COPS LOSE R30M TO VIPs
Nearly R75m has been redirected to blue-light protection this year while police struggle to cope
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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