Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services has expressed concern about the failure to fill critical posts in the cluster.

Mathole Motshekga, the committee chairman, said that every time undertakings were given to Parliament to resolve the issue, the commissioners had left their posts before anything tangible materialised.

Motshekga was reacting to the concern of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) about the effect of leadership instability in the Department of Correctional Services.

"We have not had an opportunity to get a progress report. However, it is something that has been worrying us a great deal. We are putting pressure on them every time they appear before us," said Motshekga.

In a statement issued on Monday after a central executive committee meeting, Popcru listed the challenges faced by workers at the department and the South African Police Service (SAPS), saying dysfunctional structures compromised service delivery and affected morale negatively.

There had been six structural reviews of the SAPS in the past five years, said Popcru.

The police service has been without a permanent national commissioner since the suspension of Riah Phiyega in 2015 and has had two acting commissioners since then.

Former correctional services commissioner Zach Modise was replaced with an acting head when he retired in August.

"We call for the immediate appointment of the two commissioners and the filling in of all regional head posts that are vacant. In doing so, we are of the view that this will be a step in the right direction in ensuring that long-term objectives are met," said Popcru.

South African Policing Union president Mpho Kwinika said the long-term absence of a permanent police commissioner had affected the functioning of all units, especially the critical crime intelligence unit.

"Because we don’t have a national commissioner, those positions remain vulnerable. When people are busy acting, the institution becomes vulnerable," he said.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula has denied that high turnover of senior staff was affecting the running of the SAPS.

His spokesman, Vuyo Mhaga, told Business Day the minister was committed to filling vacant posts even though his hands were tied on the appointment of a national commissioner.

"The minister remains hopeful that the appointment of a national commissioner will happen soon. However, the appointment is done by the president," Mhaga said.

mahlakoanat@businesslive.co.za

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