Independent Complaints Directorate progress report and 2008/09 budget

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27 May 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Independent Complaints Directorate briefed the Committee on the improvements, challenges and the priorities for all four programmes: Investigations, Information Management and Research, Administration and Financial Management. The information was based on the period April 2007 to December 2007. Figures for the full financial year could not yet be used, as they were undergoing a verification process.

As a result of the Committee complained that the ICD report was too confusing and they could not compare figures in the report adequately. Members also reproached the organisation for not including a strategic plan with their budget as both were needed for them to approve the budget.

The Committee was particularly concerned about the backlog of unsolved cases and that the South African Police Service did not take recommendations made to them by the Independent Complaints Directorate seriously. In response to questioning, the ICD noted that they rarely attended police disciplinary hearings as they were dependent on SAPS to inform them of these.    

Members were dismayed at the number of suicides that occurred while suspects were in police custody. They wanted to know how the suicides could happen and if the police were charged with negligence when suicides occurred.

The Committee also discussed retention strategies for staff, the appointment of senior management and the need to focus more attention on the current financial year’s budget.

Meeting report

The ICD was represented by Acting Executive Director, Mr Patrick Mongwe, Mr Elias Valoyi (General Manager: Administration), Mr Tommy Tshabalala (Chief Director of Investigations), Ms Noluthando Sihlezana (Chief Director: Information Management and Research) and Ms Elise Verster (Chief Financial Officer).
Mr Tommy Tshabalala, ICD Chief Director of Investigations, informed the Committee that his programme focused on the period between April and December 2007, which was three-quarters of the financial year.

The total workload as at the end of December 2007 amounted to 4562 cases, which were made up of cases of deaths, domestic violence, offences and misconduct. There were 6 257 closed cases in total that were categorised as substantiated, unsubstantiated, dismissed, unfounded and resolved cases. In terms of cases that were carried forward from past financial years, 4040 cases of deaths, offences and misconduct were completed and closed. During April 2007 and December 2007, in the current financial year, 1 614 cases of deaths, offences and misconduct were finalised. The ICD attended 435 crime scenes and were absent from 150.

The ICD had made recommendations on 346 cases of deaths and misconduct to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and had made recommendations on 1 334 cases of deaths, criminal offences and misconduct to the South African Police Service (SAPS). The ICD attended 575 criminal cases in court and 28 disciplinary hearings.

Achievements regarding the Investigation programme included the implementation of the revised salary package for investigators, the improvement in reaching outlying areas and attending 74% of all crime scenes and the reduction of the workload of previous financial years to a manageable level. Challenges included the restructuring of the Investigations programme and the Information Management and Research programme, and strengthening the relationship with stakeholders such as the SAPS, Metro Police Service and the DPP. Priorities for 2008/09 focused on rolling out the four satellite offices, relocation of the satellite office from Richards Bay to Empangeni, coordinating stakeholder workshops for the provinces and securing training opportunities for ICD investigators into the detective learning programme offered by the SAPS.     

The Chair stated that the report did not reflect the backlog of unsolved cases. The more she heard, the more confused she became, as she could not get a sense of what the ICD had actually done.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) informed the Chair that the report showed percentage changes in terms of cases for the past years. She thought that these were perhaps the figures that the Chair was looking for.

The Chair stated that the percentage changes were not included in the programme for Investigations. They were included in programme three, Information Management and Research, and that was why she was confused.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) added that the information on cases was included in the third programme, Information Management and Research, and therefore did not afford Members the ability to do comparisons of cases and the figures. She had told the ICD previously that they needed to include performance measurements next to the figures and information on the cases. She noted that only 383 cases of complaints were dealt with out of 1007. She also wanted to know where the ICD’s strategic plan was, as the Committee was supposed to assess the strategic plan and the budget at the same time.

The Chair agreed with Ms Van Wyk. The Committee was only able to measure the ICD’s performance when they presented both the strategic plan and the budget plans.

Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that the structure of the ICD presentation was misleading. The figures that were given over a three-quarter year were problematic, as they did not reflect what the annual figures actually were. Apparently, recommendations made to SAPS by the ICD were not taken seriously. This was annoying and she asked the Committee to look very seriously at the fact that the SAPS were not obligated to take the ICD’s recommendations seriously. She also wanted to know why the ICD rarely attended disciplinary hearings.

Mr Tshabalala answered that the process of tabling the annual report was still a month or two away and figures for the whole year could not yet be used, as they were undergoing a verification process. It was difficult for the ICD to present a full financial year report, as figures might change after the verification process.

Ms Kohler-Barnard clarified that all the figures in the Report were taken over the same three-quarter time frame and could therefore be compared.

