Police and Security Reform

One of the effects and also causes of South Africa’s authoritarian turn in the early 2000s was that the police and the intelligence bodies became politicised once again. Testimony before the Zondo commission suggested strongly that these bodies were used, not only for nefarious purposes, but had lost sight of their constitutional mandates. In this sense, there is a strong continuity between policing and intelligence today and the late Apartheid period. This is a story of Eastern Europe and South America as well, where democratic transitions were constrained and even ended by the role of unaccountable and militarised police and intelligence services.

Sustaining democracy in South Africa, like in many fragile democracies, depends on bringing the police and intelligence services under democratic and civilian control.

The NSI will research the architecture and cultures of these organisations with a view to understand what needs to change and how to do it. NSI will work with relevant stakeholders to build support and momentum for fundamental reforms in this sector.

Project team