Popcru general secretary, Jeffrey Dladla, has cautioned that despite the government’s renewed focus on recruiting new police officials, these numbers are still not enough to make a marked difference in the fight against crime.
Dladla was speaking at the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union’s (Popcru) 10th national congress in Durban on Wednesday.
He highlighted the severe capacity constraints still facing the SAPS and correctional services as a result of the austerity measures implemented in recent years.
In response to the growing capacity crisis in the SAPS, the government has embarked on a mass recruitment drive to add 10 000 new police officers during the current financial year and has committed to employing an additional 10 000 new officers per year for the next two financial years, bringing the total number of new recruits to 30 000.
However, Dladla noted that government must also consider the impacts of attrition, as the number of police officers leaving the service currently totals an average of 6 500 individuals per year.
This means that the SAPS is only being expanded by 3 500 members per year to work across the 1 158 police stations across the country. Likewise, there are just 27 000 correctional service officials guarding the country’s prisons.
To address the issue, Popcru said it intended to challenge the salary structure in the police service with the aim of encouraging police members to remain within the service.
“Police members currently only receive more money when they are at the managerial level rather than the operational level.”
We are busy reviewing this salary structure to ensure that workers can get more money without having to become managers first. This will retain more members within the police service, who are productive and have skills, without being promoted to the managerial level.
In addition to raising issues of capacity within the police and correctional services, he noted that traffic officials’ benefits and conditions of service needed to be standardised, regardless of the province or region in which they serve.
Popcru also welcomed the increase in death benefits for SAPS members killed in the line of duty that were outlined by Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, earlier in the week at the congress.
During his address, Cele noted that death benefits would be increased from R200 000 to R250 000 for police members at level 12, and increase to R275 000 for members from levels 11 to eight. Levels seven to one would receive an increase in the death grant to R300 000.
However, government also needs to provide a strategy to prevent and reduce the number of police killings in South Africa, emphasised Dladla.
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Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Ronald Lamola, thanked correctional services employees for their service and dedication, despite the challenges they face.
“The majority of you here are on a day to day basis in the forefront of dealing with crime in our country either in the correctional services or the police services.”
Lamola said he attended the congress in order to give feedback on the issues of promotion policy, shifts and inadequate uniforms.
There is an agreement now with labour unions and the department on the issue of the promotion policy. We are also sorting out the uniforms issue by buying machines to support the plant in Witbank that manufactures the uniforms.