Domestic Violence Act Report July to December 2007: Independent Complaints Directorate briefing & ICD Oversight Report: adoption

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18 June 2008
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Independent Complaints Directorate made a presentation to the Committee on the mandate of the Independent Complaints Directorate and the factual analysis of cases of non-compliance with the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act by members of the South African Police Service. The Directorate concluded that some progress was being made in implementing the Domestic Violence Act, and that the SAPS were making some effort to train their staff. There were fifty seven cases of non-compliance reported in the last six month period, and eight applications for exemption were granted. Some stations were not completing the registers in full and some did not have registers at all. The ICD audited 279 police stations, and found that only 78 (28%) were fully compliant.

The Independent Complaints Directorate was applauded for giving an honest and thorough report. However, several Members raised concerns that the Directorate was still not adequately equipped to enforce matters, and that it needed to come up with draft legislation to enable its removal from the Police Act and establishment under separate and independent legislation that contained proper powers and sanctions. Members were also concerned that the Police Service showed disrespect to the Directorate and this Committee by consistently failing to comply with the dictates of the Domestic Violence Act, and by assuring the Committee that there was full training whereas the Directorate’s report and the Committee’s own oversight visits indicated great ignorance of the Act. Further specific questions addressed the situation in Mpumulanga, which had reported no domestic violence at all, the need to include the nature of the complaints and actions, the lack of action in Northern Cape despite the extremely high murder rate in families, the need for the Committee to meet with the Minister on the proposed legislation, the lack of access in rural areas, the criteria for the granting of exemptions and the capacity of the Directorate. Members commented that attitudes of the Police Service at national level needed to alter, and that the training must be addressed. Members adopted their two reports on oversight visits to the ICD offices.

Meeting report

Domestic Violence Act (DVA) July to December 2007: Report by Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD)
Mr Patrick Mongwe, Acting Executive Director, Independent Complaints Directorate, presented a report on the mandate of the ICD in respect of incidents of non-compliance with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), statistics relating to non-compliance by the police stations in the various provinces, the awareness campaigns of the ICD, workshops and proactive oversight. He noted that in terms of the South African Police Service Act, the ICD was empowered to investigate all cases of misconduct against the South African Police Service (SAPS), which had certain obligations under the Domestic Violence Act and the National Instructions in relating to investigations into domestic violence. The ICD had to submit a report to Parliament every six months regarding the number and particulars of such matters reported to it, the recommendations that were made and the outcome. The ICD was empowered to exempt non-compliance where there was a valid explanation for it. If it had not given an exemption, then non-compliance would be regarded as misconduct and a disciplinary enquiry would be held.

A summary of the awareness campaigns carried out by the ICD was set out. It was noted that various ICD provincial offices conducted audits at police stations to determine the levels of compliance, including the inspection of the SAP 508(a) and (b) registers, ensuring that copies of the Act were available, that lists of service providers were available and that the Victim Friendly Centre was equipped to deal with matters of domestic violence.

A booklet containing detailed statistics of each case, the police station involved, the recommendations of the ICD and the status of the matter at SAPS level was distributed. Many of the complaints related to the SAPS’s failure to open a criminal docket and refer the matter to prosecution, failure to assist the complainant, failure to advise complainants of their options or failure to confiscate firearms from the alleged abuser.

The ICD concluded that some progress was being made in implementing the Domestic Violence Act, and that the SAPS were making some effort to train their staff. During July to December there were fifty seven cases of non-compliance. Only thirteen applications for exemption were received, of which eight were granted. However, in four cases SAPS had immediately taken steps without applying for exemption. The findings showed that some stations were not completing the registers in full and some did not have registers at all. The ICD audited 279 police stations, and found that only 78 (28%) were fully compliant.

The Chairperson expressed that the report revealed honestly the status of domestic violence and compliance by the SAPS. The Committee did try its best with oversight over the individual police stations. The report clearly specified the challenges and thus it had been easier for the Committee as to where it should be focusing. The ICD should set out uniform standards of monitoring and oversight of individual police stations, and their compliance with the domestic violence legislation and requirements, as this was an issue that could not be ignored. She expressed that the ICD was no longer a “toothless bulldog” and seemed to be proving itself.

Mr Mongwe was grateful that the Committee was pleased with the report. He noted that the ICD was merely to submit reports and recommendations to parliament every six months. In some instances the SAPS had challenged the mandate of the ICD, and many of the undertakings of the ICD were perhaps not supported by the law in the past. However, in 1999 there was a national instruction passed by the National Commissioner of Police for stations to comply with the requirements of the DVA. The instruction contained lists of what the police should do in addition to the obligations of the law.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) expressed that 65% of the police stations had failed to comply with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) requirements, and had acknowledged that since January 2006 there had been no improvement. Though the IDC had increased their visits to 181, the SAPS had continued to ignore the recommendations. The apparent “toothlessness” of the ICD was rooted in the lengthy periods it took to discipline SAPS members and the fact that the SAPS had not bothered to inform the ICD of non-compliance. She stated that the ICD needed legislation to back it up. She asked what the Portfolio Committee and Parliament had done to address the appalling behaviour of such police stations and bring them to account for constantly ignoring legislation.

