Category: Media Statement

Media Statement

A union at work: POPCRU Policing Indaba seeks to fight crime with research

23 August 2023: The first day of the three-day Policing Indaba hosted by the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) kicked off at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg on Wednesday.
The conference aims to address the rising issue of crime in South Africa by bringing together participants from different fields, including academics, researchers, law enforcement agencies, and government departments, to find ideal solutions to the country’s crime situation.

The Policing Indaba was organised by POPCRU after calls for actionable steps to address persistently high crime levels and an alarming surge in police killings. The programme aims to cover important themes including gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide, proactive crime prevention, the training of new police recruits, and building ideal policing and corrections for the 21st century.

POPCRU president, Dr Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza, said that it’s time to take action through research and implementation to find solutions to the problems faced by the police service.

“After these three days, we want to have actionable solutions ready that can be implemented to improve policing and overall law enforcement in South Africa,” he emphasised.

During his opening address, he noted that the important question that the indaba will seek to confront is: “Is the South African police service failing in the fight against crime?”

He stated that the union and its leadership do not claim to have answers, but that he hoped that through collaborative discussions and a research-based approach, the various stakeholders present could find practical and implementable solutions together.

“According to the provisions of the Criminal Procedures Act and other relevant legislation, the operations of the criminal justice cluster require cohesion to be effective. If we fail in this, then South Africa itself is doomed to fail in the fight against crime,” he said.

Attendees and delegates arrived from across South Africa, as well as from neighbouring African countries such as Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, and Lesotho to attend the event. Amongst the many attendees were the Department of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele. The discussions were also joined by organisational partners and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

“We are well-placed to contribute to the strategic plan. We are here to support law enforcement, as they cannot be solely responsible for making South Africa safer. Making our country safer is a collaborative effort between organisations, communities, and law enforcement,” added Jeffrey Dladla, POPCRU General Secretary.

COSATU president, Zingiswa Losi, praised POPCRU for showing leadership by organising the Policing Indaba as a step towards addressing the rampant crime. “Crime statistics are painting a depressing picture, especially in the killing of police officers.” She added that South Africa still hasn’t healed from the past, and that the government needs to step in to solve socio-economic issues such as poverty and unemployment to address crime.

In the evening session, Police Minister Bheki Cele joined the programme, stating, “Together, we need to develop a system of leadership. Policy, safety, and the comfort of South Africans cannot be about just arresting criminals; it must go across governance and the whole of society.”

He added that South Africa has made the mistake of implementing “pendulum politics”, responding to the ills of the apartheid regime by being “too easy” on criminals.

“We have made mistakes that we must change,” he emphasised.

“There must be lots of legislative changes, including to the Constitution, and reforms.”

Surprising revelations

Among the many expert speakers were representatives from the Border Management Authority (BMA) and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The BMA painted a grim picture of the highly porous nature of the country’s borders, which has exacerbated theft, smuggling, and other illegal activities.

Alarmingly, once a vehicle is reported as stolen or hijacked in South Africa, it can take up to 48 hours to reflect on the border authorities’ systems, giving criminals plenty of time to transport the vehicle across the border, it revealed.

In response to these challenges, the BMA has developed a series of plans that it hopes to roll out over the coming months and years, including heightening oversight and control of the country’s ports and border posts.

Likewise, SAPS figures revealed a dismaying increase in murder statistics over the past decade, as well as a dip in the country’s detection rate from 59.09% in the 2013/14 financial year to 46.02% at the end of the 2022/23 financial year.

However, throughout the various presentations, speeches, and proposed solutions, some common threads emerged. These included the need to work more closely and build trust with communities; to enhance training and resources for law enforcement; to strengthen the country’s borders to cut off the illicit economy; and the need to address the root causes of crime such as poverty and unemployment.

“POPCRU hopes to find real solutions from the input of the various resources that have mobilised through this indaba. We hope that by asking probing questions and driving an evidence and research-based approach to policy, we can truly build future-ready, and highly effective policing and correctional services,” stated Cebekhulu-Makhaza.  


Media Statement

POPCRU’s reaction to the latest released crime statistics

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted the latest quarterly crime statistics released by the Minister of Police Bheki Cele earlier today.

