One year on: No police lieutenants or majors


The South African Police Service re-introduced the ranks of Lieutenant and Major a year ago on Friday – but have yet to appoint any. At the time the move was touted as one of a number of step to rebuild morale in the force and to create more promotion opportunities.

Other changes that came into effect on April 1 last year was a reversion to military rank nomenclature used up to 1995, with commissioners again being addressed as generals and superintendents as colonels. National police commissioner General Bheki Cele says the move aimed to introduce a sense of discipline among officers. Inspectors became warrant officers once again and superintendents lieutenant-colonels. Senior superintendents are now colonels. The ranks of constable, sergeant and captain remained unchanged in terms of Government Notice R.254 dated April 1, 2010.

Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa says no promotion or appointment to the ranks of Lieutenant and Major have been effected “due to the fact that the promotion criteria as well as the salary scales of the two new ranks are subject to collective bargaining and a draft collective agreement in this regard is on the table of the Safety Security Sectoral Bargaining Council, pending implementation thereof by the parties to Council signing it as a collective agreement.”

He was responding, in writing, to a parliamentary question by African National Congress MP GD Schneemann. “The proposal by the department regarding the criteria and the salary scale has been tabled at the Bargaining Council and the unions are consulting around this proposal and will revert back to us as soon as they have finished their consultations.”

Tthat a mere change in ranks will automatically lead to dramatic decline in crimes [sic],” the police ministry said in a statement at the time. “We are cognisant of the fact that this is a process in progress, in other words, change will not come overnight. This should not be misinterpreted as merely the militarisation of the police but as part of our new approach of being fierce towards criminals, while lenient to citizens’ safety and maintaining good discipline within the force.”

The police ministry further added the change did not have any legal, constitutional or even significant financial implications for the department, the minister emphasising that the leadership carefully took into consideration this factor and to date all the feasibility checks indicate that it will not.