Rauch, J. (1992). South African Police Basic Training: A preliminary assessment. Paper presented at the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Seminar No. 3, April.


Presenter: Janine Rauch

Janine Rauch is an independent consultant.

Date: April 1992

Venue: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa




Research Procedure
Evaluating Training

Current Basic Training Provision in the SAP
Training in the SAP
The form of Basic Training
Racial segregation
Accommodation and Facilities
Recruitment and Training Capacity

The Basic Training Colleges: Organisation & Culture
Student Body

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Course Structure and Content
Academic Training
Physical Training

Assessment: Problem Areas
The impact of "discipline"
Police Discretion
Syllabus Content and Emphasis
Learning and Skills
Training as a "closed" system
Gender issues
Student experiences of training




Appendix 1: Current Basic Training Syllabus
Appendix 2: Example of Basic Training Timetable
Appendix 3: Skill Areas covered in Metropolitan Police Training Materials


Acknowledgement must go to all members of the SAP, from the Training Generals at Head Office, to the Staff, Instructors and Students at the Basic Training Colleges who made this research possible. Generals Grobler and Jonker arranged my access to the Colleges, and the following officers at the Colleges organised my visits: Capt. Heidi Van der Westhuizen (Pretoria), Colonel Fourie and Lt Van Zyl (Hammanskraal), Col Munsamy (Chatsworth). Col Minnaar, Major van Der Merwe, Captain Stoman and the staff of the Bishop Lavis College in Cape Town deserve special mention for their friendly and interested co-operation with our project.

I would like to thank all the members of staff of the colleges who shared their experiences, opinions and hospitality. My understanding of life in the police force and the challenges of training has been enriched by these discussions, and I hope that this is reflected in the report. I hope also that this report, and the discussion it is intended to generate, demonstrate to the police force the value of critical independent research.

I would like to thank the Institute for Democracy in SA (IDASA) and the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation whose financial, administrative and collegiate support made this research possible and worthwhile.

In particular, I would like to thank Etienne Marais and Graeme Simpson, for their input, criticism and support; and Elrena van der Spuy for taking time to make comments on an earlier draft.


The purpose of this research was to produce a preliminary assessment of current basic training provision in the South African Police (SAP), and to examine what changes, if any, have been made to basic police training since the process of political reform began in 1990. This report on SAP basic training forms part of a larger research project examining the problems of policing in South Africa and the potential for reform. It is not informed by an expertise in education and training method, but rather by a concern with improving the levels of service provided by the SAP and with the urgent need to improve police-community relations.

This is the first time that an independent researcher has been granted access to the SAP training institutions. In itself, this reflects the changing thinking of SAP decision-makers. The SAP is an institution in flux, struggling to adapt to the changing external environment and to re-define its role. The consequences of this institutional upheaval are felt keenly by individual members of the force, resulting in contradictions and anomalies. I hope that this paper reflects some of these complexities as they are played out within the sphere of SAP training.

The central assumption of my understanding of policework is that policing is a discretionary activity. This means that there is no one way of "doing policework", and that the individual (unsupervised) police officer is perpetually called upon to make decisions and take appropriate action. There can be no training for policework which would cover all the possible scenarios and the appropriate response for each. A training which emphasises legal knowledge and "law enforcement" misses the crucial point that

action will always be the product of judgements made in concrete situations that cannot be submitted to rules.1

What is needed is a training which equips recruits with the appropriate skills and information for the exercise of discretion in a complex and changing external environment.

This view is supported by the Final Report of the Stage II Review of Police Probationer Training in England and Wales, (henceforth referred to as UEA Report), which based its recommendations about the basic training system on the following presuppositions:

  • the social contexts in which officers carry out their duties are fluid, complex, and idiosyncratic in each particular case. It is not possible to anticipate fully the problems of action that will face constables, and it is inappropriate to apply stock assumptions about the origins and causes of situations they will have to manage and resolve;

  • the successful completion of policing tasks depends crucially on the quality of informed discretion exercised by the officers concerned;

  • the quality of discretion depends on the confidence, coolness and depth of understanding which officers bring to bear in their diagnosis of problems;

  • the professional accomplishment of this policing role requires an organisation that supports and expects effective, discretionary problem-solving by the uniformed constable.2

This view of policework suggests a number of features for an appropriate training. Training should equip recruits with an understanding of policing and its social context, and with the skills and information necessary for the exercise of professional discretion. Of course, training is not only carried out in the Basic Training Colleges, and acquisition of skills and information should be a long-term process, graded according to the type of work a police official is required to do.

Comparative research suggests that police forces in other countries have only in recent years moved away from the military-style training which is still the norm in South Africa. There are thus many useful lessons to be drawn from their experiences of changing training systems. In Britain and the U.S., there has been a shift towards a broader interpretation of the police role, as one which requires greater social and self-awareness and improved interpersonal skills.3 This is reflected in a training system which emphasizes the acquisition of appropriate skills and which is informed by the notion of police professionalism which suggests that the object of training is to produce a "reflective professional". The most recent developments in police training in Britain were provoked by the post-Scarman4 concern over police-community and race relations. There is now an attempt to make training more 'holistic', and to emphasize the police-community relationship. The stated aim of the (London) Metropolitan Police Foundation Course is

To assist probationary constables in beginning the process of personal and professional development for their role as public servants and protector of the community's rights and liberties.5

Although the SAP do not share that understanding of basic training, there has been a significant process of reform within the Basic Training system. The political reform initiative put immense pressure on the SAP to change. Training, in particular, has been identified as a key element of the internal process of change, and enormous resources have been put into training and "retraining" members of the South African Police.

Training and retraining will play an essential role in preparing members to properly fulfil the service motive. Although the SAP has a well-formulated training policy continuous adjustments are necessary in order to adapt to changing circumstances.6

A problem which is recognized throughout the hierarchy is that the SAP's new emphasis on training is directly at odds with the dominant organisational culture, the norms of which arguably "authorize or direct police deviance".7 There is an acknowledgement that training was underemphasised in the past, particularly in the context of the emphasis on counter-revolutionary warfare which pervaded the 70s and 80s. It is clear that not enough is being done to address the informal culture of the SAP, which serves, in practice, to negate the effects of all kinds of training. As long as training remains a part-time (and to some extent voluntary) practice, conducted in institutions which exist in isolation from the rest of the police force, the dominant anti-training culture will prevail.

The police culture will only be affected if training is incorporated into the routine of ordinary policework, and is seen as a continuous and useful process. Basic training is the most important point of socialisation of the recruit into the organisation, but it alone cannot change the organisational culture unless the organisation itself changes. At the moment, large amounts of money are being spent on the training institutions, with little strategic development aimed at incorporating training experiences into policework on stations. It seems that the current investment in training will not achieve the desired rewards unless this imbalance is rectified.

Research Procedure

The central procedural issue for this research has been the question of access to SAP institutions. The SAP does not have a tradition of openness to researchers, and much of the functioning of the organisation is still shrouded in secrecy. Training has always been a particularly sensitive area, with Members of Parliament being refused access to police training materials as recently as the early 1990s.8 Public mistrust of the police, compounded by this secrecy, has led to concern about the content of training.

Early in 1991, the SAP Basic Training Manuals were obtained, and all the colleges visited.9 This meant that I was familiar with much of the form and content of training before the research visits to the colleges took place in 1992.

Contact was established with the Head Office Training Division, and conditions of access were resolved. (We have found the staff of the Training Division one of the most open of all the SAP divisions with which contact has thus far been made). Many of the senior staff of the Training Division clearly felt that an outside assessment of SAP training would be in their own interests, or in the interests of the force as they perceive them.

A letter was sent to all the Colleges informing them of the research visits and instructing them to co-operate with the researcher. The colleges were also asked to report back to Head Office on how the visit went. It was agreed that the final research report would be submitted to the Training Division, and that they would take into account all recommendations.

In each of the colleges, I asked to sit in on classes with both male and female platoons, and to speak to members of staff. The degree of flexibility which I was permitted varied between colleges. In some, I was allowed to choose which platoons to join, or to wander between classes. In others, was given a fixed daily program and accompanied by an officer during all discussions.

Observation of the daily life of the colleges for a few days cannot be expected to yield a comprehensive understanding of training systems; much of the social interaction occurred after hours, when I had left the college, as did some of the physical training and punishment. My presence in the classroom (or even in the college) was undoubtedly intimidating to many of the students and staff, and therefore affected their behaviour. This was partially due to their lack of familiarity with outside researchers, and, in some cases, overt suspicion about what a civilian was doing in their classroom.

Having pointed to some of the difficulties of access, it must be stated that the researchers were received with utmost politeness and hospitality at all the Basic Training Colleges. In the context of a culture of defensiveness and secrecy which pervades the SAP, the degree of frankness with which staff members were prepared to talk about the problems in training was initially surprising. In some cases, the openness was based on their assumption that "we've got nothing to hide". In other cases, there was an attempt to convince us that this training college is "the best". The strong sense of competition which exists between the colleges is clearly related to their historical racial segregation - disparaging comments about the standard of training at another college are often couched in racial terms.

The timespan of the research was obviously also important in the development of my relationship with the staff of the training colleges - the initial unfamiliarity which I felt during early visits to the training colleges had largely disappeared by the time I began the field research for this report. My "strangeness" within the police colleges had begun to diminish, partly because word of the "harmlessness" of my visits had spread between the colleges; and partly because as I learned more about police training and the difficult issues involved, I learned to engage in the everyday discourse, which allowed me to be both accepted more easily and taken more seriously. This process was also accelerated by my willingness to speak (or be spoken to) in Afrikaans, which is the language of the staff at three of the Colleges.

This report relies heavily on comparative material from British training systems. I believe that this material is instructive, and that it is widely applicable to the South African situation. This is partly because of the British colonial tradition of the SAP, which gives rise to a number of historical similarities. Furthermore, it appears that the SAP themselves have accepted the validity of the British experience, and have already embarked on a programme of interaction and exchange with the British police.

Evaluating Training

Southgate, in his work on police training, suggests that the following questions should be asked, but stresses that they are extremely difficult to answer:

What is actually being delivered? Does it have the desired impact on those being trained? Does it have a lasting impact, both upon those people and upon the public they deal with?10

Much of the interest in SAP training, in academic and political circles, is motivated by a concern about SAP abuses of power and human rights. However, most of the perpetrators of those abuses were trained years ago, in a different system and a different socio-political environment. Their conduct cannot reasonably be used as the sole measure for evaluating the current system of training; especially since the syllabus has recently been modified.

Ideally, training should be evaluated in terms of the experience and assessment of the people who were trained - to ascertain the impact of the training on their perceptions and conduct. This approach was not taken, partly because of constraints imposed by the SAP, and partly because it was felt that in this preliminary report it would be feasible only to focus to existing training policy and provision. It was not possible to conduct the necessary longitudinal follow-up.

Training should also be evaluated in terms of "customer satisfaction" - that is, how the public evaluate the product (the trained police constable). It is this concern about police-community relations that motivated the following choice of the following research questions as criteria for evaluating SAP Basic Training provision:

  • What kind of training is being provided?

