Sizwe Mchunu, MPP
DA KZN Spokesperson on Community Safety and Liaison
More than 30 percent of KwaZulu-Natal police officers, including high ranking personnel such as Colonels, Majors, Lieutenant Colonels and Captains, are without drivers licences despite the nature of the job.
The figure forms the basis of a parliamentary reply by provincial Community Safety MEC, Willies Mchunu to questions posed by the DA and reveals that a staggering 6 693 out of 21 525 KZN law enforcement officers do not possess a valid drivers’ licence. The reply includes personnel ranging from Constable to Lieutenant-General.
While the DA acknowledges that not all functions within the South African Police Service (SAPS) necessarily require that staff are able to drive, a licence is a valuable life skill and the perception among the South African public is that police officers would have driving licences. Yet the reply reveals the contrary with;
· 614 Sergeants without licences
· 888 Lieutenants and Captains without licences
· 256 Majors and Lieutenant Colonels without licences
· 103 Colonels without licences
· 2 896 Constables without licences
· 2 896 Warrant Officers without licences.
By definition, the role of a police officer is to serve and protect the people. It is difficult to comprehend how this can be fully achieved in KwaZulu-Natal, given these statistics. The figures also provide a context to the often repeated excuse that ‘that there are no vehicles’ when distressed South Africans call in to various police stations across the province. Victims must often wait for hours for the SAPS to arrive – it appears, not because they have no vehicles – but because they have no drivers.
The number of Constables and Sergeants without licences is another major concern given that these are the officers “on the ground” who are involved in arrests and should be first at a crime scene. The fact that so many do not have a drivers licence translates into an unnecessary burden on the Province’s policing systems with officers needing to be transported – by other police officers – to crime scenes, not because of the best-practice of partnering police officers, but simply because they cannot drive.
These figures are a sad indictment and Provincial Commissioner Mmamonnye Ngobeni must explain why she has allowed such a situation to develop. I will be writing to her to ask what steps she is taking to correct the problem and how many operational members are being taken off the beat to drive their bosses or colleagues around.
It appears that it is not only the shortage of police vehicles and personnel with the SAPS, but also the shortage of licensed drivers that is a factor contributing to the deplorable levels of crime our province.