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SAFETY AND SECURITY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
26 March 2003
DEPARTMENT BUDGET: BRIEFING BY SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE UNION
Acting Chairperson: Mr Booi (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Briefing by South African Police Union (Appendix)
POPCRU were not present to brief the Committee on their budget. SAPU briefed the Committee, explaining that the criminal justice sector received R2.7 billion, which was more than their previous allocation. SAPU said that they would maximise this allocation. Issues around police killings and salaries dominated the discussion. Training programs to conscientise police officers not to expose their firearms, not to walk alone, amongst other things, were being run. Officers are being taught that they have a responsibility to look after themselves.
Mr B Sigidi, President of SAPU, introduced SAPU as the majority union of the South African Police Services with an excess of 63 000 members.
The strategic focus of the SAPS from 2003-4 included:
-Serious and violent crime.
-Crime against women and children.
-Improving service delivery.
Commenting on the budget, he explained that the criminal justice sector received a further R 2.7 billion to fight crime.
Mr Sigidi noted that police officers were being killed for their service pistols. The provinces that need special mention were Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape. A national summit on police killings will be held during April 2003. SAPU believed that this summit would bring about solutions to address the senseless killings and attacks on SAPS members.
On the issue of HIV/AIDS SAPU has committed itself to various projects and campaigns to prevent the spread the epidemic. More than 50 SAPS members were trained during 2002 as peer educators and counselors.
He was aware of ill discipline which could not be tolerated within the SAPS. They had committed themselves to participate in Government's no-nonsense approach to corruption. However, not all police officers were corrupt. Poor salaries did not justify corruption.
In conclusion, he added that the SAPS was happy with the budget allocation as a sign that government was committed to fight crime.
The Chairperson noted that POPCRU, who were meant to present on their budget as well, had not arrived.
Mr E Ferreira (IFP) asked for further information on police killings. He was concerned that in SA police killings were not seen as anything out of the ordinary. Secondly, while much had been said about the closure of specialised units, Mr Sigidi had mentioned nothing to that effect.
Adv P Swart (DP) seemed somewhat perplexed that SAPU was happy with the budget, as nothing had been mentioned about changes to salaries. He also wished for further comment from Mr Sigidi on police officials falling within the Public Service Act. He foresaw problems arising from that. He hoped that the summit on police killings to be held in April would bring some clarity.
Rev K Meshoe (ACDP) asked how SAPU could be satisfied with the budget when it was widely known that there was a lack of resources and a lack of vehicles, for example. Moreover, police officers were not being charged for ill discipline. He wondered at which stage SAPU was planning to charge them.
Mr J Ngubeni (ANC) highlighted that there was no mention of spending patterns. On the issue of police killings, he wished to know whether there were any training programmes for the police that dealt with the handling of service pistols, as was done with HIV/AIDS.
Responding to all the questions, the President of SAPU commented as follows.
He agreed that police killings, HIV/AIDS and discipline were related to the budget. However, these were internal issues and had to be dealt with by the police.
Mr Sigidi said he viewed the summit on police killings as a means of addressing this emerging problem and was happy with the progress being made towards this summit.
The closure of specialised units, he added, had commenced in 1999/2000, just prior to the appointment of the National Commissioner. This was a gradual procedure. The response to these closures has been ambivalent. Public servant personnel, he added, fell under the Public Services Act.
Commenting on the budget, he reiterated their appreciation of the R 2.7 billion. It was certainly more that what they presently have. They have to utilise what they have as best as they can - they were definitely not going say it is not enough, so take it back. A station suffering from a shortage of vehicles was an internal problem, which had to be sorted out through the reallocation of resources. He stressed that SAPU was not saying that they did not need more, but rather, they would maximize what they already have.
Mr Les Masenya, Secretary General of SAPU, explained that the problem with a shortage of cars was that police officers were taking cars home with them after 4pm. This problem had to be dealt with at management level.
Clarifying the issue of salaries, Mr Sigidi explained that they were still engaging with that, although salaries are negotiated with the Department of Public Service and Administration.
