SAPS Recruitment/Training Model for Entrants

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12 March 2019
Chairperson: Mr F Beukman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

SAPS presented its recruitment and training model for new recruits aimed at improving recruitment of high potential candidates and provide them with the necessary training for competency for the changing criminal environment and provide an organisation-wide improvement strategy.

The Committee asked about internal promotion standards, continued training and improvement programmes, aligning high volumes of applications with limited intake capacity and resources, the validity of certain application prerequisites such as English competence and possession of a driver’s licence, the specifics of SAPS community-based recruitment drives, the prospects for SAPS providing professional betterment through provision of access of police officers to tertiary education institutions and relevant qualifications, the short-term action plan for SAPS filling its specialised units and opportunities for specialisation within the training programme; SAPS response to scandals such as the Marikana public order policing failure and the buccal swabs company vacuum.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson said the Committee was to look at the recruitment strategy of SAPS to ensure new recruits contributed to a more responsive police force. Academic qualifications, people skills and the like were very important, particularly in light of the number of legal claims against SAPS and the referrals to Independent Police Investigative Directive (IPID) for criminal matters and misconduct. Unpacking the training rationale and the strategy for finding suitable recruits was necessary to remedy this.

The Chairperson noted that POPCRU could not be present but had provided input for the Committee.

Ms D Kohler Barnard (DA) noted the rumoured upcoming SAPS strikes.

The SAPS National Commissioner, General Khehla Sitole, said that SAPS would provide an immediate response should strikes occur, but that SAPS was currently not aware of concrete strike action. The SAPS recruitment and training model was guided by the National Development Plan (NDP) and the SAPS Turnaround Plan.

SAPS Recruitment and Training Model for Entry Level Police Trainees
Maj Gen Leon Rabie, Head of Strategic Management, said the briefing looked at entry level SAPS officers.

Recruitment Model
The regulatory framework for the recruitment model was based on the Constitution, the SAPS Act, the Employment Regulation Act, the Public Service Act, NDP requirements, Strategic Intelligence Act, Employment Equity Act, and Skills Development Act.

SAPS Recruitment Strategy for entry level was aimed at professionalisation of SAPS through recruitment of quality candidates, focusing on quality rather than quantity, and standardising recruitment and selection methods to produce an ethical service. This would improve service delivery and reduce corruption.

SAPS also sought an integrated approach to the recruitment process involving all relevant stakeholders, as well as required consultation taking place.

SAPS was focussing on increasing recruitment from minority groups (white, coloured, Indian, female in general), strengthening the security screening process associated with recruitment, and increasing visible policing within SAPS and capability within social crime.

The requirements of Regulation 11 stated that for a candidate to eligible, one had to be a South African citizen between the ages of 18 and 30, hold a Senior Certificate or National Certificate, proficient in English and one of the other nationally recognised languages, no previous criminal convictions at the time of the background check, hold a valid driver’s licence or a light motor vehicle licence, have no marks or tattoos visible, complete the physical, medical and psychological assessments, and be prepared to serve anywhere in South Africa. These regulations were under review to allow SAPS to do targeted recruitment.

▪ Recruitment and selection included targeted recruitment, particularly community involvement. There was advertisement, application receipt, screening and verification of addresses of individuals. Then a pool of possible candidates would be identified.

▪ Selection included psychometric assessment, integrity testing, physical assessment, and fingerprint taking. This was followed by interviews and reference taking. The final step in the selection process was the recruitment board making the necessary decisions. This was followed by medical testing, security screening and verification of qualifications.

▪ Enlistment involved one week at academy and one month at station level. This was followed by eight months at the academy. Then the code of conduct was signed and oath of office was taken. A 12-month probation period followed which focused on continued in-service development. Thereafter was the final appointment.

