ATC191203: Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the Oversight Visit to Limpopo Province, dated 3 December 2019
Report of the Select Committee on Security and Justice on the Oversight Visit to Limpopo Province, dated 3 December 2019.
1.Background and introduction
The Select Committee on Security and Justice (“SC on Justice”), together with the Select Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, conducted a joint oversight visit to Limpopo Province from the 22 to 25 October 2019. The Committee visited the Thohoyandou Police Station, the Beitbridge Port of Entry in Musina, and the Limpopo High Court Division in Polokwane, as part of its oversight function over the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Department of Home Affairs, and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
2.Thohoyandou Police Station
Thohoyandou Police Station is situated within the Thulamela Municipality economic hub, which is a rural and urban mix and which is the biggest station in Limpopo. The station has five sectors with a population of 300 826. The station has 391 staff personnel who are serving 454 villages and 198 schools.
The station has five satellite stations, with four members posted in each station to attend to crimes within the allocated sectors. Each sector has a sector forum, which holds monthly meetings to address crime within the sector.
2.1 Key challenges
Thohoyandou Police Station reported the following key risk challenges:
- University accommodation;
- Service delivery protests;
- Influx of illegal foreigners;
- Lack of street lights, unnamed streets;
- Un-rehabilitated roads;
- High unemployment rate;
- Growing population due to business developments;
- Low morale due to the unfortunate promotion of members;
- Accommodation of FCS Unit Offices
- Facilities are not user friendly and they do not meet the minimum required standards for Victim Empowerment Programs;
- There are insufficient offices to accommodate members;
- None availability of psychologists which results in a high number of cases being withdrawn;
- There are also a high number of withdrawals of cases due to outstanding DNA results from the Forensic Science Laboratory.
2.2 Committee observations and concerns
- There were many undocumented foreign nationals living in the area of Thohoyandou, which puts an extra burden on the police budget;
- There is a co-ordination challenge when it comes to the issue of foreign nationals being detained;
- Only 391 police officers were responsible for policing 454 villages with a limited number of 49 police vehicles;
- The challenge of police vehicles being in repairs for very long periods of time, and SAPS National Office does not have a contract in place for the repair to vehicles;
- A large number of police officers (82) would be taking retirement in the year 2022 which remains a major challenge for the station;
- Statements for sexual offences were taken privately by making use of a facility outside the Thuthuzela Care Centre;
- There was a decrease in most of the crime statistics, but increase in the following crime statistics:
- Sexual offences from 250 in 2017/18 to 297 in 2018/19;
- Rape from 225 in 2017/18 to 268 in 2018/19;
- Sexual assault from 16 in 2017/18 to 23 in 2018/19
- Members were concerned by the inclusion of the names of the gender based violence victims in the presentation provided to the Committee;
- Members noted that, an additional police station which was currently in phase one (planning phase), needs to be finalised to take the pressure off the Thohoyandou Police Station
2.3 Committee recommendations:
- The South African Police Service should engage with the Department of Home Affairs in dealing with the matter of foreign nationals being detained for long periods of time;
- The South African Police Service should consider prioritising the resources and capacitation at the Thohoyandou Police Station with the necessary police officers in light of the fact that in 2022 more officers would retire;
- The South African Police Service should consider finalising a contract with the service provider for the repairs of vehicles as this matter was affecting all police stations in executing their mandate;
- The construction of an additional police station should be fast tracked to fully provide policing services to the Thohoyandou communities;
- The South African Police Service should encourage their members not to include the information of the gender based violence victims in presentations, as they are already traumatised;
3.Beitbridge Port of Entry
The team led by the Department of Home Affairs at the Beitbridge Port of Entry presented a confidential presentation to members of the Committee.
