ATC141105: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on Oversight visits to Police Stations in Nyanga and Philippi in the Western Cape Province, dated 31 October 2014



1. Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Police engaged in an oversight visit to the Nyanga and Philippi Police stations in the Western Cape Province on 27 August 2014. This was part of the parliamentary programme and took place during Parliament’s oversight week.

1.1 Purpose and objectives of the visit

The purpose of the oversight visit was to make sure that the South African Police Services (SAPS) were compliant with all the legislation, regulations and standing orders applicable to SAPS. Another objective was to evaluate on the levels of service delivery that the police were providing to the community.

1.2 Delegation

The delegation comprised of the following people:

Members of the Committee:

Hon. F. Beukman (Chairperson)

Hon. J. Maake

Hon. M.A. Molebatsi

Hon. M.Mmola

Hon. D. Kohler Barnard

Hon. L. Mabija

Hon. D. Twala

Hon. Z. Mbhele

Hon. B. Josephs

Support Staff of the Committee:

Ms B Mbengo - Committee Secretary

Mr I Kinnes - Committee Content Advisor

Ms N Van Zyl-Gous - Committee Researcher

Mr T Mbadlanyana - Committee Researcher

Parliamentary Communications Unit

Mr M Molepo - Principal Communication Officer

Civilian Secretariat for Police

Mr S. Mahote - Parliamentary Liaison Officer

Mr. L. Njozela - Monitoring & Evaluation Provincial Secretariat

Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)

Mr M Parman - Deputy Director Investigation

1.3 Stations visited

The following stations were visited by the Committee:

· Nyanga Police Station - 27 August 2014

· Philippi Police Station - 27 August 2014

2. Findings

2.1 NyangaPolice Station

2.1.1 Station Profile

· Nyanga Police station is a Brigadier- level station responsible for six police sectors with a satellite station in the Samora informal settlement. Nyanga Police station is responsible for policing Crossroads, Brown’s Farm and Zwelitsha informal settlements. Each sector should have two vehicles but there are only two vehicles available for the all the sectors.

· The station has an allocated staff component of 285 members, but 30 staff members have either been transferred, received promotions or has resigned. They are still on the staff establishment including a total of seven detectives.

· There are 19 visible policing unit members that are working elsewhere as a result of transfers and promotions.

· The new upgraded Resources Allocation Guide (RAG) puts the total allocated staff at 293 with 93 detectives on the fixed establishment.

· The station recently experienced a problem with sick leave of detectives when many of them took sick leave within one week, creating problems for the investigation of cases.

2.1.2 Community Police Forum

The Chairperson noted that there were reports of problems relating to policing the N2 highway and wanted to know to what extent the Nyanga police was responsible for patrolling the highway. Motorists have been stoned and the Committee needed answers and assurances on the role played by the Nyanga Police station.

The Community Police Forum (CPF) reported to the Committee that there was a shortage of personnel and that they required additional staff members in the Community Service Centre (CSC). They also noted that there were three Crime Prevention Groups at the station.

The CPF also informed the Committee that a crime prevention operation was conducted in May 2014 after the CPFand the police had reinforcements and confiscated over ten firearms and arrested scores of people who had outstanding arrest warrants. Most of the additional staff came from outside the area and were members of the Tactical Response Teams, Dog Unit and the Flying Squad. Most of the station vehicles were parked at the station because there were no personnel to drive them. The CPF engaged with the office of the Provincial Commissioner about the situation with the detectives who have booked off sick and they undertook to get investigate and get back to the CPF.

The Acting Station commander indicated that the Nyanga police do patrol the N2 highway as they deployed a vehicle to do so. They also use a vehicle that was allocated to sector 2 in Crossroads. The station have engaged the Metro Police as a force multiplier, but that they sometimes have too many complaints and one of the vehicles must return to attending to the complaints in the sector. SAPS also reported that they have to ensure that the N2 is well patrolled and therefore they also engage the TRT and the Flying Squad together with the Gugulethu Police station over weekends.

The investigation into the killing of Constable Dumile who was killed in the area is currently being investigated by the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI).

