Independent Complaints Directorate: Provincial Head briefings

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18 February 2009
Chairperson: Ms M Sotyu
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Meeting Summary

The Independent Complaints Directorate’s (ICD) Provincial Heads made presentations to the Committee on staff vacancies, satellite offices and on compliance with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act by police stations. There was generally non-compliance by police stations with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA). It also came to light that torturing of arrested persons by certain SAPS units was on the increase nationwide. This made the job of the ICD so much more difficult given that funding was being cut. It meant that no satellite offices could be opened and that remuneration packages could not be made more attractive. The Committee agreed to forward a report to the new Parliament on the issues at hand. Perhaps there was a need to look again at the practicalities of implementing the DVA at police station level.


Meeting report

Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD): Provincial office presentations
The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) Provincial Heads made presentations to the Committee on the findings across the provinces. The Chairperson asked that each should initially concentrate on issues like vacancies and satellite offices. Due to time constraints, she then asked that there be a quick breakdown relating to compliance with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) by police stations in the respective provinces. She noted that the Committee would receive a comprehensive report in any event, at a later time.

Independent Complaints Directorate- Eastern Cape
Advocate Sakhele Poswa, Provincial Head, ICD, Eastern Cape, said that vacancies had for the most part been filled within the three-month period as was required. Of the 20 staff in total, at both provincial offices and satellite offices, only four positions remained vacant; three at the provincial office and one at the satellite office. These posts had remained vacant due to exceptional circumstances, but most would most probably be filled by March 2009.

The satellite office was manned by a principal investigator, a senior investigator and a case analyst. The administrative clerk had resigned in February 2009, leaving that post vacant.

Adv Poswa then reported that, in regard to compliance with the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), the ICD had a standing arrangement with the Provincial Commissioner of SAPS. Audits would be done with SAPS officers. Out of the 197 stations in the province, 64 had had audits done. The outcome was that 13 were non compliant, 16 were fairly compliant, 24 were substantially compliant, 9 were fully compliant, and the last 2 could not be audited as the station commanders were not available. He pointed out that SAPS members complained that they were not sufficiently trained on DVA provisions and compliance. Station commanders also did not inspect DVA registers. The bottom line was that SAPS members received insufficient guidance, with the result was that compliance was not good at all.

The Chairperson noted that the ICD needed strengthening as more South African Police Services (SAPS) personnel would be deployed by 2010.

Adv Poswa noted that it was regrettable that until further allocations were received from National Treasury, no further satellite offices would be opened.

Ms A Van Wyk (ANC) asked whether the satellite office had an impact in the area where it was located.

Adv Poswa responded that there was an impact, as the satellite office was busy. This office could do with more investigators.

Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) referred to the presentation documents, and asked why members had not received them beforehand. She also said that there was no standard format and that comparisons between documents could therefore not be made. 

The Chairperson explained this on behalf of the presenters, noting that she had called this meeting at the last minute, and that presenters were only informed about it two days prior to the presentation.
Ms Kohler-Barnard accepted the explanation.

Independent Complaints Directorate- North West
Mr Matthew Sesoko, Provincial Head, ICD North West, stated that the satellite office was established on 1 April 2008, and all personnel were appointed with effect from that date. The only challenge was obtaining office space. The Provincial Commissioner was lending office space to the ICD, but it was expected that between March and May 2009 the ICD would move into its own offices.

Mr Sesoko noted that when the posts were advertised, only 3 remained vacant for a period of one month. All other posts were filled immediately. The vacant posts were those of senior investigator, monitor, and case analyst. The posts had now been filled. During the current financial year, the office had a total of 4 promotions.

In regard to DVA compliance, Mr Sesoko said that audits had been done but that most of the police stations were not compliant. He said that recommendations made in reports were sent to the Provincial Commissioner but matters were simply referred back to the relevant police stations, where nothing was done. When the ICD returned to the relevant police stations it found that nothing had changed. He said that there was no enforcement by SAPS management themselves. Mr Sesoko stated that a team comprising of the ICD, the Department of Justice and SAPS had been set up to look into DVA matters. 

The Chairperson commented favourably upon the format of the presentation.

Ms Van Wyk referred to the promotions and asked what had happened to the posts from which people were promoted.

Mr Sesoko said that those vacancies arising from promotions were filled immediately.

