Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Morale is at rock-bottom in the SAPS - Dianne Kohler Barnard

Morale is at rock-bottom in the SAPS - Dianne Kohler Barnard
Dianne Kohler Barnard
21 July 2014

DA MP says political appointments, secretaries, drivers, lovers and relatives of various bigwigs being bounced up the ranks

Speech by Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA Shadow Minister of Police in the Police Budget Vote, Parliament, July 21 2014

Minister Nhleko must fix the shambles he inherited

21 July 2014

Chairperson currently our SAPS is to our citizenry what Germany was to Brazil in the FIFA World Cup. They are not beating us, they are burying us.

As such I am deeply grateful that we have a new Minister - and equally so that we have a new Chairperson.

This new Minister has inherited a shambles - with R150-million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure being just the tip of the iceberg that threatens to sink the whole ship.

As for the previous Minister, I trust he has more luck with ballet than he had with bullets - and that he quickly works out that a grand jete doesn't refer to another fun-filled, taxpayer-funded private airline trip. Thankfully with a cut in budget from R73-billion down to R3-billion he'll have a lot less loose loot to squander.

Chair, I must commend this new Minister for allowing the questions I put to him to be answered in full - no sarcasm, and complete disclosure made a welcome change, but I can't but wonder how it is we come to find him in this exalted position. I looked at his slim CV, and it took me a while to dig out some background information. He seems, from what I have seen, to have left school somewhere in Standard 9, has no further education - yet he mysteriously ended up as the DG for Labour.

I do know he had a shot at being an Acting-Municipal manager until they found he had no relevant qualifications, but it all came together when I saw that he was appointed the Regional Commissioner of Correctional Services KZN who then advocated for the parole of No 1's financial advisor and benefactor, Schabir Shaik, on dubious medical grounds.

Yes, this is the very man who signed off on the release of the never-been-ill-a-day-in-his-life, golf playing, whisky swilling close friend to the President.

It was after that, that this Minister was suddenly deemed suitably qualified to be a DG, and today earns a Minister's salary.

This Minister has inherited an entity which on the books looks effective. But I could take him by the hand to 153 stations without toilets, running water, electricity - or all three; to stations where the rain pours through the roof; or those with few working vehicles, or plenty of vehicles and no driver's licences; to stations where the police members round up cattle and demand a fee from the local subsistence farmers for their release.

I could show him where to source some of the money to renovate a station or two, starting with the man who was the first non-police political appointment to National Police Commissioner, Jackie Selebi.

We are still feeling the effect of his disastrous term, and what he did to the SAPS and to our reputation abroad is immeasurable. As for the money: according to Treasury Regulations 12.7.1 and 2 he should have started paying the taxpayers the over R17-million 30 days after he lost his appeal. Yet it's been three years, and we've not seen a cent.

R17-million could pay the salaries of over 200 constables for a year. It could pay for more officers on the streets, or to provide vehicles at stations, or bullet proof vests where there are none, or provide much needed crime-fighting resources to those men and women whom he embarrassed. Or even build a station so that our members aren't found working from their cars as they're locked out once again because the Department of Public Works has forgotten to renew the lease.

Or perhaps the money could be used to help the SAPS Air Wing, as more than half is sitting gathering dust, with six of the aircraft grounded since before December 2012 - probably the Robinson R44s bought for the World Cup but never used.

I have asked over and over about this matter, but the NPC has seemingly done nothing.

The cynicism of the South African public in terms of our SAPS began around the time that Jacki Selebi was sentenced to 15 years after being found guilty of corruption, spent just 229 days in a hospital ward, and was released because he was on the verge of death.

He wasn't. Schabir Shaik wasn't either - and he's seen playing golf and dining out regularly in Durban.

Then of course I could show the new Minister what destruction was wreaked in the SAPS by the now Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Bheki Cele.

I welcomed his sacking as National Police Commissioner on the 12th June 2012 after the Public Protector found his actions were, "improper, unlawful, and amounted to maladministration". The Molio Police Board of Inquiry recommended that criminal charges be considered as he was guilty of gross misconduct.

So - we laid charges, yet now he's a colleague of yours on the Ministerial benches, and the SAPS has somehow in the past two years found it impossible to investigate the charges we laid against him in this regard. The Minister will find a question from me in his In Box about this matter.

I could show this new Minister footage of Andries Tetane being murdered as SAPS members shot him at blank range - on TV - live - or Mido Macia being dragged off to his death.

But I could equally take this Minister to pearls of perfection scattered about the country, where the police are admired and supported by the locals who in turn are cared for by them in the way in which we thought Police should work when we changed them from a Force into a Service.

They have managed to hold onto that which we admire in the SAPS, despite the second fired NPC militarising the entire structure just so that he could be called a General.

I must point out that this title of General is one he bizarrely demands to be called still today when he was stripped of both the title and everything that went with it when he was fired.

He isn't a General, and has no right to use that title. Even in the New Age newspaper.

I could tell the Minister the tale of Richard Mdluli and his suspension, and the suspension of the next acting head of CI once he pressed charges against the current NPC and her close confidant the PPC of the WC after she was allegedly recorded warning him he was under investigation.

The latest head of the IPID is investigating this very matter and as such I have every confidence it will be swept under the carpet.

There are only two original members of the PPC left, and along with her I voted for the current chair when he took over as the head of the ICD - now the IPID. I do trust the man and I'm sure one day the truth of why he resigned on the day of the Marikana Massacre will emerge.

