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AMAPANYAZA

Army training for controversial Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens raises concerns

Army training for controversial Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens raises concerns
The Gauteng provincial government has partnered with the South African National Defence Force for the training of Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens. (Photo: @Fulstob / X)

The Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens are now training under the supervision of the South African National Defence Force, a decision that has sparked concerns from an expert on justice and violence prevention.

The Gauteng government has partnered with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in training the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens (CPWs) to bolster their capacity to fight crime.

This is according to Sizwe Pamla, spokesperson for Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi.

The partnership with the SANDF will see wardens being admitted at various army camps for non-military training by SANDF officers and other qualified individuals.

The wardens are also trained by metro police departments in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane, as well as by the Road Traffic Management Corporation, Pamla said.

“There are currently 7,436 wardens that have been recruited across the province. The wardens work on a rotational basis to provide 24-hour police visibility in communities and receive a stipend as they are still undergoing training,” he said.

On Sunday, 4 February, more than 2,600 people recruited through the third targeted recruitment drive departed for training at SANDF camps in Kimberley, Potchefstroom and Springs. 

“The cohort recruitment drive is in line with the Employment Equity Act and is aimed at realising the inclusion of all population groups, including coloured and Indian people,” said Pamla. 

“The Wardens’ training will include, amongst others, [a] peace officer course, traffic warden course, firearm training, physical training, first aid training, search and rescue, and crowd control.”

Pamla said the training of wardens was continuous, “Their on-the-job training is executed under the command and control of the SA Police Service together with other law enforcement agencies in the province.”

Still no policing powers

In December 2023, the wardens, colloquially known as amaPanyaza, were granted full police powers by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, despite irregularities and complaints.

A statement issued by the Department of Justice said Lamola agreed to confer powers on the CPWs in terms of section 334 of the Criminal Procedure Act and that they “must assume the same legal status as Gauteng provincial traffic officers”.

Justice ministry spokesperson Chrispin Phiri previously said that Lamola had the authority to confer peace officer status on any person to exercise power under the Criminal Procedure Act.

He said the crime wardens’ powers would be limited “to the powers conferred upon such functionaries [traffic officers] and, in principle, relate to the policing of traffic matters”.

“The policing of traffic matters falls within the power of a provincial government and this will allow the provincial government to retain control over the persons,” Phiri said.

However, for any category of persons to be designated as peace officers and allocated powers, a notice has to be published in the Government Gazette, delineating the category of person, the area in which they operate, the offences against which they act, and their powers in respect of acting against the offences.

This notice has not yet been published.

Read more in Daily Maverick: SA’s deployment of new Crime Prevention Wardens may be against Constitution and even illegal

For any person to exercise these powers as a peace officer, they need a certificate of appointment signed by the national police commissioner, who must be satisfied as to the person’s lack of previous convictions, that they have not been declared unfit to possess a firearm and that they have undergone relevant training. This process can typically take months and has also not happened.

Neither the Gauteng Department of  Community Safety, which oversees the CPWs, nor Pamla responded to queries about this issue.

Concerns over SANDF training 

Gareth Newham, the head of justice and violence prevention at the Institute for Security Studies, said the key issue was establishing the CPWs’ role.

“I think this has raised a lot of confusion because the way it’s been presented by the premier is that you want them to be armed, you want them to make arrests, you basically want them to do the work of fully trained police officers,” he said.

“If you want fully trained police officers, then you invest in the SAPS and ensure that people receive proper training and understand their roles.” 

However, because of significant dysfunction within SAPS, civilians often do not know what police officers are doing, and those involved in corruption and brutality are not being held accountable, said Newham. 

Another option, he said, was to deploy people in crime hotspots.

“Not to do policing work, but to act as the eyes and ears of the police, so they’re connected to the police radios or WhatsApp groups and they’re deployed at specific times to be the eyes and ears so that through surveillance they can provide a preventative capacity,” he said.

Newham said people walking home from taxi ranks or bus stations late in the evenings or early morning are frequently targets for criminals, and that having wardens there could make walkways safer. 

“That’s the crime prevention approach… we don’t need specialised training for that and we can then have a large number of people that have a stipend for this,” he said.

“What you don’t want to do is get people who haven’t been carefully vetted, so that you don’t know their capabilities, their characteristics, their risk profiles, their integrity and so forth, and then arm them and have quasi-state militia running around… there is no real evidence that this has reduced crime anywhere in the world.”

Newham questioned why the Gauteng government had opted for this model for the wardens, as it was not based on intensive studies on success factors globally.

“I think they’re trying to copy the Western Cape [Law Enforcement Advancement Programme] but the Western Cape do much more vetting, background checks and training of their law enforcement than in Gauteng,” he said.

Siphiwe Dlamini, head of communications for the SANDF, confirmed the arrangement between the SANDF and the Gauteng government had been finalised, adding that the first cohort had departed for training.

