ATC150716: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on its Oversight visit to the Mpumalanga Province, dated 10 February 2015
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON POLICE ON ITS OVERSIGHT VISIT TO THE MPUMALANGA PROVINCE, DATED 10 FEBRUARY 2015
The Portfolio Committee on Police having conducted an oversight visit to the Lebombo Land Port of Entry (LPOE), Kruger National Park (KNP) Skukuza, Hazyview Public Order Policing (POP) Unit, Nelspruit Police Station, Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Provincial Office, Nelspruit and the South African Police Service (SAPS) Provincial Head Office, Nelspruit from 02-06 February 2015, reports as follows:
- Objectives of the visit
The objectives of the oversight visit to the Mpumalanga Province were to assess:
- The capacity and capability of specialised SAPS units in the province, including border control, anti-poaching and public order policing units;
- service delivery at ground level;
- the implementation of the budget approved by Parliament;
- the implementation of the policy and legislation passed by Parliament; and
- the capacity and capability of the IPID.
The delegation comprised the following people:
Members of the Committee:
Hon. F Beukman (Chairperson)
Hon. J Maake
Hon. M Molebatsi
Hon. M Mmola
Hon. L Mabija
Hon. D Kohler Barnard
Hon. Z Mbhele
Hon. D Twala
Hon. M Mncwango
Support Staff of the Committee:
Ms B Mbengo - Committee Secretary
Mr I Kinnes - Committee Content Adviser
Ms N Van Zyl - Gous - Committee Researcher
Mr K Lobi - Committee Assistant
Mr T Gabula - Principal Communication Officer
Civilian Secretariat for Police
Mr S Mahote - Parliamentary Liaison Officer
Ms S Samuels - Complaints Monitoring
Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)
Mr O Khanyi - Deputy Director: Investigations
- Locations Visited
The following locations were visited by the Committee:
- Lebombo Border Post: 2 February 2015
- Kruger National Park Rhino Anti-Poaching Task Team, Skukuza: 03 February 2015
- Hazyview Public Order Policing Unit: 04 February 2015
- Nelspruit Police Station: 05 February 2015
- Mpumalanga Provincial Police Head Office, Nelspruit: 05 February 2015
- Independent Police Investigative Directorate, Nelspruit: 06 February 2015
- Lebombo border post
- Provincial Crime Profile
The Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed the new Provincial Commissioner, General Magahlela. He commented that there needs to be an understanding of the challenges facing the country with respect to Border Control. He further noted that the events in Soweto and Alexandra with relation to illegal immigrants must be understood in terms of sharper issues relating to border management. Border control issues are part of the public discourse and the Committee needed answers on matters relating to co-operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
The Chairperson stated that the Committee wanted to engage on three levels: firstly, to engage with the provincial management on the state of policing in Mpumalanga, secondly to tour the Lebombo Border Post in order to conduct a physical inspection of the facilities and lastly to understand the role of the SAPS in border control.
The Provincial Commissioner, General Magahlela led the presentation on the state of policing in the Province. He indicated that the Mpumalanga province shares borders with Mozambique and provincial borders with the KwaZulu – Natal and Limpopo provinces. He indicated that a major problem was the fact that there are challenges with public order policing (POP) related specifically to the lack of adequate resources. Many of the POPs units have to travel vast distances to addend to protests, which takes valuable time.
The Committee was informed that since the implementation of the SAPS Garage Turn-around Strategy, all Provincial Garages haven been functioning under the control of the SAPS National Head Office. This has impacted the province significantly in term of vehicle availability. On average, it takes about three (3) weeks for a vehicle to be serviced. The Committee was informed that the Mpumalanga, Free State and North West provinces are classified as category B provinces, but that the Mpumalanga province is not equally resourced.
Issues relating specifically to the border control include:
- the multi-purpose centre;
- the multi-disciplinary team with SARS and Customs; and
- the levels of co-operation.
The Committee was informed that other agencies involved in border control have adequate residential accommodation, but that the SAPS members did not have the necessary accommodation and is forced to hire accommodation between 20-30 kilometres away.
Members of the Committee had an engagement with the Provincial Commissioner where several questions were raised. The issues raised by Members focussed on the impact of the new garage strategy, and the main drivers of violent and cross-border crime and corruption. In response the SAPS indicated that alcohol abuse is one of the main drivers of crime, because shebeens stay open very late and most crimes are committed when shebeens close. There are also too many shebeens in the area and more shebeens lead to more crime. This affects the fixed establishment and from a topographical analysis and the crime pattern analysis, the growth of the informal settlements gives rise to more infrastructural needs and demands for service delivery. The SAPS indicated that managers were unhappy with the situation because the Resource Allocation Guide (RAG) was developed with formal tools, but did not take into account the fact that people who also enter the area illegally such as the situation in Soweto.
As far as corruption was concerned, four members of the flying squad were arrested after they convened a roadblock which was not sanctioned by the station commander. The SAPS were also using the internal audit services and conducting lifestyle audits on its members. Members were also renting out their firearms and a police captain was arrested. The SAPS informed the Committee that the majority of members involved in corruption are junior members. In order to combat corruption, SAPS have established grooming camps at national level. Out of a total of 600 candidates, only 300 made it past the last stages.
The SAPS reported that most border crossings are illegal and that people have become creative by using different means to cross the river. Drugs are also a major problem and they contribute to residential burglaries.
Part of the challenges facing SAPS members at LPOE is an insufficient number of vehicles allocated to the Province. Currently there is a discrepancy of 251 vehicles.
Members raised a further number of concerns and indicated that the shortage of equipment, such as bulk cargo scanners, must impact on the number of vehicles and trains searched, especially during peak times like Easter weekend and the festive season. Members also raised concern on the cooperation between the SAPS and the Department of Home Affairs.
