ATC110816: Report on Oversight Visit from 25-28 January 2011
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police, dated 16 August 2011, on its oversight visit from 25-28 January 2011 to the following Police Stations:
· Bishop Lavis Training Academy
· Stellenbosch Police Station,
· Cloetesville Police Station,
· Robertson Police Station
· Atlantis Police Station
The Portfolio Committee on Police having conducted an oversight visit to the Bishop Lavis Training Academy, Stellenbosch Police Station, Cloetesville Police Station, Robertson Police Station and Atlantis Police Station from 25-28 January 2011, reports as follows:
1. STRUCTURE OF THE REPORT
This Report is divided into four sections. Section One outlines the structure of the Report.
Section Two - Introduction - outlines the objectives of the visits, the facilities visited, and the members of the delegation, and explains the methodology used during the visits.
Section Three – Key Observations, Specific Recommendations and Additional Information Requested - records in some detail the observations of the Members of the Portfolio Committee on Police with respect to the Academy and each of the police stations. The observations in this section are organised according to facility visited - i.e. the Academy and each of the police stations - to provide a detailed overview of the issues, problems and successes noted by the Members at the Academy and each of the stations. In addition, under each facility, there is a section on Additional Information Requested. This records requests for additional information that were made by the Chairperson of the Committee during the visit. Timeframes were given for receipt of this information and it is recorded in the Report as to whether this information was received or not, within the stipulated time period. Lastly, under each facility, there is a sub-section on Specific Concerns and Recommendations which identifies a number of specific concerns and recommendations that have been made by the Committee with respect to the individual facility concerned, that is, the Academy or the particular police station.
Section Four - General Concerns and Recommendations - highlights more general concerns of the Committee emanating from the oversight visit as a whole and includes a number of general recommendations to the Department of Police arising from these concerns. It should be noted that these recommendations are directed to the National Department of Police, and will be taken up by the Committee in its interaction with the Department during the budget and other oversight processes of Parliament. The Department will be expected to respond to these concerns and recommendations during these processes.
The Portfolio Committee on Police undertook an oversight visit to the Bishop Lavis Training Academy and four police stations in the Western Cape in the period 25-28 January 2011.
Objectives of the visit
The objectives of the oversight visit to the Bishop Lavis Training Academy and the Stellenbosch, Cloetesville, Robertson, and Atlantis police stations were to:
- see how, in practice, the new basic training curriculum, differs from the ‘old’ curriculum;
- assess the readiness of the Academy to implement the revised curriculum;
- determine challenges faced at the Academy following media reports (Sunday Times 9 January 2011);
- monitor delivery of basic training offered to the South African Police Service (SAPS) members;
- assess service delivery at station level;
- assess the implementation, at station level, of the budget approved by Parliament;
- assess implementation, at station level, of the policy and legislation passed by Parliament; and
- assess whether or not stations are abiding by the performance plan and code of conduct of the SAPS.
The delegation consisted of:
Ms LS Chikunga (ANC)- Chairperson and leader of the delegation
Ms MC Dube (ANC)
Mr G Lekgetho (ANC)
Ms PA Mocumi (ANC)
Ms MA Molebatsi (ANC)
Mr GD Schneemann (ANC)
Ms A Van Wyk (ANC)
Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA)
Mr M George (Cope)
Mr T Madima (Committee Secretary)
Ms S Goba (Committee Assistant)
Ms N Dollie (Senior Researcher)
The delegation was accompanied by the Parliamentary Liaison Officer to the Secretariat, Mr S Mahote (26-28 January 2011), a representative from the Provincial Commissioner’s office and the respective Cluster Commanders. Mr G Nodada and Ms C Kalil from the University of Cape Town accompanied the delegation on 25 January 2011. The delegation met with the management team of the Academy and the station management team at each of the stations.
Announced and Unannounced visits
The Portfolio Committee on Police undertakes oversight visits to police stations and other SAPS facilities each year as part of its routine oversight function. The visits may be announced or unannounced. A decision was made to make an unannounced visit to the Bishop LavisTraining Academy during this oversight trip, as well as to the Cloetesville police station. The remainder of the police stations were announced visits.
It should be noted that, on arrival at the Bishop Lavis Training Academy, it was immediately apparent that the Academy was aware of the visit and prepared to receive the delegation.
In its visit to police stations, the Committee utilises the Station Monitoring Tool (SMT) to assist in ensuring comprehensive gathering and interrogation of information. The SMT is designed to ensure that Members cover a wide range of issues during the visit - ranging from information on management of the stations, capacity of detectives, human and physical resources, and implementation of prioritised legislation, including the Domestic Violence Act No. 116 of 1998, the Firearms Control Act, No. 60 of 2000 and the Child Justice Act, No. 75 of 2008. The Committee also meets with interest groups, including members of the Community Police Forum (CPF) and the unions. The Committee is divided into groups during the visit and each group is responsible for gathering information on specific areas. The Committee thereafter meets together with the management of the station to discuss these observations and findings in detail.
While there is at present no monitoring tool for other facilities, the Committee has developed a practice similar to the above with regard to its visits to training facilities. The Committee is divided into two groups – one dealing with the training curriculum and the other with the infrastructure of the facility - which independently gather information and then meet together with the management of the training facility to discuss observations and findings.
3. KEY OBSERVATIONS, SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
3.1. SAPS ACADEMY- BISHOP LAVIS (25 JANUARY 2011)
3.1.1. KEY OBSERVATIONS
The Head of the Academy welcomed the delegation, noting the transformation that had taken place in the Academy since 2005. A mini-presentation was conducted, during which statistics and other information were made public (source document is available). The Academy has 111 staff members of which 29 are trainers and three are group leaders. It currently has 454 trainees.
The following observations were made with regard to the training curriculum and human resources at the Academy:
Revised Training Curriculum: The Head of Training presented the system and mechanism through which the new police service curriculum is being implemented nationally. The delegation received a pack of all the learning support material utilised by the Academy. The training manager noted that the Committee was visiting the Academy during orientation and that the final registration had just been completed.
The duration of the revised training curriculum is ten months, after which recruits undergo 12 months of field training at police stations. They then return to the Academy for an assessment period of four months.
It was explained that the revised training curriculum is not brand new; instead there are a number of additions that have been made to the existing unit standards. Key changes that have been made include:
- The addition of learning areas dealing with ‘patriotism’ together with professional conduct and good citizenry.
- Clearer linkages are made between the theoretical and practical aspects of the training and the different disciplines within the training programme are clearly related to each other. This integration is followed through to the assessment stage.
- More use is made of scenarios and other practical exercises/methodologies to ensure that new recruits actually learn how to do ‘police work’ at the training college.
There are three cycles in the training programme. The first cycle consists of Orientation to the SAPS and Law- and assessment both internally and nationally will occur regularly. The second cycle between May and August is mostly practical and deals with criminal investigations, community service centre and crime prevention and is largely based on experiential learning. The third cycle deals with ‘street survival techniques’ and is a culmination of all the work done during that year where the theory/law is applied in group work.
While these changes look commendable on paper, especially the inclusion of criminal investigations, the Members raised the concern that there still does not seem to be a clear enough link between the training received at the Academy and the field training that they will receive at police stations. However, the fact that they will return to the Academy after their 12-month field training may assist in addressing this concern.
Discipline: Members were concerned around the issue of discipline at the Academy and the problem of absenteeism. It seems as if it is an onerous task to discipline for absenteeism and there is a general trend to transfer rather than dismiss such persons. The training manager mentioned that the SAPS academies have no control over the issue of discipline. In terms of poor performance of staff, it was noted that although disciplinary measures are meant to correct behaviour, additional corrective measures need to be provided as well.
Members raised the concern that neither the grievance nor the disciplinary register tracked progress with finalisation of cases. Management noted with concern the impact of the Bargaining Council agreement that allows trainees to join the unions while undergoing training. Trainers thus represent trainees in disciplinary hearings which may lead to a conflict of interest in terms of programme delivery. The training manager also noted that when trainers work for too long in the same area they grow complacent. The Academy is committed to ensuring that they have high quality trainers who can set a good example to the trainees. They have now implemented a review process where every three years the suitability of the trainer is assessed.
Assessment: Members applauded the 50% standard required to pass the training courses as a positive step in ensuring quality recruits. Trainees that fail this requirement have only one more chance to rewrite. Formative evaluation marks (test marks) influence the summative evaluation marks. Members were not happy about the lack of security measures in place to ensure the integrity of monthly tests and summative evaluations.
Vision and Mission: The Vision and Mission for the Academy is mounted on the notice board as a way of reminder. Members applauded the fact that the Academy has its own Vision and Mission in support of the Vision and Mission of the national office. This is important as it ensures that the Academy can be held accountable for realisation of what it achieves in terms of this Vision and Mission.
Screening of Trainees: The Committee felt that there is a need to regularly screen police trainees, or at least to have in place a second screening prior to the completion of training, to ensure that only non-criminal elements are admitted to the SAPS.
Management of the Academy: Members were impressed with the passion and dedication apparent particularly with regard to the Head of Training and the other staff members that addressed them. Measures used to facilitate effective management of the Academy include strategic meetings, annual planning, ensuring availability of minutes for strategic planning meetings and effective planning and allocation of resources.
