More than 100 police reservists in the Eastern Cape have for almost 20 years been working without pay.
Some, who have worked for the police service for the past 18 years and hope to one day be absorbed into the system, have now approached the provincial ANC in a bid to get permanent employment, or at least some sort of compensation or stipend for their service.
A reservist is described in the SA Police Services website as a person appointed by the national commissioner as a member of the reserve police service to render services as a volunteer in support of the police.
The reservists, who do the same job as permanently employed officers, have asked provincial ANC chairman Oscar Mabuyane to intervene.
The group has since signed affidavits highlighting their plight.
Mdantsane Magistrate’s Court prosecutor Sabatha Phillips is helping the group in his personal capacity.
Yesterday Phillips told the Dispatch that he could not hold back his tears when he learnt of the reservists’ plight while speaking to a court orderly.
“This lady, who is always working in our court, told me that she had been a reservist since 2006. She has three children and two grandchildren, but still survives on her mother’s old age social grant because she is paid nothing for her services by SAPS.
“I was more touched when she told me that there were hundreds of others in the same predicament as her – those who are offering their services for nothing, with some having done that for close to 20 years,” said Phillip.
Mabuyane said he was aware of the reservists’ plight, which he described as “inhumane, dehumanising and unfair treatment which was against the provisions of the Labour Relations Act”.
Some of the reservists, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation, told of their struggles to make ends meet.
One of them said she had three children, with the oldest going to university next year.
“People always see me in police uniform and think that I have a job.
“This is painful, demoralising and inhumane to have people doing the exact work done by police for over 10 years, but with nothing to show for it,” she said.
Provincial police spokesman Captain Khaya Tonjeni said a reservist “renders voluntary services without having any expectation to be remunerated or to receive any other benefit or consideration in return for rendering the services”.
“At the reservist summit hosted by the then minister of police in March 2009, it was pronounced that reservists will not be automatically integrated into the SAPS, but that they will have to comply with the existing enlistment requirements,” said Tonjeni.