July 16 2012 at 09:00am
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POLICE officers and reservists – instead of contracted security guards – will now guard all police property, including police stations.
This emerged at the end of last month when SAPS contracts to private security companies expired and a decision was made not to renew them.
But the opposition has slammed this as a waste of resources, saying Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa was bowing to pressure from Cosatu that government work not be contracted out.
In a statement at the end of last month, SAPS spokeswoman Major-General Nonkululeko Mbatha said police would take on all security duties, and the responsibilities for all its premises in the country. The contracts with the private security companies had expired at the end of the financial year on March 31, but were extended to the end of last month, she said.
“The guard duties of SAPS premises will be the responsibility of the police. To achieve this, the SAPS is utilising the service of the police who are trained specifically to perform guard duties.”
In addition, the SAPS would use police reservists, a decision which would “enhance the security of strategic key points in the police service”.
Yesterday, DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard, said this was a “waste of precious SAPS resources”.
“We need our 65 000 SAPS reservists out on the streets keeping our people safe, not guarding the front doors of police stations,” she said.
The decision was a direct result of Mthethwa bowing to the Cosatu “dictate” and refusing to allow contracts for security companies to be renewed, she said.
“Provincial SAPS management are now looking to reservists, who offer to fight crime in their own time – for no pay – to act as security guards.”
She said in Gauteng reservists had already been contacted in order to set up administrative systems for them to take over security duties from contracted security guards.
“The use of reservists – many of whom have specialised skills – to perform gate-guarding duties will probably be the final straw for dedicated men and women without whom some SAPS stations could simply not operate,” she said.
“There is no doubt that there has been a shift towards both limiting the activities of, and the attempt to phase out, the important service that reservists provide – while at the same time the minister calls regularly for citizens to assist the SAPS in their fight against crime.”
Kohler Barnard said a moratorium on recruitment of reservists had been introduced in 2009, and that since then potential reservists had been turned away, despite their offer of free services.
Proposals in the SAPS Annual Performance Plan 2012/3 included a reduction in the size of SAPS membership by 9 000 members, as well as bringing an end to the hiring of new personnel and the ending of new admissions to SAPS training academies after January, she said.
“In addition, the SAPS has proposed that changes be made to National Instruction 1/2002, which indicated changes to the insignia of the reservist unit which would distinguish them from SAPS members, as well as proposing that steps be taken to limit the contribution reservists can make by only allowing employed persons to be reservists,” Kohler Barnard said.
“It seems that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa is focused on decreasing, rather than boosting, the numbers of police officers and reservists on our streets.”
She would write to him to ask for clarity on the issue and for an explanation on the cancelling of the private security contracts.
“With one of the highest crime rates in the world, it is clear that we need as many police officers and reservists fighting crime as possible,” she said.
Mbatha could not be reached for comment.
I can only presume it is to prevent the honest reservists from opening all the cans of worms, corruption and truth about some of our SAPS members.