No-man's-land: The uncertain existence of SAPS specialised investigative units


Since 2012 there has been a surge in serious, violent and syndicated crimes in South Africa. Despite having over 152 000 trained officers, the South African Police Service (SAPS) is not able to carry out its mandate effectively. This is due to the loss of the necessary expertise to undertake proactive intelligence-led investigations. While the SAPS’ intelligence capacity collapsed under the command of the disgraced Richard Mdluli, much of its investigative capacity was lost between 2000 and 2009, when most specialised investigative units were either closed down or their capacity distributed across selected police stations. This created uncertainty and low morale among members. Specialised units are a necessity given the complexities of the various crimes facing the SAPS.

About the author

Dr Johan Burger joined the ISS in August 2006 and is a senior researcher in the Governance, Crime and Justice division. He served in the South African Police Service (SAPS) for 36 years, the last nine as Assistant Commissioner (Major General) and Head of Operational Coordination in Pretoria. He has an MA in strategic studies and a DTech in policing.

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