South African Police Service resumes recruitment and training of 7,000 young officers

The South African Police Service (SAPS) said it has decided to resume the 2019/2020 Basic Police Learning Development Programme (BLDP) intake.

SAPS on Friday said the decision came after Cabinet’s decision to move the country to adjusted alert level 1.

The training, which had been scheduled to commence in March 2020, was suspended following the declaration of a National State of Disaster and nationwide lockdown that year.

The service said previously that it had intended to train and subsequently enlist 7,000 youth within its ranks in a bid to capacitate and bolster crime-fighting initiatives at all 1,154 police stations and service points in South Africa.

SAPS spokesperson, Colonel Athlenda Mathe, said the recruitment process had already reached an advanced stage, with recruits having undergone various stages in the recruitment.

“[They had already undergone the] selection process and were only awaiting the final stage where they were to be subjected to a medical assessment.”

Mathe said the basic training of new recruits involves extensive physical contact and with the challenges experienced with the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place “made it impossible for training to commence”.

Mathe said with the recommencement of the recruitment process underway, applicants who underwent all stages and were only awaiting the medical assessment, will receive an automated short message service (SMS) from the respective SAPS provincial recruitment offices, requesting them to report to a particular venue.

Here, she said, their fingerprints will be processed to determine their criminal status or previous convictions. Applicants will also be expected to bring along the following original documents, as well as three copies of each document:

  • ID
  • Driver’s Licence (If applicable/not a necessity)
  • National Senior Certificate
  • NQF 6 qualification (if applicable/for stream 2 applicants)

Mathe stressed that this information is only directed to the applicants who applied during the said period and were subjected to all recruitment and selection processes and were only waiting to be subjected to a medical assessment.

Applications for the programme closed at the end of October 2019, with a total of 535,993 applications registered at 1,154 police stations nationwide,

In late November, deputy minister of police Cassel Mathale said that the SAPS would go on a recruitment drive in 2022 to bolster the country’s police force.

Mathale pointed to a loss of 8,000 SAPS members over the prior financial year. “There is a shortage and a need for us to increase this. In the coming year, we plan to have an intake of 10,000 new recruits.

“We are aware that our facilities have limited capacity in terms of the number of people it can train per year. In that regard, there are discussions with the minister of defence to use their facilities for purposes of training. We are definitely committed to ensuring we increase the SAPS personnel that we have,” Mathale said.

Mathale said that this plan would require additional support from the National Treasury.

The most recent annual report from the SAPS showed that the department had approximately 182,120 employees. This figure includes both active police officers and administrative staff, as follows:

  • 21,396 commissioned officers;
  • 122,075 non-commissioned officers;
  • 37,840 Public Service Act employees.

These reduced employment figures effectively give South Africa a police to population ratio of 1:413, from 1:347.

In a presentation to parliament in mid-July 2021, the police service said it lost a total of 32,662 staff through natural attrition between 2016/17 and 2020/21.

Over the same period, it employed 20,959 employees through new recruits and lateral entrants, resulting in a net loss of 11,703 members.

Read: SAPS to ‘rehire’ old police officers as it faces budget cuts

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