Pretoria - At least 50 000 affiliates of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) tested Covid-19 positive since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country.
Popcru, which represents workers in the SAPS, as well as the Department of Correctional Services and its Traffic counterparts, lost at least 876 members to the virus during the same period.
This grim picture was painted by union spokesperson Richard Mamabolo, while reflecting on the impact of Covid-19 on the law-enforcement sector.
Mamabolo said the high number of infections and fatalities “had caused delays in the much-needed services provided, as many had to be put off sick from time to time”.
“The past two years have been filled with unanticipated challenges that have had an adverse impact on the workplace and on lives in general, and these have had a significant impact on our outlook in our commitments towards redefining the criminal justice cluster, while defending our hard-won gains,” he said.
Mamabolo said the union had taken a stance to encourage its members to get jabbed as frontline workers.
“Though we initially had challenges around the large number of our members being infected, especially in 2020, recent reports have demonstrated that the infection and death rates have not been increasing. This can be attributable to the vaccination intervention that was conducted within the sectors, which has been demonstrated to spare lives,” Mamabolo said.
On behalf of the union, he expressed heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of law enforcement officers who had died “due to altercations within our correctional centres ,and the continued police killings”.
“We further wish to extend our condolences to the many victims of the senseless acts of gender-based violence throughout our country throughout this passing year,” he said.
On a positive note, Mamabolo said the union successfully fought for the absorption of over 2 000 Correctional Services pupils “who had been left roaming idle and isolated after having competently concluded their learnership training programs since the year 2020” .
“We have concluded the Road Traffic Management Corporation salary adjustment agreement, wherein those in the salary bracket of R500 000 will get a 5.5% increase; those between R500 000.01 and R600 000 will get a 5% increase, and those over R600 000 will be getting 4%,” he said.
In the SAPS, Mamabolo said, the union had translated security and Public Service Act personnel “and thus far, two groups are currently at training colleges, while the third will be starting their training in January 2022” .
“We have also established consultative forums in all provinces, which culminated into the national consultative forum. This forum is tasked with the responsibility to come up with a draft employment equity plan for the SAPS,” he said.
Mamabolo also commended the good work of union members during the July protests that engulfed some parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
“Despite the known challenges of understaffing and shortage of resources, our members could not be everywhere at the same time to prevent all the looting. With limited capacity, national key points such as harbours, airports, water plants and transmission stations were safely secured against this onslaught.
“Thanks to the efforts of our strained men and women in blue, the protection of sites of national strategic importance were defended against sabotage,” Mamabolo said.