Independent body may appoint cops

AN independent board to oversee the SA Police Service’s recruitment process could be set up if the Civilian Secretariat for Police, which has oversight of the police, has its way.

This suggestion is in the white paper released by the secretariat for public comment on Friday.

The draft paper also calls for an audit of leadership and management, including the number of managers, their functions, qualifications and experience.

“The methodology of recruitment, selection and appointment of police personnel, continues to hamper effective crime-combating and servicedelivery efforts,” the paper says.

It pinpoints internal functioning as one of the reasons why the police service is riddled with such “poor discipline, criminality and corruption”.

It says there should be an uncompromising adherence to a professional code of conduct and ethics.

While some experts have welcomed the paper, others have questioned its practicality.

Professor Moses Montesh, head of the department of police practice at the University of South Africa, said that while he agreed with the initiative of professionalism, the problem was that appointments of senior managers, which were often political, were made by the president.

“The national commissioner is a managerial position but the person in charge needs to understand the sub-culture of police.

“You need to have had a career in the police,” he said.

He called for a more transparent process of appointment, such as through voting by members of parliament.

Wits Institute of Social Economic Research researcher Lisa Vetten said the board was a good idea, but its effectiveness depended on the regulations governing its functioning and powers.

Institute for Security Studies governance, crime and justice division head Gareth Newham said: “Police professionalism is important for the SAPS.

“There is a need for professional leadership that is high-skilled and honest … Until we get leadership sorted out, we won’t see any results on the credibility of the SAPS in the eyes of the public.”

He said it was important to have an independent oversight board consisting of public service representatives who could monitor senior appointments.

“For the last 10 years, we have seen too many senior people appointed who do not have the skills or integrity,” he said.

The paper also recommends the establishment of a division for municipal and traffic police within the police service that will implement the single police service with uniform standards.

-Aarti J Narsee

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