On Wednesday, in a presentation to Parliament’s Committee on Police, the Auditor-General (A-G) revealed that irregular expenditure at the South African Police Services (SAPS) increased from R33 million in the last financial year, to R996 million for the 2018/19 financial year. This is a 2918% increase in expenditure, which was not in accordance with any SAPS requirements or any applicable legislation.
In light of the release of the 2018/19 crime stats on Thursday, it now is crystal clear why the SAPS is dismally failing in keeping South Africans safe. Clearly, the police service has been infiltrated by crooks and incompetence that is corrupting the system from the inside.
The crime stats revealed that an average of 57.5 people are murdered every day in South Africa, with a murder rate which has increased by 3.4%. The police are also losing the battle against gender-based violence, total sexual offences increased by 4.6% with the sub-category of sexual assault increasing by 9.6%. The average for total crime detected as a result of police action has declined by 21.8%
These statistics, compounded by the alarming increase in irregular expenditure is a clear indication that SAPS needs to get its house in order. The A-G stated that “we were not able to quantify the full extent of the irregular expenditure amount.” Meaning that the extent of the financial mismanagement goes much deeper.
The almost 3000% increase also follows the 2019 Analysis of Corruption Trends Report, which revealed that for the first time, corruption in our police sector has overtaken other public sectors such as the schooling and health sector as well as local government. This report illustrated that SAPS ‘corruption’ now accounts for almost 10% of all reported corruption in South Africa.
The failure of SAPS to function effectively in both these regards has been attributed to the following reasons, as stated by the Auditor-General:
- Lack of accountability of personnel, which has resulted in slow response to findings and action not being taken against transgressors in the police force;
- Instability in key positions, posing significant challenges to the operations of several departments;
- Ineffective investigations allow repeat transgressors not to be held accountable; and,
- Improper record keeping of information to support financial and performance reporting.
The increase in irregular expenditure by SAPS by R963 million in the past financial year, and its heightened levels of corruption, is an indictment on our national government. The people’s money needs to be used to protect citizens, and to create an honest and professional police service – not to be squandered by millions at a time, in an institution clearly besieged with corruption.
The DA has called for the portfolio committee to establish a dashboard to monitor the SAPS audit action plan to ensure SAPS management is implementing the AG’s recommendations.
These crime statistics and irregular expenditure is indicative of the systematic collapse of the SAPS and will only contribute to citizens losing faith in our criminal justice system, making them feel unsafe in their homes and communities. Extreme and immediate action needs to be taken in order to start keeping our citizens safe.
Andrew Whitfield MP
DA Shadow Minister of Police
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