Pretoria - Police Minister Bheki Cele has promoted thousands of officers, with his department to spend R2billion in promotions over the next three years.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) and South African Police Union (Sapu) said yesterday that Cele needed to be commended on the matter that has stalled for years.
Cele told the media in Cape Town yesterday that 68 000 officers will be promoted over three years.
However, between now and the end of March they will promote 28 000 officers and the plan will be rolled out for the next three years to accommodate the total number of 68 000.
During his briefing to the portfolio committee on police in April, Cele told MPs they would need R2bn to promote the thousands of officers as they had not been promoted for many years.
In his media briefing yesterday Cele said they had struck a deal with Popcru and Sapu on the promotion of the officers.
National commissioner for police Lieutenant-General Khehla Sitole said officers from the special Task Force, the National Intervention Unit, the Tactical Response Team and other specialised units would also be regraded.
Sitole said they did not want to have a backlog on the promotion of officers in the future once they have addressed this issue.
Regarding the budget, Cele said money would be found for the promotions as the officers deserved to be promoted. “On the budget implications, if you look at the announcement it was said we will be looking at other items (to cut).
“Some matters will be delayed and some will be scaled down, " Cele said.
"The fact that it is announced now means the policy statement has been achieved,” said Cele.
Sitole said some of the promotions will start from now until March next year, when the financial year ends.
He said this was part of the agreement they had reached with the unions.
Popcru president Zizamele Cebekhulu said many of the officers had been waiting for years to be promoted and Cele’s decision was a step in the right direction.
In some cases police officers had been in the lower ranks for more than 11 years with no promotion, said Cebekhulu.
He said Popcru was glad that this was now behind them.
Sapu also said this was a positive step from the police and praised the way Cele ensured that this happened.
The unions had been waiting for a long time to get officers promoted from lower ranks.