Beefing up police force to tackle criminals

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

President Thabo Mbeki's plan to beef up the police force will take off with an extra 15000 recruits next month.

In his state of the nation speech last month, Mbeki announced a plan to "expand the total number of SAPS members to more than 180000 within three years".

Mbeki said more efforts would be made to improve the remuneration and working conditions of the police.

The rush to increase police numbers was confirmed by National Police Commissioner Jackie Selebi at the 16th symposium for heads of police training in Kempton Park, Gauteng, this week.

"We are doing all we can to fight crime and this should be a national effort.

"The police, private security companies and the communities' efforts will go further in reducing the crime rate, hence the additional police recruits," he said.

National police spokesman Selby Bokaba said there are 164000 personnel employed by the police services.

"More money was added to the budget to increase the number of recruits.

"We are recruiting 4000 more personnel than last year, when 11000 were recruited.

"They will receive training for 24 months at various police training centres around the country," Bokaba said.

He said that the recruits would be ready for work after receiving theoretical and practical training. They would then be assessed and deployed around the country.

Bokaba also said that a compulsory street survival training programme was introduced last year.

"The programme is meant to equip our members so that they are able to defend themselves and deal with life-threatening situations on the streets."

He said desk-bound officers are also trained in this programme.

The crime announcement is a response to crime in this country, where civilians live under siege. Government officials have also been targets of criminals.