South Africa's police service should reduce staff numbers by 9 000, the National Treasury has recommended, according to a report on Monday.
According to a Treasury report submitted to Parliament last week, this could see the police service placing a moratorium on the recruitment of new members from 2013, Beeld newspaper reported.
Dianne Kohler Barnard, DA MP and shadow minister of police, said the country could not afford to have fewer police officers.
“With one of the world's highest crime rates, we need more police officials. This suggestion bodes ill for the improvement of the police's specialised services, especially detectives and the forensic division.”
Kohler Barnard said the head of the police's forensic laboratory had already been told no new staff could be hired, in accordance with the Treasury recommendation.
Police spokesman Colonel Vish Naidoo said on Sunday the Treasury had only made a recommendation, and that the figure of 9 000 was not definitive.
“It will happen over a long period of time. Nobody's job is under threat. The idea is to reduce existing staff numbers through natural means, resignations, retirements... that kind of thing.”
Naidoo said the police had appointed around 55 000 new members between 2005 and 2009 ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
“This means that we appointed about 11 000 people a year, whereas we usually appoint only about 3 500 a year.” – Sapa