The role of the civilian secretariat for police service (CSPS) in transforming the South African police service (SAPS)

Mafologela, Mothupi Stacious
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Any democratic state would be concerned about a policing approach that is characterised by militarism. South Africa under the apartheid government experienced the hardships that come with a police agency that is militaristic and politically oriented to serve minority interests and ‘deal’ with the apartheid government detractors. Security Sector Reform (SSR) was amongst the crucial policy issues that a democratic South Africa had to address considering the historical nature of the functioning of security and intelligence institutions. The transformation of the South African Police Service (SAPS) from a force to a service-oriented police agency formed part of the SSR, amongst which included creating civilian oversight mechanisms to serve as checks and balances on how the SAPS functions in a democratic state. The Civilian Secretariat for Police Service (CSPS) forms part of the civilian oversight institutions. Overtime, the SAPS started showing signs of reverting back to the militaristic policing approach which included reverting back to adopting military ranks in 2010. This raised concerns in the public domain with a consequential regression in terms of public trust and police integrity. This research assessed the role of the CSPS in terms of SAPS transformation focussing on police militarisation, demilitarisation, role and power of the Minister and role of SAPS in policy development. Further, the research also assessed the South African SSR policy and Security Sector Governance (SSG) framework to understand the implications these have regarding SAPS transformation. The study found that the SAPS is to some extend militarised through PPUs but the latter failed to gain full traction. Militarisation in itself is not a negative approach, however, the extent and degree of deploying militaristic policing approaches require stricter monitoring. The CSPS has adequate powers derived from policy and legislation but such are not adequately utilised to ensure a significant success on SAPS transformation. Political will is crucial to propel police reform in South Africa. The Minister of Police can strengthen the political oversight role on the SAPS by ensuring effective use of the CSPS and governance framework established for SAPS transformation.
A research report submitted to the School of Governance in the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management of the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, in part fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of the Masters of Management in Public Policy
Mafologela, Mothupi Stacious (2019) The role of the civilian secretariat for police service in transforming the South African Police Service, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, <>