  • Does this training adequately equip police constables to make difficult decisions and exercise their discretion in an equitable and accountable manner?

  • Does the current system of training equip them adequately to deal with the realities of the social environment in which they will be required to work?

Current Basic Training Provision in the SAP

Training in the SAP

Basic Training is only one of the many forms of training provided in the SAP. It is the first step on the development rout taken by the majority of members of the force. However, an increasing proportion of recruits are diverted into the "Police Assistant" units, which receive only nominal training and are employed under limited conditions of service.

The recruit who is entering the police force as a full and permanent member must have at least a matric (secondary school) certificate, and thus it is assumed that basic training is provided at the level of tertiary education. This is a relatively recent entrance requirement, which means that a substantial proportion of the older and officer members (including some instructors in the basic training colleges) do not have a matric qualification.

Until recently, the male constables all attended a counter-insurgency and riot training course immediately after they had completed their basic training. Enormous resources were thus being spent on training in "counter-revolutionary warfare", at the expense of upgrading basic training. In 1990, this was reversed, with the counter-insurgency courses being cut back and a greater emphasis laid on basic training. More recently, it appears that there is a swing back towards universal riot training, both for members of the new Internal Stability Division, and for other members of the force.

After Basic training, the constable can begin one of two programmes of correspondence study (distance learning) as a route to promotion. These are either the Technikon RSA Diploma in Police Administration, or the UNISA degree in Police Science. These academic qualifications have to be complemented by years of service and the requisite in-service training course in order to qualify the member for promotion.

The in-service promotion training courses and examinations are conducted at the SAP's Advanced Training College in Paarl, or at decentralised training units in the police regions. Specialised training, for example for detectives, computer operators, mortuary clerks, disciplinary officers, are conducted in a similar fashion. Most of the in-service training continues to take the form of lectures by more experienced officers and written tests. Outside expertise is utilised in very few of the SAP's training courses. There is a growing emphasis on the study of management techniques, especially in the senior officers' courses.

Members of the SAP are free to register for other courses of study outside the police force as a means of improving their skills and chances of promotion. Many are registered for part-time or correspondence courses in subjects such as law, management and public administration. If they are successful in obtaining qualifications, the SAP may reimburse them for the cost of their studies.

The Form of Basic Training

SAP Basic Training currently consists of a twenty-two week (approx. six month) course. During this time, the student is accommodated at the college, subjected to timetabling of all activities, and rarely permitted to leave the College or receive visitors. Basic training is seen as a discrete experience, which is separate from experience of police duties. The following critique of the British probationer training system is an entirely appropriate description of the imbalances characteristic of SAP Basic Training:

At Training Centres, the staff often talk of giving the probationers a basic survival kit, the minimum tools necessary to do the job. Yet, in a sense, most of probationer training is directed at the need to know. Even in social skills, the content is largely directed at the acquisition of information rather than desirable behaviours. … When it comes down to it, the basic survival kit with which probationers leave Training Centres contains memories of law and police procedure that, over the course of time, are likely to fade. Although it is acknowledged that law enforcement is only one small part of a police officer's role, by far the most significant part of initial training is aimed at instruction in law. The art of policing, the deft handling of people and situations, remains largely untouched by initial training, except in a nominal sense.11
Racial Segregation

Until the beginning of 1992, SAP Basic Training was carried out at four institutions, segregated along racial lines. The Police College at Pretoria trained white recruits, African were trained at Hammanskraal, Indians at Chatsworth (previously Wentworth) and Coloured recruits at Bishop Lavis in Cape Town. Hammanskraal still trains only African students, including a number from "independent" and "self-governing" homelands. The reason given for this is that there remains a very large number of untrained African student constables working on stations without training, so it was decided to deal with this "backlog" in the traditional (racially segregated) manner at Hammanskraal.

The integration of the colleges was the direct result of political pressure - the fact that police training was still racially segregated, more than a year after President De Klerk's reform initiative, was becoming an embarrassment to the SAP and the government. The integration is neither complete nor successful. The staff bodies of most of the colleges are to be dominated by white men in senior positions, and the remainder of the staff tend to be drawn from the "ethnic group" which that college has traditionally served. At the level of Public Relations, staff at the colleges are eager to have one believe that the process of integration has been unproblematic. At other levels, and in other parts of the force, one hears stories of racial abuse, intolerance and various "political" problems that have occurred in the colleges this year.

The legacy of racial segregation still determines the character and culture of the colleges, and the extent to which racial integration will succeed. This is compounded by the fact that racial integration is still seen in some official quarters as "voluntary" -

Police colleges would be open to all races, but forced integration would be avoided, and freedom of choice, culture, dietary habits and religion would be respected.12
Accommodation and Facilities

The accommodation and facilities for students differs substantially between the various colleges, reflecting entrenched historical and ideological priorities.

The colleges, without exception, take the physical form of fortresses. They are generally surrounded by high barbed-wire fences, have entry check-points and perimeter patrols. The more modern buildings are institutional and uninviting. The physical environment of the colleges are often dominated by the drill grounds or by musketry training in progress.

Students sleep in dormitory-type accommodation, and study in traditional classroom environments. The quality of the student accommodation varies with the age of the college; and female students in some colleges now have individual bedrooms.

The most obvious disparity in facilities exists between the Pretoria College and all the other Colleges. The disparity in provision is often explained as the result of history - that the Pretoria College is the oldest and largest College. While this is true, it does not explain why the more modern colleges were underprovided with social and educational facilities. The fact that it has traditionally been the "white" college explains more of the disparity than the fact that it is a hub of local (predominantly white) police social life and used for many official protocol events.

The disparity in provision of facilities in a racially segregated system is clearly also a basis for the perception that standards of training differ(ed) markedly for different race groups. If the four colleges are all to continue providing basic training, the disparity in provision of facilities urgently needs to rectified.

Recruitment and Training Capacity

The capacity for (and style of) basic training in the SAP is severely limited by its infrastructure.

One of the major problems is the process of recruitment, which allows recruits to enter the police force, to earn a salary and work at a police station, without a guarantee of training being provided for that recruit within a reasonable period of time. Many of the current trainees have spent up to two years working on police stations before being trained.

Training is only available subject to the capacity of the infrastructure of the colleges - for example, in 1991, approximately 2100 white students could be trained at the Pretoria Police College,13 half of them beginning their course in January, and the other half in July. Likewise, 108 male and 36 female Indian trainees could be trained at Chatsworth14 every six months.

It is clear that many of the "infrastructural reasons" for inequity within the SAP are still based in racist ideology, and that there exists a dynamic relationship between structural and political constraints on decisions made in relation to training. For example, "from the early eighties onwards, training in Riot Control was simply and effectively prioritised, and vast numbers of policemen were processed through quite lengthy courses. It reminds one that political priorities shape training in dramatic ways, and that arguments about the constraints of infrastructural capacity are, at best, spurious."15

One of the consequences of the limited capacity for Basic Training is that the bulk of new recruitment tends to be for "Police Assistants",16 who are trained quickly, and do not pass through the Basic Training Colleges. This could be avoided by providing more premises for Basic Training and prioritising investment in full members of the Force rather than Police Assistants. In the new context, there will be a growing demand for both basic training and re-training.

It is clear that recruitment is directly affected by "external" political concerns - the Minister of Law and Order will announce the recruitment of thousands of new members of the Force when the rising rates of crime and interpersonal violence are damaging the public credibility of the SAP. Most often, the recruits who are the product of these drives are black, and this has resulted in a massive backlog in training of black recruits. The backlog of untrained black student constables is one of the reasons given for the fact that the Hammanskraal college remains racially segregated - viz "there are still so many black students waiting to be trained that we cannot afford to take in any students of other colours". However, this does not explain why these black recruits could not be integrated into the new multiracial training system.

The number of available beds in the colleges is consistently given as a reason why only 10-15% of recruits are women (and hence why there are so few women in the SAP). Yet, as Wrighton17 points out, the ideological bases for this inequity can be overridden if political concerns become paramount at a particular time. She gives the example of the rapid increase in the number of women trainees in 1991 and the way in which this was accomplished. In 1991, a ministerial decision was made to substantially increase female recruitment for one year, apparently to replace some of the men fulfilling administrative tasks so that they could be moved to line functions. She goes on to describe how the women were accommodated by halving the period of their basic training course (thus doubling the number of women "output" in the year) rather than by permanently re-allocating any of the mens' accommodation to women students. These women were trained only slightly longer than the "kitskonstabels", and their skills base and career prospects would be severely limited as a result.

The Basic Training Colleges: Organisation & Culture


Although there are significant differences between the size and organisation of the various colleges, the structure in each college follows a similar pattern.

The Commanding Officer (rank of Brigadier or Colonel) is the executive head of the College, and is responsible for management and for liaison with the Head Office Training Division and other branches of the SAP. The senior management staff comprises the head of the Academic and the head of the Physical sections.

The number and workload of instructors varies considerably between the colleges. In some colleges, an instructor will teach up to four subjects, and will be teaching for practically the entire day. In other colleges, the instructors specialise in one subject and may teach only 3 or 4 periods a day. The majority of the instructors in all the colleges are young, of junior rank, and lack any formal teaching qualification. Traditionally, potential instructors were selected from the passing out class of police trainees, and then given a short course in teaching methods before being sent into the teaching situation. The result of this practice was that most of the instructors were extremely young and many of them had no police experience outside of the college. This trend is beginning to be reversed, and instructor posts are now more often filled after advertisement throughout the force.

Many of the instructors see themselves as a "breed apart" within the police force. There is some basis for this, as many of them are individuals who have chosen to work in the training institutions for a specific reason. Many of them are junior- or middle-ranking officers, who have chosen to work in the colleges because they are relatively stable and calm environments, free from the disruptions of ordinary police duty. This relative stability is a bonus to those with young families, or those who are pursuing part-time study. These reasons for choosing to work in the colleges reflect on the SAP's historical deployment and transfer policies. The result tends to be that the colleges are staffed not by the people with the most appropriate training skills, but by people who have, for a variety of reasons and for different lengths of time, seized the opportunity of "opting out" of the mainstream police machine. The upward mobility of members who opt to work in training is hampered if they return to ordinary policework by prevailing cultural beliefs that denigrate training.

Student Body

The size and composition of the student body at each college in early 1992 was as follows (racial classification provided by the SAP):

(W = White A = African C = Coloured I = Indian  
College Males Females Total
  W A C I W A C I  
Pretoria 881 67 34 38 298 30 3 - 1351
Hammanskrl18 - 1153 - - - 105 -   1258
Bishop Lavis 29 32 183 33 23 23 37 1 361
Chatsworth 5 15 8 78 4 38 1 25 174
Totals19 915 1267 225 149 325 196 41 26 3144

If one excludes Hammanskraal from one's calculation of proportional representation of different "racial groups", the following proportions represent the mix at the three integrated police colleges (excl Hammanskraal):

White - 65.7% (1240)
African - 10.9% (205)
Coloured - 14.1% (266)
Indian - 9.3% (176)

If there is truly a backlog of African student constables awaiting training, there is no reason why they should be excluded from the integrated training system. In fact, their exclusion will serve to perpetuate the belief that standards of training for black and white members of the force are substantially different.