Register and Records: The Committee noted that the following records and registers were utilised:
· Attendance register file
· Tests and memoranda
· Sample learning support material
· Control register
It was recommended by Members that the course content of each lesson is appended at the back of each attendance register, as is done at thePhilippi Training College.
The following observations were made in terms of the physical infrastructure of the Academy:
The Barracks: The Members inspected both the female and male trainee dormitories. The female trainees are accommodated in large dormitories which each house 36 trainees. The male trainees are housed in double rooms which each accommodate two trainees. Female trainees voiced concern about the lack of privacy in their dormitories in comparison to the accommodation provided to the male trainees. They felt that this would negatively affect their ability to study effectively. This lack of privacy is compounded by the fact that many of the blinds in the female dormitories were not working though they had apparently been refurbished during the previous intake. Members noted that the mattresses provided to the trainees looked old and needed to be replaced . It was stated that 600 new mattresses had been requested but that only 60 new mattresses had been approved. The rooms were all relatively neat and clean but, as apparent throughout the Academy this cleanliness was not thorough with patches of dirt and dust visible on sills and lintels.
Ablution facilities: The ablution facilities for the trainees were in a relatively poor state of repair. Many of the toilets were not in working order and the baths were badly stained. Tiles were missing from the walls and shower heads were missing. In one case the single sink available for washing the clothes for 72 male trainees was blocked and the washing basin filled with dirty water. Members raised the concern that none of the broken toilets had been reported and recorded in the maintenance register. Many of the toilets were without locks apparently due to theft. This points to a problem with discipline. It was unclear why these basic maintenance issues were not identified and addressed before the beginning of a new year and new intake of trainees.
Inspections: Members noted with concern that inspections had not been conducted the morning of the visit even though the rule is that all rooms should be inspected each morning by the trainers. A key concern in this regard is that this was only the second day of training for the new recruits and that the lapse of inspection so soon into their training experience would send a negative message to the recruits that rules may be broken, even by those in authority. It was felt that the staff of the Academy is setting a poor example to the new trainees.
‘Semi-official’ institutions: The facility has a tuck-shop offering refreshments and basic goods for sale to trainees and staff. The tuck-shop is run as a ‘semi-official’ institution. Members were not comfortable with the explanation provided to them of a ‘semi-official’ institution; however it seems to mean that the tuck-shop can generate funds which are kept in a separate account. These funds are used primarily to replenish the stock of the tuck-shop but permission may also be granted for these funds to be used to buy other things for the institution such as a sound system, or even for general maintenance requirements. Members raised concerns around the nature of this ‘semi-official’ institution which seems to lend itself to the possibility of abuse and corruption. Apparently, the account and management of this ‘semi-official’ institution is run by a Committee of four staff members who are then responsible for keeping the books and for making decisions around whether the profits can be used for other purchases.
The Mess is also run as a ‘semi-official’ institution. All staff in the kitchen are SAPS personnel and are thus paid directly by SAPS. The Academy receives R60 per trainee per day from the SAPS for the meals for trainees. This R60 is put into a separate account (different to the account for the tuck-shop) and the same Committee is responsible for managing this account. In addition, staff pay R15 to purchase a meal from the Mess. All stock for the Mess is acquired from these funds. Staff members can apply to the Committee to use the money in this fund for things other than food. While the Mess decides what to order the Committee does the actual payments.
Members on scrutiny of the books of the Mess saw that in December 2010 the Mess had an amount of over R1.5 million in this account- as a float. In addition, scrutiny of the books for October 2010 revealed a number of purchases for items other than food. This raises a number of serious concerns including:
- Why the Mess is run as a semi-official institution in the first place?
- Whether a Committee of four staff members within the facilities should be responsible for managing this amount of money?
- Why the account shows such a large ‘float’ as surely this money should have been spent on food for the recruits as the bulk of it was provided by the SAPS?
- Whether the trainees are provided with nourishing and full meals in order to ensure that they are able to learn and train effectively, or whether quality and quantity of food is being compromised in order to build up a surplus profit?
- Whether it is correct or ethical that the profits from funds that are provided for food should be spent in other areas, such as maintenance?
Members were told that the books of both these ‘semi-official’ institutions have not to date been externally audited but that there are plans to do so. A member of the institution is responsible for inspecting the books but he is not a qualified accountant or auditor. Head Office does an audit and monthly statements are sent to Head Office. A key concern of Members is around the potential for corruption and mismanagement of these funds.
Gym: The gym is provided as a facility for staff. Trainees can only access the gym facility if accompanied by a trainer. Despite requesting the records of attendance to the gym facility- which looks unused and brand new even though it has been in existence since the College reopened- these were not provided. Members did not receive a response as to whether the use of the gym facilities is included in the new curriculum for trainees in line with the focus of the police on physically fit recruits and personnel, though it seems clear that this is not the case.
Stores: Members visited the stores where basic equipment including bullet proof vests and plates, batons, torches and firearm safes were being requisitioned to the trainees. The requisition process was being completed at a number of mobile containers to which the supplies had been moved from another store. The doors of the container bins were all open and there seemed little control to the process which meant that anyone could have got into a container and removed an item without the knowledge of the requisitioning officer. In addition, while items that had been requisitioned to trainees were ticked off on a list, it was only the serial number for the bullet proof vests that was recorded alongside the trainee’s name. This is despite the fact that both the batons and the safes have serial numbers that could have been recorded against the name of the trainee too, thus increasing control over these assets.
While the Commander assured the Members that she was confident that she knew where all the stock is at any time, Members were not convinced that this was indeed the case, especially as stock was moved from the store to the open containers.
The linen store was well kept and neat. The person in charge was aware of what stock was in the store. The cleaning store was full to capacity with cleaning products despite the fact that the new intake had already been requisitioned with that months supply. Apparently this was due to the fact that there was a delay in receipt of the cleaning items in 2010 which meant that these had only arrived late in that year. Many of the bottles containing cleaning fluids had leaked on the floor (apparently because of the heat). Members were concerned that this posed a fire hazard due to the flammable nature of these products. This problem was compounded by the fact that the nearest firearm extinguisher was further down the passage and behind a locked door to which the cleaning company- Democratic Cleaners- does not have access. Items requisitioned from the store were ticked off in the register but not signed for.
The armoury was very neat and orderly. The person in charge of the armoury was correctly concerned about having the Members in his armoury and Members thus had a quick look around before addressing their questions in the next door office. The armoury is checked once a week and this was reflected in the records.
Vehicles: The log books and licences were up to date. One of the vehicles was not properly cleaned inside. No cars are taken home at night for use by staff.
Interaction with the Unions: The Members met with members of both Police and Prisons Civil Right Union (POPCRU) and the South African Policing Union (SAPU). Key concerns expressed by the unions included:
- Nepotism at the Academy: Union members cited a number of instances where they suspected that family members of persons working at the Academy had been hired.
- Victimisation: Union members stated that some of them had been targeted by management and victimised/ intimidated sometimes in the form of the laying of unsubstantiated grievance procedures against them. They felt that after the Members had left the institution that they would be victimised for talking to the Members.
- Labour practice: The unions raised the issue that there are no union representatives allowed during the selection process for staff at the College even though this is common labour practice.
- Kiosk/tuck-shop: Unions raised problems with the lack of scrutiny over the financial statements of the kiosk.
- Ill discipline of some members: A union member noted that some staff members are undisciplined and are absent from work for long periods but are never charged by management. They thus accuse the management of the institution of being ‘weak’ in addressing ill discipline of members, and of ‘protecting’ some staff members.
- Lack of communication between union members and management: Union members stated that challenges and issues are not communicated properly and discussed with staff. This has resulted in demotivated staff members who have lost their trust and faith in the management of the Academy.
- Disparity in provision of food in the Mess: A union member stated that trainees – who require wholesome and full meals in order to fulfil their physical training requirements effectively- are given only bread and tea in the mornings while certain staff members have eggs and cereal. The Member questioned why, if money was provided for the dietary requirements of the trainees, they were not given a proper breakfast.
3.1.2. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
The following written reports are required from the management of the Bishop Lavis Training Academy by Friday 4 February 2011:
· A report on each of the instances/accusations outlined in the newspaper article (Sunday Times dated 9 January 2011).
· Accusations of nepotism have been made. A report commenting on the following instances (names provided) where family members are working at the facility should be submitted to the Committee.
· An explanation for why unions are not granted observer status in selection processes.
· A full report on the two ‘semi-official institutions’ and on the accounts for the tuck-shop and the Mess, including the R1.5 million that is in the Mess account.
· A full report on the meals provided to trainees in response to the allegation that trainees were going hungry, and that the money allocated for trainees’ meals by the Department is not being spent on trainee meals.
· An explanation on how the problems between management and staff arose, and the steps that will be taken to address/rectify this problem.
A feedback report on the accusations as outlined in the newspaper article mentioned above and dated 3 February 2011 has been received. This feedback report covers some of the additional information requested by the Committee.