The SAPS responded by indicating that they will establish a Border Crime Forum and that they would liaise with the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Organisation for Cooperation (SARPCCO). Cross border operations with Mozambique and Swaziland is coordinated by the NatJoints structure. There is currently a strong working relationship between South Africa and Mozambique. The SAPS Crime Intelligence Division and the DPCI are also stationed at the border post.
The SAPS have asked for extra staff, especially over the Easter weekend and the Festive season and more units were mobilised as the lines can stretch for up to 20 kilometres during these periods.
The border post requires truck scanners and there are attempts to buy scanners. The SAPS also informed that the shortage of vehicles in Mpumalanga stood at 193.
The provincial SAPS has five buildings in Nelspruit from which they operate, but have a shortage of accommodation. They indicated that they required one building from which to operate and to house everyone as they have members working in passages.
- Inspection at the Lebombo Border Post
Members of the Committee received a briefing from the SAPS and afterwards toured the facilities at the Lebombo Border Post. During the briefing the SAPS reported that the market for illegal goods must be closed. There are currently 160 SAPS members and 16 PSA members deployed at the Lebombo border, which is insufficient for the large amount of vehicles and pedestrians that cross the border daily. The SAPS have three dog handlers (one for narcotics and two for explosives), although they require eight dog handlers. In terms of equipment, the SAPS has fifteen vehicles available and also an infrared telescopic camera, a fibre scope and instant portable drug testers.
The Lebombo LPOE has a large number of crossings annually. It is estimated that 450 000 trucks, 1000 000 vehicles and 1 500 000 persons cross the border each year. During the 2014/15 financial year, the SAPS achieved the following successes:
- A total of 364 vehicles were seized with a value of R 100 980 993.00;
- Seven firearms and 164 live ammunition rounds were seized;
- Drugs including dagga, khat, ephedrine, illegal cigarettes and crystal meth were seized;
- A total of 60 wanted suspects were arrested for crimes including murder, possession of illegal firearms, driving under the influence , fraud and other crimes; and
- A total of 102 110 illicit counterfeit goods were seized.
The SAPS identified the following challenges in terms of its policing efforts at the Lebombo LPOE:
- The current infrastructure is not conducive for policing as no offices are provided to the SAPS;
- Policing needs were largely ignored during the construction of the facilities;
- The borderline is not properly secured in terms of fencing;
- The SAPS members are exposed to a unhealthy work environment with no adequate shelter with temperatures of between 40 - 42 degrees Celsius;
- Dust is a major problem because the side of the road where trucks pull over is gravel at the border post;
- During rainy weather, no vehicles are searched due to the lack of undercover shelters or search areas;
- The unavailability of a bulk cargo scanner leads to many truck passing through the border unchecked;
- There is a shortage of members during the Easter and Festive season periods; and
- The proposed one stop border post is not in place due to legal impediments raised by the SAPS and has not been operationalised.
The Border Control Operational Committee reported that there Lebombo LPOE is the third largest in South Africa. Over four (4) million people cross the border annually. The current systems available at the LPOE are stressed and fragmented due to the growth in passenger numbers. This causes delays and major traffic jams. This is compounded during school holidays, public holidays and the Festive Season. In addition, there are freight trains that pass through the Lebombo LPOE together with two passenger trains from Mozambique per week. The train stations were not considered a port of entry and as such neither freight nor passenger trains were checked when crossing the border.
The Committee was informed that there was a lack of visibility of senior managers and the integrity of some staff members was questionable. However, it was stated that this was being addressed through integrity testing and other anti-corruption methodologies. The SAPS component is subject to lie detector tests.
It was stated that the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is managing a tri-lateral forum with Swaziland and Mozambique to address various challenges associated with the Lebombo LPOE. In certain areas, there is fencing, which creates informal crossings. In this respect, the finalisation of agreements are a priority.
Members of the Committee raised concerns about rotation of police officials at the Lebombo LPOE, accommodation for police officers and whether the strategy was integrated. Members also expressed concern about the vehicle queues that build up overnight when the LPOE closes and wanted to know whether there were moves towards the establishment of a twenty four hour LPOE. Committee Members also raised concerns about the border infrastructure given that many SAPS members did not have offices at the Border Post. The Committee raised further concern over the lack of inspections done at the Lebombo LPOE – the last inspection conducted by the Inspectorate was in 2005. Lastly, Members of the Committee were perturbed by the fact that there were no ablution facilities and that police officers had to walk over 200 meters to find a toilet. The nearer ablution facilities are public and cannot be used by the SAPS as it poses a major security risk.
The police responded by indicating that there was a rotation system in place previously which has been replaced by a permanent system. The system made provision for SAPS officers to be transferred or permanently boarded. The integration of the strategy with other departments is co-ordinated by the Provincial Joints and joint operations is co-ordinated by the National Joints structure.
The SAPS indicated that funds are made available for extra personnel during the Easter and the Festive Season periods, but that it is not enough. There was agreement with the Committee in terms of the need for the establishment of a 24 hour post, which will reduce the backlogs significantly. The SAPS also agreed that is possible to increase the numbers of confiscated firearms and drugs, as it was currently negligible.
The SAPS further indicated that they experience challenges with transport as there are no public transport systems available to and from the nearest town.
The SAPS stated that there are currently eight (8) Departments involved in monitoring border security, including the SAPS, DPCI, Home Affairs, South African Revenue Services (SARS), State Security and the SANDF. Crime Intelligence is a joint effort and through the Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) there are engagements and co-operation with intelligence agencies from other countries.
