SAPS Annual Report 2005/6

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THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE (SAPS) ANNUAL REPORT 2005/06

 

1.      Background

 

On 27 September 2006, the South African Police Service (SAPS) presented its annual report, which reviewed the activities of the police for the period 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006. It coincided with the release of the annual crime statistics, which covered the same period. Crime statistics form an integral part of police operations and assist in the determination of crime patterns, trends, hotspots, and operational planning.

In view of the fact that the annual report covers the period up to the end of March 2006, it does not make reference to the period from 1 April 2006 to 31 August 2006.

The SAPS and the Government’s Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) has noted with concern the surge in violent crime over the period April to June 2006, especially in Gauteng. The detailed statistics for the period in question will however only be provided in 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007 annual report.

All strategies and priorities of the SAPS conform to the goals of the JCPS Cluster. These broad goals as they relate to the SAPS are:

Reducing the levels of crime in the country, in particular contact crime through the development and implementation of social crime prevention programmes;

  • Addressing organised crime;
  • Improving the integrated justice system;
  • The prevention of illegal drug use;
  • Reducing the incidence of illegal firearms;
  • Dealing with sexual offences, including violence against women and children;
  • Improving levels of national security; and
  • Enhancing the capacity and readiness of disaster management systems.

Government has set itself a target of reducing contact crime by between 7 and 10 percent on an ongoing basis, a target that it is irrevocably committed to and has, and will continue to strive towards its achievement. Some of the statistics, which will be referred to hereinafter, show a definite and positive trend in that direction.

Members of the SAPS have achieved these goals with the indispensable assistance of ordinary South Africans who are committed to ensuring a safe and crime-free society for all members of society to prosper in and realise their personal aspirations.

2.      In reviewing the crime statistics for the period under review, have there been any significant achievements and changes?

During the period under review contact crime showed significant decreases. Among the achievements are the following:

  • Common Robbery decreased by 18,3%;
  • Attempted Murder by 16,6%;
  • Common Assault by 15,6%; and
  • Serious and Violent Assault by 9,6%.

A decrease of 6,2% in Robbery with Aggravating Circumstances is also encouraging and an improvement on the previous year’s decrease of 5,5%.

Even though Murder decreased by 2,0%, Rape by 1,0% and Indecent Assault by 3,7%, these contact crimes remain a cause for concern.

It should however be noted that over the past 12 years there has been an overall downward trend in the murder rate. In spite of this Government has reiterated its commitment towards bringing this on par with decreases seen in the other crime types.

Despite these notable changes for the better, some challenges still remain in other categories of crime prevention and combating programmes. Alcohol and drug abuse continue to be a problem as initiators of crime. Drug-related crimes have increased by 13,2% while instances of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs increased by 9,9%.

However, increases in statistics related to drug abuse and alcohol abuse are often a reflection of increased SAPS activities whether it be in form of roadblocks and other crime prevention activities. These activities often result in increased arrest rates for people who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or commit drug or alcohol induced crimes.

3.      What can the successes attributed to?

Crime prevention in South Africa is based on the principles of community policing, meaning partnerships between the community and the SAPS, which strengthen existing community police forums.

Sector policing was introduced in 2002/03 to increase visibility and accessibility, particularly in areas that have limited infrastructure and high levels of crime. In 2003/04, sector policing was introduced at 47 priority stations and 14 presidential stations, whilst further rollout took place in 2005 to 169 high-contact crime stations.

As part of the SAPS preventative partnership programme, approximately 600 closed-circuit (CCTV) cameras have been installed in metropolitan areas such as Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban over the last three years, and these had a positive impact on reducing crime in these cities. During the next five years, CCTV cameras will be rolled out to the high contact crime stations.

The principle of partnerships in the fight against crime was taken a step further recently when President Thabo Mbeki met with the Big Business Working Group. This meeting will be followed by an interaction between representatives of the entire business sector in South Africa and the JCPS cabinet ministers. Among others, it is anticipated that it will discuss measures and practical programmes aimed at fighting crime in a more focused and consolidated way using the collective will and wisdom of the nation.

Further interactions with BAC have taken place to prepare the ground for an anti-crime campaign aimed at to mobilising the support of all South Africans to play a role in the fight against crime. This campaign when all stakeholders subsequently endorse it will be mass-based and will include business, organs of civil society, trade unions, political parties and the media.

Additional initiatives include reducing levels of sexual offences against women and children. This has been a priority for the SAPS since 2002 and the objective in this regard is to improve the detection and conviction of perpetrators, eliminate the secondary victimisation of victims, support the victims and improve the prevention of these crimes. In this regard, specific programmes to address violence against women and children have been prioritised for implementation within the high-contact crime police station areas and nodes of the Urban Renewal and Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Programme.

The training of SAPS members to empower victims is regarded as a key intervention for improving the services that are rendered to the public. A new training curriculum on domestic violence is in the final stages of completion.

Victim-friendly facilities are provided at the majority of high-contact crime sta­tions, where victims’ statements can be taken in private in cases of rape, sexual offences, child abuse and domestic violence.

