Friday, July 19, 2024

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POPCRU hoping for better resourced police and efforts to tackle policing killing from new minister

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The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has called on the newly appointed police minister Senzo Mchunu to improve working conditions for police – including reducing the number of police killings – and increase the number of serving police officers in line with United Nations standards.

POPCRU said the appointment of new Ministers within the Criminal Justice Cluster (CJC) are critical as they can influence the direction of law enforcement, corrections and the overall justice policies.

“We outrightly stress the need to have a capable, efficient and ethical CJC leadership that can optimally meet the needs and expectations of its staff complement and the populace at large by ensuring the allocation of sufficient resources in combating crime and maintaining safety and security,” POPCRU’s Media and Communications Officer Richard Mamabolo stated.

The CJC has for the longest time been under immense strain, with continued infightings, high levels of crime rates, police killings, overcrowding and understaffing – all coupled with huge levels backlogs in various areas, the union said, with the new era bringing about an opportune moment to remedy this past trend, and to bring about much needed confidence through cooperation with all stakeholders in working towards achieving stability.

“We therefore expect that the newly appointed ministers to be committed to transformative leadership that addresses historical injustices and contemporary challenges within the criminal justice system. We anticipate the insurance of policies that promote fairness, transparency, and efficiency in law enforcement, corrections, and judicial processes,” POPCRU said in a statement.

“We advocate for better working conditions for law enforcement officers, including adequate remuneration, safe working environments, and comprehensive support systems. The union expects new ministers to prioritize ongoing training and professional development to equip these officers with the skills needed to handle modern-day challenges effectively.

“We further put emphasis on community policing strategies that foster cooperation between law enforcement agencies and communities, thereby enhancing trust and effectiveness in crime prevention. This will require proper allocation of resources to ensure that law enforcement and correctional facilities are adequately staffed, equipped, and maintained,” POPCRU stated.

POPCRU said it is concerned about maintaining stability and continuity in crucial reform processes such as the Criminal Procedure Act already underway, and therefore stresses the importance of a long-term vision that transcends individual tenures and focuses on sustainable improvements.

Internally, there have been outstanding challenges which are yet to be addressed. Within the South African Police Service (SAPS), POPCRU is extremely concerned about continued killings of law enforcement officers in the country, “a phenomenon which remains highly regressive in addressing the proper functioning of the Criminal Justice System in South Africa. Law enforcement officers have become targeted victims of the worst crime, with attacks and killings escalating in the country.”

It said this unfolding national crisis has the potential of threatening the country’s peace and stability as the majority of men and women are killed on duty while preventing, combating or solving a crime whilst some are attacked while guarding inmates, traffic and police officers ambushed when conducting patrols, with their official firearms and uniforms being stolen with the probable intention of committing further crimes.

“We reaffirm our call for government to publicly declare war against cold-blooded criminals by amending current legislations to classify this barbaric act as treasonous, and expect the newly appointed Minister to push for legislative amendments in this regard,” Mamabolo stated.

Additionally, the police to population ratio also remains a challenge; with the current police-population ratio of 1:450; which still fall short of the UN ratio of 1:220 officer to the population.

“The following remedial measures should therefore be considered to curb the cold-blooded murder of men and women in blue:
· Review our police safety strategy and plan
· With the current reviewal of the Criminal Procedure Act, the killing of law enforcement officers should be considered treasonous
· Criminal Procedure Act must be amended to classify killing of police officers as treason
· Improve the compensation for killed police officers to sustain a better life for the dependents
· Various stakeholder within the Criminal Justice Cluster must collaborate to effectively resolve this deep-rooted challenge
· Employment of professionals
· The increase of a service allowance

“We also call for a review of the SAPS salary structure and the introduction of two streams, one being for Police Act members and the other for Public Service Act appointees, that will allow them to be grade-progressed and promoted up to salary level 15. The promotion of Public Service Act appointees will ensure we have more boots on the ground.”

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