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Bheki Cele’s police budget highlights progress, but opposition points out gross failures

Bheki Cele’s police budget highlights progress, but opposition points out gross failures
Minister of Police Bheki Cele. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

Police Minister Bheki Cele delivered good tidings when presenting the SAPS budget in Parliament on Tuesday — opposition parties were quick to criticise.

Thirteen newly built police stations will be handed over to communities, the DNA testing backlog has been significantly reduced, and SA’s forensic investigation footprint has been significantly increased — President Cyril Ramaphosa will soon open a newly refurbished and expanded forensic laboratory in Gqeberha and the forensic laboratory in KwaZulu-Natal will be extensively refurbished.

These were some of the key points promised in the SAPS budget presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday by Police Minister Bheki Cele.

The SAPS will receive R102.137-billion for the fiscal year 2023/24, while the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) will receive R357-million and the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service will receive R150.489-million.

In terms of the budget:

  • More than R1-billion is allocated for the construction and upgrading of police stations. In addition, R30-million is allocated for the procurement and conversion of vehicles to ensure more mobile community service centres are available, and R25-million will be granted to provinces for modifications to safeguard police stations.
  • Provinces with the highest incidence of reported crime will receive an additional R65-million.
  • R20-million is allocated for initiatives related to firearm licensing and compliance, and enforcement of the Firearms Control Act.
  • An action plan has been developed to respond to crimes related to Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF), vulnerable groups and sexual offences. This plan also focuses on the resourcing of Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units, both at the national and provincial levels, with a total of R1.3-billion allocated for proactive and reactive responses to these crimes. An additional R100-million is allocated to provinces for the prioritisation of GBVF response and the strengthening of FCS units.
  • R70-million is allocated to the provinces to support community policing forums (CPFs). This funding will assist the CPFs with resources such as vehicles, laptops, torches, reflective jackets and other tools of the trade.

Cele said special emphasis was being placed on crime stabilisation in high-crime areas, such as combating murders, police murders, corruption, extortion, abduction, illegal mining, economic sabotage and damage to critical infrastructure.

He revealed that the DNA testing backlog was 241,152 cases in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2021/2022. On Tuesday the backlog was 636, a 99.7% reduction.

He said a total of 31,259 GBVF-related court-ready cases had been successfully enrolled since July 2021.

He urged the national commissioner, Lieutenant-General Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, to be tough with senior police officials and officers at all levels who compromised and undermined coordinated efforts to combat crime.

The SAPS would continue to invest in technology for use in crime prevention, criminal investigation and intelligence. In high-crime regions, this included the procurement of drones and body-worn cameras, as well as Shot Spotters. The SAPS was training more officers to fly drones, and was recruiting pilot interns.

Opposition parties respond 

Opposition parties were quick to criticise Cele. The DA’s shadow police minister, Andrew Whitfield, said the shocking increase in police killings highlighted the near-total collapse of the security establishment.

EFF MP Vusi Khoza said the police were indistinguishable from the criminals they were supposed to fight. He referred to the 2020 assassination of the Anti-Gang Unit’s Lieutenant-Colonel Charl Kinnear who was shot at point-blank range in broad daylight.

“A careful look at this case will show that the police have been invested and redirected by a powerful group of gangsters in the Western Cape. These gangsters use the police to fight against the law-abiding policemen and women.

“There are many cases like this across the country. The minister knows about this and yet has decided to turn a blind eye to the criminalisation of the SAPS,” Khoza told the National Assembly. DM

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