Police minister Bheki Cele has allocated R57bn towards visible policing from the ministry’s R105.5bn budget for 2020/21.
His other priorities are administration services, which were allocated R20bn, and detective services, which received R20bn.
Cele presented his adjusted budget to parliament on Friday. He said gender-based violence (GBV), political killings and farm murders were some of the most stubborn crimes plaguing the country.
However, he said, the police service had made significant strides in cutting down the number of violent crimes, including cash-in-transit robberies, in the most affected provinces of Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
He dedicated this year’s budget to the fight against GBV and to officers deployed on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are far too many women killed in South Africa, many by people known to them. The accelerating scourge of GBV is affecting everyone, both young and old. We should all agree this is a societal challenge that needs all of us to deal with it decisively. It cannot be police alone,” said Cele.
During the 2019/20 financial year, R184m was spent on goods and services. including on vehicles, cellphones and evidence kits, and procurements for the family violence, child protection and sexual offences investigations (FCS) units. Cele said in the 2020/21 financial year these would be intensified.
“The same emphasis will be placed on FCS units and GBV, with an additional R15m to be prioritised towards the direct resourcing of these units in terms of goods and services, vehicle procurement as well as other equipment,” he said.
Speaking about the impact of Covid-19 on the police service, Cele said 10,077 officers had been infected with the virus, and more than 95 officers had died. He said the virus had also taken a toll on many officers.
“When the whole world pressed the reset button, policing continued. When world economies collapsed, policing continued. When businesses closed down, policing continued. When everyone was locked down in their homes, policing continued. When news of police officers who were arrested for wrongdoing made headlines, policing continued. When statistics of the Covid-19 infections skyrocketed to alarming figures, policing continued.
“When the invisible enemy attacked everyone, including police officers armed with bullet proof vests and machine guns, policing continued. When 10,077 police officers are infected and affected, policing continues. When more than 95 police officers succumbed and departed due to Covid-19, policing continued. When the funeral of a police officer no longer includes a dignified official send-off, policing continues while the oath of office is held in high esteem.
“The police management has worked tirelessly in ensuring the morale and wellbeing of our members is prioritised during this period and beyond. Hence a decision to elevate access to health and wellness of our members who are infected and affected together with their families,” he said.
Cele said an estimated R3.7bn in addition to R1.1bn had been allocated to respond to Covid-19 within the police service.
Several private facilities have been set up to serve as isolation sites for members and their dependents who have been confirmed positive with Covid-19, have symptoms, are not in hospital and their current home environment is not conducive for self- isolation, said Cele.
Adding to the efforts to boost members’ morale, Cele said compulsory counselling sessions for all affected members had been ongoing. He said the service also worked tirelessly to address the shortages of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and other shortages
“The seas will come once again, but for now the sailing is going to be difficult,” he said.
“Political killings remain a stubborn phenomenon. High-level resources will be enhanced to support ongoing and highly sensitive investigations. The killing of political opponents and rivals in KwaZulu-Natal in recent months has resurfaced,” said Cele.
He said the task team had arrested 249 people who were charged with murder, attempted murder and intimidation. Thirty-five of them have been sentenced, and 45 dockets were in front of the courts and ready to proceed.