Cele scolded for ‘another cut-and-paste job’

2011-03-22 14:11

The national police leadership received another rubbishing from Parliament’s portfolio committee on police today, this time for failing to present a coherent strategic plan for this year with measurable crime-fighting targets.

Chairperson Sindi Chikunga told police commissioner General Bheki Cele she had allowed a meeting on the plan to go ahead purely to “make use of whatever resources were wasted by you coming here”.

She said the failure to write a 2011/12 performance plan according to clear treasury directives to government departments appeared to be “a symptom” of a deeper problem in the police service.

The plan looked like “a cut and paste” from earlier documents, Chikunga added.

“I must express my deep frustration. We cannot work like this. The plan before us make is very difficult for public representatives to hold the department accountable.If this happens again I will open and close the meeting.”

The report states that “the essence of the crime problem in South Africa today is to stop or stabilise any further increases in trio crimes, then to systematically reduce all aggravated robberies while at the same time trying everything possible to prevent aggravated robberies”.

“During all of this, the management of perceptions and fears is of paramount importance.”

The priorities it lists include employing an additional 2 330 officers by 2013/14 and increasing the capacity of the crime intelligence units as well as the provincial Tactical Response Teams.

After Cele’s presentation, MPs from across the political spectrum tore into the document.

The ANC’s Greg Schneemann said: “Last year’s performance plan actually gives the performance indicators, the baselines, the targets etc. If I look at the performance plan we have been given this year, you have put no targets so it is very difficult then to measure.”

The Democratic Alliance’s Dianne Kohler Barnard demanded to know why the police were aiming to reduce serious crimes by the “embarrassing” target of only two percent and how it planned to deal with the large-scale loss of service weapons, which she termed “a cute way of saying they are selling them out the back door”.

“It is illegal arms trade and it is coming from within the SAPS,” she said.

Kohler Barnard said the stated aim of managing crime perception “sounds like a PR exercise to try and hide what crime is” and was a mistake to try to strengthen the Tactical Response Teams when they were clearly out of control.

“They are thugs beating up people in clubs. You are giving money to a unit everyone in the country seems to think should be shut down.”

Cele retorted that it “would be suicide to shut down the tactical response teams” and foolish not to counter scare-mongering about crime levels that led to reports that the German soccer team were told to wear bullet proof vests during last year’s Fifa World Cup.

He explained the lack of targets in the performance plan by saying that police used the successes achieved in the previous year as a baseline on which to improve.

But ANC MP Annelise van Wyk said accurate performance indicators were vital to determine whether a department was delivering value for taxpayers’ money.

“Monitoring takes place in quarterly reporting and provides an overview of the performance of the SAPS based on the targets and indicators as contained in the SAPS annual performance plan,” she said, citing requirements put forth by the auditor-general.

“We have none of that in this performance plan.”

Chikunga demanded that police management table an improved version of its plan next week when it is due to brief MPs on the department’s budget.

She has since taking up her post in 2009 routinely sent Cele and his commissioners back to the drawing board after they failed to provide the committee with the information it wanted.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa attended the first half hour today’s meeting and apologised for the fact that the committee only received the plan last night, not seven days before the briefing as requested.

“It really is a serious matter, there will be a follow-up,” he promised.

Cele subsequently blamed the police secretariat for the slip-up, saying it had the document days ago and should have sent it to Chikunga.

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