Cape Town - Public order policing units need to be beefed up to effectively deal with more strikes, the SA Policing Union said on Thursday.
"Our police, and especially our public order policing, are supposed to be standing at somewhere like 10 000 (officers) but is currently standing at 4 000," union president Mpho Kwinika said.
"In the next three to four years, South Africans will be busy exercising their rights to demonstrate, whether violently or peacefully, and police have to make sure these are not violent."
Kwinika said police had a "huge task" to increase this number in the next decade.
"We need to have this unit up and running as soon as possible."
Kwinika was addressing top police union officials at the International Council of Police Representative Associations conference in Cape Town, which ends on Friday.
The biennial conference was being held in Africa for the first time and aimed to unite world policing.
In February, then police minister Nathi Mthethwa told police station commanders in Durban the country's public order policing units were among the best in the world.
He said these officers employed a combination of techniques from different countries, as well as those learnt in South Africa. - Sapa