This resource is hosted by the Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, but was compiled and authored by Padraig O’Malley. It is the product of almost two decades of research and includes analyses, chronologies, historical documents, and interviews from the apartheid and post-apartheid eras.
06 Aug 1998: Fivaz, George
POM First of all, Commissioner, I would just like to ask you, once upon a time not so long ago the police in this country were perceived as being one of the most effective, one of the most ruthless, one of the best at clamping down on every kind of crime and in particular it was noted internationally for its information gathering capacity. Now the police are perceived as being one of the most inefficient, inept. What accounts for the difference both in perception and is there reality to the perceptions?
GF I think of course, just to start off with, I am not in agreement with both statements. There is maybe a long argument that could be attached to each one of those saying why I am not in agreement. I think what happened in the past, of course, and we all know it, I don't think we have to go too deeply into the history of South Africa, we know what the political structure was all about. I've noticed that you had a wide range of interviews with a number of people involved in the political side of those days. You also had an interview with a police officer of those days, Louis Botha, I see, so I think those people explained to you what happened over that period of time. If you look into the Police Service of that time, and I was part and parcel of the Police Service of that time as well, more specifically involved in ordinary policing and detective work, the open side of the old Police Service, I was never involved in the security side.
If you look at the structure of those days about 8000 police officers were involved in the old so-called Security Police. Those people had one thing in mind and that was to collect evidence on issues relating to the opposition towards the politics of those days, more specifically around banned organisations, the activities of those people, etc., etc., and they made a point of it. What was very easy if you analyse the situation now was to infiltrate those organisations from the side of the security structure because all those organisations were in a process of building their structures. They were recruiting people, they were allowing new candidates in, they were sending people out of the country to be trained, they were receiving people from outside being trained and whatever the case may be. Such a position as Security Police has the benefit of easing infiltration because it's obvious, it's easy to propose that you would like to join and the structures would allow you in because they were busy building their structures. So those people were really absolutely clued up in those days about the activities of banned organisations, personalities, moving into the country, out of the country for training, etc., etc. That was really the major task in terms of the legislation of that time of those people assisted by a number of other structures like, for instance, Military Intelligence, National Intelligence, etc., etc. So there was a formidable structure in place in those days to do exactly that function.
After that we had total amalgamation of eleven Police Services of the past, or Police Forces of the past, the old homeland police structures and the SAP and nowadays we are calling the structure the Amalgamated Structure of the South African Police Service, comprising elements out of all eleven Police Forces of the past. Of course nowadays ideology is not at all a focus area in terms of our approach to police this country. We are focusing on crime and crime alone. Of course we also have an internal security component responsible for crimes against the state, threats in terms of crimes against the state, so we still have a capacity to protect the state and the sovereignty of the state. If you look now to say then that nowadays the Police Service is ineffective, inept and whatever the case may be, I don't think that is absolutely fair to say it.
POM But that's the public perception.
GF Certain segments of the public. We also have surveys and market research and whatever the case may be showing the other side of the picture so it is not a public perception in certain segments of the public of the opinion that we are not totally effective. What we have to consider -
POM Could you - ?
GF Yes we can make it available through my colleague. But we are not arguing, saying that the Police Service is totally effective nowadays. That is certainly not our argument. I think it will be grossly naïve to say the Police Service is now effective after a period of three years of amalgamation creating a total new structure for the SA situation that now over three years or after three years we have a total efficient, effective, professional Police Service. That is what we are aiming for. So we still have a long way to go and I think you will have to spend time to listen what has been done up to now, how are we approaching the situation, to become aware of the fact that we are busy with a building process. It's not going to happen overnight.
POM That's precisely why I'm here.
GF It's not going to happen overnight. On the one hand you have this transformation process, a change process in the policing environment but you don't even have - or you do not only have that in the policing environment, you have it all over SA. You have to take into consideration that we are busy with a mind-set transformation process all over SA, not only in the Police Service.
POM Let me divide what you were saying into two parts, what I would call the supply side and the demand side of crime. On the supply side you would have questions such as: what facilitates crime, whether it's inadequacy in the training of police, corruption, low morale, low pay, the lack of policing ethos, technological deficiencies. I've talked to at least two or three people who said it takes 27 days to get fingerprints.
POM Classified. So could you talk about the rate of transformation from being an organisation that in the 'old days' was primarily concerned with dealing with 'political terrorism' to one that is now moving into a civilian mode of policing? Could you talk about some of those issues, what I call supply side issues?
