The country of South Africa will face a large police recruitment drive as well as several other measures that will be put in place in response to the significant violence and crime increase experienced in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. 

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on our country, taking a look at the latest SAPS’ data that was recorded over the second quarter in 2021 we can evidently see the impact that the pandemic had on South Africa’s crime rates. 

The SAPS’ had stated that comparing crime rates in South Africa to before the lockdown period and after the lockdown period can be impossible. Overall crime rates in South Africa within the second quarter of 2021 (July to September) had decreased compared to the crime rates in the second quarter of 2020. Though this may be the case, data provided by the SAPS shows that as lockdown restrictions ease up, crime rates increase. 

As the pandemic fueled the already soaring tensions in the country, we had seen major riots in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal spur in what seemed to be a nationwide disaster. Following the riots, we could see a rampant increase in contact-related crimes within the second quarter of 2021. These contact-related crimes had seen an increase of 7.4% compared to the second quarter of 2020, the riots caused an increase of 6.5% in malicious damage to property crimes, an increase of 18.7% in burglary at non-residential premises crimes, and an increase of 30.2% in cases of arson.  The SAPS’ had said that all these increases can mainly be attributed to the looting and riots within the country during the second quarter of 2021. 

However, possibly the most significant increase in crime in South Africa regards the soaring murder rate. In the second quarter of 2020, we could see that the murder rate in South Africa sat at a heavy 5,107. Within the second quarter of 2021, the murder rate in South Africa hit a staggering 6,163 this shows an overall increase of about 20.7%. Viewing statistics like these makes one realize the seriousness of the situation at hand. 

On Thursday, February 10th 2022, President Cyril Ramaphosa had cited a panel report on the current unrest faced by the country. The report showed that several government bodies failed in their duty in keeping members of the public safe and identifying threats within the nation. Cyril had stated that the handling of the events in the second quarter of 2021 showed crude ability, poor police operational planning, poor coordination between intelligence services and state security, and finally, that police are not always in the communities they serve. 

In response to this increase in crime, president Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the government will make resources available in order to recruit and train an additional 12,000 new policemen and women! The tactic has been introduced in order to ensure that the SAPS will urgently receive the capacity it truly needs. Further tactics will include the re-establishment of community policing forums, this tactic aims to improve the relations and coordination between local police and the residents of the communities they serve.

Currently, there are around 182,000 police officers in South Africa, this number shows an 18,000 decrease in the number of policemen and women in the country since 2010. There had been previous plans to recruit some 14,000 new police officers, however, Police Minister Bheki Cele had stated that the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic had upended these plans. 

The average murder rate per day in South Africa currently sits at 60. The Police Minister had stated that training and recruitment had been stunted due to the pandemic, they hadn’t been able to train recruits due to the virus, and also stated that there was not a budget large enough for the growth. And yet in the midst of the crisis, around R4 billion of the R106.6 billion that the National Treasury had allocated for policing in the year through March 2021 had gone unspent!