Police union demands transformation within Justice Department
Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union President Dr Zizamele Cebekhulu has said transformation in the Department of Justice and Correctional Services is long overdue, especially as the Jali and Zondo Commission’s recommendations must be implemented.
He spoke to Polity in an exclusive interview discussing policing issues, as the union celebrates its 10th congress in Durban, under theme ‘Building a sustainable organisation in defence of collective bargaining’.
He said while the police arrest perpetrators of lawlessness and Correctional Services does well to contain them, he believes the Department of Justice and Correctional Services has dropped the ball.
“…but we have got a lazy department called the Department of Justice that is not doing its job. We want that department to do its job,” he said.
However, he praised Minister Ronald Lamola for doing well in the Ministry of Correctional Services with sustainable programmes.
Cebekhulu noted that prisoners are eating the food that they themselves have farmed.
The uniform factory in Witbank has been resuscitated, resulting in Correctional Services being able to produce its own uniform.
Cebekhulu urged other government departments to follow suit as he pointed out that “in terms of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act Provisions, it is the responsibility of the government to issue the uniform to its workers”.
Cebekhulu said government must look into the agreements signed with countries such as China, which are not benefiting South Africa “because all the clothing made in South Africa becomes so expensive compared to what we bring from China”.
On the issue of police salaries which has been an ongoing concern, he said low salaries is not a justification for police members to take bribes.
CRIME AND POLICE KILLING
Cebekhulu said crime and police killings are a societal issue that requires all government departments to work together.
He said unmonitored porous borders which allow illegal migrants to easily enter the country creates unnecessary pressure for the police.
Popcru is in discussions with various non-government organisations about the high levels of crime and hopes this collaboration could create a formidable force in crime fighting.
On the statements by Police Minister Bheki Cele who has told police not to die with the resources they have been given; to act first; and to use "proportional force" in the line of duty as the number of police officers killed gradually increases, Cebekhulu said that Cele statement is reactionary.
He stated that the police must act within the law.
“If we get emotional about all situations we are going to make mistakes. We have to work within the law but it’s the government that must make the law adequate for police to work,” stated Cebekhulu.