President Cyril Ramaphosa says that South Africa needs a more capable police force to curb rising crime rates in the country – adding that thousands of officers are currently being trained.

Writing in his weekly letter to the public, Ramaphosa said that the government had allocated funding for the recruitment of 12,000 new police trainees, and the first cohort is currently undergoing basic training.

He added that the South African Police Service (SAPS) Public Order Policing Units will also receive an additional 4,000 members this year.

Ramaphosa said that there are some serious challenges facing policing in South Africa.

“The South African Police Service is feeling the effects of the country’s fiscal crisis, several years of understaffing and state capture,” said Ramaphosa.

Crime in South Africa cannot be eradicated without a strong, capable, professional police force, he said. The capacity of the SAPS was one of the issues flagged in the report of the Expert Panel on the July 2021 unrest.

“Our focus now is on closing capacity gaps that led to our law enforcement authorities being found unprepared to deal with the events of last July.”

Understaffing and lack of adequate training have had a particularly dire impact on the community and Public Order Policing, he added.

There is growing public frustration and anger at the crime levels in our country, said Ramaphosa.

He said that South Africans have rightly pointed out that it should not take a high-profile crime such as the gang rape of eight young women in Krugersdorp for action to finally be taken in the country.

Private security

Drawing on the lessons of last July’s unrest, Ramaphosa said that state is working to improve cooperation between law enforcement agencies and the private security industry in the fight against crime.

“We need close coordination with all stakeholders, including businesses, so that resources and crime intelligence are shared to both improve public safety and deal with crimes that disrupt economic activity.”

An example is a collaboration between Transnet Freight Rail and the SAPS to combat infrastructure theft and line sabotage. These crimes seriously affect the economy as companies cannot move their products to the ports for export, the president said.

Another example of cooperation is between mine security, private security and the SAPS to fight precious metals theft.

The SAPS is establishing a task team to tackle illegal mining, alongside other task teams dealing with construction site extortion, copper and cable theft, and theft and vandalism of economic infrastructure.

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