South African Police Service

SAPS badge

The badge of the SAPS consists of a gold eight-pointed star, bearing a green aloe with red flowers. Whereas one might think of the Protea as more symbolic of South Africa, the reason for the aloe being a symbol of the Police is this:1

  • both are survivors which are able to operate effectively with very few resources;
  • both are to be found throughout South Africa irrespective of beautiful, cosy, harsh or dry surroundings;
  • they are able to deal with most conditions and are well equipped in terms of qualities and armoury;
  • although offenders may experience them to be hard and bitter, they have a healing effect on the community as a whole;
  • they are dynamic and change all the time, leaving their old, dry leaves behind at the bottom of the stem while creating better and stronger leaves higher up on the stem;
  • in spite of their hard and bitter qualities, they also possess qualities of beauty and care;
  • they are easily identified and are always eye-catching;
  • they are protected from illegal interference and will not tolerate such interference at all;
  • their composition is extensive and they consist of many components; and
  • both form part of a larger ecosystem or community, on whom both are dependent, therefore they cannot exist and function on their own.

To fulfil the vision and mission2 of the South African Police Service, all members are subject to the South African Police Service’s Code of Conduct, in terms of which each member is obliged to bring about a safe and secure environment for all people of South Africa. The proclaimed Values of the South African Police Service are to:

  • protect everyone’s rights and to be impartial, respectful, open and accountable to the community;
  • use the powers given in a responsible way;
  • provide a responsible, effective and high quality service with honesty and integrity;
  • evaluate our service continuously and make every effort to improve on it;
  • ensure an effective, efficient and economic use of resources;
  • develop the skills of all members through equal opportunity;
  • cooperate with all communities, all spheres of Government and other relevant role-players.

The South African Police Services Act 1995 governs our police force. It falls under the authority of the Minister of Police, but the National Commissioner is very much in charge of its administration. He, in turn, receives cooperation from and works closely with Provincial Commissioners.

A. Receipt or possession of certain property

  1. Any person who knowingly receives, or has in his possession any property which (in terms of the Act) may not be sold, pledged, lent or otherwise disposed of,3 shall be guilty of an offence.4

B. Impersonation, uniforms and badges

  1. Any person who wears any uniform or badge or button of the SAPS; or anything materially resembling any such uniform, badge or button; or anything with the intention that it should be regarded as such uniform, badge or button, shall be guilty of an offence, unless:5
    • he is entitled to wear such uniform, badge or button; or
    • he has been granted permission by the National or Provincial Commissioner.
  2. Any person who wears (or, without the written permission of the National Commissioner, makes use of) any decoration or medal, or its bar, clasp or ribbon, or any deceptively similar imitation shall be guilty of an offence, unless he is the person to whom it was awarded.6

  3. Any person who falsely pretends that he is a member of SAPS shall be guilty of a criminal offence.7

  4. Any person who, by means of any false representation, obtains an appointment in the Service commits a crime.8

  5. Any member who, having been dismissed from the Service, by concealing the dismissal receives any salary, wages, allowance, gratuity or pension shall be guilty of an offence.9

  6. It is a crime to take, assume, use or in any manner publish any name, description, title or symbol which is likely to lead others to infer that the activity is carried on in terms of the Act, or under the patronage of the Service, or that it is in any manner associated or connected with the Service, without the approval of the National Commissioner.10

C. Interference with SAPS members

  1. Any person who resists or hinders or obstructs or interferes with a SAPS member in the exercise of his powers, or the performance of his duties or functions, is guilty of an offence.11

  2. Any person who interferes with a member’s uniform or equipment, or any part of it, commits a crime.12

  3. It is a crime to threaten, or suggest the use of violence against, or restraint upon a member (or any of his relatives or dependants) or threaten or suggest any injury to the property of such member or of his relatives or dependants, in order to compel the member to perform, or abstain from performing any act – or, on account of such member having done or abstained from doing such an act.13

  4. Any person who conspires with, or induces (or attempts to induce) any member not to perform his duty, shall be guilty of an offence.14

  5. It is a crime to conspire with, or induce (or attempt to induce) any member to perform an act in conflict with his duty.15

  6. Any person who is a party to, assists or incites the commission of any act, whereby any lawful order given to a SAPS member may be evaded, is guilty of a criminal offence.16

  7. Any person who induces (or attempts to induce) a member to commit misconduct shall be guilty of an offence.17

D. Photographs and sketches of people in custody

  1. It is a crime to publish, without the written permission of the National or Provincial Commissioner, a photograph or sketch of a person who is suspected of having committed an offence and who is in custody pending a decision to institute criminal proceedings against him.18

  2. It is also a crime to publish a photograph or sketch of a person who is in custody pending the commencement of criminal proceedings in which he is an accused.19

  3. The same applies in respect of a person who is (or may reasonably be expected to be) a witness in criminal proceedings and who is in custody pending the commencement of his testimony.20

E. Disclosure of information

Any member who discloses information in circumstances which will, or may prejudicially affect the exercise or the performance by the Service of its powers or functions is guilty of an offence.21

F. Computer material

  1. Any person who gains unauthorised access to any computer which belongs to, or is under the control of, the Service; or to any program, or data held either in such a computer or in a computer to which only members have access in their capacity as members, shall be guilty of an offence.22

  2. It is a crime to cause a computer (which belongs to, or is under the control of, the Service, or to which only members have access in their capacity as members) to perform a function while you are not authorised to cause it to do so.23

  3. Any person who causes an unauthorised modification of the contents of any such computer with the intention to:24

    • impair its operation or that of any program, or operating system, or the reliability of data; or
    • prevent or hinder access to any program or data,

    shall be guilty of an offence.


  2. According to the website, the Vision of the South African Police Service is to: create a safe and secure environment for all the people in South Africa. The Mission of the South African Police Service is to: (a) prevent and combat anything that may threaten the safety and security of any community; (b) investigate any crimes that threaten the safety and security of any community; (c) ensure offenders are brought to justice; (d) participate in efforts to address the causes of crime. 

  3. For example, police transport or equipment – see section 59. 

  4. Section 65. 

  5. Section 66(1). 

  6. Section 66(2). 

  7. Section 68(1). 

  8. Section 68(2). 

  9. Section 68(2). 

  10. Section 68(3). 

  11. Section 67(1)(a). 

  12. Section 67(1)(a). 

  13. Section 67(1)(b). 

  14. Section 67(2)(a). 

  15. Section 67(2)(a). 

  16. Section 67(2)(b). 

  17. Section 67(3). 

  18. Section 69(2)(a). 

  19. Section 69(2)(b). 

  20. Section 69(2)(c). 

  21. Section 70. 

  22. Section 71(2). 

  23. Section 71(3). 

  24. Section 71(4).