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Media read-out by the Minister of Police on policing environment in South Africa
2017/11/07

Ministry of Police

Most of us have seen in recent days much media reports relating to SAPS and the Ministry of Police. The reason this news conference is very important is because our work in the Ministry cannot be effectively done without the support of the media and I am very happy to say indeed we have a good relationship with the media, we support your work and require media to redouble its work in the fight against crime and corruption. Some of the cases police end up dealing with are first exposed by the media as such, we truly cannot perform the task we are called upon to perform without the media and you as practitioners.

Your work is dangerous to yourselves as you probe the powerful amongst us, we want to assure the media of our utmost respect and high regard as the Ministry of Police, Thank you. In recent days there have been a lot of media reports which contained what one may characterize as distorted information perhaps due to our unavailability to explain ourselves on some of the matters raised due to the often very necessary secrecy of parts of our work. Our work is intricate. I wish to lay out our fundamental objectives in so far as the main departments and entities within the Ministry of Police is concerned. As you all know, we have more than one department that we are responsible for, they include PSIRA, IPID, Civilian Secretariat, SAPS and other entities. SAPS is the biggest and is particularly raised as important in our Constitutional framework. The key objectives for my Ministry is that SAPS must remain accountable to elected representatives, not only the Minister of Police but also the Portfolio Committee on Police and the Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence.

This accountability is premised in our supreme law; also on how law and order is enforced and how SAPS policing duties are executed. As the Executive, myself assisted by the Deputy Minister, design policy and seek accountability for poor performance or wrongdoing

by the SAPS. We are assisted in our executive function by our aides and the Civilian Secretariat of the Police.

My key priorities are underpinned by:

·         Constitutional Democracy Policing
·         Community Participatory Policing
·         Depoliticized Policing
·         Professionalized Policing
·         De-escalation of top heavy management and
·         A Single Police Service

Our people do not feel safe and they are not safe. We are called upon by the Constitution to provide safety.

There are perceptions that policing is politicized, the public as shown in many surveys and research reports including StatsSA Households Survey, continuously say the public views our police as mostly inept, corrupt and unaccountable. However, I want to pause and acknowledge that out of the 194 000 fixed establishment of SAPS, over 99% of our police members are hardworking, have shown us bravery and innovation, they are dedicated and professional in their conduct and love their community and country. I work well with all of these members. I just finished a meeting with the leadership of POPCRU and will be meeting other union later today as well. There is great work being done. Since my return to the police this April, I have observed that crime prevention has not being at the forefront of our policing strategies at least in the last 6 years with more emphasis and deployment of resources being on crime combating, and the maintenance of order. This is what I have termed “CHASING THE TAIL POLICING”. If we desire good results, we must change course.

In terms of our planning and targets, we are supposed to be reducing crime by 2% per year up to 2030. We know that at present due to regressive past crime statistical results we now have a 2.4% crime reduction target for this current financial year in a climate of reduced resources and heightened violent criminality. At the centre of this is a lack of proper strategic management and stability on the part of top police management and we are called upon to address this. When resources are there and the legislative environment is permitting; yet results are not matching the resources and legislation – clearly the issue will then be at the management level. This includes us as politicians. SAPS is not excluded from the Batho Pele public service principles – SAPS is to lead in service delivery under the auspices of ubuntu. As Minister, the ethos of policing is my responsibility – the Constitution in Section 206(1) states “a member of the cabinet must be responsible for policing and must determine national policing policy after consulting the provincial governments and taking into account he policing needs and priorities of the provinces as determined by the provincial executives”.

The Constitution requires that the Minister of Police to direct police ["directives"], drafts policing policy, oversee, monitor and supervise all members and the organization, its leadership and performance. National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, statutory bodies like the Civilian Secretariat for Police, the Independent Police Investigate Directive (IPID) – also the Community Policing Forums (CPFs) outlined in the South African Police Service Act of 1995 – including Chapter 9 institutions. Section 207(2) says “the National Commissioner must exercise control over and manage the police service in accordance with the national policing policy and the directions of the Cabinet member responsible for policing”. This “control” is not unfettered by parliament, the law and executive authority. Consequently, the National Commissioner is responsible for making sure that public safety and security pertains in accordance to the policies and accountability measures instituted and directed by the Minister of Police.

Section 205(3) of the Constitution demands of the Ministry of Police, “to prevent, combat and investigate crime, to maintain public order, to protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property, and to uphold and enforce the law”. Portfolio Committee on Police has expressed concerns over instability and crises in top SAPS management, the Committee has also made various important inputs and directives in terms of members doing business with the organization; the misallocation of resources, lack security vetting of certain SMS members, the Auditor General’s findings and others. Some of these were also expressed by the Joint Standing Committee. With all this being said, I as Minister of Police am not a mere observer but executive authority beyond the development of policy but also I am empowered by the Constitution to direct the successful implementation of policy.

