Thousands of graduate youths apply for employment in South African Police Service (PICS)

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When Lindiwe Nteo completed her second law degree in 2020, she thought her chances of finding employment had improved exponentially but has since realised that is not the case.

Nteo, 26, of Bophelong in the Vaal, finished matric in 2014 and did a BA Law degree at North West University. She then went on to do an LLB at the University of the Witwatersrand, which she completed in 2020.

But since then she has struggled to find employment. She applied to law firms and public sector organisations with no success.

“It is heartbreaking not to work at my age. I’m at a stage where I should be taking care of my mother but she is taking care of me. I chose law because my dream was to always help poor people. A lot of their rights get infringed,” Nteo said.

Nteo is one of thousands of youth who have flocked to SA Police Service facilities for the 2022 police intake. At the provincial office in Parktown, traffic built up the whole of last week as unemployed youth sought to get employment in South Africa‘s law enforcement agent, SAPS.

Nteo said she had chosen to become a cop as this would still help her get justice for the voiceless. She wants to work in the forensic investigations department as it was one of her elective subjects in her final year at university.

“We are made to believe that once you go to tertiary and obtain your qualification then things will be easy. But in reality it is not so…” Nteo said.

As the first graduate in her family, a lot of hopes rested on her but she hopes by becoming a cop she will be able to help her mother in providing for the family.

Nteo said she had made 201 job applications since last year. Sometimes she stopped applying for jobs just to avoid getting depressed.

In the 2022/2023 budget finance minister Enoch Godongwana allocated police R8.7bn, with R1bn set aside  to address staff shortages. President Cyril Ramaphosa promised in his state of the nation address that resources would be availed to recruit and train 12,000 new police personnel.

You can view the SAPS 2022 recruitment requirements here.

Police spokesperson Col Athlenda Mathe told Sunday Times last week that 500,000 applications are received every year during the new intake.

She did not respond to the news crew’s questions sent on Friday.

According to Statistics SA, the country’s unemployment rate rose to 34.9% in the third quarter of 2021, up from 34.4% in the previous period.

It was the highest jobless rate since comparable data began in 2008, on the back of the July unrest and the lockdown. ​

Another applicant, Hlamulo Chauke from Pimville, Soweto, who finished his matric in 2017, told Sowetan that he worked as a teacher assistant in 2019 but that contract was terminated last year.

“My dream has always been to become a cop. I want to protect my nation. I hate criminals. My sister got raped while I was a child. Since then I have always wanted to join the Saps to fight crime,” Chauke said.

He wants a job to provide for his two children.

Nhlanhla Mdluli, 26, of Snake Park, Soweto, finished matric in 2016 and went to a college, where he studied policing. Since completing  the course in 2018, he has been part of the community policing forum in his area.

“We have a lot of crime in our township… If we can have more young people in the police, our country would be safe. We have energy and we can bring new ideas of how to fight crime,” Mdluli said.

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