Long term strengthening of police service in Eastern Cape needed

Issued by Bobby Stevenson, MPL
Shadow MEC for Safety and Security

There is a dire shortage of manpower within the Eastern Cape South African Police Service (SAPS) which needs to be supplemented by the urgent recruitment of police reservists once the lockdown is lifted.

During a virtual safety and liaison portfolio committee meeting this week, the committee was informed that only 332 reservists were currently eligible for call up.

Reservist numbers have been declining for years. In the 2015/16 financial year, there were 2017 reservists in the province, this has dropped steadily, to just 677 reservists in the 2019/20 financial year.

That is a loss of two thirds of the province’s reservists in just five years!

The lack of manpower is further compounded by the 2 067 vacancies among SAPS personnel in the province.

The shortage is also highlighted by the president’s announcement yesterday that additional troops will be deployed to the provinces to assist with the implementation of lockdown regulations.

I have subsequently submitted questions to the MEC of Safety and Liaison, Weziwe Tikana-Gxothiwe, as to why only 332 reservists are currently eligible for call up.

Reservists would have gone a long way to assist during these trying times, when boots on the ground are needed to ensure adherence to lockdown regulations as well as preventing looting and other crimes.

I take my hat off to the overstretched and hardworking members of SAPS, who are doing their best to ensure adherence to lockdown regulations.

However, there needs to be a meaningful recruitment campaign after the lockdown is lifted, to ensure that the necessary manpower is there in future, to share the workload.

The crisis of the Coronavirus pandemic that is impacting us all is far from over, and there will be a great need to ensure the safety of people in this province, not just from a crime perspective but also from a health perspective.

We need to ensure that there is a fully resourced police service that can achieve this.

Listen to English voice clip below