RUSTENBURG HERALD - RUSTENBURG - The South African Police Service (SAPS) reservist programme continues to collapse under Minister Bheki Cele with SAPS losing more than 90% of its reservists since 2011/12.
In 2011/12 there were 52 054 SAPS reservists across the country. Ten years later in 2021/22 SAPS was left with just 4 393 reservists. Today, the numbers have declined to a devastating new low, with just 3 502 reservists across the country.
While crime continues to ravage terrified communities, Minister Cele undermines an immediate opportunity to increase boots on the ground through the proactive recruitment and deployment of reservists.
The collapse of the reservist programme is a devastating blow to the fight against crime as reservists have played a critical force multiplier role in supporting SAPS as it has faced declining numbers of personnel.
It is clear from the figures we have received, over the past two years, that Minister Cele targeted the reservist programme as his final act as National Police Commissioner more than ten years ago. Numbers declined sharply from 2011/12 (52 054), when Minister Cele was the National Police Commissioner, and 2012/13 (19 129), which was the financial year he was fired.
That is a 63% decline in reservist numbers in just one financial year.
Since then, reservist numbers continued to decline steadily until another sharp decline after Cele was appointed as Minister of Police from 2018/19 and 2021/22.
During this period numbers fell from 8707 to 4393 - a 50% decline in reservist numbers - and today we sit with just 3 502 reservists.
We need all hands on deck in the fight against crime and SAPS should be pursuing a deliberate and urgent recruitment drive to bolster their ranks with hard working reservists who are committed to supporting and strengthening the SAPS.
The DA will work through parliament to call on SAPS to resuscitate the reservist programme with a deliberate focus on recruiting retired SAPS members and other former security personnel to help in the fight against crime, Andrew Whitfield, MP and DA Shadow Minister of Police said.
It is time for the SAPS to be led by a serious and skilled Minister, who can implement the urgent changes needed to get the SAPS working.
If the Minister is incapable of doing so, then it is high time that the President fire him from his cabinet, and appoint someone who is competent and fit for purpose.