Those involved in the recruitment process were discussed (see document). The South African Qualification Authority assisted SAPS with verification of qualifications of applicants. Crime Intelligence within SAPS was responsible for screening. Community representatives included community police forums were involved in awareness in targeted areas as well as recruitment drives. The Visible Policing Division within SAPS was responsible for the imbizos in the targeted areas communicating the requirements as stipulated by the regulatory framework and ensure the community involvement in the selection processes.

Implementation of these initiatives to improve the recruitment strategy had firstly focussed on planning and targeted recruitment according to the National Commission review process. Focus was on prioritised police stations, public order policing, capacitation of specialised detectives, crime intelligence, and visible policing.

Provinces were specifically consulted to identify areas where specific marketing initiatives could be implemented. Roadshows in the identified provinces were aimed at attracting minority groups as stipulated by the regulatory framework.

The recruitment board representation was discussed (see document). The purpose of the recruitment board was to ensure representivity insofar as the targeted groups were concerned.

School qualifications were prioritised. Candidates who had at least a National Qualifications Framework (NQF) level four in English, as well as post-school qualifications, would serve as an advantage.

Integrity assessments were implemented with the 2018/19 intake. It was implemented by the SAPS Psychological Services. The scoring was done by an external service provider with seven critical concepts assessed. These included: aggression, external locus of control, impulsivity, negativity, risk taking, negative risk, rule defiance and manipulation. Included in the medical examination was drug use assessment.

Training model
The total training development programme spanned a period of one year and nine months. The first month included induction phase at station level. This was followed by an eight-month academic phase and then a 12-month probation phase which focused on continued in-service development and support.

• Learning Area (LA) 1: orientation to SAPS. This included patriotism, the rank structure of the SAPS, discipline drills, ethics, anticorruption and professional conduct.
• LA2: law and legislation applicable to SAPS with focus on the criminal justice system and introduction to criminal law, domestic violence, criminal procedure, and evidence.
• LA3: Community Service Centre (CSC) and the practicalities associated thereof. Learning the relevant forms and registers associated with the CSC and docket management.
• LA4: Crime detection and investigation. This focussed on crime scene management, docket administration, pressing techniques, investigation of specific crimes and investigation for court, investigative interviewing and management of exhibits.
• LA5: Crime prevention including community policing, sector policing principles, crime prevention approaches, techniques and planning (such as patrols, roadblocks).
• LA6: Street survival including firearms (pistol, shotgun, rifle), physical fitness, survival scenarios, tactical shooting and street survival.

The enhanced basic police development learning programme additionally included a crowd management programme as part of the non-technical training. Crowd management was a full training programme with practical and theoretical components.

Intermediate tactical policing level two followed this and focused on weapons skills and tactical skills.

Cybercrime training was introductory with a legal perspective, specifically offences under the Electronic Communication and Transactions Act as well as the Cybercrimes Bill.

There was continuous learner support throughout training modules. A monitoring and evaluation process was included to assess learners’ adherence to required standard.

The Chairperson asked about the status of the training colleges and staffing complement. Were the trainers in long-term service? Did these people have practical experience in the real-life environment or were they remaining static at the training centres? Were there minimum requirements for the profile of trainers? There was a review of the current syllabus underway. What other jurisdictions were being looked at in module development?

Ms Kohler Barnard said officers were frequently promoted to station commander without having passed the requirements. What was the status now? How many station commanders were not qualified to be station commanders? What was the cut-off in terms of returning to SAPS after having left the force for some time? It had previously been a ten-year cut-off. She had several cases of ex-police officers who felt comfortable with the new regime and were willing to return but fell outside the stipulated timeframe.

Police academies and training centres had poor reputations such as the Kwa-Zulu Natal gender-based violence and mistreatment, particularly the abuse of new recruits. Were these practices being stamped out?

Where was SAPS in terms of training of reservists? Ms Kohler Barnard had assurance that reservists were eager for training. What was the status of firearm training? There were many police officers without competency certificates.