GF OK I will come to it and I think it's a very important issue. I explained why the old Security Police was very effective in the past. Now if you take into consideration what you are trying to get out of me now then you have to realise that is the second part of the issue. If you are talking about crime syndicates it's impossible to follow the same approach in terms of infiltration, in terms of an open door type of approach so it's obviously very much more difficult to get your people in the inner circles of crime syndicates. While you are busy building a total new crime intelligence capacity for the Police Service you have to deal with a number of other issues in SA and by now I think you are aware of those issues, we'll come to that right now. I think what is important in terms of any transformation process a total change of structure and direction you are going to have high levels of uncertainty, you are going to have exactly what you are saying, you are going to have problems with your morale in the Police Service. You are going to have a lot of issues to be sorted out in terms of building this new process. We are not completed with that.
POM Why are there problems with morale?
GF What are the problems?
GF Why? Take eleven police forces of the past, each and every one of those police forces have their own ethos, their own aims and objectives, their own approach, they have their own training, they have their own criteria for recruitment so they had their own quality applicable to their own circumstances. To throw that into one pot certainly you have to realise you have to do the following, you have to rationalise the structure. You had eleven of a specific post or job description, like, for instance, you had eleven logistical supply systems in the eleven agencies. You have to rationalise that into one, you have to retrench people, you have to keep one Commander instead of eleven of the past, you have to accommodate all those people all over so you have to create a total new post structure with purpose and function, with a new direction, a new dispensation, and that creates a lot of uncertainty because people were retrenched. Most of them were accommodated, most of them were not willing to serve in the new dispensation. They were ousted in terms of retrenchment packages and whatever the case may be. A lot of them, of course, stayed on and with that 140,000 you are now building a new Police Service and you are moving into a direction. Our feeling is really that over the last three years especially we are getting the impression that the morale is improving, that we are attending much better, more effective to our crime situation in SA as far as the police responsibility is concerned - and I want to come back to that, it's part of your question, as far as the police responsibility is concerned because we are working in a global society as police officers but here in SA we have very specific issues to be taken into consideration. We will come to that.
So we have the feeling that especially over the last year and a half things are improving slowly but surely. Even in terms of our crime statistics, and I think you had a copy, you had insight in that, our twenty more serious crime categories are much better under control. I am not saying we have succeeded to bring it down sharply but much better under control than three years back, it's improving. The morale in terms of market research and whatever the case may be is showing improvement so you can see the building process is starting to work.
POM We can get copies of those?
GF We will make you copies available. But what we have to take into consideration when you want to assess a Police Service in our environment in SA, you have to take into consideration that policing is but one of the role players when you are talking crime. When you are talking crime you have to start off by saying where is crime coming from?
POM That would be my demand side question, we're just on the supply side. I just want to add to what you said, is that I have talked to a number of senior people in the Police Services who would be black and who have said categorically that the problem with regard to transformation is that the rate is (i) far too slow, (ii) that the SAPS still remains a white dominated Afrikaner service.
GF We are aware of all this.
POM This comes not from - this comes from senior colleagues of yours.
GF Yes, but I think we are aware of that and I don't think we have to argue that away, certainly that is not going to be my line of approach to argue it away. It's there. A lot of people in SA, not only in the Police Service, have unrealistic expectations. A lot of people are of the opinion that by now we should have had a total black structure in the Police Service. I am certainly not in agreement with that, certainly not. I am of the opinion that whatever we are going to do in this Police Service in terms of building a new service for this country we have to do it in a very responsible way. When a person is not up to standard, when a person is not of the right quality, when a person hasn't got the right experience, when a person is not really clued up with a specific position, certainly it will be totally irresponsible to put a person of that calibre into a specific position. And my colleague will tell you, we have very specific programmes to develop people, to grow them into specific positions in the Police Service. We are quite convinced that we are making progress and tremendous progress especially lower down the line, tremendous progress. At the top level of the Police Service we still have a huge problem in terms of imbalances. That we realise but for that we have proper plans in place, proper programmes. We have identified our high flyers, our good quality people. Those people are going in programmes. Some of them have already been promoted into certain positions in the Police Service. Once again, I think what I want to tell people, and that is certainly my position, is that we have to realise we are busy with a building process. If you are of the opinion that we are going to create a total black structure overnight you are certainly totally unrealistic. We also have other race groups in the Police Service, the whites and the coloureds and the Indians, that type of category of person, the women, the female, in terms of affirmative action to accommodate so it's going to take a lot of time. You just can't take -
POM How do you balance the requirements of affirmative action against effectiveness as a resource?
