Good afternoon Chairperson, Deputy Chairperson and hon members of this august House. The Select Committee on Security and Justice conducted a joint oversight visit to the Limpopo province from 22 to 25 October 2019 to Thohoyandou Police Station, the Beitbrigde Port of Entry and the Limpopo High Court.
The purpose of the visit to the Thohoyandou Police Station was to oversee safety operations to reduce crime and crime statistics, with the focus on sexual offences. In terms of the crime statistics, Thohoyandou was the third out of the 10 policing precincts in the country in respect of the number of sexual offences reported. Of particular concern to the committee was that out of the 297 sexual offences reported in 2018-19, 268 were rape cases. Some of the key risk challenges identified were: University accommodation, service delivery protests, influx of undocumented foreign nationals, the lack of street lights, unnamed streets and the low morale amongst staff members.
Furthermore, the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit offices reported that they have insufficient facilities, no psychologists and a lack of DNA results which causes a high number of cases being withdrawn.
Chairperson, the committee noted that the police station was under- staffed and had a limited number of police vehicles, with police vehicles being in repairs for a very long period of time. Furthermore statements for sexual offences were taken privately by making use of a facility outside the Thuthuzela Care Centre.
Chairperson, the committee thus recommends' that the SA Police Service, engage with the Department of Home Affairs in dealing with matters of undocumented foreign nationals being detained for long period of time. The SA Police Service considers prioritising the resources and capacitation in light of the fact that in 2022 more officers would retire. The SA Police Service consider finalising a contract with a service provider for the repairs of vehicles and the construction of an additional police station should be fast-tract to fully provide policing services to the Thohoyandou community.
In terms of the visit to the Beitbridge Port of Entry, the aim was to conduct an inspection, but also to understand the working relationships between the Department of Home Affairs, the SA Police Service, the Department of Defence and Military Veterans and the SA Revenue Service, this in light of the fact that the committee at the time was also in the process of considering the Border Management Authority Bill.
Chairperson, the committee was particularly concerned about reports of corruption and infrastructural challenges at the border post. And noted the following during the visit: That there were limited human resources at the Beitbridge Port of Entry and almost no new appointments were made in the past five years, a taxi rank and small
business activities were situated very close to the port of entry and the fencing and ageing infrastructure required urgent attention.
The committee made following recommendations: That there is a need to increase the number of Defence Force members at the ports of entry so that they are able to perform their respective responsibilities adequately.
The Department of Home Affairs should engage the Department Public Works and Infrastructure regarding urgent installations of robots and boom gates at the port of entry to curb the forceful entry of vehicles.
The Department of Home Affairs should engage with key stakeholders in government in order to find a lasting solution to address location of the taxi rank and the small businesses at the port of entry.
In addition, more staff are required at the port of entry to ensure adequate border law-enforcement.
Chairperson, the committee met with the Department of Justice and Correctional Services and the National Prosecuting Authority at the
new Limpopo High Court, to conduct an inspection of the High Court and to understand the challenges and working relationships between the different department. The Limpopo Division of the High Court was established in Polokwane on 25 January 2016.
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services experienced various challenges with service providers during the construction of the court and the cost of the court had escalated to over R1,1 billion. The department appointed the Special Investigating Unit to investigate the matter.
Chairperson, the National Prosecuting Authority, NPA, reported that the High Court was performing satisfactorily with 441 cases finalised since 2016 while 39 cases were backlog cases and the outstanding roll was at 211. A key observation noted by the committee was that, even though the Polokwane High Court was a new court and had been described as a state-of- the-art facility, the court was experiencing infrastructural challenges. The committee further keenly awaits the outcome of the Special Investigating Unit's investigations.
Chairperson, the committee recommendations include that the NPA should consider employing more staff members, that the Department of
Justice and Correctional Services should engage the municipalities in the areas to address the water challenges at courts as these cause delays, that mechanisms should be sought to curb the postponement of cases, and that the Department of Justice and Correctional Services should engage with the SA Police Service in order to develop a strategy to ensure that safety concerns are adequately addressed in courts and that there are appropriate interpretation services be made available to foreign nationals, to avoid the postponement of such cases.
Chairperson, the Select Committee on Security and Justice recommends that the NCOP adopt the report. I thank you. [Applause.]
Question put: That the Report be adopted.
In favour: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West, Western Cape.
Report accordingly adopted in accordance of section 65 of the Constitution.