SAPS shake-up: Mbalula to crack down on 'top-heavy' police, crime intelligence overspending

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)
Police Minister Fikile Mbalula. (Deaan Vivier, Gallo Images, Beeld)

Cape Town - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has announced several drastic shake-ups to tighten policing operations in the country, which should include redeploying crime intelligence members and scrutinising the secret account used by operatives to prevent irregularities.

"There are staffing and technological inadequacies in the Division of Crime Intelligence which has rendered the function non-responsive," Mbalula said.

"The division should be deployed at police station and cluster levels as well."

Mbalula said this on Friday in the parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Police.

He said the crime intelligence unit had overspent R33.1m.

"I have set out clear directives for CI [crime intelligence] on their management practices, in particular the supply chain environment under the SSA [secret] account."

READ: Crime intelligence slush fund money went to non-existent company - IPID

Mbalula said crime intelligence had to function in accordance with the law.

"In the past five years, there have been 12 Divisional Commissioner and 10 different operational structures. At present, the structure being utilised is an ad hoc structure, due to a Bargaining Council interdict on a new structure."

Mbalula instructed that there was a direct relationship between the police ministry and crime intelligence "to monitor and evaluate activities of the operatives, which include potential misuse of power and resources".

'Parliament was misled about security vetting'

"In the past few months, it would appear as though Parliament was misled on a number of instances, in particular, over vetting or security clearance within the entire SAPS and CI environment," he said.

Mbalula directed the crime intelligence unit to set up 26 directives, with an action plan, to be developed along with the police ministry, in order "to refocus" the unit.

He added that the secret account would be monitored.

This would include "correcting irregular promotions, taking action against employees accused of various infringements and other matters".

Budget cuts and under resourced

Mbalula said there were 193 674 police employees on the payroll. 

"There are challenged, in that Treasury has a reduction of the SAPS wage bill by R800m this year, plus a further R2.9bn for 2018-2019."

Mbalula said there were 402 personnel in the detective services division, whereas the requirement was 2 500.

Visibile policing also needed extra personnel.

Top heavy

Mbalula said SAPS had a top-heavy management - with 35 lieutenant generals, 216 major generals and 664 brigadiers.

"This is a contributing factor to the size of the wage bill, high head office costs, resulting in resources not going to the ground where they are most needed," he said.

Mbalula said he would intervene to try and reduce the police's top-heavy structure.

"Provinces like Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Western Cape require an investigation on whether management could be regionalised, wherein two Lieutenant Generals are deployed to manage the South and North (or other categorisation) respectively," he said.

When it came to cyber crime, Mbalula said this area needed extra focus, as it had "shown South Africa to be extremely vulnerable".

"Focus should be redoubled in equipping SAPS to be adequate to the task."

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