The South African Police Service (SAPS) is set to return to “apartheid-era ranks” on April 1, Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said on Thursday.
“The DA has learnt that the SAPS’s return to apartheid-era ranks will be gazetted on April 1, an exercise that the DA considers entirely reprehensible and completely unconnected from attempts to address South Africa crime rate,” Kohler-Barnard said.
“Efforts at militarising the police ranks are attention-diverters.
“Instead of dealing with the real problems at hand, the SAPS is now bothering itself with changes in rank.”
Kohler Barnard said the police should “be doing the hard yards” by building new forensic science laboratories to get rid of the 23 000-sample backlog, overhauling the police’s chronically “substandard” officer-training regime and affecting real change in police ranks.
“Wasting our time on rank and title changes is unfathomable,” she said.
Kohler Barnard said the new changes were almost identical to apartheid-era South African Police (SAP) ranks.
She said the national commissioner would now become a general, the deputy national commissioner would be known as lieutenant general, assistant commissioners would be major generals and directors would be brigadiers.
Senior superintendents would be lieutenant colonels, captains would be majors and inspectors would be captains. A sergeant would reportedly be a lieutenant.
“Not only do these changes come at great financial cost, it is also highly problematic that the new rank structures and militarisation of the police is reminiscent of the apartheid-era SAP — effectively a return to apartheid policing structures.
“This, together with increasing accounts of police brutality and a rise in civilian deaths at the hands of police, leaves us with little reason to believe that crimes perpetrated by criminals will go down and every reason to believe that crimes perpetrated by police officers will go up.” — Sapa