The South African Police Service (SAPS) has only half the number of members required for its public order policing unit.
Last week parliament heard that the SAPS has sufficient budget for public order policing but its numbers are too low.
“The public order policing is not at the level at which it was supposed to be, because according to our work study investigation we wanted to see ourselves standing at the ideal figure of 12 779 in order to be operating at the ideal figure,” General Elias Mawela, Divisional Commissioner for Operational Response Services, said.
“But currently we are sitting at 5 600 members, so we are actually operating at below 50 percent but we have started last year whereby we have been given some allocation to try to increase our numbers because we know that crime management is the game of numbers, if you don’t have numbers, members will operate as individual police.”
He said that in 2017 the SAPS received 97 additional vehicles for public order policing and acquired 23 second-generation Nyala lightly armoured vehicles.
He said other equipment was also acquired for public order policing, including medical kits, fire extinguishers and video cameras.
“The only area where we have lacked behind is the procurement of the protective gear for the members of which we intend to finalise this financial year because the procurement vehicle is being finalised by the supply chain, the tenders, and all those things. For us is just to place those orders, then we will buy those stuff.”
Last year eThekwini Municipality ordered four Casspir armoured personnel carriers from Denel Mechem for use in crowd control in Durban and surrounding areas, and in 2016 the Tshwane Metropolitan Police Department (TMPD) took delivery of three RG-12 Nyala armoured internal security vehicles from Denel Land Systems.
The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD), meanwhile, took delivery of two WP1800 crowd control vehicles manufactured by TFM and DefensePak in December 2015 and February 2016.
According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), from January to the end of April this year, the ISS Public Violence Monitor recorded at least 60 major protests across South Africa. Land invasions are expected to be a big issue this year, with a number of violent protests already taking place.