Ms Kohler-Barnard referred to compliance with the Domestic Violence Act (DVA) and asked whether registers were audited at police stations.

Mr Sesoko said that after audits were completed, reports were sent to the Provincial Commissioner and to the station commander of the police station in question. Referring to station audits, Mr Sesoko said that every aspect of domestic violence was looked at, even the training of SAPS members.

Mr S Mahote (ANC) asked for an indication of resources, such as transport, that were available

Mr Sesoko stated that the satellite office had four personnel and often used the resources of the main office, given the heavy workload. A subsidised scheme was in place for the vehicles of staff.

Independent Complaints Directorate- Gauteng
Adv Siphokazi Moleshe, Provincial Head, ICD Gauteng, noted that Gauteng had no vacancies at present. She did point out that Gauteng was a huge province and that even the National Office of SAPS was located in this province. The point was that more investigators were needed. Gauteng itself did not have satellite offices, but it could be useful to establish one at Vereneging. It was most unlikely that a satellite office would be opened this year. Ms Moleshe said that for the last six months there had been many cases that required ICD investigation in the Vaal area. Cases involving SAPS Organised Crime Units were very difficult to investigate. 

Adv Moleshe reported that, in relation to DVA compliance, the Gauteng Province had done audits on 34 police stations. Of these 30% were fully compliant. The rest had not shown major problems but there were some minor issues. Adv Moleshe raised a concern that in the satellite offices in townships there were no facilities to deal with the DVA, so that complainants in such cases would be referred to town offices. She pointed out that the biggest challenge was that there was no co-ordination between SAPS and the Department of Safety and Security on the DVA. Police stations did request that SAPS members be trained by the ICD.

The Chairperson said that she found the location of the ICD’s office in Gauteng to be problematic. This was situated on the 20th floor of a building and was not easy to find.

Ms Van Wyk agreed with the Chairperson, and asked why the office issue had not been addressed. She asked if there were plans to move the office.

Mr Elias Valoyi, Acting Executive Director, ICD, responded that it was difficult to obtain office space within the city centre in Gauteng. Space was only available in Arcadia. He did point out that plans were in progress to move the office. 

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked on what basis inspectors were chosen to do specific tasks or investigations. She referred to cell inspections, and said that it was common that the Committee would find that no soap or toilet paper was available. Ms Kohler-Barnard asked what was being done about this.

The Chairperson agreed that it was a problem that it was common in all provinces.

Adv Moleshe said that cell inspections were carried out. The report outcomes were sent to the Provincial Commissioner and to the relevant station commanders. Follow-ups were done, and it was found that there had been responses to recommendations made by the ICD. She expressed concern over burglar bars that were present in cells, which had been used by inmates to hang themselves.

Mr Valoyi said that cell inspections had to be done.

Independent Complaints Directorate - Western Cape
Mr Thabo Leholo, Provincial Head, ICD Western Cape, said that there were only two vacant posts, of which one would be filled by 1 March 2009. Generally the staff complement was full. However an administrative clerk who had been with the ICD for the past ten years was in the process of leaving. This post was being advertised. Lack of career-pathing, low salary levels at ICD as compared with other government departments, non-implementation and non-funding of evaluated posts as well as a flat structure were some of the reasons given for staff leaving.
Mr Leholo stated that there were plans for the opening of two satellite offices; one in George and one in Malmesbury. Funding was, however, a constraint that hampered the opening of the offices.

In regard to DVA compliance, Mr Leholo reported that compliance varied. Generally most police stations were rated between 60-70%. Some were 80% compliant, but there were also those that were rated below 50%.He said that even though there had not been 100% compliance, there had been a vast improvement, and that more police stations were informed about the DVA register.

Mr C Mabena (ANC) asked why the administrative intern post was considered a vacancy, when the post was a temporary one. He asked what the duration of the post would be.

Mr Leholo said that the administrative intern post was normally for a contract for one year. The truth of the matter was that greater administrative help was needed and an additional intern was even being considered.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked all the presenters and if they had relationships with SAPS Heads of Departments. She asked whether there was co-operation, and what difficulties there might be.

Mr Leholo said that the ICD met with SAPS monthly to discuss the Domestic Violence Act implementation. ICD also had meetings to discuss service delivery complaints.  He noted that the ICD had also had complaints about SAPS Organised Crime Units, regarding the torturing and beating of prisoners.