In terms of physical fitness, the moment training was completed, fitness was abandoned. Unions had come down on the imposition of fitness stipulations for the force. The Committee had been told that SAPS was not allowed to stipulate and control the fitness of SAPS members. What was being done about unfit officers?

What was the status of drivers’ licence training? Was there an end date for the driving test for those who had not had the opportunity to do so before joining the force?

Mr Z Mbhele (DA) said that the importance of vocation should not be underestimated. Policing, in spite of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and cybercrime, remained a physical occupation. Quality of recruitment, training and support was crucial to determining the quality of the police service. Policing, like much of the public service such as education and healthcare, should be vocational. This requires a sense of purpose and identity to serve. A reference for this was a video by Simon Sinek, Start With Why. Did SAPS ever ask applicants and successful trainees why they wanted to be police officers?

He referred to the Road Traffic Act in LA2. SAPS officers did not see or were perceived by the public to not see traffic services as part of their ambit. What was SAPS official position on traffic law enforcement?

The given volumes of applications matched SAPS capacity to provide psychometric assessments and other evaluations (500 000). What was the system in place to handle this volume for psychometric tests? Was there an external contractor? If so, could the contract details be provided? What was the average age of police officers in the police service? What percentage of SAPS budget was allocated to training of recruits and in-service training?

Mr J Maake (ANC) referred to Phase Two selection/integrity testing, what did this mean and how was it done? Where was it stated about obtaining at least a Level Four in English in the National Senior Certificate. What did this mean? Possession of a valid driver’s licence was problematic for many prospective applicants lacking the resources and infrastructure. There had been talk of a SAPS university/college, where was this in the presentation?

Ms M Mmola (ANC) referred to Slide 8 and referenced an 18 January 2019 Mail & Guardian article on buccal samples; were investigations underway to remedy this? On Slide 14 and the 12 months’ probation phase, what factors led to trainees not being successful? Were field training officers still used by SAPS? If so, how many were operational at station level?

How did SAPS ensure that deserving applicants were chosen on merit, free from bias and discrimination? What were the details of the SAPS recruitment drives?

Mr P Mhlongo (EFF) referenced the changing nature of crime. In this context, there was clearly a lack of experienced detectives in SAPS. A recent visit to China had exposed him to a curriculum that evolved with the changing criminal patterns. It brought qualitative capacity to China’s police system. How was SAPS revision of the curriculum adapted similarly? In terms of tracking recruits in the field, the production side needed to be improved, not only management once in the field.

Was there a succession plan in place for staff at SAPS training colleges? There should be a balance between quailty educational qualifications and experience in terms of years spent in the police force.

Ms A Mabija (ANC) asked happened to the recruitment board if board members clearance certificates lapsed or they were denied clearance. She asked if SAPS recruits had been vetted and screened in the past.

Ms M Molebatsi (ANC) asked about the condition that new recruits had to be prepared to work anywhere in South Africa. Was accommodation taken into account here? How effective was fingerprint system? In terms of street survival techniques, why were there so many cases of loss of service weapons if this was being implemented adequately? What was the difference between a mentor and coach? Had training changed to comply with the Farlam Commission recommendation on public order policing? Were field training officers still being used in SAPS? What the SAPS rejuvenation programme was and what was the current average age of police officers in the force?

The Chairperson asked about advanced training and the NDP. The force needed both officer and non-officer classes. There had been a North West University programme which had faded away. Would SAPS be providing its own qualifications? Did SAPS have an in house higher education programme for the next generation. Was police management looking at this?

Ms Kohler Barnard asked about the prospects of a specialised SAPS university, as well as relationships with other tertiary institutions.

General Sitole replied on the status of training colleges, that there was a strategy of balance between experience and academic backgrounds. Some trainers were pulled from the field into the colleges and could return to the field later, others remained permanently to provide a specialised environment.

Divisional Commissioner: Human Resource Development (HRD), Lieut Gen (Dr) Bongiwe Zulu replied about the specific requirements for training. In terms of the curriculum, a NQF Level Five was the equivalent. The programme had been revised in 2016, making it very current.

