/ 9 February 2023

Sona: Ramaphosa promises ‘significant’ police reform is underway

3a345fab Police Delwynverasamy Scaled
A lack of effective political leadership has contributed to the stagnation and decline of the South African Police Service (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The government wants to combat crime with the same vigour in which it addresses economic reforms in other struggling state departments like electricity and water. The main focus areas for President Cyril Ramaphosa would be increasing capacity, fixing the emergency helpline and Eskom sabotage. 

“Just as we have embarked on economic reforms in electricity, water, telecommunication and logistics through Operation Vulindlela, we are embarking on a process of reform to improve the effectiveness of our fight against crime,” said Ramphosa while delivering his seventh state of the nation address on Thursday evening. 

Ramaphosa said 10 000 new police personnel will be recruited and trained this year.

However, Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in November last year that due to budget constraints only 15 000 new police recruits will be enlisted over three years. 

The police service’s total budget for the 2022-2023 financial year is R100.695 billion, compared to the previous financial year’s R100.474 billion. 

In his address, Ramaphosa promised “significantly” more funding in the next financial year for the police, the National Prosecuting Authority and the Special Investigating Unit. 

Ramaphosa acknowledged complaints raised concerning the 10111 emergency line’s abject  failure. Calls made to the line remain unanswered and this, the president assured, would be resolved through partnering with the private sector. 

The president also announced a dedicated team consisting of senior leadership to stem out corruption and theft at Eskom. 

Outgoing Eskom chief executive André de Ruyter told parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) in January that ongoing corruption at the power utility and the failure of law enforcement agencies to deal with it, threatens the stability of the power network. 

In his address, Ramaphosa said: “[SAPS] established a dedicated team with senior leadership to deal with the pervasive corruption and theft at several power stations that has contributed to the poor performance of these stations”.

De Ruyter told the NCOP last week that there have been multiple successes by law enforcement agencies to clamp down on corruption and theft at the power utility. 

He confirmed 25 arrests and the closure of three illegal sites where coal to power stations was replaced by low-quality coal, causing further damage to Eskom plants. The police are in the process of targeting an additional 30 similar illegal coal sites.