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SA: Dr Zizameme Cebekhulu, Address by Popcru President, outlining Presidential Political Overview, at the POPCRU 10th Congress, Durban ICC (06/11/23)


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SA: Dr Zizameme Cebekhulu, Address by Popcru President, outlining Presidential Political Overview, at the POPCRU 10th Congress, Durban ICC (06/11/23)

7th November 2023


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His Excellency President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa,

National Office-Bearers,


The National Executive Committee,

Our Federation COSATU and sister affiliates,


Alliance Components,

The World Federation of Trade Unions

Our International Allies and Guests,

And most importantly, all delegates present.


It’s an honour to welcome you to our 10th Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) National Congress under the theme; “Building a sustainable organisation in defence of collective bargaining.”

Reaching this milestone as a union is no small feat, and we are grateful for each and every engagement and contribution that has helped us move this organisation forward. We come together for these few days to continue our tradition of engagement to reach agreements on how to keep improving the circumstances for those serving members within the criminal justice system and build a stronger organisation.

We have already built a strong organisation, and last year we even made the decision to expand our sectors. We have made a submission in this regard to COSATU, as this impacts some of our fellow affiliates. But as POPCRU, we have exhausted the sectors of the police, prisons and traffic officials, and could offer some of our benefits to individuals who fall currently fall within NEHAWU. We are also engaging with NEHAWU on this matter, who have agreed to discuss this further with us.

This year’s Congress theme is the central discourse that frames the coming term of office and should be developed throughout. It is informed by the various contemporary challenges we are facing, mainly to ensure the following:

Worker Protection: As a trade union, we should continue advocating for workers' rights, ensuring fair wages, safe working conditions, and protection against exploitation. By safeguarding workers' interests, we contribute to a stable and motivated workforce, which is essential for our own sustainability.

Collective Bargaining: We should continue to negotiate with employers on behalf of workers to secure better working conditions, benefits, and job security. Through collective bargaining, we help establish fair labour practices, reducing income inequality and promoting social justice.

To this extent, there have been challenges that the entire public service has been facing, which seek to erode all gains made post-1994 that will be covered extensively in our various reports.

Skills Development: We should consistently provide training and education programmes to enhance workers' skills and knowledge. By investing in human capital development, we contribute to a more productive workforce, which is crucial for sustainable growth and competitiveness.

Social Dialogue: We should continue engaging in social dialogue with employers, government, and other stakeholders to address labour-related issues and shape policies. We must also create capacity to analyse these policies. This collaboration should always promote inclusive decision-making processes, leading to more sustainable and equitable development.

Our recent Policing Indaba is one such example of an effective platform that can build smart coalitions in the fight against crime.

We also want to see the Minister of Police embracing smart coalitions as a valuable addition in the fight against crime.

Political Advocacy: We advocate for policies that support workers' rights, social welfare, and economic justice. Through various platforms, we participate in policy formulation and influence legislation to create an enabling environment for sustainable growth and development.

Social Protection: We should continue advocating for social protection measures such as unemployment benefits, healthcare, and pension schemes. These measures provide a safety net for workers, ensuring their well-being while contributing to social stability.

Promotion of Equality: We must strive to eliminate discrimination and promote equality in the workplace. By advocating for equal pay, gender equality, and diversity, we contribute to a more inclusive and sustainable society.

We have built POPCRU over the years to become a vehicle for positive change, ensuring that each member is heard while using our collective voice to achieve fruitful outcomes.

Throughout POPCRU’s existence, we have driven effective policy changes to create better working conditions for our members, and it is an honour to continue that tradition at this National Congress.

This Congress is in line with our Constitutional provisions which state that the National Congress is the supreme governing body of the union, and will sit once every four years.

It serves as a platform for broader reflection on organisational, political, social, and educational issues that have risen since the 9th National Congress, and offers us direction in this regard.

It is an essential mechanism for analysing the material conditions we find ourselves in so that we are better positioned to determine our future strategic and tactical objectives amidst the ever-changing realities of our time.

With the above objectives in mind, we continue to participate in local and international trade union activities, foster links, and perform other duties and engagements in the interest of our members. Importantly, we also seek to learn and implement the best practices for our union.

POPCRU is mandated to find agreeable solutions for members, enabling unionised employees to advocate for their needs and define the terms of their employment. But our most important aim is to fortify and improve the welfare of our members, understanding that collective bargaining is a powerful tool through which to achieve this, as well as to realise a fair and prosperous society for all.