The racial legacy of apartheid policing needs to be directly tackled to ensure that it does not continue to frustrate attempts at reform. There is a particular history in relation to black trainees - notably the decision, taken in a period of severe crisis, to rapidly deploy undertrained black policemen ("kitskonstabels"20) in the townships in an attempt to solve what was perceived to be a racially-motivated conflict ("black-on-black violence"). The under-resourcing of training for Africans, and the underskilling of African members, are dangerous precedents in the history of training in the SAP.

The fact that all black recruits were not integrated into the training system, and that Hammanskraal continues to train students of only one "race group", suggests continuing racial bias, expressed (by members of other colleges) as a fear of the colleges being "swamped" by black trainees.


The police colleges are crucial socialising agents for newcomers to the force, and a central vehicle for the reproduction of the informal police culture. For this reason, the culture of the colleges themselves is as important to the process of training as is the course content.

The fact that training is delivered entirely by members of the Police Force determines the culture of the Colleges and the way it is transmitted. This happens predominantly through the "telling of stories", which is also the basis of most educative processes. Sensational tales of their actions "outside" reinforce instructors' authority within the training environment.

The fact that "storytelling" is a means of socialising the individual into the culture, or of the individual assimilating the culture, is central to an understanding of police training because much of the content of lessons revolves around stories - real or imagined scenarios. Obviously this process is not confined to the training institutions, and is probably more powerful as it occurs in the "canteen culture":

an important role was played by the verbally transmitted folklore of the station and the 'was stories' of the older hands … with such folklore and nostalgic myth, the policeman's culture was transmitted from one generation to another … this lore confirms images of good policework and implicitly prepares the constable for unforeseen circumstances. For the training does not adequately prepare for the initial immersion in patrol work with its anxieties and new responsibilities in real, rather than simulated situations.21

According to Shearing and Ericson, stories serve to express and share practical knowledge -

What these stories say to police officers is: Here are some examples of the sort of actions that the sensibility appropriate to policework has produced. Consider these both as gambits you might wish to try yourself, and use them to get a better understanding of the sort of sensibility we have been talking about and that you will have to construct if you are to act appropriately as a police officer.

Examples of the stories used by instructors reflect very directly the legacy of apartheid policing, and the extent of militarisation of policework and police culture. These stories often included references to "terrorists", to the use of firearms, and tended to belittle women. One such example is the images used by an instructor teaching the class about the Standing Order which orders vetting of police officers' . marriage partners. The instructor justified this practice in two different ways: she suggested to the (male) class that such vetting might unearth the fact that, unbeknown to them, their girlfriend was a "prostitute". She then conjured up the possibility that their partner might be a "terrorist". These basic scenarios quickly became the basis for conjecture in the classroom, much more interesting than the Standing Order itself.22

Such stories, particularly about "the enemy" are extremely prevalent in the colleges. This is partly due to the legacy of apartheid policing23 and the fact that the "traditions" of the SAP and its training have remained largely unchanged since the era of counter-revolutionary warfare; and partly due to the fact that a large proportion of the instructors come from counter-insurgency background. One of the consequences of this is that the culture of the colleges is dominated by an extreme form of machismo. This is congruent with the emphasis on military-style discipline as the core of training.

The initial impression of the Colleges is that they are military institutions. This image is created by the extent to which military codes of behaviour pervade all levels of interpersonal interaction. The students march around the college in formation, or jog double-time. They queue for everything. Platoon leaders yell commands. Subordinates, of whatever rank, are supposed to greet senior staff by salute (though in practice this is not enforced in all the colleges).

The social life and culture of the colleges are characterised by regimentation and uniformity, reflecting the philosophies of discipline and drill which underpin the training as a whole. The colleges merely reflect the features of the prevailing police culture.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

The student-teacher ratio is ostensibly fixed in all the colleges because the size of the platoons is more or less uniform in all the colleges - in other words, the teacher-student ratio is always approximately 1:36. However, a closer examination of the numbers of students and instructional staff24 reveals that there are significant variations in the ratio.

number of students 1337 ratio 1:6
number of academic staff 226  
number of students 1256 ratio 1:11
number of academic staff 117  
number of students 172 1:13
number of academic staff 13  
Bishop Lavis    
number of students 360 ratio 1:9
number of academic staff 39  

It is argued that these variations reflect once again historical and ideological inequities in resource allocation. In some colleges, one instructor will teach two or more course, and in others, each course will be taught by a different instructor. Such variation fragments the relationship between students and instructors, and discourages uniformity and co-ordination between different subjects. The nature of relationships between staff and students differs within and between colleges. It is influenced by the culture of the college, and determined by the character and style of the individual staff member. Some instructors are concerned to support and counsel trainees, and this "caring" philosophy co-exists uncomfortably with the dominant emphasis on discipline.25

Because of the particular view of instruction and learning which underpins the training, learning is seen as something that is conducted by the individual student, in silence, after classes. This is reflected in the compulsory "study time" component of the college timetable, whereby students are required to devote themselves to this type of "learning" for a number of hours each evening (and during the day, if any classes get cancelled). Students at Hammanskraal College have requested more study time and the opportunity to work in groups, while at Pretoria, compulsory study time has been cut to one hour per evening in the face of student disinterest.

Instruction nearly always takes the form of a traditional lecture, with an emphasis on repetition and rote learning. As in the old-style British police training:

(I)nstruction is received at the same pace, regardless of ability, motivation, educational qualifications, cultural and linguistic background, age or experience. … (S)imultaneous instruction imposes upon probationers a uniform style of learning which may or may not be commensurate with their own styles and is likely to hamper the progress of some, or even many.

The extent to which criticism and reflection are permissible is determined by the individual instructor. It was noted that students' question and discussion was limited (although this could have been a consequence of the presence of the researcher in the classroom). It is also a product of the general culture, which emphasizes training or instruction over education -

These are not lecturers, they are instructors. We're not here to give the students an education, we're here to train them.26

The general lack of emphasis on acquisition of skills is reflected in the fact that there is no "study skills" component to the course materials. Students are not told what type of learning is appropriate, nor are they given the opportunity to develop useful learning skills.

This problem is further compounded by the role of formal police authority within the training environment:

Instruction and probationer learning are, to a large extent, subject to an outside authority. What and how a probationer learns, or at least, should learn, is prescribed. The instructor becomes both authority and in authority: the authority invested in rank becomes inextricably linked with the authority accorded to different kinds and sources of knowledge. The exercise and assumption of authority clearly affects the instructional process. For instance, the practical know-how of the Sergeant Instructor, because of the double indemnity offered by the authority of rank and the authority of experience, is exempt from the criticism necessary for probationer learning.27

Such authority relations also tend to impinge on the type of assessment to which the trainee is subjected. Assessments generally take the form of written tests, in which students are required to supply brief answers, which will be correct if they reflect what is contained in the manuals and lecture notes. What is right and what is wrong tends to be decided on the authority of the instructor. Although the formal pass mark is 50%, students who obtain lower percentiles are coached so that they will pass the next test. It is unheard of for a student to "fail" the basic training course, and average percentiles in class tests appear to be extremely high. This suggests that the tests are being set at an unacceptably low level. Furthermore, high scores in tests do not seem to be functional in any way to the student's upward mobility.

Only recently have longer essay-type assessments been introduced in some of the colleges. Tests in most subjects are conducted regularly, and culminate in an examination at the end of the training course. The skill which is assessed is the ability to retain, and regurgitate on demand, large quantities of detail. This style of assessment does not lend itself to assessment of crucial decision-making and interpersonal skills.

In order for the police officer to effectively and professionally complete his work, he needs to be well-informed, skilled and reflective (have the ability to assess and criticise his actions). It is unlikely that he will develop these attributes in a training environment which emphasizes rote-learning and the taking of orders above decision-making and interpersonal abilities. However, these features of education within the police force reflect the ethos of "Christian National Education" as it is practised in white education institutions at a range of levels throughout South Africa.28 It may not be specific to police training, but it is a particular problem in relation the need for police trainees to be acquiring useful skills.

Course Structure and Content


One of the major problems with the syllabus is that it is not conceived of or developed in a holistic fashion. Staff of each academic department write the training manuals in that particular subject, and there is little co-ordination. This lack of co-ordination is even more extreme between the academic and physical subjects - for example, between the musketry instructors who teach students how to use the firearm, and the law and ethics instructors who should be raising the issues of reasons for and consequences of using the weapon.

In general, the prepared course material is inadequate for the purposes of instruction. The diligent instructor will not be able to rely on the training manuals alone, and will have to rely on his own resources to develop useful materials for his class. The result is that important issues in policework are taught in a way which is far from standardised. The form in which the syllabus and course materials is presented is archaic and unattractive to both teacher and learner. The manuals provided for students are not written or laid out in a form which encourages engagement with the content. No accompanying instruction manuals are provided to instructors. The English translations of the training manuals, used largely by black trainees, are so poorly translated as to be virtually incomprehensible at points.

Curriculum Development

The work of curriculum development is done primarily by members of staff of the Pretoria Police College. They have the closest liaison with SAP Headquarters and the Head Office Training Division, and they are generally assumed to be the senior partner in their relationships with staff at the other Colleges. Curriculum development therefore remains the de facto responsibility of a group of senior white officers, based at the heart of the traditional training system.

The people who design the syllabi and write the course materials are not experts in the production of educational materials. They are members of the police force, who generally do not have any education-related qualifications, but have substantial experience of working in the police training institutions.

It appears that syllabus design and reform is influenced by two factors: political pressure, as reflected in the instructions of the General Staff, Ministry of Law and Order or Head Quarters; and the experience of instructors and senior staff in the Colleges.

Until this year, no systematic evaluation of training based on the experience of trainees or their "employers" in police stations was conducted. The reform of syllabi was consequently piecemeal and haphazard, its content remaining fundamentally unchanged for decades.

The "new curriculum"

A major problem with the existing curriculum is that it has been highly theoretical, with very little practical application of the academic course materials. This problem was recognised by some of the instructors and managers, and different attempts have been made informally at the colleges to develop some forms of practical application. These efforts were often frustrated by the bureaucracy or ended up as fodder for competition between different teaching departments.

At the beginning of 1991, the curriculum for basic training was modified and a new "practical" component added. This comprises a four week block at the end of the eighteen-week training course. The four week blocks are divided into different specialisms, with students being allocated to a particular course on the basis of their scores on a battery of aptitude tests. This method of assigning students what is essentially an initial career direction appears to be problematic because it does not take into account the student's own desires and domestic situation.

The four week practical block had not yet been taught at the time that this research was conducted. After the first run, it should also be assessed and modified. However, even in the weeks before the new section of the curriculum was to be implemented, it was clear that planning and training for the new material was inadequate. Less than two months before they were due to teach it, instructors (and some heads of departments) had not yet been given the course materials or received any instruction on the new courses.

The new content is contained in three modules: - Visual Policing, which covers the work of the Uniform Branch; Administrative, which deals essentially with police office administration, and CID, which covers rudimentary crime investigation. It remains to be seen whether the new practical component will have a significant impact on training as a whole.