The Chairperson noted the responses and indicated that national security was a critical matter and that the security at the borders cannot be compromised. This matter was raised in the 2015 State of the Nation speech by the President and in the short term, a joint visit with the Parliamentary Committees on Intelligence, Home Affairs and the South African Revenue Services to LPOE is envisaged.
The Committee resolved to call a follow-up meeting on 18 February 2015 with the Department of Public Works, SAPS Supply Chain Management and the DPCI to account for the problems with infrastructure and investigations at the Lebombo LPOE. The Director General of Public Works should account for the Public Works border building programme and the Visible Policing Programme should report on its wellness programme at the Lebombo LPOE. Lastly, the Chairperson noted that he expected the province to list its requirements to enable it to implement effective policing at the border post. He thanked SAPS members for their roles and work at the Border Post.
- Anti – Rhino Poaching Task Team in the Kruger National Park (KNP), Skukuza
On the second day, the Committee visited the Anti-Rhino Poaching Task Team in the KNP to assess the effectiveness of the operations and also to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by the unit in view of the increasing incidents of rhino poaching.
The Committee welcomed Hon. Violet Nkuna, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Safety and Security in the Mpumalanga Province Legislature, who joined the oversight visit. At the site, the Committee was welcomed by the Acting Head of the KNP, Dr Danie Pienaar, who reported that the numbers of poached rhinoceros were increasing and that the park rangers could not continue to fight the battle alone. For this reason, it was important to work with the SAPS and take the battle outside the KNP. He called on the Committee to support the fight as it requires resources to police inside and outside the Park.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee was there to assess whether the efforts to fight poaching were making a difference. He also indicated that the resourcing of units to fight rhino poaching should be a priority and with a budget of R72, 5 billion rand, the SAPS should be in a position to effectively police the situation of Rhino poaching. He asked that SAPS members be frank with the Committee when reporting on their situation.
- Briefing by the South African National Parks (SANPARKS)
The leader of the SANPARK anti-poaching team, Gen Johan Jooste, stated that the only measure for success is that the numbers of poaching must be drastically reduced. The estimated poacher force has grown to 5 000 people operating within and outside the KNP. Gen Jooste indicated that the size of the KNP is about 1000km2 which is larger than some countries. The Park’s border with Mozambique is over 356 km long. Corruption is a major problem affecting the KNP, but that is not uncontrollable. All the Park rangers have been subject to integrity testing and the Park have conducted 1 376 tests on its rangers. In 2014, a total number of 827 rhinos were reported killed in the KNP and despite the measures put in place to fight poaching, the chances of getting caught in the KNP are very slim.
The numbers of rhino in South Africa have grown from 300 to over 10 000, but have begun to decline as a result of poaching. The rhino population is currently estimated at just over 8 000 nationally. The number of weapons recovered in the KNP totalled 179 in 2014 and 386 poachers were arrested in the same period.
The Committee was informed that rhino poachers are paid between R100 000 – R150 000 per rhino horn poached and the rhino horn was reaching $65 000 per kilogram on the black market. The view of SANPARKS is to give the surrounding communities a bigger stake in the Park and rhinos to assist with demand reduction. The main object is to make rhinos worth more alive than dead.
The KNP is currently experimenting with using aerial surveillance, including drones and hot air balloons which is co-ordinated from the joint operations centre. The south of the KNP has been declared an intensive protection zone (IPZ). The SANPARKS is working with Mozambique authorities to curb poaching and arrest perpetrators. The Nat Joints structure has given permission for sharing intelligence and joint operations with the SAPS. A new environmental police unit has been deployed in Mozambique, which is providing assistance.
Members of the Committee questioned the proposed rhino relocation programme and were informed that there were talks to move some of the rhino to safe areas to surrounding counters, including Botswana. There have also been discussions with Australia, but it would take the Rhino outside its natural breeding zones and climate. As a rule, SANPARKS do not allocate rhino to private reserves, but share intelligence with them.
Committee members were also informed that advanced firearm training for park rangers is underway, including courses on sustaining themselves in the veld. The Committee wanted to know whether all rangers and higher levels of management were subjected to the integrity tests. The Committee raised concerns about the stockpile of rhino horn and whether the SANPARKS have considered to burn it as was done in other countries. Other concerns of the Committee included the efficacy of intelligence gathering and whether the fence around the KNP was electrified.
In response, the SANPARKS indicated that the entire ranger corps, the entire leadership, board and executive committee are subject to integrity testing. All rhino horns in the Park are micro-chipped and it cannot be sold or given away by rhino owners who require permits from the Department of Environmental Affairs to do so. The SANPARKS indicated that great care is taken with the security of the stockpile of horns and that consideration was given to burning the stockpile, but was decided against. The Committee was informed that most of the poachers arrested in the KNP are from Mozambique and some of the immediate surrounding communities. During 2014, a total of 386 poachers were arrested of which most were from South Africa, and some from Mozambique and from inside the KNP. Of concern was the fact that the level three threats is where the money is and they do not reside in the country. As far as the fence is concerned, the SANPARKS are looking at a seismic cable which will be customised for various sectors.
The SANPARKS have also invested resources in the surrounding communities in order to connect with them through community upliftment projects. The SANPARKS have adopted three schools and provided them with resources and bursaries. The Park is the biggest employer in the region and employs about 2000 people and focusses on environmental education. The SANPARKS rangers now also operate outside the Park, especially when wild animals escape.
Electronic measures will be in place at the Park within three months and the private security companies were replaced because they did not perform well. Other measures are in place with respect to security. Every gate will also have sniffer dogs in place and additional intelligence was an important need.
