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Welcoming address General Sitole: Launch of the Public Order Policing Reserve Units

Gauteng, 16 March 2018

Programme Director
The Minister of Police, Mr Bheki Cele
Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Bongani MkongiDeputy National Commissioner of Policing, Lt Gen Masemola
Provincial Commissioners present
Divisional Commissioners
Provincial ORS Heads and Provincial POP Commanders
Metro Police Chiefs in attendance
Panel of experts on findings of the Farlam Commission of Enquiry
Labour representatives
Members of the media

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honour to welcome you all at the launch of the Public Order Policing Reserve Units, which forms part of the implementation strategy and enhancement plan of the South African Police Service’s Public Order Policing for the future.

Honourable Minister of Police, Mr Cele and the Deputy Minister of Police, Mr Mkongi, a special word of welcome to you for gracing this significant occasion with your presence. Your strong leadership and continued support for all our endeavours, enable us to face and overcome our challenges with steadfast determination.

Ladies and gentlemen, in view of the ongoing violent protests in the country that often result in damage to and the destruction of property, injury to people or even loss of life, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster was tasked with implementing the necessary measures on national, provincial and local levels to effectively deal with such incidents.

In order to further enhance the response capacity to public violence and crowd management, it was decided to establish a national reserve capacity in the Operational Response Services Division, which can be deployed within the boundaries of South Africa, as the need arises.

Section 205(3) of the Constitution, 1996 and the South African Police Service Act, Act no 68 of 1995, mandate the National Commissioner of the SAPS to establish and maintain a national public order policing capacity, and that is why today is significant as we, the South African Police Service, strive towards fulfilling our constitutional mandate.

In 2013, a work study was conducted to enhance the Public Order Policing capacity. The approved work study recommended the following:

  • Establishment of additional capacity at POP
  • Re-establishment of previously existing POP units
  • Establishment of new POP Units.

At present, 41 POP Units, which consist of four reserve units and 37 provincial units exist. The full implementation of the POP enhancement and capacitation process will result in four established national reserve units and 50 provincial units, with a staff compliment of approximately 11 000 members. All these units will be fully equipped. This is in line with the findings of the work study and the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

A panel of experts was appointed based on the findings of the commission, to evaluate policing at public protests and benchmark international best practices to improve policing. The mandate of the panel is in line with the National Development Plan’s vision of professionalising the SAPS.

The panel is on the verge of concluding its report, which will assist with enhancing the Public Order Policing as a whole and conducting policing in an integrated manner, while cooperating with our communities. The findings of the report will be adopted by the SAPS’s executing structure for the POP, which has been established to develop, implement and monitor effective measures to ensure public order in the country.

The Public Order Policing Reserve Unit has a footprint in four provinces namely Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, Matsulu in Mpumalanga, Pretoria in Gauteng and Faure in the Western Cape. The placement of these units in provinces, is strategic in order to mitigate the response time at deployment and to provide a swift and effective response capability.

Distinguished guests, all stakeholders and role players have been hard at work to capacitate our POP units, to train new members and retrain older members through refresher courses. New police recruits now also receive compulsory crowd management training as part of the curriculum for the Basic Police Learning Development Programme at the SAPS academies. Senior officers at the POP Head Office, went to several countries to benchmark on international best training practices and crowd management techniques.

State-of-the-art equipment such as new generation Nyalas, water cannons, vehicles, video cameras and protective gear, to name but a few, were procured to enable our POP members to effectively perform their duties of crowd management and public order policing throughout the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, the launching of the National POP reserve units today is indicative of the great strides that we have made and the many challenges that we have overcome to become an organisation and a nation with one of the best crowd management and public order policing components worldwide.

I am truly proud and honoured to be part of this occasion today and wish the Public Order Policing management and all the members every success with the important task of maintaining public order in our country, and to make South Africa a country where everyone is and feels safe.

I now invite the Minister of Police to inspect the parade.