13 000 protests a year stretching police capacity


An indication of South Africans’ unhappiness with the lack of service delivery from, among others, local authorities and employers, comes with the revelation by Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko that there were 13 575 community related protests in the country between April last year and March 2014.

Delivering his maiden budget speech in Parliament, he said the service delivery protests over the past few years had “stretched” police capacity to maintain order.

The new man at the helm of the thin blue line has as his primary task the need to ensure all people in South Africa are and feel safe. To deliver on this outcome he has been allocated R72.5 billion by National Treasury to meet five strategic goals. These are to reduce the number of serious crimes; combat border and cyber-crime; increase the percentage of trial-ready case dockets for serious crimes; stabilise public protests, and enhance local police capability.

On service delivery and other protests Nhleko said: “Of the 13 575 incidents, 11 668 were conducted peacefully and 1 907 turned violent, which led to the arrest of 2 522 individuals. We will continue to attend to these community protests with vigilance as we have done in the past with the sole intention of ensuring we secure property and life of all South Africans. We also appeal to community leaders to exercise responsible leadership which ensures protection of property and human lives”.

That South Africans find themselves living in increasing fear of falling victim to criminals came with the Ministerial review of the country’s private security sector.
“It currently employs over 485 000 security officers and has over 8 100 activity security businesses. This industry is by far one of the leading suppliers of entry-level jobs in the South African labour market with an estimated turn-over of over R50 billion,” he said.

The man who took over from Nathi Mthethwa after the May national election also announced a number of changes to the police recruitment process as well as legislative and policy reviews for the service to be better able to fight crime.
“Changes have been approved to the recruitment strategy for entry level constables with a view to ensuring only the best-suited candidates are recruited. All our new recruits will be taken through rigorous testing for their suitability before they start with formal training. They will also be taken through grooming camps for screening purposes, vetting, written assessments, physical fitness as well as other diagnostic tests on behaviour, patriotism and culture,” he said.

It is hoped the recruitment strategy changes will eliminate problems experienced previously with pending or previous convictions and fraudulent qualifications as well as nepotism.