Majority of South Africans have no confidence in police, new study shows

Majority of South Africans have no confidence in police, new study shows

A new study by the Human Sciences Research Council has revealed shockingly low levels of trust in the country’s police force. 

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Steve Bhengu

According to the study, a mere 27% of South Africans have faith in the police.

The study shows that between 1998 and 2010, the average level of trust in the police was relatively static.

It ranged between 39% and 42% in most years.

The sharp decline followed the August 2012 Marikana massacre in which the police shot and killed 34 striking miners.

Scientist Benjamin Roberts says well-publicised police failures have significant consequences.

“Negative police experiences by the public have a bearing on police judgements. Those reporting unsatisfactory personal contact with police officers expressed lower trust levels than those reporting satisfactory contact."

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"Well-publicised instances of police abuse or failure also seem to reduce public confidence. A prominent example is the perceived ineffectiveness of the SAPS response to the 2021 social unrest.

“New South African Social Attitudes Survey data on attitudes towards the 2021 social unrest demonstrate that harsher assessments of the policing response to the unrest were indeed associated with lower levels of trust in SAPS.”

Roberts says perceptions of police corruption also had a strong, negative effect on police confidence.

“From a procedural justice perspective, past in-depth South African Social Attitudes Survey research has shown that the South African public strongly emphasises both police fairness and effectiveness as important constituent elements of their overall assessments of police confidence.

“The more the police are seen to be treating South Africans unfairly, the more they are likely to view the police as untrustworthy.”


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