n SA Crime Quarterly - Editorial




For a number of years we have watched as the SAPS has descended into serious trouble. Sometimes it's difficult to know whether the troubled state of the policing organisation is a figment of media exaggeration, or a reasonably true reflection. Over the past sixteen years the SAPS has undergone dramatic changes - it had to transform itself from the keeper of the apartheid state into a policing organisation that reflected the good intentions and stringent human rights requirements of the new democracy. In doing so it had to contend with deep internal divisions along race and gender lines, and at the same time provide a home for the police of the former Bantustans. When we should have been settling down to consolidate the organisation, deepen and improve training and address the shortcomings of crime scene management and crime detection, the organisation was the subject of a curious management experiment that involved the closing down of all specialist units and the redeployment of skilled police specialists to stations. While the argument in favour of this 're-structuring' was beguiling - to make sure that the skills of specialists were available at station level to deal with crime - as it happened, however, the outcome was in fact the dilution, or loss, of badly needed skills and the weakening of the administrative and internal oversight systems.


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