Pretoria – The new Police Minister, Fikile Mbalula, has used his maiden speech to boost the morale of the South African Police Service (SAPS) officers.
Minister Mbalula and his deputy, Bongani Mkongi, were formally welcomed with a parade at the SAPS training college in Pretoria West, which he used to outline his immediate strategic programme of action.
While acknowledging that police have one of the most thankless jobs, the Minister committed to ensuring that they are comfortable and happy in their jobs and with their salaries.
“I am going to pay attention to human resources for the happiness of the police… I want police to be happy,” he said to loud applause.
He said he would like to see “fitter officers” in the line of duty, including generals.
“Officers must be fit so that they can chase after criminals. I want to see police men running the Comrades Marathon, like you used to do.”
Minister Mbalula sent a stern warning to officers, who were on the payroll of criminals, to change their ways.
He, however, also assured that police will lead a more balanced life. The Minister said his tenure at the helm of the South African Police Ministry would see an intensified effort in the war against crime, and that it won’t be business as usual.
“You must be happy in your job. Yet you must be ruthless in your fight against criminals. We must be visible, we must be everywhere. Police stations must be extended. We must work with everybody to ensure that we win the war against crime.”
The former Sports Minister encouraged officers to protect themselves, within the confines of the law, against the wrath of heavily armed criminals.
The instruction from President Jacob Zuma when he appointed him last week, Minister Mbalula said, was to “mobilise people to work with the police service to fight and defeat crime in our country.
“This was not a complicated message… I believe the SAPS standing here today are going to accomplish the mission.”
However, he said the SAPS cannot do the job alone. As such, the Minister said he was looking forward to increased cooperation with other Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster units, especially the Department of Justice.
“We… must work with the prosecutors and our approach must be united.”
He called on communities to support and partner with the police in the fight against crime.
“The role of the SAPS is to work with communities to ensure that we put criminals in their place,” Mbalula said.
Acting National Commissioner Lieutenant General Khomotso Phahlane welcomed Minister Mbalula and his deputy into the police force.
“We’re looking forward to your leadership and guidance to ensure that all South Africans feel safe.”
Phahlane also thanked former Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and his deputy Makhotso Sotyu for their contribution, leadership and guidance during their tenure.