GF Certainly what we are doing, and I think you can speak to any Police Chief on earth, they will tell you exactly the same, we have job specifications and job descriptions, purpose and function for each and every post in the Police Service. If a person has the ability, the quality, the material to be in that position and to take over as an incumbent immediately, certainly we are promoting those people into those positions. When we are of the opinion that this person has good qualities but it will take a lot of time because there is a lack of experience, there is a lack of knowledge, there is a lack of whatever, then we are going to put that person into our affirmative action programme. In this programme we have six very specific phases and, can you say, pillars. I think my colleague will tell you about that and he can also make available a document on that basis for you to see exactly what we are doing. So what we are saying is we are attending to the issue of affirmative action but affirmative action is certainly not only promotion. Affirmative action is also to give a person the capacity to do a specific job firstly. Secondly, to create equal opportunities in your organisation, to make sure that all people regardless of race, sex and creed and whatever, have the same opportunities. That is also affirmative action, to make sure eventually that we are in a position to say we have relative representativity or representation of the make-up of the community in your Police Service or civil service structure. But once again, and I'm not even prepared to consider another option, that has to be done on the basis of real responsible structures and programmes otherwise I don't want to be part and parcel of this organisation at all.
POM It would appear to me that if you had been part of a police structure that was orientated to a certain kind of policing and then you become the command structure of a new Police Service, is that you still have old attitudes. How do you suddenly develop new attitudes?
GF What are new attitudes supposed to be? To be irresponsible?
POM No, but you yourself pointed out that the old structures were orientated towards a certain kind of policing that was putting down political opposition, where the emphasis was not on the collection of forensic evidence but more on getting a confession out of somebody, that confessions were accepted in court and now you've got - you who were part of that structure now become the head of a new structure where you have to change your attitudes and then convey that new attitude.
GF You are really fiddling with a very specific snare a lot of people have fiddled with for quite some time. I think it's totally irrational to have that type of approach. In the first instance, if you are saying that then you are saying it is possible to replace a Police Service in toto because certainly this colleague of mine, Commissioner Lavisa, a black man, Commissioner Chetty, an Indian man, Commission John Manuel, a coloured man, in the senior command structure of the Police Service, they are also coming out of the old structures. They would have been exactly in the same position. They should have been ousted and we should have built a total new structure in terms of new incumbents in terms of the so-called, so-called, new society, I don't know who they are, in SA. You will have to import them from somewhere because all of our people in SA are really from old structures so I am not in agreement with that. I am saying any human being, any human being is adaptable. It's possible to adapt to situations. It's possible to make sure that you are moving in a very progressive way in any structure as long as you are responsible in terms of your approach and not irresponsible by saying a very important structure like a Police Service, and I think we also know we are building a new democracy for SA, the first pillar of this democracy we all realise is safety and security and more acceptable levels of safety and security in the country. We all realise that. Will it be responsible to build a new Police Service on the basis of if your own aim and objective will be to create representativity as soon as you could, overnight, regardless of the quality of people you are going to put in important positions in the Police Service. That is really - and really if I am saying that, I am saying that on the basis of long discussions between the President and myself. He is the person that has appointed the National Commissioner and he will be the person in terms of our legislation, so he is still comfortable with me. If some other persons are saying I am of the old guard, I shouldn't be in this position, they should have appointed a person with a broader mindset or whatever the case may be, they could have done it. And as a matter of fact at this very moment there is a still a total open contract between the President and myself so if the President is of that opinion and the government they can really put a vote of no confidence in me and they can get rid of the National Commissioner. That is the beginning and the end of the story.
POM I'd like to follow up that question.
X You can but I want to make something clear, the questions that you specifically ask in terms of, for instance, the old approach and the new approach and how can someone in the old structure succeed in changing it, I think the point has been missed here that it's already changed. We've already changed from a Police Service working on a confession base towards investigation from use of force towards human rights policing, community policing. We have already changed from an intelligence structures focus on idealism towards intelligence structures working on crime. So the question you ask is really irrelevant: can someone who has come from the old structure do it? Because someone who has come from the old structure has succeeded in doing it. The only question we can throw back to you and say, but is it expected that someone to do this should be black or should come from a new Police Service because there was only one real Police Service. So I think the question has really been answered. The persons who came from the old structure into the new structure are the persons who have already succeeded in achieving this, so to me it's really irrelevant.
POM I find irrelevant maybe an inappropriate word. If I could pick up my follow-up question, Commissioner, is that you did come from the old structures, you did serve -
X And I'm very pleased about it.
POM Now even though your former boss is applying for amnesty -
GF A lot of police officers and people from the other side are applying for amnesty so that is not really a consideration in my mind, whether some of the people in the old Police Service have committed crimes. Certainly they have and that is for that reason they are applying for amnesty. Up to now it came out very clearly from the TRC that my senior structure in the Police Service haven't been involved in that type of thing. It wasn't necessary up to now for any one of us, it's still not necessary for any one of us. There were allegations against me, the TRC investigated that. They made it very clear that they can't pick up anything of any nature where I am involved in any atrocities of the past.
