Police escorts for govt officials
Johannesburg - Government officials sent to Limpopo to fix the province's finances have been placed under constant police guard amid rising political tension over the intervention, according to reports.
The 30 members of the national intervention team were escorted daily by heavily armed policemen in Polokwane as they travelled between their hotel and the offices which they are deployed in, the Sunday Times reported.
"We would have preferred for them to just be there [without security] because the province wants to co-operate, but the people themselves insisted on security measures," National Treasury deputy director-general Kenneth Brown told the newspaper.
The members of the national intervention team are made up of officials from the departments of national treasury, health, education, transport and public works.
Sunday Times reported that police escorts were provided for trips to shopping malls as officials feared for their lives.
However Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the police escorts were deployed to guard the team as a "precautionary measure".
"We just want to make sure that everyone is safe... there is no security threat," Gordhan told the Sunday Times.
On Thursday, Gordhan briefed the media on Cabinet's initial findings into the province's financial crisis.
At the end of last year it emerged that the province could not pay its civil servants and was broke.
This was because of its large accumulated unauthorised expenditure which had grown from R1.5bn in 2009 to R2.7bn in 2011, Gordhan said.
Five departments - finance, education, health and social development, public works, and education - are under complete control of the national government.