The SA Police Service (SAPS) currently has just less nine thousand reservists, a drop of 86% since 2010.
This was revealed in response to a Parliamentary question asked by the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) shadow police minister Andrew Whitfield.
According to National Police Commissioner General Khehla Sithole the police service nine years ago had 63 592 reservists registered. Currently there are 8 908 – a decline of 86%.
Responding to the low number of reservists Whitfield said they were “essential in aiding police and making it possible for more officers to be available for greater visible policing – desperately needed on South Africa’s streets”.
According to the DA parliamentarian, the police service is 64 000 officers short of meeting the United Nations police to citizen ratio of 1:220. In South Africa the ratio is 1:380.
“Reservists play a critically important role ensuring we have more boots on the ground by supplementing the ranks of full-time officers,” he said, adding it was time for a rethink on the “stringent reservist requirements”.
“It currently takes 30 months to train a reservist. This is in contrast to the SAPS basic police development learning programme (BPDLP) where new recruits undergo 24 months of training,” he said.
“Surely we should make it easier to become reservists. Reservists are often retired SAPS members and want to make a difference. Our country is under siege. Yet South Africans who want to make a difference in SAPS are denied the opportunity to do so.”
Earlier this year, Centurion-headquartered civil rights organisation AfriForum welcomed – with reservations – the announcement of an increase in the number of police reservists, apparently with a view to upping rural safety and security. Its head of community safety Ian Cameron said AfriForum has been campaigning for the past two years to force SAPS to make more – and better – use of its reservists.
The Transvaal Agricultural Union (TAU) was due to meet Sithole and senior SAPS management last month to discuss, among others, “an agriculture friendly police reserve system”; reconfirmation of farm attacks and murders as priority crimes and ensuring rural security.