Police Budget Speech:
Professional police service needed to tackle crime
Dianne Kohler Barnard, Shadow Minister of Police
30 May 2013
•Police brutality has led to SAPS putting aside 32.8% of its massive budget for contingent liabilities - R20,5 billion. Most of this is to pay civilians for having been shot, raped, beaten, robbed, hijacked, raped in cells, illegally detained, run over, wrongfully arrested, or to the families of those tortured or murdered - all of these actions perpetrated by SAPS members;
•Minister Nathi Mthethwa is wasting taxpayers’ money and time by challenging the Western Cape’s Community Safety Act and the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry into the inefficiency of the police and breakdown in relations between the community and police in Khayelitsha;
•Forensic backlogs are on the increase again;
•A Public Service Commission report has revealed that 20% of detectives are without the most basic of training;
•The lack of understanding of the SAPS’ needs by the Minister sees us having 27 000 SAPS members with firearms, but no licences; stations with vehicles but 16 594 cops without driver’s licences and cops too overweight and unfit to catch a cold let alone a criminal.
There can surely be no greater sacrifice than to put one’s life on the line to protect one of our citizens. Each year in the South African Police Service (SAPS) annual report we read the names of those officers who did just that. They died doing a job they love, protecting us. They are real heroes.
And what made them real heroes is that they continued to do their job, possibly the toughest job in the world, in the face of actions by their colleagues that brought this nation great shame.
•The Marikana Massacre;
•Mido Macia dragged off behind a police vehicle then beaten to death;
•Andries Tatane shot to death in front of the nation’s eyes on television;
•Anene Booysen – a gang rape investigation gone bad;
•SAPS colleagues driving off dragging a court interpreter by the neck in North West;
•the remilitarisation of the SAPS along with the shoot-to-kill mantra leading some of their colleagues to treat protestors and even non-protestors as ‘The Enemy’.
This is, of course, just a small sample of why the SAPS had to put aside 32.8% of its massive budget for contingent liabilities - R20,5-billion. Most of this is to pay civilians for having been shot, raped, beaten, robbed, hijacked, raped in cells, illegally detained, run over, wrongfully arrested, or to the families of those tortured or murdered - all of these actions perpetrated by SAPS members.
There were almost 5000 complaints against SAPS members this past year. 720 were deaths by SAPS members, 88 cases of domestic violence by SAPS members, 2320 allegations of criminal offences by SAPS members. We’ve seen the filmed footage of a number of these cases, as has the rest of the world, and yet the President refused my request to establish a Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Police Brutality – saying it was unnecessary.
I beg to differ.
It is this brutality, coupled with quite possibly the most inferior training regime in the world, that led to the results revealed in the SA Institute for Race Relations investigation that 1.7 million crimes went unreported to the police in 2011, a massive vote of no confidence in our SAPS.
Particularly horrifying was the claim that three murders a day go unreported. Of the 3.3 million crimes experienced by us in 2011, only 48% of these were reported.
Indeed as a nation we should hang our heads in shame that only one in 10 victims of rape go to the SAPS. This means that if official statistics show 70 000 rapes reported during the annual crime stats release circus this August, that means at many as 700 000 women, children and men were raped.
The vast majority of our SAPS members know this, and yet they still go in to work each day willing to take a bullet for you or me.
The SAPS certainly has the budget to supply our stations with the equipment they need. Of course they should automatically have running water, toilets and electricity – yet there are stations without some, or even all three of those essentials. Instead the management finds what it considers to be other priorities – such as choosing to pay R4,039 billion to consultants.
Among those, for example, R11.7 million was spent on adult education courses for SAPS members, despite a matric being a prerequisite for joining the SAPS. This, 20 years after democracy, doesn’t say much for our education system, does it?
Then there is the fact that we send our officers off to capacitate other countries, if that is indeed what they do there. There are 15 members going to South Sudan with another 53 members today awaiting deployment to Darfur. This Darfur mission was started in 2005 at a cost of R12- million annually. This while we have stations without water and our Public Service Members striking yesterday, today and again next month for the increases they were promised back in 2011. Over R96 million of public funding is going instead to South Sudan and Darfur while SAPS pleads poverty.
