Empowerment of women in SAPS is non-negotiable and must be achieved
While the South African Police Service (SAPS) has made significant progress in promoting women to leadership positions, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that greater empowerment of women within the the organization is “non-negotiable and must be achieved”.
The Minister made the remarks as he officiated National Police Day 2022 on Thursday.
This year’s event was themed ‘Celebrating the Role of Women in Policing’, recognizing that female officers continue to make their mark in policing environments.
Cele began her talk by acknowledging former female police officers who paved the way for the current generation of female police officers.
He said: “We salute these trailblazers who, against all odds, have demonstrated that women are more than ready to lead with integrity and excellence. Excellence comes to mind when I think of some of the many female police officers in our meeting rooms or those patrolling the streets.
He said it was this excellence that enabled the police to deliver one of the safest festive seasons to date.
The minister also spoke about how female officers are supposed to deal with victims of gender-based violence (GBV).
“Treat them as if you were their mother before you were an officer. You don’t tell them to go back and negotiate because they will come for the first and second time, and when you don’t see them coming for the third times, they died,” he said.
Every time a woman reports abuse, she needs to be taken care of.
“Stop everything and take care of this. Forget you’re an officer and say ‘now as a mother I’m dealing with another mother or my daughter’. This service. GBV and femicide is one thing who, together, [we] have to put our shoulders to work and make sure we work harder,” he said.
He said he was proud of the milestones SAPS women continue to achieve in their policing environment, which until 1972 was male-only.
“You can’t believe you’ve been here a very short time, but I see you on your track passing the men. Don’t hold back, go for it. It hasn’t been easy for the women to make their mark in previously male-dominated units within the organization.I am glad that this organization values gender equality.
He said this was demonstrated by the growing number of women at all levels in leadership positions.
However, he said greater empowerment of women in SAPS is “non-negotiable and must be achieved”.
Create safe spaces
He also paid tribute to all SAPS members for the sacrifices they have made to ensure safety and security during the holiday season.
“As we commemorate, let us also focus our energies on what remains to be done to create a safer environment for all people in South Africa, especially women. I would like to appeal to the organization to women feel safe when they are with their colleagues.”
He reminds his male colleagues that women were in service to serve the nation. “They are there to protect, they are not there for your pleasures.”
The minister urged the police leadership never to tire of “flushing out the few bad apples who hide behind that nice blue uniform but choose the life of crime”.
Pockets of criminality within the organization could not be allowed to tarnish the excellence celebrated.
“It’s an organization of excellence. I know when I grew up I was told that if you don’t do very well in school, you have to go and join the police, no more – you have to be excellent. It’s an organization of excellence.”
He urged officers to focus on performing their duties and disregard naysayers.
“We celebrate you and want you to know that your commitment to organizing and fighting crime is greatly appreciated.”
(With contributions from the South African government press release)