An ANC member asked how many vehicles the ICD had.

Mr Leholo said that there were four government vehicles and three subsidised vehicles.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked how alleged tortures taking place at police stations were investigated.

The Chairperson stated that she had heard about beatings having been inflicted at Bellville South Police Station. She asked whether this was the incident to which Mr Leholo had alluded previously.

Mr Leholo said that the incident at Bellville South was just one, but there were other incidents that he also referred to. The incident at Bellville South involved the organized crime unit.

Ms Moleshe pointed out that in general there was an increase in allegations of torture by SAPS. It was of great concern, since many of the incidents involved the Organised Crime Units.

The Chairperson agreed that it was indeed a matter for great concern. She added that she was further worried that budgets were being cut when the ICD needed strengthening.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked whether these incidents were really happening all over South Africa.

Mr Sesoko affirmed that this was correct.

Ms Van Wyk said that it seemed that organized crime units or specialised units were the main perpetrators.

Adv Poswa stated that he was currently investigating a unit in Port St John, which had 30 complaints lodged against it.

The Chairperson confirmed that this seemed to be a nationwide problem.

Mr Valoyi stated that most unit members wore balaclavas, during night raids and hence it was difficult to identify perpetrators.

Mr M Khaoue (ANC) said that there was also a practice where SAPS forced some detainees to torture other detainees.

Mr Valoyi said that ICD budgets had been cut, and that this had brought to a halt the rollout of satellite offices.

The Chairperson again reiterated that this was of concern.

Independent Complaints Directorate - Northern Cape
Mr Mmakwena Morema, Provincial Head, ICD Northern Cape, stated that there was one vacancy at the ICD but that it would be filled by 1 March 2009.He noted that a satellite office had been established in May 2008 in Upington. The current staff complement was four permanent members. There were currently two vehicles allocated to the satellite office. One was a subsidised vehicle and the other was a government vehicle. There was a problem in that there were only two investigators. The satellite office also needed an administrative clerk. Even the head office had a shortage of administrative officers. Mr Morema stated that in 2008 the Northern Cape ICD had 129 cases, of which 117 were finalised. Due to staff constraints not all complaints of SAPS members could be investigated. Hence there was a need to prioritise cases. He also said that staff left the ICD for better opportunities in other departments.

In regard to DVA compliance, he reported that a total of 62 DVA audits had been done. The level of compliance was very low. The incorrect filling out of registers, failure to record incidents and the failure to file protection orders were some of the reasons for non-compliance. At some police stations DVA registers were not even available.

The Chairperson agreed that the levels of remuneration were a problem. The packages on offer were not good enough to attract people.

Ms Kohler-Barnard was stunned by the fact that out of 62 Domestic Violence Act audits, only two had shown compliance.

Mr Morema said that of the 91 police stations in the Northern Cape, 62 Domestic Violence Act audits had been done. Reports on the outcomes of the audits had been sent to the relevant station commanders.

Independent Complaints Directorate - Free State
Mr Israel Kgamanyane, Provincial Head, ICD Free State, stated that his office had no vacancies. He noted that in the period under review ten persons had left but that these posts had been filled. Most of the posts had been filled by promotions and transfers.

Mr Kgamanyane said that the satellite office in Bethlehem  had four staff members and they were at present temporarily accommodated by SAPS. This satellite office had been established in 2008 and operations had commenced in May 2008. The ICD was still trying to obtain office space for the satellite office. He however noted that a satellite office was needed in Kroonstad to cover the Northern Free State. Only one investigator was tasked at present with dealing with Northern Free State matters.

Mr Kgamanyane mentioned that on Wednesday 11 February 2009 it was alleged that crime intelligence detectives and a station commander tortured an inmate. The ICD was awaiting a report on the matter.

He stated that there was one government vehicle, one subsidised vehicle and two 4x2 bakkies allocated to the satellite office. Due to staff shortages at head office the administrative clerk from the satellite office was often called upon to assist.

Mr Kgamanyane reported on the DVA compliance. He said that audits had been done and the results had been communicated to the relevant station commanders. In the 2008/2009 financial year an audit of 68 out of 109 police stations had been done. The audits were directed to those stations that had rated poorly during the previous financial year. An audit on the remaining stations would still be done. He pointed out that, disappointingly, compliance was still very low as little had been done to rectify past mistakes.
One of the issues that needed addressing was the training of SAPS members on the DVA.