You see I don't want to create the impression that I am negative about your questions because I am also coming a long way. I am in this chair now for four years. I had many an interview of a similar nature because we still have a problem, I think to a large extent all over the world, around perceptions and around the fact that is this person or that person in the senior structure or other structures of the Police Service trustworthy or not. So I can accommodate what you are asking, I haven't got a problem really. But I think we have to be very realistic about a process. I think from where we are coming and where we are now there is a huge, but a huge, difference in approach in terms of relationships, in terms of knowledge, in terms of experience. We are also busy with a programme and processes for which you just don't have copycats out there, or duplicates where you can use as an example saying this is now the perfect example for what we had in SA and for what we would like to see in SA so just move on these lines and you are going to get there. I don't think you are in the luxurious situation of having that. So everything we are doing we are doing really on a consultative basis, you are negotiating with a lot of people and eventually you have to find consensus or at least sufficient consensus and then you have to move into that direction unfortunately when you are building it and you will only realise that once you are in the process yourself, when you busy with this type of thing you have to realise you are working with human beings whether they are white, and I would like to see the day where we just have a situation of colour blindness in our society in SA. Most probably it will never happen because if you visit some of the countries with liberty for quite some years you are still hearing absolutely amazing stories. You know I am also travelling around, I am also visiting countries where you have liberty and equal opportunities in place for many decades and then you'll talk to black police officers and then they will tell you in your face, listen here, if these people are telling you we have equal opportunities in this Police Service they are lying because I am still regarded as a Negro, they don't allow me in to certain circles, in certain cases I am not even welcome in their clubs.
So what I am saying is I think we are building a proper Police Service in SA. I am of the opinion we are all to a certain extent, certainly in my case, I was to a certain extent on certain issues very unrealistic. I was under the impression that it's going to be possible to build this new structure, what we would like to have for the country, in a period of five years. Now I'm really in a position to say it's going to take much longer because you are not in a position to wipe the old off the table. That is the issue. And in the place of that you are going to put the new and from here onwards with the new. It's really a situation of phasing in and phasing out, trying to take cognisance of the fact that you are working with the fate and the future of a lot of people and out there a lot of high expectations in the communities, from our regions, because we are dictating the tune in terms of policing in Africa. What we are doing our next door neighbours up north are really enthusiastic about because they are also coming out of a terrible task most of them and they want to duplicate what we are doing in their country.
POM To finish with this issue, because you have very adequately given a very thorough answer and explanation, this is a quotation from one of your most senior colleagues, a black person who was brought into the new structure, who said that, "Decision making wasn't really done by consensus. Even the few blacks in top management were from the old school. They just happened, therefore, to view matters the same way, but when ideas were challenged or attitudes were challenged the reaction was always negative. Hence, the consensus was only the result of a one-sided view that wasn't allowed to be challenged."
GF Was it now in the old Police Service or is it now in the new Police Service?
POM In the new Police Service.
GF I think that person is totally out of touch really and that is my honest opinion because if you look at what we are doing, and really we are trying to be as transparent as possible on each and every issue we are tackling. Of course in a Police Service you can't always try to reach consensus on each and every one of the issues at stake otherwise you are going to be in a situation of negotiations continuously and never in a position to say this is the final position, especially around our operational issues. Sometimes you have to take very quick, very rapid decisions and the Commander is really in that position of command exactly for that reason. But as far as issues of change are concerned I can assure you we had workshop on workshop, we had negotiation on negotiation, even with - can I give you an example of an appointment in the new SA Police Service, and I am now coming out of the old Police Service. In the old Police Service you had a system, promotion board in Pretoria, when you are qualifying as a police officer for promotion and more specifically in the older days the white group because blacks were excluded from that, they had their own line in terms of posts, in terms of requirements, in terms of promotion structure. When you were qualifying you will be judged by a committee in Pretoria, that committee will decide whether you are entitled or not, whether you are good or not and eventually they will decide, OK fine, you will be promoted on their own criteria to a large extent but also on the basis of prescribed criteria in practice. The new position is working like this: when we have a senior position in the Police Service from the level of Superintendent right to the top, except for Commissioner because Commissioner is the prerogative of the President to appoint, from Superintendent we are advertising our posts internally and externally. Those posts will be open on the basis of course of certain criteria. When you want to appoint, for instance, an Area Commissioner at least a person must have a little bit of knowledge of police work and a little bit of experience, of course. That type of internationally acceptable criteria will be attached to a post so everybody can apply. They will apply. Down at grassroots level they already have the first screening process. They will have a panel to compile a long short list, then they will compile a short list, then they will invite people for interview. They will set up a totally representative interview panel comprising police officers, people outside the police, representatives, if not the MEC in the province her or himself, and other people like, for instance, people in provincial national secretariats and whatever the case may be will make up the interview panel. That person will come, the person will be interviewed and eventually it will be submitted in terms of recommendations to a panel in Pretoria, once again scrutinising on the basis of a number of issues, affirmative action, representativity, equal opportunities, job specifications, etc., etc. Eventually after about five processes recommendations will be made to me as National Commissioner. I will get a list, I will look at it once again with my Deputy National Commissioners on the basis of affirmative action, representativity, equal opportunities and a number of other issues like, for instance, experience, suitability for the post, track record, etc., etc. After that the minister and myself will have a session and we are going to sit down and we will go through that list again, affirmative action, equal opportunities, representativity, and then we will decide OK fine, this is the final list and I will sign it. Now if anybody can tell you that is not transparent and on the basis of consensus and on the basis of negotiations taking into consideration a lot of issues, giving a lot of people the opportunity to participate, then I don't know how to appoint a person more transparently.