Mr Mongwe acknowledged that something had to be done to deal with the issue of such a high number of police stations not complying.

Ms D Hlengethwa (ANC) commented on the improvement of the oversight role of the ICD in all provinces. However, Mpumalanga reflected that there was no domestic violence in the province. She queried how that could be so, and asked whether there had been no oversight from the ICD, or whether the province was not complying. Also, the Mpumalanga ICD detectives needed to strengthen their work and conduct themselves as they were trained to do.

Mr Mongwe said that management of the ICD had noted the figures and looked into them. The outcome of the investigation into the figures was that the provincial head concerned was suspended. However the ICD and the programme manager responsible would have and implement a turn around strategy.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) requested that the report must include the nature of the complaints and actions, as those would give an indication of the challenges and the actions that could be taken.

Ms van Wyk was enraged that SAPS had been saying that they had done training and retrained people, whereas the reports reflected something completely different. For example, Gauteng was well equipped and yet only two stations had complied. She also noted that this legislation was passed ten years ago and the SAPS had failed to comply in all that time. She also asked when this Committee would take action against SAPS for breaking the law.

Ms van Wyk noted with concern that Northern Cape had the highest murder rate amongst families and yet the visited stations were not complying with the DVA. They were not training people and continued to lie on the measures that they had taken to ensure compliance to the DVA.

Ms van Wyk also commented on the “toothlessness” of the ICD, saying that the Committee had requested the ICD to suggest legislation so that their capacity could be improved if they were not under the Police Act.

Mr Tommy Tshabalala, General Manager of Investigations, ICD, responded that the ICD could not come up with its own legislation as it did not have sufficient powers to do so.

Ms Van Wyk responded to the comment by stating that there was a report debated with parliament. That had suggested that the ICD should be moved out of the Police Act, and that reports had been adopted, so that the ICD could indeed formulate its own legislation. The Committee could handle the policy of separating the ICD and SAPS. It could initiate the legislation that should advance the capacity of the ICD.  Thus, the ICD should give the Committee a model of the type of legislation it would like.

The Chairperson interjected and said that the Committee should help the ICD, by first having a meeting with the Minister and moving on from there.

Rev K Meshoe (ANC) supported the views of other Committee members. He said that the IDC would continue being a “toothless bulldog” as the SAPS continued to be defiant, and also commented that the Committee had not stopped this.  He noted that ICD listed as a challenge the fact that they were inaccessible to the public, and he asked for clarity.

Mr Mongwe responded that the point he sought to emphasise was that those in rural areas were not able to access the ICD offices. However there would be satellite offices in provinces and a call centre.

The Chairperson reiterated that SAPS were not taking the Committee seriously. The Committee’s mandate and the route they chose to take was clear, and they would force the SAPS to comply.

Ms Hlengethwa asked about the criterion used to grant exemptions, and the statistics on how many were granted and rejected.

Mr Moses Dlamini, Senior Manager: IMS, ICD, responded that exemptions were granted on the nature of non-compliance and the statistics were in the report. The disciplinary process was prolonged, due to the procedures followed.

Rev Moatshe asked how the police stations responded to the compiled findings of the ICD. He noted that normally provinces had one monitor, who could not cover the entire province and this factor might have had an impact on the compliance percentages. He asked how capacitated the ICD in fact was.

Ms J Sosibo commented that she would like to know whether those police stations that complied were in the urban or rural areas. She asked why the disciplinary processes of SAPS members took so long.

The Chairperson said that parliament needed to enforce the legislation as SAPS had continued to ignore it. The committee could assist the ICD if they could come up with the draft legislation; all that was needed was legal support, and that could be provided by parliament. She said that the ICD needed a permanent head for the stability of the body.  The provincial heads that did not comply should account as to why they had not done so, and if they needed capacity then they would be capacitated by parliament. If there was no reason for non compliance, then they should be removed and people that will perform should be put in their place.

Mr Mcandi, an observer from SAPS, asked to speak. He apologised that the Commissioner of Police was unable to attend. He made a brief comment on the report and what the SAPS should take from the report.

The Chairperson said that when SAPS reported to the Committee it would have to answer why the DVA requirements were not being taken seriously and why so many police personnel were unaware of the Act.

Ms Van Wyk expressed that the problem was ingrained in the attitudes at national level, which had a great impact upon the attitudes of the provinces, which in turn affected the attitudes of the police stations. Strides needed to be made at national level to set an example. She added that it was obvious that the training of the SAPS was not working.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Van Wyk and said that there was a serious gap in the training of the police officers. When the Committee had visited the Pretoria training college, it was said that every police officer was trained, and yet the Committee had found that there were still officers who did not know about the DVA. Management should account as to what was causing this ignorance if the training of the officers was indeed being done. She said that if people were not willing to do the jobs then they should leave the service and be replaced that people who would do the job.

Committee reports on oversight visits to ICD Offices

The Committee adopted the two oversight reports, as amended

The meeting was adjourned.


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