Rauch, J. (1998). The Role of Provincial Executives in Safety and Security in South Africa: A policy analysis. Paper based on work conducted for the MEC for Safety and Security in Gauteng Province.


Janine Rauch

Paper based on work conducted for the MEC for Safety and Security in Gauteng Province in 1998.

Janine Rauch is an independent consultant.

Executive Summary

This report describes and analyses the various pieces of legislation and policy which determine the executive function of provincial governments in relation to the Safety and Security system in South Africa. The analysis is located in the "new" policy environment, following the publication of the White Paper on Safety and Security and the legislation concerning Municipal Policing. The following documents are analysed:

  • The Constitution of South Africa
  • The SA Police Service Act of 1995
  • The National Crime Prevention Strategy of 1996
  • The White Paper on Safety and Security of 1998
  • The SAPS Amendment Act of 1998 concerning Municipal Policing

After reviewing these policies and making some comments on the performance of Provincial Departments of Safety and Security to date, the author recommends that provincial governments perform the following five functions:

  • monitoring the police service in the province
  • improving police-community relations in the province
  • co-ordinating crime prevention in the province
  • regulating municipal policing in the province
  • contributing to national policing policy

The paper is intended to be of use to Provincial Governments, MECs for Safety and Security and Provincial Secretariats of Safety and Security.


Provincial governments have, since the April 1994, grappled with interpretation and implementation of policy concerning their role in South Africa's safety and security system. The complexities of the problem are related both to the constitutional arrangements which frame all provincial government functions, and to the challenges experienced in the fields of policing and public safety in the post-election period.

The Interim Constitution, which laid the foundation for the first democratic government in 1994, provided for a new national Police Service, which would be structured Provincial and Area units. It proposed a "Board of Commissioners" which would manage and co-ordinate the Service, consisting of the National Commissioner and each of the nine Provincial Commissioners.1

The Interim Constitution made a rough attempt to separate national and provincial policing jurisdictions2 - a reflection of the compromises between unified and federal models of governance which were reached during the political negotiations preceding the 1994 election. The initial constitutional arrangement for inter-governmental relations created profound tensions between national and provincial executives at a time when both tiers of government were establishing themselves and attempting to compel transformation of the safety and security system - the key imperative of the immediate post-election period. It was, for instance, initially unclear whether a Provincial Commissioner should give precedence to the instructions of his political "boss" - the MEC,3 or those of his commander, the National Commissioner of the SAPS. This lack of clarity created opportunities for Police Commissioners to obstruct or ignore legitimate political direction from the MECs, and also created space for possible political interference by MECs in the day-to-day functions of the Provincial police management, if MECs chose to exercise their political authority in inappropriate ways. The possibility of political interference was enhanced by the relative newness of ideas of impartiality and independence of the police service - the former police agencies in apartheid South Africa were profoundly political and operated under close direction and scrutiny of the National Party. The notion of an impartial police service, which applied legislation and policy made by a multi-party, democratic Parliament, was novel.

The Green Paper4 (Draft Policy Document) issued by the Minister of Safety and Security in late 1994 laid out a vision for the new SAPS and a set of values which were to underpin the transformation effort. The first two major policy issues covered in the booklet were:

  • Democratic control over the police service:
    the role of the national Minister and MECs is to provide direction to the Police Service in accordance with the Constitution, and to ensure that the police operate within and live up to the vision of the Constitution;5
  • Accountability of the police service:
    the police service must be accountable to (inter alia) "the government of the day, which exercises democratic control over the service".6 The police are also required to Arespect the authority of democratically-elected representatives of the people".7

In the final Constitution,8 the principles of democratic accountability and civilian oversight of the police were used to inform the creation of a new system of civilian governance over the police service in the democratic South Africa. The Constitution compels the establishment of civilian "Secretariat" for Safety and Security to function under the direction of the Minister responsible for policing at a national level.

The Police Act provides for the possibility of provincial governments establishing Secretariats at provincial level, and all the provincial administrations have elected to do so. This paper deals with the role of such provincial Secretariats and Departments of Safety and Security.

A Review of the Policy Documents

The Constitution

According to the 1994 Green Paper:

The Constitution creates a new relationship between the police and the democratically elected government. In the new dispensation, the Constitution is sovereign. The police are therefore responsible for the protection of the Constitution and of our new democracy.9

In addition to creating an entirely new environment for policing in South Africa, the Constitution also framed the relationships between national and provincial governments. It requires that national policing policy10 will be determined after consultation with provincial governments - thus requiring provincial governments to have some capacity to make input into national policy. This is in addition to the general power of Provinces to develop and implement provincial policy11 and legislation. In 1997, the National Secretariat tabled, for the first time, a proposal12 for a policy-making process which would see the spirit of Section 206(1) implemented. One of the "main challenges" identified by the National Secretariat was the need to ensure provincial consultation in the policy process, perhaps an implicit acknowledgement that the policy process had not, to that point, been managed in accordance with the Constitution.