Academic Training

The academic syllabus is contained in four courses:

  • Criminal Law and Procedure;
  • Police Administration, Practical;
  • Police Science, Practical;
  • Background and Personality Development;
  • Police Ethics.

The teaching of these subjects takes up between 53% (Pretoria) and 63% (Chatsworth) of all the teaching hours in the colleges.

Some of the newer manuals are characteristic of the "systems approach" to learning which specifies pre-determined learning objectives. In these, each module (chapter) is begun with an "introduction and purpose" which describes briefly the content of the module and makes explicit the learning objectives - for example -

in this module the very important aspect of detention of a suspect is going to be dealt with. You will learn to determine who is actually a suspect and how a suspect is detained and/or released. At the end of this module, a 90% proficiency in dealing with the detention and/or release of a suspect is required of you.29

The student can then assess his proficiency by running through a list of test questions supplied at the end of each module. The problem with this approach is that it is a part of the dominant theoretical or un-applied style of teaching, with students rarely being afforded the opportunity to discuss the issues involved or to conjecture about possible problems. It tends to discourage creative and applied learning.

This lack of creativity is reproduced in the classroom, where instructors allow students no role in developing relevant case examples. Such a practise would be more demanding of instructors, but would enliven the learning atmosphere and allow students to grapple with possible "real world" problems. The standard argument against this approach is that it would create too much variance between the material taught to each platoon. This is a product of the narrow, theoretically-based approach to assessment, which relies on the fact that every student has been taught the same material in the same fashion.

Law Subjects

Law and Police Administration dominate the curriculum, reflecting the dominant view of policework as law-based rather than discretionary. As in the U.K.

Probationers are told that the law is the law is the law. They are not told at the same time that the law is an ass, that the whole criminal justice system is based on a recognised need for discretionary interpretation, and that they are its front-line, discretionary force.30

Not only is the approach to law extremely abstract, but the syllabus could be narrowed to emphasise only those aspects of law which the young constable is likely to deal with. More specific or complex aspects of law could be dealt with in further training courses. The new pocket-size legal notes which have been issued to members of the Internal Stability Division are useful in filling the gap between formal legal knowledge which was supposedly obtained in training, and the fact that stations do not appear to support constables with ongoing legal education or updates.

Background and personality development

The subject "Background and Personality Development" contains a curious mixture of SAP policy, employment codes and organisational detail (which would more appropriately be transmitted in a "corporate" booklet explaining conditions of service to new employees), basic criminology (such as a chapter on crime prevention) and some social and community issues (how to deal with victims of rape, police-community relations). Because of the incoherent subject matter and the archaic way in which much of it is handled, the course objectives are not clear. It appears, in fact, as though it is a compilation of topics which have had been added to the syllabus as a result of public criticism and political pressure. Some of the material in this course is useful and important; but it would be better presented if the various sections were completely separated, so as to reduce the confusion about the aims of the course. The different topics could then be covered as part of a more integrated training package.

Police Administration

"Police Administration" is, in some senses, the most valuable component of the current syllabus, as it directly addresses the work that young members of the force are required to do in stations, focussing on the meticulous completion of the various police forms and registers. It is practical insofar as the course materials include replicas of actual forms for completion; but students are invariably limited to dull examples supplied by instructors, rather than being given the opportunity to develop their own case examples.

The course materials consist of a volume of examples of these forms and registers, and a complementary manual which details how each one should be filled in. The current manual is one of the newest texts, and relatively clear and easy to use. However, like other manuals, the language is overly formal and unnecessarily legalistic.

There is very little attempt to contextualise the use of the various different forms, and no explanation of the importance of correct completion. This tends to be reproduced by instructors, who will stress that "it is very important to fill this in accurately", without explaining why it is so important. This is part of the general problem of a lack of emphasis on human rights; for example the section dealing with the administrative procedures surrounding detention hardly mentions the fact that detention represents a serious infringement of the liberty of the individual, and that this is an important reason for handling it with precision.

Police Ethics31

Police Ethics is a relatively new course. It is based on a Calvinist religious doctrine, which limits its applicability to the multi-cultural South African context and is alienating to students who do not come from that Afrikaner Calvinist background.32 It is an important subject because it is the only subject which touches on issues of police discretion and police-community relations. However, the manner in which these crucial issues are separated off from the course content in other subjects is indicative of the non-holistic approach to training and it is widely regarded in the colleges as a "soft option".

The manual contains what there is in the basic training course regarding crucial issues such as conflict resolution and race relations. The way in which these topics are handled is superficial in the extreme, and suggests either a lack of appreciation of the political importance of these topics, or a reluctance to address them in any substantial way. For example:

Respect for race relations: In South Africa the policeman/woman cannot afford to discriminate against racial groups during the official execution of their duties. Everybody must be protected and served in an objective manner. God created all human beings equal and therefore people should be treated equal.33

The latest edition of the manual does include some examples of ethical problems which the constable may encounter - such as conflicts with superior officers, bribery and "white lies". However, the way in which these problems are dealt with is neither practical nor likely to make an impression on the trainee.

Professions are distinguished partly by that body of ideas and guidelines known as ethics. Ethics should be distinguished from rules, which are clear cut and lay down what one should do in black and white terms. Ethical problems arise because of the difficulty in many fields from having hard and fast rules about what is right and what is wrong. Ethics often deal with a clash of interests or a clash between moral values or procedures. Accompanying the new discourse on police professionalisation is a new emphasis on ethics in the basic training. However, little mention is made of the problems in policing that make ethics so important.

Police ethics thus includes all forms of thought regarding the handling of people in honesty, fairness, sincerity, truth, integrity and love by the police in the execution of their task.34

The definition of police ethics in the basic training manual (above) covers a wide range of areas, namely:

  1. A set of moral values and norms which determine what sort of person the policeman will be: The assumption is that being a good person will make one "a good cop". Many of these morals have nothing to do with policework - eg the chapters on respect for marriage and respect for property.

  2. A set of rules and regulations which determine the limits of acceptable behaviour for a member of the police force. These rules are apparently clear cut, based as they are on the bible and various SAP Codes and Mottoes.35

  3. A set of ideas which assist police personnel in the making of decisions in difficult situations - where the rules and regulations above do not dictate a clear pattern of action.

  4. A set of principles about the way individuals should interact with other people - which is justified as a meaning of police ethics because of the importance of good police relations with the public.

It is important to note that the Police Ethics manual emphasises mainly the first and second areas above - the morality of the individual, and an assumed set of rules which can determine acceptable police behaviour. This reflects the general weakness of the basic training, namely the failure to address the central question of police discretion - ethical dilemmas arise when discretion has to be exercised.

Because discretion occurs on the basis of "common sense" and is in the formal sense "unauthorised", there are no guidelines which tell the police officer how to exercise discretion. And yet it is the officer's ability to use his discretion well which will determine the degree to which policing is conducted in an ethical fashion. Bad use of discretion results in discriminatory policing, excessive use of force and poor relations with the public.

Traditional perspectives on police discretion which see discretion36 as a grey area, where an officer must use "common sense" reflect SAP thinking that good discretion (and good policing) is the result of having mature and ethically upright people in the police force - hence the focus on general moral fibre. The exercise of discretion is thus seen as a product of the type of person and their moral maturity, rather than as a skill which can be learned.

Howard Cohen argues that these traditional perspectives on police discretion are insufficient in meeting the high professional standards demanded of modern policing agencies. At very least police ethics needs to define the nature of the decisions that a police officer can make and the range of possible decisions to be made. The problem of leaving discretion too open ended is that the only options that police learn are those which are practised by more experienced colleagues - very often this is where the real problem arises.

A course on police ethics needs to introduce students to the "hard choices" which are characteristic of policework. The current SAP training manual does not accomplish this.

Physical Training

The syllabus for the drill course covers saluting, foot drill and various types of display drilling. Much of this is learned in preparation for the "passing-out parade" and will never be used again. Instructors privately admit that very little drill is practised in the force, and that this subject exists expressly for the purpose of instilling discipline and (competitive) team spirit.


The musketry syllabus has recently been reformed, with the introduction of the SWAT tactical training course. The training consists of lessons in handling, cleaning and use of firearms, and shooting practice. The Pretoria College is the only one with its own shooting range, and staff at other colleges have to arrange their shooting practices at "off-campus" ranges, which tends to disrupt the routine of the college. The Hammanskraal College has developed its own musketry training manual - the other colleges do not use uniform written material for teaching musketry - and although it is not unproblematic, it does go some of the way to contextualising the use of firearms.

Physical Training (PT)

The PT syllabus covers fitness exercises, self-defence, swimming and lifesaving. Colleges which do not have their own sports facilities struggle to give their students the necessary amount of practice.

There is a great emphasis on sport in some of the colleges, with up to two afternoons a week being timetabled for compulsory sport.

Assessment: Problem Areas

The impact of "discipline"

Drill and punishment are the key features of military discipline, and it is this militarism which underpins the culture of training and pervades all its social relations. It must, however, be said that the ethos of militarism is rooted in the history of colonial and apartheid policing.

It looks like a military establishment devoted to the preparation of recruits for subordinate roles in a command structure. Not just because the students and staff, unless engaged in some of the physical activities, are all dressed in uniform and immaculately turned out. Not just because movement about the campus is clearly regimented. It is a more general absence of casualness, particularly noticeable in the interaction between ranks, which is clearly governed by rigid protocols of rank recognition. … (T)he impression is of a rather strictly hierarchical organisation in which the distribution of power is a significant and ever-present feature.37

Arthur Neiderhoffer, a policeman turned scholar, has argued that the defining characteristic of recruit training is that it is a total and inclusive process which seeks to strip away the recruit's previous identity and value and replace them with those appropriate to the police role.38 That the object of the process is the identity, (if not the "soul") of the trainee, is well understood in the SAP Colleges.

The notion of discipline is central to the current training system. Drill and physical punishment are used to create compliance in the trainee. "Drill is the means, Discipline is the end" is the motto of the drill section at one of the colleges. The extensive use of drill is justified in a number of ways:

Good drill, well-rehearsed, closely supervised and demanding the highest precision, is an exercise in obedience and alertness.39
The footdrill section is the backbone of the SAP. It gives you military discipline, esprit de corps, and tradition. If you don't believe in tradition, how can you become a team?40

In the application of discipline, as in other aspects, SAP training is "traditional". This means that it is done as it has always been done, with many trainers having little contact with the new policing environment.

The other common justification for drill is that it "teaches you to take orders". However, our knowledge of police culture suggests that the unofficial rules of the police culture tend to support and reinforce disobedience of the law or formal instructions.

This understanding of the value of drill is more refined in application to black trainees than white. The "taking orders" justification was notably absent from the discourse of the white college, perhaps because it is assumed that the white members of the force would be giving the orders rather than taking them. The exercise of colonising or constructing the "soul" of the trainees is most pronounced in the case of black trainees - it is also a process of inducting "them" into "our" culture, and encouraging them to leave behind much of their culture and tradition. In a sense, police training for black recruits is seen also as a modernising and civilising exercise - "we have to teach them manners".

