COSATU statement on the incidence of road rage violence by members of the SAPS VIP Unit

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is deeply distressed by the incidence of road rage violence by member of the SAPS VIP Unit.  COSATU supports calls for an urgent investigation by the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to determine what happened, why and to effect the necessary actions to any party who may have transgressed the law.  It is important that IPID do its work and then inform the nation on what steps need to be taken.  It is equally important the rule of law be enforced at all times and any person who undermines the law be held accountable for their actions.  We cannot condone illegality of any kind.  If any member of SAPS is found wanting, then the appropriate action should follow.

It is equally important to recognise and affirm that the overwhelming majority of SAPS members are dedicated public servants who joined the SAPS to serve the public, do so for a minimal wage and often at great risk to themselves and their families.  We lose on average 1 SAPS each week to criminal attacks.  We need to build the morale of ordinary SAPS members who want to serve their communities.  COSATU aligns itself with its Affiliate, the Police and Prisons’ Civil Rights Union (POPCRU), which organises the overwhelming majority of SAPS members, and its relentless call for a human rights-based culture to policing and the building of a strong partnership between the SAPS and communities.

Whilst IPID will determine the appropriate remedies this incident requires, there is an urgent need for a broader discussion on the role of the SAPS VIP Unit.  COSATU and the leadership of POPCRU have long raised the alarm about how the SAPS VIP Unit’s role is misused by delinquent politicians to suit their excessive lifestyles and members of the VIP Unit are exploited and abused to satisfy the needs of some politicians.

We have witnessed tragic traffic accidents resulting in the unnecessary loss of life of SAPS VIP Unit members, their political office bearers and members of the public.  The National Traffic Amendment Bill is currently before Parliament.  Parliament needs to strengthen its provisions to prohibit SAPS VIP Unit vehicles from speeding or breaking other traffic laws unless there is an actual threat and attempt on the life of their passengers.

There is also a need to stop the exploitation and abuse of SAPS VIP members who are made to work hours long in excess of the limits set by the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and where they are routinely pickpocketed of the meagre overtime pay due to them. 

There is a need to reduce the number of SAPS VIP members assigned to politicians, in particular those where there is no threat to them, and to redeploy these personnel to protect persons whose lives are actually under threat and other SAPS units where their skills are badly needed.

Issued by COSATU

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687