As well as describing policy-making roles, the Constitution13 empowers provincial governments to:

  • monitor police conduct in the province;
  • oversee the effectiveness and efficiency of the SAPS in the province;
  • promote good police-community relations in the province;
  • assess the effectiveness of visible policing in the province;
  • liaise with, and make recommendations to, the National Minister on issues of crime and policing;
  • pass legislation concerning those policing functions vested in the province by the Constitution, national legislation and national policing policy;
  • pass legislation concerning various dimensions of civility and public order such as nuisance, recreation, regulation of liquor licences, traffic and public places;
  • require Provincial Commissioners of the SAPS to answer questions from the provincial legislature;
  • investigate any complaints of police inefficiency or breakdowns of police-community relations in the province;
  • require the Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS to report annually to the legislature on policing in the province
  • institute proceedings against a Provincial Commissioner in whom the Provincial Executive has lost confidence;

The emphasis of Section 206(3) of the Constitution, which concerns provincial powers in respect of policing, is on the monitoring and oversight roles of Provincial governments. This monitoring is clearly intended to inform the inputs which Provincial Governments (through the MECs for Safety and Security in the Executive Co-ordinating Committee with the National Minister) make into the "national policing policy" envisaged in Section 206(1).

In respect of police-community relations and the early imperative to improve the public legitimacy of the police service, the Constitution requires provincial governments to promote good police-community relations and to initiate investigations where this relationship breaks down. Based on the previous (interim) Constitution - which was in force at the time - the national Ministry issued policy guidelines to Provinces in 1994, suggesting a focus on Community Police Forums (CPFs) as the main vehicle for improving police-community relations in the early transition period. The CPFs were subsequently institutionalised in the Police Service Act of 1995, entrenching them as the "official" vehicle for relationship-building between the police and the community.

The 1995 Police Act

The South African Police Service Act was passed in late 1995, and derived much of its approach to Provinces from the Interim Constitution of 1993, which was in force at the time. The drafters of the Act were working in a period when the final Constitution was under discussion, and some fundamental debates about the relationship between central and provincial government in South Africa were still raging. It is therefore not surprising that the Act is fairly uneven in its approach to the functions of provincial governments.

It is likely that the Act will be amended and updated in late 1999 or 2000, to reflect the policy shifts introduced by the 1998 White Paper on Safety and Security. Such amendments may impact on the statutory provisions concerning arrangements for provincial governance of Safety and Security.

The Act provides that provincial governments may establish provincial secretariats for Safety and Security, which would perform similar functions in respect of provincial policing as it prescribes for the National Secretariat to perform in respect of national police functions. I have grouped the statutory functions14 listed in the Act into two categories as follows:

  • Support Functions
  • Accountability & Monitoring Functions
Support Functions Laid Down in the Act:

Provincial Secretariats shall -

  • "advise the Minister/MEC in the exercise of his/her duties and functions
  • provide the Minister/MEC with legal and constitutional advice
  • provide the Minister/MEC with communications, administrative and support services
  • perform any functions assigned to it by the Minister/MEC"

In this set of requirements, the Act provides for the basic administrative and policy support required by the elected Exectives (MECs and Minister). The fact that this is laid out in the Act, as well as in the regulations and directives of the Department of Public Administration and the Provincial Service Commissioners suggests that the needs of the Safety and Security executives were possibly more complex than those of other MECs and Ministers. This is probably related to the inherited situation, in which the previous National Ministers had relied almost entirely on senior police managers for policy advice, and been completely dependent on the police force for administrative support - this was not an arrangement which the new government wished to continue.

This section of the Act contains a number of "catch-all" clauses, which allow the Minister/MEC to issue a wide range of instructions not provided for elsewhere in the legislation. This, and the extent to which the Act focusses on the support required by the Minister and MECs are undoubtedly the result of the pressures felt by the politicians in the country's first elected executive bodies; needs which are likely to taper off over time, as politicians and officials acquire more experience of governance.

