The Democratic Alliance, vying for a greater slice of the electorate in this month’s national and provincial general election, says the South African Police Service needs attention in six key areas if it is to best criminals.
The party`s shadow police minister Dianne Kohler-Barnard says the law enforcement authority is “in a state of crisis”.
The DA is currently the largest opposition in Parliament and is expected to gain more seats in the 22 April election but is not predicted to dethrone the ruling African National Congress.
A recent survey suggests the ANC will take 64.7% of the vote with the DA getting 10.8% and the ANC breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) finding favour with 8.9% of voters.
Kohler-Barnard says key performance data demonstrate that in almost every key area of policing “standards are slipping, and efforts to combat crime are becoming increasingly ineffective”.
She says the “ANC`s disastrous cadre deployment policy” is at “the heart of these problems” as it has seen skilled security experts replaced by political appointees.
“This has triggered a managerial crisis in the police service, which has filtered down throughout the service to its most junior ranks,” she says.
“Fixing the SAPS command structure is the first of six key areas that a DA government would target.
“This command structure has been left in tatters: the National Police Commissioner has been placed on leave, two of the five Deputy Commissioner posts are vacant, and at least two Divisional Commissioners are facing the possibility of serious criminal charges being laid against them. In addition, one critical Divisional Commissioner post remains vacant.
“Secondly, DA government would reverse Safety & Security Minister, Nathi Mthethwa`s decision to release crime statistics only on an annual basis, and would implement a real-time crime information system, available to the public.
“Third, the disastrous SAPS record on losing firearms must be tackled immediately. Since 2001, 14 117 weapons have been lost or stolen from police stations, and the DA will ensure that officers are held to account when they lose weapons.
“Fourth, the continuous increase in missing police case dockets must be resolved immediately. The number of lost dockets has increased every year since 2003, and totals over 2 500 in that time period. At present, only 6% of these incidents result in disciplinary procedures. The DA would ensure that all officers are held to account for negligence, and a new system is implemented that will see dockets regularly backed up.
“Fifth, the DA will resolve the bottleneck that has emerged in our Forensic Science Laboratories. At present, over 20 000 samples are backlogged, and this has a severe impact on conviction rates.
“Finally, the serious staffing anomalies in the Police Service must be resolved. Currently, the majority of South African provinces fail to meet the United Nations` minimum police-to-population ratio, and the ANC`s policy of centralising the Police Service has led to the loss of key specialised units – such as the Narcotics Bureau and Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Units. Many specially-skilled Police Service staff members have resigned as a result of these gravely flawed policies. We also need to increase the size of the police service to 250 000, and increase the detective pool by 30 000,” Kohler-Barnard said.