Out of step: For the second year in a row the SA Police Service has failed to produce an acceptable financial report of its activities, leading to auditor-general Kimi Makwetu issuing a qualified audit opinion. Makwetu says the SAPS’ management flouted the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury regulations in several instances. Picture: SUPPLIED
Out of step: For the second year in a row the SA Police Service has failed to produce an acceptable financial report of its activities, leading to auditor-general Kimi Makwetu issuing a qualified audit opinion. Makwetu says the SAPS’ management flouted the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury regulations in several instances. Picture: SUPPLIED

The SA Police Service (SAPS) has been slapped with a qualified audit opinion for the second time in as many years.

In the SAPS 2017/2018 report tabled in Parliament last week, auditor-general Kimi Makwetu raised concerns about the management of the service after finding that the Public Finance Management Act and the Treasury regulations had been violated in several instances.

The poor leadership and instability at SAPS is said to have resulted in weak internal controls and compromised the fight against crime.

The service has had six police commissioners in the past nine years.

The 2017/2018 crime statistics showed that SA had recorded an increase in the number of reported serious crimes including murder, attempted murder and sexual offences.

Violent crime

The government has previously acknowledged that the high level of violent crime in SA has a significant negative effect on the country’s economy and deters foreign investment.

The SAPS annual report shows that it recorded irregular expenditure of almost R1bn.

"Some of the goods and services of a transaction value above R500,000 were procured without inviting competitive bids and deviations were approved by the accounting officer [commissioner], but it was practical to invite competitive bids as required by Treasury regulations," Makwetu said.

In some instances, persons employed by SAPS who had a private or business interest in the quotations awarded by the police service failed to disclose such interests, as required by the Treasury regulations.

Effective and appropriate steps were not taken to prevent irregular expenditure as required by the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulation, Makwetu said.

The auditor-general also questioned many of SAPS’ reported achievements, including the percentage of trial-ready case dockets for serious commercial crime-related charges.

"The department did not have an adequate record-keeping system to enable reliable reporting on achievement of this indicator," Makwetu said.

"As a result, I was unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence for the reported achievement," he reported.

Francois Beukman, the chairman of Parliament’s police committee, said the qualified audit opinion raised serious concerns with regard to the financial, procurement and contract management capabilities within senior management of the police service.

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

phakathib@businesslive.co.za