Accountability & Monitoring Functions Laid Down in the Act:

Provincial Secretariats shall -

  • "perform functions necessary or expedient (in the view of the Minister/MEC) to ensure civilian oversight of the police
  • promote democratic accountability and transparency in the police service
  • promote and facilitate the participation of the SAPS in the government's Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP)
  • monitor the implementation of Ministerial15 policy and directions by the police service and report to the Minister/MEC on this
  • conduct research into any policing matter instructed by the Minister/MEC
  • evaluate the functioning of the police service and report to the Minister/MEC"

In dealing with these roles, it is necessary to clarify what we mean here by "accountability". Firstly, it is necessary to bear in mind that police accountability differs in many important respects from any other form of accountability of public servants, because the police must also account for the use of force, which is a power given to them by legislation. In attempting to clarify what police accountability entails in South Africa, it is useful to consider some of the early policy, as laid out in the Green Paper on "change" issues by the Minister in 1994 which specified five dimensions of accountability for the police:

The police should be accountable:
  • to the Constitution and the values which underpin it
  • to the law - statutes made by legislatures and case law made in courts
  • to the elected Government of the day (and its policies)
  • to the community, both locally and to the public at large
  • to the professional ethics of policing.16

The statutory requirements in this category of accountability have created some confusion for provincial and national executives, because the meanings of "civilian oversight" and "democratic accountability" were initially unclear. One of the areas of confusion appears to have been around the meaning of accountability for public servants, as contrasted with the "democratic accountability" of elected public representatives - in this case, the MECs for Safety and Security. There appears to have been some initial confusion about who, in fact, would be calling the police to account - the MEC and the Provincial Executive, or the personnel of the Provincial Secretariats for Safety and Security - the public service officials.

I believe that the solution lies in distinguishing clearly between the "democratic accountability" role to be exercised by politicians over the police service, and the service role which the provincial secretariats play in enabling the provincial MECs to perform this role. Such an approach requires an that an understanding of accountability and oversight should closely inform ideas of monitoring.

In practice, this would mean that the MECs and National Minister would shape a monitoring programme which would direct the Provincial Secretariats to monitor or scrutinise police adherence to certain key aspects of government policy, legislation and community demands. The Provincial Secretariats would "promote transparency" by providing reports based on such monitoring and scrutiny, to elected officials such as MECs, Premiers and Provincial Executive Councils. These elected officials would then use such reports, in the channels provided to them in Legislatures and elsewhere, to hold the police service to account - to explain the findings of the Secretariats' investigations.

Initial conceptions of provincial-level monitoring were fairly broad - the approach seemed to be to "monitor the police", rather than to monitor the police's adherence to particular government policies or laws. This created some confusion about the types of issues the Provincial Secretariats should focus on, and a resultant tendency to focus on internal management issues within the Police, rather than on police performance or effectiveness. However, it does appear that the main intention of the Act was that Secretariats should evaluate the impact of policy; and this is in line with more recent emphases in the White Paper and within the SAPS itself, on improving police service delivery. Certainly, issues of effectiveness and service delivery are intimately related to community perceptions of the police, and thus to police-community relations, which is another area on which the Act directs that Secretariats should focus.

One of the concerns felt by Provincial Executives in the early years under the new Constitution was a lack of sanctions or "consequences" which the MECs could apply to the Police Service in the provinces - a view that notions of accountability at provincial level were meaningless because the MECs did not really have the power to sanction, direct or reward the police service, as these roles were largely held at national level, either by the National Minister or by the National Commissioner. However, there are a range of mechanisms available, but they tend to be fairly subtle, lengthy or "behind-the scenes" and perhaps therefore were inappropriate in the early days of the transition when the MECs were seeking to (publicly) establish their authority over the police service. The most obvious is the procedure by which a Provincial Executive may "lose confidence" in a Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS, if that Commissioner does not deliver satisfactory performance. Other routes may be less public - MECs could report unfavourable practices to the National Minister, which may result in changes to budget allocations to Provincial components of the Police Service, new national directives from the Minister, or changes to SAPS Regulations or policies. MECs can also develop relations of accountability with the Provincial Commissioner, based not on the details of the Act, but on personal and political agendas. Such a relationship would enable an MEC to call a Provincial Commissioner to account for trends or problems which are identified with the performance of the SAPS in the province - this would require the Provincial Commissioner to provide the MEC with answers to questions, and to explain why the trend or problem occurred, and to suggest remedies. The MEC may then let the matter rest, if s/he is satisified with the explanation and the remedies, or may take the matter up with the National Minister. The accountability functions of the Provincial government can be exercised in both "horizontal" (calling the Provincial Commissioner to account) and "vertical" (reporting to the National Minister) directions.

