Drastic budget cut for S. African police sparks concern amid rising crime

Source: Xinhua| 2019-08-22 18:47:24|Editor: xuxin
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CAPE TOWN, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- A drastic budget cut for the South African Police Service (SAPS) has sparked concern as the country is facing escalating levels of violence and crime.

It is unconscionable that the National Treasury reduced the budget for the SAPS which "is already severely under-capacitated and under-resourced," the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said.

On Wednesday, the SAPS announced in Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Police that the National Treasury had instructed it to cut its budget by five billion rand (about 328 million U.S. dollars) in 2020/2021, 6.5 billion rand (about 427 million dollars) in 2021/22 and 7.8 billion rand (about 513 million dollars) in 2022/2023.

This will lead to 23,617 posts being lost over the next three financial years.

Currently the SAPS has approximately 191,000 employees, a number which would drop to 167,383 by 2022/23 due to the budget cut.

A drop in personnel is not the way to achieve a 50-percent reduction of violent crime, as promised by President Cyril Ramaphosa earlier this year, the DA said.

"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," DA Shadow Minister of Police Andrew Whitfield said.

Further budget cuts will only continue to hinder SAPS' ability to provide visible policing and will condemn citizens to living in even greater fear than they do now, he said.

The SAPS is currently 64,000 police officers short of meeting the United Nations (UN) policing ration of 1:220. In South Africa, the police to citizen ratio is 1:380.

A loss of an additional 23,617 personnel is not the answer, Whitfield said.

The DA has proposed an alternative, yet constructive, budget proposal, which considers cutting VIP protection costs instead of other police programs.

The VIP protection budget allocation amounts to approximately 10 million rand (about 657,000 dollars) per individual, per year, with an approximate cabinet cost to taxpayers amounting to 631 million rand (about 41.5 million dollars) yearly.

Moreover, the SAPS' contingent liability for civil claims currently totals 14 billion rand (about 921 million dollars) per year, with claims relating to unlawful arrests and detention totaling 189 million rand (about 12.4 million dollars) per year.

The budget shortfall should rather be addressed by ensuring a more professional, properly trained police service, with minimal civil claims, the DA said.