4.      Why are the crime statistics only released on an annual basis?

The SAPS collates and analyses crime statistics collected from all its stations on an annual basis. This is in line with international best practice and allows its statisticians to analyse the information adequately and present a statistically significant picture of crime trends and changes to South Africans and the international community.

The question is often asked as to why these statistics cannot be obtained at station level by ordinary South Africans on an ongoing basis. Crime statistics are generally not made available at station level but instead information on the crime in a specific area can be obtained at local police stations to build vigilant communities and members of the SAPS are obliged to provide that information on request.

5.      What external challenges do the SAPS face in achieving significant reductions in the levels of crime in the country?

The following challenges facing the SAPS in delivering its services within the external environment have been identified:

  • Continuously reducing the incidence of crime, particularly contact crime, despite overall population increases and South Africa’s growing exposure to the international community;
  • The sustaining of emphasis placed on the implementation of sector policing in all station areas but accenting implementation in identified high crime station areas;
  • Developing partnerships with all sectors of society in the fight against crime , including the private sector;
  • Improving inter-departmental cooperation, particularly with those departments that constitute the JCPS Cluster, in order to address those factors that trigger crime;
  • Contributing towards development and capacity building in Africa through NEPAD by assisting African countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Rwanda and the Comoros in the establishing of an effective and efficient policing service; and
  • Developing planning for the policing and securing of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Some of these have already successfully been addressed for instance agreements reached with BAC and others stakeholders, which include concerted efforts aimed at combating various types of crime.

6.      What internal challenges do the SAPS have to contend in the fulfilling of its duty to South African society?

The following internal challenges impact on the SAPS’ ability to achieve its goals and objectives:

  • Reducing the incidence of attacks on and murders of police officials, both on and off duty;
  • Eradicating corruption and fraud in the SAPS through improved internal controls and risk management; and
  • Increasing the personnel strength and physical and technological resources of the SAPS, commensu­rate with policy developments such as the phasing out of the Commando system and the implementa­tion of sector policing.

7.      How has the SAPS increased capacity of its members and to what extent has personal and professional development been implemented?

In the 2005/2006 financial years, 16 outcomes-based learning programmes were developed and implemented, which included Station Management, Middle Management, Executive Development, Detective Commander and Counter-terrorist training.

Station commissioners of 47 priority stations completed the Station Management Learning Programme and 389 operational commanders completed the Operational Commander Training Programme, which was developed to address the skills gap regarding the planning and man­agement of police operations.

Two-hundred-and-twenty-seven detective commanders completed the Detective Commander Learning Programme and 1 138 detectives were also trained in the Detective Learning Programme. One-thousand-two-hundred-and-fifty-one designated Firearms Officers were trained in terms of the need to facilitate the successful implementation of the Firearms Control Act.

As part of a special project, 66 reservists of the previously disadvantaged groups obtained their driver’s licenses, which automatically advantaged their establishment in the SAPS.

The intelligence training presented by the National Intelligence Agency, French Intelligence Agency and the FBI positively assisted in developing skills to improve intelligence training and to develop an Advanced Intelligence Learning Programme.

As part of women empowerment, more female trainers were developed to present operational training. Courses were also presented as special projects, specifically to develop female personnel and emphasis was placed on strategies in the Learning Programmes to address crimes against women and children.

9 850 entry-level constables successfully completed the Basic Training Learning Programme for this reporting period. The four additional SAPS Training Institutions that were established during this period for the purpose of providing basic training are fully functional.

An additional 11 000 entry-level constables and 1 000 support staff personnel were enlisted during the 2005/6 financial year to reach the establishment target of SAPS of 156 060 personnel.

8.      How does the SAPS deal with corruption and fraud?

The Corruption and Fraud Prevention Plan for the SAPS, initiated in 2004/2005, was strengthened further in 2005/2006. The focus of this development was to align the strategy with the guidelines of the Department of Public Service and Administration on the minimum anti-corruption capacity requirements in Departments and organisational components in the Public Service.

A number of areas requiring further development were identified, including the establishment of an anti-corruption organisational culture in the SAPS, linking anti-corruption initiatives to risk management and developing and implementing effective detection mechanisms such as whistle blowing and focused internal auditing.

The implementation of the Corruption and Fraud Prevention Plan focused on improving the prevention, detection and investigation of corruption and fraud and limiting the impact of corruption and fraud on the SAPS. The Strategy is compliant with the National Anti-corruption Strategy of the Public Service, addresses the resolutions of the National Anti-corruption Summit held in March 2005, as well as the minimum requirements for establishing an anti-corruption capacity within government departments.

9.      How does SAPS deal with social crimes?

The Social Crime Prevention Programme includes a specific focus on crimes against women and children.

One of the pillars of this programme is the Anti-Rape Strategy which covers the prevention of rape, the criminal justice system’s processing of rape complaints and support to survivors.

Prevntive actions include partnerships with local authorities and social services organisations aimed at addressing the factors contributing to rape, and through the visible policing of areas likely to have a high incidence of rape, such as liquor outlets that are linked to areas where incidents occurred.

