 billion to the 2010 world Cup.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had allocated the whole of May to deal with the General Laws Amendment Bill, but may not need that; there was a need also to receive briefings on the border post issues.
Mr R King (DA) asked what the 75/25 ratio meant.
Commissioner Singh replied that this was an assessment in terms of the Employment Equity Act. The 75% ratio constituted black police officers and 25% constituted white officers.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) asked for clarity on the recovery of stolen South African vehicles in neighbouring countries and whether there was ongoing contact with the officials.
Commissioner Andre Pruis, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS, replied that SAPS undertook joint operations with neighbouring countries, which focused on stolen vehicles.
Divisional Commissioner Rayman Lalla, Head: Detective Services, SAPS, added that there was a lack of coordination in certain foreign countries when it came to the recovery of South African vehicles and these thus ended up being impounded on the borders of neighbouring countries.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked for comment on the conviction rates, and asked if these were too low because of poor detective work.
Commissioner George Moorcroft, Head: Strategic Management Services, SAPS, added that thousands of cases were withdrawn from the courts, hence the low conviction rates.
Ms Kohler-Barnard said that according to reports, many violent attacks on people were attributed to their family members, and she asked SAPS to comment on what were the arrest rates.
Comm. Andre Pruis, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS, commented that there was a challenge in the handling of dockets. Often, family members contradicted themselves and changed statements on a regular basis.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked SAPS to clarify whether its own intelligence was involved in the arrest of Jackie Selebi. Corruption in the SAPS was also of great concern and since there was no strong institution that would monitor corrupt officials, then clarity should be provided on who would police the police.
The Chairperson ruled that SAPS should not respond to the Jackie Selebi question.
A Member said that the Committee needed to hear more on the budget estimates for each programme. Clarity should be provided on the timeframes for implementing the strategies.
Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked for clarity on the conviction rates when it came to organised crime.
Comm Moorcroft responded that SAPS was looking into organised crime cases and was trying to find ways on how they would be benchmarked. When SAPS released the crime statistics, however, organised crime could not be listed as a stand-alone category, as it infiltrated into other forms of crime.
Mr Ntuli noted that Metrorail recently launched its new business train, and clarity should be provided on whether there would be sufficient policing on the business trains, and whether the police would assist with the security of vehicles at train stations.
Commissioner Sean Tshabalala, Divisional Police Commissioner, SAPS, replied that the business train was linked to the national roll out of the railway police, who would assist with security on trains. Insofar as vehicles were concerned, Metrorail had identified parking lots and had contracted private security firms to watch over the vehicles.
Mr Ntuli asked that SAPS should also specify the measures that had been taken on the prevention of attacks against police officers.
Comm Andre Pruis stated that SAPS needed intensify its training programmes, and members would be trained on the use of special weapons and tactics. Police officers were also required to wear protective gear, and Station Commissioners needed to strongly enforce the requirement. Despite the measures that had been taken, it was impossible to prevent attacks altogether. Many questions have been raised on why members were killed off duty. SAPS provided transport to members in order to enhance their safety.
Commissioner Singh added that the police were outsmarted by criminals who developed new tactics in launching attacks on police officers.
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked whether the border control issues were being addressed, and if so, how this was done.
The Chairperson stated that there needed to be a fully fledged briefing on the issues pertaining to border control.
Commissioner Pruis replied that SAPS would provide a fully fledged presentation during which the Border Operation Coordinating Committee (BOCC) together with the South African National Defense Force (SANDF) would also have to be involved. This was due to the fact that the BOCC had the budget for the maintenance of borders, and the SANDF were required to perform certain functions at the borders, so a fully integrated briefing was required. He noted that there was a difference between the approach at the borders taken by SAPS and SANDF. SAPS were mainly focusing on crime committed at the border.
Ms Van Wyk requested that the information pertaining to the borders to be presented before the budget vote.
Ms van Wyk noted that a recent report compiled by retired Commissioners had raised a number of issues pertaining to detectives, in particular highlighting a huge shortage of detectives. The report also noted that some high ranking detectives were not handling any cases. She asked SAPS to comment on what was being done to address the issues.
Mr S Mahote (ANC) added that it would be helpful for the Committee to have access to that report initiated by retired commissioners. He was led to believe that the report stated that there was no national strategy, and there was widespread corruption taking place. SAPS should comment on whether the Commissioners had seen the report and what was being done to address the concerns.
Div Comm Tshabalala replied that the National Commissioner had established an advisory council, which was tasked to look into various issues in order to find solutions. They visited stations and sent information back to head offices. SAPS would forward the contents of the report to Members of the Committee.
Mr V Ndlovu (IFP) said that nothing was mentioned on the acts of violence in the farming community, and the cases could not be as low as reported by SAPS.
Ms J Sosibo (ANC) also asked for clarity on the prevention of attacks against farms.
Commissioner Pruis added that there was a perception that a rural safety plan had not been implemented. SAPS had a plan that was aimed at addressing rural safety
Mr Ndlovu asked that clarity should be provided on what the benchmark for 2008/09 meant.
Commissioner Moorcroft responded that SAPS looked at information from the previous years and compared it to the current year.
Mr M Moatshe (ANC) said that there was no mention in the report of safety in schools.
Comm Pruis stated that safety at schools had been identified as one of the priorities, and there were many cluster programmes aimed at addressing the matter.
Mr Moatshe and Ms Sosibo asked that SAPS should also comment on how they secured their buildings against attacks by criminals.
Comm Pruis said that because the police stations were public places they could not be closed. However, SAPS were looking into innovations, such as the firearm detection technology.
Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked for clarity on the visible policing targets and the target SAPS was working to maintain.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked SAPS to comment on the building of new police stations.
