South African Government

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Police and defence

Department of Police
Civilian Secretariat for Police
Independent Police Investigative Directorate
Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority
South African Police Service
Department of Military Veterans
Armaments Corporation of SA
Intelligence services






Department of Police

Cover page of Police and Defence chapter in Official Guide to South Africa 2018-2019The Department of Police is responsible for law-enforcement services, policy determination, direction and overall execution of the department’s mandate in relation to relevant legislation. The Minister of Police is responsible for determining national policing policy (Section 206 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996) and the overall execution of the department’s mandate, in relation to the key pieces of legislation.

Over the medium term, the Department of Police was expected to focus on enhancing community safety, reducing violence against women and children, improving perceptions on and increasing the conviction rate of fraud and corruption in the public and private sectors, and mitigating the impact of budget reductions on service delivery.

The number of personnel was expected to decrease from 181 344 in 2020/21 to 162 945 in 2023/24, due to natural attrition. Given the significant impact of the reductions on compensation of employees, non‐critical vacant posts will not be filled.

Enhancing community safety

The department has recognised community safety as integral to creating a safe and secure environment that is conducive to social and economic stability, and supporting a better life for all. To achieve these goals, the department will implement initiatives such as the “community‐in‐blue” concept, the safer cities framework and the integrated schools safety programme; and ensure that community policing forums are functioning and effective.

Reducing violent crime, specifically against women and children

Over the medium term, the department planned to target detection rates of 75% and 70% for crimes against women and children, respectively. To achieve this, the department will enhance its detective capacity, improve forensic support and optimise the implementation of the integrated criminal justice strategy. Other areas of activity include reducing the levels of contact crimes against women and children by 6.9% and 6.7% respectively, by 2023/24.

To realise these targets, the department will roll out its Gender‐based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Action Plan, which primarily seeks to: ensure that police officers and stations have the capacity to provide victim‐friendly support services to survivors; and support the implementation and monitoring of key policies on police duties related to domestic violence and sexual offences. In response to capacitate the SAPS members to deal with GBVF, 1 763 members across all provinces were trained on GBVF-related courses during 2020/21 financial year

Targeting fraud and corruption

An improvement in perceptions of fraud and corruption in the public and private sectors is enabled by responsive investigation, and is facilitated through specialised cybercrime investigative capabilities.

Over the period ahead, the department aimed to maintain a conviction rate of 70% per year for cases relating to serious fraud and corruption in the public and private sectors.

Due to the complex nature of these cases, the duration of investigations cannot be predicted, hence targets remain constant over the period ahead.

Mitigating the impact of baseline reductions

In an effort to mitigate the impact of budget reductions on service delivery, the department planned to explore alternatives to how it renders services in communities. In doing so, it will focus on: increasing the capacity of police stations, particularly those 30 stations with the highest contact crimes reported; redirecting resources towards increasing police visibility; improving access to policing services; and enhancing frontline service delivery.

This will involve recruiting entry‐level officers and redeploying senior officers to stabilise areas with high levels of crime or those that have been identified as hot spots due to the prevalence of specific crime-related threats. The National Police Commissioner answers directly to the Minister of Police.

Entities reporting to the Minister of Police are the:

  • Civilian Secretariat for Police
  • Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID)
  • Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority (PSIRA)
  • South African Police Service (SAPS).

Civilian Secretariat for Police

The Civilian Secretariat for the Police Service was established in terms of the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service Act of 2011 and Section 208 of the Constitution, which provides for the establishment of a civilian secretariat for the police service to function under the direction of the Minister of Police.

In terms of the Act, the secretariat’s mandate is to conduct civilian oversight of the police service and provide policy and strategic support to the Minister, including administrative support in relation to his international obligations.

The Act also mandates responsibility on the secretariat to monitor the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act of 1998 by the SAPS.

The Civilian Secretariat is mandated to perform, amongst others, the following:

  • Providing the Minister with policy advice and research support;
  • Developing departmental policy through qualitative and evidence-based research;
  • Providing civilian oversight of the Police Service through monitoring and evaluating overall police performance;
  • Mobilising role-players, stakeholders and partners outside the department through engagements on crime prevention and other policing matters; and
  • Providing other support services to the Minister in pursuit of achieving his/her mandate.

