Mthethwa lays into disruptive reservists

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Minister of police Nathi Mthethwa has warned Category D police reservists threatening to disrupt the World Cup in June if they do not get jobs that he will not tolerate “such rubbish”.

Writing on the party’s website, ANC Today, Mthethwa says the South African Police Service would not compromise its minimum recruitment standards to accommodate militant reservists demanding full-time positions, the South African Press Association reports. “We cannot and will not compromise on the integrity of the police force for the sake of appeasing those reservists who have failed to meet the basic criteria and want to hold the process hostage,” he writes.

The SAPS recently advertised for former policemen and reservists to join or rejoin, but said applicants had to have passed Grade 12 and hold a valid driver’s licence. The recruitment drive triggered sometimes violent protests by members of the reservist force, who were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. Category D reservists do not need to meet those criteria.

Protesters also went to Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, where national executive committee member Winnie Madikizela-Mandela spoke to them and promised to discuss their demands with Mthethwa. “As for the empty threats by certain groups of reservists that they will make the Fifa World Cup ungovernable, let them try. We will not tolerate such rubbish,” Mthethwa said.

The category was created after a 2003 Cabinet decision to phase out the South African Army’s area protection Commandos. Under the police’s sector policing scheme these reservists, who were to be paid for duty, was to replace the commandos. Category A reservists, by contrast, are not paid and must be employed in addition to other criteria. Many Category D reservists are unemployed.

He reminded reservists that they had been told when they signed up as volunteers that the police reserve was not a short cut to full-time employment. Mthethwa said the disaffected reservists’ conduct was the direct opposite of various freedoms and privileges afforded to all citizens of the republic.

The minister said that beefing up the police force with reservists and officers was central to gaining the upper hand in the war against crime. He described the disgruntled reservists as “desperate individuals who were hell-bent on joining the force for ulterior motives … probably to infiltrate members with their negative conduct” [sic]. “Will we allow this? If this is indeed the kind of officers who see themselves as part of our force, oh cry the beloved country!” he said.
“We make a kind-hearted appeal to such cowards to take time to listen to one of the kwaito songs currently hitting the airwaves, with the following lyrics: ‘umlilo uzokushisa ungalokothi, uwothe’ (which) loosely translated (means) ‘watch out for the fire, it will burn you’. So all the ill-disciplined and unruly reservists have been warned.”