Links | Contact us | Find us | FAQ
top banner

Home >> Newsroom >> Speech
Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa, MP at the Top 1 500 Station Commanders Ministerial engagement, Durban International Convention centre, Durban.
07 February 2014

Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Makhotso Sotyu;
National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega;
Civilian Secretariat for Police, Ms Jenni Irish-Qhobosheane;
All SAPS Deputy National Commissioners;
All SAPS Provincial Commissioners;
All SAPS Divisional Commissioners;
All SAPS Cluster and Station Commanders;
Ladies and Gentleman;

Let me commence my address by drawing a leadership narrative from our late colossus, our global icon, former President Nelson Mandela.
To this day even after his departure from this world, Madiba is still applauded and praised worldwide for his qualitative, inspirational leadership as well as his contribution to humanity.
One of the fundamental and inspiring lessons which I would like us to reflect on is that Madiba worked as part of a collective.  He was part of a generation that discovered its mission and set out to fulfil it, and they fulfilled it. 
He did not at any moment regard himself as a hero but instead as part of a collective.  In fact he was always at pains to explain this.  Addressing this point, in his trial in 1962, he made this assertion, quote:

"It has been suggested that the advances, the articulateness of our people, the successes which they are achieving here, and the recognition which they are winning both here and abroad are in some way the result of my work.”
"I must place on record my belief that I have been only one in a large army of people, to all of whom the credit for any success of achievement is due.  Advance and progress is not the result of my work alone, but of the collective work of my colleagues and I, both here and abroad".
Madiba continues to say, quote: "I have been fortunate throughout my political life to work together with colleagues whose abilities and contributions to the cause of my people`s freedom have been greater and better than my own, people who have been loved and respected by the African population generally, as a result of the dedicated way in which they have fought for freedom and for peace and justice in this country."
The manner in which Madiba himself teaches us, is that the most effective and progressive leadership is magnetic, not coercive.  He attracted people like a magnet through persuasion.  His amicable manner coupled with his exceptional organisational skills made him the kind of exemplary leader, admired the world over.

I deliberately drew lessons from Madiba’s leadership qualities because our police stations require such leadership qualities.  Our Head Office, provincial offices and clusters require such qualities. 
We are hosting this second Top 1 500 SAPS Commanders engagement with the police leadership, at a time where police are under attack, literally and figuratively.  Many in society have cast aspersions around leadership, management and on members of the SAPS.  There have been instances where people have asked whether our police stations are led by capable commanders, at times justifiably and at times not.
In attempting to respond to these fundamental questions, let me once again draw the analysis from Madiba and his collective leadership.  What characteristics did this leadership collective or generation bequeath to us?  Amongst others they taught us the following:

  1. To become a leader is not an entitlement.  It should not be an easy process attached merely to status.  It should be informed first and foremost, by the desire and commitment to serve the people and a track record appreciated by communities.
  1. Those in leadership positions should unite and guide their organisations through impeccable credentials and qualities.  They should lead their organisation in its mission of becoming an organisation that can withstand even the biggest storms.
  1. A leader should win the confidence of the people through his or her day-to-day work.  Where the situation demands, he or she should be firm as a leader.
  1. A leader should have the courage to explain and seek to convince others of the correctness of decisions taken by constitutional structures or policy frameworks, even if such decisions are unpopular.  He or she should not seek to gain cheap popularity by avoiding difficult issues, making false promises or merely pandering to popular sentiment.
  1. An individual with qualities of leadership does not seek to gain popularity by undermining those in positions of responsibility.   A disciplined member should assist his or her organisation as a whole to improve its work, and not stand aside to claim perfection out of inactivity.

These are the kind of leadership qualities that described Madiba.  As we review our policing approaches at this two-day gathering, let these qualities serve as the cornerstone of the task at hand, which is to ensure that South Africans are and feel safe.

These qualities are in fact intertwined with our own transformation agenda of SAPS.  As we continue on the transformation of the SAPS, our approach must also speak about the type of police service we want to see underpinned by the following principles:

  1. A police service that inspires confidence.
  2. A police officer who respects and upholds the Constitution.
  3. A police officer who does not tolerate disloyalty and ill-discipline.
  4. A police officer who is enforcing the law without fear or favour. 
  5. A police officer who recognizes that we are a developmental state and embraces effective service delivery within the SAPS.
  6.  A police officer that demonstrates through his or her actions, a firm commitment to ensure government priorities are realized.

Officers, when we met and engaged twelve months ago, our objective was to review current strategies and plans with a view to improving policing in South Africa.  We specifically placed focus and declared the 2013/14 the year of the improvement of the frontline service at police stations.

What this declaration means is that we have to serve.  It is about people first.  It is about implementing the batho pele principles.  Nobody would walk into a police station as a tourist.  People come to police stations because they have problems.  What then matters is the kind of reception they receive from police when they walk into the police station precinct.

This declaration focused on ensuring that the service we give to members of society, is underpinned by principles of respect and courtesy.  It also focused on ensuring that our police stations are properly-capacitated so that they are able to respond to challenges of the day.  As commanders you not only shared some of your challenges on the ground, but were also able to put forward suggestions on how to improve.

