The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the national police force of the Republic of South Africa. Its 1,138 police stations in South Africa are divided according to the provincial borders, and a Provincial Commissioner is appointed in each province. All nine Provincial Commissioners report directly to the National Commissioner. The head office is in the Wachthuis Building in Pretoria.
SAPS was formed in 1995 to create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa by participating I endeavours to address the root causes of crime in the community, preventing action which may threaten the safety or security of any community, and investigating the safety or security of the community and bringing the perpetrators thereof to justice. Its divisions include:
- The Visible Policing Division, manages highly public police operations, such as guarding senior government officials and dignitaries.
- The Internal Stability Division is responsible for preventing and quelling internal unrest and for assisting other divisions in combating crime.
- The Community Relations Division, which results with all police divisions concerning accountability and respect for human rights.
- The Crime Combating and Investigation Division holds overall responsibility for coordinating crime and investigative procedures.
- The Supporting Services Division manages financial, legal, and administrative matters.
- The Human Resource Management Division.
The South African Police Service traces its origin to the Dutch Watch, a paramilitary organisation formed by settlers in the Cape Province in 1655 to protect civilians and maintain law and order. In 1795, British officials assumed control over the Dutch Watch, and in 1825 established the Cape Constabulary, which became the Cape Town Police Force in 1840. A police force namely the Durban City Police (previously called the Durban Borough Police) was established in 1854. In the next year in the Eastern Cape, Act 3 of 1855 established the Frontier Armed and Mounted Police Force, which was restyled as the Cape Mounted Riflemen in 1878.
The South African Police (SAP) was formed after the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1913. Four years later, the Mounted Riflemen’s Association handed over its civilian responsibilities to the SAP as most of its riflemen left to serve in the First World War. The SAP and the military maintained a close relationship even after the SAP assumed permanent responsibility for domestic law and order in 1926.
When the National Party edged out its more liberal opponents in nationwide elections in 1948, the new government enacted legislation that strengthened the relationship between the police and the military – making the police become heavily armed, especially when facing unruly or hostile crowds. The Police Amendment Act (No. 70) of 1965 allowed police to detain any person, receptacle, vehicle, aircraft, or premise within one mile of any national border, and to seize anything found without a warrant. This search-and-seize zone was extended to within eight miles of any border in 1979 and to the entire country in 1983.
South Africa became an internationally-accepted democracy in 1994 when President Nelson Mandela was elected as the first President of the new South Africa, bringing the apartheid era to an end. A year later, the South African Police were renamed the South African Police Service (SAPS), and the Ministry of Law and Order was renamed the Ministry of Safety and Security, in keeping with these symbolic reforms. The South African Police Service is conducted by the following regulations.
- Chapter 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) that stipulates the South African Police Service has the following responsibilities.
- Prevent, combat and investigate crime
- Maintain public order
- Protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property
- Uphold and enforce the law
- Create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa
- Prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community
- Investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community
- Ensure criminals are brought to justice
- Participation in efforts to address the causes of crime.
- The South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995
- To provide for the establishment, organisation, regulations and control of the South African Police Service, and to provide for matters in correction therewith.
The SAPS Police Learnership Programme
To better the safety and security of the country, SAPS recruits young people who desire and have the potential to serve the people of South Africa to keep them safe and secure. The SAPS offers careers in various fields. People can choose whether they want to be police officials or civilian employees. Police officials are employed in terms of the South African Police Service Act, 1995 (Act No. 68 of 1995). Civilian employees are employed in terms of the Public Service Act, 1994 (Act No. 103 of 1994). Most functional Police Officials are directly involved in preventing, combating or investigating crime, whereas the other Police officials and civilian personnel carry out support functions.
The South African Police Service offers a two-year training programme in policing service namely the Basic Police Development Learning Programme (BPDLP). Some people called it as Police Learnership Programme. It was introduced by the organisation in an effort to improve SAPS training and enable members to provide a more effective and professional policing service. It is in line with government’s National Development Plan to ensure that all police officials will be professional individuals working within the ambit of the law and human rights whilst rendering a quality service to the communities they serve.
The BPDLP entails 10 months of training at the training academics, 12 months of practical training at police stations and two months of integrated assessment at the training academics. The BPDLP equips the members to apply legal and policing skills to serve and protect the community.
The programme requires the members to complete various learning modules and practical challenges throughout the 24 months of training which aims at making them mentally and physically fit to deal with various challenges that lie ahead of them in their policing career. Graduates of this programme will leave with a Level 5 National Qualifications Framework-aligned qualification as administered by the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA).
After the basic training, members can choose accordingly to their qualifications one of the following positions.
- Community Service Centre Official
- Investigator at the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI)
- Communication Interception Official
- Crime Information Gatherer
- Close Protector
- Bomb Technician
- General Investigator
- Local Criminal Record Centre Official
- Crime Prevention Official
- Rider at the Equestrian Unit
- Dog Handler
- Special Task Force Official
- Border Police
- Air Wing
- Hostage Negotiator
- Forensic Scientist
- Questioned Document Examiner
- Forensic Science Analyst
When police trainees complete the training and are found competent, they are permanently enlisted in the South African Police Service as constables
Requirements for the Basic Police Development SAPS Learning Programme Enrolment
Candidates who apply to be appointed in terms of the SAPS Act, 1995 must:
- Fill out the official application form and affirm under oath or by means of a solemn declaration that the information they supplied on the application is true and correct
- Have a permanent residence in the Republic of South Africa of which they must give documentary proof
- Be at least 18 years old and no older than 30 (documentary proof is needed)
- Must be physically and mentally fit (a physical and medical examination as determined by the SAPS must be taken)
- Must fit the profile of a police official (a psychological assessment as determined by the National Commissioner of the SAPS must be taken)
- Have a Senior Certificate (Grade 12) or an equivalent qualification (documentary proof must be presented)
- Be fluent in, at least, English and one other official language
- Be prepared to take the oath of office
- Be prepared to undergo any training as determined by the National Commissioner of the SAPS
- Not have any visible tattoos that are contrary to the objectives of the SAPS on any part of their body
- Not have previous criminal convictions
- Let their fingerprints be taken
- Be prepared to have their background checked
- Be prepared to serve anywhere in South Africa
How to Apply for the Basic Police Development SAPS Learning Programme
Application forms are obtainable at all local police stations. The application form must be completed in handwriting and must be handed in at the nearest police station along with the necessary supporting documents.
For more information, visit www.saps.gov.za/careers/careers.php.