Durban - South Africa's public order policing units are among the best in the world, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on Friday.
The police had 4000 members in these units, which dealt with riots and faced the recent spate of public service delivery protests in the country, he said at a conference in Durban for 1500 police station commanders.
The units employed a combination of techniques from different countries, as well as those learnt in South Africa, to quell protests.
“But the level of dangerous weapons that police have to face is extreme,” he said, pointing out that the same spears used at protests had been used to defeat the British army at Isandlwana.
On the police's ability to solve crimes, he said there was a major drive underway to increase the skills of detectives. The first batch of 143 detectives had been enrolled for a degree course run by the University of SA at the police academy in Paarl in the Western Cape.
Speaking earlier to the police commanders, he said the police's standing in society was being questioned.
“Many in society have cast aspersions around leadership, management, and on members of the SAPS. There have been instances where people have asked whether our police stations are led by capable commanders, at times justifiably and at times not.”
He said in a bid to improve its image police commanders had to make sure their instructions were implemented.
“We also need to crack the whip on lazy station commanders,” he warned.
“Part of the reason why we said let us have this session is because if there are challenges, then we deal with them collectively. There are some present here who give the SAPS a bad name precisely because they are not hands-on.”
Lazy officers would be dealt with without fear or favour, he said.