Police parties cost public almost R66m
Two national police day events in the past 15 months have cost the taxpayer nearly R66m, Beeld newspaper reported on Tuesday.
This information came out in a written answer to Parliament's portfolio committee on police.
The national police day festivities in Bloemfontein last January 2010 cost R29.2m.
The police on Monday refused to disclose the budget for the annual Police Day to be celebrated in Soweto on Friday.Police spokesperson Brigadier Sally de Beer said an exact explanation of how much taxpayers’ money was spent and what it was spent on, will be given at Orlando Stadium on Friday.
DA police spokesperson Dianne Kohler Barnard said she doubts whether this will be done, as she has been trying in vain since January 2010 to see last year’s budget, and the same event in Soweto this January 2011 cost R36.4m.
Some 37 000 police officials attended the Soweto event. About 1 800 of them were transported by train from Cape Town to Johannesburg.
A police band marched across the field before the introduction of the provincial police teams, dressed in the colours of the South African flag.
Various provincial teams were introduced shortly after a DVD showing what to expect during the celebrations was played on big screens set up next to the stage.
The Gauteng police team led officers from eight other provinces across the field, dressed in sporty outfits and displaying mountain bikes, while the 2010 World Cup anthem Waka Waka by Shakira and Freshly Ground blared from huge speakers around the stadium.
The portfolio committee received the information in an answer to complaints from a police trade union that a "culture of entitlement" was developing in the SA Police Service.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had, until now, declined to say how much the two events cost.
She said Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa repeatedly refused to answer questions about the costs for that day.
“This kind of expenditure has to be seen in the context of backlogs in our forensic laboratories, lost and stolen dossiers and the delays at our 10111 phone-in centres.”
She feels that the celebration of good work by members of the police and the promotion of morale should form a central part of the police’s strategy to fight crime and corruption.
“It is disappointing that individual officers cannot be honoured at local and provincial police day functions but that, instead, they are bussed to Johannesburg in their thousands from all over the country,” Kohler Barnard said.
According to her, sources in the police told the DA that more than 30 000 officers are expected at the festival on Friday. That means one in every five officers will not be on duty, she said.
During last year’s festival in Bloemfontein police officers allegedly flouted the prohibition on drinking in public and crowded around bottle stores in the town.
“If the outcome of the celebrations would mean a safer South Africa, then it would be a good thing, but ironically enough, it’s going to be an unsafe day for all South Africans,” said Solidarity’s deputy CEO, Dirk Hermann.