DA says SAPS budget cuts could lead to further loss of 23,000 police

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An about R20bn cut over the next three financial years will undercut attempts to improve the police-to-citizen ratio.

Following Wednesday’s announcement by the South African Police Service (SAPS) to the Portfolio Committee of Police that National Treasury had instructed the SAPS to cut their budget through a 5%, 6% and 7% baseline reduction over the next three years, the official opposition has raised concerns over the possible loss of loss of 23,000 personnel as a result of these cuts.

“This shocking announcement comes at a time when the majority of South Africans feel increasingly unsafe in their communities, due to escalating levels of violence and crime, ” said MP Andrew Whitfield in a statement.

According to Whitfield, the DA has proposed “an alternative, yet constructive, budget proposal, which considers cutting VIP protection costs instead of other police programmes”.

The party estimates the current VIP protection budget allocation at about R10 million per individual, per year, with an approximate cabinet cost to taxpayers amounting to R631 million yearly.

“It is unconscionable that National Treasury would request SAPS budget cuts, when our police service is already severely under-capacitated and under-resourced. Further budget cuts will only continue to hinder SAPS’s ability to provide visible policing and will condemn citizens to living in even greater fear than they do now,” added Whitfield.

The party further commented on how this would hinder the president’s promise to halve violent crime.

“The instruction from National Treasury requests that SAPS must cut its budget by R5 billion in 2020/2021, R6.5 billion 2021/22 and in R7.8 billion in 2022/2023. This will lead to 23,617 posts being lost, through an approximate R20 billion cut, over the next three financial years,” said Whitfield.

“SAPS is currently 64,000 police officers short of meeting the United Nations (UN) policing ratio of 1:220. In South Africa, the police to citizen ratio is 1:380,” added Whitfield, before stating “a loss of an additional 23,000 personnel is not the answer”.

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(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)

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