POPCRU NEC Statement

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) convened its normal National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting from the 10th to the 11th of October 2023.

The NEC considered the international context, national political and socio-economic circumstances including its organisational assessment, in particular, matters affecting its membership and the working class in general.

What came out of the deliberations is that the union remains a radical, transformative union and a labour movement that remains committed to taking up the immediate concerns of the workers in their workplaces. The NEC also re-affirmed its long-standing commitment to dealing with broader social and political challenges in the context of fighting for a just society.

·       State of the Union

The NEC broadly reflected on challenges facing the labour movement in general, and upon much deliberations resolved to intensify its work in building a stronger union that is united, and therefore reaffirming the need to strengthen our resolve to strengthen to our long-held traditions of worker control, class consciousness and placing service to members at the centre of our overall programs.

The NEC further reflected on challenges facing workers within various departments of the Criminal Justice Cluster (CJC), including the high costs of living, the increasing crime rates, and the killings of law enforcement officers.

·       Crime

The crime situation in our country has been on an increase at an alarming rate and seems to worsen unabated. Successive releases of crime statistics are a reminder of the devastating impact budget cuts are having on service delivery within the entire criminal justice cluster, even further adversely affecting the police-community relationships.

Our law enforcement agencies are not just struggling with staff shortages, but they are also poorly equipped, with many police stations having challenges regarding the uneven allocation of resources.

The NEC is of the firm view that combating crime should not solely be seen as a police issue, but needs all stakeholders, especially communities, to come on board and play a role through having good working relations with police. To this extent, the NEC commended the work done thus far in having convened a Policing Indaba, which was premised on the intensification and expansion of work that the government is already undertaking with various sectors of society, business and communities to prevent and combat crime, as encouraged in the National Crime Prevention Strategy, which requires the mobilisation of broader responsibility and a more proactive approach on crime prevention.

·       Police killings

The NEC is concerned that the continuous killing of 67 police officers since January thus far; something which remains one of the most disturbing crimes that undermines proper functioning of the Criminal Justice System in South Africa. Police officers have become targeted victims of the worst crime, with attacks and killings escalating in the country.

This unfolding national crisis has the potential of threatening the country’s peace and stability as majority of these dedicated men and women are killed on duty while preventing, combating or solving a crime whilst some are attacked or ambushed when conducting patrols and their official firearms and uniforms get stolen with the probable intention of committing further crimes.

The NEC urges government to publicly declare war against cold-blooded criminals who commit this deadly crime, and the current legislations must be amended to classify this barbaric act as treason. A mandatory life sentence for those found guilty must be effected as a matter of urgency to deter this plague.

While it is acknowledged that policing is‚ by its very nature‚ a high-risk occupation and that our members are exposed to dangerous situations and cold-blooded criminals‚ joining the police service should not be equal to signing a death warrant.

The well-being of police officers must be of central importance to any functional police service, both for the simple reason of providing adequate protections to officers, but also because a police service works best when its primary agents feel safe enough to do their job. A police service that feels under threat can find its officers less willing to take on difficult, risky situations; and can also breed mistrust that breaks down essential community relations.

Additionally, the police-to-population ratio also remains a challenge; with the current police-population ratio of 1:450; which still fall short of the UN ratio of 1:220 officer to the population; this problem is attributed by inadequate personnel that has the duty to safeguard a growing population.

The following remedial measures should therefore be considered to curb the cold-blooded murder of men and women in blue:

·                Review our police safety strategy and plan

·               The government to strengthen the current legislation on sentencing people who are found guilty of killing police officers –

·               Criminal Procedure Act must be amended to classify killing of police officers as treason

·               Improve the compensation for killed police officers to sustain a better life for the dependents

·            Various stakeholder within the Criminal Justice Cluster must collaborate to effectively resolve this deep-rooted challenge

The Criminal Justice Cluster must acknowledge that there is an attack on the state from violent criminals; this serves as an indication of a society that no longer respects the rule of law. It is therefore crucial that the lives of the people who are working tirelessly under life-threatening conditions to serve and protect this country are likewise protected by members of society.

·       Synergy

The NEC re-emphasised its concerns on the level fragmentation within  criminal justice cluster, with different departments operating differently while relying on each other’s inputs in conducting their mandated functions. It therefore proposed that there is a need to establish synergy between the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), the SAPS and the Judiciary, with the SAPS accounting for the arrests made, the Judiciary accounting for the number convictions and prosecutions, while the Department of Correctional Services accounts for the number of incarcerations.

The NEC believes this will assist in determining consolidated future budgets that should bring about a correlated approach within the CJC instead of the current continued situation wherein every department works blindly, and in isolation of one another.