You see, so what I am saying is most of the issues, our affirmative action policy worked on that basis, exactly on that basis. Our policy on promotion worked on that basis, absolutely on that basis. So you see I think, and that is why I made the point earlier, a lot of people have very unrealistic expectations. I personally think eventually we are going to get there where they want us to be but it will take time and as long as I'm in this seat I will try to make it as responsible as possible on the basis of negotiations, on the basis of consultation, on the basis of transparency wherever possible and taking as many people on board as possible to build this process.
POM These are just two follow-up questions. One is with regard to the provinces. Do you think that the SAPS might work better if more power were devolved to the provinces, that you had provincial or even city, like in Durban, city police forces rather than a highly centralised one?
GF I personally think if you are talking about metropolitan police structures and that type of structure, more devolution of authority, I am very much in favour of that. As a matter of fact if you look at delegation of powers, so we are very much in favour of taking it down to the lowest possible level, lower authority. I don't think these are secret documents.
X No it's not secret but it's very technical.
GF It's very technical but in any case what the documents mean, and certainly you can have copies, it's not secret, it is really following the approach that the job must be done at the lowest possible level on the basis, of course, once again the capacity at the lowest possible level of people because you are also busy with the building process, creating more capacity, better capacity, better training. We have huge backlogs in training. We have inherited people from the police agencies of the past in relative senior ranks without the ability to read and write, and that's a fact. We have officers today in this Police Service who can't read and write as a result of the past. You can't chuck those people out of the Police Service because they can't read and write so you have to set up special training programmes to attend to the needs of those people. It's exactly what we are doing. We have ABEP programmes, for instance, for that category, Adult Basic Education Programmes, to make sure that we do our best and bring our side in terms of the development of those people. It's not one or two, we have 30,000 people in the Police Service with relatively good skills of that nature and very poor skills in some of the cases in the category of reading and writing. How it happened? Those people were recruited in the past by some of the police structures of the past, they took them in and they even promoted them through the ranks without that ability. So it will take time.
That is why I am saying, and a lot of those people are black, the vast majority of those people are black, so you can imagine will it be possible to take a person of that calibre and put him into a responsible position in the new Police Service? I am saying no, eventually maybe yes if you are in a position to say we have trained the person, we have retrained the person, we have created a situation of better capacity, then you can decide what to do with that person. But those processes are ongoing. The question could be, and I think it's a fair question, is that fast enough? Then you can have a long argument to say is it fast enough? Fine, it's not perhaps as fast as we would like to see it but then you have to take into consideration exactly what you mentioned at the opening of the discussion. What is the budget of the Police Service? What's affordable, what's not affordable? In terms of technology are you in a position in the Police Service to say that you have the best? Certainly not, we haven't got the best. But why? Because we can't afford the best.
POM Can I just follow that up directly with - this is a quotation from a minister, not the Minister for Safety & Security.
GF Oh yes he is a very responsible minister, he won't make irresponsible remarks.
POM I know. He says, "The police budget is one of the largest slices of the budget."
GF Yes, for sure. We are the largest department in SA.
POM "Throwing money at it doesn't help."
GF But we are saying that as well.
POM "It's the management - "
X While he's busy I want to give you something which you can read as background, if you haven't seen it. it's a bit old in the sense that it's dated November 1996 but it will give you a good view of all the problems that exist and what's being done about it.
GF You are talking about a black Commissioner, if that is not the black Commissioner on that one, then I don't know what the black Commissioner is all about.
X This document sets out the policing priorities and objectives for last year and this is a report on parts of it that were achieved. And this is the one that we are tackling this year. So this is a background one. This one is after that, a report on some of the issues that we are tackling this year, but this one here in the back, as I said, it's old but it will give you a bit of background as to where we've come since 1994.
POM One of the questions, again, to put it in a slightly different way is that in the provinces where you have Provincial Commissioners do they report to you or do they report to the Premier of the province?
GF No they report to me, but it's a very extraordinary arrangement.
X A constitutional obligation.
