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Many cops taking up better-paying posts in the private security sector



Many of the officers leaving are taking up better-paying posts in the private security sector, a trend that is worrying police management.

An exodus of experienced officers from specialized units is putting strain on the South African Police Services.

Many of the officers leaving are taking up better-paying posts in the private security sector, a trend that is worrying police management.

A former police officer from a specialised unit, who has now joined a private security company, told Weekend Witness that he left because we was not getting paid enough given the stress and risks associated with the job.

He said another problem is the lack of support from management, particularly in specialized units.

“We were just no different from the ordinary police in the stations, but when there were problems in the country we got deployed and worked long hours without proper compensation [overtime pay].

“We were putting our lives on the line every day and we got paid peanuts. They were expecting us to do a lot for them but they were not looking out for us properly,” he said.

He added he had been a member of the SAPS for more than 20 years before deciding to call it a day.

“I do not regret my decision. I am … happier with my salary and financially free. When I was in the police force I used to live month to month but now whenever I need something I can get it without waiting for month-end.

Another police officer, who asked not to be named for fear of being victimized, said he would not hesitate to resign given the chance.

“I will resign with immediate effect. I love my job but the way things are unfolding is simply not right. Working long hours without any compensation, putting your life on the line, and getting paid next to nothing is not right,” he said.

KwaZulu-Natal police Commissioner General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi said he is concerned about special unit members, including members of the tactical National Intervention Unit (NIU), leaving “daily”.

Mkhwanazi raised his concerns while speaking during the handover of 230 police vehicles to police stations across the province in Pinetown this week.

He said he has taken this up with the head office because something is happening that they don’t know about.

“It just cannot be correct that we are going to have the elite in our service being recruited as a security guard.

“Something is odd about it, and from all fronts that you look at it, there’s something that tells me, something is happening somewhere that we don’t know about.”

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) provincial secretary Ntabaleng Molefe told Weekend Witness that if nothing is done by the government to improve the situation in the SAPS, police will continue to leave.

She said officers are leaving because of poor salaries and bad working conditions.

“For now it is members of the special task force and NIU who are resigning, but it does not mean that the other police in different departments will not leave if they get better opportunities.

“There is already a shortage of police and if they keep resigning things will be worse. These police who are resigning are our last line of defence, if they leave it is going to put people’s lives in danger,” she said.

She emphasized that if the trend of police joining security companies continues, it will only benefit those who can afford to pay for private security services.

“The government needs to review the salaries, how police are getting promoted and their working conditions These security companies have bigger packages and have all the resources that the police do not have.”

Collin David, the director of Mi7 National Group, said they regularly receive requests from former police officers who have resigned and are seeking employment in the security industry.

“However, it’s not a straightforward process; these former police officers are mandated to undergo specific courses and attain grading in the private security sector before their applications are considered.

“While a police officer and security officer are similar in the scope of work that is being done, they are governed by different regulatory entities.”

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