'We can’t fly more than 5 helicopters,' police commissioner Sitole tells MPs

On Thursday, Commissioner Khehla Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele briefed Members of Parliament (MPs) on stability in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

FILE: National Commissioner of Police General Khehla Sitole. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN – Budget cuts, declining personnel numbers and helicopters that don’t work.

These are among the issues "handicapping" the police service, Parliament has heard.

On Thursday, Commissioner Khehla Sitole and Police Minister Bheki Cele briefed Members of Parliament (MPs) on stability in the South African Police Service (SAPS).

The police committee heard how billions in budget cuts over the years had negatively impacted the service.

Police officials have all but admitted to Parliament that officers were unable to meet all their policing obligations.

READ: Cele - R11 bn budget cuts, loss of officials affecting SAPS' stability

The SAPS has had to deal with up to R15 billion in budget cuts over the past several years.

Commissioner Sitole told MPs that some helicopters and armoured vehicles were not even functioning properly.

“We can’t fly more than five helicopters, nationally. I think in 2010, we could fly up to 14 in the air, and nine of that number is currently grounded. It’s not grounded for a year, it's now more than three years that they have been grounded.”

Minister Cele also had to address reports that he was not working well with Sitole, which also affected police performance.

“The national commissioner and I, let me repeat it, we are not friends. We don’t drink coffee together, but let me assure you that we work together.”

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