File image: Gauteng Premier David Makhura

CAPE TOWN - An amount of R1.1m has been spent on upgrades for security at the private residents of the Gauteng Premier and his MECs over the past 3 years, according to Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Oversight on the Premier's Office, MPL Jack Bloom.

This was disclosed by Premier David Makhura in written reply to Bloom's questions in the Gauteng Legislature. According to Makhura, the Ministerial Handbook provides the guidelines for the security costs for private houses, this after a security assessment has been done. "The cost for security upgrades was fixed by Cabinet at R100 000 in June 2003, with provision to account for inflation, which now amounts to about R200 000," Bloom said.

In a DA statement by Bloom, he stated that Makhura conveyed that he has ordered that any MEC that whose private residence security has exceeded R200 000 should pay the difference. The security for Makhura's own residence has cost R71 229, and according to Bloom, nothing has been spent on upgrades at the houses of four MECs in this term as it was already done in a previous term.

"This is the case for Transport MEC Ismail Vadi, Economic Developement MEC Lebogang Maile, Finance MEC Barbara Creecy , and Cooperative Government MEC Pail Mashatile," Bloom added. According to the statement, the big spenders were former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu (R252 558), former Sports, Arts & Recreation MEC Molebatsi Bopape (R230 190), Education MEC Panyasa Lesufi (R200 000), and Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Molebane (R149 536).

According to Bloom, most of the costs were incurred on the upgrade of perimeter fences, security gates, and cameras. Bloom also said: "MEC Lebogang Maile has a security guard assigned to his private residence "as part of the general security contract for guarding the department's buildings."

Makhura explained that the extra cost for security at Mahlangu's house emerged from a threat and risk assessment done by police before 2014. Her security was improved, according the statement, these improvements included guarding services which cost R251 558 for the period of May 2014 - February 2017, amounting to R8 000 per month.

Makhura said: "Any decision about placing static security at any MEC's private residence will now be subject to approval by the Premier, on the basis of the recommendation of SAPS. All these measures will ensure that there is no abuse or unnecessary spending on security." Bloom said that he welcomes Premier Makhura's commitment to stamp out abuse in this area, which indicates that there has been unjustified security spending the past.

According to Makhura, "There were loopholes with regard to expenditure cap on security because departments were instructed to pay whatever was in accordance with the recommended security upgrades, regardless of the cost." Bloom said that they all face crime and that the state should pay for extra protection for politicians only if related to work and justified by an objective police assessment. "I will be asking further questions concerning whether former Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu paid the extra R51 558 which exceeded the R200 000 limit, and why MEC Maile has a security guard at his house paid for by a general security contract," Bloom concluded.