Government may have spent billions of rands on literacy programmes as far back as 1994 when it became clear some members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) could neither read nor write. But the problem hasn’t gone away.
Members of the portfolio committee tasked with oversight over the police yesterday listened in astonishment when told another skills audit was on the cards to determine how many men and women in uniform were unable to record incidents, write statements or record information at crime scenes in their “pocketbooks”.
Lawmakers were told that the discrepancy in the books had in the past led to an audit query from the auditor-general with the deputy commissioner of policing admitting the matter had not yet been resolved.
“There has been consequence management taken in various provinces regarding the matter, however, it still sticks its head out,” Masemola said, and, as quoted in The Star, further explained: “That [pocketbooks] is the problem.”
Committee members, including chairperson Frans Beukman, who said he was “shocked”, were livid that in 2018, SAPS still had in its ranks officers who were clearly illiterate.
“I am absolutely stunned to hear in this day and age in our democracy there are members who can’t write. How are they still in SAPS?” asked Diane Kohler-Barnard of the DA.
Meanwhile, according to an unverified commissioner-of-oath stamp issued by the police in KwaZulu-Natal, the problem may be much bigger than stringing alphabets to make a sentence. There may be a basic arithmetic and general knowledge challenge in the force. As can be seen in the picture below, the month of January may have been extended by a day: