Members of Parliament yesterday hammered the head of the “Hawks”, Anwa Dramat, and all nine provincial police commissioners, accusing them of delivering meaningless and sanitised reports on the state of policing in the provinces.
Business Day newspaper repots today Dramat’s appearance before the portfolio committee on police yesterday came as a surprise as he is the head of the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation, with its focus on organised crime and transnational crime, not on the administration of the police in the provinces. Even more surprising was that Dramat presented on behalf of all nine commissioners.
MPs, who declined to be named, suggested that he had been instructed to make the appearance by national commissioner Bheki Cele. African National Congress committee chairwoman Cindy Chikunga began proceedings by bemoaning the fact that the individual provincial commissioners were not going to brief the committee, but that Dramat would do it on their behalf.
She said the provincial commissioners had been invited but she deferred to Dramat as he was a deputy national commissioner. She acknowledged that the provincial reports were prepared in the national commissioner’s office but said “we would have preferred reports prepared by each of the provincial commissioners”. Dramat insisted at the end of his presentation that the provincial commissioners were ready and prepared to answer questions of detail and had been involved in the preparation of the reports, Business Day added.
Congress of the People MP Mluleki George said the documents had been produced “to make us happy”, suggesting that the reports were sanitised for public consumption. He asked how many cases each detective was investigating, suggesting that the average figures presented were much lower than reality. The same applied to the figures supplied for training.
Inkatha Freedom Party MP Velaphi Ndlovu asked why there was no reference in the provincial reports of allegations of rape in police stations and police brutality. There was also no report on deaths in police custody in the provinces. “It is very important to understand these things,” Ndlovu said.
Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said the “reports on the provinces are so thin on information — they are the thinnest, information-free documents that have ever been presented to this committee”. She asked where the details of crime trends in the provinces were. “This is absolutely unacceptable to present us with this document and expect us to believe this.”
Information had been “conflated” on the issue of training, and the provision of bulletproof vests made the figures look good. “I am beyond disappointed with these documents,” she said. African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe said there had been news reports of 50 officers at a single police station taking turns to use five vehicles, but the reports presented to them claimed there was a ratio of one vehicle to four police officers.
Last week the National Treasury briefed the committee that 38% of the police budget was being spent on visible policing, 35% on administration,17% on detective services and 4% on crime intelligence. The current police budget is R52.5 billion, rising to R60.3 billion by 2012/13. The main cost drivers are increases for personnel, infrastructure and equipment.
Rendani Randela, Treasury’s director for justice and protection services, said the strategic priorities of the police for the next three years were combating organised, serious and finance crime to reduce it by 4-7% (as compared to the previous target of 7-10%) and improving service delivery to the community. The biggest slice of the budget are salaries, followed by capital payment for building and maintenance of police buildings and equipment, the Parliamentary Monitoring Group notes in its minutes of the meeting. Transfers and subsidies accounted for the smallest proportion of the budget.
Randela added that in the short term, more resources would be directed towards the Detective Services. Personnel was set to rise from 163 000 in 2007 to 222 660 by 2012/13. Detective services in the current year overtook administration with regards to personnel.
The Auditor-General’s Corne Burger noted overspending in Administration (R1.17 million) and Detective Services (R71 million), but underspending in Visible Policing (R99 million), largely due to prolonged payment processes. There was also under spending for crime intelligence and security services, the PMG added. The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) said it remains concerned about the organisational structure of the police, which it still regards as top-heavy, expensive to the taxpayers and a hindrance to service delivery since insufficient resources are allocated to police stations and no expertise is being developed at that level.
The South African Police Union (SAPU) said it was necessary to strengthen police capacity and intelligence to bolster public confidence and prevent social chaos. SAPU had welcomed the initiatives to redeploy the military to border posts as it regarded protection of the borders as a joint function, and pointed out that the porosity of the borders was effectively creating problems that the police was then expected to police. SAPU further expressed its extreme dissatisfaction with the Police Medical Scheme, Polmed, and called for alternative schemes to be allowed to compete.