ALMOST R300-million has been spent on repairing police vehicles in the Eastern Cape in three years.
This was revealed in a written response by Safety and Liaison MEC Weziwe Tikana to a question asked in the provincial legislature by the DA’s Bobby Stevenson.
A breakdown in figures shows that the total amount of “in-house repairs” to police vehicles was R35.6-million in 2012-13, R42.5million in 2013-14, and R31.8million in 2014-15.
The amount spent on outsourced repairs in 2012-13 was R55-million, while R48.2-million was spent in 2013-14, and R81.6-million in the 2014-15 period. That totals R294.7-million. Asked about the number of police officials in the province with drivers’ licences, Tikana said during 2014-15, only 3 797 police officers did not have drivers’ licences while 12 711 did.
Reacting to the information, Stevenson said: “An effective police service is the first line of defence in keeping our society free from the scourge of crime.
“High-visibility policing is dependent on SAPS members with valid drivers’ licences. High-visibility policing is recognised to cut the crime rate by up to 40%.
“This is a key ingredient in making communities feel safe. When communities feel safe, they experience the freedom we should all have under our constitution.
“This freedom means children can play safely in the streets, women don’t have to fear being raped, and all of us don’t need to barricade ourselves in at night as a safeguard against intruders,” Stevenson said.
In the written response, Tikana said the police had launched a K53 drivers’ and learners’ project – which is based at the training academy in Benoni – to train members.
On this, Stevenson said: “This programme must be rapidly expedited to ensure that the services rendered by the SAPS is the best it can be, especially when it comes to visible policing.
“Such critical services cannot be hampered by a shortage of officers who are able to drive.
“The high crime rate in this province negatively impacts on the environment for investment and economic growth.