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Key Note Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Makhotso Maggie Sotyu (MP) South African Police Service Celebration of Women’s Month 2014
26 August 2014

Programme Directors,
National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega, All Top SAPS Management present here, All Police Officers, Ladies and Gentlemen,

One researcher in policing made the following finding on the importance of women in law enforcement agencies:

“Achieving real change doe not come just by recruiting more women; real change comes from improved implementable policies, structures and practices leading to changes in organizational culture”.

This researcher, Jenny Becker, believes that, instead of policing institutions focusing on re-structuring; re-training; and re-equipping the police; Management must instead focus on changing the culture of policing including shaping security institutions into more gender sensitive organizations.

And, this can only be achieved if the Policing Institutions have strong women police networks and associations. I tend to fully align myself with this research, for it goes to the root causes of barriers and challenges in women police empowerment.

You would note that I have not used the phrase “ women police transformation”, for I think our ANC-led Government has put enough gender equality legislation machinery to transform the status of women in general, and South Africa is signatory and partner to all international instruments that commit to gender equality, instruments such as:

  • The Convention on Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women
  • UN Security Council Resolution 1325
  • UN General Assembly Resolution on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice measures to eliminate Violence Against Women
  • Millennium Development Goal No 3 Promote Gender and Equality and Empower Women
What we need is the mainstreaming and practicing of gender equality in all the South African Police Service Strategies, Policies, Standing Orders, and National Instructions.

And, who best to ensure and monitor this mainstreaming and practicing:

It is the SAPS Women’s Network and the SAPS Men For Change, the already formal networks that are functioning as women and men police officers’ voice within the SAPS.

For instance, I have heard from Deputy National Commissioner, Lt General Sithole, that they are busy finalizing a SAPS National Strategy on Community Policing.

My question is: has this strategy been sent to the SAPS Women’s Network for in-depth discussion, and to check if Gender Equality has been mainstreamed into this important strategy?

Remember, Ladies and Gentlemen, Community Policing is nothing else other than to establish relationships in the community – with residents, business owners, community sectors – to collaborate with as partners in order to proactively reduce and prevent crime.

And, women police officers do bring a unique dynamic to community policing. It is a fact that women police officers are competent in certain crucial components of the community; and that is their critical role in addressing sexual and gender-based violence, which mostly affect women and children.

We all know that victims of these crimes wouldn’t willingly trust men in uniforms, so the role of the policewoman becomes fundamental.

So, when I took a look at your Day Two Formal Proceedings, I realized that you are indeed looking at issues of gender equality; discrimination against women; training and development; promotion of women; Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence; but hardly anything on Strategic and Policy Issues.

For instance, I was hoping to hear on how far has the SAPS come since the Internal Association of Women Police (IAWP) Conference was held here last year: what deliberations were made in that International Conference; and has these been implemented. If not, why not?

Also, there was a SAPS Employee Health and Wellness Symposium held last week, but not a single Divisional Commissioner or a component Head on HR, Labour, Legal and Visible Policing were present.

How are you then going to know if matters such as pregnancy and officer domestic violence/sexual harassment in the working place have been addressed for mainstreaming in the overall National Policy of SAPS EHWP?

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is why I am now calling for a more vibrant SAPS Networks that would strive for Gender Equality and Policewomen empowerment in the working place.

These networks need to be the voice of those lower ranked police officers that continue working in a range of challenging roles and hostile environments. We all know that this environment is notorious to resist any reform.

Thus, SAPS Networks are there to bring about impactful change for the better, because one person working alone cannot achieve the required change. The SAPS Women's Network and the Men for Change must, in earnest, start reviewing policies; and start mainstreaming all legislation for gender equity into these policies, standing orders and national instructions.

I thank you all.

Ms. Nomsa Hani
Head of Office: Deputy Minister of Police Ministry of Police Private Bag X463 PRETORIA

Tel: +27 12 3934469 / 21 4677023
Fax: +27 12 3934614 / 21 4614174

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