6 April 2017

South Africa: Minister Mbalula Ready to Serve and Protect

Pretoria — The new Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, has hit the ground running and is meeting the entities, unions and stakeholders reporting to his ministry.

On Thursday, Minister Mbalula met with the leadership of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID), Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) and the South African Policing Union (SAPU) at his Pretoria office.

The meetings, according to Minister Mbalula, were introductory, rather than exploratory, in nature.

"When we formulate our work plans and our programme of action, we need to be informed about the challenges, get input from all angles and ensure that [we] are all on board," he said.

Next week, the Minister plans to meet with Business Against Crime and Community Policing Forums.

"After next week, we will be moving away from introductory [meeting] to assert in practice what we are going to do. We [have] hit the ground running and our plan of action is going to unfold... We are focused on the question of what we want to achieve in a minimum programme 100 Days in Office," said Minister Mbalula.

The Minister said the meeting with the unions, SAPU and POPCRU, were important, as they are the representatives of thousands of South African Police Service (SAPS) members.

"It is important to get insight into the issues that they may want to raise with us," the Minister said.

He said all hands will be required to be on deck as it won't be business as usual. Supported, he said, will be needed from a unified police service.

SAPU President Mpho Kwinika said the meeting with the Minister has given the union leadership light in terms of understanding what the Minister wants to achieve.

"We are going to work hand in hand with [the Minister] in making sure that South Africans are safe," said Kwinika.

Professionalising the service

Part of the immediate plan for the new administration, Minister Mbalula said, is the professionalisation and demilitarisation of the police, in line with the Farlam Commission of Inquiry recommendations. Building relations and partnerships with communities in the fight against crime is also high on the priority list.

"We are not going to undo what is working but rather we will undo what is not working going forward," Minister Mbalula said.

The Minister went on to reiterate his stand on the fight against crime.

"We are going to be rough but legal and there is nothing that is going to be executed against the law... We want the legal framework to protect the personnel on the ground. We must fight corruption within the service and also build the morale of the officers."

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