The one province in South Africa where you’ll wait over an hour for police to respond

 ·11 Apr 2024

The Minister of Police has revealed that the average response times of police using 10111 call centres range between 11 and 67 minutes in South Africa, with those living in the Northern Cape having to wait over an hour.

This was police minister Bheki Cele’s response to a recent parliamentary Q&A, in which he was asked how long it takes, on average, for first responders from the South African Police Service (SAPS) to respond to 10111 calls in each province.

Cele gave an outline of the SAPS’ response times in minutes to three ‘complaint’ categories: Alpha complaints, Bravo complaints, and Charlie complaints across the nine provinces.

Alpha complaints are the highest priority. They are all serious crimes in progress that require immediate police action.

Bravo complaints are crimes that have already occurred with no immediate threat to life, and Charlie complaints are less severe crimes, such as drunkenness and loitering.

Concentrating on complaints that need immediate police attention, Gauteng recorded the fastest SAPS response time, at an average of 11 minutes and 56 seconds.

This was followed by Limpopo, at 16 minutes and 14 seconds, and the Western Cape, at 17 minutes and 57 seconds.

In contrast, South Africans have to wait an average of 60 minutes for help from the police in the Northern Cape. This was the case across the entire priority list, with bravo complaints taking almost 70 minutes before the police responded.

Those in the North have to wait an average of 36 minutes, while emergencies in the Eastern Cape are dealt with in just over 30 minutes.

The table below shows the average response times of the SAPS using 10111 call centres across all three priorities in all nine provinces – ranked from worst to best time (HH:MM:SS).

ProvinceAlpha Bravo Charlie
Northern Cape01:00:1001:06:5801:02:00
North West 00:36:0100:40:3200:36:04
Eastern Cape00:30:0600:36:5800:33:01
Free State00:29:5900:36:1400:28:30
Mpumalanga 00:23:1300:28:4000:23:11
KwaZulu Natal00:21:4400:24:2000:21:51
Western Cape 00:17:5700:20:1800:19:02
Gauteng 00:11:5600:12:3800:12:26

These times are concerning given the rampant increase in all crime types in South Africa over the years, while, more recently, violent crimes have seen a notable rise.

According to the SAPS’ Crime Stats for the third quarter of the 2023/24 year (October to December 2023), contact crime (crimes against another person) increased by 3.8% compared to the prior period.

Looking at certain violent crimes over the third quarter, murder increased by 2.1% and attempted murder increased by 13% from the prior period.

The SAPS recorded a total of 7,710 murders over the period, meaning an average of 84 people were murdered every day in Q3.

The third quarter data gives the final tally for the 2023 calendar year as well, with the country ultimately recording 27,368 murders between January and December 2023 – an average of 75 murders per day.

Assault with the intent to inflict grievous bodily (5.8%), common assault (0.4%), common robbery (3.9%), robbery with aggravating circumstances (6.6%), and carjackings (6.5%) all increased.

This is concerning as contact crime refers to crimes in which the victims are the targets of violence or instances where the victims are in the vicinity of property that criminals target and are subjected to the use of/or threats of violence by perpetrators, said the SAPS.

Read: South Africa’s massive police problem

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