The SAPS Annual Report for 2015/16 has revealed that actual expenditure on VIP Protection Services went up 18% from R977.9 million in 2014/15 to R1.16 billion in 2015/16.
This exorbitant amount spent on the pampered executive elite, and the increase thereof from last year, is shameful, especially when one takes into account the chronic state of under-resourcing of police stations across South Africa.
The SAPS has been characterised by the four U’s, being under-resourced, under-staffed, under-equipped and under-trained, which have a direct impact on their ability to carry out their mandate of keeping South Africans safe. Not only are there usually too few operational officers at station level, but they are also short of the basic equipment, such as vehicles, radios, and protective gear to carry out their jobs.
This money could have gone a long way to addressing this woeful state of affairs in our police service, one on which millions of South Africans rely to keep them safe.
This year’s crime stats alone, that have risen since last year, are frightening and need to be addressed urgently to keep our people safe. Our people, rather than politicians, must be put first.
The amount spent on VIP Protection Services clearly shows that the SAPS leadership had skewed priorities in the previous financial year and seemed to be more concerned with protecting and driving around VIP executives, rather than with spending money on better staffing, equipping and training of SAPS officers.
Hopefully the “back-to-basics” approach of the acting National Commissioner in this financial year will demonstrate a marked departure from this kind of excess. The Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, must ultimately be held accountable for splurging on programmes and items not essential for protecting ordinary South Africans, those who SAPS is mandated to serve.