The following information is contained in the feedback report:
· In terms of the allegations contained in the newspaper article:
o The allegation regarding the use of state vehicle to transport a pet to the vet was true but was felt justified by the fact that the pet was seriously ill and taken to the Animal Anti-Cruelty League for urgent medical attention and treatment.
o The allegation of assault on recruits by senior officers has been formally investigated and is awaiting final consideration in terms of the disciplinary procedures.
o A formal investigation into the pornography found on the Commander’s computer has been formally investigated and is awaiting final consideration in terms of the disciplinary procedures.
o The allegations of corruption and nepotism are still under investigation. The outcome will be reported to the Committee.
o No special trips were made to deliver chronic medication to senior officers but medication was delivered on request, in instances where official duties were been performed in the surrounding areas.
o The Mess is a separate legal entity which may provide tea and coffee to management. All members of the Academy may order meals at the Mess at their own cost.
· In terms of the ‘semi-official’ institutions, it is stated that a semi-official institution is a ‘separate legal entity/legal person from the State, bearing its own rights, duties and obligations, provided it complies with the legal requirements to so constitute a “legal person”’. Relevant provisions of the SAPS Act, No. 68 of 1995 provide for this, including section 62(3) which defines a ‘club’ and section 11 (which relates to the power of the National Commissioner to establish institutions of any nature which may assist in the general management, control and maintenance of the SAPS).
The Committee established to manage the institutions is subject to the relevant Standing Orders (70-77), Divisional Instructions and the approved constitution of the institution. These constitutions are standardised within the Division: Human Resource Development.
It is stated in the response that it is preferred that an Institution has a surplus fund, equalling three months running costs. With a running cost of R640 000 per month, the surplus of R1.8 million is therefore seen to be acceptable. The Institution must be in a position to repair and replace costly equipment, and maintain and replace registers, stock and usable items. Institutions may increase profit by negotiating discounts with suppliers and by sourcing discounted items and prices. Memberships and other fees must be fixed at a level to ensure sufficient profit to cover all costs.
The response states that the Academy may use the surplus funds in line with the various Orders and the Constitution of the semi-official institutions. The response further states that the institutions ‘may also utilise its surplus funds to upgrade facilities’.
To ensure control, monthly and annual financial statements are submitted to Division: Human Resource Development for evaluation and assessment. Registers are inspected on a monthly basis in accordance with Standing Order (financial) 74. In terms of Standing Order (financial) 72.13.2, only the books and accounts of a shop must be audited by an auditor or qualified accountant.
No report has to date been received on the remaining information requested including:
· An explanation for why unions are not granted observer status in selection processes.
· A full report on the meals provided to trainees in response to the allegation that trainees were going hungry, and that the money allocated for trainees meals by the Department is not being spent on trainee meals.
· An explanation on how the problems between management and staff arose, and the steps that will be taken to address/rectify this problem.
3.1.3. SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are the key concerns of the Committee:
- The inability of the Academy to deal effectively with absenteeism and disciplinary problems.
- Members have serious concerns around the ‘semi-official’ institutions of the tuck-shop and the Mess, especially in the light of the lack of external auditing of these accounts. Members believe that these ‘semi-official’ institutions may lend themselves to corruption and mismanagement if not effectively controlled.
- Members noted that the problems in the institution had been aired to the media rather than following alternative appropriate channels. This raises questions as to the motivation of those that have raised these serious allegations.
- Members also questioned the fact that trainees may be represented by unionised trainers and wanted to know if this had an impact on relations between staff.
The following are the key recommendations of the Committee:
- Additional measures should be considered to improve the integrity of the assessment process including the use of external invigilators.
- More intensive or additional screening processes should be put in place to ensure that new recruits and functioning police members are not involved in crime.
- The decision to base all the female trainees in dormitories rather than double rooms should be reconsidered.
- Maintenance problems in the institution should be reported timeously (after each daily inspection), correctly recorded and addressed as soon as possible.
- Maintenance needs should be assessed and addressed particularly in times when the trainees are not at the facility.
- Inspections and other controls need to be strictly enforced and tightened up. This points to a problem of ill-discipline amongst staff which sets an extremely bad example for the new trainees.
- Ill-discipline of trainers and antagonism between management and other staff is visible in the body language and communication between the two groups. Members note with serious concern the breakdown in relations between management and staff at the college. This can only have a negative effect on the trainees and needs to be resolved as a matter of urgency. Interventions are required by the National Office to ensure the resolution of the breakdown in the relationship between management and staff at the Academy.
3.2. STELLENBOSCH POLICE STATION (26 JANUARY 2011)
According to the Station Commander the following are the key challenges faced by the station:
- Stellenbosch is a ‘Brigadier station’ but it was noted that it does not have adequate personnel to fulfil the needs of a ‘Brigadier station’. For example, the manager of the Community Service Centre (CSC) is meant to be of the rank of Lt Colonel for all shifts but in their case they have only one CSC manager that is of that rank- the remainder are all Captains.
- The satellite police station is draining the resources of the Stellenbosch police station.
- Broad areas of commercial farming are a challenge to police.
- High levels of property crime are linked to the very large student population of approximately 24 000 students in Stellenbosch and the surrounding area.
3.2.1. KEY OBSERVATIONS
Efficiency Rate Grading (2009/10): 87 %
Management: It was noted that the Station Commander is managing a large and complex areas and is informed about the issues regarding the station. However, high absenteeism and poor attitude of a few of the members may require an even firmer management approach. While regular management meetings are held- every Monday morning- it seems as if these are not achieving their purpose as problems such as those apparent in the management of the Section 13 stores have not been identified or addressed.
Community Service Centre: A comprehensive notice board detailing crimes in the area, a map of the area and information of interest to the community was commended by the Members. Problems were noted with the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and Regulations including information missing from the files. The Register was not properly completed. The Child Justice Act file also needs to be corrected to ensure that it contains all the required information. The Victim Support Centre was commended.
Firearm Safes: Insufficient control measures are in place to ensure that theft does not occur from the walk-in safe. An official should be present at all times (even when it is Members of Parliament that are visiting). Members were left alone in the walk-in safe with the firearms and ammunition. Of concern to Members was the fact that the officials were unclear as to exactly how many firearms they had in the walk-in safe. Two firearms were recorded as booked out the previous day. These were not booked back in, yet, the following morning, they were again booked out. Two other firearms could not be accounted for by the end of the visit of the Committee.
Discipline: Extensive absenteeism at management meetings is noted with concern. The Members did note that it would be preferable for executive management meetings to be held before general staff meetings. The station had 147 disciplinary cases in 2010/11 as well as two fraud/corruption cases. There are high levels of absenteeism at the station and many of these disciplinary cases were linked to absenteeism. Staff are exhausting their sick leave benefits and then receiving leave without pay. Despite action taken in this regard more needs to be done to address this situation.
Community Police Forum: There is a good relationship between the CPF and the station. The recently elected CPF received no orientation on appointment. Many CPF members required training, but would prefer a shorter training programme than the five day programme that is available as they are all working. Station management stated that they would request the Department of Community Safety to develop a short module for the CPF executive. It was noted that there is a lack of coordination of community structures in the area i.e. the CPF, the Neighbourhood Watches and the Street Committees. Neither the SAPS nor the CPF members were clear about the funding of the CPF; however, there seems to be problems with accounting for the R3000 that was given to the previous CPF. They are thus unsure as to whether they will receive more funding for the 2011 financial year and how much this would be.
Unions: There is a good relationship between the management and the unions. However, there was a complaint from the unions that members with long service are routinely passed over in terms of promotions. The management noted that the province and not the station is responsible for promotions.
Satellite Station: The Kayamandi area has a satellite station which is insufficient for the needs of that area and is draining the resources of the Stellenbosch police station. The station was told in 2010 that Kayamandi would be transformed into a fully fledged police station, but this has not occurred. The accommodation at the Kayamandi satellite station is inadequate and yet has not been prioritised for building or renovation. Additional municipal space would be desirable, in the current municipal space that they are occupying.
Detectives: The Detective component is located in separate offices a distance of approximately 2km from the station. There are a total of 45 detectives serving the station. The Branch Commander stated that they require an additional 20 detectives, mainly because the detectives need to serve the Crime Office (located next to the Community Service Centre) at the station as well. Of these 45 detectives about 15 have over 20 years experience in the detective branch. However they also have a large group of young detectives including 10 newly appointed detectives that were appointed in September 2010. All detectives have completed the Introductory Course to Investigation and 29 of the 45 have completed the Full Detective Training Course. It will thus take at least three more years for all the 45 detectives at the station to be fully trained- as there are only four intakes per year. It was noted that there is a marked difference in capacity of detectives that have received the full training and those that have not yet done so. However, it was also noted that often this full training is only available to detectives after at least three years of service, which means that they have already learnt bad habits which become more difficult to unlearn after this time. It would thus be preferable for them to receive this training much earlier in their career as detectives.
There are a number of important infrastructure problems in the building in which the detectives are housed. Most important of these is poor security- the building is very old, and does not have adequate burglar proofing or access control. Four detectives share an office which means that there are insufficient interview or meeting rooms. The nearest facility for secure identification of suspects by witnesses is in Bellville South. There are insufficient lock-up filing cabinets for safe storage of dockets. Essentially, the building and facilities for safe keeping of dockets are not sufficiently secure, though in the past three years only one docket has been ‘lost’. This docket apparently disappeared off a desk of a detective. The case was investigated but the detective was not charged. The explanation given was that because four people share the office it was not possible to lay blame on one person. The Members were not satisfied with this explanation.
