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Speaker's notes: Lieutenant General BC Mgwenya Back to Basics and fitness policy launch
2016/12/01

KWAZULU-NATAL, 2016-12-01

The Acting Provincial Commissioner
SAPS members of all ranks
Distinguished guests
All protocol observed

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning, sanibonani. Today marks yet another momentous day for the South African Police Service.  We have gathered here today to implement our strategic back-to-basics approach, as well as our fitness policy, at all levels of policing in this province. 

We are implementing these key programmes while honouring another significant day, World Aids Day, which affords us an opportunity to show our support to the people living with HIV/AIDS and to remember those who had lost their lives to the disease.

The media and communities have always scrutinised the way how governments and departments perform their duties and how they account to constituencies, and rightly so.

Therefore, as management of the South African Police Service, we did an in-depth analysis of the critical deficiencies and key challenges of our organisation. The analysis necessitated the introduction of a “Back-to-Basics” approach to policing, which focuses on every police officer doing the basics of policing properly and consistently.

The approach entails going back to what Section 205 (3) of the Constitution of the RSA, 1996 stipulates regarding the objectives of the police service. These stipulations are the prevention, combating and investigation of crime, the maintenance of public order, the protection and security of inhabitants of the country and their property and to uphold law and order.

The Back-to-Basics approach centres around a few critical organisational concerns which include discipline, enhanced police visibility and the targeted, informed deployment of operational resources to ensure maximum utilisation of the SAPS’s limited resources.

Crime intelligence in support of proactive and reactive intelligence, forms part of our approach. Resources must be deployed at specific targets, based on intelligence. A collaborative, consultative approach to policing remains one of the key strategies of improving policing in KwaZulu-Natal and in the rest of the country.

When a crime is committed in the community, a member of the community often knows about it or has witnessed the act of crime, but in many instances, refrains from reporting it to the SAPS.  We continue to call on communities to join the Community Policing Forums or CPFs, which will cooperate with the police to fight crime in the communities. Crime is your problem, as much as it is mine. Therefore, community-centred programmes remain part of our crime prevention strategies.

Transforming the SAPS means professionalising the organisation. Capable, relevant personnel must be deployed in areas in which they specialise. Chapter 12 of the National Development Plan highlights the importance of a professionalised service.  Uncompromising compliance with the fundamental principles of policing, as well as the culture of performance management and accountability, remains part of our back-to-basics approach. Should these basics be applied consistently, success is certain.

Ladies and gentlemen, the SAPS requires every serving member appointed in terms of the SAPS Act of 1995, to take responsibility for his or her fitness during his or her policing career. We are implementing our fitness policy to enable us to adhere to the SAPS Act and to fully live up to our Constitution.

Members of the SAPS must be physically fit because there is a need in our line of duty to have physical skills such as agility, speed, power, flexibility, cardiorespiratory endurance and muscular strength when apprehending a suspect.  An unfit police official will not be able to perform his or her operational functions satisfactorily. Fitness is an inherent job requirement for the police, and could make the difference between life and death.

Out-of-shape or unfit officials pose a danger to themselves and their colleagues. Members who are physically fitare more confident about their ability to complete tasks, make better decisions about which level of force is appropriate in a situation, are relaxed and suffer less stress.

Our policy on fitness stipulates that a member’s physical fitness should be the responsibility of both the employer and the employee, therefore the need exists for a physical fitness maintenance programme and adequate monitoring of the fitness levels of members. Our policy emphasises the goals of the fitness programme, physical fitness guidelines, fitness assessments, the summative physical assessment process, the remedial enhancement programme, the physical maintenance programme as well as the roles and responsibilities of the employer and the employee.

Ladies and gentlemen, World AIDS Day is observed throughout the world to reflect on our progress with defeating HIV/AIDS.  Many people have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS and we continue to call upon people all over the world to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS and to affirm our support to those living with it, because we know that having HIV is not a death sentence. 

The SAPS takes healthy living very seriously and through our Employment Health and Wellness (EHW) component, we have embarked on many programmes to fight HIV/AIDS. We have screening programmes and encourage our members to participate for the sake of their own well-being. We also have care support programmes. We have ambassadors who have publicly admitted to living with the virus, and we encourage others in the organisation to know that living with the virus does not mean you will die – you can still live productive, meaningful and long lives. 

We also emphasize the importance of members strictly following their treatment. Annually we start our programmes with condom week, which is a preventative programme. We also arrange an annual Candlelight Memorial Service where we remember our members who died of HIV/AIDS. As the SAPS, we continue to walk the extra mile by giving care and support to the families of our members living with the virus.  

Whether you are infected or affected, you are part of the SAPS family. In the SAPS we commemorate all events that are prescribed by the National Health Calendar.  At the international AIDS conference held in Durban in July, we sent members of the SAPS to participate in this event.  HIV/AIDS ambassadors were keen to share the work that they do in the SAPS regarding fighting this virus and creating awareness. 

Important information on HIV/AIDS is disseminated to all our members in all the provinces, through EHW.  The care and support programme includes a peer educator programme presented by the Human Resource Development Division. This programme will be instilled in the training at all the SAPS’s colleges to ensure that all trainees will receive information on HIV/AIDS-related matters. 

We now have trainers in all provinces who are tasked with joining forces with colleges on our peer education programmes. The support groups in all our provinces play an important role through their meetings with members where HIV/AIDS-related matters are discussed.

Tuberculosis combined with HIV, is a critical matter that must be given more attention.  Opportunistic diseases such as hepatitis, are also concerning and we will soon initiate programmes to address these diseases. We have to fight these non-communicable diseases because sometimes our members do not die of HIV/AIDS, but rather of these opportunistic infections. In the SAPS, EHW is not just about HIV/AIDS, but about all health-related matters. Screenings are an important part of our events across the country, and they address various diseases, not only HIV/AIDS.

Ladies and gentlemen, obesity in the SAPS seems to be a problem that cuts across genders because of our lifestyles.  Our interventions, therefore, are aimed at addressing all health-related issues within the organisation. 

Our peer education programmes encourage dialogue on health issues.  EHW provides relevant topics, such as the anti-Blesser programmes for dialogues about health issues and reckless lifestyles.  These are lunchtime programmes which do not compromise our service delivery programmes.

Through our back-to-basics approach, out fitness policy and focus on healthy lifestyles for all policemen and policewomen, we can soon become the efficient and professionalised organisation that the National Development Plan envisages.

In closure, for the 16th year, South Africa is taking part in the global 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children campaign, which runs from 25 November to 10 December.  South Africa is still home to high levels of violence against vulnerable groups, despite a world-renowned Constitution and a legislative overhaul that safeguards women’s and children’s rights.

We are urging every person to speak out against the abuse of women and children and the elderly. Report abuse to the police immediately if you know about it.  Report illegal guns to the police and join a community policing forum to help fight crime in your area. Report illegal activity, and we will act. 

Thank you.