Of course there are other reasons for the SAPS to plead poverty, all of them preventable. Usually they may be categorised as bungles, criminality or just utter stupidity. I would put in the latter category the fact that the multi-million rand AVL SAPS car-tracking system contract lapsed because the last disgraced National Police Commissioner Cele only signed the renewal three days after it expired.
The criminality relates to the seven multi-million rand contracts currently being investigated – where hundreds of millions seem to have simply disappeared.
The Special Investigating Unit is still investigating the two ridiculously expensive National Police Days, so we’ll have to wait and see which of the three categories they fall into.
Then there are the generic issues that see SAPS actions boosting crime, which they then have to fight.
In 2010 the Minister of Police stated publically that he really was going to be tough on SAPS members who ‘lost’ their firearms - automatic dismissal.
Thus far, SAPS firearms lost: 13 000. Dismissals: 0.
I did ask whether or not there were serial offenders, officers who “lost” a firearm annually in lieu of a 13th cheque, and they didn’t know.
While general looting of SAPS coffers continues, such as in Crime Intelligence, there has on the other hand been a massive dropping of crime fighting targets. This is the core mandate of our Police, but as the SAPS fails to reach a target so they drop it.
The 7 -14% dropped to 4 – 7 % which dropped to 2%, 1% or in some areas they’ve said they’ll be content to maintain the status quo. This for a R67.9 billion budget
Meanwhile they have quietly erased certain measurements that annually shamed them, such as how many officers don’t have bullet proof vests or firearms. The Rural Safety Strategy has evaporated as has the reporting on murders and attacks of farmers and farm workers. What they don’t like, they prevent us from seeing, rather like the Guptagate Report before the snap debate last week.
The same is happening to our reservists – turned away from SAPS doors since 2008 when a bizarre moratorium on the taking on of this free labour was instituted. This even though on January 15, 2010 this Minister answered my Parliamentary question saying the moratorium had been lifted. It hadn’t. It still hasn’t. So for five years the call to communities to assist in the fight against crime has seen them turned away at the door.
I have no doubt this is an intentional move.
It’s as intentional as the retaining within the SAPS of thousands of convicted criminals who committed a crime and got away with a fine. Rather like here in Parliament. Even if a SAPS member has to pay a R30 000 fine for, for example, grievous bodily harm, beating someone almost to death, they don’t miss a day at work, or have the firearm taken from their hip. One has to ask how seriously we can take SAPS that allows criminals to skulk in their ranks.
This has been one of the dangers of mass recruitment. In 2008 with anyone and everyone being scooped into the Service and the Reservists, we were left with masses of poorly trained, poorly managed officers, sometimes with criminal records, and of course no internal Anti-Corruption Unit.
This was thanks to the disgraced National Police Commissioner (NPC) before the last disgraced NPC, Jackie Selebi, sentenced on 2 July 2010 to 15 years imprisonment the impact on our SAPS was cataclysmic.
The shame he brought on SA was off the Richter scale, yet he never saw the inside of a cell. Since July last year he’s been back living in his mansion, still owing us R17-million.
Meanwhile the criminal case laid by the DA against Bheki Cele as a result of the Public Protector’s report on the scandalous lease deals is so far on the back burner it has gone as cold as a spent cartridge.
It’s all about attitude, and leading from the front and as long as recycled politicians and quasi-politicians are given the job as NPC, there is no one our SAPS members can aspire to be.
For example, despite all the Women and Children First rhetoric we hear annually, SAPS members seem universally incapable of taking Domestic Violence seriously. In 35% of cases they fail to arrest an abuser, and in 17% fail to arrest them even when an arrest warrant has been issued. They simply refuse. They aren’t thrown out of the SAPS either. This while 2 500 women are murdered here each year. Indeed our femicide rate is five times the global average.
Perhaps this is all because those at the highly-paid top have been too focussed on the whole grubby Mdluli saga to see what’s going on in front of their eyes. He’s now been sitting at home on full-pay for a year, while his two colleagues are being charged with theft, fraud and corruption relating to the looting of the Crime Intelligence slush fund.
So we sit with an acting head of Crime Intelligence until this matter is dealt with. However it’s extremely embarrassing for the Police Portfolio Committee to grill the SAPS on this and the rest of the empty posts filled by mere Acting hosts when indeed the very person who sits in as head of our Committee has been in an acting position for a full year.
