The South African Police Service (SAPS)

South Africa became an internationally-accepted democracy in 1994 when President Nelson Mandela was elected as the first President of the new South Africa, bringing the era of "apartheid" to an end. This new democratic order brought about many changes in the country and also had a substantial impact on policing. Mr Sydney Mufamadi was appointed as the first Minister for Safety and Security in the new South Africa. He was assisted by Deputy Minister Joe Matthews.

Prior to 1995, South Africa was divided into the so-called TBVC States, Self-Governing Territories and Development Regions (old South Africa). The TBVC States had independent status but were not widely recognized by the international community. The TBVC States and Self-Governing Territories were also referred to as Homelands (see map).

Every Homeland had its own policing agency, bringing the total number of policing agencies in the country to eleven (ten homelands and the old South African Police). Alleleven policing agencies had different uniforms, rank structures and conditions of service and were established under different legislation. 

With the adoption of the interim Constitution in 1994, the Homelands and old development regions were abolished and integrated into a united South Africa with nine provinces. The new Constitution established a single National Police Service for South Africa under the executive command and control of a National Commissioner who is appointed by the President.

The South African Police Service is governed by:

  • Chapter 11 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (Act 108 of 1996) that stipulates the South African Police Service has a responsibility to -
    • prevent, combat and investigate crime;
    • maintain public order;
    • protect and secure the inhabitants of the Republic and their property; and
    • uphold and enforce the law.
    • create a safe and secure environment for all people in South Africa.
    • prevent anything that may threaten the safety or security of any community
    • investigate any crimes that threaten the safety or security of any community
    • ensure criminals are brought to justice; and
    • participation in efforts to address the causes of crime.
  • The South African Police Service Act 68 of 1995
    • To provide for the establishment, organisation, regulation and control of the South African Police Service; and to provide for matters in connection therewith.

The following contact numbers can be used for the purposes of emergencies, to report a crime or to register a complaint:

  • For emergencies or to report a crime, call 10111 or contact your nearest Police Station.
  • If you know of any criminal activities or want to report a crime anonymously, you can contact Crime Stop – 08600 10111.
  • You can contact the SAPS Service Complaints Centre to register a complaint on SAPS service delivery, call 0800 333 177 or fax to 012 393 5452 or email: Service Complaints (ComplaintsNodalPoint@saps.gov.za).
  • You can also view our Frequently Asked Questions to answer some of the queries that you might have.
  • For any general enquiries, suggestions and/or compliments, feel free to contact SAPS Corporate Communications (marketing@saps.gov.za).
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