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Keynote Address: International Women’s Day celebration by the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla John Sitole (SOEG)
2022/03/08

   INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL COMMISSIONER OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE, GENERAL KHEHLA JOHN SITOLE (SOEG)

08 MARCH 2022

Programme Director

Deputy National Commissioner: Support Services, Lieutenant General Vuma
Deputy National Commissioner: Crime Detection, Lieutenant General Ntshinga
Divisional Commissioner: Financial Management Services, Lieutenant General Dimpane
Divisional Commissioner; Human Resources Management, Lieutenant General Ntshiea
Eastern Cape Provincial Commissioner; Lieutenant General Mene
Mpumalanga Provincial Commissioner; Lieutenant General Manamela
IPID Executive Director; Ms Ntlatseng
POPCRU and SAPU representatives present
Polmed Principal Officer
Representatives from Metropolitan Health, Liberty Life and Sanlam
Women’s Network outgoing committee members, incoming committee members and all Women’s Network members
All SAPS members present

Ladies and gentlemen

I convey my heartfelt greetings to you all. Thank you, Programme Director, for the opportunity to address this International Women’s Day celebration event. I feel privileged and honoured.

It has been over a century since the first gathering of more than a million people to commemorate International Women’s Day. Today we are gathered here to observe the One-hundred-and- eleventh (111) instalment of this significant day.

It was back in 1911 when the first International Women’s Day celebration gathering was held. Since then, March 08 was declared a day of commemorating women across the globe.

Today we are celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the globe. Of course we do so with a special focus on South African women and moreover, female members of our beloved organisation, the South African Police Service.

We are celebrating the roses among the thorns, life bearers, nurtures, home builders, life mentors and pillars of strength, just to name a few.

Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen, this year we celebrate this day under the theme: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow” #BreaktheBias. The time to recognise the power of women and girls around the world is now.

To the women gathered in this venue, perhaps we don’t say this as often as we should but on behalf of the SAPS, I would like to make use of this opportunity to tell you that we appreciate you. It is for this reason that we saw it befitting to celebrate you on this special day. Today we are celebrating your lives, your achievements, your strength, your perseverance and your patience.

We appreciate your lives, we recognise your efforts and your achievements in building and changing our organisation for the better, we admire your strength, we applaud your perseverance and we respect you for being patient with us. As a previously male dominated organisation, we initially struggled to move at an ideal pace to address the gender parity matter but like a mother to her children, you were patient and forgiving to us and continued to encourage and guide us until we got it right.

Programme Director, Ladies and Gentlemen, although International Women’s Day is celebrated annually on this day, the global campaign continues all year long because it is important to encourage action.

Throughout the year, we need you all to play your part to ensure acceleration of gender parity and celebration of women’s achievements. This ought to be done, particularly because South Africa is part of the United Nations and has ratified various instruments that aim to achieve gender equality. For that reason, the SAPS therefore is compelled to participate and contribute to the success of this endeavour. Yet, as an organisation, we are not for gender transformation because it is a requirement, but because we recognise and appreciate the impactful value capable women add in the SAPS. We want women in the SAPS to lead without fear or favour. I know that I lead a diverse group of people in the SAPS. This diverse group includes women in various disciplines, from instructors in our police colleges, women working in our police stations customer service centre who show empathy to all the people who walk through our doors to seeks our services. The people who walk through our doors, more often than not, are people who have wronged in some way and believe in us as the SAPS to bring them the justice they deserve. Increasingly, I am seeing women in the SAPS treat all women, including members of the LGBTQI+ who come to lay complaints with us, with dignity and great deal of empathy. For this reason, I say to all the women in the SAPS, this day is about you, we celebrate you, we value you and we appreciate all your efforts in serving all people of South Africa.

Our women in the SAPS are truly inspirational indeed. This is not because I say. You only need to take one look at the history of the SAPS to see how far we have come from the first time when the SAPS first opened its doors to welcome women in its ranks a little over 50 years ago. Indeed, we have made significant strides to ensure women in the police make their presence felt as they fight the scourge of crime. The impact of your work, women in the SAPS, is indeed felt in the communities that you serve. This is only achieved because women empowerment is prioritised and women are permitted to play the rightful role in all spheres of life in order to attain full gender equality. Having women serve in various roles within the SAPS is something we need to all celebrate tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, having women occupy positions of leadership should never be seen as a box-ticking exercise. This is an exercise that allows women to showcase their capabilities because in the SAPS, we only work with capable women. I say this with so much pride knowing I Iead a team of people who understand their role as women is not to compete with women but to add value in our organisation, sometimes even mentoring male police officers. I am also happy that we are on target to achieve our Women Empowerment Agenda plan which commenced in 2019 and is set to run until 2024.

