CPFs welcome police plan to recruit more detectives

Fixing the unequal allocation of police resources has long been a demand of Social Justice Coalition. Archive photo by Mzi Velapi

The police are on a recruitment drive to boost the number of detectives in the service. CPF leaders say that unless the forensics capacity of the police is also improved, detective services will remain overwhelmed and disabled.

The police ministry is in the process of re-enlisting former detectives back to the service. The announcement was made during a press briefing by the police on Tuesday in Cape Town. Community policing forums from among the most crime-affected areas in the Western Cape welcomed the announcement.

Lieutenant-General Lineo Ntshiea, a divisional commissioner of human resource management, told reporters that the South African Police Services (SAPS) are in the process of capacitating the detective services. “We are inviting detectives that have left the service and had clean records. We have received 2,600 applications so far. The selection process is already underway. They will go through a psychometric test, fitness and medical assessments. Then they will be allocated to police stations. We hope to do that before the end of this year,” she said.

The chairperson of the Khayelitsha community policing forum (CPF) cluster, which includes the three police stations in Khayelitsha, Maccassar, Lwandle, Somerset and Gordon’s Bay police stations, Funeka Soldaat said that they welcome the move by the police because of the “low rate of sentencing”.

“We welcome the drive by the police ministry because we are concerned about the low rate of sentencing. In Khayelitsha police stations, you get a situation where criminals get released because of an incomplete investigation and as a result, people get killed by faceless criminals and this contributes to lots of cold cases. We hope that the detectives will work closely with the prosecutors based in court,” said Soldaat.

The Mitchells Plain CPF cluster includes Athlone, Lentegeur, Grassy Park, Philippi, Strandfontein and Steenberg. Rafique Foflonker, the cluster chairperson told Elitsha that they welcome the beefing up of the detective services but would also like to see the capacity of forensics improve. “The detective services are woefully understaffed. The detectives are overworked and have high workload with between 150 to 200 dockets per detective. We would like to see additional resources being allocated to the forensic branch. It takes too long to wait for a forensic officer to take fingerprints. The adding of capacity to make cases court-ready is also important,” he said.

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The chairperson of the CPF provincial council, Francina Lucas said they also welcome the move by Bheki Cele’s office to capacitate the detective services as the police service in the province has lost experienced officers to the City of Cape Town’s law enforcement services. “The attempt to get capacity back will benefit the community,” said Lucas.

The MEC for Community Safety and Police Oversight in the Western Cape, Reagen Allen said that the police resource allocation is behind by 20 years. The Democratic Alliance-led government in the Western Cape has been calling for the devolution of the police service. “During the 2011/2012 financial year, the ideal staffing requirement at SAPS station level across South Africa, was 157,836, but the actual total number of officers was only 122,617. Fast forward to the 2021/2022 financial year, the ideal was 193,476, with an actual of only 105,935 officers. Effectively, this means that recruitment in SAPS is lagging behind by approximately 20 years and just less than 90,000 officers that should be on the ground,” said Allen.

A 2019 report by the Community Safety department in the Western Cape found that detectives are under-resourced, lack training and that their work is not guided by intelligence.

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