Our male colleagues know that women are here to stay - female officers

2016-09-02 09:07

Johannesburg - Women who have forged their way into law enforcement and have made their mark in the sector took to the streets of Johannesburg on Thursday to acknowledge the struggles women still face today.

Scores of women from the departments of correctional services, home affairs, metro police as well as the SA Police Service took to the streets of the Johannesburg CBD and marched to commemorate the end of Women's Month.

The women, dressed in their respective uniforms, marched in single file with a marching band leading them through the streets. 

(Christopher Moagi, Daily Sun)

The march was also to highlight the difficulties women in the sector often faced while at work.

"As a woman you get resistance from other male colleagues. Some of them have a problem taking instructions from a female, moreover a young female," Chief Superintendent at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) Angie Mokasi said.

"I was fortunate that when I joined the department I was very young and there were so many opportunities. I headed a unit where I was the only female and it was a specialised unit and I had 60 males reporting under me.

Sweet talking offenders

"So imagine, as a female it was not easy, however, there were those who were very supportive on anything I was telling them to do."

There were still problems at the department, but they were not as bad as they had been in the past, she said.

"Currently most males have accepted that women are here and they are here to stay and whether they like it or not, we're going nowhere."

Being a female traffic officer had its obstacles, especially on the road, she said. Most men tended to assume they could get away with traffic fines by sweet talking the officers and asking for their contact details.

"Males will always be males; they will always try to find a way of not getting a ticket.

"It is very important for us women to know where your boundaries are. You will charm me, you will smile with me but at the end of the day, I will give you your ticket with a smile, and you will take it with a smile."

The Department of Home Affairs' acting head of immigration inspectorate in Gauteng, Heidi Malesa, said most of the men they dealt with did not acknowledge female officers' instructions.

"We do [experience gender discrimination] with [African foreigners]; and most of the Africans don't respect women, so even if you want to give them instructions as women, they don't take you seriously because some of the people that you are dealing with are from Muslim backgrounds so when you want to arrest them as women, they resist arrest because according to their culture, they cannot be addressed by women."

Safety issues

She said the number of females in her department as well as the level of protection needed to increase drastically.

"The challenge we are facing as women is that we are less capacitated in the field, we would like to be more capacitated.

"We [also] feel less protected as women but because we are called by duty, we work."

Dudu Ratlhogo, who is a member of the Johannesburg Emergency Management Services, said some work-related issues were not internal, but were rather caused by members of the public.

She said while attending to a fire with her colleagues, members of the public robbed them of their belongings and attacked them.

"To us it is like, this is not safe, we are trying to help the public and the very people we are trying to help are the ones who are robbing us. We are not feeling safe any more.

"Our job is to save property and save lives, and we love to do it. We love it and it is a passion," Ratlhogo said.

Read more on:    saps  |  johannesburg  |  police

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