n Acta Criminologica : African Journal of Criminology & Victimology - Reflections on the strategic leadership in the South African Police Service on violent crimes and policing

Special Edition 2
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


After the democratic dispensation in 1994, the South African Police Force (SAPF) underwent a change in leadership, with the appointment of its first National Commissioner, George Fivaz, in 1995. This was the era of democratic policing, community policing, National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) and policy development. Fivaz was faced with the challenge of rationalising, reorganising and amalgamating eleven (11) police agencies into a single police service namely, "South African Police Service" (SAPS). At the end of 1999, after his five-year term in office his contract was not renewed. In January 2000, the successor to Fivaz, Jackie Selebi, was appointed as the National Commissioner of the SAPS. Selebi was the first black National Commissioner of the SAPS. This was the era of policy implementation, National Crime Combating Strategy (NCCS) and sector policing. The State President suspended Selebi in 2007 because of his alleged involvement in corruption. In 2009, Bheki Cele was appointed as the third National Commissioner (after 1994) of the SAPS. Cele initiated a change in the new democratic policing culture by bringing back a touch of militarisation (of rank structure, i.e. he changed the rank structure from Commissioner to General and so on all the way down. His critics are of the view that his utterance of "a bullet for a bullet" seem to have led to an increase in incidents of police brutality and use of force. Since 1995, different crime combating strategies have been implemented to address the public perception and experiences of violent crime and policing in general. The aim of this article is to examine the different leadership styles displayed by the different National Commissioners during their terms of office and whether their leadership styles impacted on violent crime and policing in general.

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