A recent early retirement drive, staff attrition, and the inability to fill 7 000 additional posts saw close to 5 000 South African Police Service (SAPS) personnel exit the police service.
That’s according to Police Minister Bheki Cele, who said staff decreased from 192 277 to 187 358 in the 2019/2020 financial year.
These figures are contained in Cele’s response to a written parliamentary question from DA MP Ockert Terblanche, who wanted details on the SAPS’ early retirement drive and other staff challenges.
Terblanche, who previously served as a major-general in the SAPS, also wanted details on the filling of 7 000 additional posts.
Cele said there are several strategies in place to ensure police can carry out its mandate.
After the announcement and implementation of the early retirement initiative, Cele approved the early retirement of employees, in phases, between March 2020 and March 2021.
“Employees who are the oldest and nearest to their pensionable age, have been allowed to leave the SAPS first. The early retirement initiative supports the current restructuring process within the SAPS. [That is to] scale down at senior levels and to enhance employment at entry level, as well as to achieve government’s efforts to contain expenditure with anticipated savings on the wage bill,” he said.
Cele said the attrition of staff normally occurs at levels higher than entry levels.
“Therefore, the SAPS regularly advertises vacancies for promotion and appointment, to ensure that service delivery is not compromised. Although the process for the enlistment of 7 000 police trainees was suspended, due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the SAPS is considering the permanent enlistment of an estimated 3 000 active serving reservists in October ,” Cele said.
He said the SAPS is also considering the enlistment of an estimated 4 000 external applicants as police trainees.
They will begin basic training in January 2021, Cele said.
“Suitable, former police officers who left the SAPS in the rank of constable, sergeant and warrant officer, have been invited to apply for re-enlistment. They will be posted where there is currently a shortage of personnel, including but not limited to, specialised units such as the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Crimes, the Public Order Policing unit, as well as newly established units, like the Taxi Violence [Unit], Cold Case Investigation and Murder and Robbery Units,” Cele said.
A cold case is an unresolved criminal investigation that remains open.