Police asked to cut R6bn from budget: SONA dream at risk, says Sithole

National Treasury has asked the police to cut their budget by R6bn, making it impossible for the police to follow through on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to halve violent crime in 10 years.

Addressing the Select Committee on Justice and Security, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole said Treasury recently asked the police to work on a R6bn budget cut.

Of that figure, R2.7bn is for the compensation of police members.

“That proposed cut shuts down the SONA (State of the Nation Address) policing direction,” Sitole said.

In his SONA in June, Ramaphosa said one of his government’s priorities was to halve violent crime in the next decade.

Sitole said policing numbers have not kept up with South Africa’s population growth.

He said the United Nations’ recommended ratio of citizens per police officer was 120:1.

In South Africa, the ratio is 383:1. 

“Policing is about numbers,” Sitole said gravely. “With this R6bn cut, we can’t continue.”

He said he would take the matter up with Treasury.

In recent weeks, several key institutions in the fight against crime, such as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Public Protector and Special Investigating Unit have also expressed concern about their funding in parliamentary committees.

On Tuesday, Justice and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola conceded that key corruption-fighting institution, the NPA, “is really financially constrained”.

However, the department is in discussions with Treasury on how to protect the NPA’s independence if it had to resort to private donor funding.

He said the department would provide budgetary support to the establishment of the investigative directorate under the auspices of the NPA to deal with all cases emanating from the various inquiry commissions.

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