Police University to enrol first students next year

A new university that aims to add depth to the abilities, professionalism and intellectual capacity of the South African Police Service, or SAPS, will open next year in Paarl near Cape Town.

The Department of Police officially announced the establishment of a Police University in partnership with the distance-learning University of South Africa, UNISA, late last month.

Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega signed a memorandum of understanding between the police and UNISA in Paarl, marking the first phase of creating the university.

“By establishing our own university, where learners will wear police uniforms during class and drill will be part of the curriculum, we will be combining academic studies with a culture of discipline, honesty and professionalism,” said Phiyega.

“By doing this, we will be able to build future leaders for the police and establish a pool of excellence from which commanders can be selected in future to lead the organisation with integrity and loyalty,” she added.

Phiyega said that the men and women who would study at the institution would play a major role in restoring the dignity of the police in South Africa.

The image of the SAPS has been battered in recent years, with scandals involving the police hitting headlines all too frequently. The SAPS believes that a dedicated police university is necessary for the meaningful development of police officials.

Plans to set up the Police University began two years ago. The SAPS said the university would help create capacity that would ensure a professional service, equip police to deal with complex international crime, and acquire specialised knowledge and technical know-how as well as academic expertise.

As part of the preparations to set up the university, research trips were undertaken to the Military Academy at Saldanha in South Africa and the Public Security University in China.

The new university will welcome the first 120 police students next year to start studies towards a bachelor degree in policing, said Phiyega.

“This is the sad indictment of our times that those few SAPS employees with no discipline, scant regard for the law or their colleagues, bring the rest of us into disrepute. But I am convinced that we will turn the tide and change perceptions for the better.”

However, Phiyega has herself subsequently become embroiled in controversy. She is alleged to have tipped off a senior police officer in Cape Town that he was being investigated for bribery. The Independent Police Investigative Directorate said last Tuesday that it would investigate the allegations.

According to the accreditation requirements of the Council on Higher Education, newly established universities should start under the auspices of a long-established institution that will provide quality assurance as well as certification of learners in a credible manner.