34 Years of POPCRU’s existence

Yesterday, at the Memorial Lecture for Comrade Pretty Shuping , we marked 34 years of POPCRU's existence.

By doing so, POPCRU challenged the apartheid machinery and influenced the dismantling of the system itself to secure a better future for South Africa. The apartheid government wielded the police like a club to extinguish dissent to the injustices of their regime, while simultaneously suppressing the rights of black police employees themselves. These were difficult times, but we persisted, and played a critical role in restoring honour and dignity within our police service for the benefit of our country.

Historical reflection is important to understand the current environment in which we find ourselves. If you fail to understand the environment, you cannot charter a new course as an organisation. But keeping important historical events from being oversimplified or relegated to the sidebars on the pages of history takes increasing effort and energy with each passing year, especially as we become fixated on the challenges of the present.

So, on this auspicious occasion, the 10th Congress of POPCRU, I would like us all to take a moment to recognise and celebrate the historic roots of our courageous trade union, and to acknowledge the many battles that were waged to bring us to this point. I also recognise that there are many battles that POPCRU will still need to fight in the future to ensure that justice prevails.

One of these fights is the fight against the austerity measures that have been implemented recently against members of the public service, who for four financial years received no increase in salaries. POPCRU must fight these injustices, and we are prepared to leave no stone unturned in the struggle against austerity measures.

On behalf of POPCRU, I would like to offer my sincere thanks and gratitude to our predecessors for their immeasurable contributions, and the sacrifices they made on behalf of our movement.

Had it not been for the selflessness and stewardship of Comrades Gregory Rockman, Willie Jacobs, Pieter Loggenberg, Randolph Fortuin, Johnny Jansen, Cecil Peterson, and Andrina Rhode, among the many others who dedicated themselves to our struggle at the height of the fight for liberation, POPCRU would not be the powerful organisation it is today.

We thank you, Comrades, very much for the contribution you have made.

We are further indebted to Comrades Pretty Shuping, Boas Mogale, John Masokameng, Mandla Mkhwanazi, Themba Mzondi, Sibongile Nkosi, Monwabisi Moto, Modumaela, Hamilton Sengwana, Lesego Wolfe, Peter Nkuna, Peter Swartz, Raphepheng Mataka, Lucas Komani, Rueben Dowie, Jacob Tshumane, Peter Mofokeng, Emanuel Nkosinathi Mabhida, Ngubo and many other unsung heroes and heroines of our movement who have contributed immensely to POPCRU’s growth.

These comrades took the baton when it was not fashionable, and when we did not have any agreement with the Department of Transport.

Over the last 34 years of our existence, we have substantially grown POPCRU’s voice and presence, and equipped it with many knowledgeable leaders who have guided our organisation safely through the various difficult times experienced during its development. Even as we transition roles or move onto other paths, our organisation  should not be deprived of the reservoir of wisdom our leadership and our members possess. We greatly need this wisdom and guidance to keep our movement focused on its primary mission, which is to continuously serve our membership.

We truly stand on the shoulders of giants.

This said, our union has changed significantly since its inception. So, as we consider and engage over our reports and progress over the coming days, it is important to keep our perspective on where we came from, where we are today, and where we would like to be in the future.

I urge you again to call upon your collective wisdom, and to maintain your focus on finding solutions that will further secure the future of our country and our organisation.

Context of the current discourse

South Africa is currently in dire economic straits. Workers are under immense strain, and frustrations over unfair conditions are at a boiling point. Our nation was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered one of the worst job crises since the Great Depression, aggravated poverty, and widened inequalities.

A World Bank report notes that by the end of 2020, despite two-quarters of employment growth, the number of employed people had fallen by nearly 1.5 million, while the wages of workers who still had jobs had fallen between 10% and 15%.

Today we are still faced with the repercussions that the pandemic had on workers, and the impact of this disaster will be felt for years to come.  We are deeply troubled by the socioeconomic devastation caused by the impact of COVID-19 on the South African economy, in particular the massive job losses that have taken place since its outbreak.

To date, this continues to be a source of social instability, and the urgent intensification of government interventions is required. However, we maintain that these much-needed interventions should not be centred on austerity measures. We want our government to show creativity and  not to rely on austerity, but rather homemade economic interventions.

