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Published: 11 Sep 2012
|SA: Statement by Nathi Mthethwa, Minister of Police, calls for improvements on employment of people with disabilities at police stations (11/09/2012)|
The Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa says improvements around statement-taking at police stations, including utilisation of sign language interpreters are vital in securing harsher convictions of criminals.
“Almost on a daily basis police arrest suspects but we now need to move towards securing harsher convictions. Part of this goal includes prioritising the employment of people with disabilities including sign language interpreters. We need to have police stations which employ sign language interpreters to assist hearing impaired citizens not only as part of addressing the disability impurities, but to ensure that all members of society are catered for,” he stated.
“The South African Police Service (SAPS) has not appointed permanent sign language interpreters instead has utilised external-registered sign language interpreters, when the need arises to have sign language interpreters at police stations. We need to ensure that going forward and as part of our transformational process, we address this matter.”
While the causes of crime are complex and diverse, it is acknowledged that there are a host of factors which impact on crime. What becomes crucial however is that when victims of crime report such crimes, they must not be compromised through wrong interpretation and badly-written statements as well as misunderstanding of their experiences as crime victims.
“Therefore, improved planning and co-ordination including accommodating people with disabilities is required to enhance the conditions of safety within communities. This is what we are always advocating, that police must continuously be trained. The strengthening of partnerships and co-operation among relevant organs of state at local, provincial and national spheres of government, including community stakeholders also has an impact on the approach of addressing crime,” added the Minister.
Prior to 2009, SAPS embarked on a drive which included advertising a post at national level but was unable to fill it due to poor response to the recruitment drive. The various SAPS divisions including Language Section (Corporate Communication), together with Disability Management of the Employee Health Wellness are now in the process of developing a strategy to ensure that people with hearing disabilities are able to access SAPS’ services.
Transformation within the SAPS in the broader sense must be aimed at changing the internal police environment and culture into a professional, representative, efficient and effective, transparent and accountable service. This should be a service which upholds and protect the fundamental rights of citizens and executes its mandate in accordance with the Constitution.
While there has been some process made regarding the demographic composition of the police, there is still considerable work required, not only in building a representative service, but also in making sure transformation addresses the broader context of the developmental state, guiding policy framework and the principles contained in the Constitution.