The Chairperson requested SAPS to provide a report on the impact that had been made after the restructuring process in the North West and Mpumalanga. The Committee members undertook a visit to a police station in the North West, it was discovered that the station was in appalling conditions. SAPS therefore needed to assure the citizens of the country that there was a trust worthy police force.
Comm Magda Stander, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS, added that SAPS had looked into the appalling conditions at the Badplaas police station in Mpumalanga. Investigations were being undertaken and the station commissioner had been suspended.
The Chairperson noted that SAPS also needed to provide a report on whether there were enough bullet proof vests, as there were conflicting reports on the matter.
Commissioner Hamilton Hlela, Deputy National Commissioner, SAPS, replied that there were enough were enough bullet proof vests. New recruits were supplied with them, and all station commissioners had been provided with bullet proof vests for their staff.
Ms Van Wyk asked whether the distribution of bullet proof vests was actually taking place.
The Chairperson noted that it was reported, during a meeting with the provincial managers, that the bullet proof vests were stuck at various distribution points. SAPS should also on comment on why some stations were receiving more vests than others.
The Chairperson reminded SAPS that a report on the country’s readiness for 2010 would also have to be prepared.
Commissioner Stander noted that the 2010 presentation would be made in due course.
Comm Pruis said that in relation to sector policing, SAPS was dealing with many sectors and SAPS’s approach was to make each sector fully operational. As it stood 70% of the sectors were fully operational, and the rest would be operational before the end of the financial year.
Ms Kohler-Barnard added that information pertaining to the forensic labs should also be provided. In particular she wanted to know whether the shortage was attributable to SAPS’s inability to offer competitive salaries.
Ms Van Zyl said that she did not understand why people were complaining that there was no career path. SAPS needed to make people aware that they had a future in SAPS. There also needed to be extensive specialised training of detectives and detectives also needed to gain experience in the field. SAPS should comment on how they planned on addressing these issues.
The Chairperson said that it was unacceptable for constables to be in that position for 30 years. SAPS needed to have incentives such as promotion for their officers, so that they could be motivated. SAPS must also look into improving conditions and look after the well being of commissioners.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked that clarity be provided on why there were so few victim centres.
Ms Kohler-Barnard asked that clarity should also be provided on where the VIP protection services fell.
Commissioner Schutte noted that slide 29 of the presentation outlined protection.
Ms Van Zyl noted that huge amount of salaries were paid to reservists. When one looked at the overall budget it was noted that SAPS was not the only priority. The Committee was aware of the amount of money spent on SAPS, and the Committee needed to see the results of the funding that was given.
Commissioner Pruis added when it came to reservists, SAPS did not expect so many people to become reservists and SAPS was looking into ways of dealing with the increase in numbers.
A Member of the Committee, referring to page 31 of the presentation, asked for clarity on the meaning of cost of living.
Comm Schutte said the cost of living referred to the salary negotiations that had taken place.
The Member asked that SAPS should comment on what were the requirements for qualifications when recruiting police officers.
Commissioner Singh addressed the various questions that had been asked around skills. She said that an affirmative action programme was created in order to address the issue of skills. A recruitment team went to various universities and targeted forensic psychology students. The students would be brought in on a high entry level salary. SAPS would also try and keep offering promotions to forensic psychologists on a regular basis as their skills would be targeted. As to requirements for police officers, these were a matriculation pass, a driver’s license and psychometric testing. There was also a programme that catered for people with no formal qualifications.
Members sought clarity on the docket system and the Committee appreciated the introduction of the new system of filing.
A Member commented that the police officers at OR Tambo did not have any radio communication.
Comm Tshabalala replied that there were enough radios at OR Tambo airport and SAPS recently delivered 254 radios to that airport.
The Chairperson said that the SAPS seemed to be adopting a defensive attitude, and asked if there was a suggestion that the Members were incorrect. Respect should be shown to the Members, as they were simply trying to investigate matters properly. The Commissioner apologised for any misperceptions.
Mr Ntuli said that the Committee went to the police control centre in Parliament and discovered it was in a filthy condition. Clarity should therefore be provided on what was the maintenance process for police facilities.
Comm Schutte admitted that the maintenance of police station was still a major problem. The Department of Public Works was responsible for most of the backlogs.
Comm Hlela added that there were huge backlogs on the issue of maintenance, and across the country all villages wanted police stations. Many police stations occupied a number of leased buildings and issues were usually raised with the Department of Public Works. The issue of buildings was very frustrating and SAPS had a new in-house maintenance unit to try to deal with the problems.
Mr Ntuli asked that SAPS should also comment on whether they were responsible for ensuring that cameras at the airports were working, and whether it was part of their duty to ensure prevention of baggage theft.
Mr Tshabalala said that there was pilferage of baggage at the airports. Everyone who traveled through the airport accused the airport of being responsible for the pilferage, but in fact it was impossible to determine where pilfering occurred.
Mr Moatshe said that very few police stations had trauma centres, and most of the centres were run by Non Governmental Organizations (NGO).
Mr Ndlovu said that there was a problem with the distribution of police vehicles. Clarity should be provided on where the problem lay.
The Chairperson added that the abuse of police vehicles was out of hand.
Comm Schutte noted that the station commissioners applied for vehicles and they would receive the types of vehicles requested.
Other business: General Laws Amendment Bill
The Chairperson informed members that in the coming weeks, the Committee would be dealing with the General Laws Amendment Bill, which was an important piece of legislation. She reiterated that the Committee would undertake an extensive public consultation process and noted that the Committee would be prepared to travel to different provinces in order to give all members of the public a voice on the Bill. She stressed that that the Committee would not in any way fast track the legislation and that the correct procedures would be followed.
The meeting was adjourned.
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