·       Austerity

The NEC takes place at a time when workers are under immense strain the world over, having continuously being on the receiving end of the onslaught by this 6th Administration in many ways, including poor working conditions despite the fact that public service workers contribute on a daily basis to the betterment of the South African people, especially the working class and the poor in the frontlines of service delivery.

The NEC appreciates that for our work to be effective, the public service must have a strong capacity in terms of the suitable headcount of workers in different departments and work-stations. It must also have capabilities in terms of the necessary skills and ongoing training support.

Today, the public service has been severely weakened, especially with regard to its capacity because of the moratorium that has been imposed on the filling of vacancies as a result of the multiple years of the Treasury’s austerity measures.

The recently announced cost-containment measures by National Treasury to government department, which include amongst others the freezing of hiring new employees in the public service is a massive setback which will further impede service delivery. 

POPCRU is fundamentally opposed to these cost-containment measures as they are a clear frontal attack to frontline services, which will further weaken the state’s capacity and service delivery to the poor and the working class.

We cannot comprehend the logic of the Treasury through the directive on freezing the hiring new employees when the country is confronted with skyrocketing unemployment rate, poverty and inequality. The decision goes against need to strengthen the capacity of the state through the filling of vacancies in the public service to address the needs of our people. Equally, it is against the quest building of a capable and developmental state that intervenes to societal needs.

·       International context

The NEC expressed utter disgust over the recent devastating escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as this situation arised from the continued illegal occupation of Palestinian land, continued settlement expansion, desecration of the Al Aqsa Mosque and Christian holy sites, and ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. We are of the view that the region is in desperate need of a credible peace process that delivers on the calls of a plethora of previous UN resolutions for a two-state solution and a just and comprehensive peace between Israel and Palestine.

For more than seven decades, the Israeli brutal policies and practices have continued to violate the fundamental human rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. As a result, Palestinians have been deprived of their lands, properties and businesses while being forcibly evicted from their homes and subjected to violence, terror, and intimidation. The Israeli regime, in line with its discriminatory and racist apartheid policies, has totally negated any right of the Palestinians to self-determination under the title of “one Jewish State”. Moreover, it has taken unprecedented measures and provocations to accelerate Judaizing Al-Quds Al-Sharif and altering its demographic composition through the elimination of Palestinian Christians and Muslims in the Holy City.

The immoral approach of some Western governments in equating victims with culprits is reprehensible, unjust and unacceptable. Denial of the total unevenness in the situation of an occupier and oppressor against an occupied and oppressed people not only exposes hypocrisy and an extreme lack of moral compass, but amounts to complicity in the crimes perpetrated against Palestinians. The NEC emphasised that the people of Palestine are fully entitled to defend themselves and to defy the tyrannical tactics of this racist apartheid regime.

·       Towards the 10th POPCRU National Congress

POPCRU will be holding convening its 10th National Congress from the 6th to the 10th of November 2023 under the theme “Building a sustainable organisation in defence of collective bargaining.”

This congress will be attended by 1300 POPCRU delegates from across our structures nationally; COSATU affiliates representatives, the alliance, departments, local and international guests.

We are going to the 10th POPCRU National Congress to report on the work done on behalf of our members since our last congress, and to take stock of the state of the organisation, to reflect on the course of the National Democratic Revolution and the international context in which it takes place.

In these reports, we analyse the state of the organisation, we also present to the congress a comprehensive activity report which covers all the activities of the union’s structures, head office departments, provinces, and affiliates.

As it takes place, we will be expecting principals from the departments we organise in to address members on specific strategic issues of concern, and the direction the various departments are considering.

 It will also be taking place just after our Provincial Shop Stewards Councils (PSCs) which will be convened to express themselves on a variety of issues, most notably, the continuing challenges faced within institutions, frustrations over the non-implementation of signed agreements, the deteriorating extent of members’ working conditions and the lack of career growth across the public service, and most specifically within the criminal justice cluster to name a few.

This upcoming 10th POPCRU National Congress will be making introspection into how we have fared thus far, and review the mandate delegates will be outlining for the next four years by looking into new ways of addressing existing and new challenges faced.

The NEC is confident that from this upcoming congress, we will emerge stronger and more united.

Issued by POPCRU on 12/10/2023

For more information contact:
Richard Mamabolo
Media & Communication Officer
Media & Communication
1 Marie Road, Richmond, Johannesburg, 2092
Phone 011 242 4600/15  Fax  086 625 3054
Cell 066 135 4349
Email mamabolor@popcru.org.za