Lawmakers hear of sad state of SAPS detective service

2012-09-06 00:00

CAPE TOWN — About a fifth of South Africa’s detectives have never undergone a formal detective training course.

Moreover, many police stations do not have enough computers. Some are still in their boxes and are not connected to the South African Police Service mainframe.

Numerous police vehicles were also not suited to the terrain in which they were operating. In some cases detectives reached crime scenes only after a two-hour journey, which meant that the crime scenes were interfered with.

These weaknesses in the detective service were revealed yesterday by Public Service Commission (PSC) chairperson Phumelele Nzimande at a discussion on detective services in Parliament. MPs, police representatives and members of civil organisations were among those who attended the forum.

Nzimande said research by the PSC had shown that of South Africa’s 25 000 detectives, 4 845 had not completed any detective training courses.

About 48% of police stations did not have enough computers and 24% did not have enough vehicles.

“This results in a low rate of convictions and makes successful prosecutions difficult,” Nzimande said.

A PSC document handed out during the discussion showed that 70% of police stations did not have enough detectives to carry out investigations.

Democratic Alliance MP Dianne Kohler Barnard expressed shock .

“Being a detective should be something a constable looks forward to. It is counter-productive to call someone a detective before he or she has passed their examinations.”

Dr Johan Burger of the Institute for Security Studies said detectives could be divided into two groups.

There were those who were taken straight from police college and put into the detective branch after they had received detective training, but they did not have any police experience.

The other group had basic police training, but no formal detective training. They saw it as unnecessary to undergo the detective training course, since they were already working as detectives, Burger explained. “I think the solution is for police officers first to complete their basic training, to work for two years, and then to receive detective training.”

Burger said the police should consider reintroducing a uniformed detective branch that could concentrate on less serious cases, such as road accidents, drunken driving and ordinary assault cases.

“That would relieve the pressure on detectives and create a pool of aspirant detectives who can be promoted to the detective branch.”

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