Police cannot do even the basic tasks

Article translated & modified from Jana Smit, Rapport dated 10 July 2022 - https://www.netwerk24.com/netwerk24/nuus/misdaad/polisie-kan-nie-meer-basiese-take-verrig-20220710.

Original research managed by Sedibeng sa Tsebo in partnership with Africascope entitled "Perception of safety survey in 40 high crime areas of Gauteng province".

Police officials do not know how to do even the basic tasks of searching a vehicle at a roadblock or handling a crime scene. This was stated by two crime analyst - Craig Schwabe and Dr Chris de Kock - having completed research that was presented to the Gauteng Department of Community Safety four years ago that was done in 40 high crime police stations in Gauteng. It would seem that the report has been gathering dust since it's release four years ago. Although the document is in the public domain, it is unclear as to whether the South African Police Service (SAPS) have seen the results of the research. Neither the police or the Department of Community Safety were able to respond to questions presented by the Rapport newspaper. 

Although the research was done in Gauteng province, the sorts of problems experienced in Gauteng are equally the situation across the whole of the country said Dr de Kok and Schwabe. Trust between communities and the police is a two-way street. “For people to trust the police requires the police to take the first steps” said Schwabe. According to Schwabe, the police need to be trained to address citizens properly. “It is for this reason that people do not report crime because they do not trust the police", he said. 

The latest murder statistics (that have increased by 16.5% over the last year) are the highest in two decades. “If the police were able to bring about a decline in the number of crimes, as was the situation in the years 2002- 2003, then this would contribute to an increase in trust in the police” said De Kock. He said that is important for the police to re-establish trust with communities - trust has been damaged because of incidents such as when motorists are mishandled at roadblocks. “When people go to the police stations to have forms stamped, they expect that police officials will be courteous and treat them in a friendly manner” he said.  

Schwabe said that he knows of incidents when the police take statements at a victim's home after a burglary and when they hear that the household contents are not insured they withdraw immediately. Prof Jaco Barkhuizen from the Department of Criminology at the University of Limpopo said that the crime reduction strategy had not been updated since the 1990s. “This is because the police are not keeping up to date with present crime trends and consequently, neither is the training of the police officials”. He recently come back from Spain where police officials must have a minimum of a Bachelor's degree. “Why can't we use unemployed Bachelor degreed people in the SAPS to help with crime reduction”. 

Dr Johann Burger of the Institute of Security Studies says the police cannot take all the responsibility for the high levels of crime. “There are different causes of crime such as economic and social factors”. “People get frustrated because they are poor, they drink to try and forget about their problems and begin fighting with each other”. That is why we say – when poverty comes in the front door, love leaves through the back door”.  


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