ATC200626: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Petition from the residents of Kokomeng; call upon the Committee and the Minister of Police to investigate and priorities the reopening of the Kokomeng Police Station (Mr IS Seitlholo), dated 26 June 2020
Report of the Portfolio Committee on Police on the Petition from the residents of Kokomeng; call upon the Committee and the Minister of Police to investigate and priorities the reopening of the Kokomeng Police Station (Mr IS Seitlholo), dated 26 June 2020.
The Portfolio Committee received petition referred to it from the Speaker on 12 November 2019 (Order Paper: National Assembly No. 1–2020, 12 November 2019).
The Constitutional provides for petitions to be brought to parliament. Section 56 (d) and 69 (d) of the Constitution provides for the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to receive petitions, representations or submissions from any interested persons or institutions.
The process for the Committee to process the petitions are regulated in Chapter 14 of the Rules of the National Assembly (14th edition). Rule 337 (d) makes provision for the Speaker to table written instruments including special petitions and other petitions of a general nature.
Part 3 of the Rules makes provision for following:
Rule 344 makes provision for the form of the petition to be prescribed by the Speaker in accordance with the guidelines determined by the Rules Committee.
Rule 345 states that the petition must be in one of the official languages. All the petitions must be signed by the petitioners themselves according to Rule 346 (1).
According to Rule 347(1), a petition must be lodged by a member with the Secretary for approval and tabling by the Speaker, the Secretary Lodging of the petition and must be signed at the beginning thereof by the member. Rule 347(2) provides that a member may not lodge a petition on his or her own behalf, but such a petition may be lodged by another member.
Rule 348 makes provision for each petition to be deposited for at least one day with the Secretary who must submit it to the Speaker for approval before it is tabled in the Assembly. If the Speaker finds that the petition complies with the guidelines determined by the Rules Committee, the Speaker must approve it and table it in the Assembly without delay in terms of Rule 349.
After tabling, a petition is then referred in terms of Rule 350 (1) if it is a special petition to the committee on public finance and in terms of Rule 320 (2), to a relevant Portfolio Committee if it is a petition of a general nature.
The Deputy Minister of Police noted that if you burn a police station you do not need it. He indicated that it was their view a that the destroyed property must be fixed. It could not however be that when you damage a police station, that you get it immediately. They were going to ensure that you wait. You will not have priority when you burn down a police station. We will rebuild the police station, but not immediately.
The SAPS was invited by the Committee to respond to the petition after which Members of the Committee engaged on the responses.
2. SAPS Presentation
In their presentation in response to the petition from residents of Kokomeng, the SAPS reported that a number of issues pertained to the situation. The Kokomeng is a Satellite Police Station in the Taung Policing Precinct in the North West Province.
The Satellite Police Station was set alight during a service delivery protest by community members on 16 April 2018 sustaining extensive damages. The SAPS had to withdraw services at the satellite as the facility was now unusable and the matter was handed over to the Department of Public Works (DPW) for repairs.
A Regional Sub-Bid Adjudication Committee of DPW meeting was held on 4 March 2020 and have approved the repairs of Kokomeng Police Station. The Project Manager appointed by the Department of Public Works (DPW) was in the process of appointing a contractor.
The Project Execution Plan will be submitted to Provincial SAPS: Supply Chain Management when it is finalised.
The police station area covered 1 303km2 and serviced a population of 124 609 people (STATSSA, 2019 Mid-year population estimates). The policing area is divided into four sectors. There are no vehicles for sector policing and two VISPOL police vehicles are being used for this purpose. There are two sector commanders and no members. SAPS did not provide reasons for why there were no members available for sector policing.
The community had a 49% unemployment rate. There were 106 informal settlements with 70 schools accommodating 26 174 learners. The policing area consisted of 17 clinics and 41 SASSA pay-points. There were 16 bottle stores, 138 liquor premises and 7 second hand goods businesses. The community had one railway station and 16 taxi ranks which made provision for an influx of 1000 commuters daily. There are 8 shopping centres and 4 banks with 112 spaza shops, 9 sport-and recreational grounds and 7 sports stadiums. The community has 4 active courtrooms.
2.1 SAPS Human and Material Resources
The SAPS has a staff establishment of 88 and 85 actual VISPOL members giving it a shortage of -3.41%. It has 17 detectives which translates into a shortage of 19.05% with a surplus of five support members which gives it an actual number of 29 members.
In total, there are 131 members instead of 133 on its staff establishment, giving it a shortage of 1.5%.
The station has 31 allocated vehicles, but only has 24 actual vehicles giving it a shortage of 22.58%. In the 2019/2020 financial year, six (6) vehicles were allocated to the Taung Police Station. The station has already received three (3) of these vehicles during August to December 2019. The remaining three (3) vehicles is in the process of being delivered and is not included in the listed figures.
