Picture: Independent Media

Cape Town - Members of Parliament were dumbfounded after police top brass on Thursday revealed that another skills audit is on the cards after the discovery of illiteracy in the ranks of the SAPS.

The police portfolio committee heard that inspections of officers’ pocket books led to the discovery. Pocket books are used as a personal duty record to show all police work performed by a member of the SAPS.”

They have, however, attracted an audit query from the auditor-general over the years as the entries in the books could not be traced.

The SAPS had previously promised to fix matters by ensuring monitoring. Asked what the status was of fixing the matter, deputy commissioner for policing Fannie Masemola blamed the audit query on the pocket book issue. “That is the problem that exacerbates the problem.” 

Masemola said a skills audit would be undertaken to ascertain how many officers couldn’t read or write.

MPs could not believe there were still illiterate police officers, despite millions spent on skills development since 1994. Committee chairman Francois Beukman couldn’t hide his dismay. “In 2018 I don’t buy that,” said a shocked Beukman.

The DA’s Dianne Kohler-Barnard was equally shocked that some officers couldn’t read and write. “I’m absolutely stunned. How are they still in SAPS?” Kohler-Barnard asked.

The culprits could have entered the service through fraudulent means, because those from the pre-1994 era have retired, she said.

Her colleague, Zakhele Mbhele, blamed the low levels of literacy on failure to detect irregularities during recruitment and performance audits.

“It is baffling and concerning. This is how statement-taking is compromised,” Mbhele added. 

Masemola said the culprits were found during visits to the stations. “It is a reality that exists, hence I asked my colleague to say do a national audit so that we know the magnitude of the problem. 

“We are to undertake that and obviously remedy the situation,” he said. 

Bonang Mgwenya, deputy commissioner for human resource management, assured the MPs that the SAPS recruitment process had systems to ensure that those hired met requirements. 

“We also have a process of ensuring we do quality checks,” Mgwenya said. 

She said her beat involved enabling skills development officers to identify where skills needed to be included in the training programme for the year. Mgwenya also said that should the skills audit find illiterate officers, the skills development programme would then kick in straight away. “We will ensure they get on the programme,” she said.

Political Bureau