Popcru elated as SAPS management agrees to pay police extra for elections overtime

Popcru President Thulani Ngwenya. Picture: Supplied

Popcru President Thulani Ngwenya. Picture: Supplied

Published May 26, 2024


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) is celebrating a “significant victory” for its members in the South African Police Service (SAPS) after police management agreed to pay for overtime, including for elections operations.

The union said that management had agreed to three fundamental demands from Popcru, including compensation of cancelled leave that had been granted to officers. Officers will also be given shift allowances and a new system will be created to allow them to claim compensation if they work overtime during the elections.

Popcru President Thulani Ngwenya said SAPS had met their demands as the country heads into the national general elections.

“This agreement comes in response to the concerns raised last week regarding SAPS management’s failure to engage with the union on critical election preparations, and the lack of a comprehensive national policing strategy,” said Ngwenya.

Popcru said that it was concerned over issues related to procedural adherence with collective bargaining processes, and the impacts of the elections on compensation, working hours, and leave for police members.

“Following these discussions, we are proud to confirm that the final agreement was reached late in the afternoon on Friday, giving our members the reassurance they needed to perform their work,” said Ngwenya.

“Some police have already been deployed over the weekend, and our members stand ready to ensure a fair, peaceful, and democratic election process in our communities,” he added.

Key demands explained

Compensation for cancelled leave: Popcru has secured a commitment that SAPS members, whose leave was cancelled during the election period, will either be compensated or allowed to reapply for their leave after the election has concluded.

Shift system and allowances: A shift system comprising two 12-hour shifts will be implemented for police, with a special daily allowance allocated for work performed during the three days of the election period from Monday to Wednesday. Additionally, members on standby will receive overtime pay if called to work.

On-duty status: It has been agreed that from the moment police members enter employer-provided or police vehicles, they will be regarded as on-duty, providing clarity regarding their working hours and compensation.

National directive: Popcru had raised concerns about strategy and preparations for policing the elections being decentralised. In response, government has now declared the elections a special event, and a national directive has been issued to ensure that there is a unified strategy across all provinces.

The union said that it has also established teams to travel to each province and ensure that all interventions have been implemented.

Complaints against SAPS

In response to its complaints regarding the conduct of SAPS management, the National Police Commissioner General Fannie Masemola has agreed to meet with Popcru after the elections to perform a thorough review to identify and address any managerial failures that caused unnecessary confusion.

“We stand by our belief that there are some managers who have deliberately tried to derail policing preparations and sabotage the national elections for their own mischievous ends. There must be consequence management, and we look forward to meeting with the Commissioner in this regard,” Ngwenya said.

“Ultimately, this agreement represents a major success for Popcru and our members’ rights. Without our intervention in holding the employer accountable and pushing these matters to their attention, the arrogance of government as the employer might have continued, as they had refused to heed our police members’ questions and concerns,” he concluded.

Skilled personnel leaving SAPS

Last week, Popcru expressed concern about a mass exodus of skilled members of the force who are choosing the private sector.

The union said highly skilled and specialised members of the Special Task Force and National Intervention Unit divisions were exiting at an alarming rate, leaving the country’s borders vulnerable and posing a significant risk to safety and security.

Ngwenya said the SAPS skills drain had reached alarming levels as members retired or left the service for better paying positions in the private sector.

To plug the gap, last month, the SAPS reported that it had finalised the recruitment and selection process for the first batch of 10,000 police recruits for the 2024/2025 financial year.

SAPS also indicated that it had trained and deployed 20,000 police officers to police stations and units to reinforce policing with more still coming.