From the onset of the State of Disaster, the South African Police Service (SAPS) saw its mandate expand to include the enforcement of regulations in terms of the Disaster Management Act, 2000 (DMA), performing vital frontline policing.  This was while it was still required to execute its original mandate of maintaining the safety and security of all South Africans, placing members under enormous strain.

Other challenges then arose, including managing compliance in areas where the Regulations are difficult to enforce, and with constrained capacity. The expanded mandate also had a major psychological impact on SAPS members. However, it did bring about some positive changes such as strengthened cooperation with various partners and stakeholders, and greater awareness of the role that technology could play in the policing function and fighting crime.

Ultimately, this period had a significant impact on crime and public safety, both in the short and long term.

South Africa faced very different challenges from Western countries that had implemented lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus. As the most unequal country on earth, 30.4 million people, or 56% of the population, were living on R1,227 or less a month in 2019, while the top 10% of earners took home 65% of all income.

Additionally, millions of people were living in single rooms and cramped conditions in informal settlements or crowded inner-city buildings. They struggled to make substantial adjustments to their lives to mitigate the spread of the virus. Being forced to stay indoors for months resulted in heightened tensions between people in households and between neighbours.

Records show that more cases of domestic violence were reported as people were forced to stay home. At the time, the SAPS had received two thousand three hundred and twenty complaints of gender-based violence during the first week of the lockdown alone. This is 37% higher than the weekly average for the eighty-seven thousand, two hundred and ninety gender-based violence cases reported during 2019. The National Gender-Based Violence Command Centre also noted that it had received triple the usual number of calls.

Research by the South African Medical Research Council found that 56% of female murder victims in South Africa were killed by their intimate partners. A related concern was that almost 45% of child murder victims died because of abuse or neglect, often at the hands of their mothers.

Furthermore, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the extreme inequality in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries and pushed millions into poverty. Those gravely affected were the working class and the poor, and as economies continue to stumble, the poverty gap is increasing.

The Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index (CRI) report shows that the fifteen SADC member states lost about $80 billion in 2020 due to lower-than-expected growth. This is the equivalent of around $220, or approximately R4,050 for every SADC citizen.

This analysis estimates that this economic crisis could take more than a decade to reverse, erasing all hope of countries meeting their national development plan targets to reduce poverty and inequality by 2030.

If countries were to act decisively against inequality, with policies aimed to help support citizens through the provision of public services, the impact of the crisis could be reversed in just three years. However, the report finds that SADC countries have rather responded with belt-tightening measures that are likely to do further harm to the people.

In the case of South Africa, the poorest in our societies are already bearing the brunt of the pandemic’s effects, and are now facing the extra cost of austerity policies. The government has not acted to reverse the damages of the pandemic by increasing social spending and addressing the inequality crisis.

Instead, it has been pressured by increasing debt service payments to cut social spending. Even before the pandemic, debt servicing costs had reached astronomical levels, with SADC governments spending almost three times as much on domestic and external debt service as they did on health.

The recovery from the pandemic, however, offers SADC governments a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do what their citizens want – to increase taxes on the wealthy and large corporations; to boost public spending, especially on healthcare, education and social protection; and to boost workers’ rights to tackle unemployment and precarious work. With this approach, SADC governments could reduce inequality drastically and eliminate extreme poverty by 2030.

So, as we enter into discussions on the political, economic and social fronts, I would like to emphasise that none of the issues raised are an attack on the government. However, government is our employer, and as President Ramaphosa is here as its representative and leader, I respectfully urge him to help us address our concerns.

We approach this as an opportunity to discuss and engage on issues plaguing our members and South African citizens as a whole. We would like to remind you, Mr President, that we do not need you to follow in the footsteps of Madiba, but rather be a sound and reasonable leader willing to listen to those who are experiencing difficulties. We need you to speak out on issues and address the hard matters that are plaguing the Police, Prison and Traffic officers of South Africa. Yes, they are dedicated civil servants, but let it be known, without reservation, these men and women are first and foremost citizens of this nation. They look to you, Mr. President, for resolute answers to the formidable issues that weigh heavily on their shoulders.

