Police Minister Bheki Cele says last year’s unrest in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng demonstrated the urgent need for police to rebuild relations with communities.
Cele delivered the Police Department’s budget vote of more than R100 billion to the National Assembly for the 2022/23 financial year.
He says R10 million will be allocated to community outreach programmes and an additional 4 000 members will be added to the public order policing unit.
Last year’s unrest in specifically KwaZulu-Natal has exposed the trust deficit between police and communities.
This is according to Cele.
He told MPs that the budget vote is dedicated to rebuild and strengthen relations between police and the communities they are supposed to serve.
“The death of 300 people during week long lawlessness that befell us in July last year will remain one of darkest hour of democracy. The unrest called for clear reform of security services and exposed divide between police and communities they serve.”
Over the next three years funding for an additional 12 000 recruits will be allocated. In the current financial year, the biggest intake of 10 000 will take place.
Cele says nearly R30 million will be committed to fighting gangsterism in the country.
“A further R26 million will be allocated to capacitate the anti-gang units in this regard. Western Cape gets lion’s share with R10 million allocated towards preventing, combating and investigating gang violence in that province.”
MPs react to the budget
Members from the opposition, such as Democratic Alliance MP Andrew Whitfield and Henry Shembeni from the Economic Freedom Fighters expressed their dismay with the state of policing.
“We all know the problems, DNA, firearms, high crime rate, low conviction rate. What is behind this are people not capable or low morale, working in offices, that should be condemned. Simply throwing money without analysing problems will see performance decline and crime continue to increase,” said Whitfield
“Why is it you don’t know root of mass shootings, why have you failed to show the mastermind behind killings, why not dismantle protection fee racket in townships of Cape Town,” said Shembeni.
Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald and ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe added their voices to the debate.
“Over last five years there were 3 405 firearms stolen or lost by SAPS members, only 1674 recovered, so many in circulation among criminals, no wonder trust levels that were 77% in 1999 are 26% now,” said Groenewald.
“Mass shootings, kidnapping of school children, drugs in the country particularly around schools, breaks our hearts, how many drop out due to drug addiction,” said Meshoe.