The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union proudly announced the appointment of its new national leadership today following successful elections at its 10th National Congress in Durban. The newly elected President of POPCRU, Thulani Ngwenya, will be taking the reins from highly respected leader Dr Zizamele Cebekhulu-Makhaza, who chose not to stand for re-election after serving the union diligently as its president for 27 years.

The newly elected national leadership also includes Mosadiwamaje Veronica Mokokong as 1st Deputy President, Zamikhaya Skade as 2nd Deputy President, Jeffrey Dladla as General Secretary, Chakale Amelia Mahlatsi as 1st General Secretary, Boitumelo Pheleo as 2nd General Secretary, and Thulani Nsele as National Treasurer. This diverse team brings an ideal blend of new ideas and energy, and invaluable experience and knowledge, notes Dr Cebekhulu-Makhaza.

Cebekhulu-Makhaza further hailed Ngwenya as one of POPCRU’s most experienced leaders with over 30 years of service within the union, and expressed his heartfelt congratulations to him in his new role. 

“Thulani Ngwenya has proven himself as an extremely dedicated and selfless leader who whole-heartedly places the interests of members and the organisation at the centre of his work, serving tirelessly on their behalf. Our members and delegates have recognised the enormous contribution he has made in shaping POPCRU into the formidable union it is today, as well as his sincere commitment to our revolutionary movement and the rights of the working class,” he said. 

“He is man of great integrity, humility, and passion, and through his combination of experience and innovation, I believe that he is the right leader to help POPCRU achieve its goals.”

Ngwenya has been an influential figure within POPCRU’s leadership since he first joined the union in 1991, gradually rising through its ranks to serve within its local, provincial, and national structures. He holds a post-graduate degree in Labour Law from North-West University, complemented by training in conflict management, project management, and leadership.

Looking forward, Ngwenya said that he aspires to see POPCRU’s continued growth as a stakeholder in the criminal justice cluster, exerting its influence and deep knowledge of the criminal justice system to contribute towards shaping new policy directions and fostering enhanced synergies within the system. 

He further emphasised the union’s commitment to expanding its membership base from its current standing of 155,000 members to 180,000 over the coming years by reaching beyond the police, traffic, and correctional services sectors to other workers within the criminal justice system.

In the short-term, however, POPCRU will seek to address the catastrophic impacts of government austerity measures on the criminal justice cluster, and particularly the South African Police Service (SAPS), which are hampering the fight against crime. It will also seek to promote the need for the nationalisation of traffic officers.

“As we navigate through the formidable challenges presented by austerity cuts on the criminal justice system and the working-class, who are already under extreme financial pressure, POPCRU remains steadfast in our commitment to safeguarding the rights and well-being of our members and ensuring that they are not unduly burdened,” he said.

“Additionally, our union will be addressing the fragmented nature of the current system for traffic officers, for example as officers in different provinces operate under different departments. This situation cannot be allowed to continue. The nationalisation and standardisation of training, uniforms, conditions of service, and benefits for traffic officers are essential steps toward creating a more cohesive and effective force.”

Finally, Ngwenya offered his gratitude to Dr Cebekhulu-Makhaza for his nearly three decades of leadership, and for helping transform POPCRU into a self-sustaining union with an impressive investment wing worth more than R500 million, as well as for growing it into a formidable voice within the criminal justice cluster and within the COSATU Federation. 

“You have unified our union and shown us all what is possible through the power of collective bargaining. Do not stray far from us as we will definitely be consulting you for advice as we navigate the obstacles before us, but rest assured that we will be taking the baton forward in striving to achieve a better future for our organisation, our members, and for all South African workers,” Ngwenya concluded. 

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