The 1996 National Crime Prevention Strategy

Longer-term prevention of crime was first introduced into government policy in mid- 1996 in the National Crime Prevention Strategy. This strategy attempted to move away from traditional "reactive" approaches to crime, and to conceptualise crime as a social problem, rather than merely a security issue. The NCPS suggested a range of roles for Provinces in respect of crime prevention:17

  • provinces provide a key point of intersection between national policy and local delivery of crime prevention initiatives;
  • provincial community policing structures mobilise population to support and participate in crime prevention activities;
  • provinces should adopt and develop the NCPS policy framework;
  • provinces should design structures to co-ordinate crime prevention;
  • provinces should establish how best to:
    • set provincial crime prevention priorities;
    • promote, co-ordinate, oversee, departmental and agency involvement in crime prevention for the province;
    • acquire necessary skills and capacity in crime prevention;
    • meet management, monitoring and assessment requirements of the chosen approach to crime prevention in the province;
    • facilitate reporting and co-ordination with national and local crime prevention structures and programmes;
    • review and enhance crime prevention strategies in the province;

The NCPS did not provide explicit guidance to provinces about what structures to establish, what processes to follow, and what types of work to undertake, but encouraged "co-ordination" and strategic management as the roles for provincial government . Provincial governments did not have any structures dedicated to crime prevention at the time the NCPS was adopted. As a result, the implementation of the NCPS at provincial level was slow and varied. In 1997, the national Secretariat funded "provincial crime prevention summits" in all the provinces, in an attempt to kickstart the development and implementation of provincial crime prevention strategies. This effort also failed to deliver immediate results in most provinces, due to a continuing lack of capacity in Provincial governments, and the lack of explicit direction and support from the national level. The lack of progress with crime prevention in most provinces prompted yet more policy attention to be given to this issue in the 1998 White Paper.

The 1998 White Paper on Safety and Security

The 1998 White Paper affirms the current legal situation between central and provincial governments, but strengthens the position of the National Secretariat by making the Secretary for Safety and Security the "accounting officer" for the entire Department, and inserting a line of policy advice from the Secretary directly to the National Commissioner. These shifts are not reproduced at Provincial level; instead the White Paper emphasises the monitoring and crime prevention functions of the Provincial Secretariats. I will group those aspects of the White Paper which are relevant to defining Provincial government roles into two areas:

  • Monitoring
  • Crime Prevention
The White Paper & Monitoring

In respect of monitoring of the SAPS in the provinces, the White Paper proposes:18

  • a major role of provincial government will be to monitor the efficiency and effectiveness of police service delivery in terms of implementation of national policing policy; and that this monitoring role should be "enhanced" in order to enable provinces to deliver recommendations which can inform the development of national policing policy;
  • the monitoring activities of the provinces should focus on:
    • the degree to which the police are pursuing the agreed-upon priorities and are achieving the agreed-upon targets;
    • the degree to which the police comply with national policing policy and directives prescribed by the Minister;
    • the degree to which the police are rendering an effective and efficient service in relation to "the determined needs";

The White Paper does not clarify what is meant by national policing policy, nor the concept of determined needs. It does suggest that there will be more attention paid to developing and implementing an integrated national and provincial monitoring programme in future. It sees civilian oversight and accountability as achieved through monitoring and by making the police answerable to the elected political authorities; echoing the principles laid down in the Green Paper. This reference may also be an attempt to draw a clear distinction between elected political authorities (who can call the police to account) and those officials who serve in the Secretariats, but who do not have the same mandate from which to demand accountability.19

The White Paper & Crime Prevention

The white paper emphasises the implementation and co-ordination function of provincial and local governments in respect of practical crime prevention projects; and encourages Provincial governments to take a leading role in co-ordinating and assisting local authorities. The White Paper states20 that Provinces should:

  • initiate, lead and co-ordinate social crime prevention in the province
  • mobilise resources for social crime prevention in the province
  • co-ordinate a range of provincial government functions (departments) to achieve more effective crime prevention
  • evaluate and support the social crime prevention programmes of local governments;
  • implement or take joint responsibility for social crime prevention programmes in areas where local government is poorly resourced or lacks capacity - in consultation with local government;
  • establish public and private partnerships to support crime prevention
  • align the social crime prevention initiatives and activities in the province with national crime prevention priorities;

The White Paper provides slightly more focus and detail to provinces on how they should proceed with social crime prevention than the NCPS did two years previously, but makes the same flawed assumptions about the capacity of provinces to engage with, adopt, and implement its new policy approach. In addition, it places a significant new responsibility on the Provincial Safety and Security departments: to begin encouraging, educating, supporting and monitoring local authorities in respect of crime prevention. At present, it appears that many local authorities (particularly in non-metropolitan areas) have neither capacity nor desire21 to develop and implement social crime prevention projects; and that the policy decision to devolve implementation responsibilities to local government level is premature. The expansion of provincial government's role to include the co-ordination of local government initiatives is extremely ambitious in light of the fact that most provinces have not even been able to co-ordinate the efforts of their own provincial government departments around crime prevention.

