South African Police Service strategic plan to combat crime at Bophelong
Semenya, Lawrence Kwadikwadi
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South African Police Service (SAPS) is established to prevent crime and provide safe and secure living to the inhabitants of the country. The SAPS operates under the Justice Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster to investigate and combat crime. In order to reduce the levels of crime, the SAPS has designed a SAPS Strategic Plan. The South African Police Service face challenges within the increasingly sophisticated, technological and international crime arena. To meet the demand the SAPS needs to upgrade the skills, competencies and capacity of its members and its ability to gather and use crime intelligence. According to the annual report of the Vanderbijlpark SAPS, 2008, the Bophelong/Muvhango (a township that falls under the town of Vanderbijlpark) has a rising crime rate due to the lack of following resources: two vehicles per area are available with two radios; six police officers are issued with two in-vehicles and two in Client Service Centre; six police officers employed on-duty per 1133km 2 with 18 Extensions; lack of training facilities as police officers employed 15 years ago have not received any relevant training in order to improve their crime fighting skills; police officers are not provided with any training sessions in order for them to understand the SAPS Strategic Plan; and there are no public meetings to sensitize the community regarding the SAPS Strategic Plan that hinders their involvement in crime prevention. In order to improve the challenge, the study was conducted with a hypothesis formulated as: the effective South African Police Service Strategic Plan may lead to crime prevention in Bophelong / Muvhango at Vanderbijlpark. The findings from the literature review and the empirical research support the central statement. Findings indicate that in order to achieve the purpose stipulated in the hypothesis, there is a need for personnel to attend the SAPS training courses to understand the significance of the crime prevention strategy. This will further assist them to implement the strategy effectively to combat crime. Moreover, the training needs to be aligned with the SAPS Strategic Plan in order to achieve the objectives of crime prevention strategically and should focus on the human capacity for high performance in combating crime. The training offered guides the employees with the basics regarding to the performance of their duties and is aligned with the duties performed practically. The study explored the difficulties and challenges that SAPS faced in the crime prevention strategy at the area of the research as Bophelong/ Muvhango. The study states the following recommendations for Vanderbijlpark SAPS to minimize crime at Bophelong/ Muvhango: SAPS must involve the local community members in implementing any policy/programmes for crime prevention; for the safety of the community SAPS must train officials with relevant skills; officials must receive training that is aligned to the objectives of the SAPS; SAPS must spend on improving resources such as more unmarked vehicle with well trained specialized officers; SAPS must improve on effective communication system between the SAPS members and the members of the community; and SAPS must utilize the community radio slot or road show system to alert the community regarding occurrence of any nature of crime in their area. It is recommended that SAPS must learn lessons from best practices implemented in developing and developed countries to combat crime. Further research therefore could be based on comparative study whereby crime prevention models and approached from other countries be discussed, explored and applied in South Africa considering the availability of required resources at national level. The research explored the impact of implementation of SAPS Strategic Plan and offered valuable recommendations to improve the challenges regarding crime prevention at Bophelong /Muvhango of Vanderbijlpark. The research suggested a way forward in the form of further research for crime prevention in South Africa.