Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa on Thursday defended his officers as being well-trained, in the wake of recent clashes between communities and the police in Limpopo.
“Some segments of our society have questioned our training curriculum, particularly when it comes to some of the violent public protests as recently noted,” he said.
“Our training has been benchmarked with some of the developed nations of the world. We can say without fear of contradiction that we are compared fairly with all the other [police] forces.”
Mthethwa said, however, that the road to success was “always under construction”.
He was speaking at the opening of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Academy Paarl in the Western Cape.
Mthethwa’s comments followed protests that started in Relela near Tzaneen, Limpopo, on Saturday morning when community members protested against apparent police delays in a gruesome murder case.
Three villagers were killed.
A 15-year old was killed on last Saturday and two others were killed on Tuesday morning after being shot, allegedly by police officers.
Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said 15 police officers were injured while 19 police vehicles were damaged when community members went to the Relela satellite police station on Tuesday night.
Mthethwa said the police service was not violent.
“We want to utilise this occasion to reiterate that the majority of our officers are not brutal as has been said out here,” he said.
“We find the behaviour of certain individuals in this regard unacceptable. We need to point out that this should not be a reflection of the entire institution.”
He appealed to the media to educate citizens about the law of the land such as the Gatherings Act and the Dangerous Weapons Act.
Citizens should be responsible and in a fair dialogue with police.
“I think we should be fair to say that in a society of 52-million people, having 200 000 police officers, it can’t be humanly possible to reach all the parts all the time.”
Mthethwa said brutality against police was often ignored.
“When people attack police, burn police stations, attack officers, attack the very vehicles which are supposed to protect society, that is not an issue. It’s never highlighted anywhere,” he said.
In October, the police partnered with the University of South Africa to re-skill the service and make it more professional.
The institution was expected to equip officers with proper theoretical and practical training.
About 125 officers were the first to enrol for a bachelor’s degree in policing.
The institution would also offer honours and masters degrees in policing. It first opened as the South African Police College for Advanced Training in 1990.
It had since undergone many name changes and was best known as the SAPS Academy Paarl.
Enrolment was aimed at those between the Constable and Warrant Officer ranks, looking to gain executive management and leadership skills.
Students were required to be between the ages of 20 and 30, have three years’ police experience, a national senior certificate and no criminal or departmental cases against them.
They were also required to undergo fitness and psychometric tests.– Sapa