On the question of suspension of members, he added that SAPU was following the labour laws of the country, and therefore SAPS members were given an opportunity to respond as well.
Elaborating on programmes to combat police killings, he stated, most of the killings happened when police officers move to and from work. Training programs aim to conscientise police officers not to expose their firearms, not to walk alone, amongst other things. They are also taught that they have a responsibility to look after themselves.
Mr SJP Schutte (SAPS) said that Members should be reminded that SAPS was also paying the funeral costs for these police killings.
Mr Sigidi, concurred, but added that the Department pays for 50% of the costs, and this usually included the coffin only.
The meeting was adjourned.
Briefing by South African Police Union
The South African Police Union is the majority union in tile South African Police Service with in excess of 63 000 members of SAPS. SAPU also recently opened our membership to the Department of Correctional Services.
2. STRATEGIC FOCUS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE
Taking into consideration that the national crime priorities in terms of the strategic focus remains the same as last year, namely:
(a) Organised crime
(b) Serious and violent crime
(c) Crime against women and children
(d) Improving Service Delivery
3. BUDGET FOCUS:
The criminal justice sector receives a further R 2. 7 billion to fight crime and ensure safety of our communities. We have to build communities that do not live in fear, where we can reclaim the streets from criminals, where our magistrates feel safe in our courts. Safety and Security receives additional funding to hire more police, and further expand the sector policing strategy, enhance the vehicle fleet, and improve communications. Recognising the debt we all owe to police officers who lose their lives in the course of duty, provision is made for a supplementary death benefit of R200 000-00.
4. POLICE KILLINGS:
Police officers have been killed both whilst on and off-duty. What we have noticed is that most members are being killed merely for their service pistols. We would like once more to condemn with the strongest terms possible the senseless killings of our members. We appeal to law-abiding citizens of our country, not to let this beautiful land to be ruled by heartless thugs. In a normal society which we claim to be living in where memorial services are held for police officers who have died because of natural causes or accidents not deliberate killings. Police officers are there for the community's own benefit. It is more disturbing to note that in the year 2001 and 2002 the majority of those killed were killed. Initially, police unions were calling for the disbandment of police barracks, saying police need to stay with the community they serve. Is it worth it to stay with the very community who shield our killers? These service pistols our members are killed for are the ones that are ultimately used in violent crimes that affect the same community members. There are four (4) provinces that need special mention, as they seem to be in a fierce competition in these merciless killings namely, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.
SAPU is happy to announce that a National Summit on police killings will be held during April 2003. SAPU believes that this Summit will bring about solutions to address these senseless killings and attacks on SAPS members.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic represents one of the greatest and most controversial threats to the future of South Africa and indeed also to the World.
SAPU view the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic not only detrimental to South Africa and it's population but also to the South African Police Service as a service delivery organisation where the main aim is to ensure the safety and security of all people I South Africa.
Against this backdrop SAPU as a responsible labour organisation has already committed itself to various projects and campaigns to contribute progressively on a continuous basis to prevent the spread of the epidemic.
SAPU has already trained more than 50 SAPS members during 2002 as:
It is our view that ill discipline and corruption cannot be tolerated in SAPS. Stern action must be taken against these members and we should rid SAPS of these elements. SAPU will not stand for corrupt and ill disciplined police officials and has regularly condemned these actions. The image of SAPS suffers because of these actions but it also lead to unreasonable amount of time, money and human resources to deal with these serious issues.
It must however be reiterated that the majority of members are loyal and committed to serve the communities and the country. SAPU will deal with these members in terms of our Constitution and we commit ourselves to participate in Government's no nonsense approach to corruption.
SAPU is happy to announce this morning that the budget allocation for 2003/2004 by the Government is convincing and the Government is really committed to fight crime. Again presentation by SAPS management was also convincing that their strategic focus on crime combating will bear fruits.
SAPU takes this opportunity to thank the Portfolio Committee for the opportunity to address you on the SAPS budget and other critical issues. Please utilize us as an instrument of assistance and support.
Baptist Sigidi Les Masenya
PRESIDENT: SAPU GENERAL SECRETARY: SAPU
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