“SANDF can confirm that the candidates currently undergoing the Crime Prevention Wardens programme are being offered a non-military training programme which commenced on 5 February 2024 and will end on 28 March 2024,” he said.

The training programme includes drill, speech and radio procedures, leadership command and management principles, first aid/buddy aid training, as well as combating HIV/Aids through spiritual and ethical conduct, said Dlamini.

No clear mandate

Newham said the immediate concern for him about the wardens’ training with the military was that the  SANDF was not a law enforcement or crime prevention agency. 

“That is not their constitutional legal mandate. Their mandate is to protect the borders. Police officers’ doctrine is to serve and protect, whereas a military doctrine is to search and destroy. You can see they’re quite different.”

Newham said it would not make sense to train individuals who had not been properly vetted, and they would not receive a substantial amount of training relating to crime prevention duties because the SANDF was not equipped to do crime prevention.

“The best I can imagine is that the crime wardens will learn how to march. They’ll be physically fit and they’ll be able to follow instructions.”

Newham said the arrangement was concerning because, ultimately, the proven way to reduce crime was through building community.

“You need to recruit people who communicate very well. You recruit people with very high emotional intelligence – they’re able to read emotions, they’re able to constrain themself, they have excellent communication skills, can speak to a variety of different audiences, work in teams, apply problem-solving methods to complex social problems… that is what you require, from a crime prevention view,” he said. 

A Crime Prevention Warden should be able to assist members of the community and provide them with information to keep them safe. 

“Not to go off and arrest people and search people’s property – that’s a very specialist policing function,” said Newham.

Read more in Daily Maverick: AmaPanyaza: Instructors claim they were not paid as Public Protector confirms investigation

There has been no significant change in safety levels in Gauteng since the introduction of the wardens, but there have been reports of abuses of power by them.

They have also reportedly been involved in more than 20 accidents since taking possession of a fleet of new BMWs in May 2023, said Newham.

In August 2023, Daily Maverick reported on an incident in which a young man was brutally attacked in his home in Katlehong, allegedly by a group of wardens, and beaten almost to death.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ‘They started beating me, kicking me’ – Lesufi’s Gauteng crime prevention wardens accused of brutal assault

“It would help if they [Gauteng government] had a very clear idea about what they wanted crime wardens to do as part of the overall strategy… but I’ve seen no strategy document where Crime Wardens are clearly articulated,” said Newham. DM

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Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Francoise Phillips says:

    The ANC’s very own Red Guards, nicely positioned to assist in the ANC’s next violent insurrection against the people of South Africa. Meanwhile 3000 troops are being trained by the new Wagner in the Congo to make sure they are prepared and trained to turn on the people through violence and steal the election for the criminal ANC.

  • Rob Fisher says:

    So when the ANC loses it’s majority in Gauteng in the election. What will all these thousands of “peacekeepers” be doing? The bidding of the ANC?

  • I feel that atleast training is been conducted, whether it’s not proper but I’m happy it’s been conducted by law enforcement authorities…we also have Traffic Wardens that already went for interviews, assessments and the last vetting was done December 2023 and was promised to be called on January 2024 to sign appointment letters and commence proper training there is however, to date nothing has happened and communication what so ever and all of the sudden new routes are taken where we see CPW’s taken to be trained with SANDF!
    It’s heart breaking to be kept on a loop like this and worse without any communication instead we end up convincing ourselves that there’s no budget and there is a possibility of us to be snubbed!

  • Lil Mars says:

    Brownshirts? This is terrifying and needs to be stopped.

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    Wagner Group in the making. Not unexpected and probably Putins suggestion. IMHO, this is the way the new BRICS colonialists take over an African country – politically and economically!

  • Denise Smit says:

    Representative of population with black, coloured and Indians included. Representative?

  • Richard Robinson says:

    Echoes of Apartheid’s Kitskonstables…?

  • Soil Merchant says:

    Zanu-PF type tactics being employed shortly before the elections, I am wondering why?

  • Geoff Coles says:

    How long is the training, getting them physically fit I guess the first step…. though I daresay their fingers are active on their phones…. but who selected them, the ANC etc?

  • Graeme J says:

    “However, because of significant dysfunction within SAPS, civilians often do not know what police officers are doing…”

    Quite often the police officers themselves do not know what they are doing.

  • Truly ANC has shamelessly sent our country to the dogs !! They have inherited a functional state and like rats they have eaten it away piece by piece. How could just anyone be trained and armed under the guise of law enforcement? That’s anarchy !! I am so angry with Panyaza Lesufi !! I pray day & night for him not to return as premier of Gauteng when ANC loses elections dismally this year 🙏

  • Dietmar Welz says:

    “Peace officers”? more like State-Violence Enforcers.