GF It's a constitutional obligation and you will find it in the Police Act in the constitution, they are reporting to the National Commissioner. As a matter of fact the National Commissioner is appointing them in consultation with the MEC, the member of the Executive Committee of the province responsible for safety and security. But in practice, and I think they are still working on it, they are trying to smooth the relationship up to the National Commission and to the MEC because at this very moment I think they are also struggling and very concerned about the issue of an ideal line of report. It is very clear in legislation, to the National Commissioner, but you can't deny the existence of the MEC in the province responsible for safety and security so they have to have a proper relationship with that person as well.
POM What authority do they have, say, with regard to the employment of resources, the MECs in the provinces.
GF They haven't got anything.
X The MECs have a monitoring role. It's a monitoring role and their line of command is not just to provincial government but in relation to safety and security matters to Minister Mufamadi, the minister, so they have a monitoring role not a direction role. If they want to give direction -
GF Now be careful, now you will have to be careful.
X If they want to give direction to provincial police they have to do it through the national minister.
POM What's the betting? What are the odds?
GF In anticipation, because I know you are going to say -
POM ... in an interrogation technique.
GF I know, I'm sorry for that. That's it, you see. That was not humanly possible not to see.
POM Would you like to see that changed, that more authority be vested - do you think it would make for a better Police Service?
GF I personally think what we have to do as a very first step, you have to decentralise the budget in a more sensible and more visible way. At present I am still the accounting officer in terms of budget for the total Police Service. The provincial structures of course have their own budgets but they are not accountable for those budgets in terms of legislation in SA.
I think to start off with we are saying we are in agreement that the job should be done at the lowest possible level. Then of course you are saying responsibility in terms of managerial responsibility must be lower down in the structure. At this very moment you have a lot of responsibility in terms of our delegation of authority in the hands of the Provincial Commissioners and Area Commissioners and Station Commissioners. It's in these documents. The can do a lot of things. They can't be held accountable for their budgets because our legislation is not saying that. I am of the opinion we are not there yet to say let's create a sort of a federal police system in SA. We are not there yet. I don't think we have the capacity. On the other side I don't think we have the money in SA to do it because even that is going to cost much more money, metropolitan police structures with their own logistical support systems and whatever the case may be, it's costing a lot of money and we just don't have it in SA. I think what is necessary is one or other system in between for the time being. We are working on a couple of models to take it lower down in terms of total responsibility but on the basis of partnerships. Partnerships may be between local authorities, provincial governments and national government where you are going to do it on a cost sharing basis and of course once you have a situation of cost sharing those people must have more responsibility and they must have more authority. At this present moment I think our legislation is still in favour of a very much centralised situation right from the constitution, to the Police Act, to provincial legislation, to local legislation, it's much more centralised-friendly than we would like to see it. But I think eventually - it's moving in that direction.
POM Let me just ask you, since crime is such an issue in this country and internationally, if you mention SA the word that comes up, again perception or whatever, is 'crime'. Now when you are working so hard to crack down, nail criminals, bring them to justice and are fighting against very severe odds all the time what does it make you feel when the President says that on my 80th birthday I grant a remission of sentence of six months to all prisoners, which results in 9000 prisoners being released and within 48 hours two or three of these people had already murdered somebody? Honestly, what did it make you feel? Were you consulted on that?
GF No, we were not consulted but I think what I can say, in any event at one or other stage those people would have been released and if they are criminals and after release they are committing crime, after normal release they are committing crimes, so I think the people are taking it up too emotionally, really, that's my personal opinion. Because in any event many of those criminals, being released under normal circumstances, will go out and they will commit crimes again because once a criminal, some people are saying, always a criminal. In some cases it's possible to rehabilitate but in others not. But what you are saying is very important. Sometimes you are down in the dumps as a result of weaknesses in the criminal justice system, corruption in the police, corruption in the criminal justice system, if not corruption sometimes incompetence and then of course later on in jails over-flooded. We have capacity in SA for 92,000 people. At present we have more or less 160,000, totally overcrowded. So then you will have sympathy for the Correctional Services people because somewhere along the line they have to create space and capacity. On the one hand we are getting more successful, we are arresting more, we are channelling it into the criminal justice systems. The courts are getting fuller and eventually they are incarcerated and those people are without any plans in terms of what could be done in addition to what we have because what we want to see is maybe the doubling of jails. We just don't have money for that so we can't build it. It's a sort of a vicious circle.
POM So your own success runs against you in a certain kind of way.
GF That's it. So you see then you have to realise that somewhere along the line we have to attend to the cause of the problem and that is what you are saying you will come back to later in terms of the demands.
POM Demands, that's what I'm going to come to. Demands I see as an ingrained culture of violence as a result of apartheid, as a result of generations of young people being told to make the country ungovernable. Is there an inherent disrespect for law and order? Is there an anti-authority ethos out there still? Is there unemployment, poverty? How would you rank, if you had to rank the causes of crime particularly, and I come back to what I call the contempt for human life which in the case of hijackings is where the hijacker could merely take the car but just shoots the person.
