Mixed reaction over Sitole's plan to cut number of high-ranking SAPS officials

Treasury’s decision to instruct the police to reduce its budget received scathing condemnation from union Popcru, which has since called for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to be axed.

FILE: SAPS officers on parade. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

DURBAN - A possible move by National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole to reduce the number of high-ranking officers has been met with mixed reaction.

Sitole said on Thursday that following a directive from National Treasury for the police to cut their budget by over R20 billion over the next three years, several high ranking positions may become redundant.

"Instead of us having more lieutenant-generals, we want to maybe terminate some of the positions and take them down to production level, so we can hire more constables than senior officers," he said on Thursday.

"For us to prevent job losses, we have to work together. Currently there is restructuring taking place. It was endorsed and pronounced by the president. What we intend to do is to trim down the senior structure. Presently, i'm trimming down the deputy national commissioners as well as the divisions," he said.

On Friday, commissioner spokesperson Vish Naidoo told Eyewitness News: "In terms of the turn-around vision of the [South African Police Service], we want to reduce the number of operational members sitting in offices."

Treasury’s decision to instruct the police to reduce its budget received scathing condemnation from union Popcru, which has since called for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to be axed.

Popcru has also put pressure on the police to avoid job losses.

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole said the jobs of lower-ranking officers were safe, as he would only be trimming the fat of a bloated executive force.

However, violence monitor and researcher Mary De Haas said this would be a challenge,

“I understand it. It’s a lot to chop. He’s going to have to fight a legal battle to do that. I think it’s excellent.”

De Haas said despite possible opposition to Sitole’s decision, reducing the high number of executives would not affect the quality of crime-fighting.