The Chairperson reiterated the importance of investigating incidents of torture by SAPS members and was disappointed by the cutting of budgets of the ICD.  

Independent Complaints Directorate - Kwazulu- Natal
Mr S Nene, Provincial Head, ICD Kwazulu Natal, stated that under the Complaints, Registry and Monitoring Programme, two posts had been filled during the current financial year. Hence there were no vacant posts in the programme. In the Investigations Programme, two posts had been filled during the current financial year. A Principal Investigator post was currently being filled. In the Corporate Management Programme there was a vacant Assistant Manager post that was being advertised.

The KwaZulu Natal satellite office was to be situated at Empangeni and it would have four staff members. Mr Nene said that more investigators were needed at the satellite office. The process of finalising office space was in progress, and occupancy was to take place on 2 March 2009.

With regard to DVA compliance, Mr Nene said that 57 police stations had been audited. There was some compliance, in that some stations were rated between 97% and 100%. Others had poor ratings and some never even had registers. He noted that KwaZulu Natal Province had an award system for stations showing exceptional compliance to the DVA. Mr Nene said that 39 stations were awarded a 1st class certificate, with a trophy, and the rest received certificates.

The Chairperson said that the funding of set-up of satellite offices seemed to be the main issue.

The Chairperson was impressed by the initiative to encourage compliance with the DVA.

Ms Kohler-Barnard asked how the DVA ratings were done on visits to police stations.

Mr Nene said that these were done by persons doing the visits, based on recommendations done by those persons.

Mr Valoyi explained that there was a standard format used to rate compliance.

Ms Van Wyk referred to alleged incidents where case dockets were thrown away in order to create the impression that crime was decreasing in the North West, and asked what was the progress on this investigation.

Mr Valoyi said that a report on the issue was still awaited.

Independent Complaints Directorate - Limpopo
Mr Innocent Khuba, Provincial Head, ICD Limpopo, noted that the Limpopo Province ICD head office had no vacancies at present. All previous vacancies had been filled. He reported that a satellite office had been established at Sibasa. It had a staff complement of four. This office conducted station audits, investigation and community outreach.

Accommodation was a major challenge and the satellite office was in the process of getting new offices. The satellite office had one government vehicle and one subsidised vehicle, which had unfortunately been stolen.

In regard to DVA compliance, he reported that 44 out of 93 police stations were audited. The results showed that 7 were non compliant, 18 were fairly compliant, 11 were substantially compliant and only 8 were fully compliant. Mr Khuba said that the biggest challenge was that police stations did not prioritise domestic violence as an issue. Other cases took precedence over these domestic violence matters. He noted that even though the DVA register was signed by station commanders it was riddled with mistakes. Reports had been sent to the Provincial Commissioner, who had in turn requested that the ICD train police stations. The biggest constraint to fulfilling the request was the lack of resources of the ICD.

Mr Khuba said that the ICD had its challenges but had a good working relationship with the Provincial Commissioner.

The Chairperson stated that it seemed that the challenges facing the ICD in the provinces were similar. She felt that the situation was unacceptable.

Independent Complaints Directorate - Mpumalanga
Mr Mackenzie Tsimane, Provincial Head, ICD Mpumulanga, said that the head office had three vacancies. It was hoped to have these filled by 1 April 2009. There were no satellite offices.

He reported, in relation to DVA compliance, that there were serious issues relating to the non availability of the Provincial Commissioner. He had written a letter requesting a meeting with the Provincial Commissioner but had not received any feedback. He conceded that compliance was dismal, even though the ICD was trying its best.

The Chairperson asked what was being done to ensure the filling of the vacant posts. She had particular concerns around the police station at Badplaas.

Mr Valoyi said that interviews had probably been done already.

The Chairperson said that it would seem that the provincial offices of the ICD all shared the same problems and challenges.

Ms Van Wyk said that the Committee needed to inform the new Parliament on these issues and perhaps should also make recommendations. She said that perhaps the DVA needed to be looked at again, as it might contain impracticalities that only came to the fore once the Act was being implemented. She also said that this Act had not been examined by the Portfolio Committee on Safety and Security.

The Chairperson agreed that a Committee Report should be drafted for the benefit of the new Parliament, containing these issues.

The meeting was adjourned.

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