At the time of the visit there were 740 cases under investigation and 1 372 cases in court. In addition, there were a total of 738 reopened dockets. Each detective carries approximately 38 dockets excluding the reopened dockets, but if one includes these dockets the case load increases to approximately 70 cases. Detectives dealing with the property related cases hold on average fewer dockets than those dealing with violent and other crimes as these cases are finalised much sooner and thus the case closed more quickly. The highest case load currently carried by a detective is 121 cases. The oldest docket that is still open is for a 1996 murder case.
The detection rate in the areas of murder, property crime and assault GBH are relatively low and the conviction rates even lower. The following table illustrates the detection and conviction rates for these three categories for 2010/11.
19.80% (national average = 26.57% for 2009/10)
12.5% (national average = 16.97% for 2009/10)
22.5% (national average = 74.52% for 2009/10)
2.82% (national average = 13.55% for 2009/10)
3.64% (national average = 24.50% for 2009/10)
52.2% (national average = 26.14% for 2009/10)
Number of dockets older than 1 year
The Detectives require four additional vehicles. Thus even though they have two detectives per vehicle, because they have to work in the Crime Office as well, more vehicles are required. Most detectives do not have filing cabinets and the filing cabinets that the detectives do have do not lock. In addition there are only five computers serving all 45 personnel. Three of these are in the administrative offices and only two are for detectives. They have one fax machine and one photocopier. The e-docket system has not been implemented at the station.
Detectives still experience problems with poor statement taking and incorrectly formulated charges. While the Branch Commander stated that these problems are identified, rectified (particularly in terms of charges) and reported as required, insufficient steps are taken to address the situation to ensure that it does not reoccur- i.e. through training. Note that according to management the problem has been addressed and there are no charges that are thrown out of court due to incorrect charges. As the detectives, however, still perceive this to be a problem, additional steps should be taken.
On scrutiny of the Warrant and Court Register it was clear that they had not been inspected and signed off regularly. In fact the hardcopy book had not been checked for the past year. The Commander did say that the electronic dockets were checked but that the hardcopy was not checked and that this would be addressed.
A number of problems were identified with regard to intersectoral co-operation between the detectives, and other role-players in the criminal justice system. These include:
- The fact that the nearest regional court is in Paarl and that accused are spread out all over the area in different correctional centres which requires detectives to travel far distances to assist in the transportation of witnesses that cannot afford the travel costs.
- A problem with magistrates repeatedly granting bail to repeat offenders including known violent gangsters.
- Parole Boards refusing to revoke parole on the basis that the person may have committed a crime- thus violating parole conditions- but has not been convicted.
Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) Unit: The FCS Unit is a relatively new unit within the Stellenbosch precinct (according to the Cluster Commander it is not even officially open) and is situated in the same offices as the detectives. The FCS staff was moved from the Paarl FCS unit and now deals with all cases in the Stellenbosch, Kayamandi, Cloetesville, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek and Klapmuts area.
The unit consists of a Commander with the rank of Captain, a single administrative person, a forensic social worker and seven investigating officers. Two of the seven investigating officers have not received specialised FCS training.
Approximately 20-40 crimes are reported each month and each investigating officer holds between 30 and 40 dockets. There were a total of 136 dockets on hand at the time of the visit. These included all sexual offences of which a large majority (20 out of 30) were rape cases. In a large number of these cases the victims were children. Due to the sensitive nature of these crimes, about one third of the dockets were older than one year. The oldest open docket was for a 2004 case. While it was recognised that it is desirable that everyone in the unit receive counselling every 6 months, as this is voluntary rather than mandatory, this does not occur.
As the unit is housed in the same building as the detectives it experiences similar problems around security. The filing cabinets that they do have do not lock. In addition, the FCS has only one computer to serve all 10 staff members. Despite their need to service a vast area, much of it rural, they have three sedans and no bakkies.
The following are the detection, disposal and conviction rates for the category ‘rape’ for 2010/11:
Rape: Detection rate
Rape: Disposal rate
Rape: Conviction rate
Number of dockets older than 1 year
Cells: The station has eight holding cells which serve the Stellenbosch, Kayamandi and Cloetesville stations. The station was unclear as to the designed capacity of these cells – they have apparently repeatedly asked for this information but it has not been forthcoming- but on average on the weekends the cells hold about 50 persons. On the date of the visit there were 11 persons in the cells, ten of whom were housed in one cell. The Members questioned the decision- which is apparently the norm- to hold so many people in one cell when there are many empty cells.
Apparently the station is fortunate in that it normally only holds arrested persons who are charged and then sent to court the following morning. They never receive awaiting-trial offenders and only one or two persons who are on seven-day remand. In addition, it was stated to Members that the cells never house children. They are normally dealt with by the detectives and then sent off in the care of their parents or to a place of safety.
The cells were in notably good condition- extremely well built, with fresh looking paintwork (they were painted the previous year) and very clean. All toilets and locks were in working order.
While the cell register had been signed off as checked hourly for the day of the visit, it was noted that the Register did not reflect this as occurring at all times. This situation should be addressed.
There had been no deaths in the cells over the past year. There had been one escape, a walkout, in which a person left the cell during name calling process. Disciplinary action has been taken against the officer in charge at the time.
Archives: The archives were extremely well ordered – filed by year, month and day order- and the requested file was found in seconds by the personnel working there. The main problem, faced by the archives is the lack of space- the current office space is full and in fact the 2011 files needed to be housed in a different office. In addition, there is insufficient security in the archives room which does not even have burglar bars on its windows. All dockets are filed electronically but they do have a backup hardcopy CAS book.
SAPS 13 Store: The SAPS 13 Store houses both general exhibits as well as firearms, which is extremely problematic. The firearms are stored in metal trunks in the Store which do not have locks. Thus anyone entering the Store to check a general exhibit has access to the firearms.
The Store holds the exhibit firearms, as well as firearms for deactivation (14), amnesty firearms (2) and firearms awaiting licensing (18). One of the firearms awaiting licensing has been in the Store for over three years. It is problematic that the amnesty firearms are still in the Store as they are required to be handed in within six weeks after the amnesty period had ended. In addition, the Firearm Register is incorrectly completed as it contains information on exhibits other than firearms, such as laptops and drugs.
- Other exhibits
Numerous drugs are visibly apparent in the Store and it is unclear why they have not been sent off for testing. Many of the exhibits in the Store do not have the CAS number on their labels as required. The Store is much too small for the number of exhibits that it holds and exhibits are packed about six deep into the shelves.
Detainee property is also contained in the Registers. The explanation for this was that sometimes detainees are transferred from the cells, without returning their possessions to them. These detainees may be hard to trace and in those cases their possessions are then kept in the Stores.
Members were also concerned about the attitude of the SAPS 13 Commander who seemed resentful of the Members for taking up his time. In addition, the Members were left in the Store alone for time periods while the Commander retrieved the information/files that had been requested.
3.2.2. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
While the Station Commander at the station is managing a large and complex area and is informed and in control of the situation, the Committee has some concerns around ill-discipline and high levels of absenteeism at the station. This would require that the Station Commander is firmer on these issues.
To this effect the Station Commander should report in writing to the Committee by 4 February 2011 on:
· Steps that will be taken to address ill-discipline at the police station, including measures taken around the commander of the SAPS 13 Store who did not behave appropriately in the presence of the Members and the field trainer who also displayed ill-discipline in front of the Members. The field training officer should account for the reasons why the log book displayed 40 km for his trip to Kayamandi and back.
· Report on high levels of absenteeism and abuse of sick leave at the station.
Note that the Provincial Office was not present at this meeting. Thus it was asked that the Cluster Commander should liaise with the Provincial Office and report in writing by 4 February 2011 on:
· Steps taken to improve the security of the detective offices. This includes information on firstly, why an instruction was given out to apply for lock-up filing cabinets, apparently on the instruction by Parliament, which is false, and, secondly, despite this instruction, no filing cabinets have been received by the station. The Cluster Commander was tasked with following up urgently on the renovations to the Detective building.
· Provide a report on the financial statements for the R3 000 allocated to the previous CPF. The Cluster/Province should report on the guidelines for which the allocated money for the CPF can be used.
· Provide a report on why a person was shifted to archives without acknowledgement of additional responsibility acquired in terms of promotion or increase in salary.
None of these reports have been received to date.
3.2.3. SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are the key concerns of the Committee:
- Insufficient security in the physical infrastructure of the building housing detectives and the lack of filing cabinets and absence of locks for these cabinets is a concern. According to the Station Commander and Cluster Commander, the building is approved for renovation in this financial year. Also filing cabinets were apparently requested from the provincial office (on their instruction as apparently per direction of the Parliament), but have not been approved or received. The Committee will follow up on progress with the renovation of the detective offices during its oversight activities.
- That the Crime Office at the Community Service Centre (which is housed in a different building to the detectives) is draining on the resources of the detectives.
- That the detectives who are first at the crime scene (from the Crime Office) are not necessarily the same as the detectives who will be investigating the case is a concern.
The following are the key recommendations of the Committee:
- More attention must be given to ensuring correct implementation of the Domestic Violence Act, and the Child Justice Act and the regulations thereof.
- There is a need for improved control over the firearms safe which contains police firearms, in order to reduce opportunities for theft/losses.
- Funding concerns around the Community Police Forum need to be addressed.
