The South African Police Service (SAPS) is facing a severe crisis as it grapples with the loss of thousands of detectives over the past six years. National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola disclosed last week that SAPS had seen a substantial decline in its detective force, with a staggering loss of 8,400 detectives since 2017.
This disconcerting revelation came in response to inquiries posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) during a session of the police portfolio committee. The data paints a grim picture, indicating that in the 2016/17 financial year, SAPS boasted a robust team of 26,000 detectives. However, fast forward to the present, and there are fewer than 18,000 detectives deployed throughout the country.
The dramatic shortage of detective personnel has been branded a crisis by the DA’s Shadow Minister of Police, Andrew Whitfield. He emphasized that this deficiency is a grave concern for an already beleaguered police force.
“Not only has SAPS lost thousands and thousands of skilled detectives, but this is compounded by the fact that there is a shortage of vehicles, with up to 26% of detective vehicles reported as non-operational in certain provinces,” stated Whitfield.
The situation is exacerbated by budgetary constraints, as revealed in the South African Police Service’s 2022/23 annual report. While 99.8% of the detective services programme budget was expended, merely 43% of the set targets for the programme were achieved. These statistics underscore the urgency of implementing effective measures to address the pressing issue.
As the crisis deepens, pressure is mounting on the police to expedite efforts to strengthen the detective unit, considering that detectives play a pivotal role in solving crimes and ensuring public safety. Failure to do so could result in dire consequences for the law enforcement agency and the communities it serves.