The New South African Police Service: A Study in Change

Vic Sims
Johann Prinsloo, University of South Africa

Countless well-meaning people have made recommendations as to what the police should do to improve. Sometimes it is not a matter of knowing what to do so much as a matter of how to bring about that desired change in the police. The South African police force had a history and reputation as being among the most oppressive and brutal in the world. Since South Africa's first all-races democratic elections in 1994, the official end of apartheid that same year, and the South African Police Act of 1995 the new South African Police Service (SAPS) has become a model for police scholars interested in how police can and do affect change. This paper describes the SAPS, and some of the many sweeping changes, mostly positive, the SAPS struggles to incorporate in order to better serve South Africa, a country in transition and an emerging democracy.

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Updated 05/20/2006