/ 1 November 2022

Budget constraints paint grim outlook for new police recruits

Ekurhuleni Metro police found themselves locked out of their OR tambo office after their rent had not paid for over a year.
due to budget constraints only 15 000 new police recruits will be enlisted over the next three years.

South Africa’s rapidly growing population far exceeds its police force, which shows a significant drop of 10 000 members over the last decade. There is one police officer – excluding administrative staff – for every 408, people according to Africa Check.

Meanwhile, due to budget constraints only 15 000 new police recruits will be enlisted over the next three years. 

Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale addressed the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) during a ministerial briefing about resources in the police service on Tuesday. 

In 2010, police personnel totalled slightly more than 150 000 and served a population of about 50-million people. More than a decade later, police numbers have dropped to 140 000, while the population has increased to more than 60-million people. 

Mathale told the council that budget constraints pose a major challenge to the South African Police Service (SAPS) as the demand for policing is increasing. 

“When the population continued to grow, the police numbers decreased to 140 000,” said Mathale.

“We need to increase the number of police personnel that we have, at least to where we were in 2010,” said the deputy police minister, adding it would still not be a “desirable number” as the population continues to grow.

Lieutenant General Puleng Dimpane, chief financial officer for the SAPS, led the NCOP in the police’s presentation. 

Dimpane told the council, “there is pressure” in that there is “no way” SAPS will reach the desired number of police staff with its limited budget. 

The police service’s total budget for the 2022-23 financial year is R100.695-billion, compared to the previous year’s R100.474-billion. 

In the medium-term budget policy statement last week, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced additional support for the police to recruit 15 000 constables over the next three years.

Setting out the plan for new recruits, Dimpane described it as “a drop in the ocean”. 

She told the council that a total of 10 389 new entry level police trainees were enlisted for the 2022-23 financial year. Of these, 495 trainees graduated in September while the remainder will complete their training later this year in December and in June 2023. 

A further 5 000 trainees are expected to start their training in March or April next year. 

However, Mathale reminded parliament that annually SAPS loses nearly 6 000 police officers “through natural attrition”.

“This is not a good figure. This year we are training 10 000, next year we lose 6 000. So effectively we are bringing 4 000 new people into the picture.”

Part of the ministerial briefing included presentations from members of the executive councils (MECs) responsible for policing from all the nine provinces. 

Of the three provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape and Gauteng — flagged as priority policing areas during the briefing, only one appeared before the council. 

Reagen Allen, MEC for police oversight and community safety in the Western Cape, appeared before the council, while his counterparts, Sipho Hlomuka in KwaZulu-Natal and Faith Mazibuko in Gauteng, did not. 

NCOP member Dennis Ryder for the Gauteng province lashed out against Mazibuko for not appearing before the council, consequently leaving the council without the option to pose questions to her. 

Allen reiterated the long-standing call from the Democratic Alliance-led government to fully control policing matters in the province. 

According to the MEC the province is seeing a decrease in police personnel “year on year coupled with a 10% vacancy rate”. 

The province was initially told it would receive 1 939 recruits in the current financial year, but the number has since decreased to 1 118, leaving it with 821 fewer recruits. 

“Nothing beats boots on the ground,” maintained Allen.