POPCRU holds a deep-seated concern for our nation, and we firmly believe that government issues should never burden our citizens. We fervently urge you, in your role as the nation's leader, to assume control of administrative matters, hold highly questionable individuals in your cabinet accountable where needed, and execute your responsibilities diligently for the betterment of all South Africans. Our government seems to wield unchecked power, seemingly indifferent to the voices of the people and receptivity appears limited to their own opinions and perspectives. Mr President, we earnestly implore you to genuinely hear, not just listen, to your people – including the men and women in this room and our dedicated members, who are not be present but are tirelessly committed to safeguarding our country and her citizens.

 Austerity measures

Austerity measures leave workers no choice but to stand against them.

We have raised concerns regarding the South African economy, job losses, and inequality. But in addition to poor economic growth, alarming levels of unemployment and rampant poverty, it is also important to highlight that the cost of living in South Africa continues to rage, placing an enormous burden on consumers,  especially low- and middle-income households, and members of the working class, including our members.

Yet even as South Africans grow poorer, the recent medium-term budget policy statement revealed that government and National Treasury are still committed to following draconian and unsustainable austerity measures at the expense of its citizens to shore up its finances after years of mismanagement, corruption and State Capture.

We must not be asked to pay the price when people swindle money from government coffers. Ordinary South Africans should not be asked to pay the ultimate price of corruption, or for failed neo-liberal macro-economic policies.

This cannot continue – government must relinquish these policies and rather ease financial conditions to improve the resilience of consumers. With a stagnant economy and an unemployment rate now over 32%, it is evident that neoliberal macroeconomic policies have failed to work and that they have failed the people of this country. We cannot keep doing more of the same and expect a different result.

In the MTBPS, National Treasury announced that it projected government spending cuts of R213 billion over the next four years, including the 2023/24 financial year to manage its budget deficit. Additionally, it indicated that public sector wage bills would continue to grow below inflation, and that tax increases may be on the horizon.

However, there is abundant international evidence that shows how austerity measures such as these lead to rising unemployment, falling incomes, and increased inequality. The most marginalised groups in society, including women, children, minorities, migrants, and the poor, feel the biggest impacts of these measures.

The social costs of austerity are enormous and undermine the realisation of human rights. For example, following the implementation of austerity in the wake of the Eurozone crisis in Greece, cases of HIV infection leapt by 52% as the government cut its budget for a needle exchange programme that targeted drug addicts. Additionally, suicides spiked by up to 36%. In Ireland, Portugal and Spain, unemployment rose significantly, and in the United Kingdom wage growth remained stagnant for the majority while social services were reduced. Austerity is not the answer.

But contrary to commitments to counter-cyclical policies, government spending on goods, services, and the salaries upon which many South Africans are reliant, is barely keeping up with population growth.


What this means is that despite the massive social challenges facing South Africa in areas such as health and education, spending per person to meet these needs has fallen in recent years. The increase in the VAT rate from 14 to 15% in April 2018 also represented a clearly retrogressive austerity measure, reducing the incomes of poor and low-income households.

Ultimately, austerity measures have triggered the worst inequality crisis seen in decades in South Africa and around the world. They threaten to undermine political stability, as the massive hollowing out of public finance is taking place at a time when citizens in many developing countries can least afford it.

We have already seen the severe effects of this crisis and spending cuts on our members, who serve at the front line against crime but continuously struggle to make ends meet, and are forced to return home to shacks. Our members protect and serve our country every day and deserve the dignity of decent wages and decent living conditions.

Locally, unions have therefore embarked on nationwide strikes in protest of the rising levels of unemployment, wage cuts, poverty, and inequality, all of which affect workers and the working class in general. These strikes were also in defence of workers’ hard-won rights to collective bargaining, despite attempts by employers in both the public and private sectors to undermine this constitutional right.

Workers are demanding that government do more to end the current levels of load-shedding, cable theft, crime and corruption, and wasteful expenditure. They have sent a clear message that austerity cuts are crippling the state, suffocating the economy, and further plunging workers into high levels of indebtedness and misery. 

Workers have also sent a clear signal to the government, the Reserve Bank, and the commercial banks, that the working class can no longer afford to bear the burden of rising levels of inflation, electricity tariff hikes, and relentless and reckless increases in interest rates. 

We have consistently and continuously raised the frustration of workers with the government and the private sector, with minimal response. Workers are losing hope and patience. Government must deal with rising levels of frustration, despair, anger, poverty, indebtedness, unemployment, crime, and corruption with urgency.

