40,000 SA police do not have firearm competency certificates

As many as 40,000  operational members of the SAPS have failed or do not have firearm competency certificates.

This is according to DA Shadow Minister of Police, Dianne Kohler Barnard, who was reacting to news that 61 police officers have died in South Africa thus far in 2015.

According the SAPS’ latest annual report (to March 2014), the police service had a total workforce of 194,852 people.

This is made up of 36,304 employees in administration; 103,746 police officers engaged in visible policing; 39,748 detectives; 8,723 crime intelligence officers; and 6,331 protection and security officers.

“It is a tough job, and today our officers are paying with their lives,” Kohler Barnard said.

“What our citizens don’t understand is that the overwhelming majority of our police are fine, upstanding, honest, fair men and women.”

The DA shadow minister said that it was difficult for many to feel empathy because a third of civilians are scared of the police.

“They run away from them, not to them if there is trouble. If they are stopped at a road block they expect to be robbed; if they are pulled aside they expect to be manhandled, arrested on non-existent charges, thrown in a van, taken on a terrifying joy ride, thrown in a filthy cell and released without charge the next day. They expect to be raped.”

Read: South Africa’s police force vs the world

The DA noted that nearly half of South Africans feel there is no point in reporting crime. “Because they do not trust our Police.  It is truly a Broken Blue Line,” Kohler Barnard said.

“It’s been broken by cadre deployment.”

The DA also alluded to outdated ‘heavily massaged’, crime statistics, that carry no moral authority.

“Being a police officer in South Africa is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world.  In Canada three police officers are killed each year. A police officer here is five times more likely to be killed on-duty than is their counterpart in the United States.

“In SA the count stayed above 200 per annum until fairly recently.  Thankfully the annual total has dropped but is now on the increase again with, as of yesterday another two murdered, so 61 of our officers have been killed thus far this year with nearly four months to go,” Kohler Barnard said.

We ask ourselves, Why?

The DA said that the murder rate dropped after 2003 from 48 per day down over the years to an all-time low of 42 in 2012 when 15,609 people were murdered. Today, however, it has risen again up to 47 a day.

The DA said that every effort must be made to bring down the death rates of South Africa’s policemen and women.

“Yes, they are targets, in and out of uniform; yes, they sometimes carry a firearm never fired from the time they graduated from the Training Academy; yes, training has failed them as refresher courses may only be done with two or three members per station each year.”

Kohler Barnard said that the sad reality is that up to 40,000 operational members have failed or do not have firearm competency certificates. “When it hit 20,000 it was in a leaked report from horrified SAPS members; then it hit 30 000 and we were given nothing but excuses; and now it’s 40,000.”

The shadow minister said that most police services globally require operational members to requalify in firearm competency twice a year. “Here it is becoming the norm for armed officers not to have a competency certificate – which means there are police breaking the law.”

“Every possible resource must be utilised to stop these killings.  Because Police Lives Matter.”

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