Today, the DA visited the 10111 call centre headquarters in Midrand to learn more about the employment conditions of call centre operators who are the first point of contact for South Africans who need emergency assistance.
If 10 111 does not work then people will not get the emergency assistance they need, and the South African Police Services (SAPS) will have failed in its crucial mandate of keeping our people safe.
Operators say they earn as little as R100 000 per year and are severely overworked because of understaffing. This means that some emergency calls are missed because some workers work between 10 to 12 hour shifts. This is not conducive to optimal performance in an emotionally taxing environment dealing with life and death situations.
Disputes with regard to payment and working conditions date as far back as 2013 and successive Police Ministers and National Police Commissioners have not managed to find a workable solution to the problem.
The current Minister, Fikile Mbalula, cannot claim to be shocked by the news of the strike, as he should be aware of the plight of the 10 111 call centres due to the one-day go-slow by operators in Gauteng last month.
10 111 call centres are the vital front line of our emergency response apparatus and at the forefront of the fight against crime. It is imperative that these centres operate properly at all times.
The recent strike meant that boots were taken off the ground to man the centre, which worsened the issues of understaffing, under-resourcing and the SAPS ability to keep us safe.
Mbalula needs to immediately tend to the appalling working conditions of the call centre operators so that the people of South Africa can regain confidence in this critical emergency response service.