Yet the government has become oblivious to socio-economic challenges, and continues to promote neo-liberal policies advancing the capitalist system while people live in poverty and suffocate in an ailing economy.

South Africa needs innovative approaches to avoid a fiscal trap which sees a downward spiral of mutually reinforcing economic stagnation, low revenues, and spending cutbacks. At the same time, South Africa needs to prioritise people's needs, the promotion of equality, and the realisation of rights as key fiscal policy objectives. This is not a choice — it is a constitutional obligation.

In this context, we propose six principles for a fiscal plan for South Africa:

It is stimulus, not austerity, that is needed to get the wheels of the South African economy turning.

Stimulus and growth must not be considered independently from equity and sustainability.

Debt must be addressed logically in a medium-term framework.

Progressive taxation must raise additional revenue.

Additional resources must be “crowded in” without an excessive reliance on the private sector.

Fiscal policy must promote long-term structural transformation.

Furthermore, we acknowledge that in 2020, the IMF deployed billions in emergencies to developing countries to assist them in coping with COVID-19, including South Africa. While these loans were often issued with few conditions or none at all, the IMF has gone back to imposing austerity measures on lower-income countries over the past year.

We want to categorically state that the IMF must suspend austerity conditions on existing loans and increase access to emergency financing. It should encourage countries to increase taxes on the wealthiest and corporations to replenish depleted coffers and shrink widening inequality.

Treasury’s cost containment measures

Workers have been on the receiving end of the onslaught by this sixth administration in many ways, including poor working conditions. This is even though public service workers contribute daily to the betterment of the South African people, especially the working class and the poor, on the frontlines of service delivery. For our work to be effective, the public service must have a strong capacity in terms of a suitable headcount of workers in different departments and workstations. It must also have capabilities in terms of the necessary skills and ongoing training support.

Today, the public service has been severely weakened, especially regarding its capacity following the moratorium imposed on the filling of vacancies because of multiple years of the National Treasury’s austerity measures. Therefore, improvements in our working conditions, including improvements in pay, are a necessary means of strengthening the public service.

Two months ago, in September, the National Treasury issued a directive on cost containment measures to government departments, which include, amongst others, a freeze on hiring new employees in the public service.

This comes after the Treasury had indicated during this year’s Budget Speech that “a public-service wage agreement that exceeds the rate of growth of the compensation budget, would require steps to contain overall compensation spending through stricter headcount management.”

The directive on freezing the employment of personnel in the public service and stricter headcount management comes amidst a high vacancy rate and understaffing, which contributes significantly to impeding service delivery.

We appreciate the real fiscal constraints facing the state and the need to cut fat and reprioritise expenditure. However, the suggestions offered by the Treasury of cutting expenditure and further decapacitating the state have been made while the economy is in desperate need of stimulus, and a well-oiled and capacitated public service. These measures will only serve to choke the economy and further weaken an already enfeebled government.

If the government wants to cut wasteful expenditure, then it needs to reverse the offensive increases it gave to Members of Parliament and the legislatures earlier this year, and just recently to Councillors. Cabinet should abandon the litany of perks to which it feels entitled. The government should also slash the number of Ministers from 28 to 20, Deputy Ministers from 34 to 5, as well as reconsider the 10,000 councillors loitering about dysfunctional municipalities.


Our members and the workers who are at the coalface of service delivery are overworked, yet there is no improvement in pay or the conditions of work. But the Treasury finds absolutely nothing wrong with instructing departments to halt employing additional personnel to render quality public service to the nation.


As POPCRU, we vehemently reject the recently tabled medium-term budget policy statement framework. We categorically state that as a union, we shall resist the further deterioration in the standards and costs of living experienced by public servants.

Instead, what is needed is to grow the economy. That is the only sober path to ease our worrying debt trajectory.  Outsourcing the bill to police officers and pickpocketing nurses is not a solution.  If we are to grow the economy and reduce unemployment, and thus collect the revenue the state needs to reduce its debt, then the government needs to deal with the actual obstacles suffocating the economy, workers, and businesses, namely:

Provide additional support to Eskom to reduce and end loadshedding, and ensure reliable and affordable electricity.

Urgently intervene at Transnet and Metro Rail to secure and rebuild our freight and passenger railway network, and modernise our ports.

Stabilise and overhaul dysfunctional municipalities and restore the basic services that communities and businesses depend upon.

