3 SAI facilities now up to standard for trainee police – Joemat-Pettersson

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Using military bases and facilities to train new policemen and women stretches the limits of infrastructure with 3 SA Infantry (SAI) Battalion in Kimberley on the receiving end of complaints regarding living conditions.

This saw Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police (PCOP) visit the Northern Cape capital to assess conditions those enlisted in the SA Police Service (SAPS) basic police development learning programme were reportedly putting up with.

Following the visit, a Parliamentary Communication Services statement has it there was “a vast improvement” and saying it was “necessary especially within the broader context of the intensification of the fight against crime”.

The Kimberley base along with the Infantry School in Oudtshoorn are acknowledged as the top two training institutions in the SA Army.

3 SAI landed up with new recruits wearing blue rather than the khaki overalls of military skills development (MSD) recruits undergoing basic military training (BMT) because SAPS training academies could not accommodate the 10 000 trainee police constables recruited last year (another 10 000 were recruited this year).

SAPS training academies could only accommodate 7 000 trainees and 3 000 of them needed to be accommodated elsewhere, with 1 489 trainees finding themselves at the Kimberley base.

PCOP chair Tina Joemat-Pettersson is quoted as saying the improvement in living conditions at the SA Army base includes “a fully functional kitchen facility”, “suitable accommodation with ablution facilities”, “a suitable shooting range” and adequate classrooms for programme delivery. As a further plus to ensure speedy resolution of future “challenges”, a committee was created.

This example of SAPS/SA National Defence Force co-operation should, according to Joemat-Pettersson, be “standard in inter-governmental relations”.

The SAPS budget for basic training at 3 SAI is R117 million plus to cover wages, accommodation, food provision and “other additional expenditure”. Wages obviously go to trainees and, while not stated, the SANDF should be reimbursed for use of its facilities such as accommodation, shooting range and class/lecture rooms.

Joemat-Pettersson notes the “strategic decision” to place police trainees at an SA Army base will have “a long lasting impact” and “be a framework for future joint initiatives between SAPS and the SANDF”.

When police recruits arrived in Kimberly there were reports they were not issued blankets, pillows or mattresses at the SA Army Infantry Formation base as well as having only cold water to shower and bread to “compensate for lack of food”.