National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega on Wednesday briefed Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police on measures to re-equip the beleaguered units.
Municipal IQ’s Municipal Hotspots Monitor showed there were 155 major protests during 2013. Up to and including April this year, riots were still happening at the rate of nearly one every day.
Since February the Johannesburg unit only received six soft shell vehicles, while six vehicles were withdrawn from service.
The numerous Nyala armoured personnel carriers standing at the unit have gearbox and engine troubles, while some only require a destroyed tyre to be repaired.
Photographs taken this week at the unit showed burst tyres, vehicles standing on jacks, and hydraulic lifters for cow catchers out of order.
Phiyega said South Africa was experiencing a surge in violent incidents and she did not see a decline happening in the foreseeable future. This was due to the current climate of service delivery and related protests, Phiyega said.
“The increasing and continual violent protest actions throughout the country have led to damage to and destruction of property, injuries to both participants and the police and even in some cases loss of life,” said Phiyega.
“Our Bill of Rights guarantees that ‘everyone has the right, peacefully and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket and to present petitions’. We therefore call on our people to exercise their right to protest in a peaceful and orderly manner. It is unacceptable when people’s rights are violated by the perpetrators of violent actions, such as actions that lead to injury and death of persons, damage to property and the destruction of valuable public infrastructure,” she said.
The committee was told each POP Unit will serve four clusters and 22 police stations on average.
At the moment Johannesburg Pop serves eight clusters and 52 police stations.
Currently there are 27 provincial units with one reserve unit in Pretoria. Phiyega envisaged 50 provincial POP units and 4 reserve units (each servicing 4 clusters and 22 police stations on average) will be established to better enhance public policing.
This would bring strengths back to before disgraced police commissioner Jackie Selebi shut down the public order policing unit, saying there was no need for it.
In the meantime R15million has been allocated to keep the 561 armoured vehicles (Nyalas) operational, at R75 000 to maintain and repair each Nyala, to have 200 fully functional Nyalas at a time.
A further R20, 4million has been allocated for pyrotechnics such as tear gas and stun grenades. Phiyega has also allocated R770 000 to buy new state of the art video cameras.
“This will enhance reaction time and travelling and accommodation will be limited since units will be closer to hotspots. A dedicated investigating capacity, complemented by intelligence, will be allocated to the units which will investigate all case dockets that emanate from unrest related or protest action incidents,” Phiyega said.
All new entry-level police members undergo basic crowd management training as part of their basic training.