35% of Public Order Policing Vehicles off the road

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
19 May 2022 in News

The DA can reveal that 35% of all Public Order Police (POP) unit vehicles are off the road for various repairs leaving the unit constrained in dealing with violent unrest.

In response to a parliamentary question (view here and here) the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, revealed the shocking figures for each province.

KwaZulu-Natal is the province with the highest number of non operational vehicles with more than 50% of the POP unit fleet currently in the workshop. This situation explains the SAPS’ inability to respond adequately to the violent unrest which gripped KZN last year and confirms the findings of the report of the Expert Panel into the violence in KZN in July 2021.

The Expert Panel found the following in respect of the POP:

Budget constraints have also resulted in the POP not having sufficient tools of trade, such as rubber bullets and teargas canisters. We were informed that there is only one water cannon per province available to the POP. A water cannon from another province had to be brought in to support operations in KZN. This state of affairs is clearly unsustainable in a country with such an active protest history. Whether the police are managing their budget efficiently or not was contested.

Other provinces above the national average of 35% of fleet non operational:

• Free State: 44%

• Limpopo: 44%

• Eastern Cape: 40%

POP Units with 50% or more of vehicles non operational:

Giyani: 75% Ulundi: 61% Mthatha: 57% Seolsesha: 56%
Modimolle: 69% Pietermaritzburg: 59% East London: 50%
Polokwane: 60% Newcastle: 55%
Durban: 50%


To make matters worse the Public Order Policing Unit is critically understaffed. The Minister of Police recently confirmed in Parliament that there are only 5 892 POP members against a requirement of more than 12 000 – that is a more than 50% shortfall. While the Minister has committed to deploying 4 000 of the 12 000 new SAPS trainees to various POP units across the country, it will still be insufficient to meet the demands placed on this unit.

The DA has repeatedly called on President Ramaphosa to fire Minister Cele who has proved time and again that he is not up to the job. Over the past four years under Minister Cele’s leadership the SAPS has deteriorated, not improved. Simple issues such as fleet management, procurement, training and discipline management are failing under the pressure the Minister’s interference and incompetence. The mismanagement of the POP unit is just another example on a long list of failures under the Minister’s watch.