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The SAPS was not sure how many detectives it had in its ranks and could not budget and plan properly as a result, a “Detective Dialogue” forum, held in Parliament on Wednesday, heard.
Hosted by the National Assembly’s police oversight committee, it laid bare the extent of the detective service’s dysfunction, lack of training and inability to take proper statements at serious crime scenes.
Irvin Kinnes, a researcher at the University of Cape Town’s Centre of Criminology, who facilitated the dialogue, asked how many detectives there were in the service. “A head count would help us do proper planning,” said Kinnes.
He said corruption in the service was also a concern.
Policing experts and civil society representatives converged on Parliament for the dialogue, highlighting weaknesses in the police’s ability to investigate crimes, from evidence gathering to taking down statements.
Annelize van Wyk an ANC member and acting chairwoman of the police committee, also raised concerns about the lack of information about the number of detectives.
DA spokeswoman on police Dianne Kohler Barnard asked why SAPS members were being promoted to the rank of detective without having completed their training.
Policing expert Johan Burger, of the Institute for Security Studies, said another problem was the high turnover rate among detectives.
“The loss of scarce skills [to other police units] is not necessarily negative, but it’s negative for detectives,” said Burger.
Major-General Charles Johnson, of the police’s detective unit, said more than R40 million had been budgeted for detective training.
“We only trained [branch] commanders. We have 18 detectives training in China and 20 detectives in the US [training on drug-related cases],” said Johnson.
He said strides were also being made in computer literacy, with 1 200 detectives getting training from Microsoft.