Here’s how many police officers there are in South Africa – and what they earn

 ·24 Apr 2022

The number of staff in the South African Police Service (SAPS) has declined steadily over the past decade and is expected to plateau going forward.

In its annual performance plan presented in parliament this week, the SAPS noted that in 2011/12 the department had a peak total staff complement of 199,345. By comparison, its most up-to-date headcount stood at 182,126 at the end of the 2020/2021 financial year – an effective decrease of 8.8%.

“The Police Act workforce has also aged significantly during this period with a reduction of more than 30,000 within the age group 39 years and younger, i.e. from nearly 90,000 in 2011/12 to just more than 59,000 Police Act employees at present still in that age group,” the SAPS said.

This means that the average age of officers on the ground is notably higher compared to 10 years ago. The SAPS now projects that its staff establishment will stabilise at 178,708 in the 2022/23 financial year.

“This figure will be maintained over the medium-term as the SAPS has been allocated additional funding of R8.7 billion to accommodate the appointment of 12,000 entry-level members, of which 10,000 will replace personnel losses due to natural attrition and 2,000 will result in increases to the establishment.

“As such, the number of personnel is expected to increase by 2,000, from 176,708 in 2021/22 to 178,708 in 2022/23, which will be maintained over the medium term.”

Boots on the ground

The SAPS noted that the biggest outflow of workers in recent years has been at the police station level, leading to fewer boots on the ground.

From 30 April 2012 to 31 July 2021, the capacity at the police station level decreased by 14.3% (18,146 employees). SAPS Act employees decreased from 105,118 members in 2011/12 to 89,438 members on 31 July 2021.

An assessment of the provinces reveals that Mpumalanga has the largest gap in terms of the ideal human resource demand versus the actual human resources of 52.5% followed by Limpopo at 49.6% and KwaZulu-Natal at 46.2%.

The bulk of the 17 Community Reported Crimes reported in South Africa occur within Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and the Western Cape.

The actual human resource gaps, in terms of the ideal human resource demand versus the actual human resources, are as follows:

  • Gauteng: 15,020 members
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 15,702 members
  • Eastern Cape: 10,583 members
  • Western Cape: 11,250 members

“Due to population growth and new developments taking place in different communities, an accessibility study was conducted in 2010 to determine population coverage by SAPS service points and the improvement thereof,” the SAPS said.

“In accordance with international norms and standards, a 10km buffer was determined as an acceptable benchmark for the population to travel to access policing services. All population outside this buffer was considered as population not adequately covered. It was also determined that the population within the 4km buffer can even walk to access policing services.”

What they earn 

The SAPS’ latest annual report, published in August 2021, shows that employees work across a range of sectors including ‘administration’, ‘visible policing’ and ‘crime intelligence’, with salaries averaging at R206,000 for the lowest skills level (1-2).

This rises to an average salary of R1,435,000 for senior management and executive employees (levels 13-16), while the average salary across all levels is R416,000.

The below tables show the personnel costs by programme and costs by salary bands.

Read: Here’s how many skilled South Africans are getting residency in New Zealand

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