While noting that there are recorded reductions in some crime categories, including the murder rate by 3,1% and sexual offences by 2,1%, there has been an increase of 7%  in the attempted murder category.

Most concerning is that the most reported cases of murder come from both Kwa Zulu-Natal’s Inanda and Umlazi police stations, while the other province with such high figures remains the Western Cape through the Delft, Gugulethu and Harare police stations.

Comparatively observing, these minimal reductions should be a concern to the South African Police Service (SAPS) since ideally, crime statistics are supposed to serve as a tool with which to provide our law enforcement agencies with data for use of determining budgetary formulations, planning and the allocation of resources and police operations.

The above points to the capacity of the SAPS, and puts to question the extent within which resources are channelled to stations in ensuring they are able to service communities. These unabated patterns are but a reflection of the deep-rooted capacity challenges faced by our police officers across different communities, wherein despite being aware of the crime conditions, are limited by the availability of resources to make any real interventions.

Inanda in Kwa Zulu-Natal is one such case, wherein there is only 1 police station servicing a population of just over 158 619 people, therefore making it difficult for law enforcement officers to be consistently available to address such crime challenges.

These incapacities include the uneven allocation of resources, poor working conditions and the shortages of ammunition and training among others.

It is always vital that when reflecting on the rising crime statistics, we not only blame it on police, but take a broad approach that considers the broader socio-economic conditions faced by the populace, including the implications thereof which lead to the conditions our law enforcement officers have to contend with, hence our call for an upcoming Policing Indaba to be held in the next week is aimed at addressing the escalating levels of violent crimes, abuse on women and children, drug trafficking, violent protests, the continued unabated police killings that have in recent times become prevalent across our communities among other issues. It is premised on the intensification and expansion of work that should be undertaken with various sectors of society, business and communities to prevent and combat crime, and requires the mobilisation of broader responsibility and a more proactive approach on crime prevention.

We further call for the criminal justice cluster to address its fragmented structures as it is currently operating in silos, with different departments operating differently while relying on each other’s inputs in conducting their mandated functions. There is a need to establish synergy between the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), the SAPS and the Judiciary, with the SAPS accounting for the arrests made, the Judiciary accounting for the number convictions and prosecutions, while the Department of Correctional Services accounts for the number of incarcerations. This will assist in determining consolidated future budgets that should bring about a correlated approach within the CJC instead of the current continued situation wherein every department works blindly, and in isolation of one another.

Issued by POPCRU on 18/08/2023

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349

Media Statement

POPCRU troubled by the continued, unabated killings of officers

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) is infuriated by the snail’s pace level at which recurring incidents of police killings continue unabated.

We have learned of yet other killings in the Western Cape, where Sergeant Simphiwe Kwepile was shot in Mandela Park, with Sergeant S Mketi killed in Khayelitsha. While both incidents took place last night, we have come to understand that this morning again, Constables Foyle, Mayiya, Maliwa and Mbiza were also attacked outside the Junction Mall in Nyanga while on their way to perform their duties. They are thus far receiving medical attention.

To date, the number of police officers killed since the beginning of the year amounts to 13, with multiple others having suffered from career-threatening injuries and are left disabled. This trend continues unabated, with the SAPS management having failed to come up with a plan to curb such incidents.

Moreover, this randomness and apparent targeting of police officers, on or off duty, has inevitably increased members’ feelings of unsafety and insecurity. It is a clear sign that these officers are being singled out as targets for attacks for their firearms which are later utilised to perpetuate further criminal activities.

Many members of the SAPS are justifiably angered by this trend wherein their colleagues continue to be killed and are specific targets of attack. They consider themselves to be forgotten and neglected victims; that the authorities and, in particular, their own organisation does not care about their safety and security and fail to do anything concrete about the situation. In their view, the overall perception is that the SAPS appears to be reluctant to do anything.

There is an urgent need to examine the reasons why the attacks on and killing of police members have continue at such high levels and also to investigate what could be done to protect the members of the police service, not only in their work environment but also off-duty and in their homes, from attack and murder. No longer can members accept injury or death as merely a consequence or an acceptable risk in the normal execution of their daily work.

