Inside the Khayelitsha SAPS charge office. FILE PICTURE: OBED ZILWA

Cape Town - Those applying to the police in the Western Cape will this year be paraded before residents as part of the selection process, the Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry heard on Tuesday.

This was the testimony of deputy Western Cape police commissioner Hendrik Burger - responsible for human resource management.

He said stricter measures would be applied to select officers.

In addition to fingerprint testing and interviews to determine whether potential constables had criminal records, communities would also get a chance to have their say.

“We are now going to include public meetings where we are going to parade these possible recruits in front of communities,” Burger said.

Over 600 posts have been allocated to the province, which currently has the lowest police staff complement in the country.

Burger said the community involvement was to ensure members of the public could point out possible criminal activity or conflicts of interest on the part of applicants.

“It could be that community members see them [potential recruits] at shebeens or even running shebeens,” Burger testified.

Burger said another new requirement would be a boot camp to ensure the fitness levels of possible recruits were tested over a period of two weeks, instead of one day.

Burger said there were a number of reasons for the high vacancy rate.

While the number of officers retiring earlier and resigning was not as high as in previous years, there was a concerted effort to rid the force of ill-disciplined officers.

“We are getting rid of those people. It is impacting on our vacancy rate.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Brigadier Leon Rabie, an organisational design practitioner at police headquarters in Pretoria, testified that a recruitment drive was underway to increase the number of officers in the three most understaffed provinces in the country, including the Western Cape.

“Out of 1070 posts, the decision was taken to allocate 60 percent of the posts to the Western Cape... because it's one of the provinces that are the worst off,” Rabie said.

The other two understaffed provinces were the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga.

The reason the Western Cape lagged behind was because of historical practices, he said.

The SA Police Service was currently enlisting 663 constables to be trained and deployed in the province after a budget allocation was made during the current financial year.

Rabie testified in week five of the commission's public hearings, which have been extended by nine days due to testimony running over the scheduled time.

The commission was established by Western Cape premier Helen Zille after NGO the Social Justice Coalition (SJC) complained of police inefficiency in Khayelitsha.

The SJC also insisted that police inefficiency was responsible for an apparent increase in mob justice killings.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa tried to halt the commission from being set up, but lost his legal bid to do so in the Constitutional Court last year.