The number of police reservists in the Eastern Cape is dwindling in large numbers.
The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has raised concerns over recruitment criteria for reservists and training models that have left many prospective recruits out in the cold.
In response to questions in the provincial legislature by the DA recently, the Eastern Cape department of community safety disclosed that the number of reservists in the province had declined almost 75% over the past six years.
In the 2015/2016 financial year, the Eastern Cape police had 2,017 reservists on the books, but the number declined precipitously to just 524 in 2021/2022.
DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said the rapid decline in the number of reservists in the province posed a serious safety concern.
He said it had been proved that “boots on the ground” had a significantly positive effect on efforts to reduce crime and reservists formed an integral part of the police’s visible strength.
When applying to become a reservist, prospective recruits must comply with a long list of regulations and training criteria. Among the most basic requirements is that candidates must be between the ages of 25 and 60, and able to pass a basic fitness test.
Training includes a series of physical and practical courses, as well as a written exam.
There is also a long list of criteria that disqualifies prospective candidates from joining.
Once accepted, new recruits must work a minimum number of hours to maintain their reservist status.
Department of community safety spokesperson Unathi Binqose said restrictions related to Covid-19 as well as the reservists’ retirement age, were two of the main drivers of the dwindling numbers.
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