Popcru wants new police minister Senzo Mchunu to focus on cop killings, while violence monitor fears its a bad move

Former Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu is the new Police Minister. Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Former Water and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu is the new Police Minister. Picture: Itumeleng English / Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 1, 2024


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has called on the newly appointed police minister Senzo Mchunu, to tackle the issues of police killings.

Popcru welcomed Mchunu's appointment and urged him to prioritise transformative leadership aimed at addressing challenges within the police department.

Another leading commentator, KZN violence monitor Mary De Haas, said she was anxious it was a “very bad” move to appoint Mchunu as he remained close with former police minister Bheki Cele, who she described as a “disaster”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his inclusive Government of National Unity Cabinet for the 7th administration at the Union Building on Sunday night. The Cabinet includes ministers from the ANC, DA, IFP, PA, FF+, PAC and Good.

Popcru spokesperson Richard Mamabolo has voiced concern about ongoing police killings, emphasising their expectation for Mchunu to implement measures to address this issue.

“Law enforcement officers have become targeted victims of the worst crime, with attacks and killings escalating in the country,” said Mamabolo.

He said the increasing rate of police killings has the potential to undermine the country’s peace and stability, as many of these officers are killed while on duty preventing and combating crime.

“Some are attacked while guarding inmates, traffic and police officers ambushed when conducting patrols, with their potential firearms and uniforms being stolen with the probable intention of committing further crimes.”

Mamabolo called for the government to declare a stern stance against by classifying police killings as treason.

“The Criminal Procedure Act must be amended to classify killing of police officers as treason. We need to improve the compensation of police officers killed on duty to sustain a better life for their dependents,” he said.

Mamabolo said they were also concerned about the police to population ratio, which currently stood at 1:450; which still falls short of the UN ratio of 1:220.

He also said the SAPS salary structure needed reviewing and the implementation of two distinct streams had to take place.

“One being for Police Act members and the other for Public Service Act appointees, that will allow them to be grade-progressed and promoted up to salary level 15.

“The promotion of Public Service Act appointees will ensure we have more boots on the ground.”

De Haas, a violence monitor in KZN and an honorary Research Fellow at the University of KZN’s School of Law, said that the appointment of Mchunu was "very bad" and he should refrain from involvement in operational affairs.

“He must step back from any operational involvement in the police, and focus on the constitutional duty of oversight, policy making and implementing legal and policy changes to the policing, because that is what is required of any minister,” said De Haas who is also a member of the Navi Pillay Research Group on justice and human rights.

“This new minister will be very close to the former minister (Bheki Cele), who was an absolute disaster. They are old colleagues in the ANC in this province, so that itself is a very bad move.”

She added that Ramaphosa should have appointed an ANC heavyweight from a different province, emphasising that the police ministry portfolio urgently requires a change.

“They should have given the deputy minister position to another party preferably the DA, because we also have a problem with justice oversight of the police, and either the justice or the policing deputy portfolio should have gone to the DA,” said De Haas.

She said much hinges on his actions regarding implementing changes in the police ministry, as outlined and recommended in the reports from the panel of experts on policing.

“If he makes those sorts of changes, demilitarising the police, establishing the new police board, that's the only way.

“His role is to be one of the oversight and he must stay out of the operational matters,” she told IOL News.