South African Police Service (SAPS) reservists are, in future, to be deployed as security guards at police stations. According to the SAPS website, Major General Nonkululeko Mbatha says that all security contracts have been terminated and that SAPS members and reservists will take over guard duties.
The SAPS reservists in Gauteng have already received communication from Deputy Provincial Commissioner Gela asking for a list of reservists to take over security duties from contracted security guards.
This is a direct result of the Minister of Police Nathi Mthehwa bowing to the COSATU dictate and refusing to allow contracts for security companies to be renewed. Provincial SAPS management are now looking to Reservists, who offer to fight crime in their own time, for no pay, to act as security guards.
This is a waste of precious SAPS resources. We need our 65 000 SAPS reservists out on the streets keeping our people safe, not guarding the front doors of police stations.
This is particularly true given a proposal contained in the SAPS Annual Performance Plan 2012/3, which would see a reduction in the size of SAPS’ membership by 9000 members, and bring an end to the hiring of new personnel and the ending of new admissions to SAPS training academies after January 2013.
The use of reservists – many of whom have specialised skills – to perform gate-guarding duties will probably be the final straw for dedicated men and women without whom some SAPS stations could simply not operate. There is no doubt that there has been a shift towards both limiting the activities of, and the attempt to phase out the important service that reservists provide – while at the same time the Minister calls regularly for citizens to assist the SAPS in their fight against crime.
First there was a moratorium on reservist recruitment introduced in 2009. Since then men and women who arrive to offer their services – free – to stations, have been turned away.
In addition, the SAPS has proposed that changes be made to National Instruction 1/2002 which indicated changes to the insignia of the reservist unit which would distinguish them from SAPS member, as well as proposing that steps be taken to limit the contribution reservists can make by only allowing employed persons to be reservists. This was done with virtually no consultation with the reservists themselves.
I will be submitting parliamentary questions to the Police Minister to determine:
It seems that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa is focused on decreasing, rather than boosting, the numbers of police officers and reservists on our streets.
With one of the highest crime rates in the world, it is clear that we need as many police officers and reservists fighting crime as possible, rather than taking them off the streets to do the jobs of contract workers, who are now out on the streets.
Minister Mthethwa owes the citizens of South Africa an explanation as to why he is increasing unemployment levels with one hand, and decreasing the security of our citizens with the other.