The new White Paper also suggests a framework of national-provincial relations around the new crime prevention initiative. The White Paper states that national leadership, co-ordination and funds are required to provide incentives for effective provincial and local implementation. It assures provinces that the national government will assist them by providing research, technical guidance, training and sharing of best practices in crime prevention; and that the national government will work "in partnership" with provinces and local authorities to develop crime prevention programmes. It implies that national government will provide seed funding for social crime prevention programmes. Proper support from national government to the provinces is the key factor in ensuring that the new policy on crime prevention is implemented more thoroughly than has been the case to date.

The SAPS Amendment Act on Municipal Policing

The Constitution states that "national legislation must provide a framework for the establishment, powers, functions and control of municipal police services". The Police Service Act of 1995 provided the first piece of such national legislation. It prescribes that the national Minister may make regulations regarding the establishment of municipal and metropolitan police services. The Act was subsequently amended in 1998 to allow for the creation of metropolitan and municipal police services. The Amendment Act highlights the following functions of provincial governments in respect of the envisaged municipal police agencies:

  • encourage and facilitate the establishment of municipal police services in the province
  • ensure that municipal policing is integrated into local crime prevention strategies
  • develop joint approaches with local authorities in the province to the "start-up" phase of municipal policing - including the important steps of establishing reasonable procedures for application and approval
  • monitor that the SAPS (through the Provincial Commissioner's Office) fulfill their responsibilities for scrutiny of and standard-setting for municipal policing in the province

I would group these into two areas for work for Provincial Governments:

  • Facilitate "Start-Up" of Municipal Police Agencies
  • Monitor Municipal Police Agencies
Facilitating the "Start-Up" of Municipal Police Agencies

Provincial governments, through the MECs for Safety and Security, Transport and Local Government, play a crucial role in "allowing" the establishment of Municipal Policing. These three MECs each have to "approve" the applications from Municipalities which wish to establish Municipal Police Services. Approval also requires consultation with, and approval by, the SAPS. Setting up the application and approval procedures, and ensuring that the procedures are not too lengthy and bureaucratic, are new challenges for the Provincial Safety and Security Secretariats. This will require them to build effective working relations with Provincial Departments of Transport and Local Government, as well as with a range of local authorities in their province. This work should contribute positively to the inter-departmental approach to crime prevention at the provincial level; and to the provincial governments' efforts to establish and empower local government crime prevention programmes. The new legislation on municipal policing also requires that municipal police agencies participate in CPFs, which, although creating yet another co-ordination challenge for provincial governments, should enrich processes around law enforcement and multi-agency partnerships at local level.

Monitoring the SAPS & Municipal Police Agencies

Although much of the responsibility for standard-setting and monitoring of the new municipal police agencies is that of the Provincial Commissioners of the SAPS; Provincial MECs and Secretariats, through their accountability and monitoring functions, will need, in turn, to ensure that the Provincial Commissioners are maintaining appropriate scrutiny and standards.

Strategic Provincial Functions

My analysis of the main policy documents detailed above suggests that five key provincial functions in respect of safety and security can be identified:

Monitoring the Police Service

The various policy documents all direct provincial governments to monitor the police service to assess performance along a range of indicators. This monitoring is intended to inform the inputs which Provincial Governments (through the MECs for Safety and Security in the Executive Co-ordinating Committee with the National Minister) make into the "national policing policy" envisaged in Section 206(1), and to inform the exercise of the MECs powers to hold the police in the province "democratically accountable" for their actions and performance.

There is no doubt that this is the key function of the Provincial Departments of Safety and Security; but very little guidance is given in the policy documents on how this monitoring should be done; or on the extent to which monitoring may extend to include a supervisory or even facilitative function in respect of policy implementation. The emphasis on monitoring the implementation of national policy, and the requirement that provinces be involved in national policy-making, were not fully appreciated or implemented in the early years post-1994, when the Secretariats were being established. The monitoring function of the National Secretariat was also not fully realised, and thus there was little or no national support for monitoring work in the provinces until 1999.

In 1997, the first set of police performance indicators were being developed for the 1997/8 financial year, which would require rigorous monitoring by the civilian Secretariats, in order for them to inform the Minister and MECs about police performance. Provincial Departments were minimally involved in this process, partly because few of them had the necessary monitoring capacity and experience, and partly because the process of target setting was highly centralised between the National Secretariat and the SAPS Head Office. However, the publication of the targets - in the form of the first "Police Plan" - required the Provincial governments to begin with monitoring, almost irrespective of their capacity constraints. In the absence of much expertise in the Secretariats that first year, the first data set was provided by the SAPS themselves, who collated the performance data and forwarded it to the National Secretariat for analysis. The results22 of this first performance monitoring exercise were collated and published in 1998, again without much participation of the provincial departments.

