The Institute of Security Studies has raised the issue of poor leadership in South Africa’s police services as a key cause for a new spike in crime activity in the country.
The group highlighted that the SAPS has a high budget – of R87 billion – and a massive workforce, but recent volatility and unrest among leadership in the force is threatening to undo much of the progress made in the fight against crime in recent years.
One of the biggest problems South Africa faces is in hijackings. In 2016, SAPS stats showed a worrying spike of almost 15% in reported cases.
After a series of decreases in reported hijackings in 2012, 2013, and 2014, last year’s data shows that the number of hijackings have increased to a high of 14,602 hijackings a year, up from 12,773 in 2015.
From a new low in 2012 – where just over 9,000 cases were reported – hijackings increased over 53% in the next five years.
This can be directly attributed to what’s happening in the echelons of South Africa’s SAPS said the ISS.
According to the ISS and Corruption Watch, poor police commissioner appointments have reversed the gains made since democracy was achieved.
It noted that between 1994 and 2012, murder levels in South Africa dropped by 54%.
Between 2009 and 2011 – under dedicated political leadership and capable operational police commanders – armed attacks on homes and businesses, and car hijackings in Gauteng decreased by 20%, 19% and 32% respectively.
In comparison, the SAPS budget has increased by 50% since 2012 to R87 billion. Between 2002 and 2012, the organisation grew by about 68,000 posts.
“With almost 195,000 employees, the SAPS is now one of the largest policing agencies in the world. Despite the increase in resources and the expertise, SAPS performance over the past five years has deteriorated significantly,” it said.
According to the SAPS’ most recent crime statistics – covering a trimester between April and December 2016 – a total of 12,743 cars were hijacked and reported to the police, up from 11,086 for the same comparable period the previous year.
This equates to an average of 46.3 cars hijacked each day in South Africa in that period, up 15% from the prior period.
Earlier this year, car tracking group Ctrack released a list of hijacking hotspots in South Africa’s most populous regions.