  • errolhicks says:

    Using the Army to train so-called Crime Prevention Wardens makes no sense! Either SAPS training personnel are not up to scratch, which would explain the sorry state of the Police, or they are being trained for tasks like riot and crowd control, which to me indicates a sinister purpose with an election on the way. Maybe it is just my suspicious mind!

  • If all these skill and serveses outlined here are not what is happening then why are they not Whilst the government is paying money . Why is it that the government enjoy critisms before they act well. This idea of the wardens is simply good and easy to achieve but it is beginning to be another shame for the oppositions to criticise.
    To add to the points made here, the wardens should serve in the townships and locations and deep kasis against many social crimes and problems that are affecting the people. from the train and taxi ranks to the school and pay points to the church places. They should serve to avert school vandalism and and cable theft. They should monitor against drug dealing and help to prevent rapes and incessant killings and injuries that affect the people. Communities complain about police. visibility, police complain about man power then are they not supposed to cover up for government and police these areas where there are short of man power to watch over.
    True, there are no evidence of crime reductions in Gauteng because of these wardens rather there are evidence of them being another problem for criticism to the ruling party in Gauteng.

  • salenivuyisile522 says:

    Mind boggling, fascinating and informative

  • Steve Nicol says:

    And so, we have an army faithful to Panyaza. These recruits are illegal in all spheres of law, but will be armed with guns and drive fast cars. Like blue light brigade, the amapanies will be protected by the Premier.
    We must expect rioting in Gauteng when the ANC loose this province, and a good time to crush revolt.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    The analogy to draw is to the Apartheid era “kits konstabels”. There is no short cutting the training of peace officers. Potentially they have to be able to deal with crowd control situations, to intervene between arguing persons or parties. Teaching them how to use a firearm isn’t enough.

    The SAPS is a better training ground here than the SANDF. I say that because I served in the old SADF. You get taught all about being an alert guard, how to use firearms responsibly. You get taught zero about interviewing suspects, arrest procedures, the mediation skills that I referred to. Because those are police competencies.

    And really the whole point of Amapanyaza is that provincial government has a pet force that it can unleash against immigrants. Xenophobia is fashionable, and immigration is a hot election topic. Lesufi wants to be seen to be doing something about this.

  • Sharon S says:

    More rights being taken away – there is no freedom ofmovement without fear of intimidation and arrest – and this is the state in Northern Suburbs of Guateng. The ANC is very clearly operating as communist marxist behind a thinning veil of democracy . they need to be forced out at all costs in order to Save South Africa from the demise caused by the ” all power forever ” commitment . The ANC will force out all those who disagree and dumb-down the masses for control . Opposition parties need to reach out to the West to stop this spread of Putins poison … this is a war on ideology and human rights not race. This effort to take unemployed – uneducated people – providing uncertified training ( how will they be responsible with a firearm ?? ) and place on a “stipend ? ” will only create an environment for abuse of power and more corruption — Clean out ALL the ROT of the SAPS , make everyone re-apply and undergo evaluation for corruption and skills assessment — start a proper police academy that teaches proper policing skills – re-employ and train and start again do not run a 4th rate parallel supplement ! Stop the enabling of the destruction of basic rights — the number of unlawful arrests based on abuse of power and demands for bribes is at a shocking and intolerable level – look at Douglasdale police station …. VOTE the ANC out and Save SA

  • It gud and Panyaza Lesufi must more wardens

  • Gavin Knox says:

    The current spear of the nation is and has been a wet dream for many years, are these the new look anc armed wing?, the thought is scary although the current crew will be, hopefully, another wet dream when called upon to bolster the anc ego at election time.

  • John P says:

    The defence force cannot train peace officers, police work is not in the defense forces mandate and they have no skills they could impart to a peace force. What they could train are firearms skills, fitness and discipline in following orders. Sounds like a private army to me most likely to be used against illegal foreigners and those protesting against government service delivery failures.

  • Carl Snape says:

    What a load of rabble. When I was in the proper SADF, our marching was pin-point. Our berets were starched, shaven, perfectly positioned. Look at this lot. Berets all over the place, some are “eyes right” some are looking ahead. Some think they’re in the Air Force judging by their salutes. Smacks of piss-poor training, severe lack of discipline. What a crock. BTW, the SAKK (coloured corps) were among the skerpste (sharpest ) troops around. This lot fills me with despair. Never mind the political aspersions. If this is what the defence force training looks like, heaven help SA should the call to arms arrive. Rubbish

  • Penny Philip says:

    1) Why is this unit being armed?? They are NOT police officers & are only supposed to be like a block watch operation. Arming them is going to put their lives in danger for theft of their firearms, not to mention that their lack of experience will no doubt result in civillian deaths 2) Why are they driving BMW’s?? Basic traffic cop functions don’t require anything more than Toyota Corolla/ VW Polo type vehicle. High speed chases must be left to the actual cops. This is lunacy & will come back to bite the citizens of Gauteng.

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