n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - The guardians of safety and security : police perceptions of the causes of misconduct within the Grahamstown policing area

Special Edition 3
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



Although much has improved over the past decade in the South African Police Service (SAPS) since the dark days of apartheid, a glaring fault line in the transformation process has been the high levels of police abuse of power and misconduct. This is manifested particularly as a challenge of widespread police corruption and ill-discipline which has hindered the legitimacy of the police organization in the eyes of a substantial proportion of the South African public, (Rauch: 2000:20). The objective of this paper therefore is to understand police perceptions of misconduct within the Grahamstown Policing Area. The research methodology employed was largely quantitative. The data was obtained through administering questionnaires to pre-selected police members in Alice and Grahamstown policing precinct. Members listed the following conditions as reasons for misconduct : ineffective management, the role of unions, reporting misconduct and types of misconduct. They believed that some of the managers were not efficient and that results in ill treatment of members and in favouring others. Those not favoured feel despair, lose hope and resort to misconduct as a solution to their frustrations. When a member has done well and is not appreciated and is lambasted for making a minor error he / she feels disillusioned. Most of the members (ninety percent) maintained that they will report misconduct against colleagues because they believe that :

  • it serves as a corrective measure.
  • nobody is above the law
  • those who contravene the law must be punished.
  • they will be regarded as accomplices if they do not report the misconduct.
  • It will impact on service delivery if perpetrators are not disciplined.
Some recommendations include :
  • Poor performance should be identified and rectified and good performance should be recognised and rewarded;
  • All members irrespective of ranks should be engaged in workshops for deliberations on the code of conduct;
  • It should be the responsibility of management to ensure that all members understand the code of conduct.

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