Cele: R11bn budget cuts, loss of officials affecting SAPS’ stability

Police say stability within SAPS and the restructuring process in the department is affecting stability in the fight against crime.

FILE: Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Abigail Javier/Eyewitness News

CAPE TOWN - The South African Police Service (SAPS) said on Thursday that they had seen budget cuts of up to R11 billion and a loss of thousands of officials was affecting stability in the fight against crime.

Police senior management and Police Minister Bheki Cele were briefing Parliament's police portfolio committee where it was revealed that budget reductions had been the biggest challenge in crime-fighting efforts.

The meeting followed an oversight visit to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and a briefing on the recent unrest.

Major General Leon Rabie told the committee that being without a permanent commissioner for two years had also affected the service.

“And the 23/24 baseline allocation of R108 billion will be a reduction of R11.4 billion that has been applied. As a result of these reductions, it has forced the SAPS to prioritise specific functional areas.”

Rabie said the police were expected to lose up 6,200 members by 2023.

“While we see a declining workforce in the South African Police Service, our population has been growing," he concluded.

MPs questioned why the police had eight acting commissioners and how over 200 generals and brigadiers were being paid up to R1 billion in salaries per year.

Police Commissioner Khehla Sithole conceded that police were “handicapped” and couldn't meet their obligations in the fight against crime.

Sithole revealed on Thursday that nine helicopters and a number of armoured vehicles had been grounded for years due to a lack of maintenance following budget cuts.

“There is also quite a large need of nyalas that are currently grounded, we are working on getting the new nyalas. We obviously can no longer fulfil the mandate at 100%, we are handicapped quite a lot.”

His remarks followed criticism over the police's response to recent looting and unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

On the restructuring of the police, Sitole said, "In order for us to respond to the current situation, we do not necessarily need more generals, we need more constables in order to enhance the production level.”

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