SAPS: We need ex-cops to help in fight against deadly crimes
SAPS wants to lure 500 former police officers back into the force ... but will they come?
With organised and violent crime, including attacks on women and children, on the rise, police are resorting to the re-enlistment of hundreds of skilled officers to bolster their numbers in the fight against deadly criminals.
The re-enlistment, which will see an estimated 500 former officers being targeted, comes as police this week launched anti-gang units in the Western Cape, where for years communities have been besieged by warring gangs.
Last week SAPS advertised its re-enlistment programme, which is aimed at building the police’s capacity by having former detectives re-join the organised crime, commercial crime, family violence, child protection and sexual offences, and vehicle crime investigation units, and police stations.
Also targeted are former members of the Flying Squad, K9 Unit, Tactical Response Team and Public Order Police.
Those targeted to re-join the SAPS are officers who held the ranks of constable, sergeant and warrant officer when they were in the police. They will come back at same rank they left with.
Police management said those re-enlisting would have to meet strict criteria, including: not being listed on the sexual offenders or child protection registers;
being fit to possess a gun;
pass skills, health and psychometric assessments; and
disclose if they have had an interim or final protection order issued against them. Any former officer who left through early retirement or reached retirement age, or left the SAPS because of ill-discipline, or left more than 10 years ago, would not be eligible to re-enlist.
The 500 targeted for re-enlistment are in addition to an estimated 3,000 new police officers who will graduate in December, and 5,000 recruits who will begin their training in January.
Police spokesperson Brigadier Vish Naidoo said: “Re-enlistment is informed by the number of available vacancies. With re-enlistment we will benefit through saving time and money for training and development.”
He said another benefit of re-enlistment was that former officers brought back the skills and knowledge they had gained from the private sector.
Criminologists, anti-crime activists and the SA Police Union (SAPU), while welcoming the re-enlistment process, say that for it to work the current poor employment conditions and pay levels must first be addressed.
Gareth Newham of the Institute for Security Studies said the re-enlistment programme was good as it would address the loss of skilled detectives to the private sector.
“Working conditions, poor pay and the decade-long serial crisis within police leadership, which has weakened training and disciplinary systems, has driven away skilled officers, especially detectives who can investigate organised crime,” he said.
Newham said that for too long there had been an over emphasis on visible policing, “which does not necessarily deter crime or ensure people are successfully prosecuted”.
“In the end the deterrence to crime is good detective work which ensures convictions,” he said.
SAPU president Mpho Kwinika said, on average, 200 skilled police members left the SAPS every month.
“Three years ago there were 199,000 [members]. Now there are 192,000. This points to dire working conditions and salaries. Unless addressed, programmes such as the re-enlistment will not work.”
Patric Solomon, director of the Molo Songolo child rights centre, said they welcomed every effort to fight crimes against women and children, but said that the conditions which caused skilled officers to leave – including political interference and a lack of proper management support – had to be addressed.