- A lack of discipline is apparent in the behaviour of certain members of the station and should be effectively addressed by the station management.
- High levels of absenteeism and abuse of sick leave is a concern and more steps need to be taken to address this problem.
- The detection and conviction rates of the stations are very low despite the Branch Commander’s overall satisfaction with the experience levels of detectives. The reasons for this need to be investigated at station, cluster and provincial level.
- The effect of the Kayamandi satellite station on the resources of the Stellenbosch police station are noted, and an explanation should be given by Head Office as to whether this satellite station will be considered as a fully fledged station.
- Steps should be taken to ensure that the FCS is properly resourced.
- The cells should be checked hourly and the register completed to that effect.
- Improper labelling of exhibits in the stores should be rectified and firearms, drugs and general exhibits that are currently housed together should be separated.
- Amnesty firearms must be removed. It is also problematic that deactivation devices and licensed firearms are also kept with the exhibits in the stores.
- The Firearm Register must be correctly completed and should not contain information on other exhibits.
- The lack of space for the archived documents needs to be addressed.
3.3. CLOETESVILLE POLICE STATION- UNANNOUNCED (26 JANUARY 2011)
When the Committee arrived at the Stellenbosch police station it was decided that a small group of Members should go to the Cloetesville Police Station on an unannounced visit.
3.3.1. KEY OBSERVATIONS
Efficiency Rate Grading (2009/10): 65,57 %
Community Service Centre: There was a concern that, while the filing system looked impressive, the officials at the station did not actually know what was contained in the files.
SAPS 13 Store:
One amnesty firearm was still in the safe. The safe also included exhibits such as drugs and cases of beer. While the Station Commander felt that this was the best place for these exhibits as she was the only person with keys to the safe. Members felt that these exhibits should be kept in the SAPS 13 store as keeping these other exhibits in the safe would require that it was opened more than necessary, which could lead to firearm losses/theft. Drugs were also found in the safe, which should have been sent for forensic testing
- Other exhibits
The requested item contained in the Register could not be found by the officials, which points to poor filing in the SAPS 13 Store.
Vehicles: Lack of control, management and maintenance of vehicles was apparent. The head of fleet management could not explain why a vehicle with four flat tyres (since the beginning of January) had not been sent for maintenance. Other vehicles that had been involved in accidents had not been sent for repairs.
Visible Policing: The post of head of Visible Policing had been vacant for two years.
Management Challenges: The Members took a decision to leave the station without completing the inspection. The main reason for discontinuing the visit was that it became increasingly apparent that there was in effect no management of the police station. Neither the Station Commander nor any of the other personnel could answer basic questions around management of the various registers, or staffing issues. According to the Station Commander there had been no management meeting since November 2010 and the crime statistics for the past financial year had not been submitted to the Cluster or Province. As mentioned above, the post of Head of Visible Policing had been vacant for two years; the Human Resource manager was in an acting position; the person in charge of the SAPS 13 was in hospital; and the Designated Firearm Officer was sick on that day. The Station Commander, who is expected to have a macro picture of the functioning of the station, in the absence of these staff members, could not provide the answers to the Members.
3.3.2. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
An urgent intervention is required at the Cloetesville Police Station to assist the Station Commander to effectively manage the station. The Cluster Commander (together with the Provincial Office) should report in writing to the Committee by 4 February 2011 on:
· The reasons for the problems at the station and why these have been allowed to occur.
· Steps that have and will be taken to address the problems.
The Station Commander was requested to provide the answers to the Station Monitoring Tool (SMT), which was left at the station, by the following day - 27 January 2011. The completed SMT was sent to the hotel as requested.
These reports have not been received to date.
3.3.3. SPECIFIC RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are the key recommendations of the Committee:
- An urgent intervention is required at the Cloetesville police station to assist the Station Commander to effectively manage the station. Immediate steps should be taken at cluster and provincial level to ensure that the management at the Cloetesville police station is provided with the required support in order to ensure that the station is effectively managed.
- The vacant post of Head: Visible Policing should be filled as a matter of urgency.
- The amnesty firearm must be removed from the safe.
3.4. ROBERTSON POLICE STATION (27 JANUARY 2011)
The Robertson police station is a rural station serving a population of about 40 000 people. There is a 47.2% unemployment rate in the area with a high number of seasonal workers. The station has 122 personnel and nine students. The station is a ‘Colonel station’ and the Accounting Station is Worcester.
3.4.1. KEY OBSERVATIONS
Ranking: The ranking of the station has declined in the past few years, apparently due to the increase in crime in the area and the loss of some experienced personnel.
Management Issues: The Committee was impressed with the hands on approach and in-depth knowledge of the issues displayed by the Station Commander. Meetings between management and members are not currently compulsory. Members felt that this would be preferable and the management agreed that they would issue an instruction that these meetings are compulsory, in future.
Unions: POPCRU was not available but the other union members reported a good relationship with management and applauded the open door policy of the Station Commander.
Firearm Safes: The station has two safes - one containing firearms that are never used; and one for firearms that are booked out. Over and above the firearms that are booked out there were 48 new and unused firearms in the safe. Members questioned why increasing resources are allocated to firearms when there may, in fact, be a surplus.
Community Service Centre: While there are a high number of domestic violence incidents recorded in the Register, the Domestic Violence Register was not properly completed, particularly the last column in the Register. The Station Commander seemed to be signing off the Register without proper checks. Backlogs in the collection of protection orders, despite the Station Order that these are collected each day, were apparent. Members were also concerned that while the Domestic Violence Act and Child Justice Act files were generally in good order, it seemed as if no-one was actually reading these files as members in the CSC were not using the information correctly.
Of serious concern to the Members was the high number of arrests for drunkenness. Members questioned why this occurred and whether in fact it is correct to arrest drunken people who may not have committed a crime, and were further concerned that many of these arrests are done in public on the streets. Members questioned whether this was an appropriate crime prevention measure. This seems to be one of the few stations with such a high number of arrests for drunkenness. The management of the station reported that they would reconsider their stance in this regard.
In addition, Members were concerned that there was no dedicated CSC manager but that instead the CSC was managed by the different shift commanders. This means that no-one is taking full responsibility for the tasks and responsibilities of this position.
No-one has been trained with regard to implementation of the Child Justice Act. The last group of staff to receive training on domestic violence was in 2007.
Vehicles: There are a total of 33 vehicles available to the station. Lack of control over vehicles was clear. There was a concern that Sector Commanders were issued with vehicles for use after working hours. Between nine and ten vehicles are taken home per night. Members questioned why so many of the vehicles reflected extremely high kilometres as high as 595 000 km on the clock and noted that it seems that there may be a problem in the province with regard to reluctance to board old vehicles with high mileage. It is a concern to Members that maintenance on these vehicles may be more costly in the long run than replacement of the vehicles.
In one day as much as 345 km is recorded to have been travelled in the log books. In addition, a high number of vehicles are damaged and in need of repair. Poor service from the SAPS garages impacts negatively on service delivery. Possible corruption in the SAPS garages was raised by Members as in one case a car received a R26 000 engine overhaul, and then after 10 days on the road, the engine had again broken down and was in need of repair. Vehicles sent to the garages for repair took a long period of time before they were returned. In response to some of the concerns the Station Commander noted that some of the vehicles with high mileage are used as part of the Flying Squad which covers a much wider area than Robertson alone. In addition, he stated that vehicles were no longer used to take staff members home.
Discipline: 144 disciplinary cases took place in 2009/10 and 95 in 2010/11. Members questioned why there is such a high number of disciplinary cases yet the management of the station does not believe that there is a discipline problem. Delays in processing cases by the provincial offices were noted- some cases take as long as two years to finalise. Delays in finalising cases will negatively impact on its efficacy as a disciplinary mechanism. Absenteeism was noted as a concern at the station – the same members are booked off sick for long periods of time. Where there is no medical certificate, unpaid leave is put in for that period.
Vacant Posts: The Support Service Commander post has been vacant since 2007.
Detectives: The detective component is housed at the police station. There are a total of 29 detectives at the station and one clerk, and according to the station personnel these are sufficient to meet the needs of the station. Almost half of these 29 detectives have less than 10 years experience and there are concerns around the levels of experience of some of the detectives. This is exacerbated by the fact that only 19 of the 29 detectives have completed the Introductory Course to Investigation and only 10 of these 19 detectives have completed the Full Detective Training Course and are thus fully trained. According to the station the annual intake for training is one detective per year and thus it would take at this rate at least 19 years to ensure that all the current detectives are fully trained. Two detectives have completed specialised training course- one in sexual investigations and one in hostage negotiations.
The detectives have not received any new vehicles since 2008. Many of their vehicles have extremely high kilometres on the clock, which would not in itself be a problem if it was not for the fact that they continuously break down, are sent for repairs and then immediately break down again. This results in a detective: vehicle ratio in reality of 3:1 rather than the ideal of 2:1. New vehicles were requested in October 2008 and ideally they state that about eight additional vehicles are required.
Lack of adequate resources effect productivity and hamper security around dockets. There are three computers for use by the detectives. There are very few lock-up filing cabinets for safekeeping of dockets and many of those that are there do not lock. There are no burglar bars on the windows or an alarm system. There is a safe and all office doors can be locked. All detectives share offices and there are thus insufficient interview/meeting rooms for use by detectives. The nearest one-way mirror is in Worcester.
