Police committee wants 'new blood' after SAPS receives second qualified audit in a row

The Portfolio Committee on Police has noted with "huge concern and disappointment" that the police have received a qualified audit for the second year in a row, which included understated irregular expenditure of close to R1bn.

Committee chairperson Francois Beukman said in a statement released on Friday that the qualified audit opinion raised serious concerns about the financial, procurement and contract management capabilities of senior management of the police service.

The police's annual report, which contained the report from the Auditor-General (AG), was tabled in Parliament on Thursday.

Beukman said Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sitole "need to shake up their management team" to bring the requisite skills with regard to the areas highlighted by the AG to strengthen the internal control mechanisms.

"It is quite clear that new blood is needed to turn the ship around. The suspension of the current chief financial officer and the debacle with regard to the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) and Forensic Data Analyst (FDA) contracts indeed do not bode well for the general effectiveness and performance of the police department, going forward," Beukman said.

The "debacle" Beukman referred to was what members of Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) described as corrupt dealings between SITA, which procures services and goods for the police, and FDA. After a dramatic meeting last November, Scopa recommended that SITA look at their contracts with FDA again and stop paying them.

This culminated in FDA switching off three of the police's systems on April 4. The systems have since been switched back on.

Beukman emphasised that drastic measures were needed to ensure that an unqualified audit was achieved for the current financial year.

The committee's view was that the understated irregular expenditure of R968m was an indication that the Minister of Police should ensure that strict corporate and contract governance was restored within the SAPS environment.

Beukman said the AG had highlighted the lack of proper financial controls and consequence management as the root causes of the situation.

The committee maintains that the implementation of the National Development Plan recommendations about the National Police Board and a merit-based appointment process for the top management of SAPS is the only long-term solution to deal comprehensively with the challenges.

The management of the police service is expected to appear before the committee on Tuesday, October 9 about the AG's report. The SA Police Service audit committee has also been invited to attend. 

Sitole was appointed in November last year and Cele replaced Fikile Mbalula as police minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa's Cabinet shake-up in February.

The South African government's financial year is from April 1 to March 31.

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