Cops paid R8.5m to stay home

2013-04-18 10:23

Almost 15 000 cops are currently on suspension for various reasons, with nearly 10 000 of them paid a total of R8.5 million in salaries, since April last year, while they sat at home.

This was revealed by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa in a reply to a parliamentary question by the DA’s Dianne Kohler Barnard yesterday.

In the reply, Mthethwa revealed that, according to police records, 9 835 cops received full pay during their suspensions from April last year to February this year, while 4 567 other officers were not receiving any compensation.

In another reply to a parliamentary question in 2011, Mthethwa said he had instructed police management to conduct an urgent review of the policy of compensating suspended cops.

In the 2009/10 financial year, 105 suspended officers cost taxpayers R2.5 million in salaries.

Mthethwa said that the review of the policy was meant to curb criminality within the police force while saving government money. But this had not been done.

The revelation comes amid calls for a judicial inquiry into police brutality, with numerous cases that have cast the spotlight on police conduct.

This week, Mthethwa appealed to police officers to seek voluntary counselling within the police force during a statement on police suicide rates.

Although police suicide rates had decreased, challenges remained and he appealed to police to use the employee health and wellness interventions.

“Our officers are continually exposed to traumatic and stressful events. In many instances, such members are not emotionally and psychologically equipped to handle those stressful situations, which frequently lead to catastrophic impact on their mental wellness, with unfortunate outcomes,” said Mthethwa.

He added that the general welfare and psychological state of police officers “indicate a police service that is fit and well except for few individual cases which get referred to the disease risk management programme for further handling and support”.

He said this was also supported by psychological reports on police by medical aid provider Polmed and health risk manager and insurance company Alexander Forbes.

Police also had access to qualified, experienced and registered psychologists, social workers and chaplains for counselling.

A 24-hour call centre, where one-on-one telephone counselling and individual trauma debriefing was done, was also available to help police officers cope with the challenges of the job.

Mthethwa has appealed to the public to be aware of the environment in which police officers worked before venturing to criticise the officers.

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