SAPS national commissioner Khehla Sitole. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg- National police commissioner ­General Khehla Sitole says the Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigation (DPCI) cannot claim to be an elite unit when it in fact faces a dire shortage of investigators.

Sitole revealed this on Wednesday when he briefed Parliament’s police portfolio committee on measures they were ­taking to tackle the scourge of crime, following the shocking statistics released last week.

“The (Hawks) numbers have deteriorated from 5000 to about 2500 now, but their current shortage to respond to crime is 2800. With this shortage they can’t claim to be an elite investigative organisation,” he said.

According to Sitole, the shortage of officers at police stations to address police visibility in communities stood at 62000.

He said over and above these shortages, the DPCI was functioning with 50% less structure.

Sitole highlighted the fact that dockets which had to be processed totalled 1.6 million.

“The shortages are a reality. We do not expect the government to respond and address it at once,” he said. “We are not raising challenges and folding our hands. We are putting interventions in place.”

The national commissioner said President Cyril Ramaphosa had announced that there would be an intake of 7000 new officers per year.

“What we have at colleges is 5000 that come out in December. I have just signed off for an advertisement for 7000 recruits for next year.”

Sitole said he had also issued an instruction for police reservists to serve as a force multiplier.

He revealed that the SAPS had also decided to use the services of former police officers, especially in the investigative department.

“We have got a number of senior officers in crime detection that are leaving. Some are former teachers, advocates and graduates. We are also bringing them on board.”

The former officers will be absorbed by the detective academy, which is set to open in the new financial year.

Sitole conceded that the shortage of officers posed a problem for the SAPS in its efforts to fight crime. He said criminals were aware of the shortages and were taking advantage of it.

Political Bureau