Police not cleaners: DA
No criminal will run at the sight of police and reservists in bullet-proof vests, firearm in holster and mop in hand, says the Democratic Alliance.
The decision taken by the upper echelons of the SA Police Service (Saps) to cancel private contracts of services such as cleaning and gate-guarding had led to police members taking on these duties themselves, DA spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard said.
"This means that we have fewer cops on the streets and more in Saps offices taking responsibility for non-core duties," she said in a statement.
However, ministry spokesman Zweli Mnisi responded to Kohler-Barnard on Tuesday, saying the DA should not play an "opportunistic oversight role" with unnecessary criticism.
Kohler-Barnard said the cancellation of a cleaning contract for Democratic Cleaners was announced by former national police commissioner Bheki Cele in March 2011.
Cele had promised that the government would absorb these cleaners and pay them more. Instead, hundreds of them had lost their jobs and many police stations had been without cleaners.
Kohler-Barnard said that during an oversight visit to Limpopo earlier this year, she saw the impact of these cancelled contracts.
"Not only has it led to job losses for both cleaners and security guards, it has led to Saps members and reservists having to perform these services themselves.
"Instead of using their time to do what they are trained to do, they are having to waste it on keeping their stations clean."
In Limpopo, the cancellation of the contract with Democratic Cleaners resulted in the loss of over 300 jobs.
In KwaZulu-Natal, around 400 cleaners were left without jobs, and many cleaners were not integrated into Saps as promised.
Police and reservists went through months of training and put their lives on the line daily for the protection of their communities.
Now the government expected them to clean the toilets, empty the rubbish bins, wash windows, and sweep the station over and above their core duties, she said.
Mnisi said the ministry had emphasised to police management the importance of proper financial and internal control mechanisms, as well as monitoring on spending.
"With the new national police commissioner at the helm, we are even more convinced that the Saps is heading towards better compliance, as her strategic leadership expertise garnered at both government and private sector will stand her in good stead," he said.
Where management made decisions that resulted in saving operational costs and improved efficiency without compromising service delivery, the ministry supported them 100 percent.
"The DA must not play an opportunistic oversight role on the department by criticising even when correct decisions are implemented.
"If they have anything valuable to contribute in improving Saps, our doors are wide open for engagement, but in the absence of any contribution, they must allow the management to do their job without hindrance," Mnisi said.