Allocate additional resources to the South African Revenue Service to tackle tax evasion and customs fraud, and conduct lifestyle audits on the wealthy, thus generating desperately-needed state revenue.

Fill critical frontline service vacancies in the public services, especially the Police, National Prosecuting Authority and Courts, enabling them to crack down on crime and corruption.

Give relief to commuters and the economy by reducing the taxes currently consuming 28% of the fuel price, and place the chaotic Road Accident Fund under administration to lessen its need for fuel levy hikes.

Enhance the invaluable Social Relief of Distress Grant to recover the value lost to inflationary erosion by raising it to the Food Poverty Line, and linking its recipients with skills development and job opportunities.

Expedite and not freeze the much-needed infrastructure investment programme.

We reiterate our call for the government and National Treasury to end the moratorium on vacancies to improve the capacity of the state to deliver quality public services.

We should further strengthen campaigns against the implementation of austerity measures by the government and National Treasury.

If the government can show the necessary fortitude and vision, and implement these common-sense interventions, the economy can return to growth and soon meet the 4% growth target.  This will set the nation on the path to a prosperous job-creating economy led by a capacitated developmental state, and ensure the fiscus is also set back on a secure path.

Challenges facing the Criminal Justice Cluster

The socio-economic issues that I have raised, including inequality, poverty, and a lack of access to job opportunities have contributed to the high crime rates that we now see in our country.

According to the World Population Review, South Africa has the third-highest crime rate in the world and the third-highest rape statistics globally as well. South Africa also has a notably high rate of assaults, homicides, and other violent crimes.

Likewise, the latest quarterly crime statistics released by Minister Bheki Cele paint a bloody picture of violence tearing away at our social fabric while our citizens tremble in fear in their own homes.

Despite small signs of improvement, as many as six thousand, two hundred and twenty-eight people were violently murdered between April and June this year, equating to 68 murders a day. This is even more than the five thousand, four hundred and forty-eight cars hijacked in the same period, which seems to signal that our lives are even less valuable than our vehicles.

Additionally, another one hundred and forty-nine thousand, eight hundred and six contact crimes such as attempted murder and assault were committed, which translates to an average of one contact crime committed every 51 seconds.

From a total of just three thousand, eight hundred and thirty-two kidnappings in the entire 2012/13 financial year, there were three thousand, eight hundred and fifty-four kidnappings in three months alone. This is a frightening trend that points to a failure of crime intelligence and a well-entrenched culture of impunity among our country’s criminals, who no longer fear consequences for their misdeeds.

In 2019, President Ramaphosa declared in his State of the Nation address that he aimed to halve violent crimes within 10 years. But almost halfway through this period, it appears that violent crime has instead doubled. It is clear that criminals have declared war on the people of South Africa. 

So today, we are increasingly seeing the South African military and soldiers deployed to safeguard our communities, as we saw during the 2021 riots and again this year ahead of planned protests. We have even seen the military deployed to protect our power plants and key infrastructure against theft and sabotage.

Calling on soldiers to enforce the rule of law would indicate that our police are failing in their mission. But if our country’s police service is unable to enforce the laws of our society, then has the government not failed in its responsibility to provide adequate safety, security, and protection for citizens against the perpetrators of crime?

South Africa’s landmark constitution is lauded globally as a champion of human rights. But high crime rates are threatening our democracy, our economy, and ultimately all who live in this diverse land.

South Africa’s police service needs greater support in the fight against crime. But this fight is not their responsibility alone. It is time for all South Africans to stand up and unite against this scourge, and this platform should assist in our deliberations to develop measures that will yield a positive path and faster results in reversing crime trends.

6.1 Flaws in data collection methodologies

Colleagues, even as I have noted and discussed the release of the South African Police Service’s latest quarterly crime statistics, POPCRU does not believe that these provide an accurate account of crime trends.

These figures are not aligned with the realities facing our members and communities, and the situation may be even worse than indicated. There are several serious underlying issues and flaws in the data collection methodologies that must be addressed, such as inaccurate data collated from each province and department, the underreporting of crimes, and variances in the interpretation and classification of crimes, which together may have resulted in significant discrepancies.

It is important to recognise that quarterly crime statistics are not an end in themselves. They are an important tool that enables our law enforcement agencies to better perform budgetary formulations, planning, and the allocation of resources and police operations.