No longer can we stand by and listen to long speeches during funerals and commemorations without any action being taken. Police officers too have rights to life.

Our men and women in blue are daily tasked to ensure all our citizens are safe in their homes, work places, places of worship and entertainment. It should be prioritised that in-turn, they and their immediate families are also well looked after. There is an urgent need to review and increase on service allowances for SAPS Act members, and an introduction of the danger allowance for the Public Service Act employees and SAPS Act members.

While we welcome the increased danger allowance from R400 to R700, we have submitted a position paper at the Safety and Security Sectoral Bargaining Council (SSSBC), therein demanding the allowance to be increased to R1500, which takes into consideration that according the SSSBC Agreement 4 of 2001, the initial allowance was supposed to have been increased yearly with the Consumer Price Index (CPI), including the cost of living adjustments and the frequency of the dangers these officers find themselves.

Matters of living conditions, family situations, career stagnation and lack of promotion of police officers should be comprehensively addressed as an officer with a healthy morale will perform his/her duties well.

While the onus lies on the police to prevent, combat and investigate crime, communities have a role to play in flushing out crime, as the criminals committing these heinous acts come from the communities we serve, so the improvement of community and police relations is long overdue if we are to build better communities. 

POPCRU will be holding a Policing Indaba which will, among its tasks further interrogate factors behind police killings, measures to curb them and the need to improve good working relations between police and communities.

We wish the injured officers a speedy recovery, and convey our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who are unfortunately deceased.

Issued by POPCRU on 12/06/2023

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349

Media Statement

POPCRU statement on the escape of Thabo Bester from the Mangaung Correctional Centre

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted with shock emerging revelations relating to the escape of an inmate, Thabo Bester from the Mangaung Correctional Centre, which is contracted to G4S, a British multinational private security company on the 3rd of May 2022.

Following this incident, there has since been an internal investigation which had been closed, wherein the Security Supervisor at the time was dismissed on charges of negligence as opposed to the causal factor behind the fire in the cell, and his matter is currently being handled by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Three other officials from the Emergency Security Team (EST) are currently under suspension.

It is only now that the matter is reopened on the basis of media reports surrounding the whereabouts of Thabo Bester, which demonstrates that indeed the management of the centre tried to brush the matter under the carpet.

This further raises questions as to whom the burnt body belongs, and how it found itself in Cell 35.

This brings to question the level of responsibility the Department of Correctional Services (DCS) takes in monitoring, and the functionality of controllers which it appoints to ensure that contractual obligations with these private prisons are not violated in line with the prescripts of the Correctional Services Act 111 of 1998.

The government spends almost R1 billion a year of taxpayers’ money on two private prisons which have around 5952 inmates incarcerated – one in Mangaung, Free State, the other in Makhado, Limpopo – owned and managed by local consortiums led by multinational British and US companies.

According to a report tabled in Parliament in October 2022, by way of contrast, the department of correctional services has a daily budget allowance of R385 to detain, clothe and feed prisoners. Costs are considerably steeper and more profitable at the privately run Mangaung Prison at R435 per person a day, and R412 at the Kutama-Sinthumule prison, which are run as a public-private partnership involving the security company G4S and GEO Group respectively.

We are of the firm view that this escape, including multiple other misconducts and abuses reported over the years are mainly a consequence of the DCS having outsourced the functions of the state’s security to foreign-owned companies whose sole preoccupation is profit maximisation as opposed to the core mandate of rehabilitating inmates.

These private companies have a disregard for human rights. Aside from the moral and ethical arguments about prison privatisation, there is ample operational evidence that the policy itself is flawed. The fact that the human rights dimension of private prisons has not been fully examined, is a dereliction of duty.

We are of the view that the provision of law and order is the key function of any government. This duty should not be delegated to the private sector, because it is motivated by profit. Money that could be allocated to services is creamed off in profits and fees for consultants and advisory schemes; the private sector becomes even more entrenched in criminal justice policy-making; and the fuse is lit on a financial time bomb. So far private prisons have failed to demonstrate that they are cost-effective, innovative, and have lower recidivism rates.

