Police budget allocation under scrutiny after it emerges SAPS underspent by R4bn

Gareth Newham of the Institute For Security Studies said that the police would need money for the new recruits President Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address. But he said the SAPS underspent its R96bn budget by R4bn last year, which amounts to the NPA’s total annual budget.

FILE: SAPS members on parade. Picture: SAPS

CAPE TOWN - It has emerged that the South African Police Service (SAPS) underspent their budget by R4 billion last year - that's the amount the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) gets for its entire annual budget.

While the NPA has received some financial support, its head Shamila Batohi, has also pointed to the need for the Hawks to be properly resourced, especially for complex corruption cases.

There is a tsunami of criminal referrals to the NPA and the Hawks arising from investigations by the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) and the Zondo state capture inquiry, while private security costs are rising, along with crime levels.

One question to be answered by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana's Budget on Wednesday is whether more money will be allocated to fighting crime and corruption.

Gareth Newham of the Institute For Security Studies on Monday said that the police would need money for the 12,000 new recruits President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address. But he said that the SAPS underspent its R96bn budget by R4bn last year, which amounts to the NPA’s total annual budget.

“We also know the Hawks, for example, are also operating at about 50% of their desired capacity in terms of personnel, so it might be a better investment to start moving money away from the police if they can’t spend it on improving the Hawks and the prosecuting authority,” Newham said.

Newham said that the NPA was dependent on the quality of the evidence that came to it from the police and the Hawks. Newham said that they needed capacity, but that it was not just about increasing budgets.

“We need to start seeing a rejuvenation of the top leadership and an end to this discord between the minister [Bheki Cele] and the National [Police] Commissioner [Khehla Sitole] and making sure the police get the training they need,” Newham said.