More recently, in 1999, with the appointment of a new manager responsible for Monitoring in the National Secretariat, a new approach to monitoring by the provinces has begun to develop, which sees provincial secretariats as partners in conducting monitoring in terms of a National Monitoring Framework.

In the immediate future, I believe, the focus of the provincial monitoring effort should be on those aspects of policing which directly impact on crime, safety and police-community relations. By focussing on these (service-delivery) issues, Provincial governments would effectively represent the needs and views of their electorates, thereby holding the police accountable with unquestionable moral and political authority. This implies, in the short term at least, a move away from the focus on monitoring of internal SAPS human resource issues (such as promotions, affirmative action and labour relations) which have tended to dominate provincial monitoring efforts to date. It also requires that monitoring reports produced by the Provincial Secretariats should be regularly provided to the MEC for Safety and Security, the Premier and the Provincial Legislature, so that these elected representatives can then use the data in order to hold the Provincial Commissioner responsible for police performance (or non-performance). The MEC and Premier could also effectively use monitoring data in the public sphere (eg in speeches and press releases) to create pressure on the police to improve the quality of their service to the public, or to publicly congratulate the police when the data shows improvements in performance and police-community relations.

If monitoring data is to be used as a method of exerting pressure on the police to improve their impact on crime and to improve the quality of service to victims, it must be scientifically sound. This is a challenge for provincial secretariats which have little capacity, many of them do not even have a monitoring department. However, the recent White Paper suggests that assistance and guidance from the national secretariat to provincial secretariats will be more forthcoming. Continued improvements in the relationship between national and provincial monitoring are vital, if monitoring is to become an effective tool for policy makers at both tiers of government. Capacity building in the monitoring and evaluation field is also crucial if provincial governments are now going to be required to monitor municipal policing developments in their provinces and to evaluate the impact of various social crime prevention projects conducted in their provinces.

Improving Police-Community Relations

The Constitutional imperative for Provinces to build positive relationships between the police and the community appears to have been under-emphasised. Instead, provinces have spent a great deal of energy and resources to establish and sustain structures - the Community Police Forums (CPFs) and Boards. This was borne from a national policy approach which held, in the immediate post-election period, that institutionalisation would be the best method to enhance relationships between the police and historically alienated communities. The benefits of such institutionalisation had been seen in some parts of the country during the pre-election period of the National Peace Accord. However, the limits of a generic institutional model (the CPF) for police-community interaction in the post-election period soon became clear. The National Secretariat is currently engaged in a review of Community Policing Policy, which may see some changes to both the policy and the structures of community policing.

However, for the meantime, CPFs remain statutory bodies and the status quo is reinforced by the White Paper - therefore they require some level of maintenance and supervision from Provincial governments. What is now required is an additional range of innovative, appropriate and effective tactics (from provincial governments) to improve the relationship between police and communities. Provinces appear to have unlimited scope to develop such tactics, as policy guidance from national government on this aspect is limited to the exhortation to build CPFs - anything else is up to the Provinces to envision, establish, and fund.

Co-ordinating Crime Prevention in the Province

The NCPS and the White Paper require Provinces to play a co-ordinating role in respect of crime prevention. This co-ordination function can be further sub-divided into three arenas:

  • co-ordination of provincial government departments and initiatives related to crime prevention;
  • co-ordination of local authority crime prevention initiatives in the province;
  • co-ordination of non-government crime prevention initiatives in the province.

Provincial Secretariats should focus first on interdepartmental co-ordination at provincial level; the first stage of this is to engage with provincial departments and agencies; then with provincial offices of national departments such as Justice and Correctional Services. Only a minority of provinces have, at present, functioning interdepartmental co-ordination systems in respect of crime prevention. Effective co-ordination systems take time and effort to develop; and require far more work than simply establishing an inter-departmental committee. The NCPS and the White Paper perhaps underestimate the difficulties which provinces will face in actually mobilising and sustaining the commitment and resources of a range of provincial government roleplayers behind the new crime prevention approach.

Secondly, in relation to the co-ordination of local government, provinces face an even more difficult task. Most local authorities have no capacity or programmes in crime prevention. There are also complex relationships between provincial and local authorities, which often find co-ordination and intervention by provinces difficult. Competition for resources and recognition between provincial and local government is already evident around some existing metropolitan crime prevention projects.23 The co-ordination of local authorities will require immense political skill from the provincial secretariats; who would be well-advised to first obtain the commitment and support of the Provincial Department of Local Government. The national government could support the co-ordination efforts of the provinces by ensuring the participation of the national Department of Constitutional Development and Local Government in the national crime prevention effort.