Any prison that is being built should contribute to crime prevention by rehabilitating prisoners and reducing repeat incarceration, and for this, we urge the DCS to immediately take over the two private prisons in the country and scrape their contracts as they extend to 2026 and 2027. This should also be accompanied by absorbing all personnel as fully fledged correctional officials.

Issued by POPCRU on 27/03/2023

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349

Media Statement

POPCRU on the current impasse within the Public Service

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has noted recent developments regarding the outstanding impasse in relation to public servants’ demands around the government’s unilateral implementation of a 3% against the inflation rate of 6,7%, leading to further hostilities that have resulted in the latter intimidating workers through court interdicts, with the sole aim of defocusing and dividing workers.

We wish to categorically state that we are part of and support actions taken by public service unions who are currently mobilising against the employer in defence of collective bargaining.

As POPCRU, we have resolved last year to embark on a national march, held on the 20th of September 2022, with build-up programs including provincial lunch-hour pickets and provincial marches. These programs included submitting a memorandum of demands that among others included the following;

* Reversal of Austerity Measures/Budget Cuts

* Filling of all vacant posts

* Full implementation of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018

* Non-implementation of all signed agreements and resolutions 

* End to police killings and rising levels of violent crime

* Development and implementation of a promotion policy and grade progression

* Employment of more workers in SAPS, DCS and Traffic

* Building of safe Police Stations for effective crime prevention

* Increase in all Danger Allowances

* Provision of tools of trade in all departments. 

* The incorporation of Public Service Act Personnel as a Category into the SAPS

  • A clear upward mobility for the PSA Act in the SAPS
  • An end to recruitment corruption in SAPS

The march was about defending the hard-won gains of workers and defending collective bargaining. It was equally directed at government to do away with implementing neoliberal macroeconomic policies of austerity which have destroyed the capacity of the state to deliver on critical services especially in the criminal justice system, and this is evident with the budget cuts and spending that have weakened crime prevention and justice in the country.

Subsequently, the POPCRU Central Executive Committee (CEC held last year from 27-30 November 2022 resolved to continue with the program and to take our grievances to national parliament during this year (2023). We have since drawn up a program of action which, considering other developments within and among public service unions, will be intensified and carried out from Monday, 13 March 2023 which will include lunch-time pickets across workplaces and identified government departments.

As things stand, members within the Criminal Justice (CJC) are spending about 90% of their salaries on basic needs, while they do not qualify for RDP houses, and cannot afford bonded houses. All these challenges they face while government has been refusing to implement the Government Employee Housing Scheme (GEHS).

Our intensified actions will also include the full implementation of the 3rd leg of the PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018, the reversal of the unilateral implementation of a 3% wage hike for the 2022/23 financial year and an end to austerity measures.

We reiterate once again that this 6th Administration is hell-bent on destroying collective bargaining, rights of workers and made it as its task to reverse and roll-back the gains made by workers over the years. This is evident through numerous actions and continuous appetite of approaching labour courts in resolving matters of collective bargaining as opposed of taking advantage of institutions of dialogues such as bargaining councils.

Workers have been on the receiving end of the assault by this 6th Administration in many ways, including poor working conditions despite the fact that public service workers contribute on daily basis to the betterment of the South African people, especially the working class and the poor in the frontlines of service delivery. For our work to be effective, the public service must have a strong capacity in terms of the suitable headcount of workers in different departments and work-stations. It must also have capabilities in terms of the necessary skills and ongoing training support.

Today, the public service has been severely weakened, especially with regard to its capacity because of the moratorium that has been imposed on the filling of vacancies as a result of the multiple years of the Treasury’s austerity measures. Therefore, the improvements in our working conditions, including improvement in pay, is a necessary means of strengthening the public service.

We remain resolute and reiterate our position that there shall be no 2023/24 wage negotiation until this current dispute is resolved, and urge workers to gather strength during these intimidations, and to be more resolute and determined in their fight to achieve the demands they set, and support the unity demonstrated by the multiple public sector unions as they pursue the agenda of improving their wages and conditions of employment, and in defence of collective bargaining.

Issued by POPCRU on 10/03/2023

For more information contact Richard Mamabolo on 066 135 4349