Cut funding from VIP protection to fund visible policing, says DA

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Andrew Whitfield during the State of the Nation Address debate.
Andrew Whitfield during the State of the Nation Address debate.
Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, Netwerk24
  • The DA proposed to cut funding from the police VIP protection unit and give it to visible policing.
  • Visible policing was cut by R4 billion, but VIP protection received an increase.
  • Police Minister Bheki Cele said the police's budget would decrease at an average annual rate of 0.8%.

Cut funding from the police's VIP protection unit and give it to visible policing - this is the DA's recommendation as the thin blue line will get even thinner due to budget cuts.

Police Minister Bheki Cele presented the police, civilian secretariat and Independent Police Investigative Directorate's (IPID) budgets to a virtual mini-plenary of the National Assembly on Thursday.

"Over the medium term, we endeavour to mitigate the impact of budget reductions on service delivery. The expenditure is expected to decrease at an average annual rate of 0.8%, from R99.6 billion in 2020/21 to R97.1 billion in 2023/24," Cele said.

He added visible policing would get more than 51% of the total 2021/22 budget, and detective services more than 20%.

What Cele did not say in his budget vote speech, but what was revealed in a recent meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Police, is that the most significant cut comes from visible policing, with R4 billion slashed.

All the police's programme budgets were cut, except that of administration, which increased by 4.8% to R929 million.

READ | 'Crime here remains stubborn,' says Cele as he deploys another 197 police officers to Western Cape

The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation's, known as the Hawks, already meagre budget of R2.13 billion in 2020/21 shrinks to R2.079 billion.

Crime Intelligence's budget decreases by R89 million, and protection and security services' by R42 million. The budget for protection and security services - which includes the VIP protection unit's budget of around R1.7 billion - is R3.232 billion for 2021/22, about R1.2 billion more than the Hawks' budget.

DA MP Andrew Whitfield said: 

Cries of defund the police which echoed across the United States appear to have reached the ears of the ANC government whose members are today lining up to support outrageous budget cuts to our frail and fading thin blue line.

"Criminals across South Africa are celebrating at the news that the budget for the South African Police Service is to be defunded by over R11 billion!"

He added in 2000, the VIP protection budget was R138 million.

"Over the next 10 years, as the Cabinet grew, alongside its sense of self-importance, the VIP protection budget grew to R530 million by 2010.

"Just 11 years later, in 2021, it is now sitting at a staggering R1.7 billion. Over the past 21 years, the budget designed to protect only the elite and nobody else has increased by nearly 1 150%."

Whitfield said the rising rates of violent crime required drastic action:

And that is why the DA is proposing that the VIP protection budget be slashed in half from R1.7 billion to R850 million. This saving should be redirected to visible policing through crime prevention and investigations and to the IPID in order to keep our communities safe and our police officers honest.

IFP MP Zandile Majozi said the inadequate resourcing of IPID was a serious concern, meaning there were "less boots on the ground to hold SAPS accountable".

ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe said his party was "totally opposed to budget cuts for the police that see crime prevention and visible policing losing out while VIP budgets were substantially increased".

"Does government not care for our people who live in fear of criminals waiting to pounce on every street corner?" he asked.

Deputy Police Minister Cassel Mathale said it was "entirely untrue" to say the government was defunding the police.

Cele did not address this topic when he responded to the debate.

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