Civil society groups want the VIP protection unit disbanded as they highlight a disparity in government spending, highlighting that more funds go to protect ministers than safeguard citizens. Briefly News reports Outa said the South African government allocated R1.9 billion to the SAPS VIP protection unit in the past financial year. In contrast, R2.247 billion went to the entire SAPS to protect the South African population.
Outa’s spokesperson, Wayne Duvenage, raised questions about the motives behind such disproportionate spending, suggesting that politicians might harbour a fear of ordinary citizens. Duvenage’s comments come after a disturbing incident involving Deputy President Paul Mashatile’s security detail, captured on camera physically assaulting three individuals who the police later identified as SANDF trainees. At least eight members of Mashatile’s security detail beat, stomped and threatened the victims with firearms.
In response to the incident, crime activist Ian Cameron expressed his disgust with the behaviour of the VIP protection unit officers and their apparent immunity from arrest and repercussions. Cameron argued that the lack of effective action or accountability allows VIP protection officers, and police officers in general, to victimise civilians with impunity. He further highlighted the close relationship between some officers and government officials, suggesting a potential abuse of power and stating that the police have become an “iron fist for political abuse.”
Cameron firmly advocated disbanding the VIP protection unit, stressing rebuilding disciplinary structures and establishing a new unit with enhanced training, integrity, and a strong sense of accountability. His remarks underscore the urgent need for reform within the police force to prevent further brutality against civilians.
In response to the assault by Mashatile’s security detail, the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), the police watchdog, has laid charges against several VIP protection officers. The charges include assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, pointing of a firearm, and malicious damage to property. Ipid files these charges at the Sandton police station, according to reports from IOL.
As calls for reform grow louder, the government and law enforcement agencies face mounting pressure to address the spending discrepancies and issues within the VIP protection unit. The outcome of investigations and subsequent actions will determine the path towards increased accountability and rebuilding public trust in the South African police force.
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