- SAPS Anti-Poaching Task-team
The SAPS reported that the responsibility of dealing with the levels one (1) to three (3) threats are that of the SAPS and for levels four (4) and five (5) are the responsibility of the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI). According to the SAPS, its mandate for dealing with endangered species was increased due to the complexity of the investigations as hunting associations were also poaching rhino. An investigation capability was established outside the KNP to be more proactive in dealing with threats after a work-study investigation was completed. A specialised detective capacity has been developed and received specialised training on wildlife investigations. Cross border crimes are investigated under the auspices of the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Organisation for Cooperation (SARPCCO).Tracing operations are conducted with DNA samples collected at all the 386 crime scenes. It was also stated that South Africa is the only country in the world to use DNA testing in this environment. During July to December 2014 seizures included fifty-three (53) firearms, nine (9) vehicles, forty-two (42) axes and knives and twenty (20) rhino horns. According to SAPS, levels four (4) and five (5) investigations, which primarily focus on external suspects, are not being effectively conducted. To curb corruption, the SAPS is currently developing a new policy on mandatory polygraph test for all its members.
Committee members were concerned about the fact that there was a big gap in the intelligence gathering capacity of the SAPS. The Committee noted that there were only two crime intelligence officers allocated to the team. The SAPS responded by stating that there is an additional intelligence capacity at cluster level and that the Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) is involved before it goes to the Joint Operational Command.
As far as the SAPS Air wing is concerned, the SAPS is considering using a fixed wing aircraft to facilitate a rapid response and additionally is using a helicopter with detached duties. The SAPS reported that there are cases on the court roll and that the main decision makers with respect to prosecution was the National Prosecution Service (NPA). One of the concerns for the SAPS is that the NPA is considering closing the Skukuza Court. They appealed to the Committee to assist in this regard. The majority of cases are still on the court roll and the majority of suspects was still in custody. The SAPS stated that two customised rhino vehicles have been deployed with increased manoeuvrability in bush terrain and have also ordered new Toyota Land-cruisers.
- Site visit
After the briefings, the Committee was taken to a recent poaching site near the Pretoriuskop rest camp. The rhino was a sub-adult male shot two (2) days back. The Committee was able to observe the manner in which the SAPS and SANPARKS handled the crime scene and gather forensic DNA evidence. The specialised pathologist performed an autopsy on the carcass to extract any remaining ballistic evidence. The Committee had the opportunity to experience the harsh and traumatic working conditions of the SAPS Anti-poaching task team and the SANPARK rangers.
- Hazyview Public Order Police Unit
The Committee visited the Hazyview Public Order Police (POP) unit to assess the capacity and capability of the unit. The SAPS was asked to report on the state of readiness and equipment to attend to a medium to high risk situation in terms of public disorder.
The SAPS reported that the provincial policing areas covered a surface area of 79 495 km2 with 15 cluster stations and 86 police stations. The Hazyview POP unit serves five (5) clusters, which includes: Acornhoek, Pienaar, Lydenberg, Nelspruit and Tonga.
The Hazyview POP unit has 60 SAPS members and eight (8) PSA personnel. The unit has eight (8) Nyala armoured vehicles, three (3) water cannons, four (4) video cameras, and 13 vehicles. The unit has 16 trained Nyala drivers and 58 members has firearm competency certificates. All 60 members are trained in crowd management. There are nine (9) Nyalas allocated to the Unit of which eight (8) are not serviceable, leaving one (1) Nyala operational. In the first quarter, the Unit dealt with 86 crowd management incidents of which 28 were peaceful. The second quarter also had 86 incidents and the third quarter saw 55 incidents.
The POP Unit experienced a number of challenges including the fact that the accommodation of the Unit was inadequate. It was using a parade room for offices. The Unit required additional human resources of up to 145 members so that it could have four (4) fully fledged platoons and a reserve platoon. The Unit only has two (2) members on standby in the operations room after hours. There is a shortage of IT equipment and the Commander does not have a laptop. In addition, the members require earpieces for their radios and the section leader requires a mobile phones.
The Committee enquired about the National Instructions with respect to new training doctrines for members. Committee Members were also concerned about the fact that there were no allocated female officers at the Unit. Members were also concerned about the working relationship between the clusters and the station.
The SAPS responded that there were various standing orders relating to policing crowds and that Standing Order (SO) 262 provides for the extent of the use of force. After the Marikana incident, the SO 262 was reviewed and a new methodology is currently in use. Out of nine (9) members, only two (2) were declared not competent in firearms competency. The Unit is capable to use a video camera and have a trained operator. There is continuous in-service training with in-service trainers.
The SAPS reported that only one (1) Nyala vehicle is available. This compromises service delivery as they have to prioritise crowd control incidents. Eight (8) of the vehicles are being serviced since January 2015. The matter is being monitored and the Supply Chain Management (SCM) section is dealing with the garages to manage the situation.
The Committee was highly concerned about the problem and noted that it was a national security issue that must be urgently addressed. The key concern was that the SCM section were not playing their part in providing the vehicles to the Unit timeously and Members asked that the issue regarding garages must be monitored.
In their response the SAPS stated that the issue of garages was a matter that resided with the National SCM section. Since 1 April 2014, all SAPS garages were centralised to the national office. Since then, the SAPS was given the mandate that the Nyalas should be fixed in the province and also overseen by the provincial office. The SCM managers are currently receiving training.
The province is also in the process of training garage managers and artisans. However, SAPS garages are under-resources and Nyala are specialised vehicles that cannot be fixed in-house.
Members were very concerned that it appeared that the SAPS did not know what the process and procedures of sending vehicles to garages were. The Members wanted to know if any SAPS official were disciplined in the process. The Provincial Commissioner stated that he found replacement vehicles in White River and that he secured a meeting with General Kruser to discuss the matter of garages. As the Provincial Commissioner, he took full accountability and responsibility for the issues raised by the Committee.
