Public Order Policing units to serve, protect

Friday, March 16, 2018

As part of efforts to stamp the authority of the state, the South African Police Services has unveiled the national Public Order Policing (POP) reserve units.

The launch saw the units being capacitated with human and physical resources to enable the police to mitigate situations in respect of crowd management and violent community protests in the country as well as the SADC region.

Strengthening the existing POP units will ensure democratic policing under the Bill of Rights which guarantees that everyone has the right to peacefully and unarmed assemble, demonstrate, picket and present petitions, National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sitole said.  

At present, 41 POP units consist of four reserve units and 37 provincial units exist.

“The full implementation of the POP enhancement and capacitation process will result in four established national reserve units and 50 provincial units, with a staff compliment of approximately 11 000 members,” General Sitole said on Friday.

The POP has footprints in four provinces namely - KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng, and Western Cape.

This will enhance the reaction time of the police to hotspots since the units will be closer and more accessible to the community as the first responder to potential crowd management situations.

The introduction of these reserve units, according to General Sitole, is in line with the findings of the work-study and the findings of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry.

“The launching of the national POP reserve units today is an indication of the great strides we have made and the many challenges that we have overcome to become an organisation and a nation with one of the best crowd management and public order policing components in the world,” he said.

The new units have been capacitated with the state-of-the-art equipment such as new generation Nyalas, water cannons, vehicles, video cameras and protective gear, to name but a few. The equipment was procured to enable officers to effectively perform their duties.

The officers deployed to the units will undergo a vigorous training process, which includes crowd management.

Speaking at the unveiling of the new units, Police Minister Bheki Cele urged the officers in the units to respond to community protests within the spirit and context of a community orientated policing model and the Bill of Rights.

He also urged them not to allow themselves to be used in political fractions but rather serve all communities equally. The Minister said they must always remember they are not called to respond to criminals but to communities who have rights.

“This unit is at the coal face of the communities … and you interact with the communities, remember to respect and uphold the Constitution, inspire confidence,” Minister Cele said.

Attendees at the launch were also treated to a demonstration involving POP, Airwing, Metro Police and the South African National Defence Force - showcasing an integrated approach to crowd management during a protest. 

Police showed their capabilities by using water tanks, stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the make-believe protesters. -

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