Nearly R75m has been redi­rected to blue-light pro­tec­tion this year while po­lice strug­gle to cope

CityPress - - Front Page - CHARL DU PLESSIS charl.du­p­lessis@me­

The po­lice’s strug­gling de­tec­tive ser­vices have lost R30 mil­lion so that VIP guards can ferry Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma and his ex­panded Cab­i­net around safely. The pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity ser­vices have more than three times the num­ber of VIP guards pro­tect­ing Zuma, his Cab­i­net, provin­cial MECs and other VIPs, and se­cur­ing homes and gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions, than there are sol­diers guard­ing South Africa’s bor­der.

The swelling po­lice pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity ser­vices bud­get, an­nounced as part of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Nh­lanhla Nene’s mid-term bud­get, in­di­cates that R30 mil­lion in un­spent funds has been redi­rected from the de­tec­tives to the blue-light bri­gade.

Nene’s re­vised bud­get de­scribes this as: “Re­al­lo­ca­tion of fund­ing, mainly to travel and sub­sis­tence, due to an in­crease in the num­ber of VIPs fol­low­ing the ex­pan­sion of Cab­i­net.”

A fur­ther R44.7 mil­lion, which was “in­cor­rectly clas­si­fied” in the bud­get ear­lier this year, will also be trans­ferred from de­tec­tive ser­vices to the blue-light bri­gade for “higher than planned salary in­creases”.

Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s Cab­i­net this year grew to 35 min­is­ters and 37 deputy min­is­ters, one of the largest in the world.

Just hours be­fore Nene made the bud­get pub­lic on Wed­nes­day, De­fence Sec­re­tary Sam Gu­lube told Par­lia­ment’s port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on de­fence that South Africa lacked nine in­fantry com­pa­nies to pa­trol the bor­ders, to­talling about 1 300 sol­diers.

“So as ac­count­ing of­fi­cer [for the depart­ment of de­fence] I can­not sit here and as­sure the mem­bers and say our bor­ders are not por­ous be­cause we have met our tar­get of de­ploy­ing forces.

“We need to de­ploy 22 com­pa­nies and we have only de­ployed 13 com­pa­nies,” said Gu­lube.

While the SAPS is re­spon­si­ble for con­trol­ling le­gal/il­le­gal cross-bor­der move­ments at all ports of en­try, a 2009 Cab­i­net decision leaves the bor­der se­cu­rity func­tion to the de­fence force.

Bor­der se­cu­rity in­cludes the con­fis­ca­tion of weapons, ap­pre­hen­sion of il­le­gal im­mi­grants, the ar­rest of crim­i­nals, ap­pre­hen­sion of poach­ers, and re­cov­ery of stolen ve­hi­cles, drugs and cop­per.

Gu­lube added that the de­fence force was fac­ing a fur­ther bud­get cut of abound R700 mil­lion this year.

Th­ese num­bers pale in com­par­i­son to the blue-light ser­vices, where the 2014 bud­get made pro­vi­sion for 1 998 mem­bers of the po­lice’s VIP pro­tec­tion ser­vices, as well as a fur­ther staff com­ple­ment of 3 376 for static se­cu­rity.

Pro­tec­tion ser­vices deal with dig­ni­taries in tran­sit, while static se­cu­rity guards in­stal­la­tions for the pro­tec­tion of dig­ni­taries at places like their homes.

That means 5 374 of­fi­cers are ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion of the pres­i­dent, deputy pres­i­dents and other dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing 74 na­tional, 126 provin­cial and 81 for­eign dig­ni­taries, as well as 42 gov­ern­ment in­stal­la­tions and 90 VIP res­i­dences.

Dr Jo­han Burger, an ex­pert on polic­ing at the In­sti­tute for Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, said cut­ting the de­tec­tive ser­vices’ bud­get sim­ply didn’t make sense be­cause South African de­tec­tives, on av­er­age, had about 150 dock­ets per in­ves­ti­ga­tor – more than three times the in­ter­na­tional av­er­age.

“It’s just im­pos­si­ble for a de­tec­tive to be fo­cused and ef­fec­tive with that many cases.

“De­tec­tive work takes a lot of ad­min­is­tra­tion, driv­ing, in­ter­view­ing wit­nesses and ap­pear­ing in court,” said Burger.

“The only way of im­prov­ing that is by in­creas­ing the num­ber of de­tec­tives.”

Beeld re­ported ear­lier this month that South Africa had lost about 1 000 of its 25 000 de­tec­tives in the past fi­nan­cial year.

David Maynier, the DA’s spokesper­son on de­fence, said there was not much of a threat to most of South Africa’s min­is­ters but that there was “a ma­jor threat to South Africa’s land­ward bor­ders”.

“Most of the body­guards are lit­tle more than armed bag car­ri­ers and com­pletely un­nec­es­sary be­cause there is no se­cu­rity threat to many of the min­is­ters,” he said.

Solomon Mak­gale, spokesper­son for the po­lice, said the trans­fer of funds from de­tec­tive ser­vices, which in­cludes the Hawks and foren­sic ser­vices, “will not neg­a­tively af­fect the work of the de­tec­tive ser­vices”.

“In line with our fore­cast, the money was moved from pro­gramme 3 [de­tec­tive ser­vices] to pro­gramme 5 [pro­tec­tion and se­cu­rity ser­vices] be­cause it will not be spent. Thus a decision was taken to trans­fer it to where it was re­quired.”

Asked about the state of the de­tec­tive ser­vices, Mak­gale said there was a “turn­around strat­egy for the de­tec­tive ser­vices, in­clud­ing hir­ing of re­tired de­tec­tives, which is cur­rently be­ing im­ple­mented to ad­dress some of the short­com­ings iden­ti­fied”.

Mak­gale said the in­creased salary cost of R44.7 mil­lion had been caused by in­fla­tion (CPI), which came in higher than ex­pected.

He said all funds the SAPS did not spend would be for­feited.

Mak­gale also said it did not make sense to com­pare pro­tec­tion ser­vices with the SANDF. “The SAPS has a ports-of-en­try sec­tion which looks after all ports of en­try and a 10km ra­dius area out­side the port of en­try.

“The SANDF looks after only the bor­der­line fall­ing beyond the 10km ra­dius.”


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