The Chairperson stated that an interim report must be provided to the Committee prior to the meeting that was scheduled on 18 February 2015. The report should include recommendations on the centralisation and decentralisation of the SAPS garages.
The POP unit was granted 95 members, which meant that the Unit needed 33 members to fill its granted posts. In additions, the Unit do not have barracks and SAPS members live between 20-30 kilometres away from Hazyview. When there is an emergency and SAPS members must be deployed, they have to rely on each other for transport. The Committee was also informed that the Hazyview POP Unit has to support other Units in the province when required to do so.
The Chairperson thanked the Provincial Commissioner for his co-operation during the visit and wished him well for his tenure as the new Provincial Commissioner. He suggested that the Provincial Commissioner “do some housekeeping” to make sure that his provincial team is able to perform duties well in order to support the programme and vision of the province. The Chairperson insisted that Crime Intelligence should be given much more support in the Province, especially crimes involving levels four and five threats.
The Chairperson concluded that SCM was not playing its role effectively as the provision of equipment and resources to the POP Unit, as resourcing was clearly insufficient. Given that the POPs was a priority, it was imperative that they are given the necessary additional resources. In addition, the police stations must give the POPs unit the necessary support and co-operation if the fight against crime if the province were to succeed. The Visible Policing section should understand the urgency of the situation and provide the necessary assistance and co-operation to manage the process. The SAPS should be aware of the number of available Nyalas. The leadership of SAPS should demonstrate the necessary urgency to affect the necessary changes. If it does not happen, there should be consequences for the management and leadership at National and Provincial level. The Portfolio Committee will monitor the situation and elevate it to the National Minister if the matters raised at the station are not addressed.
- Nelspruit Police Station
The Committee visited the Nelspruit police station to conduct an oversight visit in order to assess whether it is compliant with the national regulations and standing orders and to make recommendations about the station’s service delivery to the surrounding communities.
- Briefing by the Station Commander
The Nelspruit police station polices a population of 21 537 within a 131 451km2 area. The unemployment rate is 6.1 per-cent and the policing of the Maputo corridor stretches over sixty (60) km. The police station is serviced by nine courts and has three correctional facilities in its policing area (Nelspruit, Barberton and Hendrina correctional facilities). The station cluster office is located in the Nelspruit police station and the languages spoken in the area includes Siswati, English and Afrikaans.
The station has 237 SAPS Act members and 56 Public Service Act members. There is a shortage of 14 SAPS members in terms of the fixed establishment. There are 23 members working in the nine courts and 32 working in crime prevention. The station has 40 detectives, of which 16 work in the crime office. There is a shortage of 10 detectives. The station also has 82 support personnel comprising 26 SAPS members and 56 PSA members. Nelspruit police station has 44 vehicles with a shortage of 26 vehicles. There are monthly management meetings and parades on a daily basis.
The station performance indicated that the performance of the station dropped since 2013/14 as the increase in priority crime affected its performance. Aggravated robbery, common robbery, assault and theft of and out of motor vehicles were the station’s main crimes. The main generators of crime appeared to be liquor, drugs, domestic violence, labour disputes and an influx of undocumented foreign nationals together with the availability of stolen goods.
The management reported that sector policing was implemented and that included rural safety programmes. The Community Police Forum (CPF) was functioning and the station had a victim friendly facility with four volunteers. There were 25 Category One (1) reservists attached to the station which had 14 holding cells of which four were operational.
During the time of the visit, there were 199 liquor outlets and 118 private security companies in the policing area. There were five escapes from custody while inmates were in court, at hospital and in transit.
The station has embarked on partnerships with the Tourism Safety Monitors, safety ambassadors (car guards), the City CCTV camera project, the Riverside Park precinct project and the Stakeholders Forum.
The station experienced an increase in firearm applications including 32 new firearm applications and 28 applications for firearm competency certificates. The collection of finalised licences was a problem with there being just under 1000 cards at the station.
As far as detectives were concerned, the station reported that a crime office was established at the station. They have focussed on serious and violent crimes, and economic crime categories. There are also generalised crime investigations and the station purchased short message service (sms) bundles to inform complainants about the outcome of their cases. The station had a budget of R7 612 051 and dealt with 11 accidents, including nine from the Vispol section at the station. The Detectives division finalised 56 investigations and two are still under investigation. Three cases of corruption are being investigated and 8 out of nine additional cases of corruption were finalised. The station faced 44 civil claims of which 29 were for illegal arrests, 12 for collisions and three for assaults. Five grievances were also finalised.
The Station Commander reported that 186 members were competent in firearms while 21 were not. An additional 18 members still require firearm training while 44 members have been trained in domestic violence and two on victim empowerment programmes. The station trained 44 members in the provisions of the Child Justice Act and another 10 members were trained in the Sexual Offences Act.
The station noted that they faced challenges in the poor management of the National Road Traffic Act (NRTA) at the taxi rank where there are numerous conflicts. The management also stated that there is a dependence on the Department of Public Works for maintenance and accommodation as the station is a non-devolved station. This has led to problems with the accommodation of members. Other challenges include the fact that there are too many public events that draws on the resources of the station, minor conflicts between the NPA and the SAPS. Corruption, certification of documents, few parking facilities, the non - availability of the Department of Social Development probation officers and the long waiting time for blood samples are some of the other challenges experienced by the station.
After the presentation by the SAPS management, the Committee inspected the station facilities.
- Station management
The team which was led by Hon. Beukman reported that the engagement went very well. The station is a Brigadier led level station. There was a discrepancy with the station estimated population figure of 60 000 people in the police station area. The station has a C – rating on the performance chart and it is an accounting station. The Station Commander completed his training and the Field training officers were available at the station. All major languages spoken in the region were accommodated at the station.