The college experience also teaches the student the efficacy of physical punishment as a punishment or deterrence - students comments on their training were most often focussed on their experience of physical punishment. It was my perception that use of physical punishment was reduced by my presence in the classrooms. However, a number of such incidents were observed in the course of the research, most of them consisting of extra repetitions of PT exercises.

There is a logical flaw to the argument that a "good" police practitioner is one who is compliant, willing to take orders, and work in a group. It does not follow that

only those who obeyed orders readily and punctually could aspire to be promoted, for he who has been accustomed to submit to discipline will be considered best qualified to command.41

The military style of discipline is fundamentally at odds with the discretionary nature of policework.

Police discretion

The central issue remains whether existing training provision equips trainees to deal with policing the complex South African reality and to exercise discretion in an equitable and accountable manner.

In the current training system, there is little attention paid to the central question of police discretion, and the fact that policework is about taking difficult decisions in complex situations. There is no emphasis on the skills needed for good policework and how training can impart/improve those skills. A training which hinges on discipline and the ability to take orders in no way prepares the student constable for his duties on the beat.

The lack of attention to the question of police discretion reflects the dominant style and preoccupations of apartheid policing. Its legacy needs to be directly addressed by a new training curriculum, emphasising the acquisition of skills, which will instil in the force a new understanding of the nature and difficulties of policework. This is central to development of a more accountable style of policing, appropriate to the conditions of the "New South Africa".


The process of racial integration, which has begun at three of the police colleges, is to be welcomed. However, the process is neither complete nor unproblematic. Integration of platoons on a proportional representation basis has not yet happened at all the colleges. The racial composition of the staff body of each of the colleges remains influenced by the previous racial orientation of each college, and the senior positions in three of the four colleges are still occupied by white men. The visible lack of racial integration in staff ranks must suggest to students that their experience of integration is anomalous.

One of the historical problems with SAP training has been the perception that students of different races were subject to different types or levels of training. The inequities which still exist within the training system continue to give rise to these suspicions.

The racism which is nurtured in the police colleges generally revolves around myths of cultural difference. In this discourse, different habits and customs are afforded immense significance, to the point where they become massive obstacles to real integration. These myths, although generated in a white "apartheid" discourse, are internalised and used by police officers of other 'race groups'. In our experience, the most common arguments against the racial integration of training have revolved around eating habits - that Indian students have to have halaal food, and that black students prefer eating types of food that other students won't like. These myths gain the status of immutable truths, and act as powerful rationalising agents for what is often still visibly discriminatory behaviour.

Successful racial integration and the elimination of racial discrimination within the police force are necessary to improve the credibility of the SAP with the public. The need for a credible and effective police force becomes daily more urgent as the transition unfolds. Creating a culture of non-racialism and anti-racism within its own ranks is one of the SAP's most urgent tasks. However, this cannot be achieved merely through structural integration. Attitudes and hidden organisational practices need to be tackled. It is in the SAP's interests to embark on such a programme in a self-critical fashion, utilising the most credible outside expertise as soon as possible.

Syllabus Content and Emphasis
It can be said of police training schools that the recruit is taught everything except the essential requirements of his calling, which is how to secure and maintain the approval and respect of the public who he encounters daily in the course of his duties.42

It is not that the recruit learns nothing in the police college. He learns the crucial lessons about the nature of the police culture and how to survive within it. He learns many of the skills which are valued by the organisation - as opposed to those which are valued by the public he serves. In the formal curriculum, he does not learn as much as he is instructed. Social skills are acquired (supposedly) through marching and sport. Technical skills (from writing to shooting) are learned by abstracted repetition rather than by application. The process is concerned with shaping the recruit to fit in with the culture, rather than equipping him with the necessary skills to do the job.

The academic component of the training is too broad and general to be immediately useful to the student constable. Reform of police training courses elsewhere has tended to narrow the scope of the syllabus, in an attempt to fit the training to the job-definition of a probationer constable. This principle should be applied to curriculum reform within the SAP, but is complicated by the fact that constables in rural areas or small police stations tend to be generalists, covering a broader range of work than their counterparts in large, urban police stations. This tension needs to be addressed when redefining the scope of the curriculum, and this could be achieved by focussing on skills rather than information.

A review of police training in the state of Florida,43 which focussed specifically on race-relations, suggests that the curriculum should focus on so-called "high-risk critical tasks":

Numerous High Risk Critical Tasks (HRCT's) exist in law enforcement which have high potential for allowing bias to enter into the interaction between the police and the citizen who is the focus of the officer's attention. The [Police] Foundation focussed on nine HRCT areas … [which] account for the vast majority of complaints filed by citizens against the police. These are:
  • Police ethics and professionalism;
  • Powers of arrest;
  • Community relations;
  • Cultural awareness;
  • Field stops, interviews and interrogations;
  • Use of force;
  • Use of deadly force;
  • Verbal commands and compliance;
  • Prisoner transporting.
Learning and Skills

Training is not based on a systematic assessment of the skills and characteristics which the police organisation requires. It is therefore questionable whether training really prepares recruits for what they will have to deal with at the stations. This is exacerbated by the type of learning that is fostered in the colleges - described by a student as "we just sit and look at our books because that's the only way to stay awake, we don't really study". Many of the recruits have spent time on stations, and have acquired knowledge and skills there which are not assessed or developed in the colleges. Their experiences on the station also predispose them to believing that the training is neither useful nor realistic.

A new training syllabus must involve a more "reflective" approach to learning:

Training as a "Closed" System

The training system is a closed system, without meaningful input from outside advisers. Those managing the training process are, because of the "rank based" personnel structure in the SAP, largely amateurs with regard to educational methodology. The result is that the "traditional" approach to training remains unquestioned.

The isolation of the training colleges exacerbates this problem, and results in a training culture which is completely out of touch with the new social reality. Students' comments reflect dissatisfaction with this:

We have too little contact with the public, and that means that when you go out to work, you are not used to working with the public.
We don't get enough time to watch the news or to read the newspapers.

The "storybooks" of the police culture could also be changed if civilian staff take over some aspects of teaching, and if selection of training staff is more rigorous. In the new context, there is a dire need to change the stories or "texts" on which the informal SAP culture is based. Furthermore, regular input from, and contact with, the outside world, is vital if training is to contribute to the development of a politically appropriate and community-sensitive policing style.

Gender Issues

The student body is divided along sex lines into "platoons" for purposes of instruction and living arrangements. This means that male and female students seldom (if ever) have the opportunity to study or work together while in the colleges. The possible mixing of male and female students in the learning environment is the subject of intense debate. As with many aspects of college discourse, this debate tends to be coloured by myths and stereotypes about gender and culture. Male students44 arguing this issue made the following points:

We've already got a problem with concentration, and if we had girls in our class it would result in chaos.
You will have to work with women at a later stage in any case, so what is the difference between here in the college and out there on the stations?
You will have to work with women later on in the force. So you need to establish good relations with them, and learn how to work together. This way, we could work better together and reduce discrimination against women, because there is discrimination against women in the police force.
I disagree that one won't be able to work if there are women in the class. I would say that the men would work better, because they will want to make an impression on the female students.

Although the colleges all train both male and female students, there is a complex and sophisticated process of "gendering" of different types of policework and different aspects of training. It is expected (and often becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy) for example, that the female students will not be as confident with firearms as the males. There are different emphases within the course materials - male trainees are not encouraged to take seriously the section on dealing with rape victims, because it is assumed that, on the stations, women police officers will deal with those cases.

Shearing points out that the use of drill has specific implications for the creation of a gendered identity in the trainee, and refers to feminist theory on the use of repetition in the establishment of gendered identities.

The effect of gender is produced through the stylisation of the body, and, hence, must be understood as the mundane way in which bodily gestures, movements and styles of various kinds constitute the illusion of an abiding gendered self.45

The limitations and consequences of gender identities imposed by SAP training have not been assessed. The high levels of repetition used both in drill and in academic training in the SAP Colleges suggest that this should be an urgent task.

Student experiences of training
Probationers have grumbles and reservations, but it does not take long to settle into the predictable routines of the Centre, to cultivate the peer group bonding that compensates for the authoritarian hierarchy, and the dependency relationship with their class instructors that relieves the sense of personal inadequacy. By the end of the fourteen weeks, few of them are openly critical of the main components of the course; most have taken it on trust and look forward to testing their knowledge, skills and commitment in the real world. And, despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, they feel they have a good grounding for a career in an organisation which values and rewards individual initiative.46

Discussions with students revealed four major criticisms of current basic training:

"It's all too easy". "The lessons are like school".
"It's boring". "You can't see the point of learning some of this stuff.
"I don't think we're learning what we need". "We must get the chance to practice."
"The worst part is the punishment."

More substantial research needs to be conducted into students' experience and perceptions of training.


Credible, effective and accountable policing is essential to the larger process of social change in South Africa. This requires a deep-rooted change in the aims and methods of the police organisation. Training has an important role in this process of change, both in terms of addressing the problematic aspects of the informal organisational culture, and in terms of providing members with the skills which will enable them to deliver an efficient and professional service.

The SAP has recognised that training and re-training are crucial components of the process of change which the organisation needs to undergo. Training is being prioritised and relatively well-resourced. However, it is a circular process: - training alone cannot effect substantial changes to the police organisation or culture;47 the organisation itself must undergo a process of change in order to maximise the benefits of improved training. A process of internal reform of the SAP is underway,48 but it is impeded by the legacy of militarisation. The organisation as a whole has not yet succeeded in making the transition to a new set of values and aims for policing; to a large extent, the police force remains the victim of its history.

A more appropriate training policy would move away from the racial and military style of training, towards a new emphasis on skills. This must be based on a fundamentally different view of policework, defined in terms of the exercise of discretion. It should be accompanied by greater external input into the development and practice of police training, as a means of securing public confidence in the police force. A new training policy must move away from military-style discipline in search of more appropriate and humane modes of developing police professionalism.

Within the current police training context, there is an urgent need to address perceptions of inequity. This will involve abandoning all current practices which give rise to such perceptions.

In the longer-term, we need to develop a vision of training as a "thread" running continuously through all types of policework. That is to say, that a culture of learning and training needs to be developed within the police force, accompanied by modifications to training provision which demonstrate that training is a continuous process, not something separate from policework. Training should be seen as a means of effecting change, and thus improving levels of credibility and service.

This process can only succeed if the police organisation demonstrates its willingness to be subject to public scrutiny, criticism and input. The police force cannot hide its training methods from the community it is supposed to serve. Nor can it assume that it already owns all the expertise necessary for development of new policy - it is vital that outside expertise is brought to bear on the subject of police training.

Strategies for police reform in South Africa should focus on the training sphere because it is

a microcosm of the Police Service at large, reflecting its convictions, its discontents, its relationships, maybe even its future.49


In assessing present basic training in the SAP, one is faced with the dilemma that many features of the training are based on very fundamental assumptions which arise from the internal culture and history of the South African Police. These comments on training thus go to the heart of the police culture and tradition. Training alone will not succeed in effecting change unless those cultures and traditions are themselves addressed.

Current Basic Training System

The current system of basic training should be discontinued as soon as a new system is devised to replace it. In the intervening period, substantial changes should be made to curricula, course content, and operation of the basic training colleges.