Gen Sitole replied that the centre was now functional. There were new developments in fingerprint intake. Training and development research was constantly fed with new modus operandi as criminals were constantly adapting and changing.

The NDP stated that SAPS needed a professional corps. Gen Sitole had issued a directive to all the different environments in SAPS to clarify from each sector what the ideal professional profile. This was to create a specialised curriculum, as well as for benchmarking.

There would be no further promotion to the rank of officer without the requisite qualification. Gen Sitole had assigned Training and Development to look at this review.

The SAPS succession plan had a dual short- and long-term outlook in order to focus the training to respond to these concerns to generate police station capacity. SAPS current focus was on stations rather than any other area in terms of structuring.

Deputy National Commissioner: Human Resource Management, Lieutenant General Bonang Mgwenya, replied that there was reinvestment of costs. This was determined according to the priority of the Human Resource Management budget. In the current financial year, SAPS was able to allocate a total of 500 for the reinvestment of constables, sergeants, and warrant officers.

Gen Sitole replied that whatever training was acquired outside of SAPS needed to remain relevant to SAPS and be up-to-date with current crime dynamics.

On reservist training, visible policing had started working on a review on the use of reservists. Recruitment was at the commencement stage. The Department of Correctional Services had approached SAPS to assist it with reservists due to the Bosasa losses.

On firearms training of officers, an internal SAPS standard was adopted. Gen Sitole had tasked a standing committee to investigate firearms training to determine a standard that could be met in relation to resources. There was a rule that all SAPS members went on shooting practice.

The fitness policy within SAPS was still valid. Part of the SAPS turnaround plan included an evaluation package and fitness would be enforced.

Gen Sitole replied that he had ordered a recruitment indaba and the matter of the driver’s licence would be included in this. Currently the lack of a driver’s licence by a SAPS member had been treated with condemnation. This outlook needed to change due to practicalities and the approach had to be customised according to the situation.

On questioning applicants why they wanted to be police officers, Gen Sitole wanted to make SAPS an institution of choice through the turnaround strategy. This would be done through investment in communities.

Lieut Gen Zulu said that applicants were asked to explain why they wanted to be police officers during the the interview phase.

Gen Sitole replied about SAPS enforcement of the Road Traffic Act. He spoke of a sergeant and constable who were driving and the constable passed through a red robot. The sergeant wrote the constable a ticket. SAPS officers did enforce the Road Traffic Act. A work session had been held with metros the previous week. It had been decided that in metros SAPS cooperation would be put into the strategy. This involved the review and streamlining of mandates. This was planned within the next two weeks and SAPS was striving towards one operational direction.

Acting Divisional Commissioner: Personnel Management, Maj Gen Lenny Govender, replied that there had been 513 000 applications during the last intake. Not all applicants met the requirements, and the candidates list was cleaned. Thereafter the psychometric testing exercise was spread over three to four months. SAPS was seeking to recruit more psychologists. Current capacity had been able to deal with the volume, however.

The Chairperson asked how many of the 513 000 had passed to the next round?

Maj Gen Govender replied 120 000 or so had passed to the psychometric testing phase. No applications were thrown away. All applications were reviewed and either turned down or accepted. They receive feedback from provinces on the outcomes of the application process

Mr Maake asked how the numbers of applicants went from 500 000 to 5000 within the context of SAPS capacity.

Mr Mbhele asked SAPS to confirm that 120 000 applicants were making it through to the psychometric testing phase.

Ms Kohler Barnard noted that despite psychometric testing of applicants, there were still reports of misconduct by SAPS members. Was this a once off test or was continuous assessment throughout one's SAPS career What was the follow up? Was there any attempt to pick up later indiscretions?


Gen Sitole referred to the confirmation questions that Major General Govender had responded to.