It was expressed that detectives seem to manage their case load. There are 502 current dockets which includes 452 dockets already at court and 14 ‘reopened’ cases. The average detection rate for 2009/10 was 23.94%. A total of 322 cases were closed undetected in 2009/10. In terms of success in investigations the following can be noted:
100%(national average = 26.57% for 2009/10)
67.69% (national average = 16.97% for 2009/10)
99.22% (National average = 74.52% for 2009/10)
52.38% (national average = 13.55% for 2009/10)
54.27% (national average = 24.50% for 2009/10)
15.52% (national average = 26.14% for 2009/10)
No dockets have gone missing in the past three years. The last docket to go missing was in 2005 where the case went to court but was withdrawn. Detectives noted some improvements in the formulation of charges and statement-taking from the CSC after a number of interventions were made at station level to address these problems, but some problems still remain. Incorrectly formulated charged decreased from 20/30 per month to 2-5 per month but January 2011 reflected an increase again to ten incorrectly formulated charges. This needs to be investigated. It should be noted that there are no paralegals at the CSC to assist with this process.
The usual problems are described in terms of intersectoral collaboration and challenges. Key amongst these are concerns around bail, continuous remand and withdrawal of cases without input from the investigating officer.
Cells: There are five cells at the station each of which can hold eight people. While the cells are old, and require some painting and other cosmetic improvements, the locks are newly replaced and in good order, and they are secure. All the toilets in the cells are in working order, but only one of the five showers works and some of the lights are not working. Perusal of the Cell Register showed that while the cells were visited hourly as required on the day of the visit, this was not always the case. In some cases the cells were only visited every four hours.
There was one death in the cell in November 2010 where a person arrested for being drunk in the evening was found the following morning dead in the cell with injuries to his ribs. The ICD was contacted and an internal disciplinary process is still in progress. There was one escape in 2010 where a person who was being charged at the Crime Office was left alone for a period and walked out of the police station. He was recaptured a few days later and departmental steps have been taken.
SAPS 13 Store: Serious problems were apparent with both the storage of firearms and general exhibits.
In the firearms safe, firearm exhibits were kept together with amnesty firearms, deactivation firearms and destruction firearms. To make matters worse, these different firearms were not kept on separate shelves or in any other way distinguished from each other but were all strewn on the same shelves irrespective of whether they were exhibits or not. Many of the exhibit firearms were not in bags and in some cases the bags were not sealed. Many of the exhibit firearms did not contain CAS numbers.
The lack of order in the firearms store was a serious concern. When asked to find a particular firearm, which according to the Register should still have been there, the person was unable to do so for the entire visit of the Committee. It can only be hoped that the firearm is actually still there and not ‘missing’.
There were a total of 86 amnesty firearms in the safe. No acceptable explanation was given for why these were still at the station as they were required to have been handed over at the end of the amnesty period. The Provincial Office is responsible for ensuring that this had occurred. This problem was compounded by the fact that the safe had been inspected by both the Station Commander and the Cluster, and yet the fact that these firearms were still there and should not have been was not detected and addressed.
· Other exhibits
The Store was in a similar state of disorder. Items were not properly labelled and many did not have CAS numbers. No acceptable explanation was given for the fact that the previous day’s evidence was not yet in the Store. In addition, five rape kits which should have been sent for forensics, labelled in one case 2009 and in the other cases August and November 2010, were still in the Store.
Archives: The Members visited the archives. They were told by the person in charge that these particular archives store files up to 2002 but found that in fact files up to 2005 were actually stored in that room. The archives were dusty, dirty and the files haphazardly packed. Piles of files that had been taken out (clearly a long time ago as they were dusty) had not been repacked. It should be noted that detectives at the station remarked that it usually takes a day for them to receive files from archives. These files should be immediately retrievable. The station is not on the e-docket systems and the station had no information as to when it would be put on the system.
Specialised Units: The station has a small satellite component of the FCS – the main unit is based in Worcester. It consists of four members and was only opened the previous week prior to the visit by the Committee. This satellite FCS has one office for its staff, one standby cell phone, a phone line, no lock up facilities and no computer.
Sector Policing: The station has four sectors and while the Members were told that all four sectors are fully functional it is clear that, in practice, only three of these are fully functional. Due to a shortage of vehicles the rural sector is only patrolled on weekends by the reservists.
3.4.2. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
The following was required from the Station Commander to be submitted in the form of a written report to the Committee by 4 February 2011:
· Explanation for why nine vehicles are taken home by staff at night including by Sector managers, as well as steps that will be taken to ensure that vehicles are not misused.
· Explanation for why a certain detective is not obliged to perform stand-by duties.
· Explanation for why at least five rape kits, dated 2009 and 2010, are still in the Stores and were not sent to the Forensic Science Laboratories, including what the implications of this are and what action will be taken in this regard.
· Describe what steps will be taken to address the serious problems identified in the Section 13 Stores, where it is clear that a complete overhaul is needed.
The following was required from the Provincial Office to be submitted in the form of a written report to the Committee by 4 February 2011:
· An explanation of the policy with regard to servicing, repairs and boarding of vehicles, including a detailed response to each vehicle identified on the list provided to the Members.
· An explanation for why detectives do not have lock-up filing cabinets and burglar bars on the windows, thus compromising security.
· An explanation for why no new vehicles for the detectives have been provided since 2008 and when they will receive new vehicles.
· An explanation for why there are so many long-outstanding disciplinary cases which have not been finalised, and the status of each of these cases.
· An explanation for action that they will take with regard to the removal of the amnesty firearms from the station.
None of these reports have been received to date.
3.4.3. SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are the key concerns of the Committee:
- Members are concerned about the high arrest rate for drunkenness at this station.
- Members are concerned about the high mileage of some of the vehicles and the use of vehicles after hours, and have identified problems with the SAPS garages, which take a long time to repair vehicles and which are making costly repairs which are not long lasting.
- Key concerns around detectives include that:
- many of the detectives have not completed any detective training and that the opportunities for training at the station are very limited;
- there are insufficient vehicles for detectives as a result of problems with the SAPS garages; and
- there is inadequate security of offices and dockets.
The following are the key recommendations of the Committee:
- Management should consider making general staff meetings with management compulsory.
- There is a need for improved implementation of the requirements of the Domestic Violence Act, and the Domestic Violence Register needs to be signed off only after it has been checked thoroughly for correctness.
- It is preferable that a dedicated manager is appointed to manage the Community Service Centre. The post of Support Service Commander that has been vacant since 2007, should be filled.
- Serious problems identified in the SAPS 13 stores need to be addressed as a matter of urgency, particularly with regard to firearms, but also with respect to the general store, including evidence kits that should have been sent to forensics, and a poor filing system.
- The amnesty firearms must be removed from the station.
- The archives need to be properly ordered to facilitate retrieval of dockets when required.
- Resources should be made available to the FCS unit which has recently moved to the station.
- Delays in processing disciplinary cases by the Provincial Office should be addressed.
3.5. ATLANTIS POLICE STATION (28 JANUARY 2011)
The Station Commander was transferred to the station in 2009 to assist in combating the gang violence in the area and some success had been noted in addressing the gang problem. It was noted that he had applied for a transfer and would be leaving the station the week following the visit of the Committee.
The Station has 186 members and 22 students and serves a population of approximately 500 000. Key challenges in the area include gang violence, rape and robberies. The area has a high unemployment rate. There is a contact point station at Mamre which is open from 8am to 4pm each day. This contact point will be transformed into a satellite station with 13 members and will offer a 24 hour service. There are three field training officers at the station- two warrant offices and one constable. The average reaction time is 17 minutes.
3.3.1. KEY OBSERVATIONS
Efficiency Rate Grading (2009/10): 57, 93 %. It is a concern to the Members that the rating of the station has worsened since 2006.
Management: Members noted with concern the fact that the Station Commander was leaving and that it was clear that he was an asset to the station and recognised in the community. Apparently no new Station Commander had yet been appointed. The station has had five different Station Commanders over the past five years. The Station Commander seemed to be ‘hands on’ and had a good grasp of issues at the station.
Vehicles: Members noted during the inspection that some of the vehicles were dirty and that the log books were not regularly updated. There is a shortage of vehicles at the station. Only 41 of the 48 vehicles are functional and many are not suited to the terrain. Two operational members do not have driver licences and 15 do not have state authority to drive a vehicle. Five accidents occurred in 2009/10 due to negligence. Problems were noted with regard to the Maitland Garage which apparently refuses to repair broken car seats.
Firearm Safe: Concerns were raised by Members regarding the control over the SAPS firearms as it seemed as if not all firearms were accounted for. The police could not account for two firearms that were booked out the previous day and not recorded as booked back in. After checking they were accounted for, but the incomplete record keeping is a serious concern and the lack of control in this regard needs to be addressed.
Community Police Forum: The CPF has been newly constituted since November 2010. It has to date received no funding but had received some funding in the past. It is a concern that the CPF members were not informed that the Station Commander would be leaving. The Neighbourhood Watch members required training.
Unions: Shop stewards were not available because of National Police Day celebrations. However, the Committee met with individual members from the unions. These union members reported positive interaction and relationship with the station management.