Partnerships with religious leaders, traditional leaders, local authorities and other (usually male) community structures are used to motivate positive behaviour.

In the year ending March 2005, 1 148 SAPS members were trained in the application of the Domestic Violence Act.

The training package contains a social context module aimed at broadening insight into the complex dynamics involving the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence.

The training is geared at sensitising SAPS members to victims’ needs and promoting empathy and a positive service attitude. It provides practical skills that members can use in providing services for victims of domestic violence.

The Captain Crime Stop and Adopt A Cop programmes have continued undertaking school visits and presenting programmes to young children and youth. These programmes raise awareness of crime and crime prevention at places where children are found.

The Homeless Children’s Programme was launched in July 2004 following concerns that the situation of children living and working in the streets renders them vulnerable to involvement in crime, either as victims or offenders.

In addition, the JCPS cluster of departments in which SAPS is located, is working more closely with the Social cluster of Government to ensure that new residential settlements are designed with improved safety in mind.

In this regard, police assess development plans to determine whether these provide for the location of police stations, street lighting, clear street names and other reference points that would ease policing and improve response times.

This approach supplements existing rural and urban development programmes aimed at improving people’s lives and providing employment and other economic opportunities through the upgrading and development of physical infrastructure in designated areas.

Criminologists, socialists and other social scientists universally agree that especially socially determined contact crime – such as sexual offences, assault and murder – cannot be combated by means of conventional policing alone.

An integrated approach to combating these crimes has been adopted by government as a necessary strategy.

In addition, communities are being mobilised to participate in campaigns such as the annual 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.

10.  What gains are being made against commercial crime?

The Commercial Branch of the SAPS is responsible for investigating fraud, forgery and uttering, and theft (mostly theft of trust money or funds that were manipulated to the extent that the services of a chartered accountant are required).

The effective prevention of commercial crime, as well as law enforcement and deterrent action in respect of this kind of crime, is complicated by several challenges such as the following:

  • Commercial crime is more dynamic than ever. New fraud patterns emerge swiftly and can quickly transform and migrate. As soon as businesses take preventive security meas­ures against one type of fraud, criminals adopt a less risky approach soon afterwards.
  • The boundary-free nature of certain commercial crimes makes it difficult to locate offenders. Investigations are often hampered by the cost of sending investigators abroad or securing witnesses from abroad to testify in criminal proceedings.
  • The faceless nature of commercial crime today complicates the evidentiary limitations of traditional enforcement and investigation. The traditional smoking gun, paper trial, eye­witness testimony and evidential aspects are less applicable today. Modern communica­tion technology offers benefits but also heightens the constraints on the investigator, as evidence can disappear quickly.

Commercial crime requires specialised investigating skills and therefore each Commercial Branch (excluding the Serious Economic Offences Unit) has operational groups (within its structures) that are responsible for investigating specific kinds of crime. The following groups operate within the unit:

    • Banking-related Crime Group. The group attends to offences relating to, among other things, cheque, cards and motor vehicle finance fraud.
    • Intellectual Property Rights Group. The group concentrates on matters relating to intel­lectual property rights, revenue, trade and industry and black dollars.
    • Statutes and Fraud Group. The group deals with matters relating to statutes, fraud (gen­eral) and advance fee fraud (4-1-9 letter scams) and other fraud scams.
    • Serious Cases, Financial Crimes and Corruption Group. The group deals with mat­ters relating to serious and high profile cases, financial crimes, money laundering and corruption.
    • Electronic Crime Group. The group concentrates on matters relating to crimes, which have been committed by electronic means. The Banking-related Crime Group deals with e-crime.
    • The Serious Economic Offences Unit focuses primarily on the effective and efficient investigation of more serious economic offences that are large in extent and/or are of national interest.
    • The Proceeds of Crime Investigation Desk was established for the purpose of inves­tigating suspicious transaction reports, which are received from the Financial Intelligence Centre in terms of the Financial Intelligence Centre Act. Reports received at the FIC are analysed and evaluated and the reports on suspicious ac­tivities that have been identified are sent for further investigation.

 

REDUCTION OF ILLEGAL FIREARMS

South Africa’s efforts to reduce and eradicate illegal firearms and their criminal use are paying off.

A six-month amnesty during which people who possessed firearms and/or ammunition illegally could surrender weapons and ammunition for destruction by the South African Police Service (SAPS), resulted in the recovery of nearly 34 000 illegal firearms and just under 609 000 illegal rounds of ammunition between January 1 and June 30 2006.

In addition, 42 095 legal firearms were handed in voluntarily to the police during the year ending March 31 2006.

During the period under review, 107 468 firearms were destroyed by SAPS.

According to the SAPS annual report for the year ending March 31 2006, a noticeable decrease in the number of firearms reported lost or stolen was recorded, compared to the previous year. The report attributes this success to stricter enforcement of the Firearms Control Act.

This legislation stipulates the conditions under which firearms may be licensed, prescribes training requirements for gun owners, determines the quantity of ammunition that owners may possess and sets out the circumstances under which firearms may be used or stored.