On follow up psychometric testing, he replied that these were basic entry tests. The moment applicants entered SAPS, vetting and continual integrity testing and lifestyle audits took over.

The average age of SAPS officers was 35 to 39. SAPS was trying to attract younger recruits. This was why recruitment had been increased to 5 000.

Maj Gen Zulu replied the SAPS budget allocated R304 million for training. There was a 2% boost from 2018.

Gen Sitole added that SAPS would be able to provide the 2019 percentage for human capital development once it had been budgeted for.

Maj Gen Govender answered the questions on integrity testing and what code four in English was. Due to the high volume of applications, the matric certificates and symbols of applicants were examined to ensure a high standard. SAPS required a minimum English mark of between 50-59% to enter the police college. This was best for the country and SAPS and was informed by the NDP.

Mr Maake said being a good professional police officer did not involve English competence.

Gen Sitole replied this was going to be raised at the recruitment indaba. Such stipulations needed to be adapted to specific contexts. For example Namaqualand had different requirements than simply English competence in order for officers to communicate effectively in that area.

The Chairperson said Mr Mhlongo had made the valid point that officers needed to be able to do office work.

Mr Mbhele supported Mr Maake’s point that there was need for specialisation within the SAPS environment.

National Head of Employee Health and Wellness: Personnel Management, Maj Gen Temba, replied on integrity testing, that it was the way of dealing with corruption and heavy handedness. It aimed at testing an individual’s propensity for counteractive and corrupt behaviour. These indicators included anger, manipulation, risk taking behaviour, and rule defiance. They needed to consider how officers engage and empathise with the persons they are dealing with. These evaluations were an additional level on top of the psychometric test.

Gen Sitole replied to the SAPS university question by saying that SAPS had established links with other tertiary institutions for training and development programmes.

On buccal samples, an internal investigation had been initiated. Preliminary findings suggested that the company contracted to conduct sampling did not exist but it had not been finalised.

Ms Kohler Barnard asked that once the internal investigation was done, how long would it take to secure a new contract and distribution of buccal swabs?

Gen Sitole had instructed that if no service providers were available in the country, SAPS would be open to international service providers.

Mr Mhlongo said the SAPS synergy with universities was at a higher level of training. He was more worried about the non-reviewal and renewal of the SAPS curriculum. This was the foundation before moving to specialisation. For example, China was constantly adapting to the changing environment of crimes.

Lieutenant General Mgwenya replied that the curriculum was continually reviewed in line with changes in the legislation and the criminal environment. SAPS could not recruit widely candidates who had achieved an NQF level six qualification. Outside of the 5000 recruits, it would focus on NQF level six graduates to shorten the period of specialisation.

Gen Sitole replied to Mr Mhlongo that the basic training curriculum was currently under review under his instruction. A dedicated detective training academy would be commissioned. SAPS was already initiating the formative elements of the process.

The 12 month probation period was linked to the induction plan of those who graduated from the police college. A succession plan had been formalised. Those graduating from police colleges were brought into the junior corps with the intention of providing the experience needed for leadership positions in the future.

On the rotation of recruitment officers around the country, field officers had previously been withdrawn but he had instructed this to be reversed and ordered a restoration of the field training. Lieut Gen Mgwenya had designed the rotation.

Gen Sitole replied that everyone needed to go through vetting. Over and above vetting, there were random lifestyle audits. This was SAPS responding to perceptions.

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) and Crime Detection were investigating the matter of bogus recruiters. Gen Sitole said he had also suggested an upfront intelligence exercise. These influences from outside the system were contaminating it internally. The training and development research unit had been beefed up to respond to criminal advancement. Committee members were encouraged to visit the training colleges for a first-hand experience.

Lieut Gen Mgwenya replied about the recruitment board, saying that security clearance was a requirement for senior official positions. Those sitting on the board needed to have security clearance as per a directive from the National Commissioner. This included members of the community police forum as well.