The police station experiences some challenges regarding shooting ranges, which are privately owned facilities and as a result, the members at the station has to go to shooting ranges in Ulundi. Statement taking at the station is good and the Station Commander has referred 103 members for trauma debriefing. There are no major infrastructural challenges at the station, except the lifts that are out of order. The station is visited by all role-players. The police trade unions have indicated that there are some challenges with meals for detainees, but that it would be outsourced.
The Community Police Forum was operational and functioning very well and there appeared to be a good relationship between the CPF and the station commander. The community is well represented and there are some problems with funding for its activities. A request was sent to the Minister to assist with funding. The CPF does not have offices at the police station and office required accommodation. There are problems with co-operation between other departments such as the department of Health, Social Development and Justice and the NPA.
- Community Service Centre (CSC)
The CSC is accessible with visible signage. The station was clean at the time of the visit and has a Victim Empowerment Facility. The station had most of the necessary documents available that are required to be kept in the CSC. The Domestic Violence Register was in order. There were 320 Domestic Violence Act (DVA) matters registered and no complaints for failure to comply. The Child Justice Act documents were not accessible due to a lack of storage. The designated firearms officer (DFO) has access to the registers and has a dedicated vehicle. There are privately owned shooting ranges six (6) kilometres away from the station. There are 122 applications for firearm licenses renewals and the waiting period is three months. There are 769 applications for new firearm licences that have been completed and are being processed. The police station has 127 second hand good shops that have been registered and the SAPS visits these stores once per month.
Members of the Portfolio Committee interviewed some of the people in the CSC and wanted to know whether they were satisfied with the service rendered by the SAPS. In general all the people they interviewed reported that they were satisfied with the level of service delivery and had trust in the police. They were also satisfied with police response times to crimes and complaints.
The station has trained 14 out of 44 of its members in the DVA. There were five grievances which were successfully resolved within three days. The station has 58 disciplinary cases and do not have sufficient vehicles. The vehicles are also not suitable for the terrain in the station areas. One hundred and one members do not have driver’s licences while another 136 members are not in possession of state authority to drive vehicles. Seven vehicles have been boarded and eight are in garages for repairs. There was one reported accident and six vehicles are taken home after hours.
The Committee found that there were discrepancies with the number of cases closed undetected. As in the past, this matter was concerning to the Members who wanted an explanation on the high number of cases that were closed undetected. There were 56 detectives and 16 served in the crime office. The rest all served in the generalised investigations, especially serious and violent crime investigations. There is a shortage of ten (10) detectives at the station and all the detectives and the Commander, except one (1), attended appropriate training courses. One of the big problems was that the detectives had sometimes to wait for up to one year for blood samples to be returned from the Department of Health in cases. This delayed justice for victims and was a serious concern for detectives.
The Committee was satisfied that the detectives were able to provide all the necessary schedules of cases and performance information at their station. The Committee was also satisfied that all the office doors had locks on it and contained steel cabinets with locks. There is a strong room for dockets and the dockets are checked weekly by the head of detectives.
The cells were in a good state and clean. The members found detainees, mostly foreigners in three of the cells. The cells contained twenty seven detainees. In one cell there were four juveniles who were awaiting Department of Social Development Probation Officers for their processing. They were held in separate cells. Three females were also held in separate cells. None of the detainees were in the cells for longer than forty eight hours. The registers were checked and the members were satisfied that they were in order with the booking in of detainees. The kitchen was also checked for meal preparation and a menu was available inside the kitchen which was used by staff. When questioned, detainees indicated that they had three meals. There was a fire-hose in the cells which was serviced.
Members raised concerns about the juveniles in the cells and whether foreigner national businesses were generators of crime. They also questioned how many cases were closed undetected and how many informers were on the books of the station and how they were remunerated. Members also questioned why one detective did not undergo training. Other concerns related to maintenance of the lift and maintenance of the building.
The SAPS responded that there were monthly meetings held with the Department of Public Works and while there was some progress, they were attending to aspects of the building after two years. The lift was broken and was not fixed for more than six months. This is an ongoing matter. As far as officer accommodation was concerned, some officers were evicted in Secunda and Witbank. Only after the Provincial Commissioner wrote to the National Commissioner, did she intervene. There is no special cells for juveniles and that is why they are kept separately. The juveniles are normally held at Hendrina where there is a facility to hold juveniles. The SAPS do not have a barracks at the police station and members are staying in houses which were converted into single quarters.
Foreign national businesses were seen by the SAPS as a generator of crime because they kept cash money with them because of banking restrictions. This often leads to serious crime against foreign national businesses. The SAPS do however use active security companies as a force multiplier in fighting crime. The station uses informers and provide rewards to informers, but it is largely determined by the trouble the informer had to go through to get the information. The station was concerned that the SAPS were becoming holding facilities for the Department of Home Affairs as more undocumented foreigners are arrested. There is constant engagement with the Department of Home Affairs on undocumented foreigners as they are challenging the legislation.
The SAPS explained that the disposal of dockets which are closed undetected are mostly comprised of property crimes. They make sure that a report is generated from the National Criminal Record Centre where there are no fingerprints of suspects available. The SAPS also reported that training space has been allocated for detective training at the end of March and the untrained detective will be sent on the training. The discrepancy with the forty-four (44) DVA trained members will be investigated and a report will be made available to the Committee.
The SAPS also informed the Committee that following an initiative from the Executive Mayor of Ehlanzeni municipality, car guards have been given uniforms and are paid stipends. As a result of their work, car theft went down. Crime intelligence is attending all the necessary crime combatting forums and co-operates with the DPCI. There is a market for stolen property which is being addressed. As far as the MOU with the Department of Health was concerned, the SAPS reported that it was approved, but is still awaiting signature.
