Police Reform: Interim Constitution Accord

National Peace Accord, Chapter 3, Security Forces:

3.1 General Principles

3.1.1 The police shall endeavour to protect the people of South Africa from all criminal acts and shall to do so in a rigorously non-partisan fashion, regardless of the political belief and affiliation, race, religion, gender or ethnic origin of the perpetrators or victims of such acts.

3.3 Police Board:

3.3.1 A Police Board shall be established whose composition shall comprise of both members of the public and representatives of the police in equal numbers. The chairperson is to be appointed by the Minister of Law and Order from one of the members representing the public

3.3.2 The members of the public shall be appointed by the Minister of Law and Order to the Police Board from names put forward by unanimous decision by the National Peace Committee. The Minister of Law and Order shall have the discretion to appoint further members from parties who are not represented on the National Peace Committee.

3.3.3 The function of the Police Board shall be to consider and to make recommendations to the Minister of Law and Order in regard to the policy relating to the training and efficient functioning of the police, with a view to reconcile the interests of the community with that of the police.

3.3.4 The Police Board shall be empowered to do research and call for representations from the public regarding any investigation conducted by it.

3.3.5 The Police Board shall not have a role in regard to the day to day functioning of the police.

3.3.6 The recommendations of the Police Board in regard to the above matters shall be made public, insofar as it is essential in reconciling the interests of the community with that of the police.

3.4 Composition of the police force:

3.4.1 The relationship between, and the status of, the South African Police and the Police Forces in the Self-governing Territories in the transitional phase, can only be decided by the interested parties through negotiations.

3.4.2 Where the police Forces of any self-governing territory is alleged to be a party to the conflict, the Standing Commission shall investigate this and make appropriate recommendations.

3.8 General

3.8.1 This Accord shall, where applicable, be issued as a directive by the Commissioner of Police and if necessary, the Police Act and regulations will be amended accordingly.

3.8.2 In view of the changing policing demands of a changing South Africa the police.

3.8.3 This Accord shall, where applicable, be honoured by and shall in terms of paragraph 3.8.1 be binding on the police.

(2) The Act of Parliament referred to in Subsection (1) shall:

(a) subject to Sections 216, 217 and 218, provide for the appointment of a Commissioner of the South African Police Service (hereinafter in this Chapter called the `National Commissioner') and a Commissioner for each province (hereinafter in this Chapter called a `Provincial Commissioner');

(b) provide for the establishment and maintenance of uniform standards of policing at all levels regarding:

(i) the exercise of police powers;

(ii) the recruitment, appointment, promotion and transfer of members of the Service; (iii) suspension, dismissal, disciplinary and grievance procedures;

(iv) the training, conduct and conditions of service of members of the Service;

(v) the general management, control, maintenance and provisioning of the Service;

(vi) returns, registers, records, documents, forms and correspondence; and

(vii) generally, all matters which are necessary or expedient for the achievement of the purposes of this Constitution.

Implementation History


Minimum Implementation

The 1993 Accord calls for police reforms that included the formation of a Police Board, changes in the leadership and composition of the forces, subject to negotiations, and legislative and legal reforms. At the time of negotiations, there were eleven police forces in South Africa, the largest was the South African Police (SAP) at 112,000 members. In total there were over 140,000 police personnel in South Africa.1

During negotiations, a Police Board was established in an agreement which would be later reaffirmed by the 1993 Accord. The Police Board was formed on September 14, 1991, and was to monitor and advise the police force during the political transition. The 1993 interim constitution included more detailed provisions that were to substantially reform the police force.

  • 1. Janine Rauch, “Police Reform and South Africa’s Transition,” (conference paper presented at the South African Institute for International Affairs, 2000), 1.

Intermediate Implementation

A major step towards reform and the de-politicization of the police force took place in 1994 when “a group of the most senior officers in the South African police were last night sent on indefinite leave after having been accused of acting to sabotage the country's progress to democracy. They are accused of supervising a unit which distributed arms to the Inkatha Freedom Party."2 After the 1994 election, the new government changed the name of the national police force to the South African Police Service, and appointed new police leadership, which included a National Commissioner appointed directly by the President.

  • 2. "South Africa suspends top police chiefs," The Times, March 19, 1994.

Intermediate Implementation

Approximately 1,535 former MK and APLA combatants joined the South African Police Service.3

The South African Police Service Act was passed on October 4, 1995. This act restructured the Police Service into National Divisions with provincial demarcations to match the new provincial boundaries. It also created a National Commissioner of Police to enhance transparency in police policy and performance. It created statutory "Community-Police Forums" where local police station commissioners would be accountable to the local community. It also created a statutory "Independent Complaints Directorate" which would receive and investigate public complaints of police misconduct. The Directorate would be independent of the police and would report directly to the Minister of Safety and Security.4

  • 3. "SOUTH AFRICA; Nearly 10,500 MK and APLA troops appointed to SANDF," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, June 14, 1995.
  • 4. Janine Rauch, “Police Reform and South Africa’s Transition.”

Intermediate Implementation

It was reported in 1996 that following negotiations, the integration of former MK and APLA combatants into the SANDF was completed by the end of the year.5

  • 5. "SOUTH AFRICA; South Africa: finance minister delivers budget speech," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, March 18, 1996).

Intermediate Implementation

No developments observed this year.


Intermediate Implementation

While police reforms continued, they cannot be clearly linked to the accord.6 Violent crime and murder increased dramatically over the next decade. The murder rate was 59.0 per 100,000 of the population in 1998, one of the highest rates in the world.7

  • 6. Janine Rauch, “Police Reform and South Africa’s Transition.”
  • 7. "SOUTH AFRICA: REVIEW 2000," Africa Review World of Information, August 30, 2000.

Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.


Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.


Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.


Intermediate Implementation

No further developments observed.