We raised a broad range of issues ranging from recruitment, resources, training, systems, partnerships and many others.  Today a year later, we need to take measurement on how far we have traversed in addressing all the issues we raised.

One of the topical issues that dominated our discussions last year was around command and control within SAPS.  From the discussions, it became evident that command and control still has different meaning to different people. 
We should not have any blurring of lines when it comes to command and control.  In some instances, there has been a perception that command and control is about officers parading in the morning and that is the end of it. 
One year on since our inaugural engagement, how far have we fared in ensuring that there is unison around command and control?  Can we, sitting from where we are today, confidently say a lot has improved around our police stations?
General Phiyega, we need to accelerate implementation of our recruitment to retirement strategy as we have started.  As the Minister, I have been presented with some of the files of officers who have been in one position for a number of years, without promotion they so deserve.  We are talking here about people who have been loyal to the organization, having served with excellence. 
Police who do good work must not go unnoticed. We must accord due acknowledgement to good performance.  This must change and change must happen as a matter of urgency.

Again, as we review our performance against our 2013/14 declaration of improving frontline service, do we have effective monitoring tools to ensure that members who excel are rewarded, deservedly?  Have we addressed some of the imbalances at our police stations, particularly in comparing some of the rural viz urban police stations?  How many police stations still experience water and sanitation shortages?  How many of such stations still have to be capacitated with electricity and other necessities in order to be able to respond to crime challenges?
We require senior management at Head Office to go to the ground, to ensure that the police stations are capacitated and operating effectively.  The role of these senior officers cannot be about churning instructions from Head Office to provinces, without actually following up to check whether those instructions are being implemented. 
We also need to crack the whip on lazy station commanders.  Part of the reason why we said let us have this session is because if there are challenges, then we deal with them collectively.  There are some present here, who give the SAPS a bad name precisely because they are not hands-on.  You cannot apportion responsibility and accountability. 
When we crack the whip on underperformance and poor management at station level, we shall do so without fear or favour.  The emphasis is simple and clear: we shall reward excellence and equally, have no intentions of celebrating mediocre performance.   
To a large extent we also need to acknowledge that while there are pockets of excellence within the SAPS, there is sadly, a culture of unaccountability and poor management.  Furthermore, those who continue to be involved in criminal acts and brutality must face the full might of the law. 
The equipment we have secured in handling public order policing, talk to our philosophy which is community-centred.  Our communities need to respect the rule of law; respect our men and women who are Constitutionally-empowered to ensure law and order.  Our communities must be assured that ours is to serve and protect.  They must help SAPS to achieve this mandate.  We have no choice but to ensure that the rule of law reins.
As we conclude, we want to reiterate a narrative we have shared publicly.  Police officers, yours is a heavy responsibility.  Society in some instances, apportions blame on you for things that they (society) should be taking responsibility for.  When two year old kids are mutilated and raped, when grandmothers are raped, when the youth get addicted to drugs – blame is apportioned to you as police officers.

We will as we have been doing as police leadership, continue to defend you in this regard.  Our defence is not ill-informed, but based on educating society that crime requires a multi-agency approach. 

We must make a point about the increase of suicides within the police.  We are taking this matter seriously such that last year we convened the first Suicide Prevention Summit because we cannot have a situation where we lose members all the time.  If tat the end of the day, it is professionally allowed that all members have to undergo this professional assistance and make it compulsory, we will take this route.

We urge you to pro-actively take responsibility for your personal health and that of your members.  Through the wellness programmes we have various specialists who focus on empowering SAPS members through various interventions, including education, information and continuous communication on understanding of trauma.

We further recognize and clearly understand that the task of keeping our country safe cannot be achieved if we operate in silos.  We cannot have competition and egos within SAPS.

We cannot have different units who are supposed to complement each other, actually trying to outshine each other.  We cannot have hidden agendas within the department because there is only one South African Police Service.  
As we have convened here, South Africans are awaiting the outcome of our workshop.  Society is eagerly waiting for a way-forward on measures around improving policing.  We have a duty to ensure that our declaration of 2013/14 as the year of improving the frontline service at all police stations, does not simply become a lip service but an ongoing task for all of us.
As officers, you have a duty to come out of this session with rejuvenated energy, a clear programme-of-action, less talk and more action because the days of PowerPoint presentations are over.  Let us work with our communities.  Let us treat victims of crime with respect. 

Let us be responsive and courteous in our interactions with society.  Let us uphold the code of conduct of the South African Police Service, which us enjoins you as members to commit yourselves to creating a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa. 

In you we trust.  In you we hope.  In you our love is pinned because we know that you will work harder in ensuring that South Africa becomes a safer country.
I thank you.

For enquiries, please contact:

Zweli Mnisi
Spokesperson to the Minister of Police
Ministry of Police
Mobile: +27 (0)82 045 4024

bursa escort - bursa escort - bursa escort - bursa escort -