- Closing remarks
The Chairperson thanked the station commander and his team for a well-managed station. The station was commended for a very good presentation and the fact that all the statistics and documents were available for examination, gave the Committee much hope. The Chairperson noted that the vehicles at the station was of concern and solutions must be found to make the necessary vehicles available to the station. In addition, the undetected crime rate of detectives was far too high and should be turned around as the National Development Plan is very clear that there have to be an integrated approach in fighting crime. In order for this to be effective, the involvement of crime intelligence is required to assist with addressing unlicensed firearms in particular.
At a provincial level, the Department of Public Works must account for the lack of maintenance and intervention is needed with the provincial lift that does not work. Lastly, the Chairperson mentioned that the MOU with the Department of Health must be fast-tracked as it was needed at provincial level to assist with the clear up rate of cases. He thanked the station management for a well-run station and their co-operation and assistance during the oversight visit.
The Committee also visited the SAPS provincial head office to check on the accommodation of staff members at the provincial office. Members toured the facility and noted that many of the staff members were working in passages due to the ineffective usage and layout of the available space.
- Independent Police Investigation Directorate (IPID) Mpumalanga Provincial Office
The Committee conducted an unannounced visit to the Provincial office of the IPID in Mpumalanga on the last day of the oversight visit. During the visit, the Provincial Head was unavailable as she was on study leave. The Deputy Provincial Head was in Pretoria for a meeting. The Head of Investigations. Mr Khanyi assisted the Committee with some of the issues raised. The Chairperson explained the purpose of the visit as being to assess whether the IPID was implementing its mandate and also to receive a status report on the IPID provincial state of affairs in the Mpumalanga province.
- Briefing by the IPID
At the time of the visit, the provincial office had 18 staff members, comprising of two (2) positions at senior management and one (1) on middle management level. The office had 14 investigators with no vacant posts. The resources are divided between the provincial office and a satellite office. The satellite office is in the old legislature building in Witbank, but has no network points. The IPID made contact with the Gert Sibande Region who made space available for the satellite office. There were two (2) investigators employed at the satellite office, which had helped with saving money on transport and time management.
The IPID reported that its relationship with the SAPS was good in the province and the main challenge is with the Tactical Response Teams (TRT) as they are not co-operative. Some of the challenges include the fact that most cases are related to section 28 (1) (f) of the IPID Act which involves the investigation of torture.
The TRT members do not want to be identified, they sometimes remove registration plates from their vehicles and also sometimes remove their nametags from their uniforms or purposefully obstruct the tag. Members of the TRT also do not attend identification parades when it is held.
The IPID also stated that they also experience some challenges with POPs units when executing their mandate. One of the major concerns are that when the POPs units request back up, there is no completed SAPS 15 forms available. This is seen as a deliberate attempt to cover themselves against litigation. The result is that it negatively impacts on the work of IPID investigators who do not meet their 90 day deadline for investigations to be completed, and it frustrates the IPID clients.
Although the IPID is frustrated by some of the units like the TRT and POPs, there is still a good relationship with the Provincial Commissioner. They are working on identity parades and there is also good co-operation with most of the stations. The only facility for identity parades is at Pienaar and the Department of Correctional Services.
The IPID also has a good relationships with the prosecutorial staff and they meet regularly after cases are withdrawn, but do not engage prosecutors on their decisions.
The Committee was informed that the IPID is battling with visibility because they are sharing offices and as a result, they are unable to erect any signage outside their offices. However, the IPID indicated that they are considering alternative methods of signage, like signage stickers on their office windows.
As far as finances were concerned, the IPID has financial challenges. Because of a lack of funding, the IPID stated that they often “piggy-back” on other government departments for the rollout of the IPID community outreach programmes. The IPID budget are mostly used for travelling and accommodation and they overspent on compensation to employees by R553 576 and accommodation by R440 436. The overspending resulted in the IPID having to shift funds from other offices. The remaining budget was R1 250 000 although the IPID has already spent R8 325 655 for the financial year and have committed funds to the tune of R250 000.
There is no formal co-operation with the office of the MEC for Police in the province and this was something that the Portfolio Committee could assist with. The total number of vacancies is four (three in Corporate Services and one in Administration) and IPID required another additional post.
Some of the challenges the IPID faced included the fact that the Department of Health did not have enough pathologists and this was challenging for the IPID as they have to transfer bodies for up to 250 kilometres. They reported that they often transported bodies from Bushbuckridge to Kabokweni because there are no x-ray machines. In addition, sometimes the doctors conduct post mortems without the investigators being present. The IPID also reported that the Civilian Secretariat for Police is not active and that they have never met as provincial counterparts.
One police station, in particular at Calcutta, has proved to be a problem with rapes in police custody and deaths in police custody. The IPID reported that they suspected that it was the same suspect who rapes, but he is always put together with other suspects. There has also been a spate of deaths as a result of police action in the Province. Other serious cases are the discharge of a firearm by SAPS members who are off duty. There are 706 cases being investigated and a backlog of 59 cases of which 49 are assault cases as at the end of January 2015.
- Committee concerns and IPID responses
The Members asked when the new Provincial Head was appointed, when the MEC will meet with the IPID and whether there was systemic corruption in the police and at the border.
The Chairperson stated that the signage was a problem at the office as the delegation struggled to find the offices. The MEC for Police and the new provincial head must meet in order to develop the relationship between them. Stakeholder relationships are important and there is some corruption in the ranks of the police, especially in the Kruger National Park. The Chairperson wanted to know what the IPID was doing about systemic corruption.
The Members of the Committee expressed their concerns about the high numbers of rapes in police custody as the province had the highest figures for rape. The figures also showed 100% increase for torture and Members wanted an explanation. There were also concerns expressed about the fact that post mortems were a major problem and there was no X-ray machine available. Members wanted the IPID to provide alternatives to the problems with the Department of Health.