Some of the following recommendations should be effected immediately, some represent a long-term vision of police training, and some are measures which could be implemented by a multi-party governing structure as is likely to follow an interim government. It is assumed that the process of reforming the training system should be guided by some sort of multi-party, expert civilian advisory group, and should not remain the sole preserve of the SAP.

New Curriculum

A new curriculum should be developed to include and integrate legal, community relations and social skills content.

  • The Police Board should oversee the process of reforming basic training.

  • Special support and funding should be provided for the research, development and implementation of the new curriculum.

  • This process should include civilian advisors, experts and consultants, as well as members of police forces.

  • Foreign expertise should be sought and utilised.

  • The new system should be applicable to all police forces.

  • The new system should be modular in format, consisting of a mix of training environments - both college and station should be sites of formal training.

Course Content

The course content needs to be fundamentally altered. Instead of an emphasis on law, there should be an emphasis on learning the social skills needed for policework. The curriculum should take into account the recommendations of official bodies (such as the Standing Commission on Violence and the National Peace Committee) in relation to policing. It should also be flexible enough to deal with current issues as they arise. For example, police in the near future are going to have to police an election, and nothing in the current syllabus would equip them to do so in an acceptable manner.

Several key areas which are omitted from the course need to be included. Those which we would emphasise are the following:

  • Human rights;
  • Policing accountability;
  • Racial discrimination and the history of apartheid;
  • Professionalism in policing;
  • Language skills.
Skills Areas

There should be an emphasis on the transmission of social skills, congruent with an understanding of policing as a social enterprise. In particular, skill areas which have resulted in negative community perceptions (such as community awareness and conflict management) should be prioritised. Training should aim to develop and assess the following skill areas:

  • Care and support skills
  • Community awareness skills
  • Conflict management skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Group skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Investigation skills
  • Law enforcement
  • Physical skills
  • Self-appraisal (reflective skills)
  • Language skills - written & verbal, in two or three South African languages.
Teaching Method

The training methodology should be more practical with greater use of case studies and syndicate work to learn the principles of policing, investigative techniques etc within the context of real policing problems. Such a methodology would be more skills based, focusing on the specific professional skills that are required in policing. This more practical "case study" based methodology also integrates the different areas that the police student is required to master such as law, police administration, police science and ethics.

Physical Aspects of Training

The physical side of training (Foot drill, Musketry and Physical Training and Sport) takes up approximately 43% of all teaching time in current basic training. It is suggested that the amount of time spent doing drill and physical training should be drastically reduced (and made more skills oriented). Furthermore:

  • The present form of drill should be abandoned in favour of a briefer component dealing with force protocol (eg saluting) and the drill necessary for daily duty on police stations (eg inspections).

  • The PT should revised to focus on physical skills which will be useful and rewarding for the member - eg swimming, stress-management, general fitness and posture, long-term health planning etc.

  • The musketry syllabus should be reformed in conjunction with a critical evaluation of the use of firearms in the force more generally. It should focus on the limited, safe and non-lethal use of firearms. The new SWAP syllabus is an improvement, but it needs to be integrated with theoretical aspects of training. The training in musketry skills should thus be integrated with teaching on the doctrine of minimum force.

Provision and Uniformity of Training
  • Although it is recognised that the demand for training and re-training is likely to expand in the coming period, it is suggested that, in the interim, the emphasis should be on uniformity of training. It is also important that training within homeland police forces should be made uniform with that of the SAP in order to ease the possible process of reintegration of these forces into a nationally organised police force.

  • In the medium to longer term, training capacity should be expanded and decentralised. This process should be centrally managed, in order to maintain uniform national standards, but should allow for regional flexibility and creativity within the training centres.

  • The need for flexibility and community sensitivity should never be allowed to justify the development of racist or ethnically-based policing practices in any one region.


A new system of discipline needs to be developed, which does not rely on drill and physical punishment. The challenge for reformers is to find alternative modes which will be effective in creating a police trainee who respects the disciplinary and ethical limitations imposed by his professional status.

Racial Integration and Racism

The racial composition of the colleges should be addressed as a matter of urgency. The police force needs to be seen to be representative of, and accountable to, the broader South African community. Staff and student bodies should be fully integrated. Steps need to be taken to develop a genuine non-racial culture in the SAP, and not only in the training sphere.

  • There should be equal distribution in students of different race groups between colleges and between platoons within colleges. There should be no racial segregation in training. Nor should racial integration occur on a voluntary (individual) basis. Non-racialism is a policy of the SAP and should not be subject to individual choice.

  • All colleges should immediately be racially integrated along the lines proposed above.

  • The composition of instructing staff should urgently be addressed. Racial integration of staff bodies could be arranged by transferring existing staff between colleges. Not only will that ease the process of racial integration, but it will allay fears that different colleges have different standards of training. It will also enable a more effective deployment of the skilled manpower which has accumulated in the colleges.

  • A programme aimed at dealing with racial attitudes should be introduced for staff and students as soon as possible. This should be run by outside facilitators who are experienced in this sort of training.

Ongoing Training and Mentor / Tutor Schemes

The new system of training should not only be College-based, but should be interspersed with periods of formal training at stations. A system of mentor or tutor-attachments should be developed for this purpose. Mentor or Tutor-Officers would facilitate in-service training and evaluation. However,

  • The selection of mentor/tutors should be made on the basis of a formal interview procedure to ensure suitability.

  • They should be monitored in their training role.

9.11 Probation Period and Conditions
  • The probation period should be extended to 2-3 years, and this should be seen as a period of ongoing and intensive training.

  • Heads of training institutions, in consultation with Regional Commissioners should have the 'de facto' responsibility for de-selecting unsuitable probationers.

  • Serious consideration needs to be given to issues of attestation and pay. For example, at what point (in training and assessment) is attestation appropriate? Should salaries reflect the students' probationary as opposed to professional status?

  • Recruits should not spend longer than one month working at police stations before they attend the Basic Training Course. This period should also be seen as part of the training process, and should aim to give the recruit

    • direct experience of the police organisation and the daily operation of a police station;
    • the opportunity to develop an understanding of the community they will serve.

In line with a more practical methodology the assessment of students (tests etc.) needs to be focused on the essential skills which should be acquired. Present assessment is based on written tests which have little bearing on practical policing, and students hardly ever fail. The following guidelines for assessment developed in the UEA Report50 should be adopted by the SAP:

  • The assessment system should be based on the concept of 'generic competence' - an aggregate of skills, information and motivation.

  • Assessments should be referenced to standards of successful performance rather than normative criteria such as grades and percentiles.

  • The assessment system should include elements of recording, self-assessment, peer assessment and negotiation. These elements should point to an assessment model that is a way of learning rather than a terminal measure of outcome.

  • It should be a central aim for the developers of the assessment system to create assessment situations that will also constitute learning situations so that curriculum and assessment needs do not clash.

  • Assessment should not be confined to single measures or one-off tests. Trainees should be given every opportunity to demonstrate their understanding their knowledge, their skills, and their competence where these are thought to be in question.

  • Current staff of the colleges should each be individually assessed to determine their suitability for the training role.

  • A process of "civilianisation" of the staff of the colleges should be embarked upon. It is not necessary for police officers to teach or manage all aspects of training. For example PT and law could be taught by specially skilled civilians.

  • The racial composition of the staff bodies should reflect that of the SAP more generally. Women and black officers need to be given greater roles within the training establishments.

  • All training posts should be advertised throughout the force.

  • The appointment of training staff should be subject to a rigorous process of selection in order to ensure the suitability of trainers for the task.

  • Appointments to the training division should demonstrate a commitment to the principles of equal opportunity employment.

Gender Segregation

The different emphasis in training for males and females should be removed by integrating male and female platoons for teaching purposes. The imbalance in the number of women instructors and students should be rectified.

Public Involvement in Police Training

There is a need for the training department to be more open in relation to the public. The public needs to be made aware of what happens in police training, as they are the ultimate clients. Outside experts could also be fruitfully utilised in the redesign and rewriting of police manuals and for specific course items (such as conflict resolution skills). Community and party representatives should also be invited to evaluate, and contribute to, police training. This would allay popular misconceptions about SAP training, and would also demonstrate the SAP's commitment to broader public accountability.

Attitudes Towards Trainees

If training is indeed aimed at producing professional policemen, then the students must be accorded more respect and treated less as juveniles who are incapable of being responsible. The police colleges presently operate like high schools with the students being tightly controlled in every aspect of their lives. Staff-student relations are generally poor. The creation of responsible and independent police professionals will require a greater emphasis on a critical learning environment, with opportunities to debate the difficulties of policing a society such as ours. Student centred learning would emphasise greater respect for the student and focus on discussion and questioning, rather than on rote learning. Structures for effective student representation should be created in all training establishments, and they should participate in college decision-making forums.


Recruitment practices should be modified to meet the needs of the training system, both in the interim period of change and in the future. Selection of a "new type" of recruit may be appropriate for the proposed "new style" of training. Members of police training divisions should have a direct input into recruitment policy and practice.


1 Shearing 1991:58

2 UEA 1987:2

3 Brogden et al 1988:19

4 Lord Scarman's 1982 Report on the Brixton Disorders marked a watershed in British police reform.

5 Metropolitan Police CRU PT10 1991:2

6 SAP 1992:11

7 Steyler 1990:120

8 Discussion with MP Tiaan van der Merwe, Feb 1991

9 In the early overview of police training, the author was accompanied by Mr Etienne Marais, also of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation. His contribution to this research is gratefully acknowledged.

10 Southgate 1988:4

11 UEA Report 1987:43

12 Deputy Minister of Law and Order, Johan Scheepers, quoted in South African Institute of Race Relations Survey 1992:463

13 SAP Yearbook 1992:127

14 SAP Yearbook 1992:139

15 I am grateful to Elrena van der Spuy for this example.

16 See for example Press Release by the Minister of Law and Order of 1992-03-05.

17 Wrighton 1991:44

18 Not all of these were members of the SAP. 208 were being trained for the police forces of Kangwane and Ciskei.

19 Males 81.3% - Females 18.7%

20 "Instant Constables" - the term refers to Police Assistants who initially received only 6 weeks training.