Members of the CPF received complaints against the police on a daily basis. They usually refer these complaints to the Community Service Centre (CSC) and report back to the client. They also refer some of the complaints to the Provincial Secretariat. The CPF also indicated that the complaints included:

· The telephones were sometimes unanswered

· Vehicles took between forty five minutes to one hour to respond to complaints

· The manner in which people are handled in the CSC when they make complaints

The CPF was of the view that there can be no excuse for the manner in which SAPS are handling complaints from residents in Nyanga.

Members wanted to know if there was a Community Safety Plan in place at the station and what the priorities of the station were in terms of crimes. They also wanted to know how the station was going to deal with the 25 000 unlicensed liquor outlets in the area. It was also reported that the head of detectives did not take up his post since his appointment and Members wanted to know when this would happen.

The CPF indicated that the deployment of extra personnel in crime prevention operations that took place, was as a result of a request of the CPF. There is a Community Safety Plan in place and the station is working with the Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) project. Through this project they have begun to narrow down the areas that should be policed. A programme will start on 1 September 2014 that will focus on drug houses and shebeens . The street committees are the cornerstone of the strategy and there have been public meetings called to inform and mobilise residents against drugs in the area, especially methamphetamines (TIK). Most of the robberies in the area is as a result of drug abuse. The priority crimes for the area include murder, abuse of women and children and the circulation of illegal firearms.

2.1.3 Illegal Shebeens

Members were concerned about the 25 000 illegal shebeens operating in the area and wanted to know what the policing plan was to deal with this problem. The Acting Station Commander reported that they have raided over 28 shebeens in weekly operations which they intend to continue. The illegal shebeens have mushroomed in the community and they are monitoring its growth with regular raids.

2.1.4 Head of Detectives

The Station Commander reported that the head of detectives did not take up his post after his appointment as he had applied for leave at the Delft police station where he was stationed prior to him coming to the station. He did report to the Nyanga Station Commander to inform him that he was on leave and will take up his post when he returns from leave.

The shortage of detectives was attributed to the fact that some of the Nyanga detectives were placed at other units and have not been replaced. Some of the detectives have been seconded to other units such as the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA), the Taxi Violence Unit, TRT and the Operational command centre. There are also twelve others who have left the station through retirement, death and promotion who have never been removed from the staff establishment. They are in the process of having these individuals removed from the establishment.

2.1.5 Policing the N2 highway

The Acting Station Commander reported that the patrol of the N2 Highway was coordinated by the operational command centre. The Flying Squad has the responsibility of twenty four hour general patrols and the Nyanga station supports these patrols. The only time when the patrol vehicle leaves the N2 is when there are complaints it has to attend to. The Public Order Police (POP) Unit has the responsibility of crowd management when it comes to stoning of vehicles and policing blockades.

2.1.6 Gangs

The station is also dealing with a growth of gangs such as the Amavura and the AmaVatos gangs. The Amavura are primarily active in the Brown’s farm and Crossroads areas. Both gangs contribute to the violence and murder in the community. They are being monitored and policed by the station.

The Committee Members proceeded to inspect the station.

2.2 Report Back

2.2.1 Community Service Centre (CSC)

· Members found that all the registers as far as the Domestic Violence Act was in place, signed and contained the relevant information. They were however not updated regularly.

· The physical condition of the CSC was assessed and Members rated it to be in good condition and gave it a score of 8/10. They interviewed members of the public who informed them that they were satisfied with the services provided although they had to wait between 1-2 hours to be assisted because of long lines at the station. Despite this, they felt that the station was much better than before.

· The concern was raised that junior police officers did not salute their seniors but the SAPS indicated that they did not have to do so all the time, except once they have seen their superiors for the first time.

· Every room that the Members visited in the CSC was normal and they did not find any deviation from the regulations and policies.

· The e-Docket was fully implemented at the station after checks. Many of the dockets are being scanned into the system.

· The signage and directions to the station is accessible.

· The Automatic Vehicle Location System (AVLS) is operational and is being monitored by the Provincial Office and not the police station.

2.2.2 Detectives

· The station has 63 detectives and 7 are deployed elsewhere in units outside the station. The detectives are stationed at the Group 40 building in Eiseleben Road which is about three kilometres from the station, due to space constraints.

· There are insufficient detectives at the station and 15 additional detectives are needed at the station.

