The Difference Between Metro Police and SAPS

What is the Difference Between Metro Police and SAPS?

The main difference between Metro Police and SAPS (South African Police Service) lies in their scope of operation and specific duties they perform.

Metro Police vs. SAPS


  • Metro Police: Limited to specific metropolitan areas such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
  • SAPS: National coverage, including both urban and rural areas across South Africa.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Metro Police: Primarily enforce traffic laws, municipal by-laws, and maintain public order in cities.
  • SAPS: Investigate serious crimes, maintain national security, and general law enforcement.

Organizational Structure

  • Metro Police: Part of local municipal governments.
  • SAPS: A national entity under the Department of Police, South African government.

Training Focus

  • Metro Police: Training is centered around urban law enforcement, traffic control, and local by-law enforcement.
  • SAPS: Training encompasses a wide range of law enforcement techniques, including serious crime investigation.


Subjects Needed to Become a Police Officer in South Africa

Requirements to Become a Traffic Cop in South Africa

Role in Public Safety

  • Metro Police: Focus on local-level public safety issues, especially related to urban environments.
  • SAPS: Addresses a broader spectrum of public safety issues at a national level.

Collaboration with Other Agencies

  • Metro Police: Often work in collaboration with SAPS for certain operations but primarily operate independently within their jurisdictions.
  • SAPS: Collaborates with various national and local law enforcement agencies, including Metro Police.
See also  How to Become a Tax Attorney in South Africa?

The Difference Between Metro Police and SAPS Explained:

  1. Scope of Operation:
    • Metro Police: Responsible for policing specific metropolitan areas. Metro police departments exist in major South African cities like Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. Their jurisdiction is limited to the metropolitan area they serve.
    • SAPS: A national police force operating across all of South Africa, responsible for general law enforcement throughout the country. SAPS has a broader jurisdiction compared to metro police, covering rural areas, small towns, and large cities alike.
  2. Duties and Responsibilities:
    • Metro Police: Their primary focus is on traffic control, enforcing municipal by-laws, and preventing crime in urban areas. They deal with issues like traffic violations, illegal parking, and minor public disturbances. They also play a role in local crime prevention but usually in support of SAPS.
    • SAPS: Handles more serious criminal investigations, border security, and maintaining public order. They investigate crimes ranging from theft and assault to high-profile cases like murder and drug trafficking. SAPS also provides support in times of national emergencies.

Metro Police in South Africa

Metro Police in South Africa are primarily responsible for enforcing traffic laws, maintaining public safety, and ensuring compliance with local municipal by-laws. They focus on issues such as traffic management, preventing crime in urban areas, and responding to minor public disturbances. Their duties can also include enforcing regulations related to public spaces, such as parks and beaches, and dealing with minor criminal offenses within the city limits.

Additional Information on Metro Police

  • Stipend: The stipend for metro police trainees in South Africa can vary depending on the city or municipality. Generally, during training, individuals may receive a modest stipend that helps cover basic expenses. The exact amount can differ based on the specific metropolitan police department’s policies and the region’s cost of living.
  • Training Duration: Becoming a metro police officer typically involves a process that includes training, which can last several months, and often a probation period upon completion of the training. The exact time can vary depending on the specific requirements of the metropolitan police department and the individual’s progress and performance during the training period.
  • Training Length: Metro Police training typically lasts around 18 months. This period includes both theoretical classroom training and practical on-the-job training. The curriculum is designed to equip trainees with the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their duties effectively as metro police officers.
See also  How to Become an Advocate in South Africa: A Step-by-Step Guide

Comparison with Traffic Officers

Metro Police officers have a broader range of responsibilities, including enforcing traffic laws, maintaining public order, and ensuring compliance with municipal by-laws. In contrast, Traffic Officers are primarily focused on road safety, enforcing traffic regulations, and dealing with road traffic offenses. While there is an overlap in traffic law enforcement, Metro Police have additional duties related to urban safety and local by-law enforcement.

Tattoos Policy

The policy on tattoos can vary between different metro police departments. Generally, tattoos may be allowed as long as they are not offensive, extremist, sexist, racist, or vulgar, and do not undermine the dignity of the metro police department. Visible tattoos may be subject to specific regulations, and candidates are often advised to disclose them during the recruitment process.

Both Metro Police and SAPS work together to ensure safety and law enforcement in South Africa, but their roles are distinct, reflecting their different operational scopes and responsibilities.