Detectives specialize in criminal investigations working on narcotics, illicit gold and diamond dealings, fraud, murder, robbery and car theft. Members of the police service with at least two years of service who have the talent for objective investigation may, after selection, enter the detectives' course.

Detectives’ duties are varied and sometimes dangerous. They visit crime scenes to reconstruct crimes as completely and as accurately as possible. They take statements from victims and witnesses and obtain descriptions of perpetrators, where possible. They gather and check evidence and clues and make arrests, as soon as possible. They open files, make detailed reports and testify at trials.

Although most detectives work for the SAPS, private detectives (who may or may not have any formal training) work for various organisations and agencies or may be self-employed.

Personal Requirements

  • eye for detail
  • think logically and deductive reasoning
  • good problem-solving skills
  • good memory
  • honest and have integrity
  • very responsible and inspire confidence
  • make objective judgements
  • physically fit
  • not mind working long and irregular hours ? courageous in the face of danger and threats

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate.
Graduates receive preference

What to Study

Practical and theoretical training at the South African Police Service.

Additional requirements before taking up the detectives course: a service period of at least two years in the SAPS, and undergo a selection test. Detectives must meet the physical and intellectual standards set by the Department of Police in the areas where they work. Since the requirements in the different branches may differ, contact the Department of Police for full details.


  • South African Police Service
  • security organisations
  • self-employment, with own private investigation service

Further Information

OF & A Head Office
P O Box 78233
Sandton, 2146
Tel:(011) 706-4110

South African Police Service
Career Development
Tel: (012) 393-1000

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation work in a police station or some other work dealing with the public
  • speak to policemen and detectives about this type of career and ask to observe them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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