'Stop blaming the police for a lack of service delivery’
Cape Town - Police unions have claimed that the police are often blamed for failing to service communities, while in reality their deteriorating working conditions have been overlooked.
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) spokesperson Richard Mamabolo said another problem was that even members of Parliament, responsible for drafting laws that govern how police operate, had been at the forefront of criticising police for upholding those very laws.
Mamabolo said those attacks were largely remnants of an increasingly unequal society, with growing unemployment, yet with a growing economy that had shown to benefit a small percentage of the population.
“There has been a heavy reliance on policing as a way of curbing criminal activities. This has proven to be a heavy burden not only on the police, but on the fight against crime since they are under-resourced and limited in number, with our correctional centres overcrowded and a rate of more than 85% of those released re-offending, due to the lack of skills and job opportunities to sustain themselves.”
He said the police needed to address the uneven allocation of resources to ensure rural and township police stations were enabled to improve on service delivery.
SA Policing Union (Sapu) general secretary Tumelo Mogodiseng said people needed to stop blaming the police for a lack of service delivery.
“Remember, we have community policing forums (CPFs) to assist the police because people who commit crimes are within our societies and CPFs can identify the criminals.”
Mogodiseng said it’s a fact that police lacked resources: “When people call the station for a police vehicle and there is no vehicle, who is to blame?”
Nyanga CPF chairperson Martin Makhasi said that is why Nyanga CPF decided to join the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) and Equal Education Equality Court - they wanted to raise the issues raised by the unions. Makhasi said for too long the police had been blamed for the failures of the system.
Police Minister Bheki Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said the issue of resourcing of police stations was an ongoing process within the police.
“The police have promoted thousands of police personnel over the last two years and continue to invest in infrastructure by building more police stations, improving IT systems and bolstering equipment within the financial constraints,” Themba said.
Provincial chairperson for the CPF board Fransina Lukas said she agreed with the unions: “The issue of human resources has always been put on the agenda, on several occasions, by the CPFs.”
Lukas said having too few members on a shift made it impossible to provide adequate service and a good response time to complaints.
“The police management must take responsibility for service delivery and they must improve working conditions for the officers that we need,” she said.”
She said more reservists must be recruited from the community and the reservist criteria must be amended to allow more community members to become reservists.
“Police management must recruit and train more constables annually, to fill the numbers of those who resign, die or who become disabled,” she said.