Community Service Centre: While the number of domestic violence cases recorded was high- 86 for that month- the Station Commander explained that the entries were pencilled in and then corrected at the end of each month. However, the entries for December had not been corrected by the date of the visit which was toward the end of January. The Child Justice Act file was at the CSC but looked as if it had never been used. The Station Orders were not user friendly and it was suggested that the station liaise with the Robertson police station whose Station Orders were better formulated.
Vacancies: A number of staff were acting in positions for long periods of time such as in Support Services.
Discipline: A serious abuse of sick leave was apparent at the station. A trainee was absent for three months and, on returning, put in for 90 days unpaid leave, and provided no medical certificate. While this will apparently be dealt with in a disciplinary process, the Members believe that the severity of the case (which is tantamount to abscondment) should result in immediate dismissal, especially as this person is still a trainee. There seems to be no policy on abscondment to deal with these cases, or, if it is there, it is not used.
In 2010 there were 305 disciplinary cases of which 27 are still outstanding cases held up at provincial level. These outstanding cases are affecting 14 members.
Detectives: The Branch Commander was on training on the date of the visit. It was of concern to the Members that the Branch Commander who has the rank of Colonel has been functioning in this position at the station since 2007 and is only now undergoing middle management training. This clearly illustrates the problem of the delinking of promotions/training and proper career planning within the SAPS. Ineffective management of the detectives was noted as a problem by the Cluster Commander who stated that they were aware of the problem at cluster and provincial level. It is however, unclear what interventions have been taken at that level to address the problem.
There are 36 detectives at the station. According to the Resource Allocation Guide (RAG) there should be 40 detectives which means that there are four vacant posts. However according to the detectives they actually require at least 20 more detectives to deal with the high case loads and the serious gang problems in the area.
Of the 36 detectives, 35 have completed the Introductory Course to Investigation but only 18 of them (50%) have completed the Full Detective Training Course. Only two detectives received training in 2010 and thus it would take a total of nine years to ensure that all existing detectives at the station were fully trained.
These 36 detectives deal with a total of 2 811 cases of which 940 are currently under investigation. Each detective deals with approximately 100 cases. It was noted that a detective with the highest case load at the station- 320 cases- is not managing this caseload effectively and struggles to close cases. It was of extreme concern to the Members that despite recognition that this person is not coping, the management has not taken appropriate steps to address the problem by reducing the case load, shifting the person to a more appropriate area, or providing training.
It is clear that statistics are not used properly as tools by management to strategise or to monitor performance. On request for detection and conviction figures for various categories of crime three different figures were provided. A total of 1930 cases were closed in the past financial year as undetected. In terms of success in investigations the following can be noted:
25% (national average = 26.57% for 2009/10)
16.21% (national average = 16.97% for 2009/10)
81.33% (National average = 74.52% for 2009/10)
5.74% (national average = 13.55% for 2009/10)
18.23% (national average = 24.50% for 2009/10)
14.03% (national average = 26.14% for 2009/10)
Percentage of dockets older than 1 year
Detectives noted that despite a number of interventions there are still problems at the station with regard to incorrectly formulated charges and poor statement taking. In terms of resources, the detectives note that there is not a shortage of vehicles on paper- the ratio is two people to each vehicle but that vehicles are sent to the garage for repairs on a regular basis which increases this ratio to 4:1. Approximately four additional vehicles would be desirable. The detectives have eight computers and the station is not on the e-docket system. As noted at all the stations there are insufficient lock up filing cabinets for use by the detectives- no request for filing cabinets has been submitted in the past year. While no dockets have been lost in the past three years this remains a concern exacerbated by the fact that there is no burglar proofing on the windows or an alarm system.
Once again detectives noted a concern with the perceived ease in which prosecutors withdraw cases without consultation with the detective involved. A prosecutor withdrew 60 cases at once in the previous year.
Cells: There are six cells at the station with a holding capacity of 42 people. The cells are in a good condition with the exception of a number of lights that were not in working order. These have apparently been reported. The Cell Registers were inspected hourly as required and there had been no escapes or deaths in the cells over the past year.
A key concern was the fact that there were two people in the cells who had been there for over the prescribed 48 hours and had not yet been charged or sent to court. It was also a concern that the staff working at the cells has the perception that detectives tend to frequently release persons from the cells without charging them.
SAPS 13 Stores:
The SAPS 13 safe was neat and the firearm identified in the Register was found quickly. However, it was of concern to Members that the exhibit firearms and safekeeping firearms were once again stored amongst each other on the shelves. In addition, six firearms handed in during the amnesty period in 2010 were still in the storeroom.
- Other exhibits
The SAPS 13 Store seemed to be neat and well ordered, though it did take the person working at the store a bit of time to find the item identified from the Register. No losses have been reported from the store in the past year, but the Register has not been checked regularly by the Station Commander, the Cluster Commander or the Province.
Archives: The visit took place on the National Police Day celebrations and the person in charge of the archives had gone to Soweto and had not made arrangements to hand over the key while away. The Members could thus not access the archives. This is problematic as if there had been a serious need to retrieve information from the archives this would not have been possible.
Sector policing: The station has four sectors which are all operational. However, further probing revealed that the stations used to have six sectors but due to the fact that this required too many human and physical resources, a decision was made to reduce these to four sectors. Sector Commanders state, however, that some of the sectors are too unwieldy and should be split and thus operationally six sectors are preferable. Sector Commanders also noted that there is no provision for them to have their own vehicles, yet they are required to communicate with the community on a daily basis. They thus share vehicles but this is not ideal as they often need to be at different places at the same time. The lack of vehicles at their disposal hampers their ability to function optimally. Sector Commanders also noted that while on paper there were sufficient vehicles for the police, the reality was sometimes quite different, as vehicles were often being repaired in the garages.
3.5.2. ADDITIONAL INFORMATION REQUESTED
The Station Commander should respond in writing by 4 February on the following:
· The circumstances around the five vehicle accidents which occurred in 2010, the reasons for these accidents, and steps that were taken after the accidents to address the situation. What is the situation at present?
· What are the current vacancies at the station? How long have these posts been vacant and why? What is the plan to address this situation?
· Lack of compliance with the constitutional provision that arrested persons need to be charged and sent to court within 48 hours or else released. Why is there lack of compliance in this regard and what steps have been taken to address the particular case noted on 21 January 2011.
The Provincial Office should respond in writing by 4 February 2011 on the following:
· The lack of follow through/planning after the amnesty period by the Province to ensure that all firearms handed in during this period are collected and destroyed. Explain the policy and plan in this regard.
· Whether there is a policy on abscondment and, if so, what are the details of this policy?
· Why they have removed the Station Commander without ensuring that an Acting Station Commander has been timeously appointed?
The Provincial Office should respond in writing by 28 February 2011 on:
· The results of an investigation into the Detective Services at the Atlantis Police Station.
None of these reports have been received to date.
3.5.3. SPECIFIC CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The following are the key concerns of the Committee:
- A key concern is the continuous shifting of Station Commanders at this station which results in a lack of consistency in management at station level which can only impact negatively on the staff and the community served by the station.
- Problems with the SAPS garages are impacting negatively on the availability of vehicles for detectives.
- There is a concern that the police at the station may be arresting persons without charging them.
The following are the key recommendations of the Committee:
- Steps should be taken to ensure continuity of the Station Commander post at this station.
- More effective control measures must be taken with regard to the SAPS firearms. The register must be properly completed and disciplinary action taken against any member of staff who does not comply with the relevant orders and instructions.
- The Station Commander must identify who was responsible for either not booking in their firearms or for not completing the register properly with regard to booking in of the SAPS firearms. Action should be taken against these individuals. In addition, steps should be taken to ensure that all members book out and book in their firearms properly at all times.
- Abuse of sick leave and ‘abscondment’ is a concern and steps should be taken to address this problem.
- The Province must ensure that amnesty firearms are removed from the station.
- Ineffective management of the detectives must be addressed as a matter of urgency.
- Management must ensure that no people are held in the cells for longer than the constitutionally prescribed 48 hours without being charged.
- Steps should be taken to address the concerns around shortage of vehicles and other resources raised by Sector Commanders.
4. GENERAL CONCERNS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Firstly, with regard to the requests for additional information outlined in Section Three, it is noted that, with the exception of a partial response from the Bishop Lavis Training Academy, none of the police stations sent any response to the Committee despite being given a clear request with stipulated deadlines.
The Department should respond in writing within two weeks of the tabling of this Report as to:
· why each of the police stations did not provide a written response to the request for additional information; and
· why there was no representative from the Provincial Commissioner’s office on the visit, until this was specifically requested by the Committee.
Secondly, the Department must ensure that the Academy and the four stations, as well as the SAPS Western Cape Provincial Office, and the respective Cluster Commanders respond in writing to the requests for additional information outlined in Section Three within two weeks of tabling of this Report.
Thirdly, the Department must ensure that the Academy and the four stations, as well as the SAPS Western Cape Provincial Office, and the respective Cluster Commanders respond in writing to the specific concerns and recommendations outlined in Section 3 of the Report with regard to steps that they will be taking to address these specific concerns and recommendations, within two weeks of tabling of this Report.