Independent Police Investigative Directorate

The IPID exercises its functions in accordance with the IPID Act of 2011. The Act gives effect to the provisions of Section 206(6) of the Constitution, which provides for the establishment of an independent police complaints body that must investigate any alleged misconduct of, or offence committed by, a member of the police service. The thrust of the directorate’s work is to investigate serious and priority crimes allegedly committed by members of the SAPS and the Municipal Police services.

The IPID Act of 2011, which came into effect on 1 April 2012, grants the directorate an extended mandate and changes the focus of the directorate’s work from a complaints‐driven organisation to one that prioritises the investigative function. The Act also places stringent obligations on the SAPS and the Municipal Police services to report matters that must be investigated by the directorate, and ensures the implementation of disciplinary recommendations made by the directorate.

Over the medium term, the IPID planned to focus on strengthening its investigative capacity and refining processes to improve the quality of investigations. As a result of COVID‐19 and the subsequent lockdown restrictions, the directorate encountered several limitations in conducting and finalising investigations amid an increase in the number of reported cases.

The directorate aimed to prioritise its backlog and investigate cases of alleged police brutality, rape, torture and assault. In light of the surge in the number of reported cases of GBVF, particular attention will be given to cases in which the alleged victims are women, children or people living with disabilities.

Private Security Industry Regulatory Authority

The PSIRA was established in terms of Section 2 of the Private Security Industry Regulation Act of 2001, which replaced the Security Officers Act of 1987.

The authority is mandated to regulate the private security industry, and exercise control over the practice of the occupation of security service providers in the public and national interest, as well as in the interest of the private security industry itself.

Over the medium term, the authority aimed to focus on implementing its digital transformation strategy and establishing a financial stability guarantee fund.

The digital transformation strategy involves the automation of registration processes that will result in the reduction in the turnaround time for registrations of security businesses and security officers from eight days (security businesses) and 14 days (security officers) in 2020/21 to three days for both in 2023/24. The process will also include self‐assessment inspections by security businesses, resulting in a reduction in the number of inspections conducted by the authority for security officers.

South African Police Service

The SAPS derives its powers and functions from section 205 of the Constitution and from the South African Police Service Act of 1995.

This legislation regulates the police service in terms of its core functions, which are to prevent, investigate and combat crime; maintain public order; protect and secure the inhabitants of South Africa and their property; and uphold and enforce the law.

The National Commissioner is the Accounting Officer of the SAPS. Deputy National Commissioners (under whom the divisions and components of the SAPS fall) and provincial commissioners (under whom the cluster and station commanders fall) report to the National Commissioner.

The SAPS’s policing objectives, in accordance with the provisions of Section 205 of the Constitution, are to:

  • prevent, combat and investigate crime;
  • maintain public order;
  • protect and secure the inhabitants of South Africa and their property; and
  • uphold and enforce the law.

The vision of the SAPS is to create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa.

The mission of the SAPS is to:

  • prevent and combat anything that may threaten the safety and security of any community;
  • investigate any crimes that threaten the safety and security of any community;
  • ensure offenders are brought to justice; and
  • participate in efforts to address the root causes of crime.

During the 2020/21 financial year, the COVID-19 restrictions still persisted, however the SAPS was able to enlist 2 511 current serving reservists as permanent members. The reservists were trained in the Reservist Training Programme and were able to immediately be deployed to stations for operational duties and resulted in the capacitation of the police stations.

In addition, the re-enlistment of about 500 previously employed police officials commenced during 2020 to strengthen capacity where specialised skills in the detection environment were identified. The 4 000 could unfortunately not be enlisted due to the COVID-19 restrictions which resulted in the suspension of all training interventions.


The Department of Defence (DoD) derives its mandate from Section 200 of the Constitution; the Defence Act of 2002, as amended by the Defence Amendment Act of 2010; the 1996 White Paper on Defence; and the 2015 South African Defence Review.

