On 1 January 1972, for the first time in the history of the South African Police (SAP), policewomen were enlisted as 'full members of the force'. Two white women were appointed as commanders of the newly established 'women police force'. More women began their basic training at the police College in Pretoria on 1 March 1972.
On the surface this looks 'progressive' but the women were still excluded from certain SAP units to the extent that a separate women's police section was instituted to deal with female related issues. This took place despite the instruction of the Public Service Commission in 1971 that there should be no discrimination between male and female members and that there should be no differential treatment of females.
As a result, the women employed from 1972 onwards were initially not optimally utilized for general police functions, such as patrols and disposal functions. Women were mainly employed in the areas of victim support and administration, and were given functions such as typists, issuing of licenses for firearms, compiling of medical boards, etc. Only later in the 1970s and at the beginning of the 1980s were women allowed to work on patrol, under-cover and do investigative work.
• Potgieter, D.J. et al. (eds)(1970). Standard Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa, Cape Town: NASOU, v. 8, p. 1972.)
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