In their response, the IPID indicated that the provincial head was appointed on 20 October 2014. The IPID agreed speak to the landlord about the signage so that they can brand the windows. The instructions were that they should not make holes in the building, but this was an area that they would follow up. They also agreed to arrange a meeting with the MEC, but noted that there were certain allegations against him. The IPID noted that there was police involvement in corruption in the Kruger National Park. A sergeant was suspended and the IPID were dependent on informers in order to be successful. There are three cases of systemic corruption which involved stock theft, manipulation of the crime statistics and the use of the tea club monies. The investigations in the KNP showed that it was people who knew the systems that were involved.
The IPID indicated that they met with the cluster commanders and found that there was a gap in custody management of detainees. They are also in the process of identifying the areas where there is high numbers of rapes in police custody and address it with the provincial management. They found difficulty tracing complainants as people do not leave contact details of who was in the cell with them. There was a backlog of 59 cases. The SAPS have finalised 55% of the disciplinary cases and 50% of the IPID recommendations have been implemented by the police. They noted that there is a lack of human resources and the fact that there are only two investigators at Gert Sibande Region is because they do not have additional staff and because the cases are not as serious as are in other areas. The IPID are planning to send another investigator to that area.
None of the IPID offices have facilities for identity parades and there is a reliance on the police for this. The IPID indicated that they spoke with Major Majoro, but that she was uncooperative. They expected her to provide IPID with a list of the SAPS vehicles, but she did not. They then met with Brigadier Ramodimane who has agreed to escalate it to the provincial commissioner’s office.
The IPID also reported that they have to wait for a directive from the Executive Director as far as amendments to the legislation was concerned. They have also received torture cases as assault cases and it was only through their investigations that it emerged as torture cases. The IPID has now trained their investigators in investigating torture.
Members of the Committee wanted to know if it would be feasible to have their own pathologists, how many community outreach programmes there were and what was happening with station audits. Lastly Members wanted to know if there was a good relationship with the Civilian Secretariat for Police.
In their response, the IPID stated that they saw a reduction of section 28 (a) and (b) complaints and have trained people and this has yielded results. IPID was targeting the far flung rural areas and was considering developing an effective website. They have also made a 24 hour telephone available on standby. They noted that appointing their own pathologist would be unworkable because the costs would be exorbitant. There was a dependency on the availability of funds with and the process must eliminate subjectivity.
The relationship with the Civilian Secretariat of Police requires more work as there is much room for improvement. There has been no meetings on provincial basis and the IPID will address this with a view to assist the Secretariat with station audits.
The Committee also raised concerns about the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems and the dependency the SAPS for the ICT systems. The IPID was also questioned about training for staff members and whether it should be tailor made for the IPID’s purposes.
The IPID responded by stating that they have attended training courses at the Paarl Police Academy and that the Human Resources department was looking into workshops and training courses to attend. They were also reliant on South African Safety and Security Training Authority (SASSETA) in respect of training modules. In view of the new IPID Act, all training must be reviewed as it is not up to scratch. The IPID noted that the SAPS have a very intensive and advanced training course on sexual offences and that they expect to operate on the same level.
- Concluding remarks
In concluding the oversight visit, the Chairperson noted that the visit was very valuable and that the visibility and profile of the IPID provincial office must change. The complaints website development is critical and there is a need for using other technological avenues to service people. There is also a need for more results with respect to systemic corruption and he expects that there is more proactive investigations on systemic corruption.
The Chairperson noted that the IPID must promote a human rights culture in the SAPS and that training was still haphazard. All investigators and trainees should follow a formal training syllabus. The Chairperson emphasised that the relationship between the IPID and the Civilian Secretariat of Police must be addressed as a matter of urgency as it has irretrievably broken down. It is incumbent on the Provincial Head to lead that process and to make a progress report available to the Committee. The Chairperson thanked all the members of the Committee, the staff of the IPID and the staff of the Committee for making the visit a success.
The Committee made the following recommendations:
- The Committee recommends that a special hearing be called on 18 February 2015 where the SAPS garage turn-around strategy must be scrutinised together with the Supply Chain Management Policy on the resourcing of Provinces, especially in terms of vehicles and equipment.
- The Committee recommends that special measures must be put in place to curb and reduce corruption in the KNP by the SAPS and the IPID.
- The Committee recommends that the SAPS drastically improve its crime intelligence capacity and capability in and around the KNP communities with a view of gathering information about rhino poachers with immediate effect.
- The Committee recommends that the Department of Public Works be called to a hearing of the Committee to account for the infrastructure and state of police buildings in the province of Mpumalanga and the state of the Lebombo LPOE.
- The Committee recommends that facilities and accommodation for police officers serving at the Lebombo LPOE be sourced by the SAPS supply chain management division.
- The Committee recommends that the SAPS Management must engage with the SARS Management to expedite the procurement of a bulk cargo scanner at the Lebombo LPOE.
- The Committee recommends that a follow up joint visit to the Lebombo LPOE be undertaken together with the parliamentary committees of Intelligence, Home Affairs and with the South African Revenue Services.
- The Committee recommends that the SAPS finalise the policy on polygraph testing for its members and make it available to the Committee in order to improve its integrity testing and thus addressing corruption decisively.
- The Committee recommends that the MOU between the Department of Health and the SAPS regarding toxicology and blood-alcohol samples must be fast-racked and signed immediately to assist with the clear up rate of cases.
- The Committee recommends that a meeting between the heads of IPID and the Provincial Secretariat for Police must be held within two months to develop a working relationship between the two structures. A report must be provided to the Committee on the outcomes of the meeting.
Report to be considered.
No related documents