· The average detective has about 17 years of experience and about 38 of them has over 11 years of experience as detectives.

· The average age of detectives are about 30+ and the age of the youngest detective is about 20 years while the oldest is in his late 50s.

· Detectives carry a docket load of 9000 with each detective investigating about 200 dockets. The detective carrying the least number of dockets is 45 (which is gang task team member) and the detective carrying the most dockets is 600.

· There are 10 643 cases being investigated with 4396 cases that have been closed undetected.

· The Committee was impressed with Major Poleman who audits the detective caseload monthly.

· The Committee noted that five of the station’s bakkies have been involved in accidents in the Eastern Cape as the station travels there for investigations on regular basis.

2.2.3 SAPS 13 Stores

· Members found 13 Dockets in the e-docket room.

· The SAPS stores and the Archives section was neat and in order and the dockets and evidence was well stored and referenced.

· Of concern was that the person in charge was retiring at the end of the month and there is no plan in place to train someone to take over the duties of the individual.

· The individual has also received no formal training for managing archive stores and despite the fact that he is working with someone that is relatively young, it is a risk and the Committee urged the station manager to give attention to this.

2.2.4 Staffing

· The station has 292 allocated staff members and 285 actual members.

· On average, 10% of the members take leave over weekends and 5% on night shifts.

· Most absenteeism occurs during June and July and members also take sick leave after the completion of their four day on, four day off shifts if it happens to fall over weekends.

· This accounts for the high figure of sick leave and the Employee Health and Wellness section is dealing with the problem.

2.2.5 Training

· There are 36 eligible managers that qualified for the Commissioned Officers Learning Programme (COLP) and 35 completed the course.

· Eleven managers qualified to attend the Middle Management Learning programme and seven completed the course.

· 131 officers at the station have been trained in the Domestic Violence Act and 12 completed the training of Trainers course.

· 10 were trained in the Child Justice Act and 1 in the Second Hand Goods Act.

2.2.6 Discipline and Grievances

· Most of the disciplinary cases and grievances at the station have been dealt with amicably and resolved.

· There have only been 2 corruption cases at the station and this was processed and completed.

· There have been 425 complaints involving discipline and grievances of which 61 were investigated. In two cases, the officers were dismissed for fraud and corruption.

· On average, these cases take 7 days to be investigated at the station and 60 days at the provincial office.

· There have been 55 public complaints against police officers by members of the public which are being investigated by the Police Inspectorate Division. Three cases were forwarded for further investigation.

· The station also provided the Committee the Second Hand Goods Act list of dealers.

3. Recommendations

3.1 Of concern to the Committee was the staff shortage at the station, especially the detectives. The Committee recommended that the matter be addressed by the provincial management and make available additional staff to the station.

3.2 The Committee was concerned about the lack of a clear crime intelligence capability at the station.

3.3 The Committee recommended that a sustainable plan be developed to police the N2 highway and that the police make available such a plan to the Committee.

3.4 The Committee recommended that force multipliers be used and that the Metro police be engaged to assist the SAPS with policing the area.

3.5 The Committee recommended that the Provincial Commissioner be invited to the Committee on 10 September 2014 to provide responses to the Committee’s recommendations.

4. Conclusion

The Chairperson thanked the acting station commander and his staff for their co-operation during the visit.

5. Philippi Police station

5.1 Gang violence strategy

The Committee visited the Philippi Police station to understand the station’s strategy to deal with gang violence, especially in the Hanover Park area. The visit to the station was unannounced. In his briefing the Station Commander, indicated that there were 6 active gang groupings in the area.

The Conflict in the area was primarily between the gangs was as a result of turf problems, but that the threat has been minimised. The station is part of Operation Combat which meets every three weeks to ascertain what progress have been made against the leadership of gangs in the area. As a result there has been a substantial decrease in gang violence in the area, and a recovery of firearms on a weekly basis. There have also been a 13% increase in the amount of drugs that have been seized as a result of regular vehicle checkpoints.

The Committee raised questions about the reports of collusion by police officers with gangsters.

