Programme Director, organisers of this conference, distinguish guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for inviting my organisation, the South Africa Policing Union (SAPU) to attend and share with all of you our experience and our role as a workers organisation in improving service delivery in the public service. As already been mentioned in the introduction, my name is Thabo Matsose and I am 2nd Vice president at SAPU.
We are indeed privileged to have been invited and as such we are happy to contribute ideas through this presentation. This is a very important topic for our organisation and our work in the past few years has been aimed at looking at ways of improving the delivery of public services. As such we have formed strategic partnerships with progressive civil society formations and community based structures to champion this cause. We have for example partnered with Community Police forums precisely to look at ways of strengthening the delivery of policing services to community.
Our own experience and the experiences of many often ordinary people indicate to us that a lot of improvement is required in delivering quality public services to the public. Unlike wealthy people who often opt to access services provided by private service providers ordinary people do not enjoy that privilege. Ordinary people rely heavily virtually on services provided by public institutions such as for example, health care services and security services. Privileged people often opt for services provided by private service providers because either of poor public services or at worst lack of services.
SAPU president, Mr Mpho Kwinika, was invited by the Brazilian Confederation of Police to attend an international meeting of police unions from countries that previously hosted soccer world cup events. The purpose of the meeting is to learn from the experience of other police agencies and police unions.
The South African Police Service (SAPS) and consequently also the police unions were faced with similar challenges when FIFA, in 2004, announced that South Africa would host the Soccer World Cup in 2010. The security establishment in South Africa, in particular the police, were faced with the daunting responsibility to develop, resource and implement a security operation that would ensure the safety of everyone during this four-week event. The announcement came at a time when crime in South Africa, and in particular violent crime, had just peaked at its highest levels. However, over the next few years until 2009, the year immediately before the World Cup, overall crime rates slowly decreased to a level approximately 24% below that of 2003. Violent crimes, however, such as house robbery, business robberies and vehicle hijackings started to increase at an alarming rate. For example house robberies increased by 100% and business robberies by almost 300% from 2004/05 and 2008/09. Moreover, the national victim surveys, conducted between 1998 and 2007, showed a 148% increase in the number of people who indicated that they felt unsafe walking in their own areas after dark.
In addition to the obvious crime threat, the run-up to the tournament also saw a renewed fear of terrorism and its potential destructive impact on the World Cup. It was generally recognised that the terror threat was not so much against South Africa as it was against the event and in particular against countries involved or associated with the war (at the time) in Iraq. Some of the concern was prompted by the attack on the bus carrying the Togo national soccer team during the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2010, and the arrest in May of a Saudi army officer with links to al-Qaeda in connection with an alleged plot to launch attacks during the World Cup against teams from countries that supported the war in Iraq. In a briefing to the United States Congress Counter-Terrorism caucus, also during May, the bold statement was made that there was an 80% chance of such a terror attack happening during the World Cup in South Africa.
This was the biggest event ever hosted in South Africa and also the biggest security challenge for the SAPS amidst its already taxing crime fighting responsibilities. It was going to be only a month-long event – but planning had to take into account the securing and holding period immediately before the start of the World Cup and the mopping-up immediately after the event. The police and other security structures knew that it would be an intense period for policing and security, and given that the eyes of the world would be focused on South Africa, excellent planning, preparation and execution would be required. The additional burden of the 2010 security operation would have to be carried primarily by members of SAPS and it was the responsibility of unions such as SAPU to ensure both that the police performed their constitutional obligations diligently and efficiently and that the rights of their members were at all times respected and their grievances attended to.
The challenge for SAPU and other unions therefore was how best to serve the interests of its members and at the same time honouring the basic values and obligations for policing enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. This presentation, therefore, aims to highlight some of the main aspects of the overall security operation, and also some of the pertinent implications this has had for members of SAPS and how SAPU, as the leading police union, was able to ensure that the rights of its members were upheld.