Speaking at the National Press Club, on Thursday, Police Minister Bheki Cele announced that all leave benefits have been stricken off for SAPS officers this festive season.
Public service employees, like the rest of us, are entitled to a specific number of leave days per annum. During the festive season, taking leave is an opportunity granted to most. It allows employees time to relax, kick their feet back and spend quality and invaluable time with family and close friends.
For SAPS, a law enforcement force that has, over the years, depleted in its numbers, leave in December is not ideal. That’s why Bheki Cele has cracked the whip and stricken off the privilege from the constable up to the highest-ranking officer.
According to the minister, the revised crime strategy, Zizojika Izinto (the tide will turn), requires every blue uniform on the job if the goal is to reduce violent crimes in the period between December and February.
Festive season crime trends in South Africa
South Africa already battles with high levels of violent crime, daily. Bheki Cele, however, is well aware of the fact that crime levels increase dramatically during the festive season, making it one of the deadliest periods of the year.
The minister revealed that crime trends that have been observed over the year tell us two things:
- Violent contact crimes often take place on weekends; and
- the majority of murders are committed near ‘drinking holes’
Bheki Cele: No leave for SAPS in December across the board
As reported by IOL News, The police minister noted that operation Zizojika Izinto will require every police officer from across the country on duty as a means of sustaining high visibility on the streets, at all times.
“Officers will be on trains, in busses and bus stops and malls. There will be blue lights on roads and highways. You will see boots on the ground in taxi ranks, Chisa Nyamas, recreational parks, beaches to ensure that this festive season is festive and remains that way,” he said.
Furthermore, Bheki Cele revealed that the elephant in the room — a shortage in resources — is being addressed as a matter of urgency. He admitted that this time around, with all the intelligence that’s been collected, things have to be done differently.
“Now equipped with these facts, we will deploy more officers at identified areas at identified times in an effort to bring down incidents of contact and violent crimes. We will utilise resources optimally and shift them to places they are needed most,” he added.