PARLIAMENT has heard that almost 5000 members of the detectives division within the SAPS have not been trained to do their jobs.
This was revealed by senior management within the SAPS during a parliamentary dialogue on detectives' services convened by the portfolio committee on police in Cape Town yesterday.
Senior officials from the department of justice and constitutional development also told MPs how incompetent police detectives were in dealing with investigations and gathering evidence at crime scenes.
Major-General Charles Johnson, from the SAPS detective services division, said while his unit had more than 23000 detectives under its employ, more than 4900 had not been trained to do police detective work.
"We must take the people that are interested, even if they do not meet all the requirements," Johnson said.
He blamed the lack of training on a shortage of trainers, relevant technology and funds.
Chief director of court services in the Department of Justice, Pieter du Rand, said poor detective work was among the reasons behind low conviction rates because the SAPS often presented weak cases for him to present before the courts.
He said thousands of top police investigators were not trained to handle basic detective work and evidence gathering.
"People come from police service backgrounds but they are not properly trained in how to deal with crime scene investigation, how to deal with the normal detective type of things that are required to ensure that there is proper evidence handling and that those then go through a court so that justice is done," Du Rand said.
DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard said because of the apparent poor capacity of the SAPS detectives' unit, it was clear that police were raping crime scenes.
"It's the inevitable outcome of the extreme lack of training," she said.
Acting committee chairman and ANC MP Annelize van Wyk said legislative interventions could be made to ensure there was proper training and promotion of police detectives.
"We can say legislatively, this is how we say promotions should happen: first qualify and only then can you be considered – you don't get promoted and then you start the training," Van Wyk said.
Institute for Security Studies senior policing researcher Johan Burger said what was worrying was that the poorly trained detectives seemed to also be overworked. He said given the crime levels, a single detective handled 100 dockets or investigations on average instead of the acceptable level of 60 dockets.
"In some cases, individual detectives add to their burden by their own sloppy work such as poor docket administration, poor quality of statements and bad time management," Burger said.