Chairperson, the Minister of Police, my colleague, hon Nathi Mthethwa, the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, my homeboy Ntate Mofokeng, I greet you.
I would also like to acknowledge the presence of the portfolio committee chairperson of the National Assembly up in the gallery, hon Chikunga. Members of the NCOP, guests from the Ministry, MECs from different provinces, ladies and gentlemen, I want to commence this address by paying my respects to all our police officers who have been mercilessly murdered by heartless criminals over the past weeks.
Indeed, MEC Fritz, we say that their untimely passing shall not be in vain and that as the leadership of police, in partnership with law-abiding South Africans, we shall continue to pursue those responsible and ensure that they are severely punished.
We are addressing this august House after the nation has participated in the most secure and safe local government elections. We all agree. The safety of these elections was not a sporadic coincidence, but the result of proper planning and commitment from our members. [Applause.]
The very same police officers who leave their homes every morning with no guarantee that they will return home safely do so because they are determined to protect the nation from vicious criminals. We want to pay homage to these unsung heroes and heroines. We remain committed to ensuring the safety of our members. We therefore call upon members of this House, together with all South Africans, to support our men and women in blue.
As part of our commitment to ensuring the wellbeing of our police officers, we shall continue to ensure that all human resources related aspects are given priority. To this end a number of complaints have been received about delays in pension payouts. The National Commissioner of Police has undertaken to reduce the period of finalisation to three months.
Work is already under way to remove the current bottlenecks in the value chain of pension payouts. This involves other key role-players, like the Government Employees Pension Fund and Sars, which will assist in the forward integration of systems to expedite pension payouts.
The National Commissioner of Police also approved an increase in the stipend payable to entry level police trainees. We know that it used to be R1 600 per month. It has since been increased to R3 175 with effect from 1 October 2010. This substantial increase in the stipend is aimed at improving the quality of life of police trainees and offering an improved incentive to prospective applicants to the SAPS.
Yiyo loo nto siye sithi xa sifuna amapolisa amatsha sijonge ukuba uphuma kuluntu olunjani nokuba isimilo sakho sinjani eluntwini, ngoba ubupolisa ayingomsebenzi nje, lubizo. (Translation of isiXhosa paragraph follows.)
[That is why when we recruit police personnel, we check their community background and their behaviour in the community. We do this because the Police Service is not just a job, but a vocation.]
During the 2011-12 financial year the SAPS will appoint 6 168 entry level police trainees and 1 452 administrative support personnel. The focus of these new appointments is to address capacity shortages in the crime intelligence, criminal record and forensic science laboratories; among detectives and in the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, DPCI, environment to address backlogs in investigations; as well as to improve service delivery. Recruitment of these personnel will specifically focus on quality, not quantity.
The SAPS strives to become a career of choice and excellence and not just another job, as I have said. It is focusing on moving away from being a single point decision-making authority to involving the community in recruitment through structures like community police forums, CPFs, relevant nongovernmental organisations, NGOs, schools, churches etc, in order to improve the quality of trainees.
What we mean here is that when we decide to recruit you into the Police Service, we are not going to do what we did before - look at the qualifications and driver's licence and not consider where you come from, your conduct and how you have been brought up.
The department will embark on a process of identifying role models within the community who can assist the SAPS in communicating specific messages to the broader community relating to the strategic priorities of the SAPS. One way of achieving this would be for the community to provide information on criminals to the police and, similarly, for the police to be proactive in investigations.
Otherwise we will arrest you, hon Bloem, if your child is involved with dagga and you decide to put him somewhere where we won't be able to get him or her. [Laughter.]
The government has been clear in its gender equity representative requirements. To this end the SAPS will, as part of its transformation drive, advance its women empowerment programme. Continued efforts will be made to promote gender equity by developing women and appointing them in management posts. In addition, we will endeavour to achieve the 2% target of people with disabilities.
We commit ourselves to making sure that in future we increase the number of women as provincial commissioners within the SAPS, the Independent Complaints Directorate, ICD, and the National Secretariat. [Applause.] The improvement of the gender ratio has, however, been prioritised by the National Commissioner of Police who has instructed top management at all levels to ensure the continuous improvement of the gender equity ratio as a matter of the utmost priority.
As the leadership of the police, we believe that there are many capable women within the department, and we shall continue to drive women advancement through the SAPS women's network. Our firm belief is premised on the reality that we have officers of such calibre, the resources and, importantly, the will and desire to succeed. These advantages must be used to advance women in our endeavours to reduce crime and accelerate poverty alleviation.
We also need to take this opportunity to highlight the SAPS endeavours to move towards a quota of 50% women leadership. As the Minister pointed out, we need to ensure increased representation of women in operational and specialised environments.
We don't only want to see women in junior management; we want to see them in senior management. This is a duty that must be carried out by the management of this department. As the leadership, we remain confident that it will happen and we will achieve it.
In order to ensure collaboration amongst departments in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security, JCPS, cluster, the SAPS must continue to ensure active participation in the interdepartmental forums, which have been established across various spheres of government.
The SAPS is finalising a youth crime prevention manual which will guide police stations on the participation they need to engage in in order to ensure that young people build resilience against and resistance to crime. I must say that the Northern Cape is the only province, so far, that has already started this.
The partnership between the Department of Basic Education and the SAPS continued during 2010-11, and resulted in a draft protocol between the two departments being developed. The school safety programme addresses the immediate safety concerns of school communities and provides a platform for the SAPS to contribute to education as a long-term investment in safe and sustainable communities.
New offences such as those relating to sexual activity among consenting, underaged children; grooming of children; engaging the sexual services of others; and trafficking for sexual purposes are examples of matters that require consolidated efforts.
One of these is ukuthwala [the practice of abducting young girls and forcing them into marriage]. We say that we will arrest those who abuse children as wives at a tender age. We will even go further and arrest the facilitators, who are parents in this instance.
The SAPS also continues to participate in the process led by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development of monitoring the implementation of the Child Justice Act, Act 75 of 2008. Continued support will be provided to the Department of Social Development on the drug demand reduction programme. We support the Department of Social Development, and we are therefore in partnership with them when it comes to the issue of drug abuse by young people. This programme involves all departments and targets communities, parents, young people and other networks of support to people who are vulnerable to the abuse of substances. It is aimed at reducing drug and substance abuse.
Other business communities continue to assist the SAPS in the fight against crime by sponsoring crime-related projects. Examples of these are Crime Reporting Boards, Soul City, Prime Media, Vodacom, etc. We all have an obligation to deal with the perception of crime and build a positive image of the SAPS.
We must provide a speedy reaction to the needs of our communities and provide them with prompt feedback regarding their cases. We will show that we, as an organisation that exists for the good of others, will live up to this promise to take care of those who fall victim to crime and deal harshly with criminal elements even within our own ranks.
We must recognise the excellent work of the majority of our police officers who put their lives at risk daily for each and every one of us in the interests of safety. Our efforts to root out corrupt and criminal individuals in our organisation will intensify, as alluded to by the Minister.
As the government, we have an obligation to put crime in South Africa into the right perspective and to keep our communities informed about the efforts by the government to provide safe communities and have people feel safe.
As members of the SAPS we have once again demonstrated our capability and commitment to serve the nation in the recent local government elections. We salute you and we urge all communities to continue working with the police in order for us to be able to stop criminals from torturing our communities. Thank you. [Applause.]