That Massacre, and who will be the scapegoat for it, has been much in the news and I'm sure the lessons the new Minister will learn from the commission as we all watch the former Minister wriggle like a fish on a hook trying with all his might to justify his actions while convincing his accusers that he is in no way to blame, will guide him when he lays awake at night wondering which way to jump.

By now the new Minister will have learned that we have 1448 convicted criminals in the SAPS - one of them is a Major General, 10 Brigadiers, 21 Colonels, 10 Majors, 43 Lt-Colonels, 163 Captains, 84 Lieutenants, 716 Warrant Officers, 267 Sergeant, 129 Constables and four staff. So nearly all of them have been promoted up the ranks, despite their being, on the whole, murderers and rapists. Most of them work in the Eastern Cape - but 64 of them work in the SAPS Head Office.

There are probably many more criminals in the ranks, as the audit was inexplicably stopped at the end of 2010.

Chairperson, it seems having finally admitted to this criminality, it would have been easy to simply apply the SAPS Act and boot them out, but the NPC and her staff blundered the affair so the Unions could stop the firing of this evil bunch of criminals in our midst.

I could introduce the new Minister to outstanding police in every single province - police who would take a bullet for either of us - but equally I could point out the fault lines, where the failings are - many relentlessly highlighted in the committee report.

Chair I could explain to the new Minister how South Africans don't believe a word of what is said during the annual Release of the Crime Stats Circus ...especially as the figures were fiddled so amateurishly last year by his predecessor.

The sad truth is that there are thousands of disillusioned SAPS members who have achieved extraordinary things, yet have never been promoted. The logical and progressive career paths have been overgrown by liberal doses of politically generated fertilizer.

Experienced SAPS members are today instructed to mentor 20 year olds, who are then promoted over their heads, and for whom they must still do the job, grit their teeth and salute. Morale is at rock-bottom, and while this Minister's new Department was scoffing R45-million on meals and swanning about in 5-star hotels, comfortable in the reality that their children, lovers and relatives were being bounced up the ranks regardless of their lack of qualifications, our people were dying in increased numbers. 45 murdered each day.

Indeed while I give this speech 3 people will be murdered, and 25 women raped - and the chances of their killers and rapists being apprehended, successfully prosecuted and incarcerated are miniscule because so few cases make it to court, and so often the cases presented are so weak they're laughed out the door.

Sadly this Minister has yet to learn of his SAPS members who are so poorly trained that they wreck crime scenes, fail to collect evidence, destroy evidence or sell it.

It may pay the new Minister to ask why it is that in Gauteng 70 officers have been dismissed recently for corruption, attempted murder, armed robbery, defeating the ends of justice and assault. And why 173 more were fired in KZN. And they aren't part of the infamous 1448. They are fresh new criminals.

The question, of course, to ask is: How on earth did they get into the SAPS in the first place?

Needless to say our SAPS needs a comprehensive turnaround strategy. It cannot go on as before, with political appointments, secretaries, drivers, lovers and relatives of various bigwigs being bounced up the ranks to senior positions over the heads of those who have earned the positions through backbreaking hard work.

Chair, this Minister's predecessor shoved through poor, unconstitutional legislation such as the Hawks Bill - rejected now for the third time by the courts - and the xenophobic PSIRA Amendment Bill - which allows for the expropriation of entire Private Security companies which have a head office elsewhere.

There are huge concerns that provisions that limit foreign ownership of private security companies under the World Trade Organisation General Agreement on Trade in Services are being breached.

The DA believes that this Bill will constitute an unlawful expropriation under section 25 of the Constitution and may also place the government in breach of its obligations under the SA-UK bilateral treaty and the other 45 bilateral investment treaties.

Even if the President decides that SA doesn't need to be bogged down in the Constitutional Court and international arbitral tribunals, it is quite obvious that the same aim is being achieved through the Home Affairs Immigration regulations - which ensure any permanent resident working in any sector of the private security industry will not be allowed back should he or she pop to Mauritius for a holiday. Neat trick.

I could tell the new Minister that there were zero dismissals in relation to the 13 000 lost SAPS firearms; that R96-million was spent to send cops to South Sudan and Darfur; of the multi-million rand AVL SAPS car-tracking system contract lapsing because the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries signed the renewal three days after it expired; of our reservists - turned away from SAPS doors since 2008 and now treated like trash via the new regulations; that 20% of detectives are without the most basic of training; that just 3.3% of cops are trained in sexual offences; that there are 27 000 cops with firearms, but no licences; 16 594 cops without driver's licences and as many cops with licences but no vehicles.

This Minister must know that there are heroes in the SAPS - members who put their lives on the line for us members of the public on a daily basis.

But equally there are those who use the position to rob and rape and that the balance between the good and the bad has begun to tilt towards the bad.

The plan to integrate the CJS has been spoken about for a decade, and the most the SAPS have been able to do is fail at scanning and sending dockets to court.

I have no option but to hope that now that the Empty Suit has sailed off into the sunset of his career, this new Minister will prove to be more substantial.

Unfortunately the new Minister has inherited no clear plan on how to tackle the main issue of police brutality and while I have my reservations about his appointment I trust his history of abusing his powers to the benefit of the President and his friends will be left behind him as he steps into a fresh new day.

Issued by the DA, July 21 2014

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