“As a matter of fact there are people in the department who, according to the sick leave register are supposed to have died, because there isn’t any part of their body that has not been ill,” Chikunga said. “However, they are strong and kicking. They are not dead.” To make matters worse, some of these individuals had been promoted despite their atrocious work ethic, Chikunga said, according to the SA Press Association. “I think it is a matter we will be discussing with the department during our hearings. It means we are actually rewarding such behaviour,” she said.
The opposition Democratic Alliance party (DA) says it will ask the Public Service Commission (PSC) to do a full investigation into the abuse of sick leave by officers of the SAPS (South African Police Service) across the country. Serial absenteeism by police officers who abuse their basic right to sick leave is undermining efforts to combat and prevent crime. “Not only that, but it is a slap in the face to the many brave and hard-working police officers who put their lives on the line to keep South Africans safe,” said Dianne Kohler Barnard, the DA's Shadow Minister of Police.
In terms of section 196 of the Constitution, the PSC has the power to investigate the personnel practices of the public service and propose measures to ensure effective and efficient performance.
“It is becoming increasingly evident that the SAPS management has neither the ability nor the will to effectively deal with the abuse of sick leave and has instead opted for a three-day talk shop in Pretoria, to discuss 'areas of concern'.”
Abuse of sick leave has been identified as the number one risk to the SAPS, and the worst police stations in this regard include:
Maitland police station in Cape Town, where 85 staff took a total of 6 579 sick days in one year, at an average of 77.2 days each (Western Cape police dispute the figure);
Hilton police station in KwaZulu-Natal, where 39 staff between them took 1 337 sick days at an average of 34.73;
In Gauteng, Midrand police station’s 196 staff took 5 935 sick days at an average of 30.3;
Pretoria’s Silverton police station’s 148 staff took 3 144 total sick days for an average 21.3;
Pretoria North, where a staff complement of 169 took 3 354 sick days at an average of 19.9 a person;
At Alexandra Road in Johannesburg, 158 staff took 3 708 sick days at an average 23.8; and
East London police station, with a total of 402 staff and sick days of 8 538, at an average of 21.27 days each.
Kohler Barnard adds the Public Service Commission (PSC) has meanwhile confirmed that an investigation will be conducted into the working conditions of police stations. The party submitted this request following the revelation that more than 150 police stations around the country do not have access to basic services. The PSC agreed that “the lack of basic services such as running water, sewerage systems and electricity is deemed a serious challenge to the members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to perform their duties optimally". This despite the fact that the SAPS receives an annual budget allocation of R58 billion.
Examples of the conditions at SAPS stations include:
27 stations across the country either have no electricity, or no power generator. Of these stations, 15 are in the Eastern Cape.
Of the 87 stations that have no working sewerage system, 71 are in the Eastern Cape.
54 stations have no running water, of which 31 are in the Eastern Cape.
Durban Harbour station in KwaZulu-Natal does not have electricity, water or sewerage.
5 stations in the Eastern Cape do not have water or sewerage, including Coffee Bay, Phumalanga, Cweraland, Palmietfontein and Ngqamakhwe.
Avondale in the Eastern Cape does not have sewerage or electricity.
“Thousands of dedicated men and women risk their lives to serve in the SAPS and protect our safety. It is unacceptable that many of these SAPS members are forced to work in police stations that lack access to working water, electricity and sewerage systems,” Kohler Barnard said.
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