SAPS has learned nothing as SA faces perfect storm for repeat of July unrest

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
08 Jul 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Andrew Whitfield MP.

It has been a year since unprecedented violent unrest ripped across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, terrorising our citizens and torching our economy.

Since the events of July 2021, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has not arrested a single person who may have orchestrated the violence in spite of Police Minister Bheki Cele claiming to know of 19 people who instigated the unrest.

SAPS was caught with their pants down in 2021 and have done absolutely nothing since that date to prepare themselves for a repeat of last year’s violence. As South Africa’s winter of discontent sets in with rising inflation, endless loadshedding, high rates of unemployment and political instability in the ANC, we face the imminent risk of a repeat of last year’s violence.

I visited KZN last week to assess the state of readiness of SAPS in that province and learned from SAPS officers that they had received no additional resources or training since July 2021, nor had they received an directives to prepare themselves for the possibility of further unrest.

In reply to a recent parliamentary question Minister Cele revealed that 35% of the Public Order Police (POP) fleet is not operational nationally while more than 50% of the POP fleet in the Eastern Cape, KZN, the Free State and Limpopo are not operational. A reply to another question revealed that 26% of the SAPS visible policing fleet are not operational leaving many communities across the country to fend for themselves.

This critical shortage of fleet leaves SAPS stranded and unable to effectively respond to ordinary crimes let alone violent unrest.

One of the most shocking recent revelations in reply to a parliamentary question was that of the fixed establishment of 116 227 posts at station level there are only 104 901 personnel at police stations. If one were to remove the administrative personnel it would leave the country with less than 100 000 boots on the ground.

Urgent attention needs to be given to the critical resource constraints in SAPS as well as the absence of quality training to prepare SAPS members to deal with public disorder. The DA has repeatedly suggested that SAPS strengthen relations with community policing structures and private security companies to act as force multipliers. This must be a priority for SAPS in preparing for further violent unrest.

Instead of attacking community members at public meetings, Minister Cele should be working tirelessly to address his failures since he assumed the position as Police Minister.