This is what top police officials get paid in South Africa

 ·14 May 2024

The South African Police Service (SAPS) spends over R1 billion a year on the salaries of brigadiers and major generals.

These two ranks in the SAPS are the two layers of senior management before getting to Lieutenant Generals and the General, who serve as deputy and national commissioners.

According to a written parliamentary response to DA MP and former Major General Ockert Terblanche, there are currently 632 brigadiers and 146 major generals on the SAPS’ payroll.

Together, these officers account for R1 billion a year in salaries, with the annual salary averaging R1.49 million for major generals and R1.24 million for brigadiers.

Major General146R217 296 216R1 488 330
Brigadier632R782 786 672R1 238 587
Total778R1 000 055 888R1 285 419

The SAPS noted that a total of 183,163 employees are accountable to these members, including 149,417 SAPS members and 33,746 public service members.

The DA, meanwhile, noted that the average salary for detectives, who are tasked with investigating and solving the most violent of crimes in South Africa, is R481,000 per year.

“Like almost every other government department, the number of millionaire managers far exceeds their operational needs – no example is clearer than the SAPS,” said DA MP Andrew Whitfield.

“South Africa needs (fewer) Generals and Brigadiers at Head Office and more boots on the ground. This will enable SAPS to spend more of its budget on core service delivery divisions such as detective services.”

Worrying crime levels

South Africa faces increasing levels of violent crime, with the police service stretched thin and struggling to deal with it or being targeted themselves.

The service is also struggling to draw new recruits to meet the demand for more visible and active policing to match the country’s growing population.

This past week, the SAPS announced that it has more than quadrupled the danger pay of its elite task force members from R4,000 to R21,000 in an effort to prevent them from leaving for private security companies.

Criminal law expert Ian Allis noted that crime is escalating in South Africa, but the amount of funding allocated to the police and the quality of training are declining simultaneously.

“Under these circumstances, it’s an obvious move for these specially trained members to look for greener pastures, where there is less work for more pay instead of less pay for more work in the police force,” he said.

As more sophisticated crimes increase in South Africa—such as cash-in-transit heists in Gauteng—the criminals are often better armed than the police, and officers have to put their lives on the line with little incentives and support from the government, he said.

Read: Criminals in South Africa are evolving – and the police can’t keep up

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