South Africa plans law enforcement revamp

After deadly riots.
Image: Darren Stewart, Gallo Images via Getty Images

South Africa plans to overhaul its law-enforcement agencies in the face of scathing criticism of its response to rampant crime and last year’s deadly riots that claimed 354 lives.

The police force will recruit an additional 12,000 officers, while leadership changes will be made in the security structures, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his state-of-the-nation address in Cape Town on Thursday. Special units will also be established to combat extortion at construction sites and the vandalizing of infrastructure, he said.

On average, more than 60 people are murdered each day in South Africa, and rampant criminality has been cited as a major deterrent to investment. The country has about 182,000 police officers, 18,000 less than it did in 2010, despite the size of the population having jumped by a fifth to 60 million.

A panel that Ramaphosa set up to investigate unrest that rocked two provinces in July last year issued a scathing rebuke of how the government, police and intelligence services handled the crisis, and recommended a plethora of reforms.

The cabinet acknowledged that it “must take overall responsibility for the events of July 2021,” Ramaphosa said. “We will, as recommended, develop and drive a national response to address the weaknesses that the panel identified.”

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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