The latest batch of police recruits have started their training, but it has been revealed that their living conditions are atrocious.
THE LATEST batch of police recruits have started their training, but it has been revealed that their living conditions are atrocious.
Almost 3,000 police trainees were allocated to the SAI Military Base in Kimberley in the Northern Cape in April.
However, relatives of the next men and women in blue have raised concerns about the conditions.
A source who spoke to IOL on condition of anonymity, for fear of their relative being victimised, said the living conditions trainees were being subjected to were shocking.
“There is a food shortage, and they are given the bare minimum of food daily. There is nothing to drink, and they give them dirty dishes to eat from. There is no medical attention for them, and they are all falling sick from the food and the cold. They bathe in cold showers,” the woman said.
She added that the facility housing the prospective officers is dilapidated.
Video footage shows leaking geysers, water-covered floors and thin foam mattresses on floors. Two to three people allegedly share a mattress and sleep packed next to each other like sardines.
“There are like 30 of them in one bungalow, literally sleeping right next to each other. Some do not have blankets and pillows, and some ladies sleep on the floor. It is really bad. Someone is going to die there, and there’s a lot of them that are sick,” the relative told IOL.
Trainees are scared and often threatened and intimidated when raising issues about their living conditions, she further alleged.
“There are allegations that some of the trainees (who) spoke out about the situation were threatened at gunpoint and were asked not to complain. The students there are scared to complain, mainly because they might lose their spot, so they just bear with the conditions,” she said.
Another source also contacted IOL, alleging they had a gun pointed at them and were hit with a firearm by a police sergeant because they complained.
“A sergeant wanted to hit me, and gun-pointed at us, loaded by a constable which shouldn’t even be at the training facility. People left their jobs for this. Now they are too scared to speak up or leave because they have children to feed.
“I have already opened a case at my hometown station, and SAPU, our union, is trying to scrap the entire programme,” the source said.
The Police and Prison Civil Rights Union (Popcru) said it was initially elated when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that training and recruitment for police would allow for 12,000 candidates to join.
However, the elation soon wore off after the “inhumane” living conditions were unearthed.
Popcru’s provincial secretary Boitumelo Pheleo said the union had been hard at work since the arrival of trainees and instructors on April 1.
“The accommodation available is limited, and some of them look like a pigsty with no hot water, shortages in food, some toilets are not working, and the list is endless. Some female instructors must share accommodation with male instructors,” Pheleo said.
The union said it had engaged with the South African Police Service (SAPS) management and alerted them of the conditions and fears for the lives of those living in those conditions.
“Those calls have fallen on deaf ears, and there is an attitude of not caring. We believe that training cannot take place under such horrible conditions. Trainees and instructors are falling ill and might lose their lives unless something is done,” Pheleo said.
Popcru has called on Police Minister Bheki Cele and national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola to visit the training college and provide relief to trainees and instructors.
IOL laid out all allegations surrounding the horrible conditions to the SAPS management.
According to the police’s Colonel Athlenda Mathe, management is working around the clock to find solutions.
“The management of the SAPS is working around the clock and liaising closely with the management of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to, as a matter of priority, find solutions to the challenges and concerns raised by trainees and trainers in relation to the condition of the facilities at the Academy in the Northern Cape.
“The provision of a conducive environment for the Basic Police Learning Development Programme (BLDP) is an ongoing process and remains a priority for the SAPS as the Service strives to respond effectively to the heightened demand for policing services,” Mathe said.
She also confirmed an internal investigation was under way into the incident where a sergeant allegedly pointed his firearm at a trainee.
“The investigation will also determine whether or not the incident came as part of training or as a result of misconduct,” Mathe added.