27 November 2012

South Africa: Police Minister Must Prevent Disintegration of SAPS Special Task Force

press release

Members of the Special Task Force of the South African Police Service (SAPS), who tackle serious and violent crime, are threatening to quit due to the SAPS management's failure to address their concerns. The Minister must intervene urgently to ensure that we do not lose this important crime-fighting team.

It was reported today that 57 of the 93 staff of the Special Task Force want to be transferred to different units as police management have ignored their complaints.

The unit's members handed over a memorandum two months ago raising their concerns that they have not received overtime pay or their scare-skills allowance for over two years. They also claim to have been trained by unqualified trainers which could put them in danger when participating in high-risk police operations.

The importance of the Special Task Force has been highlighted in recent weeks as they took 16 criminals off the streets in anti-crime operations in Gauteng and assisted in a hostage situation at a correctional centre.

This specialised and highly-trained unit is desperately needed to keep armed criminals at bay, especially with the festive season approaching and the possible increase of cash-in-transit heists.

SAPS management has reportedly set up a task team to investigate the allegations but this may be too little, too late. It has already been almost two months since the unit members raised their grievances.

I will be writing today to the Minister of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, to ask that he intervene urgently and ensure that the grievances of the task force members are addressed before the end of the year.

This is part of a growing crisis in SAPS management and the Minister needs to show decisive leadership. A poorly managed staff will result in poor service. He is ignoring this problem at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA Spokesperson on Police

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