Poorly trained SAPS officers cost taxpayers R2,2 billion in civil claims

Issued by Andrew Whitfield MP – DA Shadow Minister of Police
12 May 2024 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Andrew Whitfield.

The Democratic Alliance can reveal that since 2018, the South African Police Service (SAPS) has paid out over R2,2 billion in civil claims for wrongful arrests and detentions.

In response to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, revealed that under his watch, the SAPS has coughed up compensation in civil claims in the last financial year adding up to more than a third of its entire budget for forensic science laboratories, almost a third of its budget for Crime Intelligence operations, and nearly a quarter of its budget allocated to border security.

In fact, the SAPS has witnessed a 52% increase in civil claims over the course of five financial years, which coincides with the term of office of Minister Bheki Cele:

2018/2019: R356,205,508.36

2019/2020: R329,657,948.87

2020/2021: R239,299,759.27

2021/2022: R346,220,870.81

2022/2023: R541,751,164.30

To make matters worse, it appears that settlements have already reached R406 million in just the last three quarters of 2023/2024.  To put these figures into perspective, since 2018, this amounts to SAPS spending over R1 million every single day.

It is patently obvious that the Minister is running what must be the most understaffed, underfunded, and undertrained SAPS ever seen.  A crippled reservist corps with 93,3% less personnel than a decade ago, critical detective shortages across the country, police response times that leave citizens stranded and helpless, and an operational staffing component with less officers than we had in 2019 – this will be the Minister’s legacy, or rather, lack thereof.

These figures not only show the shocking waste of taxpayer funds, meant for actual policing, but highlight a danger that as a result of a rot that has started at the top and worked its way down, ordinary South Africans are not even safe from the very police that are meant to protect them.

A DA-led government will professionalise SAPS, restore discipline and strengthen the Independent Police Investigative Directorate to deal swiftly with police officers who have committed wrongdoing. The DA will cut the bloated senior management and ensure a merit-based system for promotion and appointments.

The DA can rescue South Africans by halving the rate of violent crime and building a safer South Africa for all.