Community Voices on Policing in Transition

This paper deals with the transformation of the South African Police Services (SAPS) during the transition to democracy. It presents the views of 45 people who all had been involved in the struggle for democracy and were affected by the actions of SAPS. They were interviewed to give their views on the role of SAPS in the democratisation of South Africa and to canvass suggestions for the reform of the South African Police Services during the transitional period. The respondents saw SAPS as a central pillar of apartheid, fundamentally racist and created to maintain law and order in an oppressive state. It was not going to be easy to put it to the service to dismantle apartheid. However, the respondents offered many suggestions. Embedding SAPS in a legitimate state was a precondition but other suggestions were, such as offering extensive training for SAPS officers, reducing the power of independent police units, ensuring independent oversight, bringing in greater community liaison and many more.
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