South African police bosses too stupid to pass flagship course, label it useless

27 February 2015 - 16:12
SAPS vehicle. File photo.
Image: Reuben Goldberg SAPS vehicle. File photo.

Top brass in the South African Police Service are failing a flagship course in huge numbers because they don't know how to do research.

Afraid of being embarrassed for failing the in-service programme, several brigadiers and major-generals are now nominating colonels, their juniors, to attend the workshops in their place.

Known as the executive development learning programme, it is meant, among other things, to sharpen the critical leadership and management skills of senior policemen.

About 150 policemen are chosen every year to do the course at the Paarl Academy in the Western Cape. Members fly or drive there, at state expense, for three days a month to attend the course over six weeks.

But disillusioned policemen, some of whom started the course as far back as 2010 and have still not completed it, this week called for it to be scrapped because, they say, it is "useless".

The modules include financial management and budgeting; programme and project management; policy formulation and implementation; strategic human resource management; and leadership for good governance. Participants have to complete three segments: a theoretical component; the submission of a research proposal; and the completion and presentation of a mini thesis to a panel, which must endorse it. Those who complete all segments are presented with a certificate.

Research could include, for example, an investigation into the quality of police dockets or statements at a police station or a study of the number of convictions at a particular police station compared with the number of dockets it had registered.

A study investigating the impact of the course on participants in 2012 found that respondents wanted the research report to be left out.

A former presenter of one of the courses also believes the programme should be canned. He said more than 50% failed to complete the course because either they did not submit their research or it was rejected by the research panel. "People fell short when it came to doing the research ... There are many people who don't have the intellect for research."

Another former facilitator, Philly Masogo, who was a lieutenant-colonel in the SAPS, agreed that students "fell short" when it came to doing research.

Unisa, which entered into a seven-year partnership with the SAPS last year to assist in the professional development of police officers, said the course was a short-learning programme.

National police spokesman Lieutenant-General Solomon Makgale said the SAPS was seeing "results", as students were performing better after completing the course. "The intention is to provide people with a certificate that enhances their skills and competence. It is not a credit-bearing certificate for further learning."

He said no oversight body had identified the investment in the course as "a waste of funds".