The broad "co-ordination" function - insofar as it may be understood to include the co-ordination of non-government crime prevention initiatives by Provincial governments - is highly complex. Although provinces (particularly through Departments of Welfare) control some resources for non-government crime prevention programmes, the bulk of creative social crime prevention at this time is taking place without state funding, approval or support. Provincial governments will find their current and potential partnerships with civil society in jeopardy if they are too heavy-handed in their co-ordination attempts. It would be inappropriate for provincial governments to attempt to give "direction" or instructions to NGOs and community organisations which are independent. Most Provincial Governments have already established relationships with non-government agencies who provide a range of services, from project management, project delivery, to training. Provincial Departments will need to ensure scrupulous ethics, fair tender procedures, and a genuine willingness to work with non-traditional partners if any sort of co-ordination with this sector is to succeed.

Contributing to National Policing Policy

The Constitution requires that the National Minister, who is the executive responsible for policy-making, shall consult with provinces in the course of making policy; and shall take into account the situation and needs of the provinces. The Minister is even permitted to make different policies for different provinces, if circumstances require.

The National Secretariat has, in the past, attempted24 to establish a policy-making cycle hinging around a "Policy Forum" composed of officials, and the "Executive Co-ordinating Committee" composed of MECs and the Minister, to manage and streamline the policy process in the Department. One improvement was that most major policy documents began to be placed before the ECC25 meeting for formal input by the MECs. However, the policy-making cycle appears not yet to run entirely smoothly, and provincial input into policy-making remains limited. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of capacity and the lack of monitoring data (from which to proffer informed opinions) at the provincial level. There have also been problems with the way in which the National Secretariat and SAPS interact with provincial MECs and Provincial Secretariats. In some instances where provinces are accused of interference, or of not following appropriate procedures, this is because provinces have not been kept properly informed of national developments and procedures.

Information flows between national and provincial secretariats must be improved to enable provinces to have a meaningful input in the national policy-making process. Also, once monitoring systems are fully functional at a provincial level, the MECs will be better-equipped to make informed contributions to national policies.

Oversee Municipal Policing in the Province

The Provincial Secretariats are faced with some major new challenges in respect of municipal policing, and appear to be receiving little support from the National Department of Safety and Security. The three main requirements of the Provincial Executive are:

The first broad requirement is that provinces facilitate the establishment of municipal police agencies in the province. This will require a great deal of interaction with Provincial Departments of Transport and Local Government, as well as with local authorities in the province. It will require a set of liaison skills similar to those required for improving police community relations; but an additional requirement is to create new administrative systems and procedures for the "approval" phase, which will require some new skills. Provincial Executives would clearly benefit from some national guidance and support in this start-up phase; in the absence of which, they should initiate inter-provincial information exchange and skills-sharing.

The second requirement is to monitor the performance of the municipal police agencies once they are established. This will be particularly challenging in light of the absence of monitoring capacity to perform the traditional monitoring function over the SAPS - the multiplication of police agencies multiplies the monitoring burden on the Provincial Secretariats. It will need to be clear who the monitoring data is collected for, and what it is used for, in order that Provincial Departments do not expend resources on gathering monitoring data which is not used. The purpose of the monitoring of municipal police agencies must be clear to all parties. It is important that integrated monitoring systems between the SAPS and the provincial Secretariats are developed from the outset, to avoid duplication and overlaps. The provincial Secretariats and MECs will need to be kept abreast of developments in the municipal police agencies by the Provincial Commissioners - possibly through a link between the Provincial Commissioner's officers dealing with municipal policing and the Secretariat's Monitoring function. By focussing on the monitoring effort as the Provincial Commissioner's responsibility, the Provincial Secretariat's could ensure that oversight of municipal policing fits more comfortably with the other monitoring programmes required of the Provincial Secretariats, instead of making yet more demands on a monitoring system that does not really exist. However, it is important that monitoring information gathered by the SAPS is regularly reported to the Provincial Secretariats, because they will need such information in order to brief the MECs. In the event of problems (such as, for instance, human rights violations by municipal police officials, or the imminent bankruptcy of a municipal police agency) arising in the municipal policing sphere, MECs for Safety and Security are likely to be asked to account for, and to intervene and resolve, such problems.


This paper has attempted to summarise and analyse the key policy documents which shape the responsibilities of provincial governments in South Africa in relation to Safety and Security. It is intended to be a practical policy analysis, which can assist provincial governments in focussing their efforts to improve safety and security in the provinces. It describes five functions for the provincial governments in respect of safety and security, but does not address how these functions might be organised or structured.


