Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa and National Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele is urging some 5000 new police recruits to uphold discipline and the principles of the Constitution, remain morally-upright, serve with excellence and enforce the law at all times, without fear or favour.
Speaking at a welcome ceremony of 1845 recruits at the SAPS Tshwane College in Pretoria this morning, Mthethwa said the recruits are joining the South African Police Service (SAPS) at a critical time when criminals have declared war on law-abiding citizens. He said irrespective of this declaration, government has made considerable strides in ensuring criminals fail in their plans, citing the recent festive season police operations and discovery of arms caches as examples.
“You are joining the force at a crucial period when we are in full swing and there is nothing that can stop us, neither the criminals nor their actions,” he said. “We are in control and gaining new ground every day. We believe that the tide against crime is turning – that government is now firmly taking control and having an upper hand.
“As the police leadership and management, we made a clarion call to all South Africans that we are in search of a new cadre of cop. You heeded the call and the entire nation will be looking upon you for their safety. The expectations will be no less. Without doubt the challenges will be massive. Now more than before, the nation will in the coming years rely on you in fighting crime. You will be the shields of the nation. The gauntlet has been thrown before you. Rise to the occasion and dare not fail,” urged Minister Mthethwa.
In total, 4 993 recruits reported at various training colleges nationally this morning. Of the total 1845 who reported at today’s ceremony in Pretoria, 954 are male and 891 are female. This ratio represents an almost 50-50% gender parity which is in line with government’s call to ensure that women are not only empowered but also given the same kind of training and job opportunities as their male counterparts.
Also addressing the new recruits, General Cele said they must bear in mind that they are now part of a disciplined para-military organization; an organization which is constitutionally obliged to protect and serve the citizens of our nation. “As part of the police family, you will perform your training and duties with discipline, pride, respect and integrity. I especially mention integrity because the minister, the deputy minister and I will not tolerate corruption, ill-discipline or criminal behaviour on the part of any police member. There is no place for tsotsi cops in the SAPS and we are rooting the rotten elements out diligently.”
He added that the new recruits are without doubt filled with pride, as well as a touch of trepidation. “Always perform your duties with the strategic objectives of the SAPS in mind and never lose sight of the fact that you are the protectors of the communities. You are warriors who are pushing back the frontiers of evil. Your communities have chosen you to be their protectors and I expect you to be brave and honest warriors who will make government and country proud.”
In search of the new kind of police officer, the police leadership and management took a decision to look for people who can serve as good examples to our society. This then informed the review on how we recruit our new intake of police officers. One of the fundamental ways of doing this was to subject the process of recruitment away from an individual recruitment officer to a broader kind of a forum or formation. This process involved other stakeholders representing communities such as community policing forums.
Instead of the traditional 12-month training period, inclusive of theory and practical aspects, the training will now take two years. In addition to the basic and vigorous policing training, the department will be enforcing and incorporating civic education and civic duties; inclusive of training in aspects of constitutional and batho pele (people first) principles. “This will go a long way in ensuring that discipline is maintained at all material times.”
The National Treasury last February said more skilled personnel was to be appointed in detective services, forensic sciences, crime intelligence, border control and the directorate for priority crime investigation environments “over the medium term”. As a result, “the total number of personnel in the national police was expected to grow from 182 754 in 2008/09 to 200 660 in 2012/13.” The latter figure implies a police service about four times larger than the military. “This larger establishment will be complemented by the expansion of the department’s vehicle fleet, equipment supplies and technological infrastructure.” Treasury documents also noted the police budget as R52.5 billion for the year to March and R56.9 billion for the year from April. The budget will reach R60.3 billion – double the current defence budget – in April next year.