National Police Commissioner Fannie Masemola said his department could not afford budget cuts.
Masemola, speaking on the third day of the 10th national congress of the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) in Durban, said the National Treasury had introduced in-year budget reductions due to the economic outlook of the country.
“This means that for SAPS, R5.5 billion was required for implementation of the 2023 PSCBC agreement, while only R4bn was allocated.
“We have done our best to ensure that these cost containment measures imposed on us by the Cabinet do not greatly affect our policing imperatives and we rely heavily on command and control from all spheres of the SAPS.”
Masemola said cutting budgets affected the police’s operational plans and their response and approach to fighting crime.
He said police cannot afford these baseline reductions “essentially, when considering the extent to which previous reductions have impacted on the ability of SAPS to perform its functions on an acceptable level”.
“Less personnel numbers over a multi-year period will have serious implications for the department and the police to population ratio. In view of the increased population figure, an increased demand in policing is required.”
He said that reductions to the police budget will result in reductions in the SAPS fixed establishment, which will impact on the ability of the police service to carry out its mandate.
“This has a negative impact on the image of the department in that communities then lose trust in us, and equally so, lack of police visibility may lead to communities feeling unsafe, with unintended consequences where, for example, communities begin to mobilise themselves by taking the law into their own hands.”
Masemola added that far too many police officers were being killed by criminals.
“An attack on one police officer is an attack on the authority of the state and we must deal with the attacks harshly.
“This is an area that needs everyone’s priority attention as we work on ensuring the well-being of our members.
“I am equally aware that many of your members pay the ultimate price while serving the country and for that we are eternally grateful for the sacrifices that your members have made and continue to make.”