The police advertised in major newspapers on Sunday to re-recruit former officers. Advertisements in City Press and Rapport newspapers invited "applications of former members who are interested to be re-enlisted in the SAPS."

{mosimage}The ads stated requirements for re-enlistment included former officers ranked from constable to senior superintendent with basic police training, a Grade 12 or equivalent qualification, and a driver's licence. Applicants must be "mentally, medically and physically fit" and have no criminal record.

They should also be aged below 50 years and able to serve ten years before the retirement age of 60 years.

Former officers who retired, were dishonourably discharged, left the service pending disciplinary hearings or criminal investigations, or resigned for medical reasons were expressly excluded from the invite to re-enlist.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Sunday welcomed the change in police policy to re-enlist former officers and lift the moratorium on the hiring of reservists. "These were two daft policing policies which the DA stringently opposed, and which have blatantly set South Africa back years in our combating of crime," DA spokeswoman Diane Kohler-Barnard said in a statement.

She said the juniorisation of the SAPS was due to the policy of blocking the hiring of senior ex-officers. "This means that although police numbers have risen steadily, what we see in the police service is a pervasive level of inexperience," she said.

The Saturday Star reported in its latest issue that the SAPS was recruiting former officers as part of a bid to enlarge its force by 50 000 over the next five years.

National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele is the suspected mastermind behind the initiative, the newspaper said. "If this is the case I believe he has made a really excellent decision for our police service," Kohler-Barnard said.

"It will have significant, positive ramifications in terms of up-skilling the ranks of our police service."