The budget reduction led to SAPS member numbers dropping from 194 605 in the 2016/17 financial year to 182 126 in March 2021. Picture: Armand Hough /African News Agency(ANA)
The budget reduction led to SAPS member numbers dropping from 194 605 in the 2016/17 financial year to 182 126 in March 2021. Picture: Armand Hough /African News Agency(ANA)

SAPS details risks handicapping execution of their mandate

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Aug 1, 2021

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Johannesburg - The SAPS top brass has laid bare the risks that pose threats to the department’s leadership and organisational challenges.

This as the SAPS leadership briefed Parliament this week amid the perceived instability within its ranks.

Briefing the police portfolio committee, head of strategic management Major-General Leon Rabie said the action implemented by commissioner Khehla Sitole to address corruption and misconduct could be perceived as indication of instability in the department.

“We respond strategically to the current factors that are impacting on organisational stability to ensure we are in a position to execute our mandate.

“Ideally, SAPS should be better resourced to ensure we are able to respond to the ever-increasing policing demands,” Rabie said.

He told MPs that a total of 12 senior managers have been dismissed following investigations.

Sitole has looked at the top heavy, inflated SAPS organogram through restructuring in consultation with organised labour.

Rabie said the budget cuts in the medium-term expenditure framework have necessitated the SAPS to prioritise specific functional areas to ensure sustainable policing and service delivery.

The budget reduction led to SAPS member numbers dropping from 194 605 in the 2016/17 financial year to 182 126 in March 2021.

“We are expecting the establishment to drop to 162 944 in 2022/23. Over the next two and three years on average our establishment will reduce by 6200 members per annum,” Rabie said.

This does not bode well for the police-to-population ratio which stands at 1:327, down from 1:254 nine years ago.

The early retirement initiative introduced by National Treasury to curb the public salary bill saw 2825 members take up the offer last year.

Sitole said while the number of police stations grew, it was not the case with the number of officers.

“We can’t argue against the budget cuts any further. There is fiscal constraint experienced by the country. We need to look at what we can do,” he said.

Sitole also said the scaling down in numbers of officers despite the growing population handicapped the fulfilment of their constitutional mandate.

Rabie also said significant budget cuts were affecting their human resources priorities.

“We as an organisation will have to determine depending on funds which of some of the human resources priorities can be implemented.

“The budget cuts require the prioritisation of the filling of critical vacancies and capacitating of specialised capabilities,” he said.

Sitole said the higher demand for police visibility required SAPS to invest in technology.

“If the committee can support us, we can get a little bit in investment in technology,” he said.

Committee chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the general instability within SAPS, as a result of various causal factors, was a cause for concern.

“The committee is concerned that the police to population ratio is currently at 1:327, with an increasing ratio year-on-year,” she said.

Joemat-Pettersson also said they welcomed the dismissal of 12 senior managers as a way of eradicating corruption within the system.

DA MP Okkie Terblanche said SAPS had long been unable to fulfil its mandate of combating crime in South Africa.

“While the police commissioner would like to blame public scrutiny and unclear mandates, it is clear, however, that it is poor leadership that has caused SAPS to fail in its mandate to protect and serve the public,” he said.

Terblanche also said not only had SAPS suffered from budget cuts, but also years of mismanagement.

“Had government prioritised the safety and security of its people over bailouts to pet projects like SAA, SAPS would possibly have been in a better position to combat crime.”

Political Bureau

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