2.2 Crime profile
During the reporting period, 1 April 2018 to 31 January 2019, versus 1 April 2019 to 31 January 2020, the following crime categories showed a decrease:
Contact crime :6%
Contact-related crime : -12,9%
Property-related crime : -8%
Other serious crime : -3%
Robbery aggravated : 29%
Sexual offences : -100%
Crimes, dependent on police action, decreased by -16%, for the reporting period.
The North West province has been plagued by community protest related to service delivery issues. Due to the state of criminality and instability since April 2019 in the province additional resources where provided by the National Commissioner to stabilise crime hot-spots.
In the Pudimoe Cluster, which includes the Taung police Station an additional 24 police officials were deployed as a stabilisation group to address the crime and policing challenges for a period of six months.
The Taung SAPS was upgraded from a Lieutenant Colonel Station to that of a Colonel, this implied that more resources were being diverted to provide a policing service.
An additional Colonel and two Lieutenant Colonels were allocated after the upgrading of Taung Police Station, while 24 constables were placed at Taung Police Station over the last two financial years.
The station has undertaken 1514 patrols, 1188 and1251 stop and search operations, held eight roadblocks, 14 vehicle checkpoints and 64 crime awareness campaigns.
3. Committee responses
The Chairperson provided the petitioner, Hon. Isaac Seitlholo to respond to the SAPS. He noted that he did not support the idea of burning down the police station. According to him, people the station was a satellite police station and the matter was referred to the Department of Public Works. He expressed his concern that the Deputy Minister contradicted the response from the Minister of Police who confirmed that suppliers were supposed to present quotations.
A meeting took place and there were agreements and now it appears that from the responses of the Deputy-Minister that they would not be getting a police station after all. He felt that it was unprecedented that such comments were made and noted that the communities have never had sight of the sector policing vehicles. The fact that there was no police station affects 20 000 people. According to the petitioner, the communities of Kokomeng alleged that the satellite station was not even operational when it was burnt down and certain officers came to the office drunk. He questioned that if the rebuilding of the station was not a priority, why the quotations were submitted.
Members raised several concerns about the station being burnt down by the community members. There was agreement that it was unacceptable for the community to burn down the police station, even if it was a satellite police station. Some Members felt that the Taung police station was beefed up and that positive things were happening there. The SAPS needed to go back to the community and assess the policing of the area, it was being doubted that it could be done from Taung.
Other members questioned if the satellite station really worked.
Members noted that there were problems with the petition in that many of the names on the petition had the same signature and that the petition was not in compliance with what was legally requiredfor the submission of a petition to Parliament. The petition should be submitted in the correct manner and the people who burnt the police station should be arrested.There was also a request that the SAPS go back to the community and conduct community meetings to ascertain the reasons for the burning of the station.
Members noted that the petition should have been checked by the petitioner and suggested that the Civilian Secretariat for Police assist in the matter. The community burnt the station because they want to be assisted. It took up to ten years to provide and build a police station and the submission of petitions must conform to the Rules of the National Assembly.
Members also questioned why the crime rates dropped and suggested it dropped because members do not have a police station to report crime. Members questioned why there were an extra 24 police officers appointed when there is no or reduced crime. Members wanted to know who was arrested for the crime of burning the police station and how many community members burnt the police station.
Other members asked if the Minister of Police could not assist the community in the matter.
Members agreed with the assessment of the Chairperson that the police should consider the matter again and it was questioned whether the bid adjudication committee completed its work.
The petitioner apologised for his earlier remarks and was thankful to the Chairperson for her remarks in the matter. He was not aware that his remarks were politicising the issue. He invited the Committee to have an oversight visit to the area. He was also not aware of the signature issue and did not double check it. He apologised for that oversight. He wanted to know if the Magogeng area was being prioritised in the process.
The Deputy Minister noted that he was comfortable with the posture of the Committee and stated that it was the view that communities should adopt. They should respect their facilities and asked that those responsible should be hand over to the police and arrested. Criminal elements should not be allowed to hijack the legitimate grievances and processes of the community. Furthermore, the Deputy Minister stated that there was no conflict in what the Minister and he has outlined. All he was saying is that people who damage the property of the state must not wake up and receive priority.
The Chairperson stated that the government has taken a stance that people should not burn or vandalise state property and that such forms of violence should be condemned. No police station should be burned down.
4. SAPS Responses
The SAPS responded by indicating that the building of the police station was informed by a feasibility study and analysis of statistical information. They invited complaints about police responses to complaints which have taken between 2-3 days to be made available to them so that they could ensure continuous visibility and functionality at the station. The SAPS further noted that the strike had nothing to do with the police, but was because of political dispute between factions of one party.
There were 1067 villages that should be policed and the satellite station was functional. It could not be functional with intoxicated members. There are additional vehicles that were made available to service the villages in and around Taung and there were even community meetings held in January.
There was a reduction of crime because of continuous reporting of crime and the 24 extra members were required because of this.
Lastly, the DPW was funding the building of the station.
The Chairperson ruled that there should be a written update of all petitions to the Committee within one month’s time.
The Petitioner was happy with the outcome and thanked the Committee.
Report to be considered
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