Mr Tshabalala stated that the ICD had done some research on whether the recommendations were taken seriously by the SAPS. The report was tabled and the ICD had engaged the SAPS on the matter. A copy of the report would be sent to Members, however, the SAPS were in possession of the report at the moment.  

Mr Patrick Mongwe, the Acting Executive Director for the ICD, stated that the ICD was a “toothless” organisation, as they did not have any legislated power, therefore the SAPS did not have to recognise recommendations made by the ICD. He explained that the ICD did not attend many disciplinary hearings, as there was no legislation that compelled the SAPS to inform the ICD that these hearings were being held.

Ms Van Wyk said that the ICD was trying to “pull the wool” over Members eyes by submitting a confusing report. When Programme 2 figures were compared with Programme 3 figures, the figures still did not add up.

The Chair stated that Members seemed more and more confused each time the ICD presented to the Committee. She said that she wanted to see an improvement in Programme 2 before the parliamentary term was finished.

Mr Tshabalala responded that he had noted the concerns that were raised by Members and suggested that the next time the ICD presents before the Committee, they would start with the third programme. He acknowledged that the Report did not reflect certain information. The Report showed the number of cases that were received and not the number of cases that were actually worked on.

Ms Van Wyk still thought that the figures in the Report did not add up and that the Report did not reflect the cases properly. She added that the law stated that for a budget to be approved, the strategic plan also needed to be approved and tabled in Parliament.

Mr Tshabalala informed Ms Van Wyk that the strategic plan had already been tabled.

Ms Van Wyk stated that the Committee would resolve this issue, as the Parliament may have been at fault for tabling only the report. However, she warned that the Committee still needed to assess the budget together with the strategic plan.

The Chair noted that the ICD only raised issues with the Committee when they were asked questions. She added that in the absence of legislation, there would always be challenges. As the Committee was dealing with the ICD’s budget, Members had to receive all the necessary information.

Information Management and Research
Ms Noluthando Sihlezana, Chief Director of Information Management and Research, informed Members that the organisations performance had improved. 80% of new cases were captured and processed within 48 hours and feedback to clients now took seven days instead of thirty days.

The Information Management and Research component had printed 500 000 copies of newspaper inserts that were distributed to communities around the country. The inserts explained and informed communities of the ICD’s mandate and how to lodge a complaint. The ICD also produced an advert, which was aired on the Post Office television for three months. Community Outreach Programmes were organised nationally where promotional items were distributed to communities.

As part of the programme’s proactive oversight, the ICD completed a research report on femicide, as the organisation was concerned with the increasing number of policemen killing their spouses. The research report found that one of the major causes was easy access to firearms and that incidents were more common amongst lower-ranking police. There was also a link between alcohol use, financial problems and stress.

The total number of deaths that occurred while in police custody was 218, of which 68 were suicides. There were 367 deaths as a result of police actions, which included suspects being shot during the course of a crime, an escape, an arrest and the investigation.

Priorities for 2008/09 focused on the implementation of the call centre, marketing ICD services, cell inspections and station audits, forging relationships with non government organisations (NGOs) and increased communication protocols. Challenges included fostering better relationships with Social Crime Prevention stakeholders, ensuring access to and sharing of knowledge resources amongst the ICD staff and raising awareness of ICD services in communities. 

Mr M Moatshe (ANC) stated that most people who were not exposed to the media did not even know about the ICD.

The Chair clarified that Mr Moatshe was talking about people in Gauteng who did know where to report their complaints.

Mr L Diale (ANC) noted that the presentation did not indicate any statistics. He wanted to know how many female deaths were encountered when there were suicides.

Mr Tshabalala answered that the ICD had not provided a breakdown of the suicides according to gender. This information was usually contained in the Annual Report. 

Ms Kohler-Barnard noted that at in some of the prisons, the Department of Public Works had built cells that had huge bolts jutting out of the walls. These bolts would assist those that were inclined to commit suicide. She asked what were people using to hang themselves. Cells were supposed to be carefully constructed to avoid suicide. The Department of Public Works was given a clear indication of what they could and could not do when constructing the cells. 

Mr Tshabalala stated that police holding facilities had burglar bars, which were very strong steel bars from which they could hang themselves. He was encouraged by the instructions given to the Department of Public Works on how to build the holding cells, as this would decrease the number of suicides.  

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked if the police were charged with negligence when people committed suicide while in police custody. There were even people who jumped out of police vehicles while they were in motion.     
Mr Tshabalala replied that certain articles of clothing such as shoelaces and belts were supposed to be confiscated when a person was taken into police custody. Police were charged with negligence or breach of police regulations if this was not done. He did not know how people jumped out of police vans as they were supposed to be locked.