21 Punch 1979:87 quoted in Brogden et al 1988:33

22 Shearing & Ericson 1991:497

23 See Rauch (1991) for discussion of policing discourses and the symbolism of "the enemy".

24 SAP Training Division Briefing Document.

25 UEA Report 1987:42

26 Interview with a Commanding Officer

27 UEA Report 1987:42

28 I am grateful to Elrena van der Spuy for this comment.

29 SAP Police Administration Practical: 26

30 UEA Report 1987:175

31 This section co-authored by Etienne Marais

32 See Rauch (1991) for more discussion of the role of religion in policing South Africa

33 Botma (SAP Ethics Manual)1991:58

34 Botma (SAP Ethics Manual) 1991:9

35 Botma (SAP Ethics Manual) 1991:10

36 Cohen 1985

37 UEA Report 1987:35

38 1969:51-7 cited in Shearing 1991:24

39 Plaque outside Drill Section Offices, Hammanskraal

40 Interview, Hammanskraal

41 Miller 1977:40 cited in Shearing 1991:25

42 Reich 1952 cited in Shearing 1991

43 Police Foundation 1990:3

44 Discussion with male platoon

45 Butler 1990:140 cited in Shearing 1991:61

46 UEA Report 1987:44

47 Brogden 1991:19 "Behaviour training can only make marginal inroads on the negative features of police culture".

48 See SAP Strategic Plan of 1991

49 UEA Report 1987:4

50 UEA Report 1987:164


Botma S (1991) Police Ethics (SAP Basic Training Manual) SAP College, Pretoria

Brogden M, Jefferson T and Walklate S (1988) Introducing Police Work, Unwin Hyman, London

Brogden M (1991) Policing South Africa: An Agenda for Incremental Change Institute of Criminology, University of Cape Town

Butler J (1990) Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity Routledge, New York

Cohen H (1985) "Authority: the limits of discretion" in Moral Issues in Police Work (eds) Elliston and Feldberg, Rowman and Allanheld, New Jersey

Metropolitan Police C R Unit - various Training Materials

Rauch J (1991) Policing Discourses and Violence in South Africa. Occasional Paper. Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Scarman, Lord (1982) The Scarman Report: The Brixton Disorders 10-12 April 1981, Penguin, Harmondsworth

Shearing C (1991) Disciplining the Police: The Development of Police Management Practices Centre for Criminology, University of Toronto, Canada

Shearing C & Ericson R V (1991) "Culture as figurative action" British Journal of Sociology Vol 42, No 4, December 1991

South African Institute of Race Relations (1992) Race Relations Survey 1991/92 SAIRR, Johannesburg

South African Police - various Basic Training Manuals

South African Police (1992) Yearbook

South African Police (1992) The Role of the South African Police in a Changing South Africa Southgate P (ed) (1988) New Directions in Police Training

Southgate P (ed) (1988) New Directions in Police Training

Steyler N (1990) "Policing Political Opponents: Death squads and cop culture" in Towards Justice? Crime and State Control in South Africa eds D Hansson & D Van Zyl Smit, OUP, Cape Town

University of East Anglia (1987) Police Probationer Training: The Final Report of the State II Review, HMSO, London

Williams H (1990) Curtailing Racial and Ethnic Bias: A Review of the training curriculum for Florida's Law Enforcement Officers US Police Foundation

Wrighton B (1991) Women in the SAP: Can Policy overcome Prejudice? Unpublished LLB report, University of the Witwatersrand

Appendix 1: Current Basic Training Syllabus

(As supplied by the SAP College, Pretoria, in April 1992)

Practical Syllabus
18 Week Course
Theme Per
Mod 1: Orientation list of registers, books and forms: General terms of usage: Schematic presentation 2
Mod 2: Pocket book SAP 206 3
Mod 3: Occurrance Book SAP 10 10
Mod 4: Detention of suspectsDetaining of suspects 8
Mod 5: Admission of Guilt J70 4
Mod 6: Crime Register SAP 1 10
Mod 7: Property of prisoners SAP 22 10
Mod 8: Body Search, Safe custody and treatment of accused 14
Mod 9: Cell register SAP 14 10
Mod 10: Exhibit register SAP 13 8
Mod 11: Relief Commander report SAP 15 2
Mod 12: Duties of the Charge Officer Commander 8
Mod 13: First information of crime 8
Mod 14: Statements 20
Mod 15: Correspondence 8
Mod 16: Methods of obtaining the presence of an accused in court 12
Mod 17: Scene of Crime 10
Mod 18: Arrest and the implementation of judges rules 10
Mod 19: Fingerprints 8
Mod 20: Road Traffic Accident Report SAP 352A 3
Mod 21: Plan draughting 16
Mod 22: Road Accident Investigation 16
Mod 23: Giving evidence 10
Mod 24: Circulation and cancellation of property and missing persons 6
Total 216
Syllabus of Law Subjects
18 Week Course
Theme Art Per
Welcoming and orientation
Description of a crime
Conduct as an element of crime
Criminal accountability
Mens Rea/culpability - Intention
- Negligence
Murder: Definition and intention
Culpable Homicide: Dedfinition
Assault: Definition, Elements, Unlawfulness and Intention of asault
Crimen Injuria: Definition, Conduct, Unlawfulness, factors of crimen injuria, Intention
Pointing of a Fire-arm: Definition, Unlawfulness, intention
Rape: Definition, Conduct, Unlawfulness, intention
Incest: Definition, Unlawfulness, Affinity
Public Indecency: Definition, Conduct, Examples, Diffenerences
Theft: Definition, Intention
Housebreaking with the intent to commit a crime: Definition, Unlawfulness, Intention
Robbery and Extortion: Definition, Unlawfullness, Intention
Intentional Damage to Property: Definition, Property, Cause of damage
Arson: Definition, Differences/types
Bribery: Active and passive
Defeating the course of justice: Definition Conduct, Examples
Contempt of Court: Definition, Conduct and examples
Syllabus Criminal Law Subjects
Criminal Law
Theme: Statute Law Art Per
Liquor Act: Definition, "Liquor",
"Restricted Point", "Closed Days",
Supply of Liquor to juveniles, Right of admission to premises,
Offences in general 186(h) 7(h)
Dependence Producing Substances: Prohibition against
possession (a) - (d),
Powers of Police  

Sexual Offences: Definition, Brothel and Unlawful carnal intercourse,
Sexual offences with youths (male and female)
Sexual offences with idiots or imbeciles

Dangerous Weapons Act: Definition Common Law
Prohibtion against possession P157 (Assault)

Arms and Ammunition Act: Definition, Possession of weapon through licence or authority
Declaration by commissioner, of person to be unfit to possess arms
Prohibition of possession of ammunition

Possession of arms and ammunition: Possession of weapons by juveniles
Loss of weapon - report to police
Requirement for safe keeping of fire-arms
Powers of the Police
Trespass Act: Prohibition on entering or presence upon property or land

Act Against Intimidation: Prohibition against and punishment for intimidation

The Stock Theft Act: Definition, failure to give satisfactory
account of..
Delivery of stock

Animal Protection Act: Definition,
Destroying of animals

Statutory Regulations of Importance   4
The Child Care Act: Removal of certain children to a place of safety
Neglected child that needs care
Ill-treatment or abandonment of children
Unlawful removal of children
Inquest Act: Investigation into circumstances of certain deaths
Report to State-Prosecutor
Road Traffic Act No. 29 of 1989: Definitions,
Duty of driver in event of accident
Reckless or negligent driving
Inconsiderate driving
Driving under the influence of Liquor
Unauthorized acts in relation to vehicle
Syllabus of Law Subjects
Criminal Procedure
Theme Art Per
Schedule I Offences: Method of securing attendance of
accused in court, manner and effect of arrest
Arrest by Police Officer without Warrent:
Civilians must give assistance
Forced entry into premises for purpose of arrest
Use of force in effecting an arrest
Use of a fire-arm by member of the force
(SO251 (6) and (16))
Video - the use of force

Escaping and aiding in an escape
Submitting of Name and address
Search of person and seizure of articles
The state may seize of articles
The state may seize certain articles
Searching without a search warrant
Entry of premises for purposes of obtaining evidence
Resistance against entry or search
Unlawful search by Police
Schedule 2 part 2 and 3 (including sec 59 and 72)
Accused entitled to receive assistance
Parent or Guardian of juvenile to attend proceedings

Affirmation instead of oath
Witness must supply his address
General Law Amendment Act: Act 62/1955
Failure in giving a full account of possession
Absence of reasonable grounds to prove that articles were legally acquired


General Law Amendment Act: Act 50/1956
Unlawful appropriation or usage of another person's possessions


Total   108
Practical Police Science Syllabus
18 Week Course
Part A
Theme Art Per
Establishment of the SA Police Administraion and structure of the SAP
Mission of the SAP Police
CHP 1 4
Other police forces in SA and the SA Police in relation to these forces
Reservists and Police Reserve
To qualify
Duties of employer
CHP 2 1
Benefits for members of the force
Aid Schemes
CHP 3 1
Policing: Coercise action of a certain sort. The safeguarding of society
Legislative provisions and activities
The goal of policing - objective and subjective concept of the role
Professional environment: population explosion - more peole cause more crime
Interaction between people - communication and communication symbols
Class discussion
CHP 4 4
Partnership in policing
Police - community relations
Public attitudes - class discussion
Class Discussion
Indirect contact
Direct contact: - reporting of cases
Plan of action
Class discussion
The benefit of good police - community relations
Class discussion
Contact between the SAP and the public (see module 13 and 14 of practical work)
Casual contact, answering of the telephone, the policeman as conveyer of sad news
CHP 5 9
Dealing with a complainant in a case of rape Misconceptions regarding rape
Effect of rape on the victim
Dealing with the rape victim
Factors that may influence the victim
Cases that are reported at the charge office
Cases that the junior police official must, of necessity, deal with himself
Work assignment feedback and class discussion
Video information: Sexual transmitted diseases and sex education
CHP 6 4
Urgent Attention to Complaints
Behaviour of the receiver of a report
CHP 7 4
Disciplinary Orders
SO 160 Complaint against the police by members of the public
SO 86 Repugnant remarks
SO 85 Political discussions
SO 156 Agreement between the Newspaper Press Union of SA and
the Commissioner of the South African Police
SO 88 Debt and Reg 71
SO 116 Gambling and smoking
SO 82 Venereal diseases
SO 90 Drunkenness and intemperate habits
SO 159 Complaints and the redress of wrongs
Reg 73 Obedience
Class - discussion: Bring above into perspective
Police - Community relationships
CHP 8 4
Crime Prevention
Crime prevention
Elimination of opportunities
The role of the police in crime prevention and the role of institutions in the prevention of crime
Crime prevention ability
CHP 9 3
Civil Claims Against the State
Unlawful acts performed in the line of duty
CHP 10 2
The Principles of Giving Evidence
The effect of fear in the witness-stand, knowledge of the legal aspects, behaviour in the witness-stand, Giving verbal evidence
Emotional behaviour, situations that may affect the witnesses' behaviour, duties of the witnesses
Court etiquette
CHP 11 2
Conflict Resolution
Origin, types of, misconceptions, classification, Sources of, Process of, Levels,
Conflict Resolution Styles
Conflict Resolution Skills
Dialogue and Negotiated Skills   4
Interpersonal Conduct   4
Human Rights   4
SA Police: Code of Conduct   2
Professionalism   2
Management of Change
Daily conduct by members in the face of political change
Part B: Police Acts and Regulations
The functions of the SA Police
Powers and duties of members of the Force
Employment of the force in times of emergency
Limitations of right to resign
Contraventions: members of the Force 9 1
Dismissal, discharge, or reduction in rank of non-commissioned members of the Force
Summary dismissal: member of the Force
17 1
Prohibition on certain dealings in certain articles
Unlawful receiving or possession of property belonging to the Force
Reward for extraordinary diligence or exertion
Falsely pretending to be a member of the Force
Wearing of uniforms, badges
Interference with members of the Force
Interpretation of terms: "Superior", "Days Off"
Members to place all their time at the disposal of the State
[Reg 58(38)]
1 (xx)
1 (xi)
7 (1-4)