Consider Honourable van Wyk. There is no one in this room, bar myself perhaps, who knows more about the SAPS and our portfolio committee than she does. She has done an exemplary job in this position, when I felt sure no one could even begin to fill the shoes of Hon Chikunga.
The question is, until such time as this country becomes a mature democracy and appoints opposition members to lead all portfolio committees as is done in so many countries around the world, why on earth have you not appointed her? Stop dithering and get on with it.
This committee has work to do, such as asking why backlogs are on the increase again, despite our having spent billions on the Forensic Laboratories. It doesn’t help that the Health Department labs are totally dysfunctional making it virtually impossible to convict drunk drivers because it takes over a year for them to process a simple vial of blood.
With the DNA legislation finally coming before us on Tuesday, after years languishing before Cabinet, I did find myself wondering if we have the capacity to handle the proposed criminal DNA database.
Another red flag for South Africa is that in three years the rhino population in the Kruger National Park will enter a negative growth phase. Five years later - by 2020 - there will be no rhinos left in there at all.
Wildlife products leave SA for Southeast Asia, and from there to China and Asia, and international research shows that poaching tends to thrive in places where corruption is rife, government enforcement is weak and there are few alternative economic opportunities.
The entire wild population of white rhinoceros could be lost by 2021.
How could we have reached this stage? I believe it's because of three years of vapid Empty Suit leadership. This has sent discipline and professionalism into freefall.
Crime statistics barely dropped last year and it is accepted that the SAPS presenting crime statistics is like allowing matriculants to mark their own exam papers.
There seems to be an inability to understand that a lack of training is the key. A Public Service Commission report has revealed that 20% of detectives are without the most basic of training. We know only 3.3% of SAPS members are trained in sexual offences. Cases are thrown out of court and criminals remain on the streets.
It is this lack of understanding of the SAPS’ needs that sees us having 27 000 SAPS members with firearms, but no licences; stations with vehicles but 16 594 cops without driver’s licences and cops too overweight and unfit to catch a cold let alone a criminal.
The Minister continuously bends over backwards to appease COSATU, as seen with his firing of cleaners and security guards with no planning for the chaos these moves would cause. SAPS offices are now filthy, and crime fighting reservists were asked to act as security guards.
He has failed to bring the crime rate down significantly, sent untrained police officers out to face death and failed to deal with police brutality and corruption.
Meanwhile he wastes taxpayer’s time and money playing politics, such as his fight against the introduction of the Community Safety Bill in the Western Cape, or challenging the right of the WC Government to institute a Commission of Inquiry into the breakdown between the community and police in Khayelitsha.
Now a word to the real police in this chamber. You don’t need the politics and gimmicks that emanate from government.
You’re being leaned on by politicians while policing priorities are dictated by the news-cycle rather than by what works. It’s time to refocus, because you already have the laws and the powers to take back our country street by street. All you have to do is implement what exists.
You are under enormous pressure in the face of organised crime and threats to national security. You must be able to go about your job without worrying about the next edict to come from on-high. You must be given the licence to police. How?
By working with the local people, by developing local strategies, by welcoming your CPF link to the public and by understanding that communities have the right to demand the removal of station heads if they aren’t up to scratch.
Citizens are expected to compare standards between schools in their area, patients between the performance of various local hospitals, and they should also be able to do the same with local police stations.
We must give the public much more information about crime in their streets, with detailed crime map of the crimes in their area. They must know where they are at risk. Enough with the secrecy that is costing us our lives.
Our citizens pay a fortune to you, and to private security, and they must be able to challenge you, and your performance. If you were free to train, equip and perform as I know you can, I believe the need for private security in South Africa would simply cease.
We can go on as we are. We can continue to swallow inexperienced officers put in as leaders and expected to learn on the job; citizens living in fear; known best for our world class criminals and the fact that 47 of us are murdered each day
Or we could turn this page of what is an ineffectual, excuse-ridden management. We could take back all that is good and great of the SAPS, allowing you to promote the best, to be the best you can.
I believe you want to answer to the people you signed up to serve and protect, and I believe you should be allowed to do just that. Today South Africa deserves, and pays for, a highly professionalised and top performing police service. But we don’t yet have one.
You have a veritable Mount Everest to climb, but there is enough that is great and good in the SAPS, and I believe that we will see you back up there with these disgraces behind you, once again a service with members our citizens run to for help, and not run from in fear.
I salute you.