Over the past 21 years, the cost of protecting South Africa’s government officials has ballooned astronomically – by 1150%.
It costs roughly R8 million to protect just one VIP annually and Police Minister Bheki Cele says the current VIP protection budget sits at R1.7 billion to protect 209 officials.
Follow the numbers
Cele was answering a question posed by the DA MP Andrew Whitfield on the South African Police Service’s (Saps’) bloated VIP protection budget.
In the past, there have been calls to slash the budget by half and to redirect the funds to front-line policing.
Cele and National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole have twice admitted in Parliament that law enforcement is struggling to fulfil its mandate.
Saps budget slashed by R3.8 billion
Front-line policing has suffered after the government slashed Saps’s budget by R3.8 billion this year.
During the July unrest that brought KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng to its knees, it was clear that police were severely overwhelmed and understaffed to handle the widespread looting.
Civilians had to take up arms and create neighbourhood watch groups to defend their communities from the onslaught.
At the same time, the Saps VIP budget got an impressive R26 million boost.
In 2000, the VIP protection budget was R138 million. As the decade progressed, the country’s Cabinet grew, which saw the VIP protection budget increase to R530 million by 2010.
In 2021, 11 years later, it costs taxpayers a staggering R1.7 billion to protect its most elite citizens.
DA pushing for the money to be redirected
“The quickest and easiest way to support local front-line policing services is to slash the VIP protection budget in half and redirect the funds to capable local governments to augment their safety budgets,” said Whitfield.
The cost of protecting one VIP (R8 million) can dramatically improve resources in an entire city.
For example, the Nelson Mandela Bay metro police could do one of the following:
- Employ 22 additional officers
- Procure 30 additional metro police vehicles
- Roll out four additional Shotspotter sites
“The police are simply not capable of fighting crime on [their] own and must work together with local law-enforcement agencies which can get the job done,” said Whitfield.
Compiled by Narissa Subramoney