This paper is based on research conducted for the Gauteng Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Safety and Security, Mr Paul Mashatile; during mid-1998 while the author was appointed to his "Task Team on Restructuring the Gauteng Department of Safety and Security". However, the views contained in this paper do not represent the views of the MEC or the Task Team, but are the personal views of the author.

Thanks also to the UCT Institute of Criminology for providing a quiet work space where this paper could finally be completed.



A number of workshops were conducted with the Task Team and the management team of the Gauteng Department of Safety and Security, and the discussions in those workshops enriched the analysis contained in this paper.


In addition, interviews were conducted (on behalf of the MECs Task Team) with:

  • Business Against Crime Gauteng: Dave Spindler and Barbara Holtmann
  • CEO of the SAPS: Mr Meyer Kahn
  • Secretary for Safety and Security: Mr Azhar Cachalia
  • NGOs involved in crime prevention in Gauteng: Child Abuse Network, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, SA National Civics Organisation
  • NGOs involved in monitoring the police in Gauteng: Centre for Applied Legal Studies, Wits Law Clinic, Vaal Legal Aid, Human Rights Committee, Community Agency for Social Enquiry, Centre for Human Rights (University of Pretoria)
  • Independent Complaints Directorate Gauteng Office
Official Documents and Policy

Ministry for Safety and Security (1994) Draft Policy Document: Change

National Crime Prevention Strategy (May 1996)

National Secretariat for Safety and Security (n.d. 1997) "Preliminary Policy Process Model"

National Secretariat for Safety and Security (n.d 1997) "The powers of oversight of national and provincial governments"

Gauteng Provincial Service Commission (n.d) "Report of Investigation: Secretariat for Public Safety and Security, Gauteng Government"

National Secretariat for Safety and Security (n.d 1997?) "Memorandum: Briefing Papers on White Paper Issues"

Glanz L / National Secretariat for Safety and Security (1998) "Progress Toward Meeting Policing Priorities and Objectives for the period 1 April to 31 December 1997."

In Service of Safety 1998-2003: White Paper on Safety and Security (1998)


The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No 200 of 1993 (the Interim Constitution)

South African Police Service Act No 68 of 1995

The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act No 108 of 1996

SAPS Amendment Act No 83 of 1998 (concerning Municipal Policing)


1 In fact, the "Board of Commissioners" was never established - instead, the first National Commissioner created a "Management Forum" consisting of himself, the four Deputy National Commissioners, the nine Provincial Commissioners and the Divisional Commissioners of the five National Divisions of the SAPS.

2 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa No. 200 of 1993, Sections 218 and 219

3 MEC refers to the Member of the Executive Council of the Province - the provincial Cabinet - responsible for Safety and Security matters. In some provinces, MECs are referred to as "Ministers". In this paper, the use of the term "Minister" refers only to the National Cabinet Minister responsible for Safety and Security. Provincial Executives are referred to as MECs.

4 Minister of Safety and Security Draft Policy Document "Change" 1994

5 Ibid p 8-9

6 Ibid p10

7 Ibid p8

8 The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa Act 108 of 1996

9 Minister of Safety and Security, Draft Policy Document, "Change" p8

10 It is not clear what is meant by "national policing policy" - whether this is limited to police (Departmental) matters only, or would also cover crime prevention and public safety more broadly; whether it covers legislation and formal policy documents only, or also includes less formal forms of policy such as directives, letters and memoranda from the National Minister.

11 Section 125 (2)(d)

12 National Secretariat for Safety and Security (n.d. 1997) "Preliminary Policy Process Model"

13 Act 108 of 1996: Section 206 and Schedules 4 and 5

14 Act 68 of 1995: Section 3

15 Insofar as this may apply to provincial policy, we can assume that provincial secretariats would be required to monitor police adherence to provincial government policy.

16 Draft Policy Document "Change", 1994, p10

17 NCPS pp 84-5

18 White Paper p33-34

19 see my earlier discussion of this issue in relation to the SAPS Act above

20 White Paper p 34

21 This observation is derived from an overview of the submissions made by (a few) local authorities and organisations of local governments at the nine provincial public hearings on the drfat white paper in mid-1998.

22 Results of this first monitoring programme contained in Glanz L (1988) "Progress Toward Meeting Policing Priorities and Objectives for the period 1 April to 31 December 1997"

23 example, credit for crime prevention initiatives in Johannesburg is variously claimed by the Metro, the provincial Department of Safety and Security, the provincial Department of Development Planning and Local Government, and the SAPS.

24 National Secretariat 1997: Preliminary Policy Process Model

25 The Executive Co-ordinating Committee - also known as the "MinMec"

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