08/09/2017 08:07 SAST | Updated 08/09/2017 08:08 SAST

Budget Cuts Are Killing South Africa's Police Force

90% of police stations around the country are not able to set up big operations

Wayne Conradie / Reuters
REUTERS/Wayne Conradie

Nearly 90% of police stations around the country are not able to set up big operations, such as a roadblock, because budget cuts are strangling them.

South Africa's acting national police commissioner Lesetja Mothiba recently alluded to this in Parliament.

Mothiba, addressing a police portfolio committee meeting, said "cuts" were affecting all programmes and that visible policing was the hardest hit.

"Almost 90% of police stations cannot launch large scale operations on their own without assistance," a record of the meeting, which took place on August 23, said.

'Tremendous strain'

"Many of these stations cannot even set up roadblocks on their own without assistance from the tactical response unit, they are under tremendous strain on an operational level."

Based on the most recently released official crime statistics, News24 has established there are about 1,159 police stations in the country.

The police's divisional commissioner of finance, Lieutenant General Phalaphala Ramikosi, according to the record of the meeting, said in light of limited resources, mobile police stations would be prioritised.

"With an increasing population, there is an increased need for stations but they cannot all be undertaken due to resources."

The record of the meeting said police were "beginning to feel some pressure coming through due to the budget cuts".

Salary increases had been higher than anticipated with wage negotiations being settled at 7.3% -- higher than the percentage negotiated with Treasury.

Tough decisions

According to the 2016/17 police budget previously discussed in Parliament, an R80 billion budget had been allocated to police and the Hawks for crime-prevention efforts.

The police's deputy national commissioner of asset and legal management, Lieutenant General Stefanus Schutte, told the meeting when looking at the South African economy it was not good and did not appear as if it would soon improve.

"Difficult decisions on who gets what have to be made, even in the provincial budget," the meeting record quoted him saying.

Significant budget cuts over the past three years and cost increase this financial year have impacted on the acquisition of vehicles.

"There will be R400 million more spent on vehicles this year than last year."