On whether the fingerprint system was effective for recruitment, SAPS had ensured they were not taken at police stations. These were taken by recruitment officers prior to the physical assessment at private locations. This improved security by segregation of responsibilities and functions.

Gen Sitole replied that the condition requiring SAPS members to be prepared to serve anywhere in the country was subject to the personal circumstances of the officer, as well as available accommodation.

Street survival training was a current trend being invested in. Street survival training was one of the measures to enhance safety of officers.

On mentorship within SAPS to coach new recruits constantly, mentees had formal development plans that they followed.

On the Farlam Commission recommendations, public order training had been upgraded from a period of two days to three weeks. To ensure compliance, training was subject to evaluation and review.

Maj Gen Zulu replied about the SAPS rejuvenation programme, saying SAPS was striving for new blood. Senior managers had not been exposed to rejuvenation programmes for a number of years. The executive development programme had been reviewed. In the next financial year, SAPS senior managers would undergo executive development programmes. This would involve a generational mix in order to ensure future proofing.

Mr Mbhele asked about the NDP policing reform proposal for the entrenchment of evidence-based policing. This was to counter the disbandment of specialised investigation units. How was this recruitment and training model giving effect to allowing trainees / serving officers to specialise and harness aptitudes to place them where they could be most effective in moving towards the (re)entrenchment of evidence-based policing?

Gen Sitole was asked about the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) proposal that the current annual intake be doubled to 6000 annually. This had implications for capacity. Could he respond to the POPCRU submission that training for officers should be increased to a 36-month programme so that training was equivalent to a national diploma.

Ms Mmola asked what lessons had been learnt for future improvements and reforms of the training programme? On the provision to “Enhance recruitment of minorities”, how would SAPS ensure colleges had minority groups?

Ms Molebatsi asked if at SAPS entry level, tertiary-level graduates would have advantages in comparison to a matriculant. Would they undergo the same training? What were the chances of including African languages in SAPS training?

Mr Mbhele asked regarding specialisation factoring into recruitment and training. ISS research had indicated that crime stats of two financial years showed that 73% of murders took place in 25% of police precincts. The Committee had referred to top the 30 stations. Regarding evidence-led policing; how did these statistics affect recruitment and training?

Gen Sitole replied that strategic/evidence-based policing was linked to the turnaround plan which had initiated a review of these structures, for example, revival of specialised units. This was related to performance of structures and of the budget. The question was always, ‘would they improve policing’? this related to the specialisation part of agenda.

POPCRU was part of the turnaround vision. The current intake had almost doubled to 6000. SAPS had already increased intake capacity to 5000 and training colleges had been informed. SAPS was committed to being aligned with the United Nations approved ratios for police to public and to close the gap.

On the POPCRU request for extension of training to 36 months, a review of training and development strategy had placed this request under investigation.

Lieut Gen Zulu requested SAPS submit a report in writing analysing the impact of training reform at a later stage.

Gen Sitole replied about the recruitment of minorities, saying it was an explicit recruitment strategy in line with transformation directives. Key to this was a community-based approach. The recruitment team should extend to community policing groups to work together to ensure better recruitment in line with this.

About the anecdote of the general fired for racism, the process had followed the regulations. It was in the final stages as the full process and regulations were being followed.

Gen Sitole replied that training for graduates versus matriculants was currently not separate.

On the inclusion of African languages in the curriculum, SAPS was looking to align with policing on the continent. This involved shared interests and SAPS was working on customisation of policy into the African system. African languages would be part of this consideration.

On skewed profiles vis a vis recruitment, a stabilisation approach was underway – which followed high density crime areas. Once stabilised, SAPS would pursue a normalisation approach, finally leading to a permanent geographic approach. The geographic approach and specialisation drive should influence the recruitment drive. SAPS was identifying the rapidly growing cities in the country and planning for expansion.

Mr Mbhele asked for the alignment of these processes with evidence-based needs.

The Chairperson thanked everyone and the meeting was adjourned.

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