President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s 10th National Congress in Durban, said the country had limited resources but could not compromise on front-line services.
DURBAN – ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa says in spite of the country’s austerity approach, it is essential to recruit more police.
Ramaphosa, speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru)’s 10th national congress in Durban on Monday, said the country had limited resources but could not compromise on its front-line services.
Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu had earlier criticised the government for its austerity approach and for being desensitised and not listening to police concerns over lack of resources and manpower to fight crime.
“We have already seen the severe effects of this crisis and spending cuts on our members, who serve at the front line against crime but continuously struggle to make ends meet and are forced to return home to shacks.
“Our members protect and serve our country every day and deserve the dignity of decent wages and decent living conditions,” Cebekhulu said.
Ramaphosa said he acknowledged the calls being made by the SACP, Cosatu and its affiliates who wanted more money to be budgeted to employ workers in front-line services including the police, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the SA Revenue Service (Sars).
“While we have limited resources and must manage public finances appropriately, we will not compromise services to those who need them the most.
“We must protect health, education and policing as much as we are facing enormous fiscal challenges … these are the services we are going to protect.”
Ramaphosa said criminality was a priority that South Africans were most concerned about and there was a need to strengthen the police, Sars and the justice system to ensure work being done by these public servants continued uninterrupted.
He said in last year’s State of the Nation Address he announced the recruitment and training of additional police personnel.
“In December last year, these new recruits graduated from various police academies. Ten thousand trainees will be recruited annually for the next two financial years, bringing the total number in the current three-year period to 30,000. Of these, close to 3,000 will be allocated to the SAPS’ detective services.”
Ramaphosa acknowledged that there was still some way to go before there was a satisfactory ratio between police personnel and the population.
“As we work to increase the number of police on the ground, we must work to strengthen specialised police units and ensure that we train more detectives to investigate incidents of criminality.
“We will recruit more to swell your ranks and agree that conditions of employment of police must be improved, including danger pay and housing.”
Ramaphosa said he recently attended the annual National Commemoration Day in Pretoria to honour police officers and reservists who died in the line of duty and understood the impact that the murder of officers had on the nation.
“Danger pay for police is duly deserved because you put your lives on the line for the people of South Africa, you do so without hesitation and doubt and I have seen how some of you go all out in defence of our people,” Ramaphosa said.
He said police were taking the fight to criminals who were involved in cash-in-transit heists, illegal mining and the construction mafia.
Popcru had also complained to the government that its role in collective bargaining on behalf of police officers, prison officials and others was being undermined and that its aim was to fortify and improve the welfare of members and ultimately to realise a fair and prosperous society for all.
In response, Ramaphosa said that the government was committed to collective bargaining.
“Many police live in unacceptable places because we have not streamlined our housing policy for you.
“You ought to have good conditions of employment and you must be treated with respect … that we will do,” Ramaphosa said.