Police staff design problematic - report

Cape Town - National police commissioner Riah Phiyega should urgently review the police's human resources mechanism, according to a report released on Monday.

The Khayelitsha Commission of Inquiry in Cape Town found that the SA Police Service's Theoretical Human Resource Requirement (THRR) was causing officer shortages in poor areas.

"The commission considers that the problem lies with the THRR's design, which appears to display a systemic bias against poor areas," the commission's handover statement read.

"The commission notes that this problem has persisted partly because the THRR is not in the public domain and so is shielded from scrutiny."

Should Phiyega take up the recommendation, the allocation system adopted should be published in the SAPS annual report and be available to oversight agencies such as Parliament, the civilian secretariat and provinces.

The commissioners, former Constitutional Court Justice Kate O'Regan and Advocate Vusi Pikoli, handed over the 580-page report in a ceremony at Look Out Hill in Khayelitsha on Monday afternoon.

In attendance was Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, who established the commission two years ago, Community Safety MEC Dan Plato, Mayor Patricia de Lille, activists and residents.

The report listed 11 inefficient policing behaviours found in Khayelitsha's three police stations.

A shortage of staff was given as one of four reasons for these inefficiencies.

The commission found that Khayelitsha Site B and Harare police stations seemed to be substantially understaffed.

Harare had the lowest police to population ratio in the province at 111.32 officers per 100 000 residents. Khayelitsha station had 190.46 officers per 100 000 residents.

"SAPS could provide no explanation why police stations that have very high crime rates and extremely difficult policing environments should have the lowest police to population ratios in the province," the commission said.

Poverty and high crime rates

The report acknowledged that Khayelitsha was particularly difficult to police because of its history, the burden of poverty and the high crime rates.

The commission noted that there were diligent police officers who performed efficiently despite all these challenges.

It recommended that provincial police commissioner Arno Lamoer conduct a strategic review of detective services and urgently deploy 10 experienced detectives to the Harare and Khayelitsha stations, as well as backlog teams.

The commission also recommended that an oversight and monitoring team be established to eradicate the identified inefficiencies.

This team would be made up of senior provincial police officers, the relevant police stations, a member of the provincial secretariat and an independent policing expert from civil society or academia.

Leadership at the stations should undergo a change management process and develop a three to five-year strategic plan to address issues highlighted by the commission.

Task teams should be established to address youth gangs, liquor licensing and the use of information technology.

The community safety department should enter into a memorandum of understanding with SAPS to allow the department to monitor police conduct and oversee police efficiency and effectiveness.