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Remarks by the Minister of Police at the launch of the SAPS University
2014/01/30
Paarl, Western Cape

Paarl, Western Cape

 

30 January 2014

National Commissioner of Police, General Riah Phiyega;

Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Ms Annelize van Wyk;

Deputy Chairperson of the Council: UNISA Dr Mokone-Matabane;

UNISA Principal and Vice Chancellor, Professor Mandla Makhanya;

All SAPS Deputy National Commissioners;

All SAPS Provincial Commissioners;

All SAPS Divisional Commissioners;

Mayor of Drakenstein, Advocate D Van Deventer;

SASSETA Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr M Sekhonyane;

Representatives from Justice, Crime Prevention and Security cluster;

Stakeholders from Research and Academic fraternity;

Board of Council of the SAPS

Distinguished Guests;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

 

The programme of our Government is based on five key priorities, namely education, health, creating decent jobs, improving the economy and crime reduction. The President of the Republic further reiterated Government's commitments to ensuring that all people in South Africa are and feel safe.

Yes, the causes of crime are complex. Yes, Government has an obligation to provide housing, health care, education and other social necessities to the population and is doing so with varying results. Yes, unemployment remains very high, particularly amongst the youths, although government hopes to reduce unemployment significantly by 2020.

All these challenges require a multi-agency approach because they are multi-faceted challenges to start with. By addressing all of these social and other issues, Government hopes crime will be significantly reduced and that policing will become easier in the future.

When the President tasked us with a responsibility of leading this portfolio, one of the fundamental philosophies that we strengthened was community-participation in the fight against crime.

We undertook this decision because we recognize that community-orientated policing must speak to the manner in which police operate and how they understand and engage with the communities they serve. Equally this philosophy must recognize that policing is not something done to people but rather policing is something that is done with people.

The launch and opening of this University should be understood from within this context, understood as an intervention from Government in terms of professionalizing the police. We are creating history but at the same time planting an education seed that shall nourish the safety of all our citizens and generations to come.

In the 100 years of existence of the SAPS, for the first time under the ANC-led Government, we are officially opening a Police University here in Paarl, Western Cape.

The difference between the traditional SAPS University and the SAPS University would be that the SAPS University will consist of two legs, viz the academic leg- which will provide academic qualification under the direct control with full autonomy of a partnering university.

The second leg, the police professional leg- which will allow for the instilling of discipline, police culture, patriotism, the preservation of police culture and the professionalization of police within a controlled police environment.

The University will offer the Bachelor of Policing Degree, Honours and Masters. We are equally grateful to partner with the University of South Africa (UNISA), a world-class tertiary institution that has produced academic excellence across the country and internationally.

We believe this cooperation and partnership augurs positively for our goals around skills development. SAPS is currently involved in cooperation with regional, continental and international police agencies through human resource development and crime combating, hence UNISA has the capacity to facilitate educational exchange programmes with counterparts.

We took this conscious decision precisely because we want to enhance our efforts of professionalizing the police. Broadly, through this Police University our intention as the police leadership and management are to create a capacity that will provide professional service to the community of South Africa and to equip police members to deal with complex international crime.

It is also important to ensure that we empower police members by developing their specialized knowledge and helping them to acquire specific technical know-how as well as academic expertise.

The challenge we want to place upfront to our officers is that these qualifications and certificates, should not decorate their homes. We urge you to ensure that whatever knowledge capacity you gather here, gets translated back to the communities that you serve.

From our side and police leadership and management, we have also begun intensifying training of our police officers through re-skilling, refresher courses to ensure that they are able to respond to the challenges of the day.

Coupled with our stance to fight crime, we are now incorporating smart policing. We are utilizing some of the latest and advanced information, communication and technology systems.

We have begun to introduce the concept of War Rooms at various police stations across the country. Some of the notable successes of the War Rooms is that improved, higher level linkage analysis and profiling of all criminals can be done expeditiously and smarter. This has been of major assistance with regard to provincial assistance to police stations and clustering investigation teams.

To be able to understand and implement the above-mentioned approaches, we need officers who have the know-how. We need officers who are ICT-savvy yet at the same time, committed to working with communities in crime-reduction efforts.

The fundamental question to ask would be: how will the content derived from this University contribute and help us to deal with this challenge? We have deployed various interventions, what more can we do from a capacity and knowledge perspective to enhance our strategies.

As part of our approach in reducing crime, we adopted and continue to implement a multi-pronged approach in the fight against crime, underpinned by the involvement communities, business, civic organizations and many other stakeholders.

For this reason, almost on a weekly basis as the police leadership we are out there meeting with communities, not because there are problems, but as part of ensuring that we entrench this community-policing philosophy.

One of the topical issues that have dominated our public discourse over the past few months is training of our officers. Some segments of our society have questioned our training curriculum, particularly when it comes to some of the violent public protests as recently noted.

Our training has been bench-marked with some of the developed and developed economies, worldwide. We can say without any fear of contradiction that we fair comparably and in fact some of these leading policing forces even tap into our curriculum when it comes to training. However like any road to success, it is always under construction.

We are also improving our recruitment approach and criteria, holistically. However in implementing the actual criteria it is important to find mechanisms where the communities are able to assist us in finding ways to identify elements that should not be recruited. With regard to training, after 1994 we placed considerable emphasis in our curriculum on human rights.

We are now utilizing different platforms including community policing forums, churches, youth development forums and many others. We will also embark on an advertising of the names of the identified potential recruits so that we can derive feedback from communities.

This is a fundamental shift in our approach of recruitment so that we correct some of the wrongs of the past, wherein we employed people who, in the first instance should not have been employed. We therefore expect you as communities to partner with us during this process.

We are also strengthening control, oversight and accountability mechanisms at all levels including civilian oversight, improved internal assessments through the Inspectorate and a focus on leadership skills and development.

We want to utilise this occasion to reiterate that the majority of our officers are not brutal in nature. We find the behaviour of certain individual in this regard unacceptable. We need to point out that this should not be a reflection of the entire institution.

As we conclude, we want to emphasize that as Government we are mindful of the fact that for the country to develop and experience sustained economic growth, South Africa should, first and foremost be safe for all citizens. That is why as we commemorate the 20 years of the ANC-led government, we should take into account the journey we have traversed.

We began a transformation journey of creating a police service that is steeped in the values enshrined in our Constitution and is able to inspire the confidence of every citizen. We dare not linger and say our mission has been achieved because more still needs to be done.

The opening of this institution compliments this journey as we hope to produce the cadre of cop who would not only be equipped with knowledge but able to translate that knowledge into action; for the safety and security of our nation.

I now declare the SAPS University officially launched.

I thank you.