Why the South African Police are not coping

Jeffreys Bay residents are not alone when it comes to the service they receive from their local Police station.

The South African Police has been plagued by the “four U’s” for at least a decade, which directly impact on the police’s ability to carry out their responsibility to protect the citizens of this country.

More specifically:


The appropriate resourcing of the SAPS is a national competency which has not been fulfilled year after year and is echoed by longstanding chronic under-funding.

It is clear that where the SAPS are most under-resourced, crime is highest.

Incompetent management and a failure to adequately allocate and make use of its limited resources constrain the SAPS’ ability to prevent and respond to crime (curiously, the only part of the SAPS that lacks for nothing is the VIP Protection Service that works only for the executive elite).

Deficiencies in resourcing as a result of skewed policing priorities are no better evidenced than by the 325% increase in drug and gang-related crime since the Narcotics Bureau was erroneously disbanded in 2004.


One of the most important and basic factors that allow SAPS officers to carry out their jobs is ensuring the officers are properly equipped so that they are able to deal effectively with whatever they may encounter on a day-to-day basis.

Properly equipping our SAPS is literally a matter of life and death, for South Africans as well as the police officers themselves.

SAPS officers should have access to the equipment, such as vehicles, bullet-resistant vests, hand cuffs or hand ties, radios, fire-arms, and computer equipment; which they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Data we have collated shows that where reaction times are long, the most likely cause is a lack of vehicles to enable police to react swiftly to complaints.

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The proper training of SAPS officers, both basic and on-the-job training, is vitally important to the effective functioning of the entire criminal justice system and acts as an important component in rebuilding the public’s faith in the SAPS.

Yet it seems that the training SAPS recruits receive is lost along the way, due to a lack of leadership to enforce command-and-control and ensure strict adherence to what is taught in basic training as well as to implement on-the-job and refresher training continuously.

A reply to a parliamentary question revealed that not one cent was spent on training SAPS Senior Management Service (SMS) members during the last three financial years.

More broadly, out of the total expenditure by the SAPS in 2014/15, the spend on training and development while in the work place, represents 0.1% of total expenditure.

This is clearly inadequate to meet the needs of strained police service.

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In the first quarter of the current financial year, the SAPS has already shed 1 000 members due to dismissals, retrenchments, resignations and retirements, according to a SAPS management testimony to the Police Portfolio Committee meeting in Parliament.

SAPS management has reported to Parliament that our police service loses 6 000 members per annum on average, and most of these vacancies are not being filled.

The effect of this is that police officers, and especially detectives, already constrained by under-capacity, will be further overburdened, which restricts their ability to fight crime.

This is a very worrying trend which means the South African Police Service, already suffering from personnel shortages at station-level across much of the country, is shrinking and will have less capacity to prevent, combat and investigate crime in the future.

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