File picture: Skyler Reid/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - The number of SA Police Service (SAPS) reservists helping out at South Africa's police stations has declined by 82% in eight years, a reply to a parliamentary question by the Democratic Alliance (DA) showed.

DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Thursday the dwindling presence of reservists was ''alarming'' considering that there was just one police officer for every 375 South Africans by the end of March this year.

''In 2010, the number of police reservists stood at 63 592 and were used to man stations as all police officers were out on the streets to protect the thousands of visitors for the FIFA Football World Cup. One year later there was a moratorium on the taking on of reservists. The policy was changed, which excluded 70% of the existing experienced and dedicated members and now, eight years later, the total number has dropped to just 11 015,'' Barnard said.

''Despite the increase in population figures over the past five years, the numbers of police in SA are currently the lowest over the five-year period yet it is rare to find a station with more than a handful of active reservists, who put in long hours for the benefit of the country at no cost whatsoever.''

With police battling to contain the high crime rate in South Africa, police reservists should be welcomed as they play a vital role in providing a support to the police service, she added.

''Rural communities are affected by the lack of policing, the DA has repeatedly called for the introduction of Rural Safety Units. The steep drop in SAPS reservists means that South Africans and farming communities in particular, continue to live in fear. Equally our SAPS members are so stretched, they are set up for failure.''

''The DA has a plan to improve rural safety and fix the SAPS to ensure it is effective at fighting crime and protecting our citizens. The complacency of the ANC government has seen crime escalate to the stage where 57 of us are murdered each and every day.''

African News Agency (ANA)