Fourthly, in addition to the specific recommendations made and further information requested from the Academy and each of the police stations, the Portfolio Committee of Police has a number of key concerns arising from the visit, which require a response and intervention from the Department. At this stage, it has been decided that the Committee will not ask for a response in writing to these concerns from the Department, but will instead highlight these issues in its interaction with the Department during the upcoming Budget process and other oversight processes of Parliament.
Key concerns arising from the visit and recommendations made include:
· Managers within the Detective Branch are not fully utilising the information embedded in the detection, conviction and other statistics that they collect. Many of the Branch Commanders or acting Branch Commanders (in cases where the Branch Commanders were away), did not have these statistics readily available and a number of opposing sets of figures were provided. The Committee believes that this information is not merely an indication of how well or how badly a station is performing in comparison to its counterparts, but is an invaluable management tool which should be continuously used for strategic decision-making and planning around investigations.
· The lack of security around dockets remains a serious concern and was apparent at all stations visited. The Department needs to explain firstly why a directive was apparently issued to all stations that they should apply for lock- up filing cabinets (implicating the Portfolio Committee on Police). Secondly, it should explain why, despite this directive, these were not actually delivered despite the fact that at least some of them submitted this application. The lack of security in the detective offices is also a concern, especially for those stations which work in gang-infested areas.
· There seems to be a severe shortage of technological equipment (as basic as a lack of computers) to assist detectives in doing their work. This is despite assurances periodically given to the Committee that the police have the resources required to do their work effectively. The SAPS has high budget allocations voted each year for information technology. It is unclear how the SAPS plans to move toward a professional and effective police service when these shortages are still so apparent at station level.
· None of the police stations visited are on the e-docket system. The Department needs to explain to the Committee the rollout and prioritisation plan for this system at station level.
· Some detectives at the stations visited have not completed the two-week detective training course- in other words they are working as detectives with no investigation training. Many of the detectives have not completed the three-month detective training course. It was clear that if detectives are going to be trained at the rate that they have received training over the past few years- i.e. between one and four training opportunities a year- it will take many years (at one station up to 19 years) to ensure that all detectives are properly trained. In addition, many detectives only receive the three-month training when they have been working for years as detectives. This means that they have ingrained bad habits which are then more difficult to address with training. The Department needs to explain how it will fast track the training of detectives to ensure that all detectives working in the SAPS are properly trained, and receive this training early on in their detective career.
· The Department should explain to the Committee the rationale of the Crime Office, problems that they have encountered with the establishment of these structures and the benefits of the structure. The Committee is concerned about the impact of this office on the detectives and the fact that the detectives at the crime scene are not necessarily the ones that will be handling the cases.
· A shortage of detectives in terms of actual needs was identified at all the stations. The Department should explain how they will ensure that, in practice, there are sufficient detectives at all stations to deal with their identified needs.
SAPS 13 Stores
- The fact that exhibit firearms, are stored haphazardly with deactivation, licensing and other firearms is extremely problematic. While the Committee understands that due to space shortages it may require that these firearms are stored in the same safe/room, there is no reason to mix them up on the shelves.
- It is a serious concern that, at some of the stations, firearms handed in during the past amnesty process were still kept at the station. The Department should take steps to ensure that all amnesty firearms are removed from the all stations across the country and properly disposed of. In addition, the Province needs to explain why it has ignored a National Instruction to remove these firearms.
- The poor state of some of the stores is also a concern. The Department should take steps to ensure that the general stores are properly inspected, that exhibits are clearly labelled and easily retrievable and that there are no exhibits in the stores that should not be there – such as rape kits which were required to be sent to forensics. Poor management of exhibits has an effect on cases in court and on victims who would presume that the samples taken from them would be sent of for testing.
Intersectoral co-operation in the criminal justice system
- A key concern noted at most stations was the perception by the police that prosecutors and other bodies (such as the parole boards) were allowing persons caught by the police to escape justice without any input from the investigating officers. The Department should explain what steps it has taken to address this prevailing concern. The Committee will also liaise with its counterparts in the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services on police perceptions with regard to bail and parole.
- Ill-discipline amongst staff members within the SAPS was apparent both at the Academy and at many of the police stations visited by the Committee. There is a level of insolence toward management of the station (as well as toward the management of the Cluster and Province) and toward Committee Members that is not acceptable within a disciplined organisation such as the police. Members note that the rank system - which has improved discipline within the SAPS as one of its projected outcomes - does not seem to be achieving that objective.
- The high number of disciplinary cases for 2009 and 2010 at many of the stations is also cause for concern. While it is desirable that action is taken against ill-disciplined members of the SAPS it is worrying that many police need to be disciplined. It is questionable as to whether or not the disciplinary process is having the desired effect of curbing ill- discipline in the police. It is also a concern to Members that it seems as if many of the disciplinary cases are not resolved timeously allegedly due to delays at the SAPS Provincial Office level.
- Linked to ill-discipline, is the fact that it was apparent during this visit that the SAPS suffers from extremely high levels of absenteeism and abuse of sick leave. The Department needs to address this situation as a matter of urgency and explain what steps have been and will be put in place to turn this unacceptable situation around. The Department should explain what measures it takes to deal with abscondment and whether it has a policy in this regard.
- In the explanation around the new rank structure provided to the Portfolio Committee on Police, it was told that additional ranks would be introduced which would expand the opportunity for promotion. In practice, this does not seem to have been implemented. The Department should provide an explanation for the perceived lack of implementation of the additional ranks. Disillusionment is still apparent at stations where persons who have dedicated themselves to many years of service, are not promoted.
- Control and proper management of available resources are key focus areas of the Committee. The Committee is concerned about the numerous complaints from the police stations about the SAPS garages which apparently often offer a poor service in that vehicles are kept at the garages for long periods of time, and break down again soon after they have been repaired, often at very high cost. The Committee is also concerned that there are vehicles with very high mileage that are continuously breaking down and sent for repair. The Department should provide detailed information to the Committee on control over vehicles, including the policy around replacement versus maintenance/repair, the actual number of available vehicles at police station level that are in good working order, expenditure on vehicles at SAPS garages, and the average length of time that vehicles spend at the SAPS garages.
State (Official) Firearms and other Resources
- The Committee identified a problem, particularly at Robertson police station, which had a high allocation of SAPS firearms, many of which are not needed at the station and are kept in the storage in a separate safe. The Department should explain to the Committee on what basis firearms are allocated and distributed to the stations, and why the SAPS is continuously buying more firearms when it seems as if it may have sufficient (if not more than enough) to meet its needs. The same situation was apparent at this station with regard to bulletproof vests. The National Office needs to address the issue of the appropriate distribution of available resources in the light of increasing expenditure in this regard. The question thus remains as to whether existing resources/assets are being controlled and utilised effectively.
- Members are also concerned around control over the SAPS firearms stores especially in terms of completion of the register. The SAPS cannot be a role-player in the high number of illegal weapons in this country. Ensuring effective control over the SAPS firearms should be prioritised on national level.
Community Service Centre
- Poor statement-taking and formulation of charges was identified as a continuing problem at all stations, despite a number of steps and interventions taken to address these issues. The Department should report to the Committee on whether there are any paralegals that have been appointed to assist this process, and, if so, at which stations these paralegals are based. The Department needs to respond as to whether it is still continuing with its plan to use paralegals to improve these processes.
- Members were extremely concerned that the Atlantis police station has had five Station Commanders over the past four years and that the current Station Commander, who seems to be doing a good job, has been transferred (apparently on his request) and would be leaving the station the week after the visit by the Committee. The continuous shifting of station commanders must impact negatively on the management of the station. The National Office should respond as to the prevalence of this problem, why this continuous shifting is allowed, and steps that it has or will take to address this problem.
- Vacant positions at a management level also remain a concern, particularly when these posts are vacant for long periods of time. The Department should respond to measures that it is taking to fill vacant posts timeously, especially core functions at management level.
- The perceived lack of support given to station commanders when they are clearly faltering in their ability to manage effectively should also be addressed. The Department should identify the systems and processes that are in place to ensure that poor performance of station commanders is speedily identified and addressed. The Department needs to provide the Committee with information on the performance assessments and development plans of station commanders and explain the defined responsibilities of the Cluster, the Province and the National Office in this regard.
Implementation of legislation
- The Committee is still concerned around the lack of proper implementation of the legislation passed by Parliament, particularly with regard to Domestic Violence, Child Justice and the Firearms Control Acts. Best practice in police stations should be shared, and, where required, additional training on implementation of the legislation should be provided. The Department also needs to respond to continued observations of extremely long delays in the firearms licensing process.
Community Policing Forums
- The Department should provide clarity to the Committee on whether the Community Police Forums should be receiving funds, and, if so, how much and from which sources.
Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS)
- The Committee is concerned that the resourcing for these units (particularly in terms of physical resources) is not optimal. In addition, it is recommended that all FCS members undergo mandatory (rather than voluntary) counselling every six months. It is clear that, unless this counselling is mandatory, police members will not undergo it voluntarily.
Report to be considered.
Appendix 1: Media article
Appendix 2: Acronyms and Terms used in the Report
CPF- Community Police Forum
CSC- Community Service Centre
FCS- Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit
SAPS- South African Police Service
SAPS 13 Store- This refers to the stores and safes that hold exhibits including firearm exhibits.
Firearm Safe: This refers to the safe(s) that hold State (official firearms) for use by SAPS members
No related documents