The department is required to provide, manage, prepare and employ defence capabilities that are commensurate with the needs of South Africa.

Over the medium term, the department was expected to prioritise maintaining South Africa’s defence capabilities, expanding and maintaining its infrastructure, safeguarding its borders and territorial integrity, participating in peace support operations, and institutionalising its cybersecurity policy in line with that of government.

Department of Military Veterans (DMV)

The DMV derives its mandate from the Military Veterans Act of 2011, which requires the department to provide national policy and standards on socio-economic support to military veterans and to their dependants, including benefits and entitlement to help realise a dignified, unified, empowered and self-sufficient community of military veterans.

The department continues to deliver key benefits such as housing, education, training and skills development, and access to healthcare to military veterans and their dependants.

Armaments Corporation of South Africa (Armscor)

Armscor is the acquisition agency for the DOD. Renowned for its acquisition expertise, Armscor has enhanced and expanded its service offering to the DOD as well as to stakeholders across the African Continent in line with its vision to be the premier defence technology and acquisition service provider for the South African Government and our allies on the African continent and the world.

To maintain competitiveness, the corporation aims to acquire capital assets such as armoured vehicles and helicopters in an economically viable manner. Over the medium term, the Armscor will focus on meeting the department’s requirements in terms of defence matériel as well as those related to defence technology, research, development analysis, tests and evaluation. The corporation will also focus on providing support to the local defence industry, ensuring that the SANDF receives quality equipment to fulfil its mandate.


Denel operates in the military aerospace and landward defence environment, and provides strategic defence equipment. The company’s broad focus over the medium term will be on restructuring, which entails optimising its cost structure and reviewing its business model to improve its global competitiveness.

Emphasis will also be placed on the company’s internal cost structure, efficiency, effectiveness, disposal of non‐core businesses, improved supply chain policies, and alignment of IT infrastructure with its new organisational structure.

Castle Control Board

The Castle Control Board primarily derives its mandate from the Castle Management Act of 1993, which requires the board to preserve and protect the military and cultural heritage of the Castle of Good Hope, and to optimise its tourism potential and public accessibility.

Aspects of the board’s mandate are also derived from the Defence Endowment Property and Account Act of 1922, and the National Heritage Resources Act of 1999.

Over the medium term, the board aimed to fulfil its mandate by implementing the revenue optimisation strategy to, among other things, provide a comprehensive range of visitor services, host better curated events, and upgrade the site’s security system and visitor centre. All of the board’s revenue is self-generated.

Intelligence services

The State Security Agency’s (SSA) aims to develop a more effective and efficient intelligence architecture for South Africa. In terms of Section 209 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa of 1996, the President appoints a member of the Executive or a Cabinet Minister to assume political responsibility for the control and direction of the Civilian Intelligence Service.

On 5 August 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa reconstituted the Cabinet and placed the SSA in The Presidency. This had an effect that the agency no longer had a member of the Executive or a Cabinet Minister as a political head responsible for the control and direction of the civilian intelligence service. Instead, the President of the Republic designated a Deputy Minister to oversee the responsibilities of the agency.

The mandate of the SSA is to provide government with intelligence on domestic and foreign threats or potential threats to national stability, the constitutional order, and the safety and well-being of the people of South Africa. This allows the government to implement policies to deal with potential threats and to better understand existing threats and thus improve their policies.

The agency focuses on matters of national interest including terrorism, sabotage, subversion, espionage and organised crime. It also conducts vetting for all government departments in line with its counterintelligence mandate to ensure secure conditions to enable departments and key state entities to do their work.

The SSA comprises:

  • the Domestic Branch (formerly the National Intelligence Agency)
  • the Foreign Branch (formerly the South African Secret Service)
  • the Intelligence Academy (formerly the South African National Academy of Intelligence)
  • National Communications, which includes the former National Communications Centre, Office for Interception Centres and Electronic Communications Security (Pty) Ltd.

Source: Official Guide to South Africa

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