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Police’s 10111 call fiasco

Emergency services commander Teddy Munusamy, left, 10111 call centre commander Marietha Havenga, centre, and shift commander Tony da Silva, right, watch as operator Megan Malan tracks the progress of a patrol vehicle to a crime scene. File picture: Terry Haywood

Emergency services commander Teddy Munusamy, left, 10111 call centre commander Marietha Havenga, centre, and shift commander Tony da Silva, right, watch as operator Megan Malan tracks the progress of a patrol vehicle to a crime scene. File picture: Terry Haywood

Published Oct 1, 2012

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Cape Town - Nearly 60 percent of the crimes reported to SAPS 10111 call centres don’t get properly registered. And because of that they don’t get investigated.

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe discovered this latest scandal to hit the national emergency police line during his annual audit.

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He also found that the SAPS’s claims for its performance in visible policing could not be verified because of a lack of administrative control.

His findings are contained in the SAPS annual report for 2011/12 that was tabled in Parliament on Friday.

Now the SAPS top brass will have to explain the failings when they appear before Parliament’s police oversight committee later this month.

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So-called “positive incident reports” to 10111 call centres are supposed to be entered on the SAPS Case Administration System (CAS) to generate a docket with a case number.

Nombembe said 58 percent of positive incident reports “were not linked” to dockets on the [Case Administration System].

“The completeness of the actual reported performance indicators, for… visible policing, cannot be verified due to an inadequate audit trail that resulted from a lack of administrative controls in the department,” Nombembe further noted.

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National Assembly police oversight committee acting chairwoman, ANC MP Annelize van Wyk, said the figure of 58 percent was “a huge number” that could not easily be explained away.

“It is definitely alarming,” she said on Sunday.

The SAPS would be expected to explain this failing to the committee “and more importantly, how they plan to correct it”, Van Wyk said, adding that visible policing by the SAPS had long been a source of concern for the committee. However, she did not believe the lack of proper procedures would have had an impact on SAPS crime statistics.

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The DA spokeswoman on police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, said the AG’s report on the SAPS was “one of the most damning in a decade”.

She said Nombembe’s finding showed many cases were “falling through the cracks of a disintegrating administrative system”.

“While citizens believe that their cases are being investigated by a SAPS that costs them R62.4 billion per annum, the criminals will no doubt be delighted to hear that the majority of their activities are never even looked at by our ailing SAPS.

“Justice is not being served,” Kohler Barnard said.

“If dockets are not being opened on the CAS system then the crimes will never be investigated.”

She said Nombembe’s finding, that he could not verify SAPS information on its performance related to visible policing because of an inadequate audit trail due to “lack of administrative controls within the department”, reflected the “utter chaos” in this area.

Nombembe also found that commanders at station level did not exercise oversight to ensure that “entries occurred, were authorised and were captured”.

Kohler Barnard said even if people affected by crime had taken the trouble to report it at a police station, “reported cases may or may not actually be investigated”.

Nombembe routinely checks information that departments provide about meeting performance targets in their annual reports to assess whether it is valid, accurate and complete.

While he gave the SAPS an unqualified audit opinion for the 2011/12 financial year, he raised matters of emphasis related to under-spending and its financial reporting.

The department spent 98.9 percent of its nearly R63 billion budget in 2011/12, leaving just over R617 million unspent. This included R525m on administration and R92m for detective services. Nombembe said the amount “essentially comprises an underspending on capital infrastructure (R266m, or 28.5 percent) and on the revamp of the criminal justice system (R350m, or 19 percent)”.

He said he could not yet determine the full extent of possible irregular spending by SAPS – put at more than R1.9 billion – as it was still under investigation.

Nombembe said this was linked to “possible irregular procurement” with regards to the SAPS firearm registration system, the refurbishment of Nyalas (police armoured vehicles) and the terrestrial trunk radio contract.

“This possible irregular procurement is still under investigation as these contracts are complex, technical and voluminous of nature,” he said. Due to the legal complexities the contract would be referred to the National Treasury for a final ruling.

Kohler Barnard said the SAPS failure to spend R351m on revamping the criminal justice system was “bizarre” as it was “the very system which is needed to provide us with accurate case information and statistics”.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa needed to ensure SAPS commanders instilled discipline with regards to logging incident reports. “We cannot afford to have a police service that continues to slip up on even the most basic duties,” she said.

SAPS states in its report that more than 11 million calls were made to its 20 call centres during 2011/12, an increase of nearly 14 percent on the previous year.

It also said there was an increase in hoax, nuisance and abusive calls, as well as inquiries about emergency services, travel directions and legal advice related to domestic violence or other personal matters.

Figures given by SAPS were that of the 11 077 203 calls received at its 20 call centres in 2011/12, about 76 percent (8 391 862) were not related to crime incidents, up on about 6.9 million calls the previous financial year.

Political Bureau

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