Vaccination and inoculation
Marriage and family changes
26 (1)
Leave of absence [(1) + (2)]
Granting of leave [(2) + (4)]
Granting of sick leave
Offences against duty and discipline
58 2
Trial by commissioned officer under section 9 (2)
Appeal against conviction and sentence and review
61 (4)
62 (1)
Liability for the deficiency, loss, damage or expense and recovery thereof
Residential addresses and telephone numbers
69 (4)
78 (1)
Standing Orders (Stores)
Room Inventory
Personal equipment sheet
6 (4)
8 & 9
Building, sites and quarters
Firearms and ammunition
Standing Orders (Financial)
Funeral expenses members
58 1
Special Force Orders (General)
Interpretation of terms "motor vehicle"/"Police motor vehicle"
1 (1)
1 (5)
1 (6)
Use of government-owned vehicles
Official purposes
Conveyance of immediate household
Towning vehicles
Traffic laws and regulations
Courteous and considerate driving
Safe custody of government-owned vehicles
Irregular and unauthorized use of government owned vehicles
Forfeiture of state protection
Reporting and investigation of collision
Conveyance of prisoners
Loose objects and articles in vehicles
10 (1)
10 (2)
10 (7)
12 (10)
12 (11)
16 (1)
18 (2)

35 (2a)



Subtotal   83
Part C: Municipal Police Unit
Structure, functions, activities, duties and regulations   2
Examination, assignments   5
Total   90
Part D: Police Ethics
Orientation: Role of the Chaplain in the SAP
Video: Octocop
Introduction to police-ethics
Belief in God
Respect for people
Respect for life and death
Class discussion
Respect for calling
Respect for authority
Respect for marriage
Video: (Sexuality) (an innocent man) (alcohol)
Respect for property
Respect for truth
Respect for one's country and culture
Total 18
Syllabus for Musketry
18 Week Course
Theme: Per
Care and maintenance 2
9mm Beretta pistol 5
9mm Walther P38 pistol 5
9mm Z88 pistol 5
12 bore Browning shotgun 7
Beretta 200, 12 bore shotgun 7
Beretta 202, 12 bore shotgun 7
Walther HMC 8
R1 rifle  
Tests 13
First Aid 8
Shooting range: Shotguns and HMC 9
Shooting range: Pistols and R1 19
Total 108
Syllabus for Footdrill
18 Week Course
Theme Per
Salute & showing of respect 26
Sectional drill 30
Rifle drill 20
Ceremonial drill 20
Drill for inspection 12
Total 108
Syllabus for Physical Education
Theme Per
Free standing exercises 12
Boxing 12
Tonfa 16
Wrestling 12
Lifesaving 14
Fitness 12
Self-defence 12
Total 90
Modified Sullabus
CID Education
Subjects: Per
1 Administration 4
2 Duty, goal and function of the CID 3
3 The principles of giving evidence
3.1 Theory
3.2 Theft
3.3 Robbery
3.4 Housebreaking and theft
3.5 Murder
4 Dealing with and handling of complainant 2
5 Guides for crime investigation
5.1 The CRS, duties
5.2 Video
5.3 Alternative/aids

6 Scene of crime (also see number 23)
6.1 Theory
6.2 Practical (bicycle theft) assignment
6.2.1 Searching
6.2.2 Feedback and discussion


7 Evidence, collection and control 4
8 Statements
8.1 Theory
8.2 Practical: home assignment bicycle theft

9.1 Theory
9.2 Pursuit
9.3 Claims for informers and completing of claim forms

10 Powers of arresting person 2
11 Powers of search 4
12 Interviews
12.1 Types of interviews
12.2 Interrogation
12.3 Right to interrogation
12.4 Rights of the accused 12.5 Preparation for interviews
12.6 Judges rules
12.7 Admission
12.8 Confessions
12.9 Pointing out

13 Identification parade
13.1 Theory
13.2 Practical

14 Fingerprints
14.1 Theory
14.2 Practical

15 Case docket
- Purpose and lay out
- Investigation diary: reasons for its use and completion
- Case control register and Case Book. - Handing over
- Inspections, purpose of and certificate
- Disposal of exhibits
- Responsibility before completion

16 Relationship with prosecutor 3
17 Bail 5
18 Reactive policing 2
19 Global view of crime situations in RSA  
20 Global view of Security Situation 2
21 Movement control centres 2
22 Crime information Co-ordinating Centres 2
23 Scene of crime (housebreaking and theft)
24.1 Application for bail
24.2 Court proceedings with descriptions of occurrences

25 Autopsy
25.1 Theory (what it involves)
25.2 Ways of conduct
25.3 Documentation
25.4 Register
25.5 Identification

26 Use of decided cases 2
Practice of passing out parade 24
Total 164
1 Leave
1.1 Sick leave
1.2 Leave for study/examination purposes
1.3 Maternity leave
2 Filing system 2.1 Usage and disposal of archives
2.2 Personal documents
3 Civil Claims 8
4 Official correspondence
4.1 Minutes
4.2 Application
4.3 Reports
5 Board of Inquiry (injuries)
5.1 Completing SAP 114
5.2 WCL 4 & 5 forms
5.3 Statement by witness
6 Introduction to computer training 16
7 Government owned vehicles
7.1 Collisions
7.2 Management/maintenance
8 Promotion 4
9 Logistical administration 16
10 Financial administration
10.1 Different claims
10.2 Receiving/handling of money
10.3 Remission register
Practice for passing out parade 24
Total 164
Visual Policing
1. Patrols
1.1 Philosophy of patrols
1.2 Types of patrols

2 Management and maintenance of Government owned vehicles (FO (G) 3A/1987 10
3 Attending to complaints
3.1 Reaction time
3.2 General actions towards complaints with reference to general complaints
ie assault, theft, housebreaking, stock theft, reckless/negligent driving (no collisions)

4 Powers of arrest and search
4.1 How a lawful arrest is affected
4.2 Rights of arrested person (legal assistance)

5 Attending/handling "house molest" (family squabbles) and action on the scene 5
6 Road Traffic Collisions
6.1 Culpable homicide/Serious injuries
6.2 Information by investigation officer
6.3 Plan and key to plan
6.4 Correct filling out of Form SAP 352

7 Driving under the influence of liquor (Collision/no collision) 10
8 Road blocks and searching of vehicles/occupants 10
9 Searching of buildings/premises 5
10 Action/conduct at the scene of a fire/serious crime and the preserving of the scene 5
11 Arrests:
11.1 Application of judges rules by members first on the scene
11.2 Admissions/Confession
11.3 Exhibits

12 Testifying and conduct in court
12.1 Video
12.2 Duties of court orderly (bailiff)

13 Priorities
13.1 Setting of goals
13.2 Time management

14 Crime prevention and prevention powers 10
15 Briefing
15.1 Communication
15.2 Taking down and repeating of reports

16 Radio
16.1 Radio control
16.2 Speech procedure

Practice of passing out parade 24
Total 164
12.2 Appendix: Example of Basic Training Timetable

SKS = Musketry; RV = Law Subjects; ET = Ethics & Police Science;
PRAK = Practical Police Administration; VDL = Drill; LO = Physical Training (PT)

PEL 29:

Maandag Dinsdag Woensdag Donderdag Vrydag
SKS 07:20
RV 07:20
PRAK 07:20
ET 07:20
RV 08:10
PRAK 08:10
VDL 08:10
RV 08:10
RV 09:00
PRAK 09:00
RV 09:00
LO 09:00
ET 10:50
ET 10:50
SKS 10:50
VDL 10:50
VDL 11:40
VDL 11:40
SKS 11:40
PRAK 11:40
PRAK TEE 13:40
PRAK TEE 13:40
LO SPORT 14:30
ET SPORT 14:30
VDL 15:20
LO 15:20
12.3 Appendix 3: Skill Areas Covered in Metropolitan Police Training Materials

from Lesson 47 "A guide to Assessment on the Foundation Course" - Metropolitan Police Recruit Training School Foundation Course.

Specific Examples of the Skill Areas




  • Voice volume
  • Intonation
  • Word Specers
  • Vocabulary


Sensitive use of:-
  • Body position
  • Touch
  • Eye Contact
  • Gestures


  • Encouragement
  • Gestures
  • Summarising
  • Eye contact
  • Understanding content/




Question Technique

  • Logistical Sequence
  • Variety of Styles
  • Open Questions
  • Probes
  • Summarises
  • Links

Enquiring Approach

  • Checks and confirms
  • Maintains open mind
  • Questions fully

Use of Information

  • Uses all available sources
  • Follows up points raised
  • Acts upon relevant information
  • Questions reliability
  • Evaluates information


Physical Fitness



Demontrates and maintains
  • Strength
  • Stamina
  • Confidence
  • Flexibility


  • Maintains health
  • Aware of the
    relationship between
    health and professional
  • Good dietary knowledge

Stress Management

  • Aware of signs in self
  • Aware of signs in others
  • Seeks support
  • Offers support


Self Appraisal



  • Considers own
    behaviour and attitudes
  • Seeks feedback
  • Makes constructive
    profile entries


  • Aware of self
  • Identifies weakness
  • Identifies strengths
  • Develops strategies to improve
  • Improves as required

Acceptance of Criticism

  • Listens
  • Accepts well-founded
  • Has a willingness to


Care and Support


First Aid

  • Preserves life
  • Assesses
  • Considers safety
  • Enlists help
  • Determines


  • Understands
    other's situation
  • Supportive
  • Caring
  • Sensitive to needs


  • Aware of
    others' feelings
  • Sensitive
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Patient


  • Awareness of
    effects of words
    on others
  • Awareness of
    effects of actions
    on others
  • Polite
  • Patient
  • Considerate




Control and Reward

  • Assertive
  • Sensitive
  • Effective Listener
  • Verbally skilled


  • Makes decisions
  • Takes action
  • Self-assured


  • Values self
  • Values others
  • Firm
  • Non-aggressive





  • Easily read
  • Neat layout
  • Accurate grammar/
  • Concise
  • Easily understood


  • Conforms to ELBOWS
  • Deletes options
  • Completes boxes
  • Conforms to PACE


  • Relevant
  • Complete


Community Awareness


Equal Opportunities

  • Does not discriminate
  • Treats people as
  • Sensitive to cultural

Crime Prevention

  • Anticipates and
    recognises crime risk
  • Gives advice
  • Initiates action
  • Supports good practice

Victim Support

  • Empathises
  • Supportive
  • Offers practical help
  • Advises and refers





  • Displays understanding
  • Apply principles
  • Integrates knowledge of
    law and practice


  • Understands and
    conforms to procedures
  • Uses appropriate
  • Integrates knowledege of
    procedure with practice


  • Displays competence in
    use of equipment
  • Can explain use of
    equipment (eg alcometer)




Problem Solving/
Decision Making

  • Identifies problem
  • Considers all aspects
  • Generates solutions
  • Decisions based on sound judgement


  • Can justify decisions
  • Applies discretion fairly
  • Uses discretion
  • Understands full
    implications of


  • Awareness of issues
  • Careful of language
  • Accounts for cultural
  • Gives fair treatment
  • Values contributions of
    all parties

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