Crime figures show devolution of policing power now necessary


The miserable situation in which South Africa finds itself is evident from the latest crime figures, and many believe that a weakened police service and management is the reason why crime rises quarter after quarter.

Dr. Pieter Groenewald, leader of the FF Plus, says 70% of KwaZulu-Natal’s task force members have recently left the police service in a short period of time. Some of the reasons for the resignations were poor salaries, poor working conditions and a poor promotion policy.

“These are reasons that apply throughout the police, at all specialist units down to station level,” he says.

“Knowledgeable and capable members who form the backbone of the police are leaving the service while corruption and a deteriorating morale are increasing.”

There is already only one police member for more than 420 members of the public and police reservists’ numbers have dwindled to just 3,500.

“The government launched a crime plan last year, but like most plans it is not implemented in practice,” says Groenewald.

This is why the civil rights organization AfriForum says South Africa’s only hope to bring crime under control is to start with “the devolution of policing powers to provincial and regional level”.

“It is shocking that the leadership of the South African Police Service (SAPS) does not offer any workable solution to the 75 daily murders and attempted murders, and in addition still does everything in their power to keep control of the SAPS on a centralized basis.”

Should the SAPS begin to devolve its powers, this will mean that provinces and regions will have more control over the formulation of anti-crime strategies and their implementation.

“Combating farm attacks, for example, requires a completely different policing approach than curbing gang violence on the Cape Plain,” says Jacques Broodryk, AfriForum’s spokesperson for community safety.

“Yet solutions to diverse crimes are formulated from the comfort of a central head office that is not only geographically removed from the problems, but also burdens with bureaucratic leadership, reacts to challenges at a snail’s pace and does not have sufficient ground-level knowledge to combat crime effectively not.

“Control over policing does not belong in the hands of the corrupt ANC’s central powers, but rather in the hands of communities. It is now time to devolve the SAPS’ power.”