Cape Town - The SA Policing Union (Sapu) has slammed senior police officials’ “abuse” of the SAPS’s already scant funds.
The Cape Argus reported on Thursday that the SAPS spent R8.2m ferrying Police Minister Bheki Cele, Deputy Minister Cassel Mathale, senior police officials and spokespeople Brigadier Athlenda Mathe and Lirandzu Themba, since 2018.
SAPU spokesperson Lesiba Thobakgale said they were against “any abuse of the limited funds... by the Minister and any senior managers”.
Thobakgale said: “The funds utilised for flights could have been used for crime prevention or to promote members who are frustrated waiting for years to move to the next rank.”
He said Cele was also not supposed to use SAPS’ helicopters as they’re meant to fight crime, “not to ferry politicians and SAPS officials”.
“Since Covid, the budget of SAPS was cut yearly and the current budget should be used profitably to improve safety and security of the country and to improve the conditions of service of members of SAPS (sic),” Thobakgale said.
SAPS spokesperson Athlenda Mathe said the police’s air-wing section began procuring helicopters and fixed air-wing aircraft in 1985 to, among other things, “provide airborne support to police stations and specialised units as well as rapid deployment of members for police related work”.
She echoed commissioner General Fannie Masemola’s statements in Parliament about the other uses, including visits to crime scenes and community engagement.
“The SAPS aircrafts (sic) and helicopters are only used for police related work and assists in enhancing police officers and SAPS management response to pressing policing related issues (sic),” she said.
She said three SAPS aircraft (Cessna citation jet, Pilatus PC12 and the King Air 90 A) assisted in transporting Covid-19 vaccines across SA.
• In Wednesday's newspaper article, headlined High-flyer Cele’s R8.2m flights in focus, though we afforded a right of reply to Cele's spokesperson and Mathale, the Cape Argus incorrectly said Mathe didn't respond to queries as we sent queries to an incorrect email address. We apologise for the error.