Why SAPS 10111 call centres leave you hanging

 ·13 May 2024

Having efficient contact with the South African Police Service (SAPS) is seen as a crucial means to address crime – however, the country’s call centres are short-staffed and see a large number of calls made to them dropped.

This was outlined by a recent response given in parliament by the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to questions posed to him by Democratic Alliance’s Andrew Whitfield.

According to the information provided by the minister, on average, only 41.31% of SAPS emergency call center positions are filled.

Such staffing issues have contributed to the fact that since 2018/19, 14.9 million calls to 10111 were abandoned in 11 out of the country’s 19 centres.

10111 call centre posts

Looking at the 19 operational 10111 call centres across the country, the percentage of actual filled posts vs ideal posts are:

Province10111 centre and % of posts filledCurrent average
Mpumalanga– Middleburg: 24.4%
– White River: 28.2%
– Secunda: 14.1%
Free State
– Welkom: 27.4%
– Phuthaditjhaba: 37.9%
– Mangaung: 39.3%
Eastern Cape– Mount Road: 46.4%
– Mthatha: 41.5%
– Queenstown: 8.2%
– East London: 40.8%
KwaZulu-Natal– Richard Bay: 17%
– Hilton: 25.7%
– Durban Central: 65.9%
– Port Shepstone: 27.6%
Gauteng– Midrand: 51.4%51.4%
North West
– Mahikeng: 63.8%63.8%
Limpopo– Polokwane: 64.9%64.9%
Northern Cape– Kimberley: 68.9%68.9%
Western Cape– Maitland: 86%86.0%

Looking at the data, none of the call centres across the country meet its “ideal situation” of posts filled, which, according to Cele, “refers to the number of resources which the SAPS should ideally have to perform” their functions.

Looking at provincial averages, Mpumalanga has the lowest amount of posts filled, sitting at a third (33.33%) of the ideal target.

This contrasts with the Western Cape’s 86% of posts filled in its only call centre, Maitland. However, this is an 8% drop from the 94% it recorded in 2023.

The centre with the lowest percentage of posts filled is Queenstown in the Eastern Cape, at 8.2% of its ideal requirement. This is followed by Secunda in Mpumalanga, at 14.1%.

In hopes of improving the short-staffed call centres, Cele said that SAPS is in the process of finalising a revised Fixed Establishment in the budget, which “will absorb 535 additional entry level constables,” allocated to 10111 call centres.

Abandoned calls

Abandoned calls are either not answered by an agent, the caller hangs up before an agent answers, or the call has ultimately been disconnected.

The understaffing of 10111 call centres and multiple system failures led to 26.2% of calls (14.9 million out of 56.99 million) to 11 SAPS centres being abandoned since 2018.

Important to note that the data provided is incomplete and thus skewed, as eight centers do not have information due to non-operational telephone management systems that record calls.

The centres which do not have abandoned call data, which ultimately greatly skews the results, are:

  • Eastern Cape (Mthatha and Queenstown);
  • Free State (Phuthaditjhaba and Mangaung);
  • KwaZulu-Natal (Richards Bay);
  • Mpumalanga (Secunda).

The provinces which have no data at all on abandoned calls are Limpopo and the Northern Cape.

Of the data that has been provided, the call centres with abandoned calls making up over half of the calls logged between 2018/19 – 2023/24 are:

  • Welkom (Free State) – 64.6%
  • Mahikeng (North West) – 52.2%
Province10111 call centresCalls abandonedTotal calls % abandoned
Free StateWelkom49 85477 20764.6%
North WestMahikeng278 201532 89252.2%
GautengMidrand7 959 74526 797 42929.7%
Western CapeMaitland2 151 7688 252 45926.1%
KwaZulu-NatalDurban, Hilton and Port Shepstone2 247 46110 100 68522.3%
Eastern CapePort Elizabeth and East London1 066 526 5 253 31820.3%
MpumalangaNelspruit and Middleburg1 152 966 5 979 14319.3%
LimpopoNo data provided
Northern CapeNo data provided
Total11/19 10111 centres14 906 51156 993 13326.2%

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