Chairperson, hon Minister of Police, the Deputy Minister of Police and MECs present, we have heard many good things about the police and their good planning today, and we hope that they will succeed. Before one can support the Budget Vote for the police, one should firstly judge the performance of the Police Service over the past year.
I am asking today: Why is it that as a member of the Select Committee on Security and Constitutional Development, I am convinced that the SA Police Service has begun a slow but relentless meltdown? Certainly the world watched as Parliament voted to shut down one of the best crime fighting units - probably the best crime fighting unit this country has ever had.
This decision was implemented in complete defiance of public opinion and marked a dark day in our democratic history. Now the court has ruled that the disbandment of the Scorpions was unconstitutional.
That brings me to the question: What mechanism are we going to use to police the police? We need a unit of civilians who will serve this country without fear or favour. Today we sit with the National Commissioner of Police who has - according to the Public Protector committed an act that is illegal. To quote from Adv Madonsela's findings:
Cele's conduct was improper, unlawful and amounted to maladministration.
The Minister asked the shadow Minister of Police in the National Assembly a fortnight ago to wait until the results of the investigation into the dodgy Durban property deal were ready, but that begs the question: Why, Minister? Why must we wait?
The President repeatedly states his commitment to rooting out corruption and his drive to curb maladministration, and he must turn his words into action. It is not only the National Commissioner of Police's lack of administrative ability or his inability to balance the budget that led, for example, to transfers from capital to pay salaries in contravention of the Public Finance Management Act, the PFMA.
The SAPS were hauled before the Standing Committee on Appropriations to explain themselves - something that has never happened before. Their annual performance plan was late and not in line with Treasury guidelines. They gave the committee a tatty cut and paste job in which there were such substantial errors as entering R1,1 million where it should have been R1,1 billion! This was the worst budget briefing we have ever attended to date.
The targets are a mess or missing entirely; the management levels are bloated and the budget overspent. There is one administrator to every three operational members and no infrastructure plan. For the first time ever we have seen the entire budget spent before the end of the fiscal year on things like huge national parties, with thousands of SAPS members flown in rather than driven to attend. This was to the tune of R36 million - last year it was R29 million.
It has taken us a year and a half to get those figures and it appears that the Ministry imagines it has the right to do exactly as it wishes with the taxpayers' money and that the checks and balances of Parliament are merely a minor irritation in its day.
We shall continue digging and we will find out how much was spent and where, and if, indeed, the tenders for the thousands of units of free clothing, bags, caps and the like were only put on the SAPS intranet and then only some eleven days before the event swiftly pulled off again and then granted to a hastily formed company headed by the relatives of members of the top structure.
The R66 million that has been wasted on these parties could, for example, have paid for CCTV coverage for forensic laboratories, with a substantial amount left over to aid some of the crumbling stations. This is the same man who lives in a R4 million house - a purchase approved by the accounting officer according to the Minister. And, of course, the National Commissioner of Police is the accounting officer.
It just so happens that we received a letter from the Public Service Commission on this very matter and its investigation, at my behest, has revealed that the offer to purchase the property was dodgy - thanks to Public Works - and on the SAPS side, only one quote was obtained time and again for half a million rand's worth of furniture. We must get our administration sorted out and make sure that it is reliable.
That is not all: The investigations by SAPS members are so unprofessional that there has been a 74% increase in referrals back to the lower courts - we're talking 368 000 of them in this past year. This is not good news for the victims of crime - speaking of whom, under the commissioner the contact and trio crimes reduction targets have been quietly dropped to a miserly 4% from 7%. This is 4% in exchange for a R58 billion budget.
Then there is the target to reduce crime by 2%. These targets are so low the performance agreement contract signed by the Minister could be made by a private security firm, so we know that his job is safe. The target for prevention of crimes against children has been dropped and there is no target at all in relation to organised crime. It is only now that the SAPS is developing a manual that tells SAPS members how not to destroy a crime scene.
Last year, the police commissioner told the police portfolio committee that 3 226 SAPS firearms had been lost or stolen; a 17% increase on the previous year and a 240% increase since 2001. We are talking about 13 438 firearms that are now being used against the police and the rest of us.
In conclusion, I must thank the vast majority of SAPS members, the brave and honest men and women who work tirelessly in the attempt to keep us safe. They do a spectacular job despite a vacuum in leadership. Do you imagine that the DA is going to support this Budget? The DA will vote against it. I thank you.