The police reservist policy is currently being reviewed with the aim of improving the management of reservists and changing selection criteria, Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa says. Responding to questions in Parliament on whether a second moratorium would be placed on the recruitment of police reservists, Mthethwa said once he had finalised and approved the review, there would be better co-ordination, co-operation and planning in intensifying the fight against crime.
A moratorium on the recruitment of reservists was in place from April 1, 2009 until December 10, 2009. “However, since the upliftment, SAPS [South African Police Service] has not enlisted new reservists pending a review of this system. I also have no intention to place a further moratorium and reservists will be enlisted in terms of the new criteria once the new policy has been finalised and implemented,” he explained.
In the past, there had been success and some challenges involving police reservists, Mthethwa noted. “We commend the valuable contribution of some of the dedicated reservists in helping us deal a blow to crime. At the same time, we have unfortunately experienced certain challenges with others, including those who demanded automatic integration into the SAPS. Moving forward, we want to be clear on what is expected from a reservist.”
Mthethwa said the ministry had in the past clarified that it would not automatically integrate police reservists into the SAPS but that the enlistment process would be conducted and assessed on an individual basis, the state BuaNews agency reported. Currently there are 4 979 police reservists in Gauteng, 4 391 in the Western Province, 2 874 in the Eastern Cape, 2 046 in KwaZulu-Natal, 3 083 in Free State, 2 690 in Mpumalanga, 2 397 in North West, 1 349 in Northern Cape and 2 459 in Limpopo.
Some 1 732 new reservists were enlisted between January and March 2009. This included 709 in Gauteng, 336 in Western Cape, 173 in Free State, 190 in Mpumalanga, 205 in Northern Cape and 119 in Limpopo, BuaNews said.
Mthethwa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party shadow Diane Kohler Barnard says the consultations do not seem genuine. “Unfortunately the SAPS structures have gone ahead and reworked the regulations covering Reservists, and seem insistent on implementing them on April 1. While the Minister claims he is still involved with a review, these new regulations have nonetheless been created with virtually no input from the Reservists.
“They include a change in uniform – creating an ‘us’ and ‘them’ division; the need for even the most senior reservist to be accompanied by and subordinate to even the most junior SAPS member; plus other new regulations that seem quite intentionally to deplete the SAPS Reservists contingent.
“Already the chaos called by the moratorium – lifted by the minister, yet applied throughout the country nonetheless, and now news of another moratorium – has lead to many South Africans who proffer their services – free – to the SAPS, to be turned away. Why then, does the SAPS top structure insist that civilians help them in their fight against crime? Why are they virtually ignoring the existing Reservist structures – and even handing the proposed new regulations out to CPFs for consideration, when the CPFs have virtually nothing to do with the Reservists?
“A cynic might conclude that this was merely a tick-box exercise so as to enable SAPS to claim that they had ‘consulted widely’. They haven’t. As the situation is, the humiliation the current Reservists are enduring – for example having their bulletproof vests and firearms removed after years of faithful duty and being told not to arrive on duty until asked to do so – will no doubt be the final straw. If the National Police Commissioner wanted to see the Reservists disbanded, he’s gone about ensuring that end in the most effective way. Insulting and demeaning reservists will ensure that these thousands of honourable citizens who give of their time free with no claims to any permanent position, simply stay away. Mission accomplished?”