Through the implementation of this Five-Year plan (2019-2024), we are proud that to date the SAPS has achieved significant milestones. Among this is the preservation of 40% of all training initiatives for women to ensure their upward mobility and ascension to middle and senior management. Furthermore, we have reserved 70% of all places in the emerging leadership programme for women. This is part of our organisational plan to broaden the pool of women leaders in the SAPS.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I speak without fear of contradiction that, as SAPS management, we remain committed to ensuring that the ratio of men to women in leadership positions is balanced. We have created legislative prescripts and platforms for women empowerment. In the past years, we moved to propel female representation in the organisation from 22% to over 30%; this was between the year 2009 and 2011. This has since set the tone for the agenda of transformation, recognising the valuable role women can play in the policing.

With our progressive executive management structure which is striving to foster an enabling environment for the advancement of women, currently our women in blue are now fiercely breaking boundaries, penetrating operational environments that were historically reserved for their male counterparts.

Programme Director, as I address you tonight, I feel proud that the SAPS has made good progress in accelerating women in positions of leadership. We are currently standing at 50/50 at both the National Commissioner’s Office, which the office I occupy and as well as my counterparts’ office, the Provincial Commissioners Office.

Today we boast more than 50% of female Lieutenant Generals, the second highest rank on the SAPS rank structure. Two of these are Deputy National Commissioners and make up 66,6% on this rank. Four of these are Provincial Commissioners with one Provincial Commissioner position vacant as General Ntshinga has indicated. Thus, our provincial commissioner gender split is currently at 50% male and 50% female.

 

We have placed women in specialised environments within the SAPS and we recognise their achievements. We have placed willing, interested and capable women in environments such as the Air Wing, Bomb Disposal Unit, Equestrian, the K-9, Tactical Response Team (TRT), Highway Patrol Unit, Motor Vehicle Accident Reconstruction Unit, Forensic and Ballistic Experts, and many others. I want to stress that these are environments that were previously and historically reserved strictly for their male counterparts and we have made it possible for women in the SAPS to find their space within these environments.

Distinguished guests, I would like to believe that most if not all of you here have heard of Major General Nonhlanhla Zulu. Major General Zulu is one of our women in blue in leadership positions. She is leading the multi-disciplinary national task team established to prevent and combat aggravated robberies, particularly Cash-In-Transit heists. This team has since its inception in 2018 made considerable success. It has secured the arrest of at least 202 suspects and saw the recovery of 104 illegal firearms and 178 hijacked or stolen vehicles.

Although the recent crime statistics informed us of a 13.8% increase in aggravated robberies including Cash-In-Transit heists,  Major General Zulu and her team keep working hard to ensure that the criminals spitting on the law of our land are dealt with decisively and in accordance and with the law of our country.

I would also like to believe that most if not all of you here have heard of Lt Gen Puleng Dimpane. This is our woman in blue who made history in the SAPS by becoming the first Female Divisional Commissioner responsible for Financial Management Services. Lt Gen Dimpane oversees a budget of over R100 billion for the SAPS. During her tenure as the Chief Financial Officer, the SAPS was redeemed from a qualified audit to an unqualified audit, for the first time in 5 years. Ladies and gentlemen, these are the achievements worthy of celebration on this day. Worthy of celebration indeed.

Programme Director, in our bid to accelerate the transformation agenda in the SAPS, we have established Women’s Network in 2003. Women’s Network is a women-manned team within the SAPS and it was established with the aim of forging strong bonds between women in the SAPS and ensuring women in leadership positions mentor those at lower ranks. In addition, Women’s Network facilitates career advancement of women through leadership training programmes such as SARPCCO (Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Co-operation Organisation) Gender Mainstreaming training and Gender Based violence training.

Indeed we continue to forge forward to accelerate the transformation agenda in the SAPS.

Although we have made considerable achievements we pride ourselves of, we continue to mentor the youth and prepare them for the future as we take stock on progress made since the approval of Women Empowerment Agenda.

 

We continue to recognise women as leaders. We acknowledge the set of skills they bring to the organisation to take policing to the next level in the best interest of the communities and victims of crime. We appreciate that having women occupy leadership positions is not only important for gender equity; but also serves to inspire current and future women in policing to consolidate the gains made by women pioneers. This we do without any reservation.

As I conclude, I would like to say it my wish that at the end of this gathering we continue to make strides in our various environments within the SAPS to ensure that we correct mistakes of the past as far as gender parity in concerned in our organisation.

I would also like to address my male counterparts briefly.  My fellows, let us work together to ensure that the SAPS Women Empowerment Agenda plan is effectively implemented. Let us not cease from recognising and acknowledging the contribution of women in moving our organisation forward. Let us not stop celebrating their achievements.

Let us work together to ensure the realisation of Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow #BreaktheBias. To the South African Police Service female members in general, I wish you a happy International Women’s Day.

Thank you for your attention and enjoy the rest of the evening.

I thank you!