GF Yes blows their brains out and takes the car. You know you have most probably access to Internet and it will be interesting if you go into a scanning through all the national crime prevention strategies available and there are many on Internet from various countries. It's very interesting to see where crime is coming from, then you will have a better understanding I think. You already have a better understanding for SA but people outside the country will have a better understanding for what's going on in this country. They are saying poverty is not the main reason for crime. The main reason, social welfare and more specifically under-education. If you as a nation are not attending to your age group two to seven, the young person in society, if you are not attending to that person in terms of values and norms, the creation of proper values and norms, then you are surely going to have one or other problem in future with that person. So it's very important to attend to that age group. I think that age group was neglected in the first instance in SA over a long period of time. Those people are adults to a certain extent now and some of them are 17, 18, between the age of 12 and 21 we are experiencing problems with those people in SA committing crimes, and I am convinced because we haven't got the proper set of values and norms imprinted in the minds of people in SA and from that you have the disrespect, non-understanding for Chapter 3 of the constitution, the bill of fundamental rights. As a matter of fact we never had something in SA in the past so people don't understand, many people just don't understand what human rights are all about, white, black, all over the spectrum. Once again it's going to take some time.
So I am of the opinion as a nation we have to start focusing on really creating proper values and norms for society. We have to get all role players on board, churches, other institutions, social organisations, community structures, but everybody with capacity must get on board in terms of building values and norms for this country of ours. If you take into consideration what you have said, we have created a culture of violence, we have created structures for ourselves in this country from both sides on the basis of violence. If you take the old government, apartheid was enforced by means of violence. From the other side trying to get rid of apartheid, trying to restore their human rights by means of violence, telling people this is how you have to act against the regime. The regime said this is how you have to act against those people who would like to infiltrate the country and eventually we created a culture of violence. It's not for no reason that we have the highest rape rate in the world in SA. It's not for no reason that we have the third highest, according to available stats, murder rate in the world. What is that telling you? If you analyse and assess our crime stats in comparison with the rest of the world you will find that the violent crimes are really the issues we have to be concerned about in comparison with the rest of the world. Crimes against property, like handbag snatching, motor car theft, housebreaking without violence and that type of thing, it's not a problem. If you compare it with the rest of the world, in many of the countries they have a higher rate than in SA. But our problem lies in the category social crimes and crimes of violence against each other, murder, serious assault, rape and that type of thing. So that is in itself telling you something.
POM Why is, for example, rape - I think the statistic is that it's the highest in the world, what would account for that?
X I think that you're going to find first of all the answer in here. It analyses the incidence of serious crime for this period. It will tell you, it's got a section describing rape, the tendencies of rape, the possible reasons why it's so high. You're going to find all that in here. So if I am going to quickly scan that and give you the answer so you may as well scan it yourself.
GF But what's very positive about that very high - I think you must tell about the twenty categories.
X Of the twenty categories, nineteen we've managed to stabilise the crime and it's only one, coincidentally rape.
GF Now rape in this one, the latest edition, is also stabilising but I think it's still at too high a level, it's extraordinarily high.
X It's also consigned to specific provinces and my perception is that it's in the Northern Cape and the Western Cape specifically and if you go and analyse what's going on there it's in communities where liquor is strongly abused. So the rape is high but only in certain areas and it's linked to social problems and specifically linked to the abuse of liquor in certain areas and that's why if you really go and look into the crime statistics you're going to find that social types of crimes, even domestic violence, are confined to those certain areas.
GF Really on this topic we can have a long discussion and unfortunately our time is running out.
POM Thank you for taking all this time.
GF What I want to say is, if you look at the question of where is crime coming from, I think you are really au fait with that. Crime is really coming from socio-economic problems, it's coming from issues like - for instance poverty is playing a role but not necessarily the major role, under-education, as I was saying, is maybe one of the most serious issues because if you are not attending to that people will be without values and norms, and that is the starting point. Joblessness, a non-growing economy, all those issues are playing a very specific role. But I think in the case of SA values and norms are really our problem.
POM So when the Deputy President, I think in a speech on June 4th, talked about, I think it's called his Two Nation speech, but he talked about the collapse of moral values and the need for a moral summit.
GF Exactly. You see I think we will have to mobilise if we want to, and we are doing it. As a matter of fact community policing is nothing new to you. You know about it, it's been implemented in the States for quite some time, in Canada and wherever, but the basis of that really is partnerships between police, government and communities. What we are doing, we are creating numerous partnerships. In the areas where we have a sound relationship between community and police in terms of partnerships we have a serious decline in crime, sharp, up to 75%. Where you have your community structures properly in place they are working together with the police, you are attending to issues like, for instance, street children, under-education, joblessness and whatever. If you attend to all those issues at once in a very co-ordinated way you are really winning and it's not taking that long to win. I think what we have to is to mobilise all possible capacities to work on values and norms and to steer the total nation into a different direction.
