Martin Schönteich, a senior legal officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, discusses police reform in post-apartheid South Africa. He discusses some of the challenges of the integration and amalgamation of new and old police forces, including in ensuring that the recruitment process was perceived as fair, integrating new forces despite limited retirement of older forces, and the challenges that literacy and resource constraints posed to effectively recruiting and training new forces. He goes on to discuss how South Africa addressed a number of challenges in building its new police agency. Some strategies employed included: increasing pay to attract more and better recruits, implementing new information management systems, and bringing in private consulting agencies to develop internal management structures. Schönteich proceeds to discuss the possibility of greater collaboration between the police and private non-state security actors. He concludes by noting that in countries in transition, developing “sound and effective” institutions takes time. Countries may face an initial increase in crime until institutional reforms are effectively implemented.
Martin Schönteich began his professional career in 1994 working as a public prosecutor in Durban, South Africa. At that time he also volunteered to become a police reservist. In addition to working as a public prosecutor, he has worked in the Crime and Justice Policy Unit of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), a South Africa-based nongovernmental organization that looks at issues of human security in Africa. Before joining the ISS, Schönteich was a public prosecutor with South Africa’s Department of Justice. At the time of this interview, he was a senior legal officer with the Open Society Justice Initiative, an operational program of the Open Society Institute.