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Law and Order

The Bophuthatswana Police Force was established in November 1977 to take over from the South African Police Force when police stations were remanned, police districts organised, and district boundaries demarcated.

Various police traffic units were incorporated at the same time into the traffic branch which was a separate unit. It was brought under the umbrella of the Police Department in 1979.

An Administration Section which consisted of personnel, auxiliary services, quartermaster, finance, inspectorate and communications was formed.

An Executive Division was established and the Police Transport Fleet was administered by the Department of Transport. This marked the beginning of the Police Force, "one of the people and of the nation", and in May 1978 the Bophuthatswana Police Act was promulgated.

During the last part of 1981 and the beginning of 1982 the first 40 women were appointed in the Force, and this number increased to over 300 in short order.

Under the leadership of Kgosi Mangope a sophisticated police radio network was installed throughout Bophuthatswana, a Police Training College was established, a dog section was introduced, and the traffic section became part of the force.

The Police Force kept up with all the modern trends in criminology and certain specialised sections were created to deal with particular types of crime. The University of Bophuthatswana also established degree courses for police and prisons science and administration.

Independence also saw the construction of several new Magistrates’ Offices – especially in areas where none existed prior to 1977 – which adequately provided for Regional Courts, and Circuit Court sittings of the Supreme Court.

Modern court buildings were built in Ga-Rankuwa, Kudumane, Mogwase, Mmabatho and Itsoseng.

A Law Commission – a body of legal experts from various areas of the legal field – was established in 1982 with the primary objective of removing all discriminatory legislation which existed at independence.

Prior to 1977 the country did not have a prison. The Bophuthatswana Prison Service was established in that year and the then Commissioner and his staff had to establish the infrastructure for an efficient service. They also compiled the Prisons Act.

The Rooigrond Prison outside Mafikeng, then know as the Bophuthatswana Central Prison, was taken over from the South African government eight months after the formation of the Bophuthaswana Prisons Service.

With the incorporation of Mafikeng into the country the old Mafikeng Prison was also taken over. This was used mainly as a reception centre for unsentenced prisoners, and a holding centre for sentenced prisoners employed on government projects in Mmabatho.

The Odi Region Prison was opened in 1984. It was the first prison built by government and compared favourably with modern prisons in southern Africa.

During imprisonment inmates were encouraged to improve their educational qualifications and well-stocked libraries were established in all the bigger institutions with an inter-library loan system for books needed.

A literacy project was also established. Training centres for the building trades as well as workshop trades such as welding, sheet metal work, cabinet making and upholstery were established within the prisons.

Defence Force

The Bophuthatswana Legislative Assembly decided during 1976 to start military training, and in the following year a national guard was established.

Two years later this guard became a fully-fledged Defence Force with a Ministry of Defence. The Molopo Military Base grew from humble beginnings in a small house to the headquarters housing all the sections needed to run and maintain a fast growing defence force. These included personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, finance, welfare, military police, sickbay, a military law section, as well as a chaplain service.

An air component, which had been added in 1981, grew to a well-balanced military air wing with its first intake of paratroopers graduating in 1986.


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