A budget cut of R6bn for the police would be disastrous, the DA has said.
On Wednesday, News24 reported that national police commissioner Khehla Sitole told the select committee on justice and security that the National Treasury had recently asked the police to work on a R6bn budget cut.
Of that figure, R2.7bn is for the compensation of police officials.
"That proposed cut shuts down the SONA [State Of the Nation Address] policing direction," Sitole said.
At SONA in June, President Cyril Ramaphosa said one of the government's priorities was to halve violent crime in the next decade.
DA MP and spokesperson on police Andrew Whitfield said in a statement on Thursday the party was "deeply concerned" about the cuts.
"If true, this would be disastrous for the SAPS, which is already grossly underfunded, under-resourced, understaffed and under-equipped. Any further budget cuts will only worsen these conditions, leaving citizens to pay with their lives," read Whitfield's statement.
He said the DA would write to the Treasury to request that it should urgently provide clarity on the matter of a potential budget cut.
Sitole told the committee he would also take the matter up with the Treasury.
"The fiscus is in deep trouble due to rampant corruption and low growth, but the answer to these problems should not be to cut funding to a critical department like the SAPS, especially at a time when our communities have become war zones," Whitfield continued.
He said budget shortfalls should be addressed by cutting "ministerial extravagance".
"The National Treasury should begin by cutting VIP spending instead. As it stands, South Africans pay R10m to protect just one VIP. Moreover, each of the 28 ministers is allocated almost R4m per year for three new vehicles," Whitfield's statement read.
He said the DA had proposed that an additional R2bn be allocated toward fighting crime by increasing the IPID's budget by R200m and increasing the visible police budget by R1.8bn.
"This is a budget neutral proposal that can be achieved within the current budget by reducing the budget for VIP security by R2bn," he added.
At the same meeting, it emerged that the police's budget for protection services stood at R3.1bn, of which R1.9bn goes to VIP protection.
"The DA will continue to push for the government to get its priorities right, cut extravagant expenditure and focus on keeping South Africans safe. Without an honest and professional police service, which is well resourced and well-capacitated, our citizens will undoubtedly pay for this decision with their blood," said Whitfield.
"The cut in the SAPS budget will undermine all efforts to keep the people of South Africa safe. The proposed cut will hand South Africa over to criminals."
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