In terms of our law, Regulation 24 of the SAPS Act empowers the Minister to make regulations in terms of:

·         The exercising of policing powers and the performance by members of their duties and functions; (this includes commissioned officers)

·         The recruitment, appointment, promotions and transfer of members;

·         The training, conduct and conditions of service of members

·         The general management, control and maintenance of the Service

This is my legal mandate as Minister. As it can be seen, I am not a mere observer or ceremonial character. Powers of promotions, transfers of members within the service including all other matters around conditions of service are for Minister to regulate and direct. It is thus up to me to weed out those members who act in manners inconsistent with the law and their official duty as officers or those who exhibit traits of intransigency, unlawful insubordination, and lack of discipline of an officer in uniform.

It may surprise some that no SAPS member may leave the country without my approval. It is a standard item for me to deal with hundreds of submissions monthly dealing with this very operational matter as per our law. We amended the SAPS Employment Regulations of 2008 with a view that Minister must concur to certain categories of actions in particular those that the Auditor General has highlighted as problematic causing us the qualified audit.

I directed CI to a set of 26 specific tasks. These tasks align with parliament oversight instructions on vetting, organizational, supply chain concerns and other matters. The AG also raised some of the issues we attend to in our 26 specific tasks. We are also saying anyone who is responsible for sensitive information, anyone who is responsible for managing covert operations or attendance of Section 70 (eavesdropping or interceptions) ought to be vetted. A Vetter must be vetted. At present this does not obtain. But I am attending to that.

An Action Plan was developed by CI together with the Ministry to refocus the SSA account to good corporate governance albeit with understanding of the covert nature of activities. Generals Mothiba and Ngcobo have agreed with me on this and we work professionally well together. The recent days apparent illegal leaking and publication of classified letters and or conversations, the law will take its course on that in due time, IPID is attending to their tasks in this regard. As for allegations that the Minister should not be receiving Intelligence Information, I find this beyond silly and lazy journalism potentially characterized by a passion against the person of Fikile Mbalula. As Minister the public expects me to know if there is domestic terrorism, or any serious threats to the state and public safety. I must know of a potential Marikana before it happens and that call should come from police. I must know if disaster is estimated at a particular place so as I may engage cabinet and government to avert or do whatever it is we are responsible for.

There is a campaign by certain individuals to side-track and besmirch me in all manner possible including shoddy journalistic performance with a tinge of sensationalism. Journalists are urged to be careful of information peddlers within the security environment and you should always ask why secret information are being leaked. It is disappointing to your profession when journalists are openly being used as tools by dark and rouge forces within the police who often are busy with political agendas. Intervention on reduction of top heavy structure at head office will include Minister’s proposal on convert certain police stations into

Major General level, this will assist in bringing the resources to the people. There is no reason why Nyanga police station, as a murder capital should not be prioritized in this regard.

Provinces like Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape require an investigation on whether management could be regionalized wherein two Lt. Generals are deployed to manage the South and North respectively. This too would mean devolved resources to the crime hot spots and weighing areas. Pro-active planning should also focus on the big three new cities; Ekurhuleni, Witbank and Rustenburg.

SAPS have paid lip service to cybercrime. Cybercrime has shown South Africa to be extremely vulnerable. It is my intention that our APP is sharply focussed on Cybercrime issues. The Ministry has not been involved in budgeting processes in the past. As policy, the Ministry would take a leading role in this regard. As a footnote; on the Employment Regulations we gazetted a week ago, an overzealous staffer at Civilian Secretariat decided on his own to add several pages more of information that I did not authorize or approve, I have since instructed the Secretariat to correct this and avoid any confusion. Also disciplinary action must be taken against person’s responsibility for this serious infraction. Let me underscore this; if I were to adopt a stance of being a mere observer to policing and accept that the law can be broken by police it would mean we are in a police state, a GESTAPO type state and that does not fit in with constitutional democracy policing. We are asking for support from the media and the public. We need it. We cannot do this job without you.

I have asked directed police management to convene a workshop on policing and regulations pertaining to SAPS and what it is expected of journalists on crime scenes and other matters like why we arrest people and under what circumstances. Some would say I should not direct that this be done. I wish to announce that I have approved the promotions of just over 4800 Constables to a rank of Sergeants, a 100 Sergeants will also be promoted in this process, a further 1000 promotions will be announced in a few weeks’ time. The President is at the eve of finalizing the appointment of a new National Police Commissioner. I am also at the eve of appointing the head of DPCI (Hawks). In this regard we are aware of the pending Constitutional Court challenge by Major General Ntlemeza and are duly advised that his matter remains without merit as such we hope to be in position to move the country forward in this regard very soon.

 

FA MBALULA, MP MINISTER OF POLICE