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Police minister admits to 'costly' losses as SAPS bleeds skilled cops to City of Cape Town

Police Minister Bheki Cele has admitted to grappling with a mass exodus of officers. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele has admitted to grappling with a mass exodus of officers. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 27, 2023


Cape Town - As the City of Cape Town continues to poach highly-skilled officers from the SAPS, Police Minister Bheki Cele has admitted to grappling with a “very costly” mass exodus of 1 303 servicemen and women since last April.

Reasons for their exits include police officers opting to be housewives, the poor remuneration in the service, a toxic work environment, business start-ups and emigration.

Cele revealed the exodus in a parliamentary response to IFP MP Zandile Majozi on February 17, which coincided with the minister’s release of crime statistics that painted a picture of unyielding crime.

The exit statistics covered the period from April 1 last year to January 31 this year.

Cele said 413 officers left the police for better remuneration; 361 for personal reasons; 133 due to age; 128 over poor health; 72 left to start businesses; 61 pursued other occupations and 38 resigned due to “domestic problems”.

Cele added that 38 had left to further their studies; 24 resigned due to the “nature of the work”, 17 due to a lack of “progression possibilities”; eight chose to be housewives; seven emigrated; five had married; two had expired contracts; two were not satisfied with SAPS and one had transferred to another department.

Minister of Police Bheki Cele. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA)

Majozi asked for an overview of the employment conditions at SAPS and how these have been adapted to minimise mass resignations, considering the shortage of police officers.

Cele said: “The SAPS loses a high number of trained, skilled and experienced members annually due to ill-health, retirement (superannuation), early retirement, resignation, dishonourable discharge, dismissal, contract expiry, failing to complete basic training and inter-departmental transfers.”

He added that some of the departures were unavoidable and regarded as natural attrition, while other resignations were detrimental to SAPS reputation.

Earlier this month, Mayco member for safety and security JP Smith roped in US State Department special investigator Leonard Kleinhans, a former crime intelligence official, to head his portfolio’s information management system.

Kleinhans joins nine other former SAPS members in Smith’s portfolio, in particular, and 70 other former SAPS officers who have joined the City.

Cele said: “For the SAPS to have lost more than 3 000 for the preceding three financial years as a result of voluntary exits is detrimental to service delivery and very costly, as the SAPS invests significant amounts of money in the training of its members.”

He appeared to be at sixes and sevens about why members leave as he explained that SAPS employees enjoyed the same benefits as staff in other departments.

However, he said he was putting up a fight to retain skills through a scarce skills policy, rolling out a retention policy and implementation guidelines for SAPS.

The policy and guidelines are aimed at helping commanders and line managers retain skilled staff.

Cele recently announced the addition of 10 000 new cops this year, while Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, in his medium-term Budget policy statement, separately promised funds to secure the addition of 15000 more cops.

In October, the Cape Argus reported Cele saying there was a shortage of detectives in the Athlone police station, which was known to be “kidnapping and murder territory”.