5 000 detectives lack training
Cape Town - Nearly 5 000 of the country's detectives lack the requisite 14 weeks of training for the job, police officials admitted to Parliament's portfolio committee on police on Thursday.
Divisional commissioner for detective services Ray Lalla told MPs the department was facing a backlog of 4 845 detectives who had undergone only the two weeks of training in detective work that forms part of the curriculum for all police officers.
The figure came to about 24% of the 20 022 detectives in the police force.
"The number that we have is 4 845 detectives... they have gone for the basic course, they have not gone for the 14-week course," Lalla told MPs.
"I concede that they have not received specific training.
"We are involved in a process of trying to overcome that backlog but in the past few years, we have managed to go from 12 000 to where we currently are - 4 845."
He said police management had found that they were able to compensate in some way by visiting police stations "to train people on the spot".
In the current financial year, they hoped to visit 140 stations to boost the skills of detectives who were holding down the job though they did not have proper training.
Lalla said the police last year exceeded their target of trimming the backlog by bringing the number of detectives trained in recent years to 14,532.
According to the police's annual report, this was well above the target figure of 12,928 announced by Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa last year.
The head of police training, Major General Stian Nyalungu, told MPs severe challenges remained because the police had limited capacity at their Hammanskraal and Boland colleges to carry out detective training.
Nyalungu said training was also bedevilled this year because many of those who needed to be taken in were involved in police operations during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
"Most of these detectives have been involved in this World Cup."
The officials were given a tongue-lashing by portfolio committee chairperson Sindi Chikunga for failing to provide Parliament with a clear strategy on how they planned to eradicate the backlog.
"When we visit police stations we meet people who are working as detectives but they have not received the basic training," Chikunga said.
"You are saying you are going to address this backlog and probably this has been said repeatedly in the past. But the question is what systems are you putting in place to ensure that you address this backlog?"
MPs said the lack of proper training went some way towards explaining why the criminal justice system struggled to secure convictions.
ANC committee member Anneliese van Wyk said: "We can't continue complaining about resources, about more police officers, etc. If we are not going to improve detectives and crime intelligence we are not going to get the result that we want in the end, and that is convictions."