3.1 Committee observations and concerns:
- There has not been much increase (staff complement in 2013 being 601 and in 2018 being 608) in terms of staff personnel deployed at the Beitbridge Port of Entry in the past five years;
- The Port of Entry experiences high volumes of movement of people and goods and this culminates in serious congestion and results in increased pressure on border law enforcement entities;
- A taxi rank and small business activities are situated very close to the port of entry;
- Corruption in the border area, remains one of the complex matters to be addressed as it results in well-established networks;
- The fencing along the borderline was badly damaged and requires urgent repairs;
- The ageing infrastructure was unacceptable and requires urgent attention;
- The accommodation was a major challenge which hampers the optimal execution of tasks by officials as they are commuting on a daily basis due to insufficient accommodation;
- Members noted that, the port of entry requires more booms and robots as they were informed of incidences of vehicles driving through without stopping;
- Members noted that, one battalion of the members of the South African National Defence Force was covering (788 kilometre), which is a large area in terms of their operations;
3.2 Committee recommendations:
- There is a need to increase the number of South African National Defence Force members at the ports of entry in order that they may fulfil their constitutional mandate;
- The Department of Home Affairs should engage the Department of Public Works regarding urgent installations of robots and boom gates at the port of entry in order to curb the forceful entry of vehicles;
- The Department of Home Affairs should engage the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Department of Transport, and the Musina Local Municipality to find a lasting solution on the issue of the taxi rank and the small businesses that are located around the port of entry;
- The Departments (Department of Home Affairs, South African Revenue Service, South African Police Service, Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, and Department of Health) providing border law enforcement at the port of entry should consider employing more staff officials as the current staffing complement was insufficient;
- The Department of Home Affairs and all the affected departments should engage the Department of Public Works on the matter of building accommodation for the officials performing border law enforcement functions at the port of entry, as this might also drastically reduce corruption;
- The Department of Public Works as an implementing agent should urgently consider repairs to the fencing at the Beitbridge border post, as this would reduce the amount of illegal entry at the border;
4.Limpopo High Court
The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development appointed the Independent Development Trust (IDT) in 2008 through a memorandum of understanding, as the implementing agent and programme managers for the construction of the Limpopo High Court. The IDT appointed Senyati Munaka Joint Venture as the contractor for the construction of the court at an amount of R 349 million. The construction commenced in 2010, and was originally due to be completed in January 2012.
The project experienced significant challenges at its inception phase, and these challenges resulted in the redesign of the foundation and additional reinforcement to comply with engineering requirements. Having paid R 298 million, Senyati, JV Partner terminated the contract with IDT in October 2012 and was liquidated in the same year. In July 2013, the GVK Siya Zama Pty Ltd was appointed as a replacement contractor for an amount of R 447 million.
The variations in the construction of the High Court amounted to R 133 million, and have exceeded the contract sum by more than 20 per cent. The total amount for the construction of the Limpopo High Court has escalated to over R 1.1 billion. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development has appointed the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) and the investigation is underway.
4.1 Key challenges
The Department identified the following challenges:
- Maintenance contracts:
- No qualified control room operators;
- No maintenance contracts are in place for the water, fire, security systems, including generators; sewerage systems, the lifts, air-conditioning system and lights.
4.2 National Prosecuting Authority
It was reported that the High Court was performing satisfactorily with 441 cases finalised since 2016 while 39 cases were backlog cases and the outstanding roll was at 211. During the 2018/19 financial year, they were voted the best performing High Court in the country.
The Regional Courts were generally performing quite well with the backlog of cases at 2174 as at September 2019. The main backlog of cases were from 2002 to 2015. Most accused persons arising from the case backlogs are in custody and there is a concern that in the event of acquittal, civil litigation may be instituted.
4.3 Key challenges:
- Seshego recording machines are broken or are not functioning and the CCTV cameras for sexual offences cases/child witnesses are not working;
- Nkowankowa is experiencing electricity shortages
- Accommodation of prosecutors at the following offices is an issue;
- Polokwane court burnt down during 2012;
- Renovations are required in Tzaneen;
- The Modimolle cluster is affected the most;
- Shortage of court rooms in the following offices:
- Praktisier (Periodicals);
- Burgersfort (Periodicals);
4.4 Committee Observations and concerns:
- The Polokwane High Court was a new court and had been described as a ‘state of the art’ facility, but the Court was experiencing these infrastructural challenges;
- The Limpopo NPA were working with a very limited number of officials with a high number of cases. Further, that the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions was the only person responsible for quality control of all the case dockets to be heard in the high court;
- Members were greatly concerned about the cases that were postponed which amounted to more than 50 cases. Members noted that one case had been postponed 108 times and the perpetrator was still in custody. Further, that some of the cases involved foreign nationals;
- The Burgersfort Regional Court is too small as the accused persons, the Presiding Officer and the Court Officials, sit very close to the members of the public, which results in their safety being compromised;
·Some of the courts were having water challenges which hampers service delivery as staff officials were being released earlier which impacts on the number of court hours.
4.5 Committee recommendations
- The National Prosecuting Authority through the Department of Justice should consider employing more staff members for the Limpopo National Prosecuting Authority;
- The Department of Justice should engage the municipalities in the areas that courts are having challenges in relation to water, in order for officials to work effectively;
- The Department of Justice should find mechanisms to curb the postponement of cases;
- The Department of Justice together with the South African Police Service should develop a strategy on how to assist the courts that have space constraints to ensure that safety concerns are adequately addressed;
- The Department of Justice should consider engaging the TVET Colleges when it comes to the maintenance of the Limpopo High Court;
- The Department of Justice should consider closing all the loopholes in relation to the cases of foreign nationals by ensuring that appropriate interpretation services are available to foreign nationals, to avoid the postponement of these cases.
- The Special Investigating Unit must, within 14 days of the adoption of this Report by the Council, provide the Committee with a progress report on the investigation into the cost drivers that inflated the final total of the Limpopo High Court.
Report to be considered.
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