Firearm crime and policing policy should top new SA police minister’s agenda

South Africa’s police service needs renewal and clear direction, and the ISS is ready to assist Minister Senzo Mchunu.

01 JUL 2024  

Pretoria, South Africa – The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) congratulates Minister Senzo Mchunu on his appointment as South Africa’s new Minister of Police. His experience in various ministerial and leadership roles stands him in good stead to provide evidence-based policy direction and rigorous oversight so that the South African Police Service (SAPS) can measurably improve its ability to provide public safety over the next five years.


For nearly three decades, the ISS has been closely following and analysing crime trends and police performance. While great strides were made during the first half of the country’s democracy, police effectiveness has declined since 2012. For example, SAPS’ detection rate for murder dropped from 31% to 12%, and almost three out of four people surveyed in 2021 said they had little or no trust in the police.


According to Gareth Newham, Head of Justice and Violence Prevention at the ISS, ‘This decline is partly due to a shifting crime landscape as a result of growing social and economic challenges and new technology, while the SAPS – a large and cumbersome organisation – has changed very little over the past couple of decades.’


The SAPS needs renewal and clear direction. As an initial, urgent measure, the minister should formally direct the SAPS to focus on reducing firearm crime and violence, which will bring down the murder and robbery rates. Between 2011 and 2023, murders increased by 77% and armed robberies by over 41%.


Within six months, Mchunu should issue a clear and bold National Policing Policy aimed at improving police performance, particularly concerning crime intelligence and investigation.


These are among the practical measures outlined by the ISS in a new set of police reforms launched on 27 June. Covering leadership, serious violent crime, police corruption, data and technology, and auxiliary policing, the recommendations provide a foundation for creating an effective and trusted police service.


Given the scale and complexity of South Africa’s crime challenge, Mchunu will need to draw on the advice of experts from both inside and outside of the SAPS. We encourage him to make use of the knowledge and skills available in policy institutes like the ISS, non-governmental organisations, academic institutions and the private sector. We are ready to assist.


For media inquiries, contact:

Lizette Lancaster, ISS: email:

Professional Policing


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