SAPS Ranks

The South African Police Service (SAPS) has an organised structure for their activities as well as the position that each officer occupies. Beginning from the National Commissioner to the student constable, these SAPS ranks determine the activities of each police officer and their salary scales. Therefore, in this article, you will get to know the breakdown of these ranks, their divisions based on their functions, as well as what you can do in case you want to pick up a career in this field.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) is the Republic of South Africa’s national police force. They are divided based on the provincial borders with a commissioner overseeing the affairs of each province. Then, on a general note, the divisions of SAPS are based on their responsibilities. The six divisions include the Crime Combating and Investigation Division, the Community Relations Division, the Internal Stability Division, the Supporting Services Division, the Visible Policing Division, and the Human Resource Management Division.

What is the purpose of SAPS?

SAPS meaning? SAPS means South African Police Services, and as stated in the 11th chapter of the 1996 Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108, their responsibilities are premised on preventing, combating and investigating crimes while maintaining public order. The other essential assignments that they are saddled with include the following:

  1. The protection and security of every South African as well as their properties
  2. Creating a safe and secure environment for everyone
  3. Upholding and enforcing the law
  4. Prevention and investigation of whatever may want to threaten the security or safety of everyone in South Africa
  5. Ensuring that criminals face justice
  6. Participating in efforts to address whatever may be the cause of any crime

Police ranks in South Africa

Just as it operates in any organisation, police ranks in South Africa have its structure and forms in which every category of the police officers is addressed. The present SA police ranks were adopted in 2010, and so far, there are more than one thousand police stations that have been established in various provinces.

According to the SAPS rank structure, each province has a commissioner that is appointed to take care the affairs in each province. Then, each of these commissioners is expected to report every activity that takes place in his province to the national commissioner, who is the highest police officer in the country.

Based on the police ranks SA structure, the senior management officers are also among the commissioned officers. Then, there are other commissioned officers who are not a part of the management team. Following the SAPS ranks in order, among the senior management, there is the General, Lieutenant-Generals, Major-Generals, as well as Brigadiers. When addressing each of these, they use the form “General” except for the Brigadier who is addressed as “Brigadier”.

Then, among the commissioned officers who are not part of the management team, following the South African Police ranks, there are the Colonels, Lieutenant-Colonels, Majors, Captains, and Lieutenants. When addressing each of them based on their ranks, they follow the same positions that they hold.

Last on the list of police ranks South Africa are the non-commissioned officers, and there are the warrant officers, sergeants, constables, as well as student constables. They are addressed using their individual ranks.

How much does a police officer earn in South Africa?

According to a publication made by based on the police officer salary in South Africa, most of these officers ridiculously earn as low as R14,633 every month. So, after the tax, medical aid deductions, Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and other deductions, they are left with a stipend.

However, while we do not have updated information on the exact SAPS salary scale, one thing that is sure is that a number of things influence how much each officer gets annually. Based on information published on MSN official website, every year, SAPS ranks and salaries as of 2018 are:

  • Senior managers earn about R2 million.
  • SAPS warrant officer salary is between R278,000 and R407,000.
  • Sergeants are paid between R222,000 and R270,000.
  • Constables receive between R175,000 and R213,000.

Also, according to an advertisement made for the position of a Metro Police Chief a few years back, the Metro Police salary was scaled between R1,070,316 and R1,488,000 every year. So, this gives a clue as to what a Metro Police is likely to earn every year.

How to become a police officer in South Africa

Usually, the South African Police Service (SAPS) places advertisements in the Sunday newspapers (Rapport, Sunday Times and City Press) each time recruitment is about to be carried out. So, if you are considering starting a career as a police officer and you need to know the requirements, check them out below:

  • You must be a citizen of South Africa.
  • No criminal record must be traceable to you.
  • A valid driver’s licence is essential.
  • Your age should be between 18 and 30 years old.
  • The ability to act without hesitation is important.
  • Good communication skills are of necessity.
  • You must be mentally, medically, and physically fit.
  • You should be an even-tempered and calm individual.
  • Possess Standard 10 or Grade 12 Senior Certificate.

Apart from the requirements listed above, prospective candidates will have to take the oath of office and at the same time, be ready to go through training. Also, any tattoo mark that could be visible whenever the SAPS summer uniform is worn will not be permitted.

Once the interested person has picked up the application form at the Provincial Recruitment Centre or any local police station, the form has to be completed in handwriting and submitted at any police station close by.

SAPS contact details

For other information that you may need, if you do not visit the official SAPS website, you can also work with the details below:

SAPS head office

Location: Koedoe Building,

236 Pretorius Street,


Postal address: Private Bag X94, Pretoria 0001.

Telephone: +27 (0) 12 393 1000

In a nutshell, SAPS ranks have different structures, which are the senior management with commissioned officers, commissioned officers, and non-commissioned officers. The rank of each police officer determines how much he or she earns. Then, anyone who wishes to join the Service, such a person must meet the requirements before his or her application can be considered.