10 November 2023
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) congratulates its militant affiliate, the Police and Prisons Civil Rights’ Union (POPCRU), for the successful conclusion of its 10th National Congress that took place in Durban from 6 to 10 November. The Congress was held under the apt theme “Building a sustainable organisation in defence of collective bargaining”.
POPCRU, launched in 1989 at the height of apartheid, has a rich history in South Africa’s liberation struggle and trade union movement. Its founding leaders led by a young Lieutenant Gregory Rockman, defied the might of the apartheid regime and declared that the police would no longer be a source of oppression but rather serve all South Africans, irrespective of their class or colour.
It has successfully transitioned from the days of the liberation struggle, to a formidable trade union movement defending the rights of police, correctional service and traffic officers at the workplace and the working class in general.
The challenges facing workers in our law enforcement organs are immense. More than 67 SAPS members have been killed in the line of duty this year. Correctional Service Officers’ lives are continuously under threat from violent gangs in our correctional facilities. Traffic officers are compelled to try to reduce our shockingly high levels of road carnage. Our law enforcement officers dedicate themselves to serving the nation at great risk to their lives, yet their conditions of service and salaries leave much to be desired.
Whilst population and crime levels have risen, with working class communities and women bearing the brunt, Treasury’s reckless budget cuts have seen the SAPS headcount decline by over 15% in the past decade. A third of SAPS vehicles are no longer roadworthy, police stations are often dilapidated, and correctional facilities are dangerously overcrowded.
It is time that we treat our law enforcement officers with the respect and protection they deserve. If we fail to do so, then we should not be surprised when skilled officers continue to leave for better paying and less stressful jobs in the private sector and overseas.
COSATU is confident that POPCRU will continue to lead these battles on behalf of members and the working class at large. It has proven itself time and again to be a reliable trade union and a force for socialism.
The Federation thanks the outgoing leadership led by former President Zizamele Cebekhulu for the years of service they have dedicated to championing working class struggles. We wish the newly elected leadership collective led by President Thulani Ngwenya and General Secretary Jeffrey Dladla well. COSATU looks forward to working with them as we seek to defend the rights and improve the lives of workers.
Issued by COSATU
For further information please contact:
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687