Mr Elias Valoyi, General Manager: Administration, informed the Committee that the organisation struggled to attain the approved 535 staff complement. The ICD lost many staff members due to lack of career growth. Other challenges were the under-expenditure in the personnel budget due to the vacant Executive Director post, the inability to implement job evaluation results because of the lack of funding, stress-related problems due to the high workload and the lack of segregation of duties in certain provinces.

In terms of performance in Administration, the ICD managed to establish an Asset Management Unit and completed the unique numbering of assets in all the offices.

The priorities for Programme 1: Administration priorities in 2008/09 was to establish a fully-fledged Asset Management office at National Office, to strengthen all provincial offices to deal with assets and general administration and to implement the job evaluation results.   

The Chair noted that the ICD would have to provide a written response to any questions due to time constraints. She commented that the ICD needed to employ more people to handle certain financial duties such as asset management.

Ms Kohler-Barnard stated that the Report did not indicate a breakdown of the ICDs staff in terms of who was “acting” and who was not. She wanted clarity on who appointed the top structure as full time members.

Financial Management
Ms Elise Verster, Chief Financial Officer, apologised to Members for the incorrect figures in the Report. The corrections were included in the electronic presentation.

Ms Verster informed Members that Administration made up 33.81% , Investigations 46.27% and the Complaints Registry, Monitoring and Research 19.91% of the total expenditure.  All three programmes had overspent on their budget.

The ICD had made improvements in their asset management. Even though there was no funding to acquire a suitable Asset Management System, informal Asset Management training was given to all administrative staff, regular discussions were held and further training was provided at Senior Management Committee meetings and various verification processes were undertaken. Interim audits conducted by the Auditor-General of five of the provinces indicated a major improvement in Asset Management so far.

Other improvements included the implementation of a Control Leave Register, the development of a disciplinary procedure to reprimand officials that transgressed internal policies and procedures, the compilation of two draft audit reports in respect of Security and Debt Management and the approval of a three-year rolling Audit Plan. 

Ms Kohler-Barnard commented that the ICD’s finances had improved. The management of assets seemed to be under control. She asked for clarity on the large increase in payments for capital assets. She wanted the ICD to expand on retention strategies for the staff, as staff always seemed to be leaving the organisation. She wanted to know who confirmed the “acting” positions in the ICD.

The Chair answered that it was the Minister’s responsibility to find a suitable candidate for the job. As soon as the candidate was found, he/she would be sent to the Committee for confirmation.

Ms Verster stated that capital assets referred to furniture, cars and equipment. The increase in capital assets was in respect of two satellite assets that the ICD procured. The ICD also procured four new vehicles.

Mr Valoyi explained that there was a retention strategy in place. The ICD seemed to lose people at the “lower level”, as they received only salaries and no benefits. The ICD did not lose people at the “higher levels” because they were given incentives. The ICD offered bonuses and bursaries as incentives. The people who left the ICD were those that had degrees. There was a bursary policy in place. When people received a bursary from the ICD, they signed a contract as well. If a person left the ICD then he/she was expected to repay the bursary.

Mr S Ntuli (ANC) asked how the ICD calculated leave benefits.

Ms Verster explained that a person would apply for leave and a provincial head would approve the leave. A leave form would be processed and sent to the national office. Sometimes leave forms were not submitted or electronically processed. Performance reports now included the number of people who took leave. This served as a “double-checking” mechanism, which ensured that leave forms were submitted and received.

Mr Mahote wanted to know what “resettlement expenditure” was.

Ms Verster answered that only public servants were permitted to have this benefit. When a person was appointed to a job at national office and they needed to relocate, the receiving department would pay the resettlement costs. 

Mr Moatshe asked the ICD what was meant by “private telephone expenditure”.

Ms Verster stated that previous telephone bills were high and the ICD took the decision to curb everyone. They therefore created a private expenditure for private calls where each person was given R15 a month for private calls. If a person exceeded the R15 allocation, then the difference would be paid back or deducted from the salary. 

Ms Van Wyk asked if the ICD used Government Printers or outside printers.

Ms Verster said that the ICD used the Government Printers, however Government Printers sometimes outsourced to private printers.

The Chair noted that 6.5% of the funds was shifted to Programme 3: Information Management and Research, specifically for marketing. She wondered if the ICD could use some of this money on the interns that worked at the organisation, as they earned very little.

Ms Van Wyk was concerned that there was too little focus on the 2008/09 budget, which was the budget that the Committee was to approve. Members had no idea what the ICD was going to spend the money on. She told the ICD that in the future, the presentation had to focus on the current budget.

The Chair agreed saying that the ICD would have to return at some point to discuss the budget.

The meeting was adjourned.


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