Accurate and transparent statistics are therefore vital to facilitating evidence-based decision-making within the criminal justice system, ensuring that the government implements more effective, targeted interventions to combat crime.

Furthermore, crime statistics should not be the sole responsibility of the police service. To accurately measure the performance of the criminal justice system in dealing with crime, statistics should reflect how many arrests resulted in successful charges and prosecutions being brought, and in turn how many prisoners were successfully rehabilitated or became repeat offenders.

As a result, it is time for a thorough review of these figures, and for meaningful discussions to rectify the discrepancies to better represent the true state of the country’s crime situation.

6.2 Structural issues and resource allocation

Ultimately, however, it is pointless to keep feeding a bull in the hope of getting milk.

It is not enough to simply deploy more resources. These resources must be reallocated to where they will do the most good. We must examine the structural weaknesses that are impeding the effectiveness of police’s work, and address these weaknesses to ensure that we maximise the impact of the resources and personnel at our disposal. Doing more of the same is likely to produce the same results – not the meaningful change that is required.

For example, the alarming crime statistics I have mentioned put to question the extent to which resources are being appropriately channelled to stations, especially those in rural and township areas, to ensure they can service our communities.

6.3 Synergy within the criminal justice cluster

However, the need for greater synergy is not just limited to various legal systems. Even more importantly, greater synergy within the criminal justice system itself is urgently required to combat crime and violent crime.

For example, one key area where there needs to be greater collaboration is between national intelligence structures and the police service.

South Africa’s intelligence structures play a critical role in gathering information and intelligence to prevent and combat crime. However, there is often a disconnect between the intelligence structures and the police service, which can lead to missed opportunities to prevent and solve crimes, such as seen during the 2021 riots.

6.4 Legislative changes are needed

In parallel to building a modern and fit-for-purpose criminal justice cluster, we must support the criminal justice system with modern and fit-for-purpose legislation, as outdated and ambiguous legislation is hampering the fight against crime.

For example, the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA) of 1977 states that you need to report a crime in the location where it occurred to open a case. This hampers fighting cybercrime, for example, as it is difficult to pinpoint where the crime occurred. If it happened in another country but impacted a South African, it becomes even more difficult for the police to assist. 

Likewise, with the advancements of technology, witnesses should not be required to travel to court to testify. And finally, sentencing and parole laws must be brought in line with the Constitution.

International front

Meanwhile, it is important to understand the global and regional factors that are impacting our domestic challenges.

This is not a question of seeking external factors to excuse our national weaknesses and failures. However, unless we locate our struggles within a global, continental, and regional context, any local efforts will inevitably fail.

The world has entered a protracted period of turmoil and crisis at all levels, which is being expressed by a crisis in global relations, wars, austerity, increasing misery, and the obscene accumulation of wealth in a few hands. We have also witnessed the sudden eruption of class struggle, insurrectionary movements, and revolutions in one country after another, as unacceptable conditions force millions of people to seek solutions to the intolerable burden that capitalism is placing upon us.


Comrades, as we begin our 10th National Congress, we need to be acutely aware of the position we find ourselves in – locally and globally. It is our mandate to pinpoint injustices and shed light on all self-serving measures imposed by the government and leadership within our sectors.

Over the coming days, unity, cohesion, and discipline must remain our mantra as we seek to advance the interests of our members and the working class. Good progress has been made, but we can and should do more.

I would further like to highlight that the way in which we conduct ourselves in the execution of our political activities, and in which we discharge our organisational responsibilities, reflects closely on POPCRU’s name and reputation as a leader for the working class.

POPCRU came into existence before many of us occupied leadership positions at various levels. This movement will outlive all of us. Our historic task is to carry its precious torch through the brief time we are in leadership and pass it on undiminished to the generation that will follow. That torch, whose flames represent the hopes of our membership, burns with the fuel of our contributions, and rests upon our continuation of the values and conduct of our forebears: courage, generosity, honesty, self-sacrifice, humility, truthfulness, integrity, and self-restraint.

These are the values that must reside in POPCRU’s membership as the foundation and the life of our movement. It has been an honour to have been a part of the collective that has served as elected by the 9th National Congress. Now, as we look ahead, I wish you fruitful deliberations and sound problem-solving.

I leave you with this thought-provoking quote by the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

The 10th POPCRU National Congress is officially opened. Long live POPCRU!



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