Government plans to establish a new security arm as part of its plans to move away from the State Security Agency.
Presenting his annual budget speech at the end of May, minister in the presidency Mondli Gungubele said that this security arm will be formally instituted through the General Intelligence Laws Amendment Bill. He added that the draft bill has been finalised and will be submitted to parliament in September 2022.
Gungubele said the bill will enable the establishment of:
- A domestic arm of the security service to focus on counter-intelligence and domestic intelligence mandate;
- The establishment of a foreign service to focus on foreign intelligence gathering;
- The reestablishment of the South African National Academy of Intelligence, which will focus on intelligence training as a critical element of skills development and capacity building.
The minister also confirmed that a new national security policy and strategy is being developed, both of which will be open for public comment.
The formation of the new security arm comes after riots in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng saw over R37 billion in damage claims.
The riots, which were the worst since the end of apartheid and claimed 354 lives, led to heavy criticism of president Cyril Ramphosa’s government and its ability to respond to major security issues. The perceived lack of response from the government subsequently led to a cabinet reshuffle and the axing of the national police commissioner.
New special policing units
In May, police minister Bheki Cele said that the SAPS was considering the creation of six new specialised policing units, including moving two established units into primary functions.
Responding to a written parliamentary Q&A, Cele said that work studies are currently underway to determine the feasibility of the units. Some reports have already been finalised will soon be presented, he said.
“A statement (on the units) will be made once the approval for the establishment of the proposed units has been finalised,” the minister said.
The units under consideration are:
- A motorbike capability
- Highway patrol
- Illicit mining capability
- Economic Infrastructure Unit (EIU)
- Water policing and diving services (Primary function instead of secondary function)
- Hostage negotiation (Primary function instead of secondary function)
According to Cele, on top of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation – known as the Hawks – South Africa has 16 special policing units operating on the national level, and 22 special units operating on a provincial level.
The new proposed units will operate on a provincial level, he said.
Cele previously stated that his department will significantly ramp up recruitment and training in the coming months as the SAPS plans to add significant capacity.
The minister said this is provided for in the estimates of national expenditure for 2022, which will allow the police service to hire an additional 12,000 entry-level constable posts.
As many as 7,000 of these entry-level positions will be appointed in the 2022/2023 financial year, with the remaining 5,000 recruits added in the 2023/2024 financial year, he said.
The number of staff in the SAPS has declined steadily over the past decade and is expected to plateau going forward.
In its annual performance plan presented in parliament in April, the SAPS noted that in 2011/12, the department had a peak total staff complement of 199,345.
By comparison, its most up-to-date headcount stood at 182,126 at the end of the 2020/2021 financial year – an effective decrease of 8.8%.