People are concerned about corruption in the Police Service, for instance, we have corruption in the Police Service, we are very concerned about it. We set up ten structures to deal with corruption. Each and every province has a component dealing with corruption. We have a component here at national level dealing with corruption and we are rooting it out as far as we can. But you shouldn't lose sight of what's happening in other countries. Fourteen days ago in one of the newspapers there was an article about 200 detectives, dedicated detectives working - no, 180 dedicated detectives working on 200 crooked cops in the Metropolitan Police in London involved in serious syndicate crimes. A couple of years back in Australia they were struggling to appoint a Police Chief there, over 48 years something like 38 of them have been fired as a result of corruption. Two died in service, three resigned and I think the others retired normally. Eventually they appointed a guy from England because it wasn't possible for them to find a credible cop in Australia. So I am saying it's not confined to SA, it's not confined to SA, it's all over.
If you walk into a shop tomorrow afternoon, four o'clock, with your bag and it's by coincidence a shop selling Mercedes Benz motor cars and a 500 SLX is standing there in the corner and you will tell the salesman I want to buy that car, and he will say, but you know it's a very expensive motor car and now with the dropping rand it's nearly a million bucks. You will say, no, no, that's not what I am saying, I am saying I want to buy the motor car. And he will say, OK fine, the banks are closed, maybe tomorrow morning. You will say, no, no, in this briefcase I have a million bucks, I want to buy the motor car. The question is, will he call the police or will he sell the motor car? Certainly he's going to sell the motor car. So what I am saying is, corruption is not confined to the police. We are only a product of society. We are not recruiting Police Service personnel from outer space, we are recruiting those people from the homes in SA. They are the product of society. What I can't understand about certain arguments, you have a corrupt society, then you expect a clean Police Service in that same society and you are recruiting people in that corrupt society. So certainly you are going to have to be realistic. The question should be, what are you doing to root it out? Now we have total commitment from our side, we are attending to it and we are taking no nonsense from a corrupt police officer, we are firing our corrupt police officers. But what people don't realise, police officers have exactly the same human rights as other people so you just can't chuck him out without proper substance. You have to investigate against him, you have to have a proper case before court and eventually you must find him guilty and then you can chuck him out. So it's a long process once again.
POM I asked somebody else, a number of people, this question. Is part of the problem that the constitution is too good, too perfect? Most constitutions, written constitutions, are very brief and very -
GF Maybe, maybe.
POM I hear it's 68 pages, everything is spelled out.
GF Maybe. You know three years back this same man was saying it's the fundamental right of a person to apply and to get bail. I am not going to interfere in that fundamental right of the human being because that has been denied to us for many years.
POM That's Dullah Omar?
GF Now he's saying, the Minister of Justice has lambasted the police and the courts for releasing a man already convicted for rape and who is out on parole after he was again accused. But the whole story is, he is saying you shouldn't give bail that easy. Now, so what I am saying is I think we started off with a very, very human rights sensitive constitution and approach, a very narrow interpretation. Now we start to realise that the victim also has rights and you have to make provision for that as well and there are problems in giving free bail and open bail to everybody. You have to categorise. Certain crimes you are not supposed to get bail for in SA if you want to be strict. For certain crimes you must make provision for minimum sentences if you want to curb it, so it's a different approach. As we are growing we are learning I think and eventually I think we will break away from a very narrow interpretation in terms of what is human rights. Human rights have limits and I think all over the world you see that, human rights have limits like a duck in a pool, he is confined to the pool.
POM Well thank you for all the time. I'm seeing the minister at eight o'clock tomorrow morning so I will ask him about bail, that will be the first question.
GF Is the appointment still standing?
POM I hope so. It's in Cape Town.
GF Is it in Cape Town? OK. Because he was supposed to meet with me tomorrow and he cancelled it as a result of a very urgent commitment.
POM Then I will check it out before I go.
X You can take those too, if you can interpret it.
CB It's very technical, no, no, I know it's very technical language.
GF It's very technical because we are talking about levels but you have to make sure what levels we are talking about, just get a proper key about some of the issues. Level number one will be myself, National Commissioner, level two our Deputy National Commissioner, level three will be our Provincial Commissioners and then lower down the line the various levels. So delegation of authority has been done on the basis of giving it to certain levels. We are trying to do it to the lowest possible level and as we are continuing building capacity we are taking it lower down, but that is already basically every possible managerial issue is in the hands of the Station Commissioner at grassroots level. The only thing they can't do, they can't take decisions on allocation of the budget. That is still my responsibility and on the spending on certain items, that is still in the hands of the State Tender Board and the Treasury and very centralised in other departments. That is why I am saying we will have to reach the stage where you are going to decentralise the budget as well lower down the line.