The Station Commander responded by confirming that there have been such rumours and they have held izimbizo’s where they have encouraged the community to come forward and report such collusion. They have no evidence and have also asked crime intelligence at provincial level to investigate the rumours. One of the eight pillars of Operation Combat is the fight against corruption. As a result of the strategy, police officers working on the operation are rotated on a monthly basis and a few police officers have been arrested. Members of the Committee were unhappy with the response as they were not convinced that a set period can be determined how long it takes for police officers to become corrupt.

The Committee wanted to know to what extent the City was co-operating with SAPS and how sustainable the strategy was with respect to disrupting the gang structures.

The Station Commander indicated that they have an open day with schoolchildren as they have problems that develops at school. The sector manager is tasked with addressing the school problem and the conflicts that develops at school, but spill over into the community in the form of gang fights. The SAPS has also had a meeting with the Western Cape Education Department to assist in its efforts to address gang violence at Crystal High school. They noted that up to 40% of arrests that the station effects are schoolchildren between the ages of 14-18 years.

Members wanted to know what SAPS was doing about racial attacks at the Crystal High School

SAPS indicated that they distinguish between is a difference between gangs and Gangsterism and that people make choices. The station also informed that there are racial conflict between learners at the school as a result of an attack on a learner who lives in Langa . The intervention at Crystal High school started a long time ago and there were also other reasons for the conflict and violence at the school and in the community. Some of the gang fights was started as a result of disputes over girlfriends, drugs, impregnation of girls and robbery etc. The station commander also informed that they had to deal with a revenge killing in the area. The station also has a crime information officer which is different to the Crime Intelligence officers. Crime collection is managed at a provincial level and a cluster level while the crime information officer deals with crime stats at station level and compiles the station profile.

Members commenced with the inspection of the station.

6. Report Back

6.1 Community Service Centre

· The members reported that the station complied with all the necessary prescripts and regulations in terms of SAPS Act. The station does not have an e-docket system and do all their dockets manually.

· The station is accessible and has good signage and accessibility to people with disabilities.

· The last date of entry in the station register was 28 August 2014.

· The filing system was good and the station was able to produce all the registers and entries in the registers were in order. There was compliance with all the prescripts and standing orders.

· The station has 336 reported Domestic Violence cases on the case register.

· Members commended the station commissioner and his team for their good compliance and record keeping with respect to registers in the CSC.

· The Victim friendly room was in place and there is a volunteer on duty at the station. There were also high school students who came to the station for training in domestic violence while the oversight visit was taking place.

· The domestic violence registers were up to date and complied with the necessary regulations.

· The Second Hands Goods Act was implemented at the station and the registers were up to date. The station has registered 16 second hand good dealers.

6.2 Detectives

· The previous head of detectives was on sick leave and there was an acting commander on duty at the time of the visit.

· The station has a caseload of 8272 cases for A and B crimes and detectives carry about 130 dockets each.

· There have been three dockets stolen at the station which is still under investigation.

· The training of detectives are on course and the station needs 14 more detectives.

6.3 Cells

· The station has nine cells and all of it was in operation at the time of the oversight visit.

· Each cell was designed to hold five people.

· At the time of the visit, nine people in total were held in the cells.

· The cells were clean and not overcrowded and the J8 register corresponded with the number of people in the cells.

· There were 2 children under the age of 18 held separately in juvenile cells who were recently arrested. They had no visible injuries.

· There was a list of probation officers at the station.

6.4 SAPS 13 Stores

· The Committee was impressed with the record keeping in the evidence stores. It was well organised and the archives were in order.

· There was only staff member allocated and the member had received no training.

· It was however noted that the register for recording closed dockets is dated March 2012 and supply chain management did not provide fresh books.

· The office was under capacitated.

7. SAPS response

The Station Commander noted that there are different challenges faced by the station as they also have to police a farm area. There are six informal settlements and the station must deal with gang violence. There is a resource challenge with a shortage of members and detectives at the station. Between 15 -16 000 people moved into a new informal settlement in the last two years and the station has a rating of 3 on the performance chart.

7.1 Recommendations

1. The Committee commended the station commander and his team on the state of the management at the station.

2. The Committee recommended that it wanted the levels of gang violence reduced and that it should be prioritised.

